Moreover, the opposition was divided. A party bitterly opposed to Free Masonry had sprung into existence, and Jackson was a Mason. But the Anti-Masons, instead of supporting Clay, nominated a third candidate. South Carolina threw her votes away on a fourth.
Jackson got 219 electoral votes to 49 for Clay, 11 for Floyd, the nullification candidate, and seven for Wirt, the Anti-Mason candidate. His popular vote was more than twice Clay's, and he actually carried the New England States of Maine and New Hampshire. If, during his first term, he exercised his great office like a general, he entered upon the second with even a firmer belief that he ought to have his way in all things. The people had given an answer to Clay and Biddle and Calhoun and Marshall; to the corrupters of the government and the enemies of the President; to the nullifiers of the law and the slanderers of Peggy Eaton. He understood his overwhelming victory as the people's warrant to go on with all he had begun.
But neither the nullifiers nor the Bank were willing to give up. In November, 1832, a South Carolina convention passed an ordinance, to go into effect February 1, 1833, nullifying the tariff law, and took measures to defend its action by force. Jackson promptly sent Winfield Scott to South Carolina to make ready for fighting, employed a confidential agent to organize the Union men in the State, and called on Edward Livingston to help him with an address to his misguided countrymen. The pen of Livingston and the spirit of Jackson, working together, made the Nullification Proclamation a great state paper. It was a high-minded appeal to the second thought and the better nature of the Carolinians ; an able statement of the national character of the government; a firm defiance to all enemies of the Union. It was the most popular act of the administration, and brought to its support men who had never supported it before. Benton and Webster joined hands ; even Clay, who, like Jackson, loved his country with his whole heart, supported the President. Calhoun, alone of all his famous contemporaries, stood out against him. He left the Vice-President's seat, came down upon the floor as a Senator, and defended nullification against all the famous orators who crowded to assail it.
The President called on Congress to provide the means to enforce the law, and a so-called force bill was introduced. The Carolinians were defiant, and the country seemed on the verge of civil war; but Clay, by the second of his famous compromises, avoided the struggle. A new tariff law, providing for a gradual reduction of duties, was passed along with the force bill. The Carolinians chose the olive branch instead of the sword. The nullifiers first postponed and then repealed their ordinance.
Jackson was a national hero as he had never been before. In the summer of 1833, he made a journey to the Northeast, and even New England made him welcome. Harvard College made him a Doctor of Laws. As he rode through the streets of Boston, a merchant of Federalist traditions, who had closed his windows to show his principles, peeped through, and Jackson's bearing so touched him that he sent a child to wave the old gentleman a handkerchief. Andy of the Waxhaws was at the summit of his career. No other American could rival him in popularity; no other American had ever had such power over his countrymen since Washington frowned at the whisper that he might be a king.
But the great man was only a man, after all. He was in wretched health throughout his first term, and at times it did not seem that he could possibly live through it. His old wounds troubled him, and one day he laid bare his shoulder, gripped his cane with his free hand, and a surgeon cut out the ball from Jesse Benton's pistol. He was too ill to finish his New England tour, and hastened back to Washington.
But his opponents had little reason to rejoice in his illness. The summer was not spent before he had made up his mind to do the most daring act of his public life. He had vetoed the Bank's new charter, but the Bank itself was not destroyed. The public funds were still in its keeping; its power in the business world was as great as ever. He believed, moreover, that Biddle was using money freely to fight him, and would sooner or later get what he wanted from Congress. He prepared, therefore, to crush the Bank by withdrawing the deposits of public money and giving them into the keeping of other banks throughout the country. Blair, in "The Globe," set to work to convince the people that the Bank was not sound, and that the public funds were unsafe. Kendall was sent about the country to examine other banks. Congress voted against removing the deposits, but the old charter authorized the Secretary of the Treasury to do it, and the Secretary of the Treasury was now William Duane, of Philadelphia, a son of Jackson's early friend. There had been some changes in the cabinet after the second inauguration, Livingston had been appointed minister to France, the Secretary of the Treasury transferred to the State Department, and Duane called to the Treasury.
But Duane would not fall in with the President's plan. He did not believe the deposits were in danger, and refused to sign an order for removal. Jackson argued, then grew angry, and finally dismissed him. Duane defended his course ably. Lewis also advised against removal. Benton favored it, but in this he was almost alone among the leading public men. Jackson, however, was started, and he could not be stopped. Roger B. Taney, of Maryland, the Attorney-General, was made Secretary of the Treasury, and on September 26,1833, three days after Duane's dismissal, the order was signed and a series of changes began that did not end until the whole financial system of the country was changed.
When Congress met, it proved to be, everything considered, probably the ablest legislature ever assembled in America. There were brilliant men of a new generation in the lower House, and Adams also was there. In the Senate, the great three were still supreme, and were now united against the President. The debates were long and furious. A panic throughout the country added to the excitement. Clay led the attack, Calhoun and Webster supported it; Benton bore the brunt of it. In the House, the Jackson men had a majority; in the Senate, the opposition. The Senate refused to confirm the nomination of Taney to be Secretary of the Treasury, and voted that the President had taken upon himself powers not given by the Constitution. The President sent in a fiery remonstrance, and the Senate voted not to receive it. Benton at once moved that the resolution of censure be expunged from the record, and declared he would keep that motion before the Senate until the people, by choosing a Jackson majority of Senators, shoidd force it through.