The Jacksonian and Antebellum Eras
Documents Decoded
by John R. Vile
November 2016, 279pp, 8 1/2x11
1 volume, ABC-CLIO

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-4981-7
$89, £66, 75€, A128
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-4982-4
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Although Andrew Jackson has long been portrayed as a key U.S. president in expanding American democracy, he is also criticized for his policies regarding Native Americans. What do original source documents reveal about Jackson’s actions and decisions?

Including documents from the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government as well as sentiments expressed by opinion leaders of the day, this book provides concisely edited primary sources that cover the Jackson period from March 1829 through the inauguration of Abraham Lincoln.

The presidency of Andrew Jackson is typically associated with the American expansionism that furthered our democracy, but often at a high cost to Native American cultures. Could similar outcomes have been achieved differently? Historians debate whether the Civil War could have been avoided, why attempts to avert war failed, and which individuals had the greatest potential ability to divert the nation’s path away from violent conflict. This book examines these historical questions regarding the unfolding of American history through an introduction to carefully edited primary documents relevant to the period, from the inauguration of President Andrew Jackson through that of Abraham Lincoln.

These documents include not only major state papers from the legislative, executive, and judicial branches, but also primary sources that directly communicate the concerns of African Americans, women, and Native Americans of the period. Important themes include the rising controversy over slavery, American expansionism, and attempts to avert crises through compromise. High school and college students and patrons of public libraries seeking to better understand American history will profit from the introductions and annotations that accompany the primary documents in this book—invaluable resources that put the information into context and explain terms and language that have become outdated.


  • Provides readers with a clearer understanding of why President Andrew Jackson was such a controversial figure
  • Supplies historical context for explaining the causes and effects of American westward expansionism, especially as they related to slavery
  • Shows how arguments for women's rights emerged along with those of the rights for African Americans
  • Impartially presents the arguments both for and against slavery and states' rights that led up to the American Civil War
John R. Vile, PhD, is professor of political science and dean of the University Honors College at Middle Tennessee State University. He has written and edited numerous books, including two prior books in ABC-CLIO's Documents Decoded series, Founding Documents of America and The Early Republic; he will also be publishing the subsequent volume on the Civil War and Reconstruction. Vile's other published volumes include Encyclopedia of Constitutional Amendments, Proposed Amendments, and Amending Issues: 1789–2015; The Constitutional Convention of 1787: A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of America's Founding; A Companion to the United States Constitution and Its Amendments; and Conventional Wisdom: The Alternative Article V Mechanism for Proposing Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.


"This is a useful reference that will prove an excellent acquisition for libraries serving high school students and undergraduates."—ARBA, March 13, 2017

"Summing Up: Recommended. High school, community college, and undergraduate students; general readers."—Choice, May 1, 2017

"This is a useful reference that will prove an excellent acquisition for libraries serving high school students and undergraduates. Recommended."—School Library Connection, August 1, 2017
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