Richard B. Latner
THE familiar labels "The Age of Jackson" and "Jacksonian Democracy" identify Andrew Jackson with the era in which he lived and with the advancement of political democracy. This honor may exaggerate his importance, but it also acknowledges the important truth that Jackson significantly contributed to shaping the American nation and its politics. Just as contemporaneous artists so often depicted him astride his horse overseeing the battlefield, Jackson bestrode some of the key currents of nineteenth-century American political life.
Jackson's presidency began on a sunny, spring-like day, 4 March 1829. Dressed in a simple black suit and without a hat, partly out of respect for his recently deceased wife, Rachel, and partly in keeping with traditions of republican simplicity, Jackson made his way on foot along a thronged Pennsylvania Avenue. From the east portico of the Capitol, he delivered his inaugural address—inaudible except to those close by—in which he promised to be "animated by a proper respect" for the rights of the separate states. He then took the oath of office, placed his Bible to his lips, and made a parting bow to the audience. With great difficulty, he made his way through the crowd, mounted his horse, and headed for the White House and what had been intended as a reception for "ladies and gentlemen."
What next took place has become a part of American political folklore. According to one observer, the White House was inundated "by the rabble mob," which, in its enthusiasm for the new president and the refreshments, almost crushed Jackson to death while making a shambles of the house. Finally, Jackson was extricated from the mob and taken to his temporary quarters at a nearby hotel. "The reign of King 'Mob' seemed triumphant," one cynic scoffed. There was little doubt that Jackson's presidency was going to be different from that of any of his predecessors. Daniel Webster put it best when he predicted that Jackson would bring a "breeze with him. Which way it will blow I cannot tell."
Webster's uncertainty is readily understandable because Jackson was a relative newcomer to national politics. Jackson was born on 15 March 1767, in the Waxhaw settlement, a frontier border area between North and South Carolina, where his early life was marked by misfortune and misadventure. His Scotch-Irish father had joined the tide of immigrants seeking improved economic and political conditions in the New World, only to die after two years, leaving his pregnant wife and two sons. The third son, whom she named Andrew after her late husband, was born just days later. As a young man during the Revolutionary War, Jackson also lost both his brothers and his mother.
Despite these inauspicious beginnings, Jackson received some formal education at local academies and schools, and following the Revolution, he left the Waxhaw community to study law with two prominent members of the North Carolina bar. In the 1780s, after finding little legal work in North Carolina, he migrated to Tennessee, where he showed the good sense to identify himself with the BlountOverton faction, a group of prominent men bound together by politics, land speculation, and, increasingly, financial and banking interests.
The eager, hardworking, and talented young Jackson soon received a host of political rewards. He became a public prosecutor, attorney general for the Mero District, delegate to the Tennessee constitutional convention, a member of Congress, a United States senator, and a judge of the Superior Court of Tennessee. By the year 1800, he was the leader of the Western branch of the Blount-Overton faction.
Military positions also came Jackson's way, and he gradually advanced from his appointment as judge advocate for the Davidson County militia in 1792 to be elected major general of the Tennessee militia a decade later. At the same time, he accumulated significant amounts of property, establishing himself as a member of the Tennessee elite by purchasing a plantation, first at Hunter's Hill and then, in 1804, at the Hermitage, near Nashville.
Jackson's enormous military success during the War of 1812, culminating in the Battle of New Orleans, made him a national hero, and during the winter of 1821–1822, political friends placed his name before the country as a presidential candidate in the election of 1824. His first presidential bid fell short, for in a four-way contest, Jackson won a plurality of the popular vote but failed to receive an electoral majority. The decision rested with the House of Representatives, and John Quincy Adams emerged victorious after receiving the support of Henry Clay. When Adams appointed Clay as his secretary of state and heir apparent, Jacksonians alleged a "corrupt bargain." Jackson himself always believed that the will of the people had been corruptly overturned, and he denounced Clay as "the Judas of the West." Although it is unlikely that Adams and Clay actually made a secret deal, Jackson had a telling point in that Clay's action deprived the most popular candidate of the presidency. The incident strengthened Jackson's conviction that a republic should be based on the democratic principle of majority, not elite, rule.
Four years later, Old Hickory was vindicated. In the election of 1828, he received about 56 percent of the popular vote and carried virtually every electoral vote south of the Potomac River and west of New Jersey. Yet Jackson's victory was the product of a diverse coalition of groups rather than of a coherent political party. In addition to the original Jackson men from the campaign of 1824, there were the followers of New York's Martin Van Buren and Jackson's vice president, South Carolina's John C. Calhoun; former Federalists; and groups of "relief men," who during the Panic of 1819 had bucked the established political interests by advocating reforms to help indebted farmers and artisans.
Further, there were few clear-cut issues dividing the candidates. Instead, popular attention was captured by a host of scurrilous charges that dragged the contest down to the level of mud-slinging. Rachel, for example, was accused of bigamy in marrying Jackson while she was legally attached to another man. Jackson men, in addition to harping on the corrupt-bargain charge, accused Adams of pimping for the czar while he was minister to Russia.
Nevertheless, there were signs even in that campaign of Jackson's future course. The Jackson men
of 1828 already displayed elements of the political organization that would emerge during his presidency. Significantly, his followers showed themselves more adept than the opposition at appealing to the people and organizing grassroots sentiment. The center of the Jackson campaign was the Nashville Central Committee, whose key members were Jackson's earliest and closest associates in Tennessee politics, such as John Eaton, John Overton, and William B. Lewis. This committee linked together the numerous state and local Jackson organizations and worked closely with political leaders in Washington.
The Jackson committees encouraged a more popular and democratic style of politics by organizing rallies, parades, and militia musters; helping to sustain Jackson newspapers; and encouraging voters to cast their ballots for Jackson on election day. This was the first election in which gimmicks such as campaign songs, jokes, and cartoons were extensively used to arouse popular enthusiasm. Years before, Jackson's soldiers had given him the nickname Old Hickory to signify both his toughness and their affection for him. During the 1828 campaign, his followers ceremoniously planted hickory trees in village and town squares, and sported hickory canes and hats with hickory leaves. Hickory poles, symbolically connecting Jackson to the liberty poles of the revolutionary era, were erected "in every village, as well as upon the corners of many city streets." Jackson himself, while avoiding overt electioneering displays, carefully supervised this political activity.
The election of 1828 also hinted at Jackson's future program. Until recently, Jackson was rarely considered a man with any coherent political views. Most accounts treated him as a confused, opportunistic, and inconsistent politician. Jackson, to be sure, had no formal political philosophy, but he adhered to certain underlying values and ideas with a degree of consistency throughout his long political career.
Jackson's philosophy owed much to the teachings of Thomas Jefferson and to the tradition of republican liberty of the revolutionary generation. One of the unique products of the American Revolution was the new and distinctive definition it gave to classical and Renaissance traditions of republicanism. Revolutionary thinkers taught that liberty was always jeopardized by excessive power and that a proper balance and limitation of governmental powers was essential to assure freedom. In addition, this ideology of republicanism also emphasized that the character and spirit of the people—what was called public virtue—were fundamental to maintaining a free society. A virtuous citizenry was necessary to liberty, and whatever corrupted the people thereby corrupted their institutions. Rooted in an agrarian, premodern society, traditional republican thought warned of the competing dangers inherent in an expansive market economy, such as stockjobbing, paper credit, funded debts, powerful moneyed interests, a swollen bureaucracy, and extreme inequality of condition.
During the nineteenth century, Americans accommodated republicanism's precapitalistic bias to the dramatic changes in transportation, communication, and economic activity that have been called the Market Revolution. Especially after the War of 1812, Americans acknowledged that it was no longer possible or even desirable to maintain a rigid agrarian social order. They increasingly accepted as beneficial certain material and moral aspects of a developing economy. Economic ambition, for example, need not breed only luxury and corruption; it could also promote industriousness, frugality, and other republican virtues. Nevertheless, many Americans continued to harbor anxieties that the emerging world of commerce, banking, and manufacturing endangered the conditions essential to maintain liberty. In short, the language of republicanism remained potent throughout the Jacksonian era, but its diagnosis of the condition of the American republic was subject to different interpretations.
These ideas left their mark on Jackson. It was evident in his highly moralistic tone; his agrarian sympathies; his devotion to the principles of states' rights and limited government; and his fear that speculation, moneyed interests, and human greed would corrupt his country's republican character and institutions. At the same time, he was not a rigid traditionalist. He accepted economic progress, a permanent and expanding Union with sovereign authority, and democratic politics. His philosophy, therefore, brought together the not entirely compatible ideals of economic progress, political democracy, and traditional republicanism.
In the campaign of 1828, Jackson's sentiments distinguished him from Adams. While Adams viewed an active and positive government as promoting liberty, Jackson preferred to limit governmental power and return to the path of Jeffersonian purity. The comparison was by no means perfect. Jackson intended no states' rights crusade, and he dissatisfied some idealists, particularly in the South, by endorsing some tariff protection and the distribution of any surplus revenue back to the states. Yet it was evident that, compared to his opponent, Jackson would qualify federal activity. He considered his victory a moral mandate to restore "the real principles of the constitution as understood when it was first adopted, and practiced upon in 1798 and 1800." His specific program was to become clear only as his presidency unfolded.
Administration and Appointments
Among Jackson's first responsibilities as president was the administration of government, including his selection of cabinet and other personnel. Some Jackson men, like the Virginia editor Thomas Ritchie, wanted Jackson to share power with an "old fashioned . . . consultative" cabinet, reflective of the cabinet's increased status in the period following the War of 1812. But Jackson refused; he intended, instead, to control his cabinet. More than that, he was prepared to alter fundamentally the whole basis of presidential power by resting his authority directly upon the people. The president, Jackson claimed, was "the direct representative of the American people."
The idea that the chief executive was the people's special representative became an established part of the presidential office, though not all occupants were as skilled as Jackson in making political capital of it. At the time, it was controversial. One prominent editor complained that whereas formerly the president's essential duty was to execute the law made by other government branches, it had come to be claimed as "the true democracy, that the president is THE 'GOVERNMENT.' " But Jackson's supporters parried such protests. "That the practice is not usual is no objection to it," responded Jackson's official newspaper, the Washington Globe.
As befit a president who intended to lead, Jackson wanted a cabinet composed of "plain, business men" who would sustain a moderate states' rights program, rather than prominent politicians who might undercut his authority and use their office as a stepping-stone to higher position. He also had to navigate carefully between the rival camps of Van Buren and Calhoun, both of whom were considered competitors for the succession. In the end, Jackson selected Van Buren as secretary of state, his friend Eaton as secretary of war, Samuel Ingham of Pennsylvania as secretary of the treasury, John Branch of North Carolina as head of the Navy Department, John McPherson Berrien of Georgia as attorney general, and Kentucky's William T. Barry as postmaster general.
The selections generally fit Jackson's criteria. There were no radical antitariff or protariff zealots who might stir trouble, and none, with the exception of Van Buren, was a major political figure. Both the Calhoun and Van Buren men felt disappointed, a sign of Jackson's ability to maintain his independence of both groups. Almost unnoticed in the din of protest by dissatisfied office seekers was that Jackson had drawn the line against the followers of Adams and Clay. His would be, applauded one Jackson man, "a party administration."
Jackson's first cabinet proved a keen disappointment. Its members soon divided into hostile factions, and Jackson called it into session only rarely before it dissolved in the spring of 1831. But, contrary to most historical accounts, this was the exception, not the rule. Later cabinet appointments were generally more felicitous, and Jackson ordinarily met his cabinet on a regular basis, usually once a week, except when crises called for more frequent, even daily, sessions. Yet Jackson never granted his cabinet great formal power. Individual members like Van Buren might accumulate considerable influence, but Jackson looked to his cabinet primarily to inform and discuss, not to decide. The more important the issue to him, the more he used his cabinet only to gain political support for a predetermined policy.
From the outset, Jackson looked for advice from friends and associates not necessarily in the cabinet. He asked William B. Lewis, who held a job in the Treasury Department, to live in the White House, and he retained his nephew Andrew Jackson Donelson as his private secretary, while Donelson's wife, Emily, served as White House hostess. More significantly, he gave special attention to a Kentucky editor and former relief leader named Amos Kendall, who landed an appointment as an auditor in the Treasury Department. In December 1830, Kendall was joined among Jackson's close advisers by another Kentucky relief man, Francis Preston Blair, who arrived to edit the Globe. Along with Van Buren, the two Kentuckians constituted Jackson's inner circle of advisers, though others would from time to time join them.
The opposition soon dubbed Jackson's advisers the "kitchen cabinet," by which they meant a close-knit group of "favorites who controlled and directed" him. The charge was unfounded. In reality, Jackson established a flexible advisory system composed of many people with overlapping responsibilities. The system was well suited to an active president who disliked official councils and preferred to consult informally with whomever he thought able to give useful advice.
The arrangement also left Jackson entirely free to make the final judgment and assume full responsibility for a decision. Jackson vigorously denied that others made policy for him, and his own closest aides agreed. Kendall summed it up best when he explained that influence depended on agreement with Jackson's objectives and style: "There are a few of us who have always agreed with the President in relation to the Bank and other essential points of policy, and therefore they charge us with having an influence over him! Fools!! They can not beat the President out of his long-cherished opinions, and his firmness they charge to our influence."
Jackson's handling of administrative matters also refutes opposition charges that he was incompetent and irresponsible. In Jackson's day, presidents were expected to oversee the day-to-day conduct of public business, such as appointments and removals, department reports, budgetary appropriations, and other administrative chores. Jackson showed the attention to detail, consistency, and tact required of good administrators. One observer reported that the president "looks personally into every thing.. . . He frequently visits the executive offices, supervises the proceedings of the subordinate functionaries, and directs and stimulates them by his presence." Little wonder that Jackson could report that his labors employed him "day and night" and that his situation was one of "dignified slavery."
Meanwhile, economic growth, an increased and more widely dispersed population, and new government initiatives such as Indian removal strained old administrative arrangements. In the preceding forty years of constitutional government, there had been only two formal administrative reorganizations worthy of notice; but during Jackson's presidency, almost every federal department was overhauled at least once, and the Post Office and General Land Office, which accounted for more than three-quarters of the civilian manpower employed by the executive branch, underwent major reorganizations. The civil service was enlarged, and new formal and elaborate bureaucracies appeared. Administrative rules better defined jurisdictions and responsibilities, and official duties were carefully checked and separated from private activities. According to Matthew A. Crenson's prominent study, Jackson's administrative legacy was the beginning of real government bureaucracy.
No aspect of Jackson's administrative performance has been subjected to as much criticism as his policy of rotation in office. It has been viewed as a euphemism for the spoils system and as a major culprit in the decline of administrative standards during the Jacksonian period. During the campaign of 1828, there was an expectation among many Jackson supporters that his victory would be followed by the wholesale removal of Adams officeholders. To some extent, this reflected the wider participation by citizens in government and the practice of party politics in some states like Pennsylvania and New York, which had well-developed party organizations. No politician of Jackson's skill could ignore the need to inspire and reward efforts made in his behalf. As his presidency progressed, Jackson found further justification in having loyal friends in office. Faithful office-holders brought the government closer to the people and assured that the people's will, as expressed in his policies, was dutifully carried out. In short, partisanship was democratic.
But removals also resulted from Jackson's concern for republican virtue. Jackson sincerely believed that his election was a victory over "the corrupting influence of executive patronage" and that the "corrupt bargain" between Adams and Clay was symptomatic of the extensive decay imbedded in the government. Jackson affirmed the reforming impulse behind removals in his first annual message. "Corruption in some and in others a perversion of correct feelings and principles divert government from its legitimate ends and make it an engine for the support of the few at the expense of the many," he asserted. "Rotation" would prevent officeholders from assuming a permanent right to their positions, and public duties should be made simple enough so that all "men of intelligence" could perform them. Implicit in this message was Jackson's idea that "rotation in office . . . will perpetuate our liberty."
There was much outcry among officeholders and opposition spokesmen who feared a mass beheading of all who would not swear fealty to Old Hickory. Even some of Jackson's own supporters, particularly in the South, expressed disapproval of large-scale dismissals and the appointment of inappropriate personnel, especially low-status newspaper editors. Jackson's critics had a point. Partisanship explicitly entered more fully into the appointments process than ever before. In his first year in office, Jackson removed more officials than all his predecessors combined, and the purges and partisan appointments doubtless contributed to a decline in ethical standards. Certainly, no previous officer managed to bilk the government of as much money as Jackson's collector of the Port of New York, Samuel Swartwout, who absconded with over $1 million and fled to Europe. While Jackson did not intend to introduce a spoils system, his policy opened the way for his successors to institute a more systematic policy of party patronage.
Yet, there was no wholesale proscription during Jackson's presidency, and there were many positive aspects to his policy. Jackson made clear from the outset that reform would proceed "judiciously . . . and upon principle." Only about one-tenth of federal officeholders were removed during his presidency, and not all of these were for political reasons. Especially in the upper echelons of the civil service, key figures remained in their positions, retaining their subordinates and giving stability to the system.
Although a few of Jackson's appointments proved to be disasters—Postmaster General Barry's tenure was marked by inefficient service and escalating debts—many of Jackson's appointments were excellent. From his position in the Treasury Department, for example, Amos Kendall zealously lopped off excess expenditures, unmasked corruption, and improved efficiency. He boasted of saving thousands of dollars and shocked many opposition leaders by exposing his predecessor, Tobias Watkins, a furious Adams partisan, for defalcation. Even Adams conceded that "some of the dismissions are deserved," and though he considered most of the new appointees "less respectable, he acknowledged that some were "good."
The wrongdoing that did occur should also be seen within the context of a general deterioration of ethical standards in American society. The legal profession, the business community, and organized religion all showed a similar decline in internal discipline, and it is likely that Jackson's administrative reforms were designed in part to counteract this slide. In the outcry over removals, it is often forgotten that Jackson's presidency marked an era of creative administration.
The Eaton Affair
Jackson had barely taken office when he confronted his first political crisis. The trouble revolved around Secretary of War Eaton and his wife, Peggy. For various reasons, Eaton's appointment was unpopular with many Jackson supporters. Compounding this difficulty was Eaton's marriage on New Year's Day 1829 to Margaret O'Neale Timberlake. Peggy, the daughter of a Washington tavern keeper, had gained an unsavory reputation for being too forward with her father's boarders when her first husband, a naval officer, was away. Eaton was a frequent guest at the O'Neale tavern. When her husband died at sea, probably a suicide brought on by drinking, Eaton married Peggy after receiving Jackson's opinion that marriage would disprove the charges of impropriety.
Washington society, already fearful that Jackson would have as little regard for its conventions as he had for Indians or British troops, saw Eaton's appointment as a challenge and responded by snubbing Mrs. Eaton. Although some prominent Washington leaders, particularly Van Buren, associated with the Eatons, many did not. Among the families that excluded her were those of Calhoun, Ingham, Branch, Berrien, and Donelson. Doubtless recalling the slanderous attacks against his own wife during the recent campaign, Jackson decried the baseness of those who, in the name of morality, dragged the intimate and private relations of marriage into the public arena. "Our society wants purging here," he concluded.
Jackson devoted an inordinate amount of time during his first year in office gathering evidence to prove Mrs. Eaton's virtue and laboring to have his family and cabinet harmonize. His efforts had little effect, and the social war against Peggy Eaton continued unabated. Jackson was furious and miserable, but he continued to support the Eatons and insisted that loyalty to them was essential to his own success.
The Eaton affair inevitably spilled over into politics. Initially, Jackson assumed that Clay and the opposition were responsible. However, by the late fall of 1829, he had identified Calhoun as the arch-conspirator. Because Eaton, who was a Van Buren partisan, had refused to back Calhoun's presidential aspirations, Jackson alleged, Calhoun thought it necessary to destroy him, whatever the consequences to the administration.
In retrospect, it is clear that Jackson exaggerated Calhoun's responsibility. The Eaton controversy involved matters of decorum that would have made it difficult under the best of circumstances to harmonize the cabinet. Much opposition to the Eatons also emanated more from political hostility to Eaton and Van Buren than from devotion to Calhoun.
Yet if Jackson simplified, he also struck a core truth. While there is no direct evidence that Calhoun initiated the quarrel to strengthen his claims to the succession, he was doing nothing to put a stop to a scandal that was damaging Jackson's credibility. One close Jackson associate put the issue squarely when he judged Calhoun a "madman" if he promoted the maneuvers against Eaton, and not a wise man if he does not put an end to it."
Soon other difficulties mixed with the Eaton incident to separate Calhoun from Jackson. In the fall of 1829, Jackson learned that, as a member of Monroe's cabinet, Calhoun had recommended that Jackson be punished for defying the president's orders and pursuing the Seminole Indians into Spanish Florida. In May 1830, when Jackson received confirming evidence in written form, he forwarded the material to Calhoun and expressed his "great surprise" at these allegations. Calhoun began a correspondence in which he attempted to blame Van Buren's friends for reviving the issue, but he was still forced to concede his opposition to Jackson's Florida invasion. Jackson denounced Calhoun as a "hypocrite" who had "attempted to stab me in the dark."
Jackson also grew increasingly irritated by Calhoun's political independence, particularly his prominent position among the radical antitariff nullifiers. Their deteriorating relationship came to a head at the Jefferson Day Dinner in April 1830, which some Calhounites intended to use as an occasion to identify nullification with Jeffersonian principles. Jackson suspected that the proceedings would prove irregular, and he made the impending dinner the subject of "frequent conversations" with Van Buren. Having seen the list of regular toasts beforehand, he prepared his own and carefully rehearsed it with aides.
After the regular toasts were given, Jackson rose to provide the first volunteer statement. Tradition has it that he stared sternly at Calhoun and announced, "Our Union—it must be preserved." The words struck home with great force, and one nullifier rushed to ask Jackson to insert the word federal be-fore Union. Jackson readily agreed, saying that he had written the phrase that way but had inadvertently omitted the word. Even so, Jackson's declaration contrasted starkly with the sentiment offered by Calhoun: "The Union: Next to our liberty, the most dear; may we all remember that it can only be preserved by respecting the rights of the States and distributing equally, the benefit and burden of the Union." This overly long toast did nothing to dispel the idea that he was not in accord with Jackson's convictions.
Jackson's alienation from Calhoun was largely complete by this time. Thereafter, occasional efforts were made to reconcile the two men, but never successfully. In February 1831, Calhoun placed himself totally outside the pale by publishing his correspondence with Jackson concerning the Seminole controversy. The effect was to challenge Jackson in public and to give the impression that Jackson was weak and had been manipulated by Calhoun's enemies. "Mr. Calhoun does not attack the President, he says; yet he makes him out a dupe!" Kendall observed. The administration drew the line against "false friends," and Calhoun was effectively read out of the party.
The final scene of the Eaton drama was played out a few months later, in April 1831, when Van Buren paved the way for a general cabinet reorganization by resigning from his position. While Calhoun had been losing Jackson's confidence, Van Buren had been gaining it. The New Yorker, by showing the Eatons the same social consideration he gave to others and by lending his support to Jackson's political goals, earned Jackson's trust and affection. By January 1830, Jackson had concluded that Van Buren should be his successor. Van Buren's enemies charged him with manipulating the Eaton affair to undermine Calhoun, but the truth is that Van Buren needed only to let events take their course and take advantage of "the indiscretions of Calhoun's friends." Jackson noted approvingly that Van Buren "identified him [self] with the success of the administration." He could not say the same for Calhoun.
Yet Van Buren's prominence placed him in a distressing situation. So long as he remained in the cabinet, he was certain to bring continued attention to himself as a possible intriguer. The public might blame him for the Jackson-Calhoun split and for the disturbances over the Eatons. Van Buren, consequently, hit upon the idea of resigning from the cabinet as a way to restore harmony to the party and cabinet and to remove himself from a precarious position.
Jackson reluctantly accepted Van Buren's resignation, along with that of Eaton, and then discharged Branch, Berrien, and Ingham. Only Barry remained, leaving Jackson with virtually a free hand to select new members who would work better together. Jackson also appointed Van Buren minister to Great Britain, but on 25 January 1832, the Senate rejected his nomination. A tie was arranged so that Calhoun could cast the deciding vote against his rival. It may have been Calhoun's hope that this act of revenge would weaken Van Buren and the administration. One senator overheard Calhoun reassuring his followers that the vote would hurt Van Buren: "It will kill him, sir, kill dead. He will never kick, sir, never kick." But in the end, the rejection made Van Buren a political martyr and the inevitable choice for Jackson's vice president at the upcoming Democratic National Convention.
Despite the extraordinary discord and division of Jackson's first two years, he emerged from the fray with a more coherent and loyal following. The loss of Calhoun was more than compensated by the firmer attachment of the Van Buren interest. Similarly, the establishment of Blair's Globe in December 1830, replacing Duff Green's pro-Calhoun United States Telegraph, provided new energy for the administration. To be sure, Blair's arrival from Kentucky was not auspicious: his already thin, cadaverous-looking frame was disheveled and bandaged from a mishap to his coach, leading a disappointed Lewis to comment, "Mr. Blair, we want stout hearts and sound heads here." But Blair and his paper were all that Jackson could wish. Unlike Green, Blair was fully devoted to Jackson and his objectives, particularly on banking and currency matters. Blair also made the Globe a clearinghouse for party information and propaganda, by exchanging copies with over four hundred other papers and by extending its circulation. The paper gave Jackson greater control over his administration, greater authority with Congress, and closer ties to the voters.
Not all of Jackson's energy was diverted by political rivalry and intrigue. Even as he was preoccupied with Eaton and Calhoun, he began to move forward with his program. Among the first issues to be addressed was the situation of the Indian tribes.
When Jackson took office, relations between the southern tribes, the state governments, and the United States had reached a critical juncture. Georgia had clashed with the federal government when President John Quincy Adams refused to implement a controversial treaty removing the Creek Indians. Although Adams backed down and negotiated another treaty ceding the disputed land to the state, the incident highlighted the plight of the remaining southern tribes, particularly the Cherokee. Perhaps no issue more clearly distinguished the two presidential candidates in 1828, for Jackson's imposing record of conquest over the Indians, both by arms and treaty, contrasted dramatically with Adams' protective posture.
In his first annual message of December 1829, Jackson proposed that an area west of the Mississippi River be set apart and guaranteed to the Indian tribes. There they could be taught "the arts of civilization" and perpetuate their race. Emigration to this new territory would be "voluntary," but those who remained in the East would be subject to the laws of the states in which they lived and would "ere long become merged in the mass of our population."
The idea of removing Indians westward had a long history and the federal government had made numerous treaties for the removal of Indians. But Jackson's statement represented a shift in emphasis of sufficient magnitude to mark a new era in Indian-white relations. He proposed that efforts at civilizing the tribes now take place only in Indian territory, where the tribes would be free from corrupting contact with the advancing tide of frontiersmen. Determined to pursue removal with unprecedented vigor and directness, Jackson threatened that those Indians who remained behind would lose their tribal status and be considered individuals subject to state authority.
The administration's Indian removal bill encountered stiff resistance in Congress, where humanitarian and political objections nearly defeated it. Only by skillfully mobilizing their forces did Jackson's followers narrowly succeed in passing the measure on 26 May 1830. The final vote showed a considerable degree of party loyalty, making it the first important measure of Jackson's presidency that distinguished the emerging Democratic party from the opposition.
Despite the public outcry against removal, the program had many defenders, among them Jackson himself. Disputing the idea that the Indian tribes could establish separate nations within the borders of existing states, he promised liberal and equitable exchanges for their present lands. He contended that only in the West could Indians avoid demoralization and even complete annihilation at the hands of an expanding "mercenary" white population. With the Indians secure in their new territory, the federal government could exercise "parental control" over their interests and make them "civilized."
However sincerely intended, Jackson's humanitarian concerns were laced with an ethnocentrism and paternalism that devalued Indian culture and advances. No matter that some Indians had adopted many of the trappings of white society, Jackson considered the tribes as obstacles to the progressive spread of a superior civilization over the continent. "What good man would prefer a country covered with forests and ranged by a few thousand savages to our extensive Republic, studded with cities, towns, and prosperous farms . . . and filled with all the blessings of liberty, civilization, and religion?" he asked. When Indians also protested against leaving their traditional and sacred lands, Jackson facilely compared their fate to the experience of the highly mobile white society. "Doubtless it will be painful to leave the graves of their fathers," he acknowledged, "but what do they more than our ancestors did or than our children are now doing." Thus, if Indians assumed white ways, as had many Cherokee, Jackson disregarded it; if Indians desired to retain their traditional values, Jackson treated them as potential men on the make. Jackson was no Indian-hater, but his proposed philanthropy was virtually as damaging as outright hostility.
Efforts to make removal treaties with the Indians began as soon as Jackson took office and continued throughout his presidency. Jackson himself occasionally participated in the negotiations. The administration focused on the southern tribes, beginning in September 1830 with the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek with the Choctaw, and proceeding with the Creek, Chickasaw, and, in 1835, the Cherokee. Less well known are the treaties made with the generally weaker tribes of the Old Northwest, such as the Chippewa, Ottawa, and Potawatomi. Over the period of Jackson's presidency, the United States ratified some seventy treaties, affecting approximately forty-six thousand Indians.
Jackson hoped removal would be humane, but the process was often harsh and violent. Treaties were concluded with leaders who represented only a portion of the tribe and who often benefited personally from the agreement; food and transportation for the westward journey were contracted with the lowest bidder; and those staying behind generally found themselves deprived of their landholdings and treated as second-class citizens. When Indians refused to remove or when, disappointed in their new lands, they tried to return, violence broke out. The Black Hawk War of 1832 and the Creek War and the beginning of the long and bloody Seminole War in 1835 are examples of the coercion inherent in removal. Finally, Jackson's promise of Indian self-government in the West never materialized, and federal authority remained intrusive in Indian affairs. Under pressure of a rapidly expanding agricultural and commercial frontier, Jackson's respect for states' rights and reduced federal expenditures produced an arrangement that was neither just nor humane.
Indian removal showed that Jackson's goal of assuring a virtuous yet progressive society was circumscribed by race. At the same time, he clarified other aspects of his program by reversing the trend toward expanded federal assistance for internal improvements. In his first annual message in December 1829, Jackson brought the issue to Congress' attention by announcing that many people considered previous policy unconstitutional or inexpedient. "The people expected reform, retrenchment and economy in the administration of Government," he explained privately. "This was the cry from Maine to Louisiana, and instead of these the objects of Congress, it would seem, is to make mine one of the most extravagant administrations since the commencement of the Government."
Bogged down in the Eaton affair, Indian removal, and other matters, Jackson left it to Van Buren to choose an appropriate measure to initiate his new policy. Van Buren waited until April 1830, when a Kentucky congressman introduced a bill calling upon the federal government to purchase stock in a corporation to construct a road in Kentucky from Maysville to Lexington. The Maysville Road was considered by its advocates as part of a more extensive interstate road system and, therefore, deserving of federal support. The bill readily passed the House of Representatives at the end of April, with the backing of many Jackson men. Van Buren then brought it to Jackson's attention during one of their daily horseback rides, and Jackson promptly agreed that since the road was located entirely within one state, it would serve admirably.
Rumors circulated that Jackson might veto the Maysville bill, and a group of western Democrats appealed to Representative Richard M. Johnson of Kentucky to present their case for the road. Johnson explained that the improvement was needed and that a veto would severely damage the Jackson party in Kentucky. Warming to his subject, Johnson dramatically declaimed, "General! If this hand were an anvil on which the sledge hammer of the smith was descending and a fly were to light upon it in time to receive the blow he would not crush it more effectually than you will crush your friends in Kentucky if you veto that Bill!"
Jackson rose to his feet and responded in equally fervent language, bluntly remarking that there was "no money" for the expenditures desired by the friends of internal improvements. "Are you willing—are my friends willing to lay taxes to pay for internal improvements?—for be assured I will not borrow a cent except in case of absolute necessity!" he heatedly proclaimed. Jackson soon ended the interview on a more amicable note, promising to examine the bill from all angles before making up his mind, but Johnson left the White House convinced that the bill was as good as dead. "Nothing less than a voice from Heaven would prevent the old man from vetoing the Bill," Johnson explained to his colleagues, and he "doubted whether that would!"
Johnson was right, for Jackson handed down his veto, rejecting the bill on grounds that were both constitutional and pragmatic. Affirming that internal improvements could be constitutionally appropriated only for purposes of national defense and national benefit, Jackson condemned the measure as "of purely local character." He also skillfully argued against the expediency of such proposals even if they fell within his constitutional rule. Recalling the American responsibility to perpetuate "the republican principle," Jackson urged lightening public burdens, ending wasteful expenditures, and eliminating the corruption and special privilege associated with government investment in private corporations.
Over the eight years of his presidency, Jackson elaborated and refined his objections to internal-improvements projects. He warned that federal involvement risked jurisdictional clashes with the states and that government investment in private transportation companies delegated public responsibilities to private agencies and led to charges of "favoritism and oppression." He also protested against the "flagicious logrolling" that encouraged inequities of burdens and benefits and was destructive of legislative harmony. Jackson was not against economic progress, but he maintained that demands for an extensive, federally sponsored system of improvements endangered republican government and distorted natural economic growth.
Internal-improvements spending did not cease during Jackson's administration. Indeed, he spent more money—about $10 million—than all previous administrations combined. But given the pressure for improved communication and transportation facilities placed on all levels of government by economic expansion, evidence of Jackson's commitment to restraint can be found in the lack of new proposals emanating from his administration and the discouragement of new pet projects caused by actual or threatened vetoes. Most of the money approved by Jackson was for projects already begun under earlier administrations or involved activities and locales that were clearly under federal jurisdiction. Jackson therefore halted the drive for a national system of improvements and located the major responsibility for projects on state and local governments and on private funding.
More than the Indian removal bill, Jackson's internal-improvements policy began the process of identifying Jackson's followers with a party platform. Jackson himself broadcast the idea that his position on internal improvements was a testing ground for the emerging party divisions. "The line . . . has been fairly drew," he announced after issuing the Maysville message.
The veto also signaled a significant change in presidential power. Prior to Jackson's presidency, the veto had been resorted to only nine times, generally on grounds of unconstitutionality or to protect the executive against legislative encroachment. Jackson exercised the veto on more occasions, a total of twelve times; frequently employed the pocket veto, by which a president withholds a bill, unsigned, until Congress adjourns; and expanded the grounds for vetoing a measure. Indeed, it was the portions of Jackson's veto messages dealing with nonconstitutional matters that generally contained the most authentic examples of Jacksonian rhetoric and had the greatest popular appeal. In directing his vetoes to the people, moreover, Jackson enhanced presidential power and made the chief executive substantially the equivalent of both houses of Congress.
Jackson's style of reaching out for political issues was never better illustrated than his attack on the Second Bank of the United States. The bank had been chartered in 1816 to restore the country to a sound fiscal condition after near financial catastrophe during the War of 1812. It was a large corporation, managed and operated under both private and public auspices. Its capital was $35 million, partly subscribed by the United States government, and it was permitted to establish branches and issue bank notes. It was a profit-making institution that also provided public services such as transferring government funds around the country and functioning as a depository for the Treasury. Although it possessed no monopoly over the money supply, it exerted great influence over the nation's financial affairs.
After a shaky start, the bank earned a reputation for fiscal responsibility under the presidency of Nicholas Biddle. It even gained considerable popularity among state bankers, who might have looked upon their giant relative as an enemy. Still, the bank's support did not run deep; Jeffersonian constitutional scruples, traditional republican anxieties, and practical objections lingered among numerous Americans who considered its monetary policies either too lenient or too restrictive and its powers a potential threat to republican government.
Foremost among the doubters was Jackson. Having once been brought to the brink of insolvency by speculative adventures, Jackson became suspicious of all banks and their paper-money issues. His opposition to the national bank, therefore, was part of a broader antibanking and hard-money perspective. "I have been opposed always to the Bank of the U.S. as well as all state Banks of paper issues, upon constitutional ground," he insisted. He also suspected that the bank had intervened in local and national elections and thereby constituted a danger to free government. Thus, when preparing his first annual message, Jackson rejected pleas that he exclude reference to the bank, responding to one worried counselor, "Oh! My friend, I am pledged against the bank."
It is unlikely that Jackson thought in terms of the immediate destruction of the Bank of the United States. Rather, he intended to curb its abuses and explore possible alternatives. In his first message, he briefly observed that the bank's charter was scheduled to expire in 1836 and that its stockholders would probably apply for a renewal. Claiming that both the constitutionality and expediency of the bank were "well questioned by a large portion of our fellow-citizens" and that the bank had failed to establish a uniform and sound currency, he tentatively suggested that Congress consider substituting an institution more closely attached to the government. A year later, he reiterated his apprehensions about the "dangers" of the bank and elaborated on his proposal for a modified national bank that would be an adjunct of the Treasury.
Yet the pace of events remained like a minuet with both sides eyeing each other warily. Jackson's new cabinet, organized in the spring of 1831, contained two highly regarded figures, Louis McLane at the Treasury Department and Edward Livingston at the State Department, who sympathized with the bank. An all-out assault would doubtless have precipitated another cabinet crisis, something Jackson could ill afford. Perhaps, too, he preferred to delay further action until after the 1832 presidential election. Whatever his reasons, Jackson's third annual message, delivered in December 1831, was more modest than his earlier ones. While affirming his continued misgivings about the bank, he ambiguously left the whole subject "to the investigation of an enlightened people and their representatives."
Jackson's moderation troubled antibank Democrats. They need not have worried, for events favored their cause. In January 1832, Biddle, acting on the unfortunate advice of political friends, submitted to Congress a memorial for renewing the bank's charter. The timing was obviously calculated to make the bank a political issue. The National Republican party had nominated Clay as its presidential candidate in December 1831, and he was eager to test Jackson's strength on this very question. The bank's transparent political design further convinced Jackson that it was indeed a "monster" that threatened to corrupt the nation. As Roger Taney, Jackson's new attorney general, explained, the bank's application meant that "the Bank says to the President, your next election is at hand—if you charter us, well—if not, beware of your power."
The recharter bill passed the Senate on 11 June and the House on 3 July 1832. Jackson met it with a veto that pulsed with the language of Jacksonian democracy. It pronounced the institution a private and privileged corporation whose concentration of political and economic power promoted corruption and threatened liberty. Jackson scored the bank for its "exclusive privileges," claiming that most of its stock was held by foreigners and Americans "chiefly of the richest class." He accused it of operating inequitably, particularly against the West, and of "gross abuse" of its charter. Most especially he warned that the principles embodied in the bill contravened the basic principles of republican equality. Government, Jackson proclaimed, should confine itself "to equal protection, and, as Heaven does its rains, shower its favors alike on the high and the low, the rich and the poor." It should not add "artificial distinctions" to the inevitable natural and just differences among men and "make the rich richer and the potent more powerful."
Jackson's opponents assailed the veto as "the very slang of the leveller and demagogue." They had a point. Superficially, the message implied conflict between the rich and the poor. Yet its ideas were more complex. The veto did not call for the redistribution of wealth or for class war. Instead, it blended a progressive regard for equal opportunity and "competition," with the apprehension that special privilege and monopoly promoted corruption, concentration of power, and a dangerous degree of inequality. The bank veto appealed to concerns that were both contemporary and nostalgic, as Jackson tried to reconcile an expanding and increasingly market-oriented society, of which the bank was a key agent, with the Revolution's ideal of a virtuous republic.
Inevitably, the bank became the paramount issue in the 1832 presidential election. Illustrating the rapid development of party organization during this period, the Democratic party's first national convention met in Baltimore in May 1832 and nominated Jackson and Van Buren. Although it was more fully attended than its rivals', the Democratic meeting was not the first national political convention. The previous December, the National Republicans had assembled in Baltimore to select Clay and John Sergeant of Pennsylvania as their standard-bearers. Even earlier, in September 1831, the nation's first major third party, the Anti-Masons, convened in Baltimore. This party originated in upstate New York in 1826 when an itinerant stonemason named William Morgan disappeared after threatening to publish the secrets of Freemasonry. When local Masons obstructed the investigation into Morgan's kidnapping, a storm of grassroots protest erupted in western New York and spread throughout New England, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and other northern states. Anti-Masons soon organized politically and, inspired by moral and egalitarian ideals, advocated the eradication of the Masonic order as well as a variety of other reforms. Finding that the likely presidential contenders in 1832, Jackson and Clay, were both high-ranking Masons, Anti-Masonic leaders decided to nominate their own candidate. In September 1831, delegates from thirteen states nominated William Wirt of Maryland for president and Amos Ellmaker of Pennsylvania for vice president.
The two opposition parties proved no match against Jackson's popularity and his party's organizational efforts. During the campaign, special-edition newspapers, parades, barbecues, and rallies supplemented an extensive network of Hickory Clubs and state and local organizations. Jackson, while carefully avoiding overt efforts at soliciting votes, managed to make numerous public appearances when returning to Washington in the early fall from a summer stay in Tennessee. The campaign, therefore, advanced the movement toward a popular, voter-oriented style of politics.
Jackson won a smashing reelection victory. His estimated 55 percent of the popular vote and 219 electoral votes demonstrated his continued special appeal to the voters. In contrast, Clay received 37 percent of the popular vote and 49 electoral votes, while Wirt gained only 8 percent of the popular vote and 7 electoral votes. The Anti-Masonic party soon dissolved, its members being absorbed by both the Democratic party and the new Whig party. But there was no time to savor the triumph, for even as the results were recorded, Jackson's attention was primarily focused on South Carolina and the issue of nullification.
The nullification crisis was precipitated by South Carolina's bitterness at Jackson's failure to urge a major downward revision of tariff rates. Protective tariffs were considered unconstitutional, inexpedient, and inequitable throughout the South, but resentment was most extreme in South Carolina. There, the tariff was a great symbol of southern oppression, and nullification became the appropriate remedy. As devised by Calhoun, nullification's chief theoretician, in his Exposition (1828) and Fort Hill Address (1831), each state retained the final authority to declare federal laws unconstitutional. Acting through a convention, a state could pronounce a federal law null and void within its limits while remaining in the Union.
Jackson was a moderate on the tariff issue. He considered modest protection necessary to ensure the production of goods necessary for national defense and security, to establish a parity with European manufacturers, and to raise sufficient revenue to pay the national debt. He did not doubt the constitutionality of tariff protection. He vowed, therefore, to pursue "a middle and just course" on the tariff, a policy that was also politically expedient because of the lack of consensus among Democrats on the subject.
As for nullification, Jackson's contempt was un-reserved. He declared it an "abominable doctrine" that struck at the very roots of the Union, which he considered "perpetual," and it violated the principle of majority rule. He distinguished nullification from traditional states' rights principles. States' rights "will preserve the union of the states," Jackson explained, but nullification "will dissolve the Union."
In the spring of 1831, nullifier leaders went on the offensive. They organized themselves to take control of South Carolina and issued increasingly hostile attacks against the tariff and the administration. When Congress assembled in December, Jackson tried to defuse the controversy by recommending that tariff rates be lowered. Certainly pressure from South Carolina forced his hand on this matter, but tariff reform also comported with his evolving program. The approaching end of the national debt made excessive rates appear to be a special privilege of manufacturers, at the expense of ordinary citizens. High tariffs also provoked sectional strife and undermined "liberty and the general good."
Congress responded with a reform tariff in 1832, returning schedules to approximately what they had been in 1824. The measure was unacceptable to nullifiers, however, who won more than two-thirds of the seats in the South Carolina legislature the following October and called a state convention. Meeting in Charleston on 19 November 1832, the delegates approved the Ordinance of Nullification, which declared that the tariffs of 1828 and 1832 were null and void and that after 1 February 1833 it would be illegal to enforce the payment of import duties within the limits of South Carolina. The convention further warned that any use of force against the state would provide grounds for secession.
Jackson viewed the situation as grave. He regarded the nullifiers as reckless and disappointed demagogues who sought to ride to power on the ruin of the nation. Republican government was always susceptible to subversion from within, and the nullifiers seemed hell-bent on a separation of the Union. Jackson therefore developed a strategy designed to avoid provoking war while isolating and intimidating South Carolina. He sent arms and equipment to the loyal Unionists in the state, readied the army and navy, orchestrated expressions of patriotism throughout the nation, and promised prompt federal military intervention if nullifiers resisted federal laws and over-awed South Carolina loyalists.
When Congress convened in December 1832, Jackson made a new conciliatory gesture by announcing his commitment to further tariff reform. Yet it seems unlikely that he had much confidence that this would placate South Carolina. Instead, he probably hoped to isolate the state from southern moderates, who would now have little reason to sympathize with extremism.
Indeed, to show his determination to hold fast against nullification, Jackson issued the Nullification Proclamation on 10 December. Composed with the assistance of Kendall, Blair, and especially Secretary of State Edward Livingston, whom Jackson charged to use his "best flight of eloquence," the proclamation pronounced nullification "incompatible with the existence of the Union, contradicted expressly by the letter of the Constitution, unauthorized by its spirit, inconsistent with every principle on which it was founded, and destructive of the great object for which it was formed." He urged South Carolinians to retrace their steps and called upon all Americans to give their undivided support to the Union and "to inspire new confidence in republican institutions."
Led by Van Buren's followers, moderates in Congress sought to end the conflict by supporting a lower tariff bill introduced by Gulian C. Verplanck of New York. But to Jackson the situation remained critical, and on 16 January he sent Congress a message, informing it of South Carolina's actions and requesting explicit confirmation of his right to employ state militias and federal forces against the dissidents.
The resulting Force Bill, as it became known, received bipartisan support—its floor manager in the Senate was Daniel Webster—and though many southerners disliked the measure, its passage was all but assured from the time it was introduced. Jackson considered the act necessary to "show to the world" that the United States was prepared "to crush in an instant" rebellion and treason. At the same time, he made no effort on behalf of the Verplanck bill, preferring to postpone tariff revision until nullification was put down.
Prospects for compromise brightened considerably toward the end of January 1833, when a public meeting in Charleston resolved to delay nullification until Congress completed deliberations on tariff reform. A few weeks later, Clay and Calhoun made public their agreement to underwrite a compromise tariff that would provide a face-saving retreat for the nullifiers. The Clay tariff proposal sacrificed the principle of tariff protection for time, by slowly bringing rates down to a revenue standard. Jackson conspicuously refused to shift his priorities by making Clay's bill an administration measure. But most legislators considered the Compromise Tariff of 1833 as essential as the Force Bill, and by the beginning of March, both proposals had passed Congress. Significantly, Jackson signed the Force Bill first, declaring that it gave "the death blow" to nullification.
The threat to the Union was over, and most Americans breathed a sigh of relief. Yet there were those who, like Jackson, had doubts that the new tariff would bring enduring sectional peace. In the spring of 1833, when some nullifiers denounced the new tariff and called for continued and unceasing efforts to protect the South and slavery from prejudicial legislation, Jackson predicted that the nullifiers, having failed to break up the Union on the tariff issue, would now grasp "the negro, or slavery question" as their "next pretext." Additional signs of restiveness in the South were evident among many Democrats, who considered Jackson an unreliable guardian of states' rights.
Even so, the nation had weathered the storm. Jackson had vindicated the Union, demonstrated that states' rights principles were compatible with nationalism, and displayed remarkable skill in wielding presidential power. One leading Democrat remarked at this time, "He is a much abler man than I thought him. One of those naturally great minds which seem ordinary except when the fitting emergency arises."
Shortly afterward, in June 1833, Jackson departed from Washington on a tour of the East Coast, providing himself with a refreshing break from the recent arduous responsibilities of office and permitting the country to renew its commitment to the Union through patriotic celebration. The response in Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, Boston, and elsewhere was magnificent. The enthusiasm was genuine and almost universal. In Cambridge, Jackson was awarded an honorary degree of doctor of laws from Harvard. When Adams complained about this debasement of Harvard's reputation, he was met with a telling response from the president of Harvard: "As the people have twice decided that this man knows law enough to be their ruler, it is not for Harvard College to maintain that they are mistaken." But Jackson was compelled to cut short his itinerary when he collapsed from fatigue and bleeding from the lungs. He was taken by steamer back to Washington, where his life remained in danger for two days, before he rallied.
Removal of Deposits
Even as the tour proceeded, Jackson was deeply immersed in politics, for the issue of the Bank of the United States again pressed upon his attention. The bank's charter continued in effect until 1836 and then permitted the institution two years more to wind up its affairs, during which time it could try to reverse its fate. Indeed, Jackson thought there was sufficient evidence that Biddle would neither acknowledge defeat nor work harmoniously with the government. He alleged that since the veto, Biddle had circulated propaganda for the bank, aided Clay's presidential campaign, and mismanaged bank funds.
Equally ominous, the recent alliance of Clay and Calhoun gave new life to the opposition, which, Jackson predicted, would seek recharter as the centerpiece of a system of expanded governmental powers. He considered the situation a "crisis," and he determined to remove the government's deposits from the bank, relying instead on a system of selected state banks, called pet banks. In preparation, he shuffled his cabinet personnel, shifting the conservative McLane from the Treasury Department to the State Department and appointing the Pennsylvanian William Duane to replace McLane.
Throughout the summer of 1833, Jackson confronted evidence of serious resistance to removal from probank Democrats, cabinet members, and even good friends like Van Buren and Ritchie. At the end of July, he fled the sultry capital for his Virginia vacation resort at the Rip Raps to ponder the situation. As the steamboat conveyed the party down the Chesapeake, an incident occurred that showed Jackson's unflagging self-assurance. The Chesapeake waves were unusually high, seemingly endangering the old vessel and its occupants. An aged passenger exhibited a good deal of alarm, but Jackson retained his composure. "You are uneasy," Jackson said to the gentleman. "You never sailed with me before, I see."
Deciding to put to rest further discussion of his intentions, Jackson returned to Washington, called his cabinet together, and explained that there could now be "no excuse for further delay." Though most cabinet members swung reluctantly to his side, Duane stubbornly resisted issuing the order changing the government's depository. Jackson, who regarded Duane as "either the weakest mortal, or the most strange composition I have ever met with," fired him and replaced him with Roger Taney. On 25 September, Taney ordered that as of 1 October, future government revenue be placed in state banks.
The removal order set off a last, mighty struggle with the Bank of the United States. Biddle retaliated by turning the screws on the economy, reducing loans, calling in debts, and curtailing other activities. "This worthy President thinks that because he has scalped Indians and imprisoned Judges he is to have his way with the Bank. He is mistaken," Biddle fumed.
At the same time, opposition leaders, who were beginning to adopt the name Whig, denounced Jackson. "Executive usurpation," they cried, trying to undermine Jackson's popular appeal. During the so-called Panic Session of Congress, Senate Whigs managed to pass two resolutions in February and March 1834, rejecting Taney's reasons for removing the deposits and censuring Jackson's actions as "not conferred by the Constitution and laws."
As economic distress spread throughout the country, many Jacksonians hesitated. But Jackson refused to bend or to lose control of the situation. "Go to Nicholas Biddle," he told complaining delegations seeking redress. The president also turned the tables on the Senate by issuing a "Protest" detailing its own transgressions and disregard of constitutional procedures.
The tide of events soon turned in Jackson's favor. In February 1834, Pennsylvania's governor, George Wolf, turned against the bank, and in Congress the president's backers counterattacked. Finally, on 4 April 1834, after prolonged debate, House Democrats passed four resolutions that sustained both the bank veto and the removal of the deposits. Having failed to alter Jackson's policy, the bank's directors voted in July to end the contraction.
Jackson had once again prevailed. "Biddled, Diddled, and Undone" was the epitaph for the bank penned by one Democratic editor. To be sure, Jackson lost some supporters over the removal issue, mostly among southern states' rights radicals, who used the question of "executive usurpation" as a pretext for joining the Whig party. But like other Jackson policies, removal clarified party lines and firmed the commitment of those who remained loyal.
Destroying the national bank was one thing, but assuring the nation a stable and secure monetary system was another. Following removal, therefore, Jackson began his campaign to reform banking abuses. His administration's fondness for hard money—gold and silver—is probably the most difficult of all Jackson measures for twentieth-century Americans to understand. In an era when banking was virtually unregulated and an expanding economy fueled demands for more and more credit, paper money was an obvious target for reformers, who held it responsible for a cruel economic cycle of booms and busts. They also complained that it sapped public virtue by encouraging speculation, robbing "honest labor" of its earnings, and making "knaves rich, powerful and dangerous." Attacks against excessive paper issues reflected concern for actual banking abuses as well as anxiety and, for some, resistance to the onrushing Market Revolution.
Administration efforts to encourage what the Globe called "Jackson money" only partially succeeded. Congress revalued gold in 1834, but the precious metal never became a circulating medium for ordinary commercial transactions. Moreover, Congress dragged its feet for two years before imposing restraints on small bills, so that Treasury Secretary Levi Woodbury, who succeeded Taney, was compelled to take action on his own authority. In April 1835, he ordered that after 30 November the pet banks refuse bank notes under $5 for payment of government dues. In early 1836 the ban was extended to cover notes under $10.
During his second administration, Jackson also turned his attention to the issue of a successor who would perpetuate his program and party. Van Buren had long been his choice, and in the summer of 1834, Jackson informed Van Buren that he was insisting that party leaders take a stand against the Bank of the United States, national banks in general, "and in favor of you." Van Buren, however, had drawbacks. As a northerner, he was suspect to many southerners, and his reputation for political scheming left a trail of political resentment. Rebellion against a Van Buren succession flared throughout the South and consolidated behind the candidacy of a slaveholding Tennessean, Senator Hugh Lawson White.
In order to unite the party behind Van Buren, Jackson urged that a national convention meet early. In response to the administration's call, delegates convened in Baltimore on 20 May 1835 and nominated Van Buren, along with the popular Kentucky military hero and senator Richard M. Johnson. Johnson's earlier open relationship with a mulatto woman and his two daughters by her stirred resistance among many southern Jacksonians who preferred Virginia's William C. Rives for the vice presidency. But Jackson's fiat went forth, and Johnson won the necessary two-thirds vote.
Southern apprehensiveness about the Van Buren-Johnson ticket becomes more understandable in light of renewed northern antislavery activity at this time. Jackson's presidency coincided with the formation of state and national antislavery societies, the publication of William Lloyd Garrison's Liberator, and the expansion of abolitionist efforts to awaken the nation's conscience. Although abolitionists focused primarily on nonpolitical tactics, their activities inevitably intruded into politics. During the last two years of the Jackson administration, therefore, the slavery issue was reintroduced to American politics for the first time since the fiery Missouri debates of 1819–1821.
In the summer of 1835, shortly after the Democratic convention adjourned, antislavery forces organized a campaign to distribute propaganda tracts through the mails to the South. The southern response was predictable. Southern state legislatures passed laws to keep out such "incendiary literature," and many southern postmasters refused to deliver abolitionist mail. At Charleston, South Carolina, on 29 July, a mob of some three hundred incensed citizens stormed the post office to seize abolitionist material. Although persuaded to disperse, a few Carolinians returned that night and took possession of the literature, which they burned the following evening on the Charleston parade grounds.
The Jackson administration's handling of this controversy has generally been interpreted as evidence of its southern orientation. According to one account, the Democratic party's pro-South and pro-slavery bias was the "darker side to Jacksonian Democracy." The Jackson administration certainly was hostile to abolitionism and any efforts to disturb the South's "peculiar institution." It showed a continuing solicitude for southern opinion and interests, and it embraced the racial tenets of "herrenvolk democracy," which affirmed the equality of whites and their superiority over non-whites. Jackson himself was a substantial planter, owning many slaves, and while he insisted that they be treated "humanely," he showed no disposition to disturb the legal and constitutional arrangements that maintained the slave system. Yet Jackson's position on the slavery issue was more complex than this.
The Democratic party was a national organization, and northern attitudes about slavery and civil liberties had to be given weight. Moreover, Jackson's denunciation of abolitionism did not signify that he considered slavery a positive or permanent good. Rather, he thought that by maintaining sectional calm, Providence would, in time, somehow eradicate the evil. Indeed, he generally perceived the growing slavery controversy as artificial and political, with both abolitionists and southern extremists seeking to divide the Union to serve their separate ends. The permanency of the Union and the American experiment in liberty went hand in hand; both were directly threatened by agitation over slavery. And so, too, was the Democratic party. The administration therefore sought to put a damper on the slavery issue by placating southern worries while resisting extreme proslavery demands.
With Jackson vacationing in Virginia, the administration's initial response to the mails controversy fell to the recently appointed postmaster general, Amos Kendall. Seeking to intercept the mails with as little noise and difficulty as possible, Kendall adopted an evasive strategy of refusing officially to sanction the action of local postmasters who detained the mail, but also declining to order it delivered. He thus left postmasters to their own discretion.
Upon learning of the situation in Charleston, Jackson angrily denounced the abolitionists as "monsters" and suggested that those who subscribed to the papers have their names recorded by the postmaster and exposed in the public newspapers. Yet Jackson did not justify mob action or the complete interdiction of abolitionist mailings. He denounced the "spirit of mob-law" as evidenced in Charleston and thought that the instigators should be "checked and punished." Reminding Kendall that federal officials had "no power to prohibit anything from being transported in the mails that is authorized by the law," he suggested that the papers be delivered only to those who were "really subscribers."
The mails controversy became a leading question when Congress convened in December 1835. In his annual message, Jackson noted the "painful excitement" caused by the abolitionist tracts and recommended that Congress prohibit their circulation in the South. His proposal prompted a heated debate in the Senate when Calhoun objected to giving Congress power to exclude material. Such authority, Calhoun alleged, would equally permit the federal government to "open the gates to the flood of incendiary publications."
Calhoun urged that state law, not Congress, be the arbiter of what was incendiary, and in February 1836, he reported a bill declaring it unlawful for postmasters in states and territories to receive and put into the mail any material "touching" the subject of slavery that was addressed to any area where such material was prohibited. Not everyone found Calhoun's distinction clear. At least one key Jacksonian asserted that Calhoun's bill was actually an administration measure because it ultimately relied upon federal authority to enforce the ban.
Northern Whigs led the opposition to Calhoun's bill, protesting that it violated freedom of the press. Significantly, a number of loyal Jacksonians, including Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri and John Niles of Connecticut, also considered the proposal "preposterous and mischievous." After considerable discussion and revision, the bill barely survived a test vote in the Senate on 2 June when a tie was broken by Vice President Van Buren. It then failed on a final vote when enough northern Democrats combined with northern and borderstate Whigs to defeat it. The tally was more sectional than partisan, indicating how slavery jeopardized party unity. Eventually, toward the end of the session, the Senate approved a Post Office Department reorganization plan that explicitly forbade postmasters from detaining the mail. But southern state laws remained on the books, and federal law became, in the words of one historian, "largely a dead letter in the South."
Although Congress had failed to adopt his recommendation, it is hard to think that Jackson was disappointed by this course of events. The mails controversy subsided as southern states quietly nullified federal law without resorting to federal legislation that many northerners found objectionable. The Democratic party's position was to muffle rather than inflame the slavery issue, and the Globe, after blaming defeat for the mails bill on the Whigs, let the subject rest.
A second slavery question proved more nettle-some to the Jackson administration. This was the antislavery campaign to petition Congress for the abolition of the slave trade and slavery in the District of Columbia and in federal territories. The trouble erupted early in the session when, on 18 December 1835, South Carolina congressman James Henry Hammond announced that he "could not sit there and see the rights of the southern people assaulted day after day, by the ignorant fanatics from whom these memorials proceed." He demanded that the petitions not be received by the House.
Hammond's action precipitated a bitter debate that, in one form or another, lasted a decade. Southern radicals like Hammond intended from the outset to use the petitions as a way of ascertaining northern attitudes toward slavery and to establish the principle that slavery lay entirely outside of congressional authority. Aside from the Vermont abolitionist congressman William Slade, no northerners spoke in favor of the prayers of the petitions. Instead, northern spokesmen defended the right to have antislavery memorials respectfully received and handled. Northern Whigs again led the defense of the right of reception, but they were joined by a number of prominent Jacksonians like Samuel Beardsley of New York, who warned that northern freemen would not tolerate having their petitions forbidden or treated with scorn.
As in the mails controversy, Jacksonians tried to "sink the irritating topic into instant insignificance." After weeks of speeches and political maneuvering, Democrats eventually rallied behind a resolution offered by Henry L. Pinckney of South Carolina, calling for a select committee to deal with the materials. Southern radicals were furious that Pinckney had seemingly conceded the power of the House to act upon the subject of slavery at all. But the resolution passed the House handily, with the overwhelming majority of Democrats, particularly from the North, in support.
In May 1836, Pinckney presented his commit-tee's report to the House. Denouncing the "sickly sentimentality" of antislavery reformers, it proposed resolutions denying constitutional authority to interfere with slavery in the states; declaring that Congress "ought not" to interfere with slavery in the nation's capital; and, finally, tabling with no further action, and without printing or referral, all petitions and other material relating to the subject of slavery or its abolition. The last resolution was the famous "gag rule."
As expected, Pinckney's motions were condemned by some as an invasion of southern rights and by others as a violation of the right of petition. In order to prevent the discord from getting out of control, Jacksonian leaders quickly cut off debate by moving the previous question and rushing a vote on the resolutions. All passed easily, and the slavery issue in Congress was temporarily held in abeyance under the combined restraints of party loyalty and the gag rule.
But the controversy over petitions continued to agitate national politics, in part because the gag rule provided a concrete and attractive target for antislavery advocates who linked their cause to the broader one of civil liberties. Annual debates over the gag rule strained the Democratic party, whose members were torn between sectional allegiance and party loyalty. In 1844 enough northern Democrats refused to go along with their southern colleagues, and the gag rule died. Jackson deplored the increased sectional bitterness that marked national politics during his presidency. He urged Americans to remember that the foundations of the Constitution and the Union were laid in the "affections of the people" and in their "fraternal attachment" as members of one political family. His sentiments were heartfelt, but time would demonstrate that his appeals for moderation, for unionism, and for patience in awaiting Providence's will were ineffectual nostrums for the great moral and legal issues posed by slavery.
While the slavery controversy agitated political waters, Jackson also found rough sailing in his campaign to reform banking excesses and the nation's money supply. Although the deposit system was generally performing well, serious problems were becoming evident. The country was in the midst of an inflationary surge propelled by an influx of silver and by overbanking and speculation, and the pet banks were doing their share in dangerously expanding credit. These conditions produced a surplus of tariff and land revenues, which accumulated in the pets. Other institutions resented the pets' access to federal funds and demanded a portion.
As a result, when the administration proposed a measure to regulate the pet banks, Congress severely modified it. The resulting Deposit Act of 1836 was a multipurposed affair. It provided some needed restrictions on small paper bills but also limited the amount of federal money that could be held in each pet bank. The effect was to increase radically the number of pets and sacrifice control over the deposit system.
Even more objectionable to Jackson was a provision that distributed the surplus federal revenue to the states. Jackson had once supported distribution, though only under certain conditions, but he now considered the measure unconstitutional and inexpedient. It made the states dependent on the federal government for revenue, encouraged speculation and excessive paper issues, and created pressures on Congress to raise the tariff to replace the lost money. Indeed, he considered this measure so harmful that he actually prepared a veto. Only after Congress made federal funds a deposit subject to recall, rather than an outright grant, did he reluctantly sign the bill.
Jackson's approval was clearly motivated by practical concerns. In an election year, Democrats rivaled Whigs in promising states the benefits of the surplus, and a presidential veto would have damaged Van Buren's prospects. Besides, distribution was simply the price that Jackson had to pay for getting some degree of bank regulation.
In the aftermath of the bill's passage, Jackson made it evident that his signature spelled no retreat from his hard-money policy. In July 1836, he issued the Specie Circular, which directed government agents to receive only gold and silver in payment for public lands after December 1836, a measure designed to diminish land speculation and to "preserve the deposit banks" by increasing the specie backing of bank notes. The Specie Circular generated a storm of protest; Congress passed a bill at the close of Jackson's presidency repealing it, but Jackson pocket vetoed the bill. "I have the great republican principles to sustain, the constitution to preserve, protect and defend, and the most vital principle of it is the currency, and I have to maintain a consistency of character in all my acts to make my administration beneficial to republicanism," he explained.
Jackson's banking and currency program must receive mixed grades. The pet-bank system aggravated the inflationary pressures of the mid-1830s and contributed to the inevitable Panic of 1837, shortly after Jackson left office. His efforts to regulate and reform bank paper had only a modest effect in controlling speculation and bringing about economic stability.
Criticism of Jackson's program should be balanced by the realization that economic fluctuations are international in scope and that the federal government had only a limited ability to shape the course of economic affairs. It is doubtful the boom-and-bust cycle of the 1830s would have been avoided if Jackson had rechartered the national bank. Moreover, Jackson should be credited for the social and moral considerations that inspired his actions. He perceived, if only dimly, that the rapid changes associated with the Market Revolution undermined traditional values and relationships, and jeopardized the rough equality of condition that underpinned a republican society. His warnings about concentrations of political and economic power and about the debilitating effects of corruption have become part of the American reform tradition.
The spring of 1836 brought one clear-cut triumph for the president: the successful conclusion of a settlement with France over spoliation claims dating from the Napoleonic era. When Jackson took office, negotiations with France had reached a "hopeless" condition, according to Secretary of State Van Buren. Jackson informed Congress in his first annual message that he intended to break the logjam.
Jackson's minister to France, William C. Rives, prodded and flattered the reluctant French government into signing a treaty in July 1831. By its terms, France agreed to pay the United States 25 million francs, and in return, the United States paid a small sum to extinguish French claims against the American government and reduced the duties on French wines. Jackson happily announced the settlement the following December and submitted the treaty for ratification; it was approved unanimously.
Celebration proved premature when France, embroiled in financial and political difficulties, refused to appropriate money to implement the treaty. At first, Jackson accepted the word of the king and his ministers that the fault lay in the French Chamber of Deputies. But by the summer of 1834, his confidence in the king diminished too, and in October he began talking about taking "strong measures."
Jackson labored with more than usual attention over the foreign affairs section of his December 1834 message to Congress. One evening, he was brought the page proofs as revised by Secretary of State John Forsyth. Donelson began to read them while Jackson paced the floor, pipe in hand. When Donelson seemed to slur over a key passage dealing with France, Jackson paused. "Read that again, sir," he said. Donelson repeated the words more distinctly. "That, sir, is not my language," Jackson exclaimed, striking out the unauthorized revisions and writing his own original phrasing.
The message was direct and to the point. It recapitulated the history of the negotiations and, while disclaiming any desire to intimidate or threaten France, recommended that Congress authorize reprisals against French property. The statement temporarily worsened relations with France, and there was talk of war when the French government recalled its minister. Yet neither side acted precipitately. In France, Minister Edward Livingston explained that Jackson's message was intended to heal the diplomatic breach, not insult the French. Somewhat mollified, the Chamber of Deputies soon appropriated money to pay the claims but attached a proviso that no money should be paid until France received a satisfactory explanation of the language in Jackson's message.
Jackson refused to concede any point of honor. In his message of December 1835 and in a special message the following January, he decried the right of any foreign power to dictate the language used by a president. He would issue, he said, no "servile" apology. Jackson also called for commercial retaliation if France continued to refuse payment. But Jackson, too, carefully avoided provocation by reaffirming his peaceful purposes and reiterating his good opinion of the French people.
Though matters remained in a precarious condition for some weeks, the issue was soon resolved. In February 1836, Great Britain offered to mediate the dispute, and France quickly accepted the accommodating portions of Jackson's December message as a satisfactory explanation. In May, Jackson announced to Congress the termination of the controversy, along with the information that the first four installments of the debt had been paid.
The resolution of the French crisis was only one of Jackson's diplomatic accomplishments. Contrary to popular notions, Jackson actually devoted considerable energy to foreign affairs. About one-third of his annual messages related to foreign policy. Skillfully combining energy, bluster, tact, and patience, Jackson set a course to expand American commerce, resolve long-standing claims, restore American prestige, and enlarge America's territorial boundaries.
As a result of Jackson's leadership, the United States achieved a number of diplomatic triumphs, in addition to the agreement with France. These included the settlement of spoliation claims against Denmark, Portugal, and Spain and trade agreements with Russia, Spain, Turkey, Great Britain, and Siam. The treaty with Great Britain reopened American trade with the British West Indies, while the agreement with Siam was the first between the United States and an Asiatic nation. Partly owing to these diplomatic initiatives, American exports increased more than 75 percent and imports grew 250 percent during Jackson's presidency.
Jackson was not entirely successful in foreign affairs. Missions to China and Japan accomplished nothing, and efforts to dislodge Great Britain's position in South America failed. Most conspicuous, Jackson's attempt to acquire Texas fell short. For years, he had considered Texas essential to the security of the Southwest, and as president, he was willing to spend $5 million to purchase it. He even countenanced the scheming and shady operations of his representative in Mexico, Colonel Anthony Butler, who at one point, for example, proposed that he head a military occupation of Texas. Jackson endorsed the letter "A. Butler: What a scamp," yet he delayed replacing Butler with a more respectable agent until near the end of his presidency.
By that time, events in Texas made further diplomatic efforts impossible. In 1835 fighting broke out between the American settlers and the Mexican government, and by the spring of 1836, the Texans had routed the Mexican army and were appealing to Jackson for recognition and annexation. Despite his desire for Texas, Jackson proceeded cautiously. In part, he was unconvinced that Texas could maintain independence against Mexican military strength. Even more worrisome were possible domestic repercussions, since antislavery forces were already making Texas a slavery and sectional issue. Annexation would further strain national loyalties, divide the Democratic party, and jeopardize Van Buren's election chances.
Jackson therefore rejected annexation and left the initiative for recognition to Congress. Not until 3 March 1837, after Van Buren's election had been safely decided and after Congress had led the way with appropriate resolutions, did Jackson nominate a chargé d'affaires to the Republic of Texas. It was one of his last acts as president. He had not achieved complete success in the Southwest, but he had managed to bring closer to fulfillment his objective of expanding and securing American boundaries in that region.
By the time Jackson retired from the White House, he had significantly altered the office of the president and the course of American history. In expanding the veto power, basing his authority on the will of the people, and intervening in legislative matters, he dramatically enhanced the chief executive's political and legislative powers. The president was now the focal point of national politics.
Jackson also advanced the formation of the Democratic party and, with it, the second American party system. Not only did he encourage the development of such organizational devices as the national convention, but his program and principles became the dividing line that separated Americans into opposing political camps. By the end of his second term, the country had two national political parties, each extending its structure deep into the electorate. This new political system had a distinctly more voter-oriented and democratic style than the previous one. Jackson was by no means exclusively responsible for these changes, but by bringing the presidency and national politics closer to the electorate, he contributed significantly.
Finally, Jackson stamped on the Democratic party a commitment to the principles of limited government, equality, and public virtue as the basis of a healthy republic. Sensing that progress toward a market-oriented society posed dangers to free institutions, Jackson attacked privileged monopolies, paper-money banking, speculation, excessive government expenditures, burdensome taxation, and consolidated power as diseases that sapped republican government and public virtue. He sought to revitalize Jeffersonian principles as a way of reconciling desirable economic advances with the republican ideals of the past.
To be sure, key elements of Jackson's program, such as Indian removal and the gag rule, revealed that his egalitarian rhetoric applied only to whites. Yet in an important way, Jackson succeeded in delineating the conflict between democratic equality and economic development, and he made the kind of defiant effort to reconcile these forces that one would expect of Andrew Jackson.
Jackson was almost seventy years old when he retired to the Hermitage. He found comfort in the presence of his family and relations, particularly the children of his adopted son, Andrew Jackson, Jr. The Hermitage again became a seat of hospitality for friends, as well as a shrine to the Democratic faithful who made pilgrimages to visit the General. Jackson gave careful attention to his plantation, which had been poorly managed by Andrew, Jr., in his absence. He also put his religious house in order when, in 1838, he joined the Presbyterian Church. His religious affirmation was not followed by a noticeable decrease in the number or intensity of epithets he hurled at opponents.
But problems also plagued Jackson's retirement. His health, always precarious, deteriorated, leaving him increasingly weak and feeble. He suffered from tuberculosis and dropsy, complaining of headaches, coughing, and swelling. Yet Jackson carried on, giving credit for his continued life to the restorative powers of Matchless Sanative, a cough medicine that he claimed made "a new man" of him. Most likely it was Jackson's will and spirit, not Matchless Sanative or the ministrations of physicians, that held death at bay.
Equally worrisome were the debts that cast a shadow over the Hermitage. They were almost entirely the result of his adopted son's bad business judgment and immaturity. Jackson assumed these obligations, selling land and borrowing money, using the valuable Hermitage as collateral. His indebtedness eventually ran to over $25,000, and the Hermit-age began to look neglected.
Ever a politician, Jackson continued his involvement in public affairs. The Panic of 1837 brought hard times until the early 1840s. Whigs and conservative Democrats blamed Jackson's banking and hard-money policy, and urged Van Buren to repudiate the Specie Circular. Jackson responded by denouncing the "perfidy and treachery" of the banks, and he pressed Van Buren to hold firm on the circular. When Van Buren refused to rescind the order and recommended to Congress an independent treasury system by which the government would divorce itself from banks and place its funds in separate repositories, Jackson fully approved. His endorsement strengthened Democratic resolve to pass the so-called divorce bill in 1840.
Jackson also took a keen interest in Van Buren's reelection campaign of 1840. He roundly condemned the Whig party's log-cabin and hard-cider tactics as "an attempt to degrade our republican system," and he even stumped for Van Buren in western Tennessee. When the Whig ticket of William Henry Harrison and John Tyler won, Jackson's spirits temporarily sagged, but they quickly revived as he urged Democrats to unite around Van Buren.
Jackson's greatest influence on public affairs during his post-White House years came after Tyler assumed the presidency following Harrison's sudden death. When Tyler made the annexation of Texas a leading administration measure, Jackson bent his energies toward its accomplishment. Although the Texas issue had volatile political and sectional overtones, Jackson focused only on what he deemed "national" considerations, particularly the benefits of checking English influence over Texas and securing American borders.
Jackson's enthusiasm for expansion strained his political relationship with Van Buren, Thomas Hart Benton, and other Democrats who balked at immediate annexation. But Jackson would not relent; he was "for the annexation regardless of all consequences." In April 1844, Van Buren published a letter opposing immediate annexation, and Jackson reluctantly and painfully withdrew his support and advocated the nomination of "an annexation man." He worked behind the scenes to push the candidacy of his fellow Tennessean James K. Polk, who eventually emerged with the Democratic presidential nomination in 1844.
Increasingly weak and debilitated, Jackson summoned up his reserves of strength to promote Polk's election, scrawling letters of advice and encouragement to party leaders and helping to secure Tyler's withdrawal as an independent candidate. He called Polk's victory "glorious," and when news of the Democratic triumph was followed at the end of February 1845 by word that Congress had passed a joint resolution annexing Texas, Jackson rejoiced. In May he advised the newly inaugurated "Young Hickory" also to uphold American claims to Oregon. "No temporising with Britain on this subject now, temporising will not do," he counseled.
The strong words belied the physical deterioration that had set in. "I am I may say a perfect Jelly from the toes to the upper part of my abdome [sic ]," he informed Blair toward the end of May. Surgery on 2 June brought only temporary relief from the drop-sy, and on Sunday, 8 June, Jackson died. He was seventy-eight years old. In accordance with his "republican feelings and principles," he was buried two days later alongside his wife in the Hermitage garden after a service that was as simple as possible. There were nationwide ceremonies in honor of Jackson, and while a few embittered partisans refused to attend, most Americans genuinely sorrowed at the passing of a man who, for half a century, had shaped the nation's destiny.
A short, highly interpretive biography of Andrew Jackson emphasizing his psychological impulses is James C. Curtis, Andrew Jackson and the Search for Vindication (Boston, 1976). The best modern biography of Jackson is a three-volume work by Robert V. Remini: Andrew Jackson and the Course of American Empire, 1767–1821 (New York, 1977), Andrew Jackson and the Course of American Freedom, 1822–1832 (New York, 1981), and Andrew Jackson and the Course of American Democracy, 1833–1845 (New York, 1984). On the influence of republican ideology on Jackson's presidency, consult Richard B. Latner, The Presidency of Andrew Jackson: White House Politics, 1829–1837 (Athens, Ga., 1979), and Harry L. Watson, Liberty and Power: The Politics of Jacksonian America (New York, 1990). For a different view of Jackson's presidency, see Donald B. Cole, The Presidency of Andrew Jackson (Lawrence, Kans., 1993). Drew R. McCoy, The Elusive Republic: Political Economy in Jeffersonian America (Chapel Hill, N.C., 1980), explains the complexity of republican thinking in an earlier era.
Historians have long debated the meaning of Jacksonian politics. Marvin Meyers, The Jacksonian Persuasion: Politics and Belief (Stanford, Calif., 1957), is in many respects the most successful interpretation of Jacksonianism. Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., The Age of Jackson (Boston, 1945), still offers a vivid portrait of the democratic qualities of Jacksonian politics. Charles Sellers, The Market Revolution: Jacksonian America, 1815–1846 (New York, 1991), is a learned and comprehensive account of Jacksonian America's confrontation with the market revolution.
On the political issues of Jackson's presidency, Matthew A. Crenson, The Federal Machine: Beginnings of Bureaucracy in Jacksonian America (Baltimore, 1975), places Jackson's administrative actions in a broad social framework. Daniel Feller, The Public Lands in Jacksonian Politics (Madison, Wis., 1984), thoroughly examines the political and sectional dimensions of this issue. On Indian policy, Michael Paul Rogin, Fathers and Children: Andrew Jackson and the Subjugation of the American Indian (New York, 1975), is both insightful and controversial in its psychological orientation. Ronald N. Satz, American Indian Policy in the Jacksonian Era (Lincoln, Nebr., 1974), is an excellent analysis of the many aspects of Indian removal. Anthony F. C. Wallace, The Long, Bitter Trail: Andrew Jackson and the Indians (New York, 1993), provides a brief and useful introduction to the process of Indian removal.
Jackson's banking and financial policy is critically examined in Bray Hammond, Banks and Politics in America: From the Revolution to the Civil War (Princeton, N.J., 1957). John M. McFaul, The Politics of Jacksonian Finance (Ithaca, N.Y., 1972), is more favorable to Jackson, while Peter Temin, The Jacksonian Economy (New York, 1969), places economic events in an international and theoretical context. William W. Freehling, Prelude to Civil War: The Nullification Controversy in South Carolina, 1816–1836 (New York, 1966), is a model historical study of this crisis. Richard E. Ellis's excellent study, The Union at Risk: Jacksonian Democracy, States' Rights, and the Nullification Crisis (New York, 1987), argues the strength of nullification. Daniel Walker Howe, The Political Culture of the American Whigs (Chicago, 1979), perceptively explores the values and thinking of the Whig opposition, while Merrill D. Peterson, The Great Triumvirate: Webster, Clay, and Calhoun (New York, 1987), contains a wealth of information about Jackson's leading opponents.
Two essays that argue that Jackson and the Democratic party tilted toward the South and slavery are Richard H. Brown, "The Missouri Crisis, Slavery, and the Politics of Jacksonianism," in South Atlantic Quarterly 65 (1966), and Leonard L. Richards, "The Jacksonians and Slavery," in Lewis Perry and Michael Fellman, eds., Antislavery Reconsidered: New Perspectives on the Abolitionists (Baton Rouge, La., 1979). Robert V. Remini, The Legacy of Andrew Jackson: Essays on Democracy, Indian Removal, and Slavery (Baton Rouge, La., 1988), provides a useful correction to this view. Russel B. Nye, Fettered Freedom: Civil Liberties and the Slavery Controversy, 1830–1860, rev. ed. (East Lansing, Mich., 1964), remains an excellent study of the mail and petition controversies as well as other slavery-related issues. William W. Freehling, The Road to Disunion: Secessionists at Bay, 1776–1854 (New York, 1990), contains numerous insights about slavery and politics. Two other studies of southern locales show how Jacksonian politics operated on a smaller scale: J. Mills Thornton III, Politics and Power in a Slave Society: Alabama, 1800–1860 (Baton Rouge, La., 1978), and Harry L. Watson, Jacksonian Politics and Community Conflict: The Emergence of the Second American Party System in Cumberland County, North Carolina (Baton Rouge, La., 1981).
Jackson's foreign policy receives careful attention in John M. Belohlavek, "Let the Eagle Soar!": The Foreign Policy of Andrew Jackson (Lincoln, Nebr., 1985). Also useful are William H. Goetzmann, When the Eagle Screamed: The Romantic Horizon in American Diplomacy, 1800–1860 (New York, 1966), and Paul A. Varg, United States Foreign Relations: 1820–1860 (East Lansing, Mich., 1979).
Recent works include Robert V. Remini, Andrew Jackson and His Indian Wars (New York, 2001).
Further reference sources can be found in Robert V. Remini and Robert O. Rupp, Andrew Jackson: A Bibliography (Westport, Conn., 1991).
Born March 15, 1767 (Waxhaw, South Carolina)
Died June 8, 1845 (Nashville, Tennessee)
Military hero, U.S. president
Raised on the western frontier of the United States, Andrew Jackson was the first president born in a log cabin. Earlier presidents had come from wealthy families. In contrast, Jackson had to work for a living; he practiced law and speculated in land on the frontier to support himself. He entered the world of politics through sheer determination and flamboyant behavior. Jackson became a central figure in American politics in the early 1800s, when the nation shifted its attention to newly acquired land in the West. By then, he was already well known as a war hero, having led U.S. troops to victory in various battles of the War of 1812 (1812–15).
Jackson would later set the model for future presidential candidates by pointing out his modest upbringing, excellent military record, and connection with ordinary, everyday Americans. He also set the course for future U.S. expansion by opening millions of acres of Native American lands to white settlers.
"As long as our Government is administered for the good of the people, and is regulated by their will ... it will be worth defending."
Andrew Jackson was born on the western frontier along the then-disputed boundary of North Carolina and South Carolina. Both states have at various times claimed to be his home state. However, Jackson always claimed South Carolina as his native state.
His parents, Andrew Jackson Sr. and Elizabeth Hutchinson, were farmers of Scotch-Irish descent. They arrived in the American colonies from northern Ireland in 1765, bringing two young sons with them. They promptly traveled west to join relatives in the backwoods settlement of Waxhaw on the border of North Carolina and South Carolina. A third son, Andrew Jr., was born in March 1767, less than two years after the family had settled on a farm and only two weeks after his father had suddenly died. Following her husband's death, Elizabeth and the children moved in with her invalid sister. Elizabeth kept house and provided care for her sister, and the children attended local schools. Elizabeth hoped young Andrew would grow up to be a Presbyterian minister, so for a more formal education she sent Jackson to an academy run by the Waxhaw Presbyterian Church. However, he never had any desire for a religious calling. At age eleven, he was sent to a boarding school.
A family lost to war
The American Revolution (1775–83) interrupted Andrew's education. One of his brothers was killed in combat in 1779. In 1780, when British forces invaded the western region of the Carolinas, Andrew and his remaining older brother joined the South Carolina militia to fight in the war. Andrew was only thirteen years old when he participated in the Battle of Hanging Rock on August 1, 1780, probably serving as a courier carrying messages between military units.
In April 1781, the British captured Andrew and his brother. They were held as prisoners in Camden, South Carolina. Refusing to shine the boots of a British officer, Andrew was struck across the face and arm with a sword and was left with a permanent scar. Andrew and his brother also suffered from smallpox while imprisoned. Their mother traveled to Camden and secured their release by arranging a prisoner exchange. The journey back home was difficult for the two ailing brothers, and Andrew's brother died before reaching home.
Once Andrew had sufficiently regained his health, his mother went to Charleston to nurse American soldiers held on British prison ships. However, she died of cholera (a gastrointestinal disease) shortly after arriving. At age fourteen, Jackson was an orphan; he was the only member of his family to survive the war. He lived with relatives for the next few years while working at various jobs. Jackson would never forget the cruel treatment he received while imprisoned by the British, and he could never forgive Britain for the loss of his family in the war.
A public prosecutor
As a young man, Jackson briefly taught school in Waxhaw. He then moved to Salisbury, North Carolina, where he worked in a law office while studying law. He also gained a reputation for his rambunctious behavior as he and other law students in the area became involved in horse racing and cockfighting. Jackson passed the bar examination (law test) in September 1787.
The following year, Jackson received a political appointment as public prosecutor for the western district of North Carolina, an area on the frontier that would soon become Tennessee. Traveling over newly opened roads, Jackson arrived at the frontier town of Nashville, where he began his job. His primary cases for the next seven years involved tax collection, and he was very successful in his work. Jackson gained great favor among landowners and creditors, groups who would support him throughout his political career. Jackson's job took him into areas inhabited by hostile Native Americans, where he gained experience in skirmishes. His success as public prosecutor led to a profitable private law practice. In 1790, North Carolina gave its western lands to the United States, and the area became the Tennessee Territory. North Carolina state senator William Blount (1749–1800) was appointed territorial governor. Blount would be a valuable political supporter of young Jackson.
In Nashville, Jackson lived at the boardinghouse of Mrs. John Donelson, a widow and a member of a socially prominent family of early Tennessee. There, he met the widow's daughter, Rachel Donelson Robards (1767–1828). Rachel was married but had separated from her husband. Rachel filed for divorce to marry Jackson. Believing she had received a divorce, she and Jackson married in August 1791. However, they discovered in December 1793 that her divorce had not been issued until September. She was still legally married to her first husband when she married Jackson. Rachel and Andrew remarried in January 1794. However, this confusion provided considerable fuel for Jackson's enemies in future political campaigns, when they accused him of illegally marrying Rachel. The Jacksons had no children of their own, but they adopted a son in 1809 and helped raise children of various relatives.
An interest in politics
Jackson had a natural interest in political affairs; he also had personal characteristics that made him a good leader. He was distinctive in appearance: tall and very thin with a long face, a pointed chin, light sandy hair, and intense blue eyes. He held himself in military erectness and displayed great self-confidence and authority. Jackson also had a sharp temper and held his enemies eternally in great disdain. He was able to control his anger and use it to his benefit in commanding others.
With the support of Blount's political group, in December 1795 Jackson was elected as a delegate to the state convention to draft a Tennessee constitution. The delegates completed the constitution in early 1796, and Tennessee was admitted as the sixteenth state in June of that year. With strong political backing, Jackson was elected as Tennessee's first member of the U.S. House of Representatives. Jackson was not fond of political debates, so his experience as a congressman was not very satisfying. Furthermore, life in Philadelphia, the city where Congress met, was probably too calm for Jackson's taste.
Jackson was one of the few members of Congress to vote against paying tribute to President George Washington (1732–1799; served 1789–97; see entry in volume 2) upon his departure from office. Jackson had greatly disliked some of President Washington's domestic and foreign policies. Jackson resigned from his seat in 1797, vowing not to enter public office again. However, he was elected to the Senate later that same year. Again, Jackson served only a year before resigning. He then took a seat as judge on the Tennessee Superior Court (the state supreme court). Jackson served in this role for seven years and found it much to his liking.
Life in Tennessee
Ever since arriving in western Tennessee, Jackson had speculated in land, the fastest way to wealth in the West. He bought inexpensive land and then sold it to newly arriving settlers for a large profit. As his wealth accumulated, Jackson enjoyed his upper-class life. He purchased his first plantation and slaves in 1796. In August 1804, he bought property outside Nashville that became the site of his main mansion and cotton plantation, known as the "Hermitage." Jackson also became involved in commercial trade in a wide range of goods, including cotton, slaves, and horses. All trade from Tennessee and other Western towns had to be shipped down the Mississippi River to Natchez, Mississippi, and New Orleans and then on to the east coast. This was cheaper and easier than transporting goods by land.
In 1802, while serving on the Tennessee court, Jackson was also elected as major general of the Tennessee militia. A militia is an organized military force, made up of citizens, that serves in times of emergency. It was a powerful position in the state, one he had actively sought for several years. Jackson won the position in a close race with John Sevier (1745–1815; see entry in volume 2), the state's popular former governor. The intense fight for the position led to a duel between the two; their weapons were pistols, but the duel ended with no injuries to either man. In 1804, Jackson resigned his court position to work his plantation, pay mounting debts, and concentrate on his duties as major general.
In 1806, Jackson had yet another duel, this time with another lawyer over a quarrel about a horse race. Jackson killed the other person and was hit with a bullet in the chest. The bullet remained in him the rest of his life, causing him various physical problems at times. Another gunfight came in 1813, this one with future U.S. senator Thomas Hart Benton (1782–1858) of Missouri and Benton's brother. Jackson was wounded again. The bullet was not removed until years later when he was president.
In May 1805, former vice president Aaron Burr (1756–1836; see entry in volume 1), who had only recently killed former treasury secretary Alexander Hamilton (1755–1804; see entry in volume 1) in a duel, arrived for a short stay in Nashville. While staying at Jackson's home, Burr convinced Jackson to help build boats for use in an invasion of Spanish-controlled lands in Florida. Jackson agreed to help and defended Burr when President Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826; served 1801–9; see entry in volume 1) denounced Burr's plot as a conspiracy against the United States. Jackson's decision to side with Burr would haunt him in later political elections.
A war hero
For the next several years, from 1806 to 1812, Jackson lived as a country gentleman while enjoying his military role. Then in March 1812, war with Britain appeared close at hand. Jackson organized a force of twenty-five hundred volunteers with hopes of assisting U.S. troops in an invasion of British-held Canada. However, Jackson and his militia force were instead sent to fight the Creek Indians who had killed several hundred settlers in Alabama. The Creek were allies of Britain and had attacked frontier settlements. For five months, Jackson engaged the Creek in a series of battles culminating in the Battle of Horseshoe Bend in Alabama on March 27, 1814. Jackson so thoroughly crushed the Creek that they were never again a threat to U.S. settlements. The surviving Creek signed a treaty ceding (turning over) some 23 million acres of land to the United States. The ceded land included parts of present-day Alabama and Georgia. Jackson, who showed exceptional skills as a commander, became a hero of the West. Out of respect, his troops nicknamed him "Old Hickory," comparing Jackson's toughness to the toughness of hickory wood. He was also rewarded with a commission as major general in the U.S. Army.
Following the defeat of the Creek, Jackson turned his attention to British forces increasingly active along the Gulf Coast. Spain, another of Britain's allies, had allowed British forces to organize in Florida. Jackson moved his force southward to Mobile, Alabama, and then moved into Spanish territory on November 7, capturing Pensacola, a place the British were using as a military base.
Next, hearing of a pending major British attack on New Orleans, Jackson moved westward, building a larger force along the way. Prior to the arrival of the British force, he established a strong defensive position to defend New Orleans (see box). In January 1815, the Battle of New Orleans took place. The British sent waves of troops against Jackson's defensive position, but the line of American forces held, winning the largest U.S. victory in the War of 1812. Ironically, the victory came shortly after a peace treaty had been signed between the United States and Britain. The treaty was signed on December 24, 1814; however, news traveled slowly in those days, and word of the cease-fire did not reach North America before the battle ended.
Word of the victory at New Orleans reached Washington, D.C., just ahead of the peace treaty news. Jackson, now a national hero, was assigned as commander of the southern frontier, the entire area west of the Appalachian Mountains, south of the Ohio River, and east of the Mississippi River. At the age of forty-eight, Jackson was the most popular American.
The biggest U.S. victory in the War of 1812 was the Battle of New Orleans. Ironically, it was fought on January 8, 1815, some two weeks after representatives from the United States and Britain signed a peace treaty in Europe. News of the treaty did not reach the United States in time to cancel the Battle of New Orleans, and the men who fought in the battle had no idea that the war had already been won. In defense of New Orleans, Major General Andrew Jackson commanded some five thousand men from diverse backgrounds. They included U.S. Army soldiers; militiamen from Tennessee, Louisiana, Kentucky, and Mississippi; French settlers; Cherokee and other Native Americans; pirates; and free blacks.
The British sent a force of eight thousand men under the command of Lieutenant General Sir Edward Michael Pakenham (1778–1815). These soldiers were veterans of the European war against France; however, their experience did not prepare them for the terrain they encountered in the American South. They had to travel through a narrow neck of land between the broad Mississippi River and a swamp to get to New Orleans. They experienced various delays along the way, so Jackson and his troops arrived in New Orleans ahead of them.
An old canal about 4 feet deep and 10 feet wide stretched across the neck from the river to a cypress swamp, a distance of about three-fourths of a mile. Jackson quickly built a rampart (a long narrow earthen mound with a defensive wall of stones and logs on top) along the edge of the canal. Jackson placed four thousand men along the rampart and kept another one thousand back as reserves for use where he might need them. Pakenham sent his men marching in military order straight into the defense. In three assaults, over 2,000 British were quickly killed, wounded, or captured in the hail of fire. Three British generals died, including Pakenham. Only fourteen of Jackson's men were killed and thirty-nine wounded. The victory was astounding, and Jackson became a national hero. It is possible that if the British had been victorious in the Battle of New Orleans, the British parliament might not have ratified the previously signed peace treaty and the war would have continued.
Jackson's legacy and popularity continued to grow in the years following the War of 1812. By late 1817, Jackson was leading troops toward Florida again to settle conflicts along the U.S.-Spanish border. With vague orders, he was to fight back the Seminole Indians who lived in Spanish-held Florida and who had been raiding U.S. settlements in southern Georgia and Alabama. Without authority to do so, Jackson followed the Seminoles into northwest Florida in March 1818 and attacked several Spanish villages and forts. He also hanged two British citizens accused of aiding the Native Americans in their fight against American settlers. Jackson appointed one of his officers as military governor of Florida.
Florida was foreign soil, and Jackson's aggressive actions there brought a strong protest from Spain and from many people in Washington, D.C., who wanted to see Jackson punished for going well beyond his orders. Many feared his actions could trigger yet another war with Britain, an ally of Spain. Secretary of State John Quincy Adams (1767–1848) came to the aid of Jackson, claiming that Jackson did not go beyond his authority as commander as many charged. In fact, Jackson's actions showing how vulnerable the Spanish-controlled area was to U.S. invasion contributed to Spain selling Florida to the United States for $5 million before losing it to conquest. Spain also agreed to a western boundary of the Louisiana Territory that established the later northern boundary of present-day states California, Nevada, and part of Utah all the way to the Pacific Ocean. Through Jackson's seemingly reckless actions, the United States had gained Florida and extended its empire across the continent.
Upon acquiring Florida from Spain, President James Monroe (1758–1831; served 1817–25; see entry in volume 2) appointed Jackson the new territorial governor of Florida. Jackson resigned his army commission in June 1821 and set up the new government. Since Florida had long been held by Spain, it had a population and a culture unlike any other in the United States. However, Jackson had little patience for their slower-paced way of life, and he governed them with an iron hand, resolving disputes swiftly himself. Health problems forced him to resign his position as governor in November 1821, after only a few months on the job. He then returned to his mansion at the Hermitage.
The presidential election of 1824
Jackson's popularity among the public remained very high, and he was increasingly being considered as a possible candidate for U.S. president. Although Jackson indicated that he was not interested in running for president, a small group of influential Tennesseans succeeded in getting him nominated through the state legislature in July 1822. They were also able to get Jackson elected one more time to the U.S. Senate in October 1823 for political visibility. This time, Jackson arrived as a dignified country gentleman and improved his image as a statesman among the nation's political leaders.
In the presidential election of 1824, Jackson was one of four candidates, all members of the Democratic-Republican Party. The others were Speaker of the House of Representatives Henry Clay (1777–1852; see entry in volume 1), Secretary of the Treasury William H. Crawford (1722–1834), and Secretary of State John Quincy Adams. Jackson received the most electoral votes of the four, but not a majority of electoral votes, as required for election. Jackson received ninety-nine votes, Adams eighty-four, Crawford forty-one, and Clay thirty-seven. Because no candidate received a majority of votes, the House of Representatives was required under the Constitution to elect a president from the three candidates who had received the most votes. Last-place vote-getter Clay, who had great power in the House, threw his support behind Adams, giving Adams the victory on the first ballot.
Adams in turn appointed Clay as his secretary of state only days later. Jackson and his supporters believed they were victims of what was referred to as a "corrupt bargain" that stole the election from them. Clay claimed he was simply supporting the candidate whose views were closest to his. Jackson again resigned from the Senate and returned home.
Jackson and his supporters began preparing for the 1828 presidential election with great determination. They formed the Democratic Party, which was a rejuvenation of the Democratic-Republican Party. The new party promoted strong state governments, with greater rights for individual states, and a less powerful federal government. The party brought together various segments of the population including Westerners, Southern planters, and Northern farmers, uniting them through political goals.
The 1828 election proved to be a vicious campaign between Adams and Jackson with plenty of personal attacks. Jackson's opponents criticized his past participation in several duels, his association with the out-of-favor Aaron Burr, and his lack of political experience; they also pointed out Jackson's initially illegal marriage to Rachel. Many, including Jackson, believed his wife's sudden death from a heart attack in December 1828, shortly after the election, was a result of the personal attacks. She had dreaded becoming first lady and hostess of the President's House. Jackson won the election by a landslide and became the seventh president of the United States.
A new age of leadership
Jackson's inauguration was in March 1829. Thousands of jubilant citizens followed Jackson to the President's House on inauguration day, where they ate all the food and wrecked the interior. Jackson escaped the wild celebration through a window. Jackson's election marked a major shift in political power in the United States from the Eastern elite to the common person. He was the first president to come from west of the Appalachian Mountains and the first president whose initial main supporters were from the West.
Jackson was also the first president to be born in poverty and elected as a result of his mass appeal to voters rather than through an established political organization. The older political organizations that had guided America through its early years had weakened. Though Jackson became a symbol of the common person, he actually had no well-defined political program when he became president. Most of his predecessors had greater political experience than he did. Also, though he always retained a prejudice against people of wealth, Jackson became one of the largest landowners in Tennessee and was fairly conservative politically. For example, he did not often support social reforms that would benefit the poor. Nonetheless, Jackson benefited from a rising tide of democratic sentiment in the nation.
Events in Jackson's presidency
As president, Jackson met each new challenge as he did most challenges in life, with determination and vigor. For example, he strongly defended the federal government's power to tax by threatening to send troops to South Carolina to enforce tariffs that the state was refusing to recognize. In 1832, Jackson easily won reelection. He became the first president nominated by a national political convention. He also became the first president to ride in a train.
Jackson's policies caused great suffering among Native Americans. Jackson offered no relief to the Native American nations being pushed aside by U.S. expansion. He did not intervene as Georgia extended its jurisdiction to include tribal lands previously recognized in treaties. He even refused to enforce a Supreme Court decision that ruled in favor of the Cherokee nation against Georgia. One of the first major pieces of legislation passed during his presidency was the 1830 Indian Removal Act, which stated that the Creek, Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Seminoles were to be removed from the Southeast. In 1838, some fifteen thousand Cherokee were forced to march on foot in harsh winter conditions to Indian Territory, newly established west of the Mississippi River, in what would later become the state of Oklahoma. During this forced march, known as the Trail of Tears, some three thousand Cherokee died from starvation, exposure, and illness.
One of Jackson's biggest accomplishments as president was paying off the national debt, which was very large when he took office. He also greatly expanded the power of the presidency by his extensive use of the veto; through the veto, he controlled and blocked a great deal of congressional activity. During his presidency, the Democratic Party rose to power, and Jackson was clearly its leader. Capturing the growing democratic feeling among the citizenry, President Jackson strongly promoted equality and rule by the majority, limited government, and few restrictions on business. He also sought to limit the power of the wealthy in running the country.
Under pressure from his Western supporters, Jackson refused to sign a bill extending the charter (government license) of the Second Bank of the United States. Its charter expired in 1836. This decision and other financial policies of the Jackson administration contributed to a major economic slump that began in 1837, the year Jackson's second-term vice president, Martin Van Buren (1782–1862), became president.
After his second term as president, which ended in March 1837, Jackson retired to his Tennessee plantation, the Hermitage. He remained interested in politics, but never again held office. He died in 1845 at the age of seventy-eight in 1845.
For More Information
Marrin, Albert. Old Hickory: Andrew Jackson and the American People. New York: Dutton Children's Books, 2004.
Remini, Robert V. Andrew Jackson & His Indian Wars. New York: Viking, 2001.
Remini, Robert V. The Battle of New Orleans. New York: Viking, 1999.
Remini, Robert V. The Life of Andrew Jackson. New York: Harper & Row, 1988.
Smith, Sam B., and Harriet Chappell Owsley, eds. The Papers of Andrew Jackson. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1980.
Watson, Harry L. Liberty and Power: The Politics of Jacksonian America. New York: Hill and Wang, 1990.
"First Invasion: The War of 1812." The History Channel.http://www.historychannel.com/1812/ (accessed on August 13, 2005).
The Hermitage: Home of President Andrew Jackson.http://www.thehermitage.com/ (accessed on August 13, 2005).
Born March 15, 1767
Waxhaw Settlement, South Carolina
Died June 8, 1845
Army general, president of the United States
The seventh president of the United States, Andrew Jackson gave his name to an era in which the idea of "democracy" came to be seen as something closely connected to ordinary, working people and not just the wealthy, educated citizens who had previously dominated U.S. politics. Jackson embodied the self-made, frontier man whose accomplishments resulted from his own courage and will, not his family connections or wealth. It was during the War of 1812 that Jackson established his reputation as a man of great strength and action by leading a diverse force to victory at the Battle of New Orleans.
A hot temper and a hatred for the British
Andrew Jackson's parents, Andrew and Elizabeth Hutchinson Jackson, emigrated (moved from another country) to the United States from Carrickfergus, Ireland, in 1765 with their two older sons, Hugh and Robert. They made their home in poor, isolated Waxhaw Settlement, located about 160 miles northwest of Charleston, South Carolina. The elder Andrew died at the age of 29, two months before the birth of his namesake. Jackson's mother, a very religious woman, hoped young Andrew would grow up to be a Presbyterian minister.
Jackson attended several schools but never attained a love for learning. He grew into a tall, very slender teenager with a long, narrow face and intense blue eyes. He had a hot temper and was often involved in fistfights. At thirteen, Jackson became a helper and messenger for Colonel William Richardson of South Carolina's mounted militia (an army made up of ordinary citizens rather than professional soldiers, and called on in emergencies). He took part in several clashes, including the Battle of Hanging Rock.
Jackson's family was shattered by the Revolutionary War (1775-83) and this led to his deep hatred for the British. His brother Hugh was killed in battle, and he and his brother Robert were captured by the British and put into prison in Camden, South Carolina. When he refused to polish a British officer's boots, Jackson was struck with a sword and was left with permanent scars on his face and hand. Jackson's mother secured her sons' release after both had contracted smallpox (a highly contagious viral disease) in prison. Robert died of the disease, but Andrew survived. While nursing other prisoners, his mother also died of smallpox.
A rowdy but successful young lawyer
At fourteen, Jackson was an orphan. When the war ended he spent a short period learning how to make saddles, and another serving as a schoolteacher. When he inherited three hundred dollars from his grandfather, he went on a gambling spree in Charleston and had soon lost all of his money. Next Jackson decided to study law, which seemed like a good profession for a bright, energetic young man. At this time, lawyers trained for their professional not by attending school but by working and studying with established attorneys. Thus Jackson joined the office of Spruce Macay in Salisbury, North Carolina.
Jackson soon developed a reputation as a wild, rowdy prankster with a taste for gambling. Nevertheless, he passed the bar (the examination lawyers must pass in order to qualify to practice law) in 1787 and set up an office in McLeanville in Guilford Country, North Carolina. Eager for new challenges, Jackson stayed only a year before heading west with his friend John McNairy (1762-1837), who also was a lawyer. The two young men crossed the Cumberland Mountains and eventually reached Nashville, Tennessee, which was then a small frontier town and part of western North Carolina.
McNairy had connections in Nashville and managed to get himself appointed as judge of the superior court; he then made Jackson a public prosecutor (a lawyer who represents the state in criminal cases). Jackson soon made a name for himself, especially for the skill and energy with which he went after debtors (people who owe money to others), and he built up a thriving law practice.
Marriage and politics
While living in a boarding house owned by the widow of John Donelson, one of Nashville's founders, Jackson fell in love with the daughter of the house, Rachel Donelson Robards. Separated from her abusive husband, Rachel had dark hair and eyes, a lively personality, and very little education. Believing her husband had divorced her, she married Jackson in 1791. Two years later, the couple learned that the divorce had only just become official, so they went through another wedding ceremony.
In the late eighteenth century, a couple living together while not legally married was cause for scandal, and throughout the rest of his career Jackson's opponents would use this part of his past against him. The fiery-tempered Jackson also would take part in several duels, when he felt that his beloved wife's honor had been insulted. Although the two never had biological children, they adopted Rachel's infant nephew, naming him Andrew Jackson Jr.
In 1790 the westernmost section of North Carolina was made into a separate territory, and Jackson was appointed prosecuting attorney of the territory. In 1796 the territory became the state of Tennessee. Jackson was elected as a delegate to the state's constitutional convention, at which the structure of its government was established. He then became the state's sole delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives. Jackson was homesick and unhappy in Philadelphia, however, which was then the nation's capital, and was noticed for his moodiness and fierce temper. After a year as a representative, Jackson was elected to serve out the term of a Tennessee senator who had left his office. He did so from September 1797 to April 1798, then retired and returned to Tennessee.
A militia general
The War of 1812 between the United States and Great Britain was provoked by two major issues. The first was Britain's maritime policy of impressment in its war with France. This policy was where British officials boarded U.S. ships to capture deserters from their own navy, often wrongfully taking American citizens in the process. The other issue that led to the war was Great Britain's overly friendly relations with Native Americans. Americans believed that the British were encouraging Native Americans to attack white settlers who were moving west. The Native Americans, however, believed that the settlers were encroaching (gradually taking over) their land.
Despite his lack of military experience, Jackson was elected major general of the Tennessee militia in 1802. He was elated when the War of 1812 began, for he believed the British had deeply insulted the United States through its practice of impressment on the high seas. He also was a strong expansionist (someone who believed the United States should increase its territory) and saw the war as an opportunity for the nation to acquire more territory. The government, however, turned down Jackson's offer to lead an invasion of Canada.
General James Wilkinson (1757-1825) had been put in command of all U.S. troops in the Southwest (what are now the states of Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi). In early 1813 Jackson was told to lead twenty-five hundred militiamen to Natchez, Mississippi to await further orders from Wilkinson. Jackson made the difficult journey, but found himself and his men stranded in Natchez without adequate food, supplies, and equipment. Ordered to disband his troops, Jackson instead kept them together and personally led them back to Tennessee, earning their respect and also the nickname "Old Hickory" in honor of his toughness.
The War of 1812 had aggravated tensions that already existed among the Creeks, a Native American people who lived in what are now Alabama and western Georgia. Although a large number of Creeks had accommodated themselves to the arrival of whites in their territory, even learning to live, farm, and dress like white people, others had resisted. Influenced by the great Shawnee chief Tecumseh (c. 1768-1813; see biographical entry), who had traveled through the region preaching his message of resistance, a faction of the Creeks called the Red Sticks had begun a series of raids and attacks on white settlers. Hopeful that a British victory could help them reach their own goals, the Red Sticks had allied themselves with Great Britain.
Fighting the Creeks in Alabama
In August 1813 Red Sticks had killed about 250 white settlers who had taken refuge at Fort Mims in Alabama. Militia in surrounding states, including Tennessee, were called out to revenge the massacre and put an end to the Red Stick attacks. Jackson was put in command of one of several armies to take part in the effort. He marched south with 2,000 poorly trained, inadequately supplied, and often unenthusiastic troops, keeping them on the move through the sheer force of his personality.
Reaching Mississippi Territory, Jackson's force took part in several inconclusive confrontations with the Red Sticks, including battles at Tallushatchee and Talledega. As 1813 drew to a close, supplies were dwindling and many of the men were at the end of their enlistment periods (militia usually only had to serve for a few months at a time). Despite his frustration and attempts to keep his troops intact, there was not much Jackson could do until reinforcements arrived.
Thus Jackson had to wait until early 1814 to restart his campaign against the Creeks. The final confrontation occurred on March 14 at Horseshoe Bend on the Tallapoosa River, when Jackson's troops managed to surround and wipe out a large force of Creek warriors. The battle was especially savage and bloody, with a number of Creek women and children being caught in the crossfire. Jackson lost only forty-nine soldiers, while the Creek death toll rose to eight hundred. The few survivors who managed to escape scattered into the surrounding woods.
In August, Jackson gathered together thirty-five Creek chiefs, almost all of them representing Creeks who had remained friendly to the United States, and including some who had actually fought on the U.S. side against the Red Sticks. They were forced to sign the Treaty of Fort Jackson, which gave twenty-three million acres of Creek land (more than half of their total territory) to the United States.
In command of defending New Orleans
The U.S. government recognized Jackson's dynamic leadership during the battles with the Red Sticks (also known as the Creek Wars) when, in May 1814, he was made a major general in the regular army and given command of Tennessee, Mississippi, and Louisiana. At this time Great Britain was expected to begin a campaign in the gulf region (the parts of the United States surrounding the Gulf of Mexico), and Jackson was ordered to New Orleans to prepare the city's defenses against a British attack.
When Jackson finally arrived in New Orleans in early December, he found the city not only poorly defended but dominated by a pessimistic mood. He immediately set to work bolstering the city's defenses and instituting martial law (military rule), enlisting the help of all of its citizens and managing to inspire them. Jackson also began putting together an unusually diverse fighting force that eventually numbered six thousand soldiers that included six hundred free blacks, friendly Native Americans, and people of Creole (mixed) heritage as well as militiamen from Tennessee and Kentucky.
Meanwhile, Great Britain had about ten thousand soldiers in the region, including seasoned veterans of the recently concluded, victorious war against French forces led by Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821). Commanded by the experienced and respected Lieutenant General Edward Pakenham (1778-1815), these troops arrived in the New Orleans area in mid-December and took part in several inconclusive skirmishes (minor battles) with parts of Jackson's army through the end of the year.
During the first week of 1814, Jackson gathered his troops at a location a few miles south of New Orleans, arranging them in a line behind a canal. On January 8 the British crossed a wide expanse called the Chalmette plain to attack the American line. Initially, they were protected by a mist, but when the mist lifted they were visible and exposed. The Americans used a merciless barrage of small-arms fire to mow down the British as they tried to approach. Pakenham himself was killed, and the battle was soon over. It had ended disastrously for the British, who suffered two thousand casualties (soldiers killed, wounded, or captured), but gloriously for the Americans, whose casualties numbered only seventy (including only about a dozen killed).
The news of the U.S. victory at the Battle of New Orleans was greeted with joy throughout the country. Even though it had taken place after the signing of the Treaty of Ghent, which ended the war (but before the official ratification of the treaty), many Americans linked the two in their minds, as if the battle had brought about the end of the war. Jackson instantly became a national hero. The fame and adulation Jackson won at New Orleans would help to propel him, less than fifteen years later, to the presidency.
Jackson stayed in New Orleans for several months, keeping the city under martial law even when most of its citizens felt they could and should return to civilian rule. He finally left to take command of the army of the Southern District. His next brush with fame—this one more controversial—came in 1817, when he was sent to stop the Creek and Seminole raids on white settlements. Jackson chased them south into Florida but, in an action that exceeded his orders and that was clearly more about taking territory out of Spanish hands than punishing Native American aggression, seized the towns of Saint Marks and Pensacola. He also put to death two British subjects who had been encouraging and aiding the Seminoles.
The British and Spanish governments were both incensed, causing an embarrassing situation for the administration of President James Monroe (1758-1831). But Secretary of State John Quincy Adams (1767-1848) convinced Monroe that Jackson's actions should be excused as being justified by the circumstances. And in 1819, Spain ceded (gave) Florida to the United States, resulting in Jackson becoming even more popular than before. In 1821 Jackson was appointed governor of Florida but, after employing his usual heavy-handed style, resigned after only four months and returned to private life in Tennessee.
In the 1828 election, Jackson ran against the incumbent Adams, this time as a candidate of the new Democratic Party. Presented as the candidate of change, reform, and democracy, Jackson won by a large margin. Thus was ushered in what would be called the era of Jacksonian democracy.
The satisfaction of winning was followed by a great personal loss for Jackson. His adored wife, Rachel, died of a heart attack soon after the election, and Jackson was convinced that the stresses of the campaign—during which the old talk of a scandal regarding the Jacksons' marriage had been brought up again—had helped to speed her death. When he arrived in Washington, D.C. for his inauguration, he was sixty-two years old, grief-stricken, and suffering from a persistent cough and chronic dysentery (a disease of the stomach and bowels).
A major issue of Jackson's first term involved the removal of Native Americans from their traditional lands into areas set aside for them, especially in the Oklahoma Territory. This movement of people, which severely disrupted their lives and cultures, was happening more and more as the nineteenth century progressed and white Americans moved in greater numbers into the western expanses of the United States. Jackson oversaw the signing of ninety treaties with Native Americans, including one that would force the Cherokee people out of Georgia, where they had lived for thousands of years.
Asserting that the treaty was unfair and illegal, the Cherokees appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled in their favor. Jackson ignored the ruling, which had no impact if he was unprepared to enforce it. Thus the Georgia Cherokees were forced to make a journey of more than eight hundred miles along what they called the Trail of Tears, which led to Oklahoma. Many white Americans found this forced displacement of people shameful, but most westerners applauded it because it made more land available for settlement.
In foreign affairs, Jackson achieved some gains for the United States. During his first term the United States signed a treaty with Great Britain that opened up trade with the British West Indies, and another agreement arranged for France to repay Americans for damages suffered during the Napoleonic Wars (1803-15).
In the election of 1832, which was the first in which candidates were chosen at party conventions, Jackson ran against Henry Clay, who had been nominated by the new National Republican party. Jackson won the election easily. As his second term began, the nullification issue came to the forefront again, with South Carolina declaring that both the tariff of 1828 and the more recently passed 1832 tariff were null and void. The state also threatened to secede (separate) from the Union if the federal government tried to collect these taxes. Jackson pushed through Congress a bill that authorized the government to use force in the situation, if necessary; meanwhile, Speaker of the House Henry Clay (1777-1852; see biographical entry) came up with a compromise tariff that was acceptable to South Carolina. For now, the threat of a divided nation had been avoided.
By 1836, Jackson had been physically weakened by tuberculosis (a disease of the lungs), but he stayed in office until the end of his term and was happy to see his old friend Martin Van Buren elected as his predecessor. Jackson lived for eight more years at the Hermitage, plagued by financial worries but keeping a keen eye on national affairs until his death in 1845.
For More Information
Brooks, Charles B. The Siege of New Orleans. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1961.
Carter, Samuel. Blaze of Glory: The Fight for New Orleans, 1814-1815. London: Macmillan, 1971.
Heidler, David S., and Jeanne T. Heidler, eds. Encyclopedia of the War of 1812. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO, Inc., 1997.
Heidler, David S., and Jeanne T. Heidler. Old Hickory's War: Andrew Jackson and the Quest for Empire. Mechanicsburg, Penn.: Stackpole Books, 1996.
Remini, Robert V. Andrew Jackson and the Course of American Empire. NewYork: Harper and Row, 1981.
"Andrew Jackson." White House Biography. [Online] http://www.whitehouse.gov/history/presidents/aj7.html (accessed on November 26, 2001).
Andrew Jackson—Seventh President. [Online] http://members.aol.com/icecold966/AJack.html (accessed on November 26, 2001).
War of 1812. [Online] http://www.galafilm.com/1812/e/index.html (accessed on November 26, 2001).
Andrew Jackson's Plea to African Americans
In 1814 the War of 1812 was still being waged between the United States and Great Britain. Being desperate for soldiers to fight against the British in Louisiana, General Andrew Jackson made a plea to the free African Americans of Louisiana to serve in the U.S. Army. Besides needing soldiers, Jackson believed that the inclusion of African Americans in the military would counter British recruitment of blacks as spies and messengers. Although many African Americans responded to Jackson's address to serve in the military, after the War of 1812, they did not receive the compensation they were promised and many were reenslaved by the country that they had helped to defend.
General Andrew Jackson's Proclamation "To the Free Colored Inhabitants of Louisiana, Headquarters, Seventh Military District, Mobile, September 21, 1814"
Through a mistaken policy, you have been heretofore deprived of a participation in the glorious struggle for national rights in which our country is engaged. This no longer shall exist.
As sons of freedom, you are now called upon to defend our most inestimable blessing. As Americans, your country looks with confidence to her adopted children for a valorous [heroic] support, as a faithful return for the advantages enjoyed under her mild and equitable government.As fathers, husbands, and brothers, you are summoned to rally around the standard of the eagle [America's national symbol] to defend all which is dear in existence.
Your country, although calling for your exertions, does not wish you to engage in her cause without remunerating [compensating] you for the services rendered. Your intelligent minds are not to be led away by false representations. Your love of honor would cause you to despise the man who should attempt to deceive you. With the sincerity of a soldier and the language of truth I address you.
To every noble-hearted freeman of color volunteering to serve during the present contest with Great Britain, and no longer, there will be paid the same bounty, in money and lands, now received by the white soldiers of the United States.…
Due regard will be paid to the feelings of freemen and soldiers. You will not, by being associated with white men in the same corps, be exposed to improper comparison or unjust sarcasm. As a distinct independent battalion or regiment, pursuing the path of glory, you will, undivided, receive the applause and gratitude of your countrymen.
Source: Althoff, Gerard T. Amongst My Best Men: African-Americans and the War of 1812, Put-in-Bay, Ohio: The Perry Group, 1996.
Born March 15, 1767
Waxhaw Settlement, South Carolina
Died June 8, 1845
United States president, congressman, general, governor, judge
"I thank God that my life has been spent in a land of liberty and that he has given me a heart to love my country with the affection of a son. And filled with gratitude for your constant and unwavering kindness, I bid you a last and affectionate farewell."
From Jackson's farewell address to the American people, March 4, 1837
Few individuals played as crucial a role in the early westward expansion of the United States as Andrew Jackson. As a military leader, Jackson led his ragtag band of soldiers to victories over several tribes and scored a decisive victory over the British in the Battle of New Orleans during the War of 1812 (1812–14; a conflict between the British and the Americans over the control of the western reaches of the United States and over shipping rights in the Atlantic Ocean). Made famous by his military victories, Jackson went on to become the seventh president of the United States. As president, Jackson oversaw the large-scale removal of native peoples from the eastern United States. Most historians view Jackson's "Indian Removal" policies as a shameful episode in America's past, but in its time the policy was welcomed by many.
Andrew Jackson's parents were among the thousands of Irish immigrants arriving in the United States in the early 1700s. The Jacksons built a small cabin and settled in a valley in the Appalachian Mountains of South Carolina, about 160 miles northwest of Charleston. The couple was expecting their third son when Andrew Jackson senior died (of unknown causes); that son, named Andrew Jackson after his father, was born on March 15, 1767. Unable to care for the family on her own, Jackson's mother moved in with her sister and her large family, who lived nearby.
Jackson's mother, Elizabeth Hutchinson, was a pious woman who wanted her son to become a Presbyterian minister. But from an early age, Jackson had other ideas. Though his mother sent him to decent schools, Jackson proved better at fighting than he did at school. He gathered only a basic knowledge of history, geography, and literature, and never learned to spell correctly or write a proper sentence. But he excelled at footraces, jumping matches, and wrestling, and became known as a fierce competitor.
Jackson was gripped with the excitement that swept the colonies at the beginning of the American Revolution in 1776. By 1780, when the war reached South Carolina, thirteen-year-old Jackson signed on as an orderly to Colonel William Richardson Davie. The British captured Jackson and his brother after a minor battle. When Jackson refused to clean the muddy boots of a British officer, the man slashed him with a sword, leaving lifetime gashes on Jackson's fore-head and left hand. But Jackson was lucky, for he was the only member of his family to survive the war: His oldest brother, Hugh, died in an early battle; Robert succumbed to smallpox he had encountered in the British prison camp; and his mother died of cholera while tending to sick soldiers in Charleston. At age fourteen, Andrew Jackson was an orphan.
Frontier lawyer and politician
Jackson lived for a time with a cousin and then an uncle, but mostly he spent his time with a group of trouble-making boys in Charleston. According to biographer Milton Meltzer, writing in Andrew Jackson and His America, "They were a wild lot: nothing interested them but drinking, gambling, cockfighting, and brawling. Andy took to that life happily." In 1782, near the end of the Revolutionary War, Jackson left Charleston for Waxhaw, South Carolina. There he attended and then taught school—even though he was still a teenager. Finally, in 1784, he decided to study law under a prominent attorney named Spruce MaCay in Salisbury, North Carolina. Jackson passed the bar exam (a qualifying exam for lawyers) in 1786, but he made more of an impression with his wild ways than with his skills as a lawyer. Finally, in October 1788, Jackson decided to begin anew in the frontier town of Nashville, in what would become Tennessee. Jackson made a name for himself prosecuting debtors and handling land claims for investors. He made a small fortune as well, and when his clients couldn't pay in cash he accepted land, slaves, and livestock as payment.
In August 1791, Jackson married the dark-eyed, dark-haired Rachel Donelson Robards, daughter of a prominent landowner. From the beginning the couple was mired in scandal, for Rachel had not legally divorced her first husband when she married Jackson. Three years later they had to remarry to put a stop to the charges of bigamy and adultery leveled against them. The scandal of their first improper marriage would come back to haunt them when Jackson ran for president.
When Tennessee became America's sixteenth state in 1796, it sent Andrew Jackson as its representative to the U.S. House of Representatives. Jackson was elected to fill his state's U.S. Senate seat the following year, but he was out of his depth among the educated and distinguished members of the Senate. Writes his biographer Robert Remini, "He had assumed responsibilities far beyond his reach, and he virtually made a fool of himself." Jackson returned to the friendlier arena of Tennessee politics in 1798 and was soon appointed judge of the state's superior court. One man described Jackson's decisions as "short, untechnical, unlearned, sometimes ungrammatical, and generally right." Jackson served as a judge for six years before leaving in 1804 to tend to his growing business enterprises, his plantation, boatbuilding, horse breeding, and the selling of slaves.
Despite his high standing in Tennessee politics, Jackson remained as much a hell-raiser as he had been in his early teens. In 1803, he traded shots with Tennessee governor John Sevier in the streets of Knoxville when the governor slandered Jackson's wife. Neither man was hurt in this encounter or in their subsequent duel. In 1806 Jackson dueled again with noted shooter Charles Dickinson; Jackson came out on top, killing his opponent, but he carried his enemy's bullet in his chest for the rest of his life. In 1813, in a gunfight with a former soldier, Jesse Benton, who had insulted him, Jackson nearly lost an arm; these bullets remained in his body for twenty years. Jackson often chose violence as the easiest way to solve his problems.
On the strength of his political reputation—and in spite of his total lack of military experience—Jackson was commissioned major general of the Tennessee militia in April 1803. For years he saw no action, but when the War of 1812 (1812-14) pitted the United States against British and Indian forces on the western frontier, Jackson was eager to lead his men against their enemies. Jackson first earned his reputation as a fierce Indian fighter in September 1813 when he and his men slaughtered 186 Creek warriors who had attacked Fort Mims; the soldiers killed all the women and children traveling with the warriors as well. In March 1814 Jackson scored an even greater victory, killing nine hundred Creek warriors and taking three hundred prisoners at a battle near Horseshoe Bend on Alabama's Tallapoosa River. This battle ended Indian resistance in the region and made Jackson a hero.
Jackson's greatest heroics in the War of 1812, however, came at the Battle of New Orleans. Jackson had learned that the British forces led by Sir Edward Pakenham were preparing to capture the city of New Orleans and thus gain control of the Mississippi River and cripple American trade. After easily defeating a tiny American naval fleet, Pakenham's force of seventy-five hundred men marched on the city on January 8, 1815. Awaiting him were Jackson's forces, a motley assortment of Tennesseeans, New Orleans gentlemen, Choctaw Indians, free blacks, and a band of pirates led by the Laffite brothers. The strategically placed U.S. forces rained bullets on the British, killing two thousand soldiers in less than an hour and losing only a few lives themselves. The battle secured the Mississippi Valley, made a hero of Andrew Jackson, and sparked a wave of pride among American citizens. Ironically, the battle should never have been fought, for the treaty that ended the war—the Treaty of Ghent—had already been signed. Because news traveled slowly, neither force knew of the treaty.
Jackson's victory in New Orleans made him a national hero. He was honored with a congressional gold medal and President James Madison (1751–1836) said, according to biographer Alice Osinski, "History records no example of such a glorious victory, obtained with so little bloodshed on the part of the victorious." Jackson soon returned to the field of battle when he traveled south to settle conflicts between Seminole Indians and white settlements near the northern border of the Spanish territory of Florida. Whites insisted on their right to settle and hunt on Seminole land, and the Seminoles were quick to defend themselves by attacking white settlements. Invading Florida in the spring of 1818, Jackson engaged in search-and-destroy missions. Jackson's forces captured the towns of St. Mark's and Pensacola and executed two British citizens for inciting Indian attacks. Jackson's controversial actions ran counter to War Department orders—which restricted American advances onto Spanish territory—but helped end Spanish control of the region. By destabilizing the region, he helped convince the Spanish that it was no longer in their interest to protect the distant territory; by 1819 Spain sold Florida to the United States for five million dollars. For a short time, Jackson served as governor of the Florida Territory.
Jackson on Indian Removal
As part of his first address to Congress after being elected president in 1828, Jackson offered these views about the government's policy toward Indians living in the United States:
Our conduct toward these people is deeply interesting to our national character. Their present condition, contrasted with what they once were, makes a most powerful appeal to our sympathies. Our ancestors found them the uncontrolled possessors of these vast regions. By persuasion and force they have been made to retire from river to river and from mountain to mountain, until some of the tribes have become extinct and others have left but remnants to preserve for a while their once terrible names. Surrounded by the whites with their arts of civilization, which by destroying the resources of the savage doom him to weakness and decay, the fate of the Mohegan, the Narragansett, and the Delaware is fast overtaking the Choctaw, the Cherokee, and the Creek. That this fate surely awaits them if they remain within the limits of the States does not admit of a doubt. Humanity and national honor demand that every effort should be made to avert so great a calamity. It is too late to inquire whether it was just in the United States to include them and their territory within the bounds of new States, whose limits they could control. That step can not be retraced. A State can not be dismembered by Congress or restricted in the exercise of her constitutional power. But the people of those States and of every State, actuated by feelings of justice and a regard for our national honor, submit to you the interesting question whether something can not be done, consistently with the rights of the States, to preserve this much-injured race.
As a means of effecting this end I suggest for your consideration the propriety of setting apart an ample district west of the Mississippi, and without the limits of any State or Territory now formed, to be guaranteed to the Indian tribes as long as they shall occupy it, each tribe having a distinct control over the portion designated for its use. There they may be secured in the enjoyment of governments of their own choice, subject to no other control from the United States than such as may be necessary to preserve peace on the frontier and between the several tribes. There the benevolent may endeavor to teach them the arts of civilization, and, by promoting union and harmony among them, to raise up an interesting commonwealth, destined to perpetuate the race and to attest the humanity and justice of this Government.
This emigration should be voluntary, for it would be as cruel as unjust to compel the aborigines to abandon the graves of their fathers and seek a home in a distant land. But they should be distinctly informed that if they remain within the limits of the States they must be subject to their laws. In return for their obedience as individuals they will without doubt be protected in the enjoyment of those possessions which they have improved by their industry. But it seems to me visionary to suppose that in this state of things claims can be allowed on tracts of country on which they have neither dwelt nor made improvements, merely because they have seen them from the mountain or passed them in the chase. Submitting to the laws of the States, and receiving, like other citizens, protection in their persons and property, they will ere long become merged in the mass of our population.
Source: Richardson, James D., comp. "First Annual Message to Congress." Messages and Papers of the Presidents. 2:456–59. From American Journey Online: The Native American Experience. Woodbridge, CT: Primary Source Media, 1999.
In 1824, Jackson decided to run for president. Former president Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826) made no secret of his fear of an Andrew Jackson in the White House: "He is one of the most unfit men I know for such a place." But the nation was changing, as more citizens desired someone in office who would represent their needs. In the election of 1824, Jackson received more popular votes than either of his opponents. However, he lost the presidency when he failed to win a majority of votes in the electoral college, and the House of Representatives chose John Quincy Adams (1767–1848) as president. Calling Adams's election part of a "corrupt bargain," Jackson and his backers charged that house members led by Henry Clay (1777–1852) had cut a deal to make Adams president. (Clay was made secretary of state in return for getting his supporters in the House to vote for Adams.) Jackson vowed that he would win the next time.
The people's president
For the next four years, Jackson dedicated himself to winning the presidency. Promising to "purify the Departments" and "reform the government," he appealed to the common man in a way that no presidential candidate had before. In the election, he won a clear majority in both popular (647,276 to 508,064) and electoral (178 to 83) votes. It was a great triumph, but sadly it was colored by tragedy, for Jackson lost his beloved wife, Rachel, who died of a heart attack on December 22, just weeks before his inauguration. Jackson blamed her death on his political enemies, who had made an issue of their first illegal marriage and defamed her character.
Jackson took office amid the biggest and wildest party ever to hit the nation's young capital. He had invited "the people" to his inaugural ball, and the people had come, crashing into the White House, breaking the fine china, spilling liquor on the fine carpets, and plundering the house for souvenirs. This party, and the presidency itself, reflected Jackson's personality. Unwilling to appoint distinguished politicians to public office, Jackson instead began the tradition of placing allies and friends in key federal offices. Known as the "spoils system," this tradition has been followed by nearly every president since. Jackson felt that it was time for the government to reflect the will of the people, and he believed that every citizen was capable of government service. The general public knew only one major political figure in Jackson's cabinet—Secretary of State Martin Van Buren.
Jackson proudly used his executive veto power when he thought it would best express the will of the people. Several of his vetoes were designed to limit the power of the federal government: In 1830 he vetoed the Maysville Road bill because he thought that states should build their own roads, and in 1832 he vetoed the recharter of the Bank of the United States. Jackson did not like the Bank of the United States, which he felt only served the needs of the very rich. His veto of the bill, which had easily passed both houses, demonstrated his popular appeal:
The rich and powerful too often bend the acts of government to their selfish purposes. [W]hen laws undertake to add . . . artificial distinctions, to grant titles, gratuities, and exclusive privileges, to make the rich richer and the potent more powerful, the humble members of society—the farmers, mechanics, and laborers—who have neither the time nor the means of securing like favors to themselves, have a right to complain of the injustice of their government.
Among Jackson's more controversial policies as president was his call for the removal of Indians beyond the limits of white settlement. In his first address to Congress as president, Jackson asked: "What good man would prefer a country covered with forests and ranged by a few thousand savages to our extensive Republic, studded with cities, towns, and prosperous farms, embellished with all the improvements which art can devise or industry execute, occupied by more than 12,000,000 happy people, and filled with all the blessings of liberty, civilization, and religion?" Jackson believed that the massive transfer of Native Americans beyond the Mississippi River was ultimately the most humane policy the United States could undertake. He signed the Indian Removal Act of 1830, which called for the removal—voluntary or forced—of all Indians to lands west of the Mississippi. The Indian Territory that was defined by Congress covered parts of the present-day states of Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Kansas.
In addition to the Indian Removal Act, Jackson signed over ninety resettlement treaties with various tribes. Jackson promised the Indians, as quoted in Osinski's Andrew Jackson, that "their white brethren will not trouble them ... and they can live upon [their land], they and all their children as long as grass grows or water runs in peace and plenty." Jackson told Congress, however, that "whenever the safety, interest or defense of the country" was at stake, Congress could "occupy and possess any part of Indian territory." As a result of Jackson's policies, thousands of Indians were forced to migrate along a trail that led from their ancestral lands to the western lands set aside for them. Many Indians faced disease and death on these terrible journeys.
Jackson did not run for president after his second term. In one of his last official acts before leaving office in 1837, Jackson recognized the independence of the Republic of Texas, thus setting the stage for the Mexican-American War (1846–48; a war fought over the position of the southern border of Texas) and the eventual admission of Texas into the Union. Jackson faced his share of difficulties as president: he faced down South Carolina's threat to secede from the Union and weathered the financial tumult that he caused by closing the Bank of the United States. Still, he left office loved by many Americans and is remembered to this day as one of the nation's strongest presidents. Jackson retired to the Hermitage, his plantation in Tennessee, where he rode his horses and kept up an active correspondence on public affairs. He died quietly at his home on June 8, 1845.
For More Information
Coit, Margaret L. Andrew Jackson. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1965.
Collier, Christopher, and James Lincoln Collier. Andrew Jackson's America, 1824–1850. New York: Benchmark Books, 1999.
Gutman, William. Andrew Jackson and the New Populism. New York: Barron's Education Series, 1987.
Hilton, Suzanne. The World of Young Andrew Jackson. New York: Walker & Company, 1988.
Judson, Andrew. Andrew Jackson. Springfield, NJ: Enslow Publishers, 1997.
Meltzer, Milton. Andrew Jackson and His America. New York: F. Watts, 1993.
Osinski, Alice. Andrew Jackson. Encyclopedia of Presidents Series. Chicago: Children's Press, 1987.
Remini, Robert V. Andrew Jackson. New York: Harper Perennial, 1999.
Viola, Herman J. Andrew Jackson. New York: Chelsea House, 1986.
Andrew Jackson (1767-1845), seventh president of the United States, symbolized the democratic advances of his time. His actions strengthened the power of the presidential office in American government.
When Andrew Jackson emerged on the national scene, the United States was undergoing profound social and economic changes as the new, postrevolutionary generation pushed forward in search of material gain and political power. Jackson was a classic example of the self-made man who rose from a log cabin to the White House, and he came to represent the aspirations of the ordinary citizen struggling to achieve wealth and status. He symbolized the "rise of the common man." So total was his identification with this period of American history that the years between 1828 and 1848 are frequently designated the "Age of Jackson."
Andrew Jackson was born on March 15, 1767, in Waxhaw country, which straddles North and South Carolina. His father, who died shortly before Andrew's birth, had come with his wife to America from Ireland in 1765. Andrew attended several academies in the Waxhaw settlement, but his education was spotty and he never developed a taste for learning.
After the outbreak of the American Revolution, Jackson, barely 13 years old, served as an orderly to Col. William Richardson. Following one engagement, Jackson and his brother were captured by the British and taken to a prison camp. When Jackson refused to clean an officer's boots, the officer slashed him with a sword, leaving a permanent scar on his forehead and left hand. Jackson was the only member of his family to survive the war, and it is generally believed that his harsh, adventuresome, early life developed his strong, aggressive qualities of leadership, his violent temper, and his need for intense loyalty from friends.
After the war Jackson drifted from one occupation to another and from one relative to another. He squandered a small inheritance and for a time lived a wild, undisciplined life that gave free rein to his passionate nature. He developed lifelong interests in horse racing and cock-fighting and frequently indulged in outrageous practical jokes. Standing just over 6 feet tall, with long, sharp, bony features lighted by intense blue eyes, Jackson presented an imposing figure that gave every impression of a will and need to command.
After learning the saddler's trade, Jackson tried school-teaching for a season or two, then left in 1784 for Salisbury, N. C., where he studied law in a local office. Three years later, licensed to practice law in North Carolina, he migrated to the western district that eventually became Tennessee. Appointed public prosecutor for the district, he took up residence in Nashville. A successful prosecutor and lawyer, he was particularly useful to creditors who had trouble collecting debts. Since money was scarce in the West, he accepted land in payment for his services and within 10 years became one of the most important landowners in Tennessee. Unfortunately his speculations in land failed, and he spiraled deeply into debt, a misadventure that left him with lasting monetary prejudices. He came to condemn credit because it encouraged speculation and indebtedness. He distrusted the note-issuing, credit-producing aspects of banking and abhorred paper money. He regarded hard money—specie—as the only legitimate means by which honest men could engage in business transactions.
While Jackson was emerging as an important citizen by virtue of his land holdings, he also achieved social status by marrying Rachel Donelson, the daughter of one of the region's original settlers. The Jacksons had no children of their own, but they adopted one of Rachel's nephews and named him Andrew Jackson, Jr.
When Congress created the Southwest Territory in 1790, Jackson was appointed an attorney general for the Mero District and judge advocate of the Davidson County militia. In 1796 the northern portion of the territory held a constitutional convention to petition Congress for admission as a state to the Union. Jackson attended the convention as a delegate from his county. Although he played a modest part in the proceedings, one tradition does credit him with suggesting the name of the state: Tennessee, derived from the name of a Cherokee Indian chief.
In 1796, with the admission of Tennessee as the sixteenth state of the Union, Jackson was elected to its sole seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. His voting record revealed strong nationalistic tendencies. The following year he was elected U.S. senator but he soon resigned to become judge of the Superior Court of Tennessee. His decisions as judge were described by one man as "short, untechnical, unlearned, sometimes ungrammatical, and generally right." He resigned from the bench in 1804 to devote himself exclusively to his plantation, where he later built a graceful mansion called the "Hermitage," and to his other business enterprises, including boatbuilding, horse breeding, and storekeeping.
By the beginning of the War of 1812, Jackson had achieved the rank of major general of the Tennessee militia. He and his militia were directed to subdue the Creek Indians in Alabama who had massacred white settlers at Ft. Mims. At the Battle of Horseshoe Bend (1814) Jackson inflicted such a decisive defeat that the Creek's power to wage war was permanently broken. During this engagement Jackson's men acknowledged his toughness and indomitable will by calling him "Old Hickory."
When the U.S. government heard rumors of an impending British penetration of the South through one of the ports on the Gulf of Mexico, Jackson was ordered to block the invasion. Supposing that New Orleans was the likeliest point of attack, he established a triple line of defense south of the city. After several minor skirmishes and an artillery bombardment, the British attacked in force on Jan. 8, 1815, and were decisively defeated. Over 2,000 British soldiers, including their commanding general, perished in the battle, while only 13 Americans were killed. It was a stupendous victory. Jackson became a national hero overnight, for he had infused Americans with confidence in their ability to defend their new liberty.
When the war ended, Jackson returned to his plantation. However, he soon resumed military duty to subdue Indian raids along the southern frontier emanating from Spanish Florida. In a series of rapid moves he invaded Florida, subdued the Seminole Indians, extinguished Spanish authority, and executed two British subjects for inciting Indian attacks. Despite an international furor over this invasion, President James Monroe defended Jackson's actions and prevailed upon Spain to sell Florida to the United States for $5 million. Jackson served as governor of the Florida Territory briefly, but he was highhanded, was antagonistic to the Spanish, and tried to exercise absolute authority. He quit in disgust after serving only a few months.
These exploits served to increase Jackson's popularity throughout the country, alerting his friends in Tennessee to the possibility of making him a presidential candidate. First, he was elected to the U.S. Senate in October 1823. Then, the following year four candidates sought the presidency, each representing a different section of the country: Jackson of Tennessee, William H. Crawford of Georgia, John Quincy Adams of Massachusetts, and Henry Clay of Kentucky. In the election Jackson won the highest plurality of popular and electoral votes, but because he did not have the constitutionally mandated majority of electoral votes, the issue of selecting the president went to the House of Representatives. Here, on the first ballot, John Quincy Adams was chosen president. Adams's subsequent selection of Clay as his secretary of state convinced Jackson that a "bargain" had been concluded between the two to "fix" the election and cheat him of the presidency. For the next 4 years Jackson's friends battered the Adams administration with the accusation of a "corrupt bargain." In the election of 1828 Jackson won an overwhelming victory. During the campaign Martin Van Buren of New York and John C. Calhoun of South Carolina joined forces behind Jackson, and out of this coalition emerged the Democratic party. Supporters of Adams and Clay were now called National Republicans.
"Old Hickory" as President
Jackson's presidential inauguration demonstrated the beginning of a new political age as thousands of people swarmed into Washington to witness the outdoor inauguration, then poured through the White House to congratulate their hero, nearly wrecking the building in the process. Jackson appointed many second-rate men to his Cabinet, with the exception of Martin Van Buren, his secretary of state.
An initial estrangement between Jackson and his vice president, John C. Calhoun, soon grew worse because of their obvious disagreement over the important constitutional question of the nature of the Union. During a Senate debate between Daniel Webster of Massachusetts and Robert Y. Hayne of South Carolina, Hayne articulated Calhoun's doctrine of nullification (that is, the right of a state to nullify any objectionable Federal law). Although Jackson was politically conservative and a strong advocate of states' rights, he was also intensely nationalistic, and he regarded nullification as an abomination. At a dinner commemorating Thomas Jefferson's birthday, Jackson found the opportunity to express his feelings. When called upon to deliver a toast, he is said to have looked straight at Calhoun and said, "Our Federal Union. It must be preserved."
The final break between Jackson and Calhoun occurred when it was disclosed that, earlier, as secretary of war in James Monroe's Cabinet, Calhoun had sought to censure Jackson for his invasion of Florida. In self-defense, Calhoun gave his side of the controversy in a newspaper statement and ended by arguing that Van Buren had deliberately sought his downfall in order to eliminate him as a presidential rival. Van Buren there-upon resigned from the Cabinet, thus forcing the resignation of the remaining members, which gave Jackson the opportunity of reconstituting his Cabinet and ridding himself of Calhoun's friends. Later, however, when Jackson made Van Buren U.S. minister to Great Britain, confirmation of this appointment resulted in a tie vote in the Senate, and Calhoun, as vice president, gained a measure of revenge by voting against it. This action prompted Jackson to insist on Van Buren as his vice-presidential running mate in the next election.
The presidential contest of 1832 involved not only personal vindication for Van Buren but also the important political issue of the national bank. The issue developed because of Jackson's prejudice against paper money and banks and because of his contention that the Second Bank of the United States (established in 1816) was not only unconstitutional but had failed to establish a sound and uniform currency. Moreover, he suspected the Bank of improper interference in the political process. Jackson had informed the Bank's president, Nicholas Biddle, of his displeasure in his first message to Congress back in December 1829. Following this, Biddle, at the urging of Henry Clay and other National Republicans, asked Congress for a recharter of the Bank 4 years before it came due. In this way the issue could be submitted to the people during the 1832 election if Jackson blocked the recharter.
Although the bank bill passed Congress rather handily, Jackson vetoed it in a strong message that lamented how "the rich and powerful too often bend the acts of government to their selfish purposes." This veto message broadened presidential power because it went beyond strictly constitutional reasons in faulting the bill. By citing social, political, and economic reasons, Jackson went beyond what all his predecessors had considered the limit of the presidential veto power.
In the 1832 election Henry Clay, running against Jackson on the bank issue, was decisively defeated. Jackson interpreted his reelection as a mandate to destroy the Bank of the United States. He therefore directed his secretary of the Treasury to remove Federal deposits and place them in selected state banks (called pet banks). Biddle counterattacked by a severe contraction of credit that produced a brief financial panic during the winter of 1833/1834. But Jackson held his ground, Biddle was finally forced to relax the pressure, and the Bank of the United States eventually collapsed. With the dispersal of government money among state banks and, later, with the distribution of surplus Federal funds to individual states, the nation entered a period of steep inflation. Jackson unsuccessfully tried to halt the inflation by issuing the Specie Circular (1836), which directed specie payments in the purchase of public land.
At the beginning of his second term, Jackson informed Congress of his intention to pay off the national debt. This goal was achieved on Jan. 1, 1835, thanks to income the Federal government received from land sales and tariff revenues. Jackson also advocated a policy of "rotation" with respect to Federal offices. In a democratic country, he declared, "no one man has any more intrinsic right to official station than another." He was accused of inaugurating the spoils system, but this was unfair for, actually, he removed only a modest number of officeholders. Jackson also advocated moving Native Americans west of the Mississippi River as the most humane policy the government could pursue in dealing with the Native American problem. Consequently he signed over 90 treaties with various tribes, in which lands owned by Native Americans within the existing states were exchanged for new lands in the open West. Jackson's veto of the Maysville Road Bill as an unwarranted exercise of Federal authority was widely interpreted as an expression of his opposition to Federal aid for public works.
Jackson also sought to modify tariff rates because they provoked sectional controversy. The North advocated high protective rates, but the South considered them a way of subsidizing northern manufacturers at the expense of southern and western purchasers. With the passage of the Tariff of 1832, South Carolina reacted violently by invoking Calhoun's doctrine of nullification. At a special convention in November 1832, South Carolina adopted the Ordinance of Nullification, declaring the tariffs of 1828 and 1832 null and void and warning the Federal government that if force were used to execute the law, the state would secede from the Union. In response to this threat, Jackson issued the Proclamation to the People of South Carolina that blended warning with entreaty, demand with understanding. "The laws of the United States must be executed," he said. "Those who told you that you might peaceably prevent their execution deceived you…. Disunion by armed force is treason."
Meanwhile a compromise tariff was hurried through Congress to reduce the rates schedule over a 10-year period, while another bill was passed giving Jackson permission to use the military to force South Carolina to obey the laws. The state chose to accept the compromise tariff and repealed its nullification ordinance, thereby averting a national crisis. Jackson's actions during the controversy were masterful. Through the careful use of presidential powers, by rallying the public to his side, alerting the military, and offering compromise while preparing for possible hostilities, he preserved the Union and upheld the supremacy of Federal law.
Jackson also exercised forceful leadership in his relations with foreign nations, and he scored a number of notable diplomatic victories. He obtained favorable treaties with Turkey, Cochin China, and Siam (the first United States treaties with Asiatic powers), and he was also able to reopen American trade with the British West Indies. Furthermore, he forced France into agreeing to pay the debts owed to American citizens for the destruction of American property during the Napoleonic Wars. However, when the French chamber of deputies failed to appropriate the money to pay the debt, Jackson asked Congress to permit reprisals against French property in the United States. The French interpreted this as a deliberate insult, and for a time war between the two countries seemed unavoidable. The French demanded an apology, which Jackson refused to give, although in a message to Congress he denied any intention "to menace or insult" the French government. France chose to accept Jackson's disclaimer as an apology and forthwith paid the debt; thus hostilities were avoided.
At the end of his two terms in office, having participated in the inauguration of his successor, Martin Van Buren, Jackson retired to his plantation. He continued to keep his hand in national politics until his death on June 8, 1845.
The most scholarly, but not the most interesting, study of Jackson's life is John Spencer Bassett, The Life of Andrew Jackson (2 vols., 1911; new ed. 1916). More colorful is Marquis James, The Life of Andrew Jackson (1938), but its analysis of Jackson's character is superficial. James Parton, Life of Andrew Jackson (3 vols., 1860), is old but extremely valuable, particularly since it was researched among many people who actually knew Jackson. A brief biography is Robert V. Remini, Andrew Jackson (1966).
Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., is generally sympathetic to Jackson in The Age of Jackson (1945), while Glyndon G. Van Deusen in The Jacksonian Era (1959) and Edward Pessen in JacksonianAmerica (1969) are more critical. See also Harold Coffin Syrett, Andrew Jackson: His Contributions to the American Tradition (1953), and Leonard D. White, The Jacksonians: A Study in Administrative History, 1829-1861 (1954). For the elections of 1828 and 1832 see Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., ed., History of American Presidential Elections, vol. 1 (1971). □
7th president, 1829–1837
Born: March 15, 1767
Died: June 8, 1845
First Lady: none
Children: Andrew Jackson Jr. (adopted)
Andrew Jackson is often remembered as the first president of the "common man." He was born in a log cabin in 1767. By age 13, he was an uneducated orphan who took up arms in the Revolutionary War. In fact, Jackson bore a scar on his head through out his life from the sword of a British officer who had slashed the young boy for refusing to polish the officer's boots. Jackson became a lawyer, and by the age of 30, was a U.S. senator from Tennessee.
Jackson ran for president in 1824 but lost to John Quincy Adams. The election was decided in the House of Representatives, despite the fact that he had won more popular votes. Four years later, however, he won the race and became the 7th president of the United States.
Jackson was married to Rachel Donelson Robards, and they had one adopted son, Andrew Jackson Jr. Rachel died one month before Jackson took office. Her niece, Emily Donelson, served as hostess at the White House.
- Jackson fought in both the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.
- Jackson was the first president to ride on a train.
- Jackson was wounded in a duel—a bullet lodged near his heart remained there until he died.
- Jackson was the only president to have been a prisoner of war.
Jackson was re-elected in 1832, and after his second term, he retired to his home near Nashville.
When Jackson Was in Office
- Physicists Michael Faraday of England and Joseph Henry of the United States discovered that moving a magnet creates electromagnetic energy.
- Nat Turner, a Virginia slave, led a slave revolt in which 57 whites and 100 slaves died. He was captured and hanged.
William Lloyd Garrison began publication of The Liberator, an abolitionist newspaper.
- The first national conventions to choose presidential candidates were held.
- American inventor Cyrus McCormick invented the first reaping machine, designed to help farmers harvest grain faster.
- Texas declared its independence from Mexico.
Arkansas became a state.
- Michigan became a state.
On Jackson's First Inauguration Day
When Andrew Jackson took the oath of office, he was the first president who had not been born in Massachusetts or Virginia. "Old Hickory," as he was known, was a Tennessee farmer, and his inauguration was attended by rough frontiersmen dressed in deerskin clothing and coonskin caps.
Andrew Jackson's First Inaugural Address
In Washington, D.C., Wednesday, March 4, 1829
ABOUT to undertake the arduous duties that I have been appointed to perform by the choice of a free people, I avail myself of this customary and solemn occasion to express the gratitude which their confidence inspires and to acknowledge the accountability which my situation enjoins. While the magnitude of their interests convinces me that no thanks can be adequate to the honor they have conferred, it admonishes me that the best return I can make is the zealous dedication of my humble abilities to their service and their good.
As the instrument of the Federal Constitution it will devolve on me for a stated period to execute the laws of the United States, to superintend their foreign and their confederate relations, to manage their revenue, to command their forces, and, by communications to the Legislature, to watch over and to promote their interests generally. And the principles of action by which I shall endeavor to accomplish this circle of duties it is now proper for me briefly to explain.
In administering the laws of Congress I shall keep steadily in view the limitations as well as the extent of the Executive power, trusting thereby to discharge the functions of my office without transcending its authority. With foreign nations it will be my study to preserve peace and to cultivate friendship on fair and honorable terms, and in the adjustment of any differences that may exist or arise to exhibit the forbearance becoming a powerful nation rather than the sensibility belonging to a gallant people.
In such measures as I may be called on to pursue in regard to the rights of the separate States I hope to be animated by a proper respect for those sovereign members of our Union, taking care not to confound the powers they have reserved to themselves with those they have granted to the Confederacy. 1
The management of the public revenue—that searching operation in all governments—is among the most delicate and important trusts in ours, and it will, of course, demand no inconsiderable share of my official solicitude. Under every aspect in which it can be considered it would appear that advantage must result from the observance of a strict and faithful economy. This I shall aim at the more anxiously both because it will facilitate the extinguishment of the national debt, the unnecessary duration of which is incompatible with real independence, and because it will counteract that tendency to public and private profligacy which a profuse expenditure of money by the Government is but too apt to engender. Powerful auxiliaries to the attainment of this desirable end are to be found in the regulations provided by the wisdom of Congress for the specific appropriation of public money and the prompt accountability of public officers.
With regard to a proper selection of the subjects of impost with a view to revenue, it would seem to me that the spirit of equity, caution, and compromise in which the Constitution was formed requires that the great interests of agriculture, commerce, and manufactures should be equally favored, and that perhaps the only exception to this rule should consist in the peculiar encouragement of any products of either of them that may be found essential to our national independence.
Internal improvement and the diffusion of knowledge, so far as they can be promoted by the constitutional acts of the Federal Government, are of high importance.
Considering standing armies as dangerous to free governments in time of peace, I shall not seek to enlarge our present establishment, nor disregard that salutary lesson of political experience which teaches that the military should be held subordinate to the civil power. The gradual increase of our Navy, whose flag has displayed in distant climes our skill in navigation and our fame in arms; the preservation of our forts, arsenals, and dockyards, and the introduction of progressive improvements in the discipline and science of both branches of our military service are so plainly prescribed by prudence that I should be excused for omitting their mention sooner than for enlarging on their importance. But the bulwark of our defense is the national militia, which in the present state of our intelligence and population must render us invincible. As long as our Government is administered for the good of the people, and is regulated by their will; as long as it secures to us the rights of person and of property, liberty of conscience and of the press, it will be worth defending; and so long as it is worth defending a patriotic militia will cover it with an impenetrable aegis. Partial injuries and occasional mortifications we may be subjected to, but a million of armed freemen, possessed of the means of war, can never be conquered by a foreign foe. 2 To any just system, therefore, calculated to strengthen this natural safeguard of the country I shall cheerfully lend all the aid in my power.
It will be my sincere and constant desire to observe toward the Indian tribes within our limits a just and liberal policy, and to give that humane and considerate attention to their rights and their wants which is consistent with the habits of our Government and the feelings of our people. 3
The recent demonstration of public sentiment inscribes on the list of Executive duties, in characters too legible to be overlooked, the task of reform, which will require particularly the correction of those abuses that have brought the patronage of the Federal Government into conflict with the freedom of elections, and the counteraction of those causes which have disturbed the rightful course of appointment and have placed or continued power in unfaithful or incompetent hands.
In the performance of a task thus generally delineated I shall endeavor to select men whose diligence and talents will insure in their respective stations able and faithful cooperation, depending for the advancement of the public service more on the integrity and zeal of the public officers than on their numbers.
A diffidence, perhaps too just, in my own qualifications will teach me to look with reverence to the examples of public virtue left by my illustrious predecessors, and with veneration to the lights that flow from the mind that founded and the mind that reformed our system. The same diffidence induces me to hope for instruction and aid from the coordinate branches of the Government, and for the indulgence and support of my fellow-citizens generally. And a firm reliance on the goodness of that Power whose providence mercifully protected our national infancy, and has since upheld our liberties in various vicissitudes, encourages me to offer up my ardent supplications that He will continue to make our beloved country the object of His divine care and gracious benediction
Quotes to Note
- "taking care not to confound..." Jackson refers to the importance of respecting states' rights, which was becoming a serious issue by that point. The term "Confederacy" is a term that was used in those days to refer to the United States.
- "a million of armed freemen..." Jackson refers to the militia, which we know today as the National Guard. Until the Civil War, the state militias were larger than the federal army.
- "to observe toward the Indian tribes..." Despite the peaceful sentiments, Jackson was among the most brutal presidents in history with regard to his treatment of Native Americans, and was largely responsible for the removal of Native Americans in the Southeast to lands across the Mississippi River.
On Jackson's Second Inauguration Day
When Andrew Jackson took the oath of office for the second time, the issue of states' rights had become even more controversial. Senator John C. Calhoun of South Carolina, a former vice president, had recently introduced the concept of "nullification." Under this concept, state legislatures had the right to "nullify" any laws passed by the federal government that were not acceptable to them.
Andrew Jackson's Second Inaugural Address
In Washington, D.C., Monday, March 4, 1833
THE will of the American people, expressed through their unsolicited suffrages, calls me before you to pass through the solemnities preparatory to taking upon myself the duties of President of the United States for another term. For their approbation of my public conduct through a period which has not been without its difficulties, and for this renewed expression of their confidence in my good intentions, I am at a loss for terms adequate to the expression of my gratitude. It shall be displayed to the extent of my humble abilities in continued efforts so to administer the Government as to preserve their liberty and promote their happiness.
So many events have occurred within the last four years which have necessarily called forth—sometimes under circumstances the most delicate and painful—my views of the principles and policy which ought to be pursued by the General Government that I need on this occasion but allude to a few leading considerations connected with some of them.
The foreign policy adopted by our Government soon after the formation of our present Constitution, and very generally pursued by successive Administrations, has been crowned with almost complete success, and has elevated our character among the nations of the earth. To do justice to all and to submit to wrong from none has been during my Administration its governing maxim, and so happy have been its results that we are not only at peace with all the world, but have few causes of controversy, and those of minor importance, remaining unadjusted.
In the domestic policy of this Government there are two objects which especially deserve the attention of the people and their representatives, and which have been and will continue to be the subjects of my increasing solicitude. They are the preservation of the rights of the several States and the integrity of the Union.
These great objects are necessarily connected, and can only be attained by an enlightened exercise of the powers of each within its appropriate sphere in conformity with the public will constitutionally expressed. To this end it becomes the duty of all to yield a ready and patriotic submission to the laws constitutionally enacted, and thereby promote and strengthen a proper confidence in those institutions of the several States and of the United States which the people themselves have ordained for their own government.
My experience in public concerns and the observation of a life somewhat advanced confirm the opinions long since imbibed by me, that the destruction of our State governments or the annihilation of their control over the local concerns of the people would lead directly to revolution and anarchy, and finally to despotism and military domination. In proportion, therefore, as the General Government encroaches upon the rights of the States, in the same proportion does it impair its own power and detract from its ability to fulfill the purposes of its creation. 1 Solemnly impressed with these considerations, my countrymen will ever find me ready to exercise my constitutional powers in arresting measures which may directly or indirectly encroach upon the rights of the States or tend to consolidate all political power in the General Government. But of equal, and, indeed, of incalculable, importance is the union of these States, and the sacred duty of all to contribute to its preservation by a liberal support of the General Government in the exercise of its just powers. You have been wisely admonished to "accustom yourselves to think and speak of the Union as of the palladium of your political safety and prosperity, watching for its preservation with jealous anxiety, discountenancing whatever may suggest even a suspicion that it can in any event be abandoned, and indignantly frowning upon the first dawning of any attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest or to enfeeble the sacred ties which now link together the various parts." Without union our independence and liberty would never have been achieved; without union they never can be maintained. 2 Divided into twenty-four, or even a smaller number, of separate communities, we shall see our internal trade burdened with numberless restraints and exactions; communication between distant points and sections obstructed or cut off; our sons made soldiers to deluge with blood the fields they now till in peace; the mass of our people borne down and impoverished by taxes to support armies and navies, and military leaders at the head of their victorious legions becoming our lawgivers and judges. The loss of liberty, of all good government, of peace, plenty, and happiness, must inevitably follow a dissolution of the Union. In supporting it, therefore, we support all that is dear to the freeman and the philanthropist.
The time at which I stand before you is full of interest. The eyes of all nations are fixed on our Republic. The event of the existing crisis will be decisive in the opinion of mankind of the practicability of our federal system of government. 3 Great is the stake placed in our hands; great is the responsibility which must rest upon the people of the United States. Let us realize the importance of the attitude in which we stand before the world. Let us exercise forbearance and firmness. Let us extricate our country from the dangers which surround it and learn wisdom from the lessons they inculcate.
Deeply impressed with the truth of these observations, and under the obligation of that solemn oath which I am about to take, I shall continue to exert all my faculties to maintain the just powers of the Constitution and to transmit unimpaired to posterity the blessings of our Federal Union. At the same time, it will be my aim to inculcate by my official acts the necessity of exercising by the General Government those powers only that are clearly delegated; to encourage simplicity and economy in the expenditures of the Government; to raise no more money from the people than may be requisite for these objects, and in a manner that will best promote the interests of all classes of the community and of all portions of the Union. Constantly bearing in mind that in entering into society "individuals must give up a share of liberty to preserve the rest," it will be my desire so to discharge my duties as to foster with our brethren in all parts of the country a spirit of liberal concession and compromise, and, by reconciling our fellow-citizens to those partial sacrifices which they must unavoidably make for the preservation of a greater good, to recommend our invaluable Government and Union to the confidence and affections of the American people.
Finally, it is my most fervent prayer to that Almighty Being before whom I now stand, and who has kept us in His hands from the infancy of our Republic to the present day, that He will so overrule all my intentions and actions and inspire the hearts of my fellow-citizens that we may be preserved from dangers of all kinds and continue forever a united and happy people.
Quotes to Note
- "In proportion, therefore, as the General Government..." Jackson emphasizes his belief that the more the federal government seeks to assert power, the more it weakens itself. This was an argument advanced by states' rights advocates.
- "Without union our independence and liberty..." Here Jackson advances the opposite argument about the necessity of states remaining united.
- "The event of the existing crisis..." Jackson says that the very existence of this unique form of government depends on solving the crisis of federal versus state power. This crisis, of course, would lead to the Civil War less than 30 years later.
Andrew Jackson (1767–1845) was the seventh president of the United States. He symbolized the democratic advances of his time, while strengthening the power of the presidential office in American government.
A young soldier
Andrew Jackson was born on March 15, 1767, in Waxhaw country, which is now part of North and South Carolina. His father, who died shortly before Andrew's birth, had come with his wife to America from Ireland in 1765. Andrew attended several academies in the Waxhaw settlement, but his education was incomplete and he never developed a taste for learning.
After the outbreak of the American Revolution (1775–83), where the American colonies fought to break away from British rule, Jackson, barely thirteen years old, served as an orderly (an attendant). Following a battle, Jackson and his brother were captured by the British and taken to a prison camp. When Jackson refused to clean an officer's boots, the officer slashed him with a sword, leaving a permanent scar on his forehead and left hand. Jackson was the only member of his family to survive the war. Many believe that his harsh, adventuresome, early life developed his strong, aggressive qualities of leadership, his violent temper, and his need for intense loyalty from friends.
Lawyer and politician
After the war Jackson drifted from one job to another and from one relative to another. He wasted a small inheritance and for a time lived a wild and undisciplined life. Then, in 1784 Jackson left for Salisbury, North Carolina, where he studied law in a local office. Three years later, after earning his law license, he moved to the western district that eventually became Tennessee. Living in Nashville, Tennessee, Jackson soon became a distinguished lawyer. Within ten years he became one of the most important landowners in the state. He also achieved social status by marrying Rachel Donelson (1767–1828), the daughter of one of the region's original settlers.
In 1796 Jackson represented his county when the Southwest Territory (areas west of the Mississippi River) petitioned Congress for admission as a state to the Union, as the United States was known. Although he played a modest, or small, part in the proceedings, one tradition does credit him with suggesting the name of the new state: Tennessee, taken from the name of a Cherokee Indian chief.
After Tennessee was admitted as the sixteenth state of the Union, Jackson was elected to its only seat in Congress. The following year he became judge of the Superior Court of Tennessee. He resigned from the bench in 1804 to devote himself to his plantation, where he later built a graceful mansion called the "Hermitage."
Jackson's life would change when, once again, war erupted between America and Great Britain in the War of 1812 (1812–15). Jackson had achieved the rank of major general (an officer in the military who is above a brigadier general) of the Tennessee militia (a small military force that is not part of the regular army). He and his militia were ordered to overpower the Creek Indians in Alabama, who had massacred white settlers at Fort Mims. At the Battle of Horseshoe Bend (1814) Jackson dealt the Creek a crushing defeat. During this battle Jackson's men recognized his toughness and strong will by nicknaming him "Old Hickory."
When the U.S. government heard rumors of a British attack of the South through one of the ports on the Gulf of Mexico, Jackson was ordered to block the invasion. The British attacked on January 8, 1815, and were easily defeated. More than two thousand British soldiers were killed, while only thirteen Americans were lost in battle. Jackson became a national hero overnight, for he had given Americans confidence in their ability to defend their new freedom.
When the war ended, Jackson returned to his plantation. However, he soon resumed military duty to successfully overpower Indian forces along the southern frontier of Spanish Florida. After President James Monroe (1758–1831) purchased Florida from Spain for $5 million, Jackson served as governor of the Florida Territory. He quit after serving only a few months.
Running for president
His accomplishments served to increase Jackson's popularity throughout the country. Meanwhile his friends in Tennessee began talking about the possibility of making him a presidential candidate. First, he was elected to the U.S. Senate in October 1823.
The following year, four candidates sought the presidency, each representing a different section of the country: Jackson of Tennessee, William H. Crawford (1772–1834) of Georgia, John Quincy Adams (1767–1848) of Massachusetts, and Henry Clay (1777–1852) of Kentucky. It was a close election, and the House of Representatives had to decide the winner. When John Quincy Adams was chosen president, Jackson was convinced the election was fixed and that there was a "bargain" between Adams and Clay. For the next four years Jackson's supporters attacked the Adams administration with the accusation of a "corrupt bargain."
"Old Hickory" as president
In the election of 1828 Jackson won an overwhelming victory. During the campaign, Martin Van Buren (1782–1862) of New York and John C. Calhoun (1782–1850) of South Carolina joined forces behind Jackson. Jackson and his supporters soon became known as the Democratic Party. Supporters of Adams and Clay were now called National Republicans.
Relations between President Jackson and Vice President Calhoun soon turned sour. The two argued over the important constitutional question of the nature of the Union. Calhoun strongly believed in a state's doctrine (official statement) of nullification, or the right of a state to undo any federal law that disagreed with the state's views. Jackson strongly believed nullification was wrong and could weaken the Union. Calhoun wound up resigning before the end of his term.
Reelection and the bank war
The presidential contest of 1832 revolved around the important political issue of the national bank, or the bank controlled by the national government. Jackson believed the Second Bank of the United States (established in 1816) was unconstitutional, or that it disagreed with the nation's rules. Also, Jackson maintained that the Bank had failed to establish a sound and uniform currency, or money that could be used across the country.
When the Bank applied to Congress to continue its work, Jackson vetoed (rejected) the bill. Although the bill would pass in the end, Jackson sent a strong message by saying how "the rich and powerful too often bend the acts of government to their selfish purposes." With this message Jackson broadened presidential power by giving social, political, and economic reasons for vetoing the bill.
A second term
In the 1832 presidential election Jackson and vice presidential candidate Van Buren defeated Henry Clay. Jackson then informed Congress of his intention to pay off the national debt. This goal was achieved on January 1, 1835, thanks to income the federal government received from land sales and tariffs (import taxes).
Jackson supported a policy of "rotation" with respect to Federal offices. He declared that no one man has more right to office than any other man. Jackson also supported moving Native Americans west of the Mississippi River as the most humane, or fair, policy the government could pursue in dealing with the Native Americans. Jackson signed more than ninety treaties with various tribes, in which lands owned by Native Americans within the existing states, were exchanged for new lands in the open West.
Another issue in Jackson's second term was that of tarriffs. The North called for high rates, but the South considered them a way of financially supporting northern manufacturers at the expense of southern businesses. With the passage of the Tariff of 1832, which reduced the import taxes but not enough to satisfy southern states, South Carolina reacted violently. The state called on Calhoun's doctrine of nullification and soon declared the tariffs of 1828 and 1832 null and void. The state then warned the federal government that if force were used to execute the law, the state would secede, or withdraw membership, from the Union. Jackson would not back down, and threatened the state with treason, or a high crime against one's country.
A compromise tariff was soon hurried through Congress. Jackson had avoided a national crisis, and his actions during the controversy were masterful. Through the careful use of presidential powers and compromise, he preserved the Union and upheld the power of federal law.
At the end of his two terms in office, having participated in the inauguration of his successor, Martin Van Buren, Jackson retired to his plantation. He continued to keep his hand in national politics until his death on June 8, 1845.
For More Information
Booraem, Hendrik. Young Hickory: The Making of Andrew Jackson. Dallas: Taylor, 2001.
Collier, Christopher, and James Lincoln Collier. Andrew Jackson's America, 1824–1850. New York: Benchmark Books, 1999.
Judson, Karen. Andrew Jackson. Hillsdale, NJ: Enslow, 1997.
Meltzer, Milton. Andrew Jackson: And His America. New York: Franklin Watts, 1993.
Remini, Robert V. The Life of Andrew Jackson. New York: Harper, 1988.
Whitelaw, Nancy. Andrew Jackson: Frontier President. Greensboro, NC: Morgan Reynolds, 2001.
Jackson, Andrew 1963-
Jackson, Andrew 1963-
Born September 11, 1963, in Newmarket, Ontario, Canada; father, a military chaplain; mother, a high school music teacher. Education: Studied at Canada's National Theatre School, Banff School of Fine Arts, McMaster University, CAST Canada, and York University.
Publicist—Bill Wanstrom, Wanstrom and Associates, 970 Queens St. E., Suite 98154, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4M 1J8.
Actor and voice performer. Spent four years at Stratford Festival, Stratford, Ontario, Canada, 1987-90. Appeared in commercials for Crispy Crunch Light chocolate bars and Saturn automobiles; actor or voice performer for dozens of other commercials. Also worked as casting director.
American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, Screen Actors Guild, Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television, and Radio Artists, Canadian Actors' Equity Association, Union of British Columbia Performers.
Jean A. Chalmers Award, most promising newcomer, Stratford Festival, 1987, for Troilus and Cressida; Cabbagetown Short Film and Video Festival Award, best actor, 2007, for My Father's an Actor.
Television Appearances; Series:
Dr. Stephen Hamill, All My Children, ABC, 1991-93.
Joen Futing, Family Passions (also known as Macht der leidenschaft), CTV, 1993.
Opening credits narrator, Earth: Final Conflict (also known as EFC, Gene Roddenberry's "Earth: Final Conflict," Invasion planete Terre, and Mission Erde: Sie sind unter uns), syndicated, between 1997 and 2002.
Vanaver Mainwairing, a recurring role, Wind at My Back, CBC, 2000-2001.
Danny Hullstrom, a recurring role, The Collector, City TV, between 2004 and 2006.
Television Appearances; Miniseries:
Dirk Von Schelburg, The Last Don II (also known as Mario Puzo's "The Last Don II"), CBS, 1998.
Kevin, Cover Me, CBC, 1999.
Buddy Parker, "High Hopes," Taken (also known as Steven Spielberg Presents "Taken"), Sci-Fi Channel, 2002.
Walt Ashley, Category 6: Day of Destruction, CBS, 2004.
Morgan, Steklo (also known as Glass), 2005.
Johnson, Sea-Wolf, 2008.
Roger Deakins, XIII, NBC, 2008.
Television Appearances; Movies:
Mr. Battering Ram, Peeping Tom, Comedy Central, 1991.
Barry, Twists of Terror (also known as Primal Scream), Showtime, 1996.
Sixty-Six, Specimen, Sci-Fi Channel, 1996.
Boris Kalichoff, Breach of Faith: Family of Cops II (also known as Family of Cops II), CBS, 1997.
Paul O'Neill, Joe Torre: Curveballs along the Way, Showtime, 1997.
Don Tragle, Blackjack (also known as John Woo's "Blackjack"), USA Network, 1998.
Sergeant Andrew Scott/GR 13, Universal Soldier: Brothers in Arms, Showtime, 1998.
Ryan Steele, Catch a Falling Star, CBS, 2000.
Officer John McCrane, Scared Silent, Lifetime, 2002.
Adam Hamilton, Deadly Betrayal (also known as Tahison mortelle), Lifetime, 2002.
Adam Ruane, My Brother's Keeper (also known as Brother's Keeper), USA Network, 2002.
Nick Whitehall, We'll Meet Again (also known as Mary Higgins Clark's "We'll Meet Again" and Mary Higgins Clark: Nous nous reverrons), PAX, 2002.
Guy Mabley, Try Seventeen (also known as All I Want), Starz, 2002.
Elton, The Book of Ruth, CBS, 2004.
Master Burton, Merlin's Apprentice (also known as Merlin), Hallmark Channel, 2006.
Television Appearances; Pilots:
Raymond Mitchell, Bermuda Grace, NBC, 1993.
Adam, Adam II, and Jake Adaman, Millennium Man (also known as No Escape—Der Kampf mit der bestieu), UPN, 1999.
Jonathan Clayton, Tarzan, The WB, 2003.
Television Appearances; Specials:
Balthazar, The Comedy of Errors, Arts and Entertainment, 1989.
Television Appearances; Episodic:
Parks, "The Initiation," Alfred Hitchcock Presents, NBC, 1987.
General Lafayette, "The Charnel Pit," Friday the 13th (also known as Friday's Curse and Friday the 13th: The Series), syndicated, 1990.
Title role, "Michael Carew," Top Cops, CBS, 1991.
Pallin Wolf, "Darkness," Highlander (also known as Highlander: The Series), syndicated, 1993.
Acton, "Rebellion," Lonesome Dove: The Series, syndicated, c. 1994.
Chris Joworski, "Play: Parts 1 & 2," Sirens, syndicated, 1994.
Hogan, "North," Due South (also known as Direction: Sud), CBS, 1995.
Blade, "Eye of the Dragon," F/X: The Series, syndicated, 1996.
Frank Kelterbourne, "Possession/Man out of Time," Psi Factor: Chronicles of the Paranormal, syndicated, 1996.
Goliath, "Davey and the Mermaid," The Road to Avonlea (also known as Avonlea and Tales from Avonlea), The Disney Channel, 1996.
The Dynamite Kid, "The Champ," Wind at My Back, CBC, 1997.
Tucker Ricks, "Kennedy Gets a Ride," Fast Track, Showtime, 1997.
Darryl Keenan, "Crime & Punishment," Highlander: The Raven (also known as L'immortelle), syndicated, 1998.
Luc Cassoulet, "The Family Trust," Arli$$, HBO, 1998.
Jaridian, "Between Heaven and Hell," Earth: Final Conflict (also known as EFC, Gene Roddenberry's "Earth: Final Conflict," Invasion planete Terre, and Mission Erde: Sie sind unter uns), syndicated, 1999.
Jaridian, "Gauntlet," Earth: Final Conflict (also known as EFC, Gene Roddenberry's "Earth: Final Conflict," Invasion planete Terre, and Mission Erde: Sie sind unter uns), syndicated, 1999.
Nicholas, "That 70s Episode," Charmed, The WB, 1999.
Colonel Miller, "Fallen Angels" (premiere episode), Amazon (also known as Peter Benchley's "Amazon" and Amazonas—Gefangene des dschungels), syndicated, 1999.
Boris, "Commie Dawkins," Big Wolf on Campus (also known as Le loup-garou du campus), Fox Family Channel, 2000.
Supreme High Councilor Per'sus, "Divide and Conquer," Stargate SG-1 (also known as La porte des etoiles), Showtime, 2000.
Richard Ellis, "Fifty Three Percent Solution," Beggars and Choosers, Showtime, 2000.
Davis, "Legacy," First Wave, Sci-Fi Channel, 2001.
Gniknod, "Confrontation in the Constellation," Los Luchadores, Fox, 2001.
James F. Marshall III, "Payback," Wind at My Back, CBC, 2001.
Jaridian, "The Art of War," Earth: Final Conflict (also known as EFC, Gene Roddenberry's "Earth: Final Conflict," Invasion planete Terre, and Mission Erde: Sie sind unter uns), syndicated, 2002.
Ray Wallace, "Duplicity," Smallville (also known as Smallville Beginnings and Smallville: Superman the Early Years), The WB, 2002.
Jeff Hawkins, "Bob & Carol & Len & Ali," Cold Squad, CTV, 2003.
Danny Taylor, "Evaluate This," Doc, PAC, 2003.
Lipp-Sett, "Double or Nothingness," Andromeda (also known as Gene Roddenberry's "Andromeda"), syndicated, 2003.
Urban Rush, 2003, 2005, 2006.
Kevin Duffman, "Girl Who Signed Wolf," Sue Thomas: F.B.Eye, PAX, 2003.
Kevin Duffman, "Bad Hair Day," Sue Thomas: F.B.Eye, PAX, 2004.
Lipp-Sett, "The Torment, the Release," Andromeda (also known as Gene Roddenberry's "Andromeda"), syndicated, 2004.
Walter Bradford, "The Best Laid Plans," Life as We Know It, ABC, 2004.
Walter Bradford, "Partly Cloudy, Chance of Sex," Life as We Know It, ABC, 2004.
Walter Bradford, "Secrets & Lies," Life as We Know It, ABC, 2004.
Himself, "White Wine, Cigars, Cake Mixes, Highlights," The Shopping Bags, 2004.
Tim Vogel, "Extreme Aggressor," Criminal Minds, CBS, 2005.
Tomas Bukowski, Terminal City, CBC, three episodes, 2005.
Oliver Beckman, "Five Little Indians," The Evidence, ABC, 2006.
Cyrus Reynolds, "Memory Serves," Kyle XY, ABC Family Channel, 2006.
Cyrus Reynolds, "Overheard," Kyle XY, ABC Family Channel, 2006.
Cyrus Reynolds, "Endgame," Kyle XY, ABC Family Channel, 2006.
David Wright, "Duelling Hotties," Hank William's First Nation, 2006.
Voice of Von Faustien, "Von Faustien," Di-Gata Defenders (also known as Di-Gata, les defenseurs), 2007.
Doug O'Connell, "Ambush," The Dead Zone (also known as Stephen King's "Dead Zone"), USA Network, 2007.
The Art of Building Bodies, 2008.
Guest on Canadian talk shows.
Television Work; Episodic:
Additional voices, "Other Victories," Beast Wars: Transformers (animated; also known as Beasties, Beasties: Transformers, and Transformers: Beast Wars), 1999.
Corky, State Park (also known as Heavy Metal Summer), Atlantic Releasing, 1990.
Donald, Red Blooded American Girl, Prism Pictures, 1990.
Title role, Shadow Builder (also known as Bram Stoker's "Shadowbuilder"), Sterling Home Entertainment, 1997.
Voices of Romeo and old stage actor, Pippi Longstocking (also known as Pippi Laangstrump and Pippi Langstrumpf), 1997.
Billy, Held Up, Trimark Pictures, 1999.
Malcolm, Bombmakers (short film), Lucky Bastard Films, 2002.
C. Klein, Fade to Black (short film), Herbal T Joint Productions, 2002.
Voices of mental patients, Sound of Pain (short film), Last Breath Films, 2002.
George, The Sea (short film), Palm Pictures, 2003.
Andrew, Conception (short film), CineClix Distribution, 2004.
Man in car, Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed, Warner Bros., 2004.
Father, My Father's an Actor (short film), 2004.
Ives, Edison (also known as Edison Force), Nu Image Films, 2005.
Ian, Sandcastle, Crazy 8s Film, 2006.
Dr. Parker Wickson, Seed, Universal Home Entertainment, 2007.
Ed, Goose Spit, Great Canadian Theatre Company, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, 1987.
Apporodorus, Caesar and Cleopatra, Citadel Theatre, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, 1994.
Christian, Cyrano de Bergerac, Citadel Theatre, 1994.
Messenger and first soldier, Beatrice & Benedict (opera), O'Keefe Centre, Hummingbird Centre for the Arts, Toronto, Ontario, 1997.
Nick, Homeward Bound, Neptune Theatre, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, 2001.
Appeared as understudy for Yasha, The Cherry Orchard, as Balthazar, The Comedy of Errors, as understudy for Krogstad, The Doll's House, as the actor, Intimate Admiration, as Octavius Caesar, Julius Caesar, as servant and understudy for Scandal, Love for Love, as Prince of Aragon, The Merchant of Venice, as Slender, The Merry Wives of Windsor, as messenger, Murder in the Cathedral, as Aschew and understudy for Lacey, The Shoemaker's Holiday, in multiple roles, The Three Musketeers, as Chiron, Titus Andronicus, as Aneas and understudy for Ulysses, Troilus and Cressida, and as outlaw and understudy for Valentine, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, all Stratford Festival, Stratford, Ontario, Canada; appeared as Chet, As Is, Shaw Festival, Niagara on the Lake, Ontario, Canada; as Lennox and understudy for Malcolm, Macbeth, Skylight Theatre; as Clintandre, The Misanthrope, Banff Centre, Banff, Alberta, Canada; as Wickham in Pride and Prejudice, Royal Alexandra Theatre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; and as singer and dancer, That's Entertainment, Canterbury Theatre; appeared in productions of Manitoba Theatre Centre, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, and Theatre Calgary, Calgary, Alberta.
Voice of Hatu for English version, Shotoku taishi (also known as Prince Shotoku), 2001.
Voices of Incredible Hulk and Thanos of Titan, Marvel Super Heroes, 1995.
Voice of Dr. Bruce Banner/Incredible Hulk, Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter, 1997.
Voice of Incredible Hulk, Marvel vs. Capcom: Clash of the Super Heroes, 1998.
Voices of Lark and warrior, Devil Kings, Capcom Entertainment, 2005.
Dialogue for voice actors, Sound of Pain (short film), Last Breath Films, 2002.
The 2003 film Conception was based on a story by Jackson.
Soap Opera Weekly, December 14, 2004, pp. 4, 36.
TV Zone, April, 2007, p. 58.
Andrew Jackson (1767–1845), the seventh President of the United States, grew to adulthood and public prominence as the emerging nation was undergoing profound social and economic changes. In the wake of those changes Jackson worried about the central government's propensity toward abuse of power and the accumulation of power in the hand of a small political and economic elite. As president, Jackson remained a strident and popular spokesperson for majority rule in the United States. He did, however, exert the power of the presidency over other government branches far more than any president before him, leading to charges that he was primarily interested in personal power. He was denounced as a fraud and an opportunist who nearly wrecked the credit and currency systems of the United States. But Jackson also took issue with members of the privileged elite who sought to use the government for their own selfish purposes and thereby endanger the integrity of democracy in the United States. For many in the United States Jackson came to symbolize the democratic advances of his time.
Andrew Jackson was born in March 1767, in a log cabin, the son of poor Scotch-Irish immigrants. He was orphaned at age 14 and spent his adolescence with his aunt in the frontier areas of the Carolinas. Jackson drifted from one job to another, squandered a small inheritance, and developed a lifelong interest in horseracing and cockfighting. His education was spotty and he never appeared to develop an affinity for formal learning.
In 1784, at the age of 17, Jackson moved to Salisbury, North Carolina, to study law. He worked as a clerk for two years, copying legal documents, running errands, cleaning the office, and reading law books. He finished his law training in the office of Colonel John Stakes, and in 1787 he became an attorney in North Carolina.
Shortly after his law training ended, Jackson moved to the territory that would become Tennessee, and he
was appointed the area's attorney general. While in this position Jackson bolstered his income by selling land to new settlers. He also built a mansion in Nashville called the Hermitage. Later, when Tennessee became the sixteenth state, Jackson represented the state in Congress, but he resigned after only two years in order to be a judge on the superior court of Tennessee.
When the War of 1812 (1812–1814) broke out against Great Britain, Jackson was dispatched by the governor of Tennessee to fight with the Tennessee militia against Creek Indians, who had used the war as an opportunity to attack the Southern frontier. Although he lacked military training and experience, Jackson soon became an excellent general. His leadership qualities emerged and he was highly regarded by other soldiers who gave him the nickname "Old Hickory" as a sign of respect. After leading a spectacular victory over a British invasion of New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1815, Jackson instantly became a national celebrity.
Distinguished as a popular military hero, Jackson was encouraged by his friends to bid for the U.S. presidency. After the War of 1812 ended, however, Jackson only briefly returned to Tennessee before resuming his military position in order to subdue raids carried out by Native Americans from Spanish Florida. After a series of controversial military moves made by Jackson, including the capture of Spanish cities, the United States and Spain negotiated their disputes, and the United States acquired land that would eventually become Florida. In 1821 Jackson become provisional governor of the new territory of Florida, but resigned from the position after only four months.
Upon returning to his home in Tennessee, Jackson was pushed once again to campaign for the presidency. Though he made an unsuccessful presidential run in 1824, losing to John Quincy Adams (1825–1829), Jackson ran again in 1828 and won the presidency at age 61. He rewarded many of his supporters with government jobs—then a common practice in state governments, but essentially new to the federal government. This so-called "spoils system"—where elected officials employed their friends as pay-off for campaign support—tended to guarantee that no appointed federal employee would have a lifetime "right" to his or her job. Jackson believed that this system of replacing staff made the government more democratic.
Jackson's administration was marked by his fight against the Second Bank of the United States, which was a federally chartered institution where government funds were kept. The Bank of the United States used these funds to pay the government's bills, but also to give loans to the public and other banks. It was not directly regulated by the government, but rather led by a board of shareholders, with Nicholas Biddle (1786–1844) as its head. Jackson disliked the bank for economic and political reasons. He felt that its shareholders used the bank's control of much of the money supply to benefit themselves. Jackson also distrusted the issuance of bank notes, which in his own experience led to excessive borrowing and debt. Like many other Americans, Jackson distrusted credit and banks in general, and favored the strict use of specie (coined precious metals).
When the Bank of the United States' charter was brought up for renewal in 1832, Jackson vetoed it. He criticized the bank for failing to establish a "uniform and sound" currency, and began to deposit government funds in other banks. Many of the leaders in the Senate opposed Jackson, and his position on the bank. Nevertheless, Jackson's successful veto of the rechartering of the bank in 1832 was arguably a major reason for his re-election to a second presidential term that same year.
Over the course of its remaining four years of existence, the Second Bank of the United States tried to use its power to force a reconsideration of its charter. It issued far more loans than it could support, helping to trigger a wave of real estate speculation on the frontier. Disturbed, Jackson issued the Specie Circular in 1836. The circular required that all purchases of frontier land, which was owned by the government, be paid for with specie. This stopped the speculation, but also bankrupted many investors who lacked sufficient specie to pay their obligations and helped to trigger a major depression.
Jackson's policy of fiscal restraint helped him accomplish one of his most cherished objectives during his second term: full payment of the national debt. This was the only time up to that point in U.S. history when the nation was free of debt and it was one of Jackson's proudest accomplishments.
As Jackson proceeded through his second term, he frequently used his executive power to veto proposed Congressional legislation. He believed that the president had the right to annul what he deemed harmful to the public interest, a departure from earlier presidents who only vetoed bills they thought were unconstitutional. Using his veto power creatively, Jackson vastly expanded presidential executive power in government.
Also during his second term, a concept called "Jacksonian democracy" emerged as Jackson developed and popularized his own notion of essential democratic elements. He preached about the importance of equality, freedom, and majority rule, and advocated a limited government, fiscal restraint, laissez-faire economics, and support of the individual states in their constitutional sphere of activity.
Throughout his political career Jackson was both a beloved and much-hated figure. During many reform periods in U.S. history Jackson was seen as a hero, and Jacksonian democracy was extolled as one of the great advances in the development of popular government. Yet Jackson was also denounced as a person out for his own political advantage, who mesmerized the public with populist rhetoric and behaved like an autocrat in his role as president.
When Jackson's friend Martin Van Buren (1837–1841) was elected president in 1836, Jackson retired to the Tennessee mansion, the Hermitage. He remained politically active until his death, at the age of 78, in 1845.
See also: Bank of the United States (Second National Bank), National Debt, Spoils System, War of 1812
Bugg, James L. Jacksonian Democracy: Myth or Reality. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1962.
Schlesinger, Arthur M. The Age of Jackson. New York: Book Find Club, 1946.
Sellers, Charles, ed. Andrew Jackson: A Profile. New York: Hill and Wang, 1971.
Terrin, Peter. The Jacksonian Economy. New York: Norton, 1969.
Andrew Jackson, 1767–1845, 7th President of the United States (1829–37), b. Waxhaw settlement on the border of South Carolina and North Carolina (both states claim him).
A child of the backwoods, he was left an orphan at 14. His long military career began in 1781, when he fought against the British in a skirmish at Hanging Rock. He and his brother were captured and imprisoned at Camden, S.C. After studying law at Salisbury, N.C., he was admitted to the bar in 1787 and practiced in the vicinity until he was appointed solicitor for the western district of North Carolina (now Tennessee).
In 1788 he moved west to Nashville. He was prosperous in his law practice and in land speculation until the Panic of 1795 struck, leaving him with little more than his estate, the Hermitage. There, he built (1819–31) a home, on which he lived as a cotton planter during the intervals of his political career. The house, a handsome example of a Tennessee planter's home, with a fine formal garden, was constructed of bricks made on the estate. Jackson married Rachel Donelson before she had secured a legal divorce from her first husband, and though the ceremony was later repeated, his enemies made capital of the circumstance.
He rose in politics, was a member of the convention that drafted the Tennessee Constitution, and was elected (1796) as the sole member from the new state in the U.S. House of Representatives. The next year when his political chief, William Blount, was expelled from the Senate, Jackson resigned and, to vindicate his party, ran for the vacant seat. He won, but in 1798 he resigned. From 1798 to 1804 he served notably as judge of the Tennessee superior court.
In the War of 1812 Jackson defeated the Creek warriors, tacit allies of the British, at Horseshoe Bend, Ala. (Mar., 1814) after a strenuous campaign and won the rank of major general in the U.S. army. He was given command of an expedition to defend New Orleans against the British. The decisive victory gained there over seasoned British troops under Gen. Edward Pakenham, though it came after peace had already been signed in Europe, made Jackson the war's one great military hero.
In 1818 he was sent to take reprisals against the Seminole, who were raiding settlements near the Florida border, but, misinterpreting orders, he crossed the boundary line, captured Pensacola, and executed two British subjects as punishment for their stirring up the Native Americans. He thus involved the United States in serious trouble with both Spain and Great Britain. John Q. Adams, then Secretary of State, was the only cabinet member to defend him, but the conduct of Old Hickory, as Jackson was called by his admirers, pleased the people of the West. He moved on to the national scene as the standard-bearer of one wing of the old Republican party.
Jackson rode on a wave of popularity that almost took him into the presidency in the election of 1824. The vote was split with Henry Clay, John Quincy Adams, and William H. Crawford, and when the election was decided in the House of Representatives, Clay threw his influence to Adams, and Adams became President.
By the time of the election of 1828, Jackson's cause was more assured. John C. Calhoun, who was the candidate for Vice President with Jackson, brought most of Crawford's former following to Jackson, while Martin Van Buren and the Albany Regency swung liberal-controlled New York state to him. The result was a sweeping victory; Jackson polled four times the popular vote that he had received in 1824. His inauguration brought the "rabble" into the White House, to the distaste of the established families.
There was a strong element of personalism in the rule of the hotheaded Jackson, and the Kitchen Cabinet—a small group of favorite advisers—was powerful. Vigorous publicity and violent journalistic attacks on anti-Jacksonians were ably handled by such men as the elder Francis P. Blair, Duff Green, and Amos Kendall. Party loyalty was intense, and party members were rewarded with government posts in what came to be known as the spoils system. Personal relationships were of utmost importance, and the social slights suffered by the wife of Secretary of War John H. Eaton (see O'Neill, Margaret) helped to break up the cabinet.
Calhoun's antagonism was more fundamental, however. Calhoun and the South generally felt threatened by the protective tariff that favored the industrial East, and Calhoun evolved the doctrine of nullification and resigned from the vice presidency. Jackson stood firmly for the Union and had the Force Bill of 1833 (see force bill) passed to coerce South Carolina into accepting the federal tariff, but a compromise tariff was rushed through and the affair ended. Jackson, on the other hand, took the part of Georgia in its insistence on states' rights and the privilege of ousting the Cherokee; he refused to aid in enforcing the Supreme Court's decision against Georgia, and the tribe was removed.
More important than the estrangement of Calhoun was Jackson's long fight against the Bank of the United States. Although its charter did not expire until 1836, Henry Clay succeeded in having a bill to recharter it passed in 1832, thus bringing the issue into the 1832 presidential election. Jackson vetoed the measure, and the powerful interests of the bank were joined with the other opponents of Jackson in a bitter struggle with the antibank Jacksonians.
Jackson in the election of 1832 triumphed over Clay. His second administration—more bitterly resented by his enemies than the first—was dominated by the bank issue. Jackson promptly removed the funds from the bank and put them in chosen state banks (the "pet banks" ). Secretary of Treasury Louis McLane refused to make the transfer as did his successor W. J. Duane, but Roger B. Taney agreed with Jackson's views and made the transfer (see also Independent Treasury System).
Jackson was a firm believer in a specie basis for currency, and the Specie Circular in 1836, which stipulated that all public lands must be paid for in specie, broke the speculation boom in Western lands, cast suspicion on many of the bank notes in circulation, and hastened the Panic of 1837. The panic, which had some of its roots in earlier crop failures and in overextended speculation, was a factor in the administration of Martin Van Buren, who was Jackson's choice and a successful candidate for the presidency in 1836.
Jackson retired to the Hermitage and lived out his life there. He was still despised as a high-handed and capricious dictator by his enemies and revered as a forceful democratic leader by his followers. Although he was known as a frontiersman, Jackson was personally dignified, courteous, and gentlemanly—with a devotion to the "gentleman's code" that led him to fight several duels.
The greatest popular hero of his time, a man of action, and an expansionist, Jackson was associated with the movement toward increased popular participation in government. He was regarded by many as the symbol of the democratic feelings of the time, and later generations were to speak of Jacksonian democracy. Although in broadest terms this movement often attacked citadels of privilege or monopoly and sought to broaden opportunities in many areas of life, there has been much dispute among historians over its essential social nature. At one time it was characterized as being rooted in the democratic nature of the frontier. Later historians pointed to the workers of the eastern cities as the defining element in the Jacksonian political coalition. More recently the older interpretations have been challenged by those seeing the age as one that primarily offered new opportunities to the middle class—an era of liberal capitalism. Jackson had appeal for the farmer, for the artisan, and for the small-business ower; he was viewed with suspicion and fear by people of established position, who considered him a dangerous upstart.
See biographies by M. James (2 vol., 1933–37, repr. 1968), H. Syrett (1953, repr. 1971), J. W. Ward (1955, repr. 1962), R. V. Remini (3 vol., 1977–84), and H. W. Brands (2005); A. M. Schlesinger, Jr., The Age of Jackson (1945); G. G. Van Deusen, The Jacksonian Era (1959, repr. 1963); R. V. Remini, Andrew Jackson and the Bank War (1967), and ed., The Age of Jackson (1972); R. Latner, The Presidency of Andrew Jackson (1979); A. Burstein, The Passions of Andrew Jackson (2003); J. Meacham, American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House (2008); D. S. Reynolds, Waking Giant: America in the Age of Jackson (2008).