Andrew Jackson: History, Achievements & Facts
Andrew Jackson was part of the new crop of politicians that showed up after the major Founding Fathers of the United States had left the political scene. As the Seventh President of the United States, Jackson brought into the White House an enormous amount of experiences from several famous battles, including the Battle of Hanging Rock in 1780; the Battle of Horseshoe Bend in 1814; and the Battle of New Orleans in 1815.
Commonly called “Old Hickory”, he was noted for his stern, and sometimes aggressive, personality in getting people to support his agenda. In the lead up to the 1828 Presidential election, Andrew Jackson successfully convinced the American public to vote John Quincy Adams out of office.
Largely viewed as the defender of the “common white man” (a populist politician), President Andrew Jackson was a no-nonsense kind of politician. He spent time and effort rooting out officials (that he considered corrupt) from the federal government, only for him to replace them with cronies and allies of his Democratic Party. In spite of all these, his legacy still lives on as one who championed individual liberties and freedom in America.
When and where was President Andrew Jackson Born?
Andrew Jackson was born to a not-so-distinguished South Carolina parents on March 15, 1767. It has been stated that his exact place of birth was in the Waxhaw – an area sandwiched between two Carolinas (South and North Carolina).
How were his childhood and early life like?
Andrew Jackson was raised by Scottish and Irish descent family. Both parents were devout Presbyterians. Elizabeth Hutchinson Jackson was his mother, and his father was Andrew Hutchinson Jackson. A few weeks before Andrew Jackson was born, his father died from injuries he sustained during an accident at work.
Also, the time of his birth was a few years before the outbreak of the American Revolution. Andrew and his family were taken in by extended family relatives. The young Andrew Jackson received a reasonable amount of education from priests in his town.
Andrew Jackson’s childhood was marred by a few temper tantrums and slight anger towards people. Some say he was a bit of a bully while growing up.
Andrew Jackson’s first taste of battle during the Revolutionary War
Encouraged by his mother, Andrew Jackson, along with his older brother Robert, joined the local militia to fight against the British.
In the mind of the teen aged Andrew Jackson, this was an opportune time for him to avenge the death of his older brother, Hugh Jackson, who had perished in the Battle of Stono Ferry in 1779. The interesting thing about this was that Andrew was only 13 years old at the time.
Initially, he worked a courier for the militia. He also performed other peripheral tasks assigned to him by Colonel William Richardson during the Battle of Hanging Rock in 1780.
Andrew and his brother were once captured by British forces in 1781. While in captivity, he constantly refused to kowtow to the demands of his captors. This almost cost him his life, as well as the life of his brother. Exhausted and infected with smallpox, they were on the verge of dying before their mother pulled some strings to secure their release. Shortly after their release, Andrew’s brother Robert succumbed to his illness and died. That same year, Andrew’s mother also died. She had been taken ill from a cholera outbreak she caught while attending to wounded American soldiers.
All these personal losses stayed in the young mind of Andrew Jackson for a very long time. They cemented his extreme hatred for Great Britain for so many years.
Which schools did he attend?
Considering how impoverished his family was, Andrew Jackson did not get the most refined education of his time. He intermittently attended lessons at a local school in Waxhaw. He spent most of his time working part-time as a saddle maker.
With dreams of one day becoming a lawyer, he moved to Salisbury, North Carolina in order to be an understudy of an attorney of law, Spruce Macay. Three years later, he successfully secured admission into the state’s bar. He would then go on to become a prosecutor in the state of Tennessee.
Who Was Andrew Jackson’s Wife?
In 1788, while in Nashville, Jackson struck up a liking for Rachel Donelson Robards. Rachel was already married and most likely in an abusive marriage with Captain Lewis Robards. After she got a divorce, Jackson went ahead and tied the knot with her in 1794.
Some historians believe that Andrew Jackson and Rachel were already cohabiting and unofficially married long before her divorce was finalized. There were accusations that the two committed bigamy. During the 1828 presidential election, his opponents picked on rumors of these sorts in order to damage Jackson’s image.
Sadly, Rachel passed away that very year. Dying on December 22, 1828, she did not get to see her husband’s presidential inauguration ceremony on March 4, 1829.
Who were Andrew Jackson’s Children?
The marriage to Rachel Donelson produced no children. Instead, the couple adopted three children – all boys. Andrew Jackson took in two orphaned Native American boys – Theodore and Lyncoya. The third adoption was Andrew Jackson Jr., a son of Severn Donelson – Rachel’s brother.
Law practice and Early Career in Politics
In Nashville, William Blount mentored Andrew Jackson. This enabled him to become the attorney general in 1791.
After making a decent income as an attorney, Jackson moved into politics. He contested and won a delegate seat at the Tennessee constitutional convention in 1796. The following year, he was voted by the state to serve as their representative at the U.S. Congress.
Even though Jackson was one of the first members of the Democratic-Republican Party, he sometimes threw heavy criticisms at the nation’s first president George Washington for treating Republicans in an unfair manner.
Right from his early political days, he was also was more inclined to hold favorable opinions about France than Great Britain.
In 1797, he served as a Senator from Tennessee. However, he got increasingly discontented in the role as a U.S. Senator. He quit after one year and returned to Tennessee to take up the position of an elected judge of the Tennessee Supreme Court. About four years into the job, he resigned due to health issues as well as some financial difficulties in his business.
Andrew Jackson’s heroics during the War of 1812 with Great Britain
As tensions between the United States and Great Britain soared at the turn of the 19th century, Jackson readied himself to fight his arch-rivals, the British.
As soon as Congress issued a declaration of war against Great Britain, Jackson volunteered about 2,500 men of his to the cause of defending the nation against Britain.
He marched with his men to New Orleans to defend the country against both British and Native American aggression. The campaign lasted for about five months. In the end, he and his men emerged victors at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend in March 1814. As a result of the win, the United States was able to acquire large swaths of lands that include present-day Georgia and Alabama.
His stellar accomplishments during the war earned him a promotion to the rank of major general. In November 1814, Andrew Jackson and his men went into Spanish-controlled Florida and took hold of an important outpost.
Two months later, on January 1815, he and his men successfully vanquished a large number of British troops stationed in New Orleans.
Meaning of “Old Hickory”
In the nutshell, Andrew Jackson emerged out of the War of 1812 a national war hero. Praises from both the general public and Congress were showered on him.
Andrew Jackson’s reputation among the troops was also very high. Many of his men popularly called him “Old Hickory”, in reference to the hickory wood.
It was widely held that Jackson’s bravery and tough stance during the battles that he fought in were unmatched. It is for this same reason why Congress entrusted him to lead the United States forces during the First Seminole War in 1817.
His role in the Adams-Onís Treaty of 1819
Andrew Jackson’s bullish approach to battles and war, in general, left many politicians in Washington concerned.
During the First Seminole War, Jackson carried out his duty with some level of impunity. He failed to take direct commands from both Congress and Washington. There may have been several war crimes committed by Jackson during the war.
Spain had no option to come to the negotiating table and cede Florida to the United States under the Adams-Onís Treaty of 1819. To ensure things remained relatively stable in Florida, Jackson was made the military governor of Florida for close to a year or so.
Andrew Jackson’s tenure in the Senate
With the exclusion of a few politicians in Washington and the Capitol Hill, Andrew Jackson was undoubtedly the most famous military/political figure at the time. He capitalized on this fame and contested and won a seat in the U.S. Senate in 1823.
1824 Presidential Election Showdown with John Quincy Adams
Jackson also had his eyes set for the presidency of the United States. His followers rallied around him to secure a nomination at the Pennsylvania convention.
In the 1824 presidential election, there were a total of five candidates that contested. The three prominent candidates were Andrew Jackson; John Quincy Adams, then-Secretary of State; and Henry Clay, the Speaker of the House.
Because none of the candidates secured an outright majority, the House was called upon to decide the outcome of the election. Henry Clay rallied his followers to cast their votes in favor of John Quincy Adams. As a result of this, Andrew Jackson lost the race to the White House. Adams was declared the winner on the floor of the House.
Jackson and many of his followers (Jacksonians) were quick to tag Adams’ win as the result of a “Corrupt Bargain” between Secretary of State Quincy Adams and Henry Clay. As a reward for his vital support in the House, President John Quincy Adams appointed Clay as his secretary of state.
How did Andrew Jackson establish the Democratic Party?
Due to the disagreements that stemmed from the 1824 presidential election, factions began to appear in Democratic-Republican Party. The first faction was made up of those that pledged their support to Adams and Clay. On the other side of the aisle, there were the Jacksonians – supporters of Andrew Jackson.
The Jacksonians went their separate ways and formed the Democratic Party with Jackson as the head. The opposition faction ridiculed Andrew Jackson and his Democratic Party by calling them “jackass”. In response, Jackson intentionally chose the donkey to be the official emblem of the Democratic Party.
1828 Presidential Election
Clearly, Jackson had always had the popular votes and the common man on his side. His campaign promise during the 1828 presidential election was to get what he and his supporters viewed as “corrupt” officials out of Washington D.C.
The general public bought into his arguments and Jackson beat his opponent and incumbent President John Quincy Adams by a very large margin. Andrew Jackson’s presidential inauguration ceremony took place on March 4, 1829.
Andrew Jackson’s Presidency & Accomplishments
Jackson’s presidency was somewhat an unconventional type. For starters, he tried to consolidate power in the presidency. This brought him into a direct confrontation with Congress.
Obviously, he was still bitter over the role Congress played in his 1824 defeat at the hands of Quincy Adams.
President Jackson explicitly told the American public that Congress wasn’t the right body to represent the American people. He believed that the president was the only person who truly had the best interest of the people at heart.
Therefore, Jackson embarked on a quest to eliminate the U.S. Electoral College. He argued that the Electoral College’s power should lay firmly in the hands of all Americans – the “common white man”.
Never before had America witnessed this sort of political climate. Jackson quickly became the man of the people, going by the nickname, “the people’s president”.
President Jackson’s first call of action as president was to root out all public officials of the previous regime. He termed them as corrupt and bad for the American public. Due to his vindictiveness and brash way of doing things, he ushered in what many historians term as the “spoils system”.
How did Andrew Jackson destroy the Second Bank of the United States?
President Andrew Jackson made it a habit of destroying any remnants of the previous administration, i.e. the Adams administration. Some of the institutions he pulled down were the very institutions that held the economic and democratic system of the U.S. together.
The most prominent institution that came under immense attack from Jackson’s administration was the Second Bank of the United States. The previous administration set up the bank to promote and manage the economy in a sustainable manner. Jackson begged to differ. He believed that the bank was a haven for corrupt officials whose sole aim was to manipulate the U.S. economy to their benefit.
Jackson stated that the Second Bank of the United States was simply too corrupt. Hence, the bank had to go. Not even a Henry Clay sponsored bill in Congress could prevent the bank from collapsing in 1836.
To be fair to Jackson, he had the backing of the American public as many people sided with him on the issue of the bank. The public had come to believe that the bank was ripping the country off and monopolizing the American economy.
Second Term in the White House
In the 1832 presidential election, Andrew Jackson’s strong economic rhetoric and campaign proved to be far superior to his opponent, Henry Clay’s. Jackson was very effective at getting the public on his side once more. In the popular vote count, he secured 56 percent. With regard to the electoral votes, Jackson won five times more votes than Henry Clay.
Jackson’s second term in the White House was equally as divisive as his first term. He was an astute politician, skilled at communicating to the common white man.
His second term also proved to be one of the most divisive times in the history of American politics. The political landscape changed with every passing day. With mass numbers of people becoming more interested in politics and governance, the political system proved to be somewhat a disorganized type.
You could say that Jackson steered the affairs of the country like the way he would do on a battlefield. He was a strong leader who accomplished whatever he set his mind to do. He brought high levels of command and structure into the White House. With this came the tearing down of many institutions that the Founding Fathers would have considered central to the United States.
How Andrew Jackson handled South Carolina’s threat to secede
South Carolina threatened secession because they believed that the federal government was unfair with its passage of the Federal Tariff Bills in 1828 and 1832. They argued that the tariff bills unduly placed Northern factories in a better position than their Southern counterparts. South Carolina responded with a resolution admonishing the tariff bill.
There were even calls from some section of the state to secede. And guess who gave them a shoulder to cry on? It was none other than John C. Calhoun – Andrew Jackson’s Vice President.
Calhoun believed that South Carolina had a legitimate argument. He stated that the tariff bills simply left the Southerners in a bad position economically. Calhoun lent his voice and argued that South Carolina could, in fact, secede from the Union.
Jackson considered any secession moves by South Carolina as a blatant stab in the back of the American people. He marshaled his allies and threatened to use whatever force within his power to keep South Carolina in the Union. The friction between the two men ended up with Calhoun resigning his position as vice president in December 1832. He was replaced with Martin Van Buren.
The issue was resolved after the federal government and South Carolina came to an amicable settlement. The tariffs were reduced to an acceptable level. In return, the president acquired the power to dispatch federal forces into any state if and when needed.
Although South Carolina’s dispute with the federal government was resolved, the underlying political problem in some way went on to rare its ugly head in the form of the American Civil War.
How Some of Andrew Jackson’s Policies Disenfranchised Minorities
Ever since Europeans conquered the Americas, Native Americans have always been on the receiving end of harsh European policies. The same could be said about all early presidents of the United States. However, what makes Andrew Jackson’s presidency a peculiar one was the sheer amount of harm inflicted upon Native Americans in the U.S.
In 1830, Andrew Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act. The Act in effect allowed him to carry out mass relocation of Native Americans across the United States.
He also turned a deaf ear to the cries of the Cherokee tribe after their lands were seized by the state of Georgia. And even after a Supreme Court ruling on the issue, Jackson still failed to appease the Cherokee tribe.
Due to President Jackson’s cruel treatment of Native Americans, a total of 15,000 Cherokee tribesmen and women were forcibly relocated westward. Scores of those Cherokees couldn’t even make it westward as many of them died due to overexposure to the elements and starvation. The struggles and miseries of this particular set of disenfranchised Native Americans would come to be termed as the “Trail of Tears”.
Andrew Jackson’s Death
In 1837, Jackson retired to his Hermitage Plantation after his term in office was over. About eight years later, Andrew Jackson’s past caught up with him. The two bullets that were sitting in his chest had begun to ooze out high amounts of lead. Therefore, the exact cause of Andrew Jackson’s death was lead poisoning.
Andrew Jackson died on June 8, 1845, at his Hermitage plantation in Davidson County, Tennessee. He was 78 years of age. The former U.S. president was buried close to his wife, Rachel, at the plantation.
What was Andrew Jackson’s greatest legacy?
For starters, Andrew Jackson’s face features prominently on the 20 US Dollar bill. This is testament to how we as a nation value the contribution he made during the Revolution War, as well as during his two-term presidency. It would not be misplaced to say that he was certainly one of the most influential personalities in the history of the United States.
And although his presidency was rocked by a lot of partisan politics, the influence he had on the political landscape certainly cannot be overlooked. His era brought massive changes to the way politics was conducted in America. It resulted in greater participation rates from the public. He was also seen as someone who kept the Union intact, although he did it through intimidation. Jackson also tried to instill a sense of individual liberties in the hearts and minds of Americans.
On the flip side of things, you could say that he was not such a great president, compared to some colossal figures that came before and after his time, such as Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Franklin D. Roosevelt. Andrew Jackson definitely cannot hold a candle to those men. Regardless, President Jackson ranks in the top tier of great American presidents.
Another point worth mentioning about Jackson is his divisive rhetoric. In some shape of form, Jackson’s style of leadership reminds us of the approach the 45th President of the United States Donald Trump used. It is therefore not surprising that he holds a very dear spot in the heart and mind of Donald Trump.
All in all, Andrew Jackson was a different kind of leader – a kind of leader that thrived on upsetting the status quo and using it to his advantage. Those crops of leaders have the tendency to show an authoritarian hand while at the same time embodying the ideals of democracy and civil liberties. In all sense and purpose, the word that comes to mind when Andrew Jackson’s name is brought up is Contradiction.
Was Andrew Jackson a slave owner?
Yes. He was a planter, a slave owner, and a merchant. The name of his plantation was Hermitage, in Davidson County, Tennessee. The plantation was between 640 and 1050 acres. Jackson’s major produce was primarily cotton, which was maned by slaves.
As at 1820, Jackson had close to fifty slaves on his property. This number would increase to about 150 in the next decade or so. Overall, it has been estimated that he had about 350 slaves in the course of his life.
The slaves that Jackson owned, typically men, women, and children, were accommodated in conditions that were not as deplorable as other places in the country. He also allowed the slaves to hunt and fish. Some historians even say that he paid some slaves for their services.
Be it as it may, these slaves still weren’t free men or women. There were cases of extreme abuse towards the slaves. Escaped slaves from his plantation were hunted down and whipped, possibly to death. In this regard, you could say that Jackson’s plantation was in a lot of ways very similar to any other slave-holding plantation in America at the time. And for anyone who provided information that led to the capture of a slave belonging to Jackson, Jackson was known for rewarding the informant very handsomely.
Read More: A quick look at how slavery began in America
Top Andrew Jackson’s Quotes