Political Thought of Andrew Jackson: Jacksonian Democracy.
In the decades surrounding the presidency of Andrew Jackson democracy began to expand. States rewrote constitutions and extended the franchise to all free white males. European visitors such as Alexis de Tocqueville noticed the spirit of equality that pervaded the United States, unlike anything known in the Old World. (Not all Europeans, nor Americans, for that matter, were sure that was a good idea terms like "mobocracy" and "anarchy" were thrown around from time to time.) By the late 1830s, the United States had become a full democracy for adult white males, but inequalities still existed: poor people were still poor, and while wealth may not have bought votes directly, it certainly was a prerequisite for any kind of real power. What was different about America was not that the gap between rich and poor had narrowed indeed, the opposite was probably true, but that there were few systemic barriers (except for slavery) that prevented people from gaining wealth and power. However limited, the idea of America, as a land of unprecedented opportunity was not inaccurate in the context of the times. Importantly, equality of opportunity did not necessarily mean equality of result, a concept with which Americans continue to wrestle in making political choices (Garraty 228). .
The other major change in the Jacksonian era was the emergence of a solid two-party system. The modern Democratic Party was founded under Jackson, and an opposition party "the Whigs, soon evolved. When that party disappeared in the early 1850s, the Republican Party, giving the U.S. the basic political structure that survives to this day, soon replaced it. Although many issues have changed since the 1800s, the present Republican and Democratic parties have much in common with their ancestors. .
Another development in the Age of Jackson was that the idea of political service as a sort of noblesse oblige, which was the way people like Washington and Jefferson tended to look at it, was gone.