Kenneth (kensmind) wrote in potus_geeks,

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Remembering Andrew Jackson

Today is the 176th anniversary of the death of Andrew Jackson, the seventh President of the United States, who died on June 8, 1845. He was a formidable force in his day. Besides being a two term president (from 1829 to 1837), he was also a lawyer, and an army general famous for his defeats of the Creek Indians at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend in 1814 and of the British at the Battle of New Orleans in 1815. He was a polarizing figure, but a dominant one in the world of politics in the first part of the 19th century.

Jackson was born on March 15, 1767. His parents emigrated from Ireland, and his father died in an accident three weeks before Andrew's birth. His exact birthplace is uncertain because he was born when his mother was making a difficult trip home from burying Jackson's father. The area was so remote that the border between North and South Carolina had not yet been surveyed. Both Carolinas lay claim to him. In 1824, Jackson wrote a letter saying that he was born at an uncle's plantation in Lancaster County, South Carolina (but this may have been purely for political purposes because South Carolina was considering nullification of the Tariff of 1824, which Jackson opposed.) Other evidence suggests that he may have been born at a uncle's home in North Carolina. There is no persuasive evidence either way, so far as I can tell.

Jackson was young when the Revolutionary War was fought and he grew up hating the British. At age thirteen, he joined a local militia as a courier. His eldest brother, Hugh, died from heat exhaustion during the Battle of Stono Ferry, on June 20, 1779. Jackson and his brother Robert were captured by the British and held as prisoners. They nearly starved to death in captivity. When Jackson refused to clean the boots of a British officer, the officer slashed at Jackson with a sword, leaving scars on his left hand and head. While imprisoned, both brothers contracted smallpox. Robert Jackson died on April 27, 1781, a few days after their mother Elizabeth secured the brothers' release. After being assured Andrew would recover, Elizabeth Jackson volunteered to nurse prisoners of war on board two ships in Charleston harbor, where there had been an outbreak of cholera. She died from the disease in November 1781, leaving Andrew Jackson an orphan at age 14.

Jackson grew up to become a lawyer. He lived in northeastern Tennessee and was nicknamed Old Hickory because of his toughness and aggressive personality. He fought in duels, and became a wealthy slaveholder. He joined the Tennessee Militia in 1801, eventually rising to the rank of General and gaining fame for his victories in the Battles of Horseshoe Bend and New Orleans.

Jackson ran for President in 1824 and finished first in both popular and electoral vote, but failed to secure a majority of either. The House of Representatives awarded the election to John Quincy Adams, leaving Jackson bitter at both Adams, and Henry Clay, the man Jackson believed made a "corrupt bargain" with Adams to steal the presidency from Jackson. This time he trounced Adams by more than a 2 to 1 margin in the electoral college. The campaign was a bitter one in which insults were hurled not only at Jackson, but at his wife Rachel. When Rachel died after the election but before Jackson's inauguration, it made him even more bitter towards his enemies.

As President, Jackson supported a small and limited federal government. He was a man of the people who hated the notion of an aristocracy. He strengthened the power of the presidency, a position he considered to be the spokesman for the entire population. He was supportive of states' rights, but when some states tried to assert a right to refuse to follow national laws in what was called the Nullification Crisis, he declared that states do not have the right to nullify federal laws, and threatened to personally lead an army against any state that refused to follow the law.

Jackson was strongly against the Second Bank of the United States, and he vetoed the renewal of its charter, which ensured its collapse. He also brought about the Indian Removal Act, which resulted in the forced relocation of thousands of Native Americans from the southwestern United States to territory west of the Mississippi River (now Oklahoma). Historians are mixed in their assessment of his presidency. On the one hand they admire his protection of popular democracy and individual liberty for American citizens, but are highly critical of his support for slavery, his lack of foresight in opposing the bank, and most prominently, his role in Indian removal.

After he left the presidency, Jackson returned to his home in Nashville, known as "the Hermitage." He remained influential in both national and state politics after retiring and remained a firm supporter of the union. He rejected any talk of secession, saying "I will die with the Union."


Jackson was in poor health by the time he left the Presidency. He suffered from chronic headaches, abdominal pains, and a hacking cough, caused by a musket ball in his lung that was never removed. He died at The Hermitage on June 8, 1845, at the age of 78, of chronic tuberculosis, dropsy, and heart failure and that's where he is laid to rest. According to a contemporary newspaper account, Jackson "fainted whilst being removed from his chair to the bed, but he subsequently revived... Gen. Jackson died at the Hermitage at 6 o'clock P.M. on Sunday the 8th instance. When the messenger finally came, the old soldier, patriot and Christian was looking out for his approach. He is gone, but his memory lives, and will continue to live."
Tags: andrew jackson, henry clay, john quincy adams

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