Saturday, March 16, 2013

Andrew Jackson

Though this post is a bit late, here's another President for Presidential Friday! Andrew Jackson served as the US commander in chief from 1829 to 1837. He was born in a backwoods settlement with education only from time to time, but became a successful lawyer and the first man from Tennessee elected to the House of Representatives. He had been orphaned by the age of 14 and started the law practice under his uncle. Nicknamed "Old Hickory", he was the first so-called self-made man in the White House.

 An amusing story about his election and the Democratic party plays off of Jackson's name. In the 1828 election, Jackson's opponents referred to him as a "jackass," which can refer to a donkey. Jackson liked the nickname and used it as a symbol for a while, though it died out before being revived as a symbol of the Democratic Party. In contrast, the Republican party's symbol is an elephant.

His image as a simple man appealed to the people, and in his verbal opposition to what he called a closed-off, undemocratic aristocracy, he found the approval of many of the common people. He was also popular for his high role in the military during the war of 1812. Following his work as a courier during the Revolutionary War and his capture by the British as a young boy, Jackson had a strong hatred for the British. Once in office, he supported a smaller federal government, and his supporters formed the modern Democratic party. He stood against a national bank and in favor of states right's, except in a state's right to nullify a federal law. He is perhaps most famous for his aggressive relocation of Native Americans- the Trail of Tears.

In addition to his Indian removal policy, his brand of economics bred the 1830's-1850's "jacksonian democracy." In 1835, Jackson paid off the entire national debt, the only time in history that has occurred. However, an 1837-1844 depression led to the incurrence of over $3.3 million in national debt, which has not been paid off to this day.

Sources: The White, Wikipedia,, Miller Center

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