Andrew Jackson

Andrew Jackson was born in 1767 and died in 1845. He was also the seventh president of the United States. As Encarta Encyclopedia states, Jackson fought his way to leadership and wealth in a frontier society, and his success established a bond between him and the common people that was never broken. Small farmers, laborers, mechanics, and many other Americans struggling to better themselves looked to Jackson for leadership (1). Jackson moved his way up the chain of the military before becoming president. From an idea in Encarta Encyclopedia, Jackson was a Democrat that was also a hermit. The Democrats considered the opposing party, the National Republicans, later known as the Whigs, aristocrats (1).

As McDuffie, Piggrem, and Woodworth stated, Andrew Jackson set many principles such as the spoils system, and the expansion of the electorate. He helped spread the electorate system to the west, and expanded it so not only white property owners could vote, but so whites that didn’t own property. All blacks could not vote and were excluded at all costs. (53). Although blacks and women were still left out of the picture, it helped set the basic properties for later on. The way he did it was not the best for common people, but he was still considered a great president by most people.

As in Encarta Encyclopedia, three years before Andrew Jackson was born, his Scotch-Irish parents, emigrated to America from Northern Ireland. They had two sons at the time. Andrew’s Father took up farming, and died three days before Andrew was born. The widow Jackson moved her family into the home of a nearby relative, where Andrew spent his days growing up. He learned how to read, and was often called upon by the community to read the Philadelphia Newspaper. (3)

Andrew Jackson held many military and other job positions while working his way up through the government chain. As in Encarta Encyclopedia, he started off by studying under Spruce Macay who was a lawyer in Salisbury, North Carolina. He started his own practice in 1787. He then was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. After one year in the House, Jackson was elected to fill out an unexpected term in the U.S. Senate. He served for over a year and then retired to his private life (3). As Robert S. Summers posted, in Tennessee, Jackson was appointed to judge of the state superior court. He was at that position for about six years ( Later right before his presidency he was elected to the senate for approximately one more year (Encarta, 4). He was promoted to governor of the territory of Florida after taking it over and leading troops into the dangerous territory when he was greatly outnumbered (Encarta, 2).

Before Jackson became president, he was known as a great fighter and didn’t let anyone mess with him. As in Britannica Encyclopedia, Charles Dickinson once insulted Jackson’s wife, and Jackson challenged him to a duel with pistols. Andrew Jackson stood there and intentionally let Dickinson fire first, for he was a much better shot. Jackson was shot in the chest and stood there like a tree. His first shot misfired, but his second did not, and he killed Dickinson. The bullet in his chest nearly missed his heart, and could not be removed. He lived with that bullet in his chest for the rest of his life (254).

The campaign of 1828 was filled with mud slinging. Adams, his opponent, brought up his past as a murderer, a drunk, a gambler, and an adulterer (Britannica, 258). Adams also said that he was an illiterate backwoodsman, which actually helped Jackson because it added to his appeal as a common American. (Encarta, 6). Jackson added to the mud slinging by calling Adams rich, in College, but it was a close race by the popular vote (Britannica, 258). The voters weren’t really responding to either of their campaigns closely.

Jackson was suspicious of banks, paper money, and exclusive monopolies (Britannica, 259). As stated in Encarta, they could and did call in all the states’ bank notes at any time, and require them to be paid in specie (gold or silver coins). This greatly restricted extensive lending by the state banks. The way it got this power was because it was the official depository for federal revenues, yet it was only remotely under the federal governments control (8). As stated in Britannica, congress approved of the recharter of the bank in 1832, but Jackson vetoed it on the grounds that it was a private monopoly that was immune to state taxes, and it gave to much power to too few people. The veto stood, because Congress did not override it. To kill the bank, Jackson removed federal money and put it into state (pet) banks instead (257).

John Adams’ party was formerly known as the National Republicans, and later became the Whig Party (Encarta, 1). The Whig Party focused on those voters that Jackson had alienated by his policies (Britannica, 256). As Encarta states, the Whigs attracted the reformers of the North because they were more compatible with the Whig’s ideas than the Democrat’s ideas. The Whigs were also anti-masonry, which was their strongest support. By 1836 they were a national party with broad support in both the North and the South (16).

The idea from Britannica was the Cherokees were one of the most feared southern tribes. They resisted the governments’ efforts to remove them from Georgia, to lands west of the Missouri River by petitioning the government. They had established a constitution in 1827 that would make them a republic that was part of Georgia, but it was refused because it was ruled in Cherokee Nation v. Georgia that they were not a state or foreign nation, which meant they could not bring their case to court. In Worcester v. Georgia a year later it was ruled that they were entitled to federal protection from Georgia. This was ruled by Chief Justice John Marshall, however Jackson ignored it, and in 1835 he began to remove them by the Trail of Tears (255).

As stated in Encarta, by Jackson putting the federal money into state banks he triggered a chain of events that greatly increased the amount of borrowed money being used. This led the prices that had skyrocketed in 1835 and 1836 to fall in 1837, causing the banks to use only paper money (17).

Jackson issued the Specie Circular in July 1836, stating that after August 15, all public land was to be paid for in specie (Encarta, 14). He hoped that this would reverse the effects of the Deposit Act of 1836, which had damaged the economy (Encarta, 15).

The new rotation of offices was also established by Jackson. This is also called the spoils system. This is the removal of officeholders of the rival party. Jackson didn’t invent this policy, but helped shape it. He defended it by saying that by moving more people out of office, it gave everybody a chance to serve their country. He also said it was highly democratic, because the president’s supporters were different people all the time, so there was almost no guarantee that a person would stay in office for two terms.

According to Britannica Encyclopedia, tariffs were a large source of federal income. Jackson wanted to distribute the money between the states so sectional animosities would be lessened. It would also restrict federal government spending. Vice President Calhoun disapproved of this idea, though not openly. He felt the tariffs should be lowered and kept in the federal system. Congress did pass lower tariffs in 1832, but South Carolina was still upset. South Carolina wanted the tariffs nullified. This issue drove a wedge between Jackson and Calhoun (254).

After the tariff in 1832, there was a compromise tariff in 1833. This lowered the tariffs gradually but significantly between 1833 and 1842 (Encarta, 12). But, at the same time, Jackson signed in the Force Bill, which let the president use armed forces to collect customs duties in South Carolina (Britannica, 255).

Another hot issue was the Maysville Road. As stated in Encarta, the southerners didn’t care if they had roads and other internal services. Jackson’s veto of a bill to pay for a road in Kentucky between Maysville and Lexington increased his support in the south, as well as the passage of the Indian Removal Act at almost the same time. But the tariffs tested his southern support very heavily (18).

Some interesting facts about Andrew Jackson were written by Robert S. Summers. First of all, Jackson was the first president to be born in a log cabin. Second, Jackson was the first president to ride on a railroad train. Next, Jackson was the only president who served in both the Revolutionary War, and the War of 1812. Fourth, his nickname was Old Hickory, because he was ordered down to Texas with 2500 soldiers at his command, and they were called back when they got to Mississippi. They were stranded with no food or supplies. Instead of disbanding as ordered, he led his troops back to Tennessee without a scratch. They called him old hickory because he was a tough as hickory wood. And lastly, Jackson was the only president to have been a prisoner of war. He was thirteen when he joined the South Carolina militia to fight in the Revolutionary War. After his capture, he was ordered to clean the boots of a British officer. Jackson refused, so the officer drew his sword and slashed Jackson across the forehead and arm, which left a scar.

This is the story of an amazing man who led the country to bigger and better things. He was a down to earth guy who made good decisions, and was tough and earned everything he got the hard way. Andrew Jackson is a class act that is as tough as an old hickory!

Works Cited

  • Jerome McDuffie, Gary Piggrem, and Steven Woodworth.
  • AP History Guide. Piscataway, NJ: REA Publishing
  • “Jackson, Andrew.” Encarta Encyclopedia. 1999.
  • “Jackson, Andrew.” Britannica Encyclopedia. 1995.
  • Summers, Robert S. “The Internet Public Library-Andrew Jackson.” 10 February 2000.