Were Thomas Jefferson and James Madison Jacksonians? They were founders of the Republican or Democratic-Republican Party, and many Republicans left the party to support Jackson and then found the Democrats. I would be very curious to know if Jefferson or Madison left the Republican Party or became supporters of Andrew Jackson.
Short Answer: Jefferson was anti-Jacksonian. Madison was neither Jacksonian nor anti-Jacksonian.
Longer Answer: By 1828, every serious contender for the presidency was a member of the Republican Party, so the supporters of Jackson called themselves “Friends of Jackson” or “Jacksonians” to differentiate themselves from the "Administration Republicans" or "National Republicans" who supported Adams, the incumbent Republican President. Inasmuch as the election of 1828 represented the beginning of the end of the Republican Party, supporting Jackson represented leaving the Republican Party (or the Republican Party leaving you). So this question is answerable as “Did Jefferson and Madison support Jackson’s presidential bids?”
Jefferson: Jefferson may have died before Jackson's election 1828, but he was alive for Jackson’s first presidential run in 1824. From quotes at the time, we know that Jefferson was absolutely not a Jacksonian. As Jefferson told Daniel Webster:
His passions are terrible. When I was President of the Senate [Vice President], he was Senator, and he could never speak from the rashness of his feelings. I have seen him attempt it repeatedly, and as often choke with rage . . . I feel much alarmed at the prospect of seeing General Jackson President . . . He is one of the most unfit men I know of for such a place. He has very little respect for law or constitutions . . . He is a dangerous man” (H.W. Brands, p. 97)
Madison: Madison, as ever, is harder to pin down. During the election of 1828, he feared party and faction. But he was equally agitated by southern states’ indications that they might nullify the tariff and thereby destroy the Union. Try as he might to act as the elder statesmen and remain aloof from the campaign:
Madison found the partisan beast pounding at his door . . . He was appalled to discover that Adams men in his own state had cynically put his name on their list of presidential elections . . . Two of his most respected political friends, Joseph Cabell and James Barbour, begged him in early 1828 to take a public stand against Jackson in order to save the Republic . . . [but] Madison broke his public silence only to urge fellow citizens to conduct their political discussions ‘in a spirit and manner, neither unfavorable to a dispassionate result, nor unworthy of the great and advancing cause of Representative Government.’ (McCoy, 125-126)
Madison was ambiguous enough that even as late as 1834, “Madison was repeatedly urged to speak out against the putative evils of [Jackson’s] executive usurpation” (McCoy 158). Madison certainly wasn’t fond of Jackson, but he believed “that Jackson’s popularity was an anomaly, which suggested that any danger posed by his abuse of patronage would die with his presidency” (McCoy 158). Because Madison saw the nullification crisis as the greatest threat to the Union, he refused to lend assistance to the anti-Jackson forces, no matter how often his friends implored him to.
In short, Madison was not a Jacksonian, but he supported Jackson on what he saw as the most important issue of Jackson’s presidency.
Jefferson and Madison were not Jacksonians in any meaningful sense.
Jefferson was President from 1801 to 1809 and died in 1826 before Jackson assumed the presidency.
Madison was President from 1809 to 1817
- Jackson from 1829 to 1837
I didn't find an easy source for the first use of the term "Jacksonian", but I'm willing to bet that the term as it it used in the modern era was unknown to either Jefferson or Madison; the assertion that either was a "Jacksonian" is absurd. Jefferson pursued a bizarre incoherent political philosophy based on pastoral slaveholding, advocacy of "a little revolution now and then", unreasoning, unquestioning, unthinking, ideological adherence to the French Revolution, the French, and deep abiding unthinking, unreasoning, zealous contempt and loathing for the British. (Partly because Jefferson seemed incapable of understanding that debts had to be paid, and the English had this quaint notion that debts were contracts under law. Jefferson thought the French had found a good solution when the started beheading people who annoyed them). These are not traits we associate with Jacksonianism. Madison aligned with most of Jefferson's policies, but came to them from a basis that was rooted in a reality that we recognize.
"Jacksonian Democracy" is "An ambiguous, controversial concept, Jacksonian Democracy in the strictest sense refers simply to the ascendancy of Andrew Jackson and the Democratic party after 1828." History Channel
Wikipedia's definition is potentially more useful, "Jacksonian democracy is the political movement toward greater democracy for the common man symbolized by American politician Andrew Jackson and his supporters. "
Putting aside my personal political opinions of Jefferson that may be evident from the paragraphs above, the fundamental notion of US Political policy changed fundamentally from Jefferson to Jackson.
It is very difficult to make the case that Jefferson supported the "common man"; I'll grant that in Jefferson's ideal world, every man would have a farm, live on the farm and produce enough for self sufficiency. Jefferson's contempt for anyone engaged in trades or industry never really addressed where he would obtain those goods; presumably every man would have slaves trained to make all the manufactured goods needed to run the farm. Although Jefferson gets good press for making statements sympathetic to the end of slavery, his vision of the ideal state simply cannot exist without chattel slavery. Jefferson advocated a world where the rich ruled and the poor endured.
Preliminary research would have found the following sentence in wikipedia
"Jacksonian Democracy", subsequent to ending what he termed a "monopoly" of government by elites. Jeffersonians opposed inherited elites but favored educated men while the Jacksonians gave little weight to education. The Whigs were the inheritors of Jeffersonian Democracy in terms of promoting schools and colleges.1 During the Jacksonian era, suffrage was extended to (nearly) all white male adult citizens."
Jackson was different. In Jackson's America, common people participated in the democratic process