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Andrew Jackson, the seventh president of the United States (1829-1837), was born into poverty on March 15, 1767, so deep in the Carolina woods that it wasn't ever clear which Carolina his family lived in. (Freidel)  To date, Jackson is the only president who was a prisoner of war (even though he was only 14 at the time), captured as a boy by the British during the Revolutionary War.  His two brothers, along with his mother, died as a direct result of the Revolution, which is why Jackson, understandably, never really cared for the British. (Bradley)

Though Jackson didn't have much formal education, and what little he had was interrupted by the Revolution, following that war he read for the law in North Carolina, and went on to become a prosecuting attorney in the territory west of North Carolina, in what would soon become Tennessee.  (Andrew Jackson)  Jackson was a very successful lawyer in Tennessee, and eventually bought a mansion, "the Hermitage," along with enough slaves to run it, in his adopted state of Tennessee. (Freidel) 

Jackson apparently never considered the moral implications of slavery.  He grew up with slavery, and he bought and sold slaves.  Slaves were just a part of life (though there were certainly those at the time who thought slavery was odious).  He supported the westward expansion of slavery and was opposed to the rising tide of those who sought to end slavery.  Ending slavery, he knew, would divide the country.  Therefore, he was opposed to abolishing slavery, as well as even debating it, if, for no other reason, simply to keep the country together. (Feller)

Jackson's success as a lawyer led to his initial involvement in national politics, serving both as Tennessee's first Representative, and then later as a Senator.  Both early forays into politics were brief, with Jackson not serving the full run of either office.  On his return to Tennessee, among other things, Jackson was elected Major General of the Tennessee militia.  It was through that position that he became a national hero in the War of 1812, both for his victory over the Creek Indians in the Battle of Tohopeka, and over the British in the Battle of New Orleans, (Bradley) even though the war had officially ended before the battle occurred.  News traveled a bit more slowly back then.  (Andrew Jackson)

Following the War of 1812, Jackson, pretty much on his own authority, invaded the Spanish possession of Florida.  Understandably, Spain was a bit perturbed, but Jackson was backed by then Secretary of State John Quincy Adams, and the short of it was that Spain was effectively booted out of yet another one of its possessions. (Bradley)

Jackson's military prowess, more than anything else, led to his national popularity, and that led him to run for president in 1824. (Bradley)  When the votes were counted, none of the four candidates running for office had a majority of electoral votes.  Jackson (who led in popular votes) ultimately lost the election to John Quincey Adams (who finished second in popular votes), but only after William H. Crawford (who finished third) effectively removed himself from contention by having a stroke, and Henry Clay (who finished fourth) threw his support to Adams.  In what Jackson called a "'corrupt bargain,'" Clay became Adams' Secretary of State.  Four years later, in a re-match, Jackson soundly defeated Adams. (Andrew Jackson)

Even so, the 1828 campaign was particularly nasty, with Jackson and his wife, Rachel, being portrayed as adulterers.  And, technically, they were.  Andrew and Rachel were first married (unknowingly) before Rachel's divorce from her first husband was finalized, so technically they weren't married at all.  And that meant they were "living in sin."  Even though they were remarried after the mistake had been discovered, it was still enough to cause public acrimony, especially among Jackson's foes.  People cared about such things then.  Even though Jackson won the election, his wife died before he could take office.  Many (including Jackson) blamed her death on the personal attacks on her character.  Jackson never remarried. (Bradley)

Not that any of this sounds familiar... Jackson, who became the first president from west of the Appalachians (Bradley), ran his campaign in 1828 as an outsider, pitting himself against the "corrupt" Washington elites, even though Jackson had plenty of experience in politics before he ran for president, having served in both the House and the Senate, and even having lost in his first bid to become president, which he claimed was "rigged." (Inskeep)  Jackson was the first president that won by directly appealing to the mass voters. (Bradley) He "...sought to act as a direct representative to the common man."  Of course, at that time, the "common man" who was allowed to vote in the United States was just that, a man, and, more so, a white man who owned land. (Freidel)

As president, Jackson pretty much did as he pleased, ignoring advice from just about everybody.  Indeed, Jackson was so polarizing that it led (eventually) to the creation of today's two party system, with Jackson representing the Democrats, which would become the modern day Republican party, in opposition to the Whigs (namely Daniel Webster and Clay), which would eventually become the modern day Democratic Party.  (Andrew Jackson)  Jackson also sought to reform the government by removing long-standing officials from public office.  Many, though, believe Jackson's true goal was revenge, going after those people who had opposed him in the election of 1824 and replacing them with cronies who were arguably just as corrupt, if not more so. (Feller)

Like many national leaders before Jackson, what to do with the Native Americans – all those Indians who were still living east of the Mississippi – was a definite concern.  Even though Jackson fought in many battles against Native Americans, he apparently had no major problems with them as people.  Indeed, he adopted two Native American boys, "'[savages] that fortune [had] thrown into his hands."  Neither child survived to adulthood. (Klein)  However, Jackson believed "...he could judge the Indians' true welfare better than they..." and "...he regarded tribes resident within the states not as independent sovereign entities but as wards of the government and tenants-at-will." (Feller) 

When it came to how states treated Native Americans, regardless of treaties the various tribes had signed with the Federal Government, Jackson pretty much let the states do as they pleased, allowing Georgia, for instance, to steal millions of acres of land from the Cherokee Indians that had been promised to them by the Federal Government, and confirmed by the Supreme Court.  (Andrew Jackson)  This valuable land was then sold to Jackson's friends, as well as Jackson himself, among others.  (Inskeep) 

Along those lines, as far as Jackson was concerned it was perfectly acceptable for Native Americans to own land, and even have tribal jurisdiction over that land... just as long as that land wasn't anywhere white folk wanted to live, namely, anywhere east of the Mississippi River. (Feller)  This led to the Indian Removal Act, which eventually removed the Cherokees altogether from Georgia in 1838, with thousands of them dying on the Trail of Tears on their way to reservations in Oklahoma.  (Andrew Jackson)  For the most part, the deals offered to the Native Americans were good (aside from the Tribal Americans having no real choice), offering to pay fair prices for the tribal lands and removing the Indians in a humane way.  However, the actual execution of the deals was horrible.  Though Jackson did not necessarily like what was happening to the Native Americans, he didn't dislike it enough to do anything about it. (Feller)

Protective tariffs, which were designed to "foster domestic industry," and federally subsidized infrastructure improvements – both collectively known as the American System of Economic Development – also plagued Jackson's presidency.  The South believed both were designed to siphon money from the South to the North.  What it came down to, predictably, was that those who lived in states that benefitted from these policies loved them, and those who didn't, hated them.  Overall, Jackson supported protective tariffs, but he did not support improving the country's infrastructure, even though poor roads had severely hampered the military in the War of 1812. (Feller)

Jackson's second term was marked by a shift in policy on the Bank of the United States, which had long served as a national bank.  Jackson was opposed to the Bank because it depended largely on banknotes – the folding stuff, and not on specie – coins.  Jackson believed that our economy should be based on actual wealth – the precious metals that, at that time, the coins were made of (in particular, gold and silver), and not on the assumed wealth represented by pieces of paper.  Though Jackson couldn't eliminate bank notes completely, he was able to enact the Specie Circular, which required that only gold and silver could be used in the purchase of federal lands.  The end result was a demand for coin currency that the banks could not meet, and that caused a rippling effect of bank failures, and ultimately led to the economic crash of 1937, which Jackson left for his predecessor, Martin Van Buren, to deal with.  (Bradley)

Ironically, even though Andrew Jackson "detested paper money," trusting only gold and silver, his portrait has appeared on 5, 10, 50, and 10,000 dollar bills (which is a lot easier than carrying around 10,000 one dollar bills), as well as the Confederate 1,000 dollar bill, and his portrait is still on the 20 dollar bill.  (Klein)

Andrew Jackson was a man of many nicknames.  "Old Hickory" (as in, "tough as old hickory") was a nickname given to him by the men he commanded in the War of 1812 for his refusal to abandon them, even though he was given orders to do so.  Jackson was given the nickname "Sharp Knife" by the Creek Indians because of his refusal to negotiate, and generally for the nasty treatment he gave both the Creeks and the Red Sticks. (Andrew Jackson Gains His Nicknames)

It's surprising, though, that Jackson doesn't have a nickname for shooting people.  It is estimated that Jackson was in anywhere from five to 100 duels in his life, apparently finding shooting people to be an easy way to solve disputes.  In fact, he lived out his life with two bullets in his body (one that barely missed his heart), both from duels, and he killed at least one man in a duel.  (Klein)

Jackson almost had a third bullet in his body, becoming the first president to survive an assassination attempt.  A man named Richard Lawrence, who is described as a "deranged house painter" (watch out for those guys) tried to shoot Jackson... twice with two different guns.  Each gun misfired, allowing Jackson to attack the man with his cane.  (Klein)

Jackson was also known for his gambling, once losing his grandfather's entire inheritance while on a gambling trip, presumably not at any Native American owned casinos.  (Klein)  And it was under Jackson's presidency that running water was finally made available in the White House.  (Bradley)

After Jackson left the White House in 1837, he retired to the Hermitage, his home in Tennessee, where he died on June 8, 1845.  (Andrew Jackson)



Work Cited

"Andrew Jackson."  History.  A & E Television Networks, LLC (2018): n. pag.  Web.  18 Jan. 2018  http://www.history.com/topics/us-presidents/andrew-jackson

"Andrew Jackson Gains His Nicknames."  National Park Service.  US Department of the Interior (14 Apr. 2015):   n. pag.  Web.  18 Jan. 2018  https://www.nps.gov/natr/learn/historyculture/andrew-jackson-gains-his-nicknames.htm

Bradley, Harold Whitman.  "Andrew Jackson:  President of the United States."  Encyclopædia Britannica.  Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. (2018):  n. pag.  Web.  18 Jan. 2018  https://www.britannica.com/biography/Andrew-Jackson

Feller, Daniel.  "Andrew Jackson:  Domestic Affairs."  Miller Center.  Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia (2017): n. pag.  Web.  18 Jan. 2018  https://millercenter.org/president/jackson/domestic-affairs

Freidel, Frank, and Hugh Sidey.   "7.  Andrew Jackson."  The Presidents of the United States of America.  The White House (2006):  n. pag.  Web.  18 Jan. 2018  https://www.whitehouse.gov/about-the-white-house/presidents/andrew-jackson/

Inskeep, Steve.  "Donald Trump and the Legacy of Andrew Jackson."  The Atlantic.  The Atlantic Group (30 Nov. 2016):  n. pag.  Web.  19 Jan. 2018  https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/11/trump-and-andrew-jackson/508973/

Klein, Christopher.  "10 Things You May Not Know About Andrew Jackson."  History.  A & E Television Networks, LLC (15 Mar. 2017): n. pag.  Web.  18 Jan. 2018  http://www.history.com/news/10-things-you-may-not-know-about-andrew-jackson