Andrew Jackson: More Than a Common American Andrew Jackson, the seventh president of the United States, remains one of the most controversial figures In American history. Some accounts portray Jackson as a heroic and courageous man, who proved his mettle In various military endeavors, most notably the War of 1812. Others, however, Judge Jackson more harshly, as they are deeply offended by his actions regarding Native Americans during his presidency. Andrew Jackson presented himself as a man of the people and his politics strengthened a nascent American nationalism.
Jackson, born in 1767 in the Carolinas a few months after the death of his father, enlisted in the Revolution at the young age of thirteen. He was captured by British troops at the age of fourteen. Upon the tragic death of his family during the Revolutionary War, Jackson inherited from his family a large plot of land as well a sense of great patriotism from the Revolution. While his education was sporadic as a child, Jackson set out to study law. He soon became a public solicitor and prospered as a cotton planter and merchant (Hovercrafts 59-60).
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Jackson went onto serve In the War of 1812 and led several vegetating campaigns against Native Americans In the Creek War. He had become a national hero by the end of the War of 1812 with an American victory at New Orleans and he was a person that many Americans admired. Jackson’s term as president espoused a new era in American politics. This was the first time in American history in which a man born in humble circumstances could be elected president. Andrew Jackson’s celebration of the common man was a chimera.
He actually confused, confounded and co-opted the common man by consistently placing rhetoric before reason, image before ideology and personality before politics. Jackson’s tenure as president coincided with the rise of capitalism, enormous social and economic change, and an era of political upheaval. Andrew Jackson’s rise marked a new turn In the development of American political institutions. As historian Richard Hovercrafts explains, “during the period from 1812 to 1 828 the two-party system disappeared and personal, local, and sectional conflicts replaced broad differences over public policy as the central fact In national politics” (64).
The Election of 1824 was unique in that there was no party unity after the Federalist Party had dissolved. Sectionalism had developed and all sections of the country were represented by different candidates. The rising west was even represented in this election as politics slowly began to drift westward. In addition, the newly emerging western states granted universal manhood suffrage, and many states dropped property qualifications of voters. The Democratic-Republican Party splintered as four candidates sought the presidency.
The candidates of this election included John Quince Adams of Massachusetts, Henry Clay of Kentucky, William Crawford of Georgia, and Andrew Jackson of Tennessee. Clay was able to sway enough votes that Jackson was not able to receive a majority of electoral votes. Jackson had a plurality of both popular and electoral votes but he did not hold the majority. The election was decided by the House of Representatives. Henry Clay happened to be the Speaker of the House and threw his support to Adams.
I Norte, Join Clunky Adams Decade ten salts president Ana Clay was Immediately appointed Secretary of State. “Jackson himself was easily persuaded that Clay and Adams had been guilty of a ‘corrupt bargain’ and determined to retake from Adams what he felt was rightfully his” (Hovercrafts 70). Furious that he had lost the election, Jackson began planning and straightening for the next election. A new political atmosphere was discernible in the Jackson era. Jackson established the political machine that is still present today.
He began his campaign of 1828 almost immediately after John Quince Dam’s inauguration. Jackson would prove in this election that King Caucus would no longer be King. Historian Edward Passes explains ” The overthrow of King Caucus represented a great victory for popular government, since it replaced the secret designation of candidates by a mall, entrenched political elite with public nominations by elected representatives of the people” (Passes 163). Jackson’s second presidential campaign did not have a platform but instead he focused on appealing to the common man.
The bank was hardly ever mentioned during his campaign. The issue of tariffs was only mentioned by what it was worth where men especially cared about it; but a series of demagogic charges about Dam’s alleged aristocratic, monarchist and bureaucratic prejudices served the Jackson managers for issues (Hovercrafts 71). Jackson toured the country giving “stump” speeches in order to raise money and gain support. It is theorized that candidates stood on stumps as they provided useful platforms to stand on while speaking.
Jackson realized that self-image was more important than ideology and he consistently changed his image as he toured different sections of the country. Jackson was actually a demagogue in the sense that he told the people what they wanted to hear. Passes comments “Always aware that the ordinary man had the vote, the politician tried to identify himself with the common people, to wear old clothes, to claim a log cabin origin, and conceal his superior education” (Passes 166). After Jackson would hand out cheap whiskey at his rallies, he would speak grandiloquently of “the sovereign people”.
Although Jackson ran without a platform, he won the Election of 1828 because the common man admired him. Hovercrafts explains, “Up to his inauguration Jackson had contributed neither a thought nor a deed to the democratic movement, and he was elected without a platform” (Hovercrafts 71). The main themes of Jackson democracy thus far were militant nationalism and equal access to office. Jackson was a simple, emotional and unreflective man with a strong sense of loyalty to political supporters and friends. After being elected into office, Jackson implemented the theory of the rotation system.
Historian Arthur M. Schlesinger explains, “The demand for ‘reform’ had to be met. The common man, too long thwarted by official indifference, had to be given a sense that the government was in truth the people’s government. Jackson’s answer was shrewd and swift: a redistribution of federal offices” (Schlesinger 45). The idea was to replace ten percent of people in office every five years in order to prevent the development of a corrupt bureaucracy. He declared in his First Annual message that the rotation system was “a eating principle in the Republican creed” (Remind 43).
Jackson replaced these people with crony’s who had supported him during his election campaign. This system of giving Jobs to voters and “fat cats” was known as the Spoils or Patronage System. William L. Marcy of New York cynically commented, “To the Victor belong the spoils of ten enemy’ ) I Nils tenant to give ten rotation system a Dad name. I en Spoils system actually contributed to the main objective of helping restore faith in the government. In the eyes of the common man, the bureaucracy had been corrupted by its vested interests in its own power.
Jackson at one point told Congress “Office is considered a species of property and government rather as a means of promoting individual interests than as an instrument created solely for the service of the people” (Schlesinger 46). This doctrine of rotation-in-office was thus in a large part conceived as a sincere measure of reform and in effect built a new political machine. Proportionally, Jackson dismissed no more Jobholders than Jefferson had dismissed during his presidency. Some people he dismissed merely loss their Job because they were considered his foes. Jackson was definitely not the type of person to defy.
His dealing with the Native Americans further exemplifies another “head” of his chimera. From an early age, Jackson forged a complete hatred for the Native Americans. As a young man, Jackson lived near the Catawba Indians in South Carolina. Historian Robert Remind comments, “Although the menace of the Catawba had virtually disappeared during Andrews early years, there were always conflicts between Indians and settlers, usually over horse-stealing or unpaid bills, to settle which white frontiersmen seized land in lieu of money’ (Remind 13). Jackson grew up in a hostile Indian environment.
Like most common men of his day, Jackson believed that these “savages” should not be trusted because of their constant violation of treaties and promises. During the first Seminole war, Jackson displayed his prejudice and hatred for for the Indians. President James Madison at the time ordered that the war with the Creeks be brought to a permanent end to prevent further uprisings. Jackson’s strategy was to move south in order to cut off the Upper Creek Nation and isolate the Indians. After defeating the Creeks and seizing West Florida, Jackson was commonly called the Indian fighter of Tennessee.
He most certainly lived up to his reputation for being ruthless in his campaign against the Native Americans. Jackson’s hatred for Indians was not limited only to his military career. He would continue to do what he could to eliminate them. During his presidency, Jackson issued the Indian Removal Act in 1830. During Jackson’s inaugural address, he outlined the issues he sought to resolve in his time in office. He told the people he was going address the Indian nuisance peacefully by taking into consideration their rights and to do so according to the Constitution. This was merely a fade implemented by Jackson’s cunning rationalist.
Jackson’s personality was put before politics. He issued the Indian Removal Act of 1830, which allowed for the exchange of Indians for land. In retrospect, Americans at the time were more concerned about the expansion of U. S territory rather than Native Americas whom they considered second-class citizens that stood in their way of expansion. Jackson appointed his longtime friend John Eaton to serve as Secretary of War. He knew that Eaton would execute his directions with all the loyalty and dedication with which he had performed so many other tasks for him in the past (Remind 227).
Jackson made sure there would be no opposition to his plans from the government. While Jackson’s prejudice towards the Indians was the main motivation of his Indian removal, the opportunity to profit became another incentive in eliminating the Natives. The urgency to bring about removal as quickly as possible increased with the discovery of gold in northeastern Georgia in the summer AT AY I en Alcove’s AT gold caused a Russ AT went squatters Into Cherokee territory (229). Squatters not only trespassed on Indian territory, but white creditors were given the annuities that were supposed to be given to the Indian robes.
Remind explains, “As far as Jackson was concerned, the Indians could refuse to move and stay where they were; but if they stayed, they had to recognize that they were subject to state law and Jurisdiction” (Remind 237). The Cherokee, one of the most civilized tribes of that time, however were not as easily defeated in their efforts to resist removal. They chose to take their case to court. On March 3, 1832, John Marshall ruled in Worcester v. Georgia, declaring all the laws of Georgia dealing with the Cherokees unconstitutional, null and void, and of no effect.
Jackson said to the effect of: “The decision of the Supreme Court has fell still born, and they find that they cannot coerce Georgia to yield to its mandate” (Remind 257). This meant that the Marshal’s opinion was moot because he had no power to enforce its edict. Although the Cherokee won the case, they were violently removed from their land. This westward relocation of the Cherokee was known as the Trail of Tears in which many of the Indians died along the way. Jackson’s tough personality also caused a dispute with the Bank of the United States.
The charter of the Second Bank of the United States was set to expire in 1836. Since a second term for Jackson was probable, it seemed necessary for Jackson’s two worst enemies, Nicholas Fiddle and Henry Clay, to make the renewal of the bank an election issue (Hovercrafts 78). Jackson vetoed their proposed bank bill more for personal reasons than political. Before Jackson was president, he was personally affected by the Panic of 1819. The Panic of 1819 was a brief recession incurred by the financial strains of the recent war as well as the Louisiana Purchase.
In an attempt to avert an economic crisis, the recently chartered Second Bank of the United States introduced a number of reforms meant to reduce inflation. One of these policies required the state banks to recall loans, which unfortunately caused further unemployment, a greater number foreclosures and bank failures. Andrew Jackson was amongst one of the many Americans that were required to pay off their debts. Jackson used this event to illustrate the Second Banks inability to regulate economy, which is why he would not recharge the bank in 1832. Jackson having developed a lifelong hostility with banks did not want his fellow
Americans to experience a similar situation such as the Panic of 1819. “The bank,’ said Jackson to Van Burden, ‘is trying to kill me but I will kill it! ‘ To the frontier dualist the issue had instantly become personal” (Hovercrafts 78) When banker Nicholas Fiddle approached President Jackson with the bill to recharge the Second Bank, he promptly vetoed the bill and the charter was allowed to expire in 1836. This event became known as the “Bank War”. Jackson felt that the American people were excluded from competition in the sale of the privilege, and the government thus received less than it was worth (79).
Most of the Second Banks stock was held by foreigners or by the wealthy elite and therefore Jackson felt it was unconstitutional and actually a danger to the country liberty and independence. Schlesinger explains, “The Bank of the United States enjoyed a virtual monopoly of the currency and practically complete control over credit and the price level” (Schlesinger 75). Jackson defeated Henry Clay in the Election of 1832 after Clay tried to use the issue of the Second National Bank as a political platform. Andrew Jackson soon named a loyal Eternal, Roger lane, as Nils Attorney General. 0 Hillock constantly appellant cronies because he did not want anyone to stand in the way of him and his personal conflicts. Tangy began placing the government’s deposits not in the Bank of the United States as it had done in the past, but in a number of state banks or “pet banks”. Hovercrafts explains, “Fiddle, in the course to a fight to get the federal deposits back, brought about a short-lived but severe depression through restriction of credit, which ended only when the business community itself rebelled” (Hovercrafts 81).
The pet banks that now held federal deposits used their new resources to cause credit boom, which broke disastrously in 1837. By killing the bank, Jackson had strangled a potential threat to democratic government, but at an unnecessarily high cost (81). During Jackson’s second term, he experienced a significant struggle with South Carolina, which became known as the Nullification Crisis. The events that occurred during this time were critical to the fate of the Union and the innocent lives of Americans. Particularly notable was an incident at the April 13, 1830, Jefferson Day dinner, involving after-dinner toasts.
Robert Haynes began by toasting to “The Union f the States, and the Sovereignty of the States. ” Jackson then rose, and added “Our federal Union: It must be preserved! ” – a clear challenge to Calhoun. Calhoun clarified his position by responding “The Union: Next to our Liberty, the most dear! (Remind 150) The next year, Calhoun and Jackson broke apart politically from one another. Around this time, the Peg-Eaton Affair caused further resignations from Jackson’s cabinet. This caused the reorganization of his Kitchen Cabinet or group of trusted advisors. Van Burden became Vice President upon Calhoun resignation.
The allowing year, Jackson and his Kitchen Cabinet faced a dangerous crisis. The issue was that South Carolina legislators believed the tariff on manufactured goods signed by Jackson in 1832 was much too high. This prompted South Carolina legislature to pass the Ordinance of Nullification. The nullifiers were backed by a South Carolina native and Jackson’s ex-Vice President, John C. Calhoun. Remind explains, “Calhoun no longer tried to hide his views about nullification. His Exposition and Protest had been published anonymously in order to protect his position as Vice President and heir- apparent to the presidency’ (Remind 152).
Calhoun felt no compunction against admitting his political alignment with the nullifiers. The ordinance passed by the legislature declared the tariff unconstitutional and invalid in South Carolina. South Carolina was putting the nation in Jeopardy and radicals in Charleston were raising an army to defend their right to nullify the tariff. Even Senator Daniel Webster, a vocal opponent of President Jackson, agreed with the president and denounced nullification. Senator Webster stated “It is resistance to law by force, it is disunion by Orca, it is secession by force: it is civil war” (164).
Jackson was determined to keep the nation together no matter what the cost and he even drafted orders to lead federal troops against the radical army by issuing the Force Bill. President Jackson soon passed a compromise tariff and a crisis was averted without bloodshed, calling the prodigals home with paternal care. He made the preservation of the Union possible for an ensuing three decades and thus postponed the Civil War. Andrew Jackson was a self-made man that cared greatly about his fellow Americans. He was admired by any Americans, even by some of his staunchest opponents.
Some will say that the true measure of a man is by the words of praise that his opponents bestow upon nil. Senator Daniel Wooster, Nils political opponent, teenage Jackson ruling one AT the toughest crises that the Jackson administration faced. Jackson not only guided the nation through the Bank War and the Nullification Crisis but also helped strengthen a growing sense of nationalism amongst the American people with whom he identified. While this was an Era of Reform, Jackson chose not to speak or address certain issues ring his time in office such as slavery, rights for free blacks and westward expansion.