Other Early Presidents
John Quincy Adams, son of the nation's second president, followed James Monroe into the highest office. A scholarly man, he found citizens not quite as willing to allot their tax dollars to specific advancements he deemed important, including new roads and canals, along with scientific exploration. Adams served only four years in office, though he went on to a distinguished career as a member of the House of Representatives, where he was a vigorous opponent of slavery. In 1848, at the age of eighty, John Quincy Adams suffered a stroke while fulfilling his House duties, and died days later.
Andrew Jackson, known for his heroic battlefield experiences in the Battle of New Orleans, took office as the seventh president in 1829. He served two terms, resulting from his popularity with voters. Jackson saw himself as a champion of the average citizen, continually battling Congress and vetoing legislation he thought favored the wealthy elite. (Interestingly enough, Andrew Jackson's home, the Hermitage, was one of the finest mansions in America during its day.) Thus, his policies became known as “Jacksonian Democracy.”
The 363-mile-long Erie Canal, which opened the West to commerce, proved to be an engineering marvel as well as a grand commercial success. Completed in 1825, this artificial inland waterway extended from Lake Erie, at Buffalo, New York, to the Hudson River, near Albany. With increased commerce, New York City grew to become the nation's leading financial and commercial center.
Martin Van Buren, Jackson's vice president, succeeded him in 1837. Unfortunately, the nation was mired in an economic recession, and Van Buren never did find the cure voters sought. Thus, they voted him out of office, and William Henry Harrison was inaugurated in 1841. Harrison's father had signed the Declaration of Independence, and the president himself earned military recognition at the Battle of Tippecanoe, defeating Shawnee warriors in the Indiana Territory. But alas, Harrison never got to prove himself in office, as one month after his inauguration, he died of pneumonia. He is now known as the president who served the shortest term.
John Tyler became the first vice president to succeed to the presidency. Though a Whig, he departed from party projects such as a national bank and federally funded roads and canals. Worse yet, he supported slavery, making him an outcast in his own political party. It was no surprise that he served only one term. James Polk won election in 1845.