Repression, Language, Resistance: An Analysis Of Jacksonian America through Foucauldian Lens
Vestal, Brandon D.
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During the age of Andrew Jackson (1824-1845), the United States experienced a social and political sea change that would leave the country changed forever. As Jackson served his country first as general and ultimately as president, his name came to represent a new brand of American Democracy. This expression of democracy that emerged during Jackson's life extended a politcal hand to the "common man" as represented by the yeoman farmer and urban laborer. However, as universal suffrage was granted to these common white men and the politcal landscape shifted from an elitist republic to a meritocracy, there were other politically disenfranchised groups that were pushed farther to the social margins of society. These men, with Jackson as their leader, attempted to create an America that perpetuated their power while simultaneuosly continuing the repression of free and enslaved Black Americans, American Indians and women. Socio-political philosopher Michel Foucault asserts that "there are no relations of power without resistances." In other words, as one group (white men) creates knowledge (the constitution) to perpetuate its power, there will inevitably be resistance by other groups that are repressed by this field of knowledge. Using the lens of Michel Foucault's socio-political theory, this thesis examines the mechanisms of repression that existed in Jacksonian America and the emergence of lingual and physical resistance to those systems of repression. It will reveal that the perpetual social cycle of knowledge creation and resistance has been an integral part of the social and politcal formation of the United States.