The Age of Jackson, written by Arthur M. Schlesinger, focuses on the long lasting effects of Andrew Jackson on democracy and American politics. The novel starts off with Jackson's life story, a lower-class boy from the west, raised by a single mother. After finding financial success on his own, he became well known for his military exploits, being a crucial factor in the Battle of New Orleans, and the acquisition of Florida from the Spanish. After the brief account of Jackson's life, the author moves on to his administration, and stays with that topic for most of the book. .
By the time Jackson came to power, the nation had been drastically changed by the Industrial Revolution. The simple, pastoral, agricultural lifestyle was being replaced by the manufacturing world, of cities and factories. Politically, the nation was in great turmoil. There was still an everlasting debate among men in power, over what should prevail, the rights of the states, or the rights of the Federal Government. If not for several personal reasons, Jackson would have been a staunch advocator of states rights. The right to vote was still a major issue, the middle class feeling robbed of power in governmental decisions, the upper-class feeling threatened by the growth of the middleclass. However, Jackson brought with him many new ideas and principles. Since he himself had very modest roots, he sympathized with the middle and lower classes. He had worked for everything he had of value in life, and he acknowledged the importance of being able to climb the social ladder based upon one's own merit. Jackson felt that if a man was willing to work hard, he should be able to get what he wanted out of life. .
Jackson, uneducated as he was, was a very shrewd man. Using the spoils system, he all but totally replaced the cabinet from the previous administration. By rewarding the men who had helped him reach his current state, he made it clear that the middleclass could improve their condition.