Andrew Jackson


Andrew Jackson (b. March 15, 1767, Waxhaws(d), British America(d) – d. June 8, 1845, The Hermitage(d), Tennessee, USA) was an American military man and statesman who served as the seventh President of the United States from 1829 to 1837. Before being elected president, Jackson gained fame as a general in the United States Army and served in both houses of Congress. As president, Jackson sought to promote the rights of the “common man” against a “corrupt aristocracy” and to preserve the Union.

Born in the colonial Carolinas(d) to a Scots-Irish(d) family in the decade before the American War of Independence, Jackson became a frontier lawyer and married Rachel Donelson Robards. He served briefly in the U.S. House of Representatives and in the U.S. Senate from Tennessee. After resigning, he served as a justice of the Tennessee State Supreme Court(d) from 1798 to 1804. Jackson purchased property later called The Hermitage(d) (“The Hermitage”), and became a wealthy slave plantation owner. In 1801, he was appointed colonel of the Tennessee State Militia and was elected commander the following year. He led troops during the Creek War(d) of 1813-1814, winning the Battle of Horseshoe Bend(d). The Treaty of Fort Jackson(d) followed, forcing the Creek(d) tribe to cede vast territories in present-day Alabama and Georgia. In the concurrent war with the British, Jackson”s 1815 victory at the Battle of New Orleans made him a national hero. Jackson then led American forces in the First Seminole War(d), which led to the annexation of Florida from Spain. Jackson served briefly as Florida”s first territorial governor before returning to the Senate. He ran for president in 1824(d), winning most popular votes and most electoral votes, but not a majority. As no candidate had a majority, the House of Representatives elected John Quincy Adams in a runoff(d). In reaction to the alleged “corrupt barter” between Adams and Henry Clay and President Adams” ambitious agenda, Jackson”s supporters founded the Democratic Party.

Jackson ran again in 1828(d), defeating Adams handily. Jackson faced the threat of secession from South Carolina because of what opponents called the “Abomination Tax(d)”. The crisis was defused after the tax was amended(d), and Jackson threatened(d) to use military force if South Carolina tried to secede. In Congress, Henry Clay led the effort to reauthorize the Second Bank of the U.S.(d) Jackson, considering the Bank a corrupt institution, refused to enact legislation to renew its charter. After a long struggle(d), Jackson and his allies succeeded in abolishing the Bank. In 1835, Jackson became the only president to pay off the entire national debt, fulfilling an old goal. His presidency marked the beginning of the rise of the “patronage political system” in American politics. In 1830, Jackson enacted the Indian Removal Act(d), which deported most members of the Southern American Indian tribes to the Indian Territory. In foreign policy, the Jackson administration agreed to a “most favored nation” treaty with Great Britain, settled claims against France during the Napoleonic Wars, and recognized the independence of the Republic of Texas. In January 1835, he survived the first assassination attempt against a sitting president.

After retiring, Jackson remained active in Democratic Party politics, supporting the presidencies of Martin Van Buren and James K. Polk. Although he feared the effect it would have on the slavery debate, Jackson supported the annexation of Texas, accomplished shortly before his death. Jackson was highly respected in the United States as an advocate for democracy and the common people. Many of his actions, such as those during the Banking War, proved divisive, garnering both fervent support and strong opposition from many in the country. His reputation suffered after the 1970s, mostly because of his role in the deportation of Indians. Polls among historians and scholars have ranked(d) Jackson favorably among US presidents.

Andrew Jackson was born on March 15, 1767, in the Waxhaws(d) region on the border of the Carolinas. His parents were Scotch-Irish settlers(d) Andrew and Elizabeth Hutchinson Jackson, Presbyterians who had emigrated from present-day Northern Ireland two years earlier. Jackson”s father was born in Carrickfergus, County Antrim, in present-day Northern Ireland, around 1738. Jackson”s parents lived in the village of Boneybefore(d), also in County Antrim. On the paternal line, his family was originally from Killingswold Grove(d), Yorkshire, England.

When they immigrated to North America in 1765, Jackson”s parents probably landed in Philadelphia, from where they then traveled overland through the Appalachian Mountains to the Scots-Irish community of Waxhaws, on the border of North and South Carolina. They came from Ireland with two children, Hugh (born 1763) and Robert (born 1764). Jackson”s father died in a log-handling accident while logging in February 1767 at age 29, three weeks before the birth of his son Andrew. His mother and three children then lived with Jackson”s aunt and uncle in the Waxhaws, and Jackson attended school with two local ministers.

Jackson”s exact place of birth is unknown, due to a lack of information about his mother”s actions in the immediate aftermath of her husband”s funeral. The area was so remote that the border between North and South Carolina had not even been surveyed. In 1824, Jackson would write a letter saying he was born on the plantation of his uncle, James Crawford, in Lancaster County, South Carolina. It is possible, however, that Jackson claimed to be a South Carolinian because that state was at that time considering repealing the 1824(d) Custom Tax, an action he opposed. By the mid-1850s, secondary evidence indicates that he may have been born in the home of another of his uncles in North Carolina. As a child, Jackson wilted easily and was somewhat considered a bully. He is said, however, to have taken a group of smaller, frailer boys under his wing and was very good with them.

During the War of Independence, Jackson”s older brother Hugh died of heatstroke after the Battle of Stono Ferry(d) on June 20, 1779. Anti-British sentiment intensified after the brutal massacre at Waxhaws(d) on 29 May 1780. Jackson”s mother encouraged him and his older brother, Robert, to attend military training with local militia. Soon, the two preteen boys began helping the militia as messengers. They thus served under Colonel William Richardson Davie(d) at the Battle of Hanging Rock(d) on August 6. Andrew and Robert were taken prisoner by the British in 1781 while staying in the Crawford family home. When Andrew refused to clean a British officer”s boots, the officer struck the young man with his sword, leaving scars on his left hand and head, as well as causing intense hatred of the British. Robert also refused and was also struck with the sword. The two brothers were held captive, fell ill with smallpox, and nearly starved to death in captivity.Later that year, their mother, Elizabeth, secured the release of the two brothers and started the journey with the two of them back to their home in Waxhaws, some 40 miles away. Both were in poor health. Robert, the more seriously ill, rode on the only horse they had, while Andrew rode behind. In the last two hours of the journey, a heavy downpour began, which made the effects of smallpox worse. Two days after they returned home, Robert died and Andrew was also in mortal danger. After nursing Andrew back to health, Elizabeth volunteered to care for American prisoners of war aboard two British ships in Charleston Harbor, where a cholera epidemic had broken out. In November, she died of cholera and was buried in an unmarked grave. Andrew was orphaned at 14. He blamed the British personally for the loss of his two brothers and mother.

Careers in law and marriage

After the Revolutionary War, Jackson received a sporadic education at a local school in Waxhaw. He didn”t get along with much of his extended family, and lived with several different people. In 1781, he worked for a time as a saddler, and eventually taught school. He does not seem to have thrived in either trade. In 1784, he moved from the Waxhaws to Salisbury, North Carolina(d), where he studied law(d) with lawyer Spruce Macay. With the help of several lawyers, he was able to learn enough to be admitted to the bar(d). In September 1787, Jackson was admitted to the North Carolina bar. Shortly thereafter, a friend helped him get appointed to a vacancy in the office of District Attorney in the Western District(d) of North Carolina, which would later become the state of Tennessee. On his journey west, Jackson bought his first slave and, in 1788, after being offended by fellow lawyer Waightstill Avery(d), fought his first duel. The duel ended with both participants firing into the air, having previously secretly agreed to do so.

Jackson moved to the small frontier town of Nashville in 1788, where he lived as a long-term tenant with Rachel Stockly Donelson, widow of John Donelson(d). Here, Jackson met their daughter, Rachel Donelson Robards. At the time, Rachel, who was younger than him, was in an unhappy marriage to Captain Lewis Robards, who had violent bouts of jealousy. The two separated in 1790. According to Jackson, he married Rachel after learning that Robards had obtained a divorce. Her divorce was not final, however, so Rachel”s marriage to Jackson was bigamous and therefore void. After the divorce became official, Rachel and Jackson remarried in 1794. There are indications, however, that Rachel was living with Jackson and calling herself “Mrs. Jackson” before the divorce petition was even filed. It was not uncommon on the frontier for marriages to form and dissolve unofficially, as long as they were recognized by the community.

Land speculation and the beginnings of a public career

In 1794, Jackson entered into partnership with fellow attorney John Overton(d), handling land claims for land reserved by treaty to the Cherokee and Chickasaw(d) tribes. Like many of their contemporaries, they recorded such claims even though the land in question was in Indian territory. Most of the transactions involved deeds issued under the 1783 “land occupancy” law that briefly made Indian lands west of the Appalachians in North Carolina territory available to residents of that state. He was one of three investors who founded the city of Memphis, Tennessee, in 1819.

After moving to Nashville, Jackson came under the protection of William Blount, a friend of the Donelson family and one of the most powerful men in the territory. Jackson became attorney general in 1791, and won election as a delegate to the Tennessee constitutional convention(d) in 1796. When Tennessee became a separate state that year, he was elected to the only congressional seat in the House of Representatives allotted to that state. He was a member of the Democratic-Republican Party, the dominant party in Tennessee. Jackson soon became associated with its more radical, Francophile, anti-British wing. He strongly opposed the Jay(d) Treaty and criticized George Washington, accusing him of deposing Republicans. Jackson voted with several other Republican congressmen on a resolution thanking Washington, a vote that would cause him problems when he ran for president. In 1797, the state legislature elected him as a U.S. senator. Jackson rarely participated in debates and was unhappy with his position. He declared himself “disgusted with the administration” of President John Adams and resigned the following year without explanation. Upon his return home, with strong support from West Tennessee, he was elected a justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court(d) with an annual salary of $600. Jackson”s tenure as a judge is generally considered a success and earned him a reputation as an honest man capable of making good decisions. Jackson resigned in 1804, citing poor health as his official reason. He was suffering financially due to unprofitable investments in land, so he may have wanted to take up business permanently.

After arriving in Tennessee, Jackson obtained an appointment as a military prosecutor for the Tennessee State Militia. In 1802, while on the Tennessee Supreme Court, he declared his desire to run for the position of major general, or commander of the Tennessee state militia(d), a position in which candidates were elected by a vote of the officers. At the time, most of the free men were members of the militia. These organizations, which were to be called upon in case of conflict with Europeans or Indians, resembled large social clubs. To Jackson, this seemed to promote his social status. With strong support from West Tennessee, he won seventeen votes, tied with John Sevier(d). Sevier was a popular Revolutionary War veteran and former governor, the recognized leader of East Tennessee political life. On February 5, Governor Archibald Roane(d) made the ballot decision in favor of Jackson. Jackson had also presented Roane with some evidence of land fraud allegedly committed by Sevier. Later, in 1803, when Sevier announced his intention to become governor again, Roane made this evidence public. Sevier publicly insulted Jackson, and the two dueled over the matter. Despite Roane”s accusations, Sevier won the election and served as governor until 1809.

In addition to his legal and political careers, Jackson also prospered as a plantation owner, slave owner and merchant. He built a house and first store in Gallatin(d) in 1803. The following year, he bought The Hermitage(d), a 259-acre plantation in Davidson County near Nashville. He then added another 146 acres to it, bringing the total to 425 acres. The main crop was cotton, grown with slaves-Jackson started with nine, but by 1820 had grown to 44, and later to 150, thus joining the elite of slave plantation owners. Jackson co-owned, with his son Andrew Jackson Jr. the Halcyon plantation in Coahoma County, Mississippi, which had 51 slaves at his death. During his lifetime, Jackson may have owned about 300 slaves.

Men, women, and child slaves were held by Jackson in three sections of the Hermitage plantation. Slaves lived in extended family units of five to ten people and lived in huts of about 37 sq. m. made of logs or bricks. The size and quality of the Hermitage slave housing exceeded the standards of the time. To help the slaves feed themselves, Jackson provided them with firearms, knives and fishing equipment. Sometimes he gave the slaves money to shop at local markets. The Hermitage Plantation was a profitable enterprise. Jackson allowed slaves to be whipped for increased productivity or if he believed they had committed serious violations of the rules of conduct. From time to time, he would advertise for runaway slaves who had escaped from his plantation. In one ad, published in the Tennessee Gazette in October 1804, Jackson offered “ten dollars more, for every hundred whips anyone will give him, up to a maximum of three hundred.”

The controversy surrounding his marriage to Rachel remained a sore point for Jackson, who deeply disliked the attacks on his wife”s honor. In May 1806, Charles Dickinson(d), who, like Jackson, was a horse racer, had published an attack on Jackson in the local newspaper, and as a result Jackson challenged him to a duel. As Dickinson was considered a skilled marksman, Jackson decided to let Dickinson turn and shoot first, hoping he would miss the target in a hurry; Jackson would wait and watch Dickinson carefully. Dickinson actually fired first, hitting Jackson in the chest. The bullet that hit Jackson was so close to the heart that it could not be removed. According to dueling rules, Dickinson was required to remain motionless after hitting his target, and Jackson, though wounded, took careful aim and killed him. Jackson”s behavior in the duel outraged the citizens of Tennessee, who accused him of the brutal, cold-blooded murder of Dickinson, and gave Jackson a reputation as a violent and vengeful man. He became a pariah.

After the Sevier scandal and the duel, Jackson was looking for a way to rebuild his reputation. He chose to align himself with former Vice President Aaron Burr, who, having finished his term in 1805, his political career ruined after killing Alexander Hamilton in a famous duel in 1804, had set off on a journey through what was then the western United States. Burr was extremely well received in Tennessee, and spent five days at the Hermitage. Burr”s true intentions are not known for certain. It appears that he was planning(d) a military operation to conquer Spanish Florida(d) and drive the Spanish out of Texas. To many Westerners, like Jackson, such a promise was appealing. Western settlers had long had bad feelings toward the Spanish because of territorial disputes and the fact that the Spanish continually allowed Indians in their territories to attack American settlements, as well as Spain”s disinterest in returning runaway slaves.(d) On October 4, 1806, Jackson addressed the Tennessee militia, declaring that the people must be “at all times ready to march.” On the same day, he wrote to James Winchester(d), proclaiming that the United States “can conquer not only Florida [at that time there was East Florida and West Florida], but all Spanish North America.” He followed:

“I have a hope (if need be) that at least two thousand volunteers may be led into the field in a short time-these commanded by strong officers and enterprising men-I believe may look towards Santafee and Maxico-to give liberty and commerce to those provinces and bring peace, and an everlasting barrier against the inroads and attacks of foreign powers towards our interior-which will happen as long as Spain keeps that great country within our borders.”

Jackson agreed to provide boats and other supplies for such an expedition. On November 10, however, he learned from an army captain that Burr”s plans actually included the conquest of New Orleans, then part of the Louisiana Territory of the United States, and its incorporation, along with territories acquired from the Spanish, into a new empire. He was even more outraged after learning from the same man of the involvement in these plans of Brigadier General James Wilkinson, whom he deeply disliked. Jackson acted cautiously at first, but wrote letters to public officials, including President Thomas Jefferson, vaguely warning them of the conspiracy. In December, Jefferson, Burr”s political adversary, issued a proclamation declaring that a treasonous plot was afoot in the West and calling for the arrest of the culprits. Jackson, protected from arrest because of extensive documented collaborative activity, organized the militia. Burr was soon captured, and the men were sent home. Jackson traveled to Richmond, Virginia, to testify on Burr”s behalf at the trial. But defense attorneys decided not to put him on the witness stand, for fear his remarks would be too provocative. Burr was acquitted of the treason charge, despite Jefferson”s efforts to secure a conviction. Jackson supported James Monroe for president in 1808(d) against James Madison. The latter was part of the Jeffersonian wing of the Democratic-Republican Party.

The War of 1812

Around 1812, the United States found itself increasingly drawn into an international conflict. It never declared war on Spain or France, but tensions with Britain increased for several reasons(d). These included the desire of many(d) Americans for more territory, especially in British Canada(d) and Florida, the latter still controlled by Spain, Britain”s European ally. On June 18, 1812, Congress officially declared war on the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, triggering the War of 1812. Jackson responded enthusiastically, sending Washington a letter offering 2500 volunteers. But they were not called to arms for several months. Biographer Robert V. Remini(d) argues that Jackson believed the delay was in retaliation for the Madison administration”s support of Burr and Monroe. Meanwhile, the American army suffered repeated devastating battlefield defeats.

On January 10, 1813, Jackson led an army of 2,071 volunteers to New Orleans to defend the region against British and Native American attacks. He had been instructed to follow the orders of General Wilkinson, who commanded the Federal forces in New Orleans. Lacking adequate supplies, Wilkinson ordered Jackson to halt at Natchez, then in Mississippi Territory, until further orders. Jackson, though displeased, complied. The newly appointed Secretary of War, John Armstrong(d), wrote Jackson on February 6 with orders to disperse his forces and turn the supplies over to Wilkinson. In his reply to Armstrong on March 15, Jackson defended the character and training of his men, and promised to turn over the supplies. He also promised that instead of dispersing his troops without supplies at Natchez, he would march them back to Nashville. The march was fraught with difficulties. Many of the men had fallen ill. Jackson and his officers gave up their horses to the sick. He paid for supplies for the soldiers out of his own pocket. Soldiers began to nickname their commander “Hickory” because of his toughness, and Jackson became known as “Old Hickory.” The army arrived in Nashville about a month later. Jackson”s actions earned him much respect and praise from the people of Tennessee. Jackson faced financial ruin until his former deputy Thomas Benton(d) convinced Secretary Armstrong to order the Army to settle Jackson”s expenses. On June 14, Jackson served as second in a duel by his subordinate officer William Carroll(d) against Jesse Benton, Thomas”s brother. In September, Jackson and his cavalry officer, Brigadier General John Coffee(d), were involved in a street fight with the Benton brothers. Jackson was severely wounded by Jesse, being shot in the shoulder.

On August 30, 1813, a group of Muscogee(d) Indians (also called Creek Indians), called Red Sticks(d) because of the colors they painted themselves in war, committed the Fort Mims(d) Massacre. During the massacre, hundreds of white American settlers and non-Red Stick Indians of the Creek tribe were killed. The Red Sticks, led by tribal chief Red Eagle(d) and Peter McQueen(d), had seceded from the rest of the Creek Confederacy, which wanted peace with the United States. They allied with Tecumseh(d), a Shawnee(d) chief who had started Tecumseh(d)”s War against the United States, and who was fighting on the side of the British. The resulting conflict became known as the Creek War(d).

Jackson, with 2,500 men, was ordered to crush the hostile Indians. On October 10, he set out on the expedition, his arm still attached to his neck after the fight with the Benton brothers. Jackson set up Fort Strother(d) as a supply base. On November 3, Coffee defeated a band of Red Sticks at the Battle of Tallushatchee(d). Coming to the aid of Allied Creeks besieged by Red Berets, Jackson won another decisive victory at the Battle of Talladega(d). In winter, Jackson, quartered at Fort Strother, faced a severe shortage of troops due to the expiration of enlistments and chronic desertions. He sent Coffee with his cavalry (who deserted him) back to Tennessee to obtain new enlistments. Jackson decided to combine his force with the Georgia militia, and marched out to meet the Georgian troops. From January 22-24, 1814, en route, the Tennessee militia, along with allied Muscogee Indians, were attacked by Red Sticks at the Battles of Emuckfaw and Enotachopo(d) Creek. Jackson”s troops repulsed the attackers, but were outnumbered and had to retreat to Fort Strother. Jackson, reinforced there with about 2,000 fighting men, marched south to attack the Red Beasts at a fort they had built near a bend in the Tallapoosa River(d). On March 27, outnumbered more than 2 to 1, he attacked them at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend(d). An initial artillery barrage did little damage to the well-built fort. The infantry barrage that followed, along with an assault by Coffee”s cavalry and diversions by allied Creeks, overwhelmed the Red Beast warriors.

The campaign ended after three weeks with Red Eagle”s surrender, although some Red Sticks like McQueen fled to East Florida. On June 8, Jackson accepted appointment to the rank of brigadier general(d) of the United States Army, and 10 days later became major general(d), commander of the Seventh Military Division. As a result, with Madison”s approval, Jackson imposed the Treaty of Fort Jackson(d). The treaty required the Muscogee Indians, including those who had not joined the Red Bees, to surrender 8,093,713 acres of land to the United States. Most Creek Indians accepted. Although ill with dysentery, Jackson turned his attention to defeating the Spanish and British forces. He accused the Spanish of arming the Red Beasts and violating the terms of their neutrality by allowing British soldiers to station and move into Florida. but the latter ignored the fact that it was Jackson”s threats to invade Florida that prompted the Spanish to seek British protection. In the Battle of Pensacola(d) on November 7, Jackson defeated some British and Spanish forces in a brief clash. The Spanish surrendered and the British retreated. After several weeks, he learned that the British were plotting an attack on New Orleans, which lay at the mouth of the Mississippi River and was of immense strategic and commercial value. Jackson abandoned Pensacola to the Spanish, planted a force in Mobile, Alabama to guard against a possible invasion there, and rushed with the rest of his troops to defend the city.

The Creek Indians gave Jackson the nickname Jacksa Chula Harjo or “Old Fierce Jackson”.

After arriving in New Orleans on December 1, 1814, Jackson instituted martial law in the city, as he did not trust the loyalty of the city”s Creole(d) and Spanish residents. At the same time, he allied himself with Jean Lafitte”s smugglers(d) and formed military units made up of African Americans and Muscogee Indians, in addition to volunteers recruited from the city. Jackson was somewhat criticized for paying the same wages to whites and Indians and blacks. These forces, along with regular US Army troops from surrounding states, joined Jackson”s force in defending New Orleans. The approaching British force, led by Admiral Alexander Cochrane(d) and later General Edward Pakenham(d), consisted of more than 10,000 soldiers, many of whom had fought in the Napoleonic Wars. Jackson had only about 5,000 men, most of whom were inexperienced and poorly trained.

The British arrived on the east bank of the Mississippi River on the morning of December 23. That evening, Jackson attacked the British and temporarily removed them. On January 8, 1815, the British launched a major frontal assault against Jackson”s fortifications. An initial British artillery barrage did minor damage to the well-built American fortifications. After the morning fog cleared, the British launched a frontal assault and their troops became sitting ducks for the Americans protected by parapets. Although they temporarily succeeded in pressuring the American right flank, the attack ended in disaster overall. For the battle of January 8, Jackson acknowledged a total of only 71 casualties. Of these, 13 men were dead, 39 wounded, and 19 missing and taken prisoner. The British acknowledged the loss of 2037 men: 291 dead (including Pakenham), 1262 wounded, and 484 missing or taken prisoner. After the battle, the British withdrew from the area and hostilities ended after news broke that the Treaty of Ghent had been signed in Europe in December. Coming in the final days of the war, the victory turned Jackson into a national hero as the country celebrated a so-called “Second American Revolution” against the British. In a Congressional resolution of February 27, 1815, Jackson received the Congressional Thanks(d) and the Congressional Gold Medal(d).

Alexis de Tocqueville (“unimpressed” by Jackson according to a 2001 commentator) would later write in On Democracy in America(d) that Jackson “was made president and kept in office only by the memory of a victory won twenty years ago under the walls of New Orleans.” Some have pointed out that the war had already ended with the preliminary signing of the Treaty of Ghent and therefore Jackson”s victory at New Orleans was meaningless, and only made him famous. The Spanish, however, who had sold the Louisiana territory to France, were contesting France”s right to sell it to the United States through the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. Had the British defeated Jackson at New Orleans, they could have kept the territory or returned it to Spain. Furthermore, Article IX of the Treaty of Ghent stipulated that the United States must return the territory taken from the Creek Indians to the original owners, essentially nullifying the Treaty of Fort Jackson. Thanks to Jackson”s victory at New Orleans, the U.S. government felt entitled to ignore that stipulation and retained all the territory acquired by Jackson.

Still unaware of the treaty signing, Jackson refused to lift martial law in the city. In March 1815, after federal district judge Dominic A. Hall(d) signed a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a Louisiana congressman detained by Jackson, Jackson ordered Hall(d) arrested. Louisiana State Senator Louis Louaillier had written an anonymous article in the New Orleans newspaper challenging Jackson”s refusal to discharge the militia following the British surrender of the battlefield. He too was jailed. Jackson did not cease his campaign of suppressing grievances until after he ordered the arrest of a member of the Louisiana legislature, a federal judge, and a lawyer, and following the intervention of the state judge, Joshua Lewis(d). Lewis was simultaneously a member of the militia led by Jackson, and had also signed a writ of habeas corpus against Jackson, his commanding officer, for the release of Judge Hall.

Civilian authorities in New Orleans had reason to fear Jackson-he had ordered the summary execution of six militia members who had tried to leave. Their deaths were not widely publicized until after Coffin Handbills(d) began circulating during the 1828 presidential campaign.

First Seminole War

After the war, Jackson remained in command of the armed forces on the US southern border. He carried out his official duties at the Hermitage Plantation. He signed treaties with the Cherokee and Chickasaw tribes by which the United States acquired large portions of the states of Tennessee and Kentucky. The treaty with the Chickasaw tribe, finally agreed to that year, is called the Jackson Acquisition(d).

Several Native American tribes, who came to be known by the common name Seminole(d), lived along the US-Florida border. The Seminoles, in alliance with some runaway slaves, frequently raided settlements in Georgia and then retreated back to Florida. These clashes continued to escalate into a conflict now called the First Seminole War(d). In 1816 Jackson entered Florida with a detachment and destroyed(d) Fort Negro(d), a community of fugitive slaves and their descendants. Jackson was ordered in December 1817 by President Monroe to wage a campaign in Georgia against the Seminole and Creek Indians. Jackson was also charged with preventing Spanish Florida(d) from becoming a refuge for runaway slaves after Spain promised runaway slaves freedom. Critics then claimed that Jackson had overreached in his actions in Florida. Orders from President Monroe were to “end the conflict.” Jackson believed the best way to do this was to take Florida from Spain once and for all. Before leaving, Jackson wrote to Monroe, “let it be shown to me by any means … that possession of Florida is desirable for the United States, and in sixty days will be accomplished.”

Jackson invaded Florida on March 15, 1818, capturing Pensacola. He crushed Seminole and Spanish resistance in the region and captured two British agents, Robert Ambrister and Alexander Arbuthnot(d), who were collaborating with the Seminoles. After a short trial, Jackson executed them both, producing a diplomatic incident with the British. Jackson”s actions polarized Monroe”s cabinet, which included people who claimed Jackson had violated Monroe”s orders and violated the Constitution because the United States had not declared war(d) on Spain. However, Jackson was defended by Secretary of State John Quincy Adams. Adams believed that Jackson”s conquest of Florida would force Spain to eventually sell the province, and Spain did indeed sell Florida to the United States in the Adams-Onís Treaty of 1819. A congressional investigation exonerated Jackson, but Jackson was very angered by the criticism he received, especially from the speaker of the House of Representatives, Henry Clay. After the ratification of the Adams-Onís Treaty in 1821, Jackson served briefly as territorial governor of Florida(d) before returning to Tennessee.

Elections of 1824

In the spring of 1822, Jackson suffered a decline in health. He had two bullets in his body and was tired from years of heavy military campaigning. He regularly coughed up blood, and his whole body convulsed when he coughed. Jackson feared he was on the verge of death, but after several months of rest, he recovered. In his convalescence, Jackson became increasingly preoccupied with national affairs. He became obsessed with the widespread corruption of the Monroe administration and came to detest the Second Bank of the United States(d), accusing it of causing the Panic of 1819(d) by borrowing.

Jackson turned down an offer to run for governor of his home state, but accepted John Overton(d)”s plan to nominate him through the legislature for president. On July 22, 1822, he was officially nominated by the Tennessee legislature. Jackson disliked Secretary of the Treasury William H. Crawford(d), who had been Jackson”s most vocal critic in Monroe”s cabinet, and hoped to prevent him from being voted into office by Tennessee”s representatives in the Electoral College. Jackson”s nomination, however, received favorable responses outside Tennessee as well, as many Americans appreciated Jackson”s attacks on banks. The Panic of 1819 had destroyed the fortunes of many, and banks and politicians considered bankers were particularly unpopular. With growing political viability, Jackson became one of the five major presidential candidates, along with Crawford, Adams, Clay, and Secretary of War John C. Calhoun. By the Age of Good Feelings(d), the Federalist Party had dissipated, and all five presidential candidates were members of the Democratic-Republican Party. Jackson”s campaign promoted him as a champion of the common man, and as the only candidate who could rise above sectional conflicts. On the big issues of the day, especially the tariff(d), Jackson expressed centrist beliefs, and opponents accused him of dissembling. The spearhead of Jackson”s campaign was fighting corruption. Jackson pledged to restore honesty to government and reduce its excesses.

In 1823, Jackson allowed, after some hesitation, to run for one of Tennessee”s seats in the U.S. Senate. The maneuver was independently orchestrated by his advisers, William Berkeley Lewis(d) and US Senator John Eaton(d), to defeat incumbent Senator John Williams(d), who was openly opposed to his presidential candidacy. The legislature narrowly elected him. His return to office, after 24 years, 11 months and 3 days, marked the end of his second-longest absence from Senate office in history. Although Jackson had shied away from serving another term in the Senate, he was appointed chairman of the Military Affairs Committee(d). Eaton wrote to Rachel that Jackson, as a senator, was “in harmony and good understanding with everyone,” including Thomas Hart Benton, now a senator from Missouri, with whom Jackson had fought in 1813. In the meantime, as was customary, Jackson did not campaign much. Eaton updated an already written biography of him in preparation for the campaign and, along with others, wrote letters to newspapers praising Jackson”s past performances and actions.

In the past, Democratic-Republican presidential nominations were made through informal caucus(d) meetings, but this method had become unpopular. In 1824, most Democratic-Republicans in Congress boycotted these meetings. Those who did attend supported Crawford for president and Albert Gallatin(d) for vice president. A Pennsylvania convention nominated Jackson for president a month later, declaring that the irregular meeting ignored “the voice of the people” in the “vain hope that the American people will thereby be deluded into a belief that he is the rightful Democratic nominee.” Gallatin criticized Jackson as “an honest man and the idol of lovers of military glory, but, incapable, with military aptitudes and habitually defiant of the laws and the word of the Constitution, and thus unfit for office.” After Jackson won the nomination in Pennsylvania, Calhoun dropped out of the presidential race and managed to get nominated for vice president.

The election of 1828 and the death of Rachel Jackson

Almost immediately, opposition to the Adams presidency arose. Jackson opposed Adams” plan to involve the US in the campaign for Panamanian independence, writing, “The moment we involve ourselves in confederations or alliances with any nation, from that moment we begin to date the downfall of our republic.” Adams also damaged his reputation with his first annual message to Congress, in which he argued that Congress should not give the world the impression that “we are paralyzed by the will of our constituents.”

Jackson was nominated as a candidate for president by the Tennessee state legislature in October 1825, more than three years after the 1828 election. It was the earliest such nomination in the history of the presidential office, and it stands testimony to the fact that Jackson”s supporters began campaigning for 1828 almost immediately after the end of the 1824 campaign. Adams”s presidency showed signs of weakness, and his ambitious agenda faced defeat in a new era of mainstream politics. Critics led by Jackson denounced Adams” policies as a dangerous expansion of federal power. Senator Martin Van Buren, who had been a leading supporter of Crawford in the 1824 election, became one of the strongest opponents of Adams” policies, and chose Jackson as his preferred candidate for the 1828 election. Joining Van Buren was Vice President Calhoun, who also opposed much of Adams” agenda on states” rights grounds. Van Buren and other Jackson allies established numerous pro-Jackson newspapers and clubs across the country, while Jackson avoided campaigning but made himself available to guests who came to his plantation, the Hermitage. In the election, Jackson won 56 percent of the popular vote and 68 percent of the electoral vote. The election marked the definitive end of the single-party period of the Era of Good Feelings, with Jackson”s supporters coalescing into the Democratic Party and Adams” supporters becoming known as the National-Republicans(d). In the large Scots-Irish community, which was particularly numerous in the rural South and Southwest, Jackson was a much-loved hero.

The campaign was one with strong personal overtones. As was the custom at the time, none of the candidates campaigned, with their supporters organising many campaign events. Both candidates were attacked rhetorically in the press. Jackson was heavily attacked as a slave trader(d) who bought and sold slaves and moved them around in defiance of the slave owners” higher standards of behavior. A series of pamphlets known as “Coffin Handbills(d)” was published in which Jackson was attacked. One of them revealed his order to execute soldiers in New Orleans. Another accused him of practicing cannibalism by eating the bodies of Native Americans killed in battle, and another labeled his mother a “common prostitute” and claimed Jackson”s father was a “mulatto.”

Rachel Jackson was also a frequent target for attacks, and was accused of bigamy in reference to the controversial state of her marriage to Jackson. Jackson”s supporters have also responded strongly, claiming that while he was ambassador to Russia, Adams allegedly arranged the services of a young girl as a prostitute for Tsar Alexander I. They have also claimed that Adams has a pool table in the White House paid for by government money.

Rachel was under a lot of stress during the election, and often had difficulty when Jackson was away. She began to feel particularly unwell during the election. Jackson described her symptoms as “severe pain in her left shoulder, arm and chest.” After three days of suffering, Rachel died of a heart attack on December 22, 1828, three weeks after her husband”s victory in the election (which began on October 31 and ended on December 2) and 10 weeks before Jackson was sworn in. Grief-stricken, Jackson had to be pulled away from her so that the undertakers could prepare her remains. He felt the accusations coming from Adams” supporters hastened his death and never forgave him for it. Rachel was buried at the Hermitage on Christmas Eve. “May Almighty God forgive her murderers,” Jackson said at the funeral. “I never will.”


Jackson”s name has been associated with the notion of “Jacksonian democracy” and the shift and expansion of democracy by transferring some of the political power from the established elites to ordinary voters organized into political parties. The “Age of Jackson” shaped the national agenda and American political life. Jackson”s philosophy as president was similar to Jefferson”s, upholding the Republican values of the American Revolutionary generation. Jackson assumed a moralistic tone, with the belief that agrarian sympathies, and a limited view of states” rights and the federal government would lead to less corruption. He feared that financial and business interests would corrupt Republican values(d). When South Carolina opposed the Tariff Act, it took a strong stand for nationalism and against secession.

Jackson believed in the people”s ability to “come to the right conclusions.” They had the right not only to elect their representatives but also to instruct them. People in office would either have to submit to the will of the people or resign. He rejected the idea of a powerful Supreme Court with binding rulings, arguing that “Congress, the Executive and the Court must each be guided by their own views of the Constitution”. Jackson believed that Supreme Court justices should also be elected by vote, and he believed in strict constructionism as the best way to ensure democratic governance. He called for term limits for presidents and the abolition of the Electoral College. Historian Robert Remini opined, 150 years later, that Jackson “was far ahead of his time-and perhaps farther ahead than his country could ever achieve.”


Jackson left the Hermitage on January 19 and arrived in Washington on February 11. He then began selecting his cabinet ministers. As expected, Jackson chose Van Buren as secretary of state, then Eaton of Tennessee as secretary of war, Samuel D. Ingham(d) of Pennsylvania as Secretary of the Treasury, John Branch(d) of North Carolina as Secretary of the Navy, John Macpherson Berrien(d) of Georgia as Attorney General, and William T. Barry(d) of Kentucky as Postmaster General. Jackson”s first cabinet option proved unsuccessful, fraught with bitter partisanship and gossip. Jackson blamed Adams in part for his role in what was said about Rachel during the campaign, and refused to meet with him after arriving in Washington. As a result, Adams chose not to attend the inauguration ceremony.

On March 4, 1829, Andrew Jackson became the first elected President of the United States to be sworn in on the east portico of the U.S. Capitol. In his inaugural address, Jackson promised to respect the sovereign powers of the states and the constitutional limitations of the presidency. He also promised to pursue “reforms” by removing power from “unfaithful or incompetent hands”. At the end of the ceremony, Jackson invited the public to the White House, where his supporters held an exuberant party. Thousands of spectators overwhelmed the White House staff, and there was minor damage to furniture and appliances. The popularity earned Jackson the nickname “King Mob”.

The “Petticoat” business

Jackson devoted considerable time during the early years of his presidency to dealing with the effects of what would become known as the “Petticoat Affair” or the “Eaton Affair.” There was gossip in Washington among Jackson cabinet members and their wives, including Calhoun”s wife, Florida Calhoun(d), about Secretary of War Eaton and his wife, Peggy Eaton(d). Obscene rumors claimed that Peggy, a barmaid in her father”s saloon, was a promiscuous woman or even a prostitute. Further controversy arose because Peggy had remarried soon after the death of her previous husband, and it was alleged that she and her husband had had an adulterous relationship while her late husband was still alive. A fierce salon political battle broke out after the wives of cabinet members, led by Mrs Calhoun, refused to socialise with the Eaton”s. Welcoming a prostitute into the official family was unimaginable-but Jackson refused to believe the rumors, telling the Cabinet that “she is as blameless as a virgin!” Jackson believed that dishonorable were only the rumors, which essentially dishonored and challenged Jackson himself by daring, in an attempt to oust the Eaton”s, to dictate who he could and could not appoint to the cabinet. Jackson also recalled attacks on his wife. These memories increased his commitment to Peggy Eaton”s defense.

Meanwhile, the wives of cabinet members insist that the interests and honor of all American women are at stake. They believed that a responsible woman should never grant a man sexual favors without the assurance that came with marriage. A woman who violates this code is dishonorable and unacceptable. Historian Daniel Walker Howe(d) notes that this was the very feminist spirit that would shape the women”s rights movement over the next decade. Secretary of State Martin Van Buren, a widower, was already ganging up on Calhoun and now saw an opportunity to strike: he sided with Jackson and Eaton.

In the spring of 1831, at Van Buren”s suggestion, Jackson called for the resignations of all cabinet members except Barry. Van Buren also resigned to avoid the perception of partisanship. In 1832, Jackson nominated Van Buren for ambassador to Great Britain. Calhoun blocked the nomination with a tie-breaking vote, claiming that the nomination he rejected “…will kill him , sir, leave him dead. It won”t move, sir, it won”t move.” Van Buren went on to serve as an important advisor to Jackson and was placed on the ticket as vice president in the 1832 election, leaving the impression that he would become Jackson”s successor. The Eaton affair led to the development of the so-called Kitchen Cabinet(d), an unofficial group of advisers to the president. Its existence was partly rooted in Jackson”s difficulties in working with the official cabinet, even after his purge.

Indian Removal Policy

During his eight years in office, Jackson completed some 70 treaties with Native American tribes in both the South(d) and Northwest. Jackson”s presidency marked a new era in Indian-American relations(d) by initiating a policy of Indian removal. Jackson himself sometimes participated in the process of negotiating treaties with various Native American tribes, though at other times he left the negotiations to subordinates. Southern tribes included the Choctaw, Creek(d), Chickasaw(d), Seminole(d), and Cherokee. In the Northwest were the Ojibwe, Ottawa(d) and Potawatomi(d).

Relations between Indians and Americans have become increasingly tense and sometimes violent as a result of territorial disputes. Previous presidents had at times supported deportations or attempts to ”civilise” the Indians, but generally let the issue find a balance with minimal intervention. A growing popular and political movement to solve the problem had developed, and out of it grew the policy of resettling the Amerindian population. Jackson, who was not known for restraint, became a proponent of this resettlement policy in what many historians consider to be the most controversial aspect of his presidency.

In his First Annual Message to Congress, Jackson advocated setting aside territory west of the Mississippi River for Indian tribes. On May 26, 1830, Congress passed the Indian Removal Act(d), which Jackson signed into law two days later. The act authorized the president to negotiate treaties for the acquisition of tribal lands in exchange for other territories farther west, outside the borders of existing states. The law explicitly referred to the Five Civilized Tribes of the South, the conditions being that they either move west or stay and submit to state laws, effectively ending their sovereignty.

Jackson, Eaton and General Coffee negotiated with the Chickasaw tribe, who had already agreed to move. Jackson tasked Eaton and Coffee with negotiating with the Choctaw tribe. Lacking Jackson”s negotiating skills, they frequently bribed the tribal chiefs to gain their submission. The tactic worked, and the tribal chiefs agreed(d) to move. The removal of the Choctaw tribe took place in the winter of 1831 and 1832, and was marked by suffering and tragedy. The Seminoles, although they had signed the Treaty of Payne”s Landing(d) in 1832, refused to move. In December 1835, the dispute escalated into the Second Seminole War(d). This war lasted over six years, finally ending in 1842. Members of the Creek Nation had signed the Treaty of Cusseta(d) in 1832, allowing the Creek Indians to sell or hold their land. Conflicts subsequently broke out between the remaining Creek Indians and white settlers, leading to a second Creek War(d). A common complaint among the tribes was that the treaty signers were not representatives of the entire tribe.

The State of Georgia became involved in a Cherokee Indian dispute, culminating in the 1832 Supreme Court decision in Worcester v. Georgia(d). Chief Justice John Marshall wrote the court”s decision announcing that Georgia could not prohibit whites from entering tribal lands, as it had attempted to do through two missionaries who had stirred up resistance among Native Americans. Jackson is often credited with the response, “John Marshall has made up his mind, now let”s see him carry it out.” The quote seems to indicate Jackson”s defiant view of the courts and was attributed to Jackson by Horace Greeley, who cites Congressman George N. Briggs(d) as his source. Remini asserts that Jackson did not express himself in this way because, although “it alone seems to be Jackson…but he had nothing to enforce.” This was because a writ of habeas corpus had never been issued for missionaries. The Court did not require the U.S. Marshals(d) to enforce the judgment, as was the usual practice.

A group of Cherokee Indians led by John Ridge(d) negotiated the Treaty of New Echota(d). Ridge was not a widely recognized Cherokee leader, and this document was rejected by some as illegitimate. Another faction, led by John Ross(d), unsuccessfully launched a petition protesting the removal proposal. The Cherokee Indians considered themselves largely independent, not subject to the laws of the United States or Georgia. The treaty was implemented by Jackson”s successor, Van Buren. As a result, up to 4,000 of the 18,000 Cherokee Indians died on the “Trail of Tears” in 1838. Over 45,000 Native Americans were moved west during the Jackson administration, although some Cherokee later returned or migrated to the Smoky Mountains(d). The Black Hawk War(d) occurred during Jackson”s presidency in 1832 after a group of Indians crossed the border into American territory.

Reforms, staff turnover and the patronage system

In an attempt to root out corruption in government, Jackson has launched presidential investigations of all Cabinet functions and executive departments. He believed that appointees should be hired on merit and removed many candidates whom he felt were managing funds loosely. He called on Congress to reform embezzlement laws, reduce fraudulent federal pension claims, revenue laws to prevent tax evasion, and laws to improve government accountability. Jackson”s postmaster general, General Barry, resigned after a congressional postal investigation revealed mismanagement of the Postal Service, organized crime and favoritism in the awarding of lucrative contracts, as well as failure to audit accounts and oversee contract performance. Jackson replaced Barry with Treasury auditor and prominent “kitchen cabinet” member Amos Kendall(d), who was to implement much-needed Postal Service reforms.

Jackson has repeatedly called for the abolition of the Electoral College by constitutional amendment in his annual messages to Congress as president. In his third annual message to Congress, he indicated that “I have therefore recommended amendments to the Federal Constitution by which the election of the President and Vice President would be given to the people and by which the service of the former would be limited to a single term. So important do I consider these changes in our fundamental law that I cannot, in my sense of duty, omit to bring them for the consideration of a new Congress.”

Although he failed to achieve these goals, Jackson”s tenure brought various other reforms. In July 1836, he supported a law allowing widows of Revolutionary War soldiers to receive their husbands” pensions if they met certain conditions. In 1836, Jackson enacted the ten-hour workday in the nation”s shipyards.

Jackson”s theory of executive rotation gave rise to what would later be called “political patronage(d)”. The political realities of Washington sometimes forced Jackson to make partisan appointments to office despite his personal reservations. Overseeing bureaus and departments whose operations were outside Washington (and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, whose budget had grown enormously in the previous two decades) proved difficult. Remini argues that because “friendships, politics, and geography were all the criteria by which the president made appointments to posts, most of these appointments were substandard.”

Nullification crisis

In 1828, Congress passed the “Abominable Tax(d)”, which raised customs duties to an unprecedented level. Southern plantation owners, who sold their cotton on world markets, strongly opposed the tax, which they believed favoured Northern interests. The South now had to pay more for goods it did not produce locally; other countries would find it harder to afford to buy cotton from the South. The issue escalated during Jackson”s presidency into the Nullification Crisis after South Carolina threatened secession.

The South Carolina Exposition and Protest(d) of 1828, a document written in secret by Calhoun, asserted that the state had the right to “nullify”-that is, declare void-the 1828 tariff law. Although Jackson was sympathetic to the South in the discussion of the tariff, he also strongly supported a strong union in which the central government had real powers. Jackson tried to confront Calhoun on the issue, which turned into a bitter rivalry between the two. One incident occurred on April 13, 1830, at the Jefferson Day dinner, at the after-dinner toasts. Robert Young Hayne(d) began by toasting the “Union of the States and the Sovereignty of the States”. Jackson then rose and, in a strong voice, added, “Our Federal Union: it must be preserved!”  – a clear challenge to Calhoun. Calhoun clarified his position by responding: “The Union: with our Liberty, our dearest thing!”

In May 1830, Jackson discovered that Calhoun had asked President Monroe to sanction Jackson as a general for invading Spanish Florida in 1818 while Calhoun was secretary of war. The relationship between Calhoun and Jackson deteriorated further. By February 1831, the rift between Calhoun and Jackson was final. Responding to press reports with false information about his conflict, Calhoun had published letters between himself and Jackson detailing the conflict in the United States Telegraph newspaper. Jackson and Calhoun began an angry correspondence that lasted until Jackson ended it in July. The Telegraph, a newspaper edited by Duff Green(d), had previously supported Jackson. After siding with Calhoun, Jackson needed a new administration mouthpiece. He secured the services of his old supporter Francis Preston Blair(d), who in November 1830 had established a newspaper called the Washington Globe, which has since served as the Democratic Party”s chief mouthpiece.

In December 1832, Jackson issued a resounding proclamation against the “nullifiers,” declaring that he believed that “the power assumed by a State to nullify a law of the United States is incompatible with the existence of the Union, expressly contradicted 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 with which it was formed.” South Carolina, the President declared, stands “on the brink of insurrection and treason,” and he appealed to the people of the State to restore their faith in the Union for which their forefathers had fought. Jackson also denied the right of secession: “The Constitution … forms a government and not an association … to say that any state may, at its pleasure, secede from the Union is to say that the United States is not a nation.” Jackson tended to give personal overtones to the controversy, often characterizing nullification as a conspiracy between disillusioned and hardened men whose ambitions had been frustrated.

Jackson asked Congress to pass a “Force(d) Act” explicitly authorizing the use of armed force to enforce the charges. The bill was introduced by Senator Felix Grundy(d) of Tennessee, and was quickly attacked by Calhoun as “military despotism.” At the same time, Calhoun and Clay began work on a new compromise customs tax(d). The administration-backed bill had been introduced by Congressman Gulian C. Verplanck(d) of New York, but it reduced the duties more than Clay and other protectionists wanted. Clay was able to persuade Calhoun to accept a higher tax bill in exchange for Clay”s opposition to Jackson”s military threats and, perhaps, in hopes of winning some Southern votes in his next presidential bid. The compromise tax was passed on March 1, 1833. The Force Act was also passed the same day. Calhoun, Clay, and several others left the floor in protest, with the only dissenting vote coming from John Tyler of Virginia. Webster opposed the new tax, arguing that it was essentially a surrender to South Carolina”s demands. Although he was angry that the Verplanck bill had been dropped and because of the alliance between Clay and Calhoun, Jackson found it an effective means of ending the crisis. He signed both bills into law on March 2, beginning with the Force Act. The South Carolina Convention then met and repealed its nullification ordinance, but, in a final act of defiance, nullified the Force Act. On May 1, Jackson wrote: “The customs tax was only the pretext, the real object was the non-union(d) and confederation of the South. The next pretext will be the Negro question, or slavery.”

Foreign Affairs

On foreign affairs, in his First Annual Address to Congress, Jackson declared his goal “to ask for nothing that is not clearly right and accept nothing that is clearly wrong.”

When he took office, demands for the return of property and claims for compensation for American sailors and ships captured during the Napoleonic Era were straining relations between the American and French governments. The French Navy had captured American ships and sent them to Spanish ports while the crews were held captive and put to forced labor without trial or trial. According to Secretary of State Martin Van Buren, relations between the US and France were “hopeless”. Jackson”s ambassador to France, William C. Rives(d), was able, through diplomatic means, to persuade the French government to sign a treaty of indemnity on July 4, 1831, under which the U.S. was to receive 25,000,000 francs ($5,000,000) in compensation. The French government delayed payment due to domestic political and financial problems. French King Louis Philippe I and his ministers blamed the Chamber of Deputies. By 1834, the French government”s failure to pay compensation had drawn Jackson”s displeasure and he lost patience. In his December 1834 State of the Union address, Jackson harshly criticized the French government for nonpayment, saying the federal government was “utterly disappointed” in the French, and called on Congress to authorize trade retaliation against France. Offended by Jackson”s words, the French began to pressure their government not to pay reparations until Jackson apologized for his remarks. In his State of the Union address in December 1835, Jackson refused to apologize, stating that he thought well of the French people and that his intentions toward them were peaceful. Jackson described in detail the history of events surrounding the treaty and his belief that the French government was intentionally delaying payment. The French accepted the sincerity of Jackson”s statements, and in February 1836, compensation was paid.

Jackson”s attempt to buy Texas from Mexico for $5,000,000 failed. The Chargé d”Affaires(d) in Mexico, Colonel Anthony Butler, suggested that the US annex Texas militarily, but Jackson refused. Butler was then replaced towards the end of Jackson”s presidency. In 1835, the Texan Revolution broke out after American settlers practicing slavery in Texas clashed with the Mexican government and declared Texas independence. In May 1836, they drove out the Mexican army, and established the Republic of Texas as an independent state. The new Texas government legalized slavery and asked President Jackson for recognition and annexation to the United States. Jackson was reluctant to recognize Texas, as he was not convinced that the new republic could retain its independence from Mexico, nor did he want to make Texas an anti-slavery issue in the 1836 election. The strategy worked: the Democratic Party and national loyalties were kept intact, and Van Buren was elected president. Jackson officially recognized the Republic of Texas, appointing Alcée Louis la Branche(d) as chargé d”affaires on the last day of his presidency, March 3, 1837.

Jackson failed to open trade with China and Japan and failed to reduce British presence and power in South America.

The banking veto and the election of 1832

The presidential election of 1832(d) proved the rapid development and organisation of political parties in this period. The first national convention of the Democratic Party, held in Baltimore, nominated Jackson”s choice for vice president, Van Buren. The Republican National Party, which had held its first convention in Baltimore earlier in December 1831, nominated Henry Clay, now Senator from Kentucky, along with John Sergeant(d) of Pennsylvania. The Anti-Masonic Party arose by capitalizing on opposition to Freemasonry, opposition that existed especially in New England after the disappearance and possible murder of William Morgan(d). The party, which had previously held its convention also in Baltimore in September 1831, nominated William Wirt(d) of Maryland and Amos Ellmaker(d) of Pennsylvania. Clay, like Jackson, was a Mason, so some anti-Jacksonians who would have supported the Republican National Party supported Wirt instead.

In 1816, the Second Bank of the United States(d) was established by President James Madison to repair the American economy devastated by the War of 1812. Monroe appointed Nicholas Biddle(d) as director of the bank. Jackson believed the Bank to be a fundamentally corrupt monopoly. He insisted that the shareholders were mostly foreigners, and that it exercised unfairly great control over the political system. Jackson used this issue to promote his Democratic values, believing that the Bank was ultimately run only by the rich. Jackson asserted that the Bank makes “the rich richer and the powerful powerful”. He accused it of steering loans with the intention of influencing elections. In his address to Congress in 1830, Jackson called for a replacement for the Bank, one that had no private shareholders and was not allowed to buy or lease land. Its only power would be to issue banknotes. The word led to intense debate in the Senate. Thomas Hart Benton, now a strong supporter of the president despite the skirmish several years ago, gave a speech in which he denounced the bank in harsh terms and called for an open debate on its reauthorization. Webster, however, moved a motion that narrowly rejected Benton”s proposed ruling. A short time later, the Globe newspaper announced that Jackson would run for re-election.

Despite his dissatisfaction with the Bank, he supported a plan advanced in late 1831 by the Secretary of the Treasury, Louis McLane, a moderate supporter of the Bank who was secretly working with Biddle, to reauthorize a reformed version of the Bank so as to release funds that could then be used to strengthen the army or pay off the national debt. This was to be done, in part, by selling government shares in the Bank. Against the objections of Attorney General(d) Roger B. Taney(d), an irreconcilable opponent of the Bank, he allowed McLane to publish a Treasury report, essentially recommending reauthorization of the Bank.

Clay was hoping to make the Bank issue a campaign issue so he could accuse Jackson of overstepping his prerogatives if he refused to enact reauthorization legislation. He and Webster urged Biddle to seek reauthorization immediately and not wait for a compromise with the administration. But Biddle was advised otherwise by moderate Democrats like McLane and William Lewis, who argued that Biddle should wait because Jackson would most likely refuse to enact the reauthorization bill. On January 6, 1832, Biddle submitted a request to Congress to renew the Bank”s authorization without any of the proposed reforms. The request came four years before the original 20-year authorization expired. Biddle”s reauthorization request was approved by the Senate on June 11 and by the House on July 3, 1832. Jackson was determined not to enact it. Many moderate Democrats, including McLane, were outraged by what they perceived as the arrogance of the law and supported him in his decision. When Van Buren met with Jackson on the Fourth of July, Jackson declared, “The bank, Mr. Van Buren, is trying to kill me. But I”m going to kill her.” On July 10, Jackson officially announced that he refused to enact the bill. The veto message was drafted mostly by Taney, by Kendall, and by Jackson”s nephew and advisor, Andrew Jackson Donelson(d). In it, the Bank was attacked as an agent of inequality, supporting only the wealthy. The veto was considered “one of the most powerful and controversial” presidential manifestos and “a brilliant political manifesto”. The Republican National Party(d) immediately made Jackson”s veto of the Bank Act a political issue. Jackson”s political opponents denounced the veto as an “insult to the egalitarian and demagogue,” claiming that Jackson was using class warfare to win the support of the common people.

At Biddle”s direction, the Bank funded a campaign against Jackson with thousands of dollars, seemingly validating Jackson”s accusation that she was interfering in the political process. On July 21, Clay said privately, “the campaign is over, and I think we won.” Jackson succeeded in illustrating her veto as a defense of the common man against government tyranny. Clay proved that he was no match for Jackson”s ability to resonate with the people and the powerful political networks of the Democratic Party. Newspapers, parades, field parties and Democratic rallies have also boosted Jackson”s popularity. Jackson himself made numerous public appearances upon his return from Tennessee to Washington, D.C. Jackson won the election by a landslide, with 54 percent of the popular vote and 219 electoral votes. Clay received 37 percent of the popular vote and 49 electoral votes. Wirt received only eight percent of the popular vote and seven electoral votes, as the anti-establishment party went into decline. Jackson considered this solid victory a popular mandate for his veto of the Bank”s reauthorization and his continued war against the Bank”s control of the national economy.

Withdrawal of deposits and motion of censure

In 1833, Jackson attempted to begin withdrawing federal deposits from the Bank, whose lending functions had been taken over by the many state and local banks that had materialized across America, drastically increasing lending and speculation. Jackson”s maneuvers were highly controversial. He dismissed McLane from the Treasury Department, appointing him Secretary of State instead, replacing Edward Livingston. He replaced McLane with William J. Duane(d). In September, he also fired Duane for refusing to withdraw deposits. Signaling his intention to continue fighting the Bank, he replaced Duane with Taney. Under Taney, deposits began to be withdrawn. Money was moved to a variety of state banks friendly to the administration”s policies, referred to by critics as “house banks”(d). Biddle responded by hoarding the Bank”s reserves and taking out loans, causing interest rates to rise and the prospect of a financial panic to approach. His maneuvers were aimed at forcing Jackson to compromise. “Only proof of suffering abroad will produce any effect in Congress,” he wrote. At first, Biddle”s strategy worked, because it put enormous pressure on Jackson. But Jackson did well. When people came to him to complain, he sent them to Biddle, saying he was the man with “all the money.” Jackson”s approach worked. Biddle”s strategy backfired, increasing the anti-banking tide.

In 1834, those who disagreed with Jackson”s expansion of executive power united and formed the Whig Party, calling Jackson “King Andrew I.” Their party was named after the English Whig Party(d) which had opposed the British monarchy in the 17th century. A movement arose among Whigs in the Senate to pass a motion of censure against Jackson. This was a political maneuver led by Clay, and only served to perpetuate the animosity between him and Jackson. Jackson called Clay “reckless and full of rage like a drunk in a brothel.” On March 28, the Senate voted 26-20 in favor of the motion against Jackson, and also rejected Taney”s appointment as Treasury secretary. The House, however, led by Ways and Means Committee Chairman(d) James K. Polk, said on April 4 that the Bank “should no longer be reauthorized” and that deposits “should no longer be restored.” It also voted in favour of continuing to use the house banks for deposits and voted even more overwhelmingly to investigate whether the Bank had artificially produced the economic crisis. Jackson called the passage of these resolutions a “glorious triumph”. In essence, they sealed the Bank”s fate. The Democrats then suffered a temporary setback. Polk ran for speaker of the House, replacing Andrew Stevenson(d). After Southerners discovered his ties to Van Buren, he was defeated by John Bell, also of Tennessee, a Democrat who had switched to the Whig camp and opposed Jackson”s policy of withdrawing deposits.

Payment of national debt

After the withdrawal of the remaining funds from the Bank, the national economy flourished and the federal government was able, from taxes and the sale of publicly owned land, to pay off all debts.

On January 1, 1835, Jackson paid off the entire national debt, the only time in U.S. history that this was accomplished. The goal was achieved in part by Jackson”s reforms aimed at eliminating the misuse of funds and his veto of laws he considered to involve extravagant spending. In December 1835, Polk defeated Bell in a new election for speaker of the House. Finally, on January 16, 1837, when the Jacksonians had a majority in the Senate, the censure motion was overturned after years of effort by Jackson supporters. Ironically, the movement to repeal the motion was led by Benton.

In 1836, as a result of increased land speculation, Jackson issued the Coin Circular(d), an executive order(d) requiring those who bought land from the government to pay in gold and silver coins. The result was increased demand for gold and silver, which banks could not honor on demand in exchange for banknotes, contributing to the Panic of 1837(d). In Van Buren”s White House biography, the observation is made, “Essentially, the problem was the cyclical boom-and-bust economy of the 19th century, which followed its usual fluctuating circuit, but Jackson”s financial measures contributed to the collapse. His destruction of the Second Bank of the United States had removed restrictions on the inflationary practices of some states” banks; wild land speculation on the basis of easy bank credit had become widespread in the West. To put an end to this speculation, Jackson issued the Coinage Circular in 1836…”

Attack and assassination attempt

History”s first recorded physical attack on an American president was directed at Jackson. He had ordered the dismissal of Robert B. Randolph from the head of the Navy for embezzlement. On May 6, 1833, Jackson sailed the USS Cygnet to Fredericksburg(d), where he was to lay the cornerstone of a monument near the grave of Mary Ball Washington, mother of George Washington. At a stop near Alexandria, Randolph appeared and struck the president. He fled the scene pursued by several members of Jackson”s group, including writer Washington Irving. Jackson declined to press charges.

On January 30, 1835, what is believed to be the first assassination attempt on a sitting U.S. president took place just outside the U.S. Capitol. As Jackson was leaving through the Eastern Portico after the funeral of South Carolina Congressman Warren R. Davis(d), Richard Lawrence(d), an unemployed painter from England, pointed a pistol at Jackson, but it jammed. Lawrence then drew a second gun, which also jammed. Historians believe the wet weather contributed to both guns malfunctioning. Enraged, Jackson attacked Lawrence with the baton. Others present, including Davy Crockett, restrained and disarmed Lawrence.

Lawrence gave several explanations for his actions. He blamed Jackson for the loss of his job. He claimed that if the president dies, “there will be a lot of money” (a reference to Jackson”s fight with the Bank of the United States) and that he “can”t get up until the president falls.” Finally, Lawrence told investigators that he was a deposed English king-namely, Richard III, dead since 1485-and that Jackson was his scribe. He was declared insane and institutionalized.

After that, the guns were tested and retested. Each time, they fired perfectly. Many believed Jackson had been protected by the same Providence that had protected their young nation. The incident became part of the Jacksonian mythos. Jackson suspected at first that the attempt had been orchestrated by several of his political opponents, but no such suspicion was ever proven.

Anti-slavery pamphlets

In the summer of 1835, Northern abolitionists began sending anti-slavery pamphlets by mail to the South. Southern slaveholders demanded that the post office ban the distribution of the materials, which were considered “inflammatory,” and some began to protest. Jackson wanted intersectarian peace, and wanted to please the Southerners before the 1836 election. He greatly disliked the abolitionists, whom he believed were trying, by instigating sectional animosities, to destroy the Union. Nor did Jackson wish to admit open insurrection. He supported the solution given by the postmaster, Amos Kendall, whereby Southern postmasters were given discretionary powers to send or detain anti-slavery pamphlets. In December of that year, Jackson asked Congress to ban the circulation through the South of “inflammatory publications intended to incite slaves to insurrection.”

American exploration expedition

Jackson opposed any scientific expeditions during his tenure. The last federally funded scientific expeditions had taken place between 1817 and 1823, and had been conducted by Stephen H. Harriman(d) on the Red River of the North(d). Jackson”s predecessor, President Adams, had attempted to launch a scientific ocean exploration in 1828, but Congress was unwilling to fund the effort. When Jackson took office in 1829, he shelved Adam”s expedition plans. Finally, eager to make his mark as president, as Jefferson had done with the Lewis and Clark Expedition, Jackson supported scientific exploration in his second term. On May 18, 1836, Jackson signed into law a bill establishing and funding the United States Ocean Exploration Expedition(d). Jackson tasked Secretary of the Navy Mahlon Dickerson with it(the launch was planned before Jackson”s term ended. Dickerson proved incapable of the mission, preparations were delayed, and the expedition was not launched until 1838, during Van Buren”s presidency. A brig, the USS Porpoise(on Secretary Dickerson”s orders in May 1836, circumnavigated the globe and explored and mapped the Antarctic Ocean, confirming the existence of the continent of Antarctica.

The Panic of 1837

Despite the economic successes after Jackson”s vetoes and the political war against the Bank, irresponsible speculation in land and railroads eventually led to the Panic of 1837(d). Contributing factors included Jackson”s veto of the Second National Bank Reauthorization Act in 1832 and the subsequent transfer of federal funds to state banks in 1833, which caused western banks to relax their lending standards. Two other Jacksonian pieces of legislation in 1836 contributed to the Panic of 1837: the Currency Circular, which required those buying land in the West to pay in gold and silver, and the Deposit and Distribution Act, which transferred federal funds from eastern to western state banks, leading to a new wave of speculation by banks. The Currency Circular given by Jackson, while supposed to reduce speculation and stabilize the economy, left many investors unable to afford loans in gold and silver. In the same year, there was also a downturn in the British economy, which led to a reduction in British investment in the United States. As a result, the US economy went into recession, banks became insolvent, the national debt (previously paid off) resurfaced and grew, bankruptcies spread, the price of cotton fell, and unemployment rose dramatically. The ensuing recession lasted four years, until 1841, when the economy began to recover.

Judicial appointments

Jackson appointed six justices to the Supreme Court. Most did not stand out. The first, John McLean(d), had been nominated to replace Barry, who had agreed to become postmaster general. McLean “had made himself a Whig and was forever striving to win” the presidency. The next two-Henry Baldwin(d) and James Moore Wayne(d)-disagreed with Jackson on some points, but were not well liked by Jackson”s enemies either. As a reward for his service, Jackson nominated Taney to the Supreme Court to fill a vacancy in January 1835, but the nomination was re-nominated by the Senate. Chief Justice Marshall died in 1835, leaving the second seat open. Jackson nominated Taney for Chief Justice and Philip Pendleton Barbour(d) for the regular judgeship. Both were confirmed by the new Senate. Taney served as Chief Justice until 1864, presiding over a Court(d) that affirmed many of the Marshall Court(d)”s precedents. He was generally considered a good and respectable judge, but his opinion in Dred Scott v. Sandford largely overshadowed his career. On the last day of his presidency, Jackson nominated John Catron(d), who was confirmed.

States admitted to the Union

Two new states were admitted to the Union during Jackson”s presidency: Arkansas (June 15, 1836) Both states increased Democratic strength in Congress, and the former helped Van Buren win the presidency in 1836, with the latter”s votes also going to him, although it was unclear whether they would be admitted. This continued the tradition of new states voting for the party that did the most to bring them admission.

In 1837, after two presidential terms, Jackson was replaced by his chosen successor, Martin Van Buren, and retired to the Hermitage. He immediately set about putting in order the estate that had been poorly managed in his absence by his adopted son, Andrew Jr. Although his health was failing, Jackson remained a very influential figure in national and state politics. He was a staunch supporter of the federal union of the states and rejected any talk of secession, insisting: “I will die with the Union.” Blamed for causing the Panic of 1837, he was unpopular in the early post-presidential period. Jackson continued to denounce the “perfidy and scheming” of the banks and urged his successor, Van Buren, to repeal the Currency Circular.

As a solution to the economic crisis, he advocated a system with an independent Treasury(d), designed to hold the government”s money balances in gold or silver(d) and not allowed to print paper money to prevent inflation. A coalition of Democrats and conservative Whigs opposed the project, which was not adopted until 1840. In the meantime, no effective measures were implemented to remedy the economic crisis. Van Buren became very unpopular. A unified Whig Party nominated popular war hero William Henry Harrison along with former Jacksonian John Tyler in the 1840 presidential election(d). The Whig Party”s campaign style in many ways mimicked the way the Democrats had behaved when Jackson was running. They portrayed Van Buren as an aristocrat who did not care about the concerns of ordinary Americans, while glorifying Harrison”s feats of arms and portraying him as a man of the people. Jackson campaigned extensively for Van Buren in Tennessee. He supported Polk”s nomination for vice president at the 1840(d) Democratic National Convention over the controversial incumbent, Richard Mentor Johnson. No candidate was chosen for the post, and the party chose to leave the decision to individual voters.

Harrison won the election and the Whig Party won majorities in both houses of Congress. “The democracy of the United States has been shamefully defeated,” Jackson wrote to Van Buren, “but, I trust, not conquered.” Harrison died just a month into his term, and was replaced by Tyler. Jackson caught his nerve because Tyler had a habit of acting independently, untethered to party lines. And so it was, with Tyler attracting the hostility of the Whig Party in 1841, when he refused to enact two party-promoted bills for a new national bank, bringing much satisfaction to Jackson and other Democrats. After the second veto, Tyler”s entire cabinet, except Daniel Webster, resigned.

Jackson strongly favored the annexation of Texas, something he had failed to accomplish during his presidency. While Jackson still feared that annexation would stir anti-slavery sentiment, his belief that the British could use Texas as a base to threaten the United States outweighed those concerns. He insisted that Texas was part of the Louisiana Purchase and rightfully belonged to the United States. At the request of Mississippi U.S. Senator Robert J. Walker(d), on behalf of the Tyler administration, which also supported annexation, Jackson wrote several letters to Texas President Sam Houston, asking him to wait for the Senate to approve annexation and instructing him about what the benefits would be to Texas in belonging to the United States. Early on, before the 1844(d) election, Jackson again endorsed Van Buren for president and Polk for vice president. The treaty of annexation was signed by Tyler on April 12, 1844, and transmitted to the Senate. When a letter from Secretary of State Calhoun to British Ambassador Richard Pakenham(d), in which annexation was linked to slavery, was made public, anti-annexation sentiment exploded in the North and the bill could not be ratified. Van Buren decided to write his “Hamlet letter” opposing annexation. This wiped out any support Van Buren might have had in the South. The Whig candidate, Henry Clay, also supported annexation, and Jackson recognized the need for the Democrats to nominate a candidate who supported it and could thus acquire Southern support. If the plan failed, Jackson warned, Texas would not join the Union and would potentially fall victim to a British-backed Mexican invasion.

Jackson met with Polk, Robert Armstrong(d), and Andrew Jackson Donelson in his office. He then pointed a finger at Polk, who winced, telling him that he, as a Southwesterner and supporter of annexation, would be the perfect candidate. Polk said this plan was “utterly doomed to failure,” but agreed to go along with it. At the 1844 Democratic National Convention(d), Polk won the party”s nomination after Van Buren failed to get a two-thirds majority of delegates. George M. Dallas was elected candidate for vice-president. Jackson persuaded Tyler to abandon plans to run for re-election as an independent, promising Tyler what Tyler had demanded, that he would welcome the President and his allies back into the Democratic Party, and instructing Blair to stop criticizing the President. Polk won the election, defeating Clay. A Texas annexation bill was passed by Congress in February and signed into law by Tyler on March 1.

Jackson died on his plantation on June 8, 1845, at the age of 78, of chronic edema and heart failure. According to a newspaper article in the Boon Lick Times, he “fainted while being moved from chair to bed … but suddenly recovered … Gen. Jackson died at the Hermitage at 6 p.m. Sunday … When the herald finally arrived, the old soldier, patriot and Christian was awaiting his arrival. He is gone, but his memory lives, and will live on.” In his will, Jackson left his entire estate to his adopted son, Andrew Jackson Jr. with the exception of a few items specifically listed, which he left to various friends and family members.


Jackson had three adopted sons: Theodore, an Indian about whom little is known; Andrew Jackson Jr, son of Rachel”s brother Severn Donelson; and Lyncoya(d), an orphaned Creek Indian adopted by Jackson after the Battle of Tallushatchee. Lyncoya died of tuberculosis on July 1, 1828, at the age of sixteen.

The Jacksons were also guardians for eight other children. John Samuel Donelson, Daniel Smith Donelson(d), and Andrew Jackson Donelson were sons of Rachel”s brother Samuel Donelson, who died in 1804. Andrew Jackson Hutchings was Rachel”s orphan great-grandson brother. Caroline, Eliza, Edward, and Anthony Butler were the orphaned children of Edward Butler, a family friend. They came to live with the Jackson family after their father”s death.

Jackson”s widower invited Rachel”s niece, Emily Donelson, to serve as White House reception planner. Emily married Andrew Jackson Donelson, who was Jackson”s personal secretary, and in 1856 she ran for vice president on the American Party ticket. Emily”s relationship with the president strained during the Petticoat Affair, and the two did not speak for over a year. They eventually reconciled and she resumed her work at the White House. Sarah Yorke Jackson, wife of Andrew Jackson Jr. also became a White House reception co-hostess in 1834. It was the only time in history that two women shared the unofficial role of first lady. Sarah took over all the hosting duties after Emily died of tuberculosis in 1836. Jackson used Rip Raps(d) as a vacation residence.


Jackson was notoriously quick-tempered. Biographer H. W. Brands(d) observed that his opponents were very frightened by his irascibility: “Observers likened him to a volcano, which only the most daring or recklessly curious wanted to see erupt.  … Those close to him all had stories of violent swearing, of invoking the Almighty to unleash his fury on someone who had done wrong, followed by his personal vow to hang or shoot him. Given his history-of duels, brawls, court martial and summary hearings-listeners felt obliged to take his words spoken in anger seriously.”

On the last day of his presidency, Jackson admitted he had only two regrets, namely that he “failed to shoot Henry Clay and hang John C. Calhoun.” On his deathbed, he again said he regretted not hanging Calhoun for treason. “The country would have supported me if I had, and his fate would have been a warning to all traitors in times to come,” he said. Remini expressed the view that Jackson usually controlled his reactions, and that he used his own anger, along with his fearsome reputation, as a tool to get what he wanted.

Physical appearance

Jackson was lanky, at 6 feet tall, weighing an average of 59 to 64 pounds. Jackson had rich red hair, which had grayed completely when he became president at 61. He had piercing blue eyes. Jackson was one of the sicker presidents, suffering from chronic migraines, abdominal pain and coughing. Most of his problems were caused by a musket ball lodged in his lung, from which he often coughed up blood and sometimes his whole body shook.

Religious beliefs

In 1838, Jackson became an official member of the First Presbyterian Church(d) of Nashville. Both his mother and wife had been dedicated Presbyterians all their lives, but Jackson himself had delayed officially joining the church to avoid accusations that he was entering for political reasons.

Jackson was a Mason, initiated into Harmony Lodge No. 1 in Tennessee; he also participated in the inauguration of several other Masonic lodges in Tennessee. He was the only American president to serve as grand master of a state grand lodge before Harry S. Truman in 1945. His Masonic apron is on display at the Tennessee State Museum(d). An obelisk and a bronze Masonic plaque decorate his grave at the Hermitage.

Historical reputation

Jackson remains one of the most studied and controversial figures in US history. Historian Charles Grier Sellers(d) said: “and Andrew Jackson”s masterful personality alone was enough to make him one of the most controversial figures ever to grace the American stage.” There was no universal agreement about what Jackson was left behind, as “opponents were always his fiercest enemies, and friends almost worshipped him.” He was always a fierce partisan, with many friends and many enemies. He was praised as a defender of the common man, but criticized for his treatment of Indians and other issues. James Parton(d) was the first after Jackson”s death to write a full biography of him. In attempting to summarize all the contradictions of his subject, he wrote:

“Andrew Jackson, I am left to understand, was a patriot and a traitor. He was one of the greatest generals, and completely ignorant of the art of war. A brilliant, elegant, eloquent writer, who could not compose a proper sentence or write four-syllable words. The first statesman, he never put any measure in place. He was the most sincere of men, capable of the most profound dissimulation. A citizen who defied the law and obeyed it. A great believer in discipline, he never hesitated to disobey his superior. A democratic autocrat. An urban savage. An atrocious saint.”

Jackson was criticized by his contemporary, Alexis de Tocqueville, in On Democracy in America(d), for encouraging the dominant ideas of his time, including distrust of federal power, and for sometimes imposing his views by force without respect for institutions and the law:

“Far from wishing to extend federal power, the President belongs to the party which is most desirous of limiting that power to the clear and precise letter of the Constitution, and which bases nothing on the act favorable to the Union government; far from standing as the spearhead of centralization, General Jackson is the agent of interstate envy; and has been put in his high place by the passions which the central government most opposes. By constantly encouraging these passions he maintains his position and popularity. General Jackson is the servant of the majority: he bows to their desires, their tendencies, their claims-or, rather, anticipates and suppresses them. …General Jackson inclines to acquire the favour of the majority; but when he feels that his popularity is assured, he overthrows all obstacles in the pursuit of the goal which the community approves or regards as not bad. Backed by a power which his predecessors never possessed, he tramples down his personal enemies, whenever they come in his way, with unparalleled ease; he assumes responsibility for measures which no one before him has ventured to attempt. Even the nation”s representatives he treats with a contempt almost of insult; he vetoes the laws of Congress, and often neglects even to give an answer to the powerful body. He is a favorite who often treats his master roughly.”

In the 20th century, many admirers wrote about Jackson. Arthur M. Schlesinger(d), in Age of Jackson (1945), portrays Jackson as a man of the people who struggled with the inequality and tyranny of the upper class. Between the 1970s and 1980s, Robert Remini published a three-volume biography of Jackson, followed by an abridged one-volume study. Remini paints a generally favorable picture for Jackson. He argues that Jacksonian democracy “stretches the concept of democracy about as far as it can go while remaining functional. … As such, it inspired much of the dynamic and dramatic events of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in American history-populism(d), progressivism(d), the New Deal, the Fair Deal(d), and the New Frontier(d) and Great Society(d) programs.” For Remini, Jackson serves as “the embodiment of the new American … this new man was no longer British. He no longer wore pigtails and silk tights. He wore trousers, and he no longer spoke with a British accent.” Other 20th-century authors, such as Richard Hofstadter(d) and Bray Hammond(d), portray Jackson as a proponent of a kind of laissez-faire capitalism that benefits the rich and oppresses the poor.

Jackson”s initiatives in conflicts between Indians and American settlers were a source of controversy. Especially by the 1970s, Jackson began to be attacked by some historians on the issue. Howard Zinn(d) called him “the most aggressive enemy of the Indians in early American history” and an “Indian exterminator.” In 1969, Francis Paul Prucha(d) argued that Jackson”s removal of the “Five Civilized Tribes” from the increasingly hostile white-dominated environment of the Old South and their relocation to Oklahoma would have saved their very existence. Similarly, Remini argues that but for Jackson”s policies, the Southern tribes would have been totally eradicated, as would other tribes-namely the Yamasee(d), Mahicans(d), and Narragansett(d)-who did not move. Jackson was often honored, along with Thomas Jefferson, at Jefferson-Jackson Day(d) fundraising dinners held by Democratic Party organizations at the state level to honor the two whom the party sees as founders. Because both Jefferson and Jackson were slave owners, as well as because of Jackson”s Indian removal policies, many state party organizations changed the names of these dinners.

Brands argues that Jackson”s reputation suffered after the 1960s after his actions toward Indians and African-Americans gained new attention. He also says the Indian controversy overshadowed Jackson”s other accomplishments. Noting changing attitudes on various national issues, Brands notes that he was often hailed during his lifetime as a “second George Washington” because, just as Washington had fought for independence, Jackson confirmed it at New Orleans and made the United States a great world power. Over time, although the Revolution retained a strong presence in the public consciousness, memories of the War of 1812, including the Battle of New Orleans, faded quickly. Brands says this happened because, once America became a military power, “it was easy to believe that America had this destiny all along.”

However, Jackson”s performance in office was generally ranked in the top half of the public opinion rankings. His ranking in the C-SPAN(d) poll fell from 13th in 2009 to 18th in 2017.

Illustration on banknotes and stamps

Jackson appeared(d) on American banknotes as early as 1869, and into the 21st century. His face has appeared on $5, $10, $20 and $10,000 bills. Most recently, he has appeared on the Federal Reserve $20 bill since 1928. In 2016, Treasury Secretary(d) Jack Lew(d) announced his goal of replacing Jackson”s image by 2020 with that of Harriet Tubman on the obverse of the $20 bill, leaving Jackson”s on the reverse, though the final decision remains to be made by his successors.

Jackson appeared on several stamps, the first on the 1863 two-cent stamp, which collectors call Black Jack(d) because of the illustration of his face in deep black. During the American Civil War, the Confederate government issued two stamps with Jackson”s portrait, one as a red 2-cent stamp and another being the green 2-cent stamp, both issued in 1863.


Numerous counties and towns are named after him, including the cities of Jacksonville in Florida and North Carolina(Jackson counties in Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio and Oregon; and Jackson Parish in Louisiana.

Four identical equestrian statues by sculptor Clark Mills (in Nashville in the courtyard of the Tennessee State Capitol and in Jacksonville, Florida) were erected in Jackson”s honor. Other equestrian statues of Jackson have been erected in other places, such as the State Capitol courtyard in Raleigh, North Carolina. That statue controversially identifies him as one of the “presidents given to the nation of North Carolina,” along with James Polk and Andrew Johnson, both born in North Carolina. There is a bust of Andrew Jackson in Ferdinand VII(d) Plaza in Pensacola, Florida, where he became Florida”s first governor in 1821. There was also a bronze sculpture(d) of Andrew Jackson by Belle Kinney Scholz(d) and Leopold Scholz(d) in the U.S. Capitol Building as part of the National Statuary Hall Collection(d).

Illustrations in popular culture

Jackson and his wife, Rachel, were the main subjects of a 1951 historical novel by Irving Stone, The President”s Lady, which told the story of their lives until Rachel”s death. The novel was the basis for the 1953 film of the same title(d), starring Charlton Heston as Jackson and Susan Hayward as Rachel.

Jackson has been a supporting character in several historical films and television shows. Lionel Barrymore played Jackson in The Gorgeous Hussy(d) (1936), a fictionalized biography of Peggy Eaton, starring Joan Crawford. The Buccaneer(d) (1938), depicting the Battle of New Orleans, had Hugh Sothern as Jackson, and was remade in 1958(d) with Heston again as Jackson. Basil Ruysdael(d) played Jackson in Walt Disney”s 1955 television miniseries Davy Crockett(d). Wesley Addy(d) appeared as Jackson in several episodes of the 1976 PBS miniseries The Adams Chronicles(d).

Jackson stars in the historical rock musical Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson(d) (2008) with music and lyrics by Michael Friedman(d) to a story by Alex Timbers(d).


  1. Andrew Jackson
  2. Andrew Jackson