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Symptoms of a Locked Jaw, by David Johnston, 1834

In this cartoon, Henry Clay “censures” President Andrew Jackson by sewing his mouth shut.

Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

Symptoms of a Locked Jaw

Votes and Vetoes: Defining Senate Powers 1834-1837

The Senate gained new prominence in the 1830s as a result of its battle with President Andrew Jackson. Jackson's veto of an act to renew the charter of the Bank of the United States angered many members of Congress. When the President refused to comply with a Senate request for important documents related to bank operations, the Senate censured, or formally rebuked, him for assuming powers that he did not have under the Constitution. Jackson angrily rebuffed the Senate and dismissed its censure. Three years later, when Jackson's Democratic Party regained control of the Senate, the new majority voted to strike, or delete, the censure from the Senate Journal. Behind this debate lay a fierce struggle for power between Congress and the President over which branch would take the lead in shaping national policy.