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Reports & Essays: History - American History

"AND""OR"

Fame
Andrew Jackson's Nomination To The President's Hall of Fame Like any hall of fame, its inductees are the best in whatever they do, from baseball or football to being President. If you are a member of any hall of fame (including the one for the Presidents), it means that you have done something special or have a certain quality about yourself that makes you worthy to be in a hall of fame. My nominee for the Presidents hall of Fame is our seventh President of the United States, Andrew Jackson. I'll go over his presidency, focusing on both the highs and the lows of his two terms in office, from 1829-1837. The issues that I'll focus on are states' rights, nullification, the tariff, the spoils system, Indian removal and banking policies; these controversies brought forth strong rivalry over his years of president. He was known for his iron will and fiery personality, and strong use of the powers of his office. His years of presidency became known as the "Age of Jackson." Andrew Jackson was born on March 15, 1767, in a settlement on the border of North and South Carolina. He was orphaned at age 14. After studying law and becoming a member of the Bar in North Carolina, he moved to Nashville Tennessee. There he became a member of a powerful political faction led by William Blount. He was married in 1791 to Rachel Donelson Robards. The ceremony was not considered legitimate because of a legal mistake in Rachel's prior divorce. He was remarried in 1794. Jackson served as a delegate for Tennessee at the 1796 Constitutional convention and a congressman for a year (from 1796-97). He was elected senator in 1797, but financial problems forced him to resign and return to Tennessee. Later he served as a Tennessee Superior Court judge for six years starting in 1798. In 1804 he retired from the bench and moved to Nashville and devoted time to business ventures and his plantation. At this time his political career appeared as if it was finished. In 1814 Jackson became a Major General in the Tennessee Militia, and was ordered to march against the Creek Indians (who were pro-British in the war of 1812). His goal was achieved at Horseshoe Bend in March of 1814. Eventually he forced all Indians to retreat from the area. His victory's impressed some people in Washington and Jackson was put in command of the defense of New Orleans. This show of American strength made Americans feel proud after a war filled with military defeats. Jackson was given the nickname "Old Hickory", and was treated as a national hero. In 1817 he was ordered to attack the Seminole Indians. He pushed them back into Spanish Florida and executed two British subjects. His actions helped the United Sates to acquire the Florida territory, and he became a provisional governor of Florida that same year. In 1823, he was elected to the U.S. senate. His term in office brought him inot the limelight and in 1828 he was nominated to run for the presidency. The campaign that followed was filled with mud slinging on both sides. Andrew Jackson was victorious and became the seventh President of the United States. Instead of selecting cabinet members that a president was expected to choose, he relied more on an informal group of newspaper writers and northern politicians who had worked for his election. This brought him in closer contact with the people of the United States, and gave him a better feeling of public opinions on national issues. President Jackson developed the system of "rotation in office" in order to protect the American people by removing long-term office holders. His enemies accused him of corrupting the civil service system and using it to insure his personal popularity and insure loyalty of the people in his administration. States' rights played an important part in Jackson's policies as president. In the case of the Cherokee Indians vs. The State of Georgia, two Supreme Court decisions in 1831 and 1832 upheld the rights of the Cherokee nation in opposition to the ruling of the State of Georgia. Chief Justice John Marshall ruled that Georgia had no jurisdiction to interfere with the rights of the Cherokee and removal of them would violate treaties between them and the U.S. Government. President Jackson, not liking these decisions, was reported to have said, "John Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it." To emphasize his point, in 1838 (one year after Jackson left office), a unit of federal troops rounded up the 15,000 Cherokee who had resisted relocation and remained in Georgia. During the cold and rain of winter, the native Americans were forced to leave their homes and march to their lands in the west. This became known as the "Trail of Tears" since about 25% of the people died in route of either disease, starvation, and exposure to the cold. Even though Jackson wasn't in office at the time and this did not occur during his presidency, his influence was still felt by his predecessor, Martin Van Burin. The question of the tariff was a major controversy in the United States around the years of his Presidency and his strong support for a unified nation over states' rights would hold the country together in this national crisis. Jackson had promised the south a reduction in duties to levels established in 1828, which were acceptable to southerners as opposed to the higher rates since then. In 1832 his administration only sliced away a little bit of the duties, not close to what the south expected he would do. In retaliation of this insulting lack of concern of the South's voice in government, South Carolina acting on the doctrine of Nullification which stated that the union was made up of the states and that the states had the right to null or void a law if they didn't agree with it, declared the federal tariff laws of 1828 and 1832 invalid and prohibited collection of tariff's after February first of 1833. Jackson's response to this came with his Nullification Proclamation on December 10, 1832. He declared his intent to enforce the law and was willing to seek an agreement in a lowering of tariff's. In 1833 Congress passed a Compromise Bill which set a new tariff. When the other southern states accepted the new tariff, the threat of South Carolina breaking away form the union was brought to a "happy" end. The Second Bank of the United States was not made into an issue at the time of Jackson's election in 1828; however he decided that the bank, which is not a government bank, but chartered by it in 1826, had failed to provide a stable currency. He felt that it had favored the Northern states, and granted only a few loans to the southern and western areas because they were a larger risk and the bank didn't see it in it's interest to make such a gamble with it's money. He felt that the bank was in violation with the Constitution. Even though the bank's charter wasn't due to expire until 1836, Jackson's political enemies pushed a bill through congress granting the bank's re-charter. The bill was vetoed by Jackson and the "Bank" issue was a major item in his re-election in 1832. In his second term Jackson decided to remove federal deposits from the bank and deposited the money into "pet banks" around the country. This virtually took away the power of Nicholas Biddle as president of the Second National Bank, and angered Jackson's opponents. They felt that Jackson had abused the power of the presidency. The increase in loans from the state chartered banks caused a land boom and gave the Federal government a surplus of money (which it split up amongst the states). The increase in loans brought about the use of paper currency that was issued by the state banks, Jackson prohibited the use of paper money for payment of federal land or federal debts. This demand for coins called "specie", led to many bank failures in the Panic of 1837. Jackson's foreign policy showed strength. He was responsible in regaining a long overdue French debt and reopening the British West Indian Trade. Even thought he personally agreed with the rebellion of Texas against Mexico, he didn't recognize the Lone Star republic until the day before he left office in 1837. This left the problem of Texas' annexation to Martin Van Buren. Andrew Jackson was succeeded by Martin Van Buren, even though he switched his support to James K. Polk His voice did not carry enough weight, in spite of his popularity within the Democratic party. He died on June 8, 1845 on his plantation, the Hermitage, in Nashville Tennessee. Andrew Jackson was the first "peoples president." This comes from his youth in a frontier territory and his "people qualities". He remained in touch with the people of the United States and even went so far as to call himself the elected representative of all American people. Jackson's strengthening of the powers of the presidency is his biggest accomplishment. He used the power of the veto 12 times (more times than all of his successors combined). His use of the powers of removal and of executive orders set the standard for the American Presidency and warrant his nomination to the presidential Hall of Fame.

 



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