The Presidency of Andrew Jackson
Like any hall of fame, its inductees are the best in whatever
they do, from baseball or football to something like 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 that made his
years of presidency to be 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
later he moved to Nashville Tennessee. Their he became a member of a
powerful political faction led by William Blount. He was married in
1791 to Rachel Donelson Robards, and later remarried to him due to a
legal mistake in her prior divorce in 1794.
Jackson served as delegate to Tenn. in 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 in less than a year. 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 looked over.
In 1814 Jackson was a Major General in the Tennessee Militia,
here he 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 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 against the Seminole Indians. He pushed
them back into Spanish Florida and executed two British subjects.
Jackson instead that his actions were with approval of the Monroe
administration. His actions helped to acquire the Florida territory,
and he became a provisional governor of Florida that same year.
In 1822 the Tennessee Legislature nominated him for president
and the following year he was elected the U.S. senate. He also nearly
won the presidential campaign of 1824 however as a result of the
"corrupt bargain" with Henry Clay. Over the next four years the
current administration built a strong political machine with
nationalistic policies and a lack of concern of states rights. In 1828
through a campaign filled with mud slinging on both sides, Andrew
Jackson became the seventh President to the United States.
Instead of the normal cabinet made up by the president, he
relied more on an informal group of newspaper writers and northern
politicians who had worked for his election. I believe that this made
him more in contact with the people of the United States, more in
contact with the public opinion and feelings toward national issues
President Jackson developed the system of "rotation in office." This
was used to protect the American people from a development of a
long-standing political group by removing long-term office holders.
His enemies accused him of corruption of civil service for political
reasons. However, I think that it was used to insure loyalty of the
people in his administration. States rights played an important part
in Jackson's policy's as president. In the case of the Cherokee
Indians vs. The State of Georgia, two Supreme Court decisions in 1831
and 1832 upholding the rights of the Cherokee nation over the State of
Georgia who had wanted to destroy Cherokee jurisdiction on it's land
because gold had been found on it, and the state seeing the Indians as
tenants on state land decided to "kick them out". 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. However, Jackson, not liking
these decisions was reported of saying "John Marshall has made his
decision, now let him enforce it." It seems to me like a slap in
Justice Marshall's face, that Jackson was and always will be an Indian
fighter. I think he just liked pushing around the Indians because he
new that whatever resistance they had was no match for the U.S. army.
To emphasize his point, in 1838 (one year after Jackson left office),
a unite of federal troops rounded up the 15,000 Cherokee who resisted
relocation and remained in Georgia and during the cold and rain of
winter forced them to march to their lands in the west, this was 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 is not a part of his
presidency, his effluence still existed through 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 oven 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 on his Nullification Proclamation on
December 10, 1832. He declared his intent to enforce the law and was
willing to seek and 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 S.
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 of his election in 1828 by Jackson. However he decided the bank,
which is not a government bank, but chartered by it in 1826, had
failed to provide a stable currency, and had favored the Northern
states, and few loans were granted 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. And in his mind the
bank was in violation on 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 banks re-charter, Jackson
vetoed the bill. 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 into "pet banks" which virtually took away the power
Nicholas Biddle's power as president of the Second National Bank,
which left him and anti-Jackson people very upset with what they
called the abuse of his powers. The increase in loans from the state
chartered caused a land boom and gave the federal government a surplus
(which it split up amongst the states), the increase in loans brought
on the use of paper currency that was issued by the state banks,
Jackson prohibited the use of paper money to by federal land or pay
federal debts. This demand for coins called specie led to many bank
failures in the Panic of 1837. I don't think he knew what he got
himself into when he did this, and could of handled the situation a
little better, but not all the blame should fall on his shoulders,
because it wasn't his fault the private state-chartered banks issued
the paper money when they didn't have the specie to back it up.
Jackson's foreign policy showed a strong interest in making
the French to pay long-overdue spoliation claims 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, and left the
problem of Texas annexation to Martin Van Buren. Even though Jackson
switched support form his successor Martin Van Buren to James K. Polk
(probably due to Van Burins failed economic policy). Jackson was a
powerful voice in the Democratic party even after retired. He died on
June 8, 1845 on his plantation, the Hermitage, in Nashville Tennessee.
Andrew Jackson was the first "peoples president." This comes
from hisyouth in a frontier territory and his "people qualities"
which helped him to be more touch with the people of the United
States, and therefore the people of the United States took a more
active role in the Government. He even went so far as to call himself
the elected representative of all American people. I think that
Jackson's strengthening of the powers of the presidency are the
biggest influence to this day. He used the power of the veto 12 times
(more times than all of his successors combined). And his use of the
powers of removal and of executive orders made a standard for a modern
American Presidency. I only wish that their was a candidate like that
running for election in '96. The closest to someone like Jackson would
of probably been Colin Powel, unfortunately he decided not to run.
When you gave this project, I though Jackson was a mean tempered
Indian fighter who found his way to office because he took over
Florida and defended New Orleans Successfully. But I grew to learn
that he was really a great president and did a lot for the presidency
of the United States of America.