Jackson a strong president
Washington, D.C., at Jackson's inauguration, gave boisterous evidence of the conviction of the people that they had come into possession of the government. Ten thousand visitors from all parts of the country thronged to witness the event. Jackson, a tall, lean figure dressed in black with a hawk-like face under a splendid crest of thick white hair, walked through the crowds and mud up Pennsylvania Avenue, unescorted save by a small company of friends. At the top of the great stone stairway to the east portico of the Capitol, he took the inaugural oath and read his inaugural address. With difficulty he pushed through the shouting masses, all eager to shake his hand. Mounting his horse, he rode to the White House at the head of an informal procession of carriages, farm wagons, and crowds of people of all ages and kinds.
Jackson was, heart and soul, completely with the plain people. He had been born in utter poverty, his father dead before his birth. Reared in hardship, he developed keen sensitiveness and a lifelong sympathy with the oppressed. As a mere lad, he fought in the Revolution in which his two brothers died. At fourteen he was alone in the world. As a frontier lawyer, planter, and merchant, he developed an intense distrust of eastern financial organizations which exercised strong influence over much western commerce. Furthermore, Jackson had faith in the common man's capacity for uncommon achievement. Altogether, his creed was simple and enveloping - he believed in the common man and in political equality, in equal economic opportunity, and he had a strong hatred of monopoly and special privilege.
Once in power, Jackson vigorously carried these ideas into practice. He dealt sternly with South Carolina on the question of the protective tariff of 1828. All the benefits of protection appeared to be going to the northern manufacturers, while southern planters bore the burden of higher prices. As tariff schedules rose by successive Congressional acts, the country as a whole grew richer but South Carolina declined in prosperity. The South Carolinians had hoped that Jackson would use his power as President for the modification of the tariff which they had long opposed. This expectation proved vain, for he did not share the southern view of the unconstitutionality of protection. When Congress enacted a new tariff law in 1832, Jackson signed it without hesitation. The people of South Carolina organized the "State Rights Party" which represented those who believed in the principle of nullification - that a delegate convention within a state could adjudge an act of Congress to be unwarranted by the Constitution, that act becoming null and void within the nullifying state. The new state legislature, elected on a platform favoring the nullification idea, adopted an "Ordinance of Nullification" by an overwhelming vote. This measure declared the tariff laws of 1828 and 1832 unconstitutional and void within the state and required all state officials to take an oath to obey the Ordinance. It threatened secession from the Union should Congress pass any law for the employment of force against the state.
In November 1832, Jackson sent seven small naval vessels and a ship-of-war to Charleston with orders to be ready for instant action. On December 10, he issued a resounding proclamation against the nullifiers. South Carolina, the Presidentdeclared, stood on "the brink of insurrection and treason," and he appealed to the people of the state to reassert their allegiance to that Union for which their ancestors had fought. Like Daniel Webster, a leading statesman of the day, he affirmed that instead of being "a compact between sovereign states," the United States was "a government in which the people of all the states, collectively, are represented."