In 1837, President Martin Van Buren confronted a dilemma over the appropriate federal response to the recent panic of 1837 that seemed to undercut the policies and power of Andrew Jackson’s “Democracy.” Now, Van Buren must decide how best to harness the civic reaction in stabilizing the financial system and returning the American economy to growth. Van Buren’s dilemma occurs in the midst of a dramatic regime shift in American politics. The rise of Whig politicians in reaction to the populist policies of Andrew Jackson marked 1837 as an historic pivot-point. It is useful to consider how the panic of 1837 contributed to that pivot and how the subsequent civic reaction to the panic developed. The B case presents draft legislation for an Independent Treasury and President Van Buren’s message with which he aimed to open a special session of the U.S. Congress and enact the Independent Treasury proposal.
Darden Business Publishing – University of Virginia