Jackson County, Missouri, was named on behalf of Andrew Jackson – known as “Old Hickory” to his die hard fans. A man who was famous for his violent temper and numerous pistol duels. With that being said, he will forever remain unforgotten in the political and presidential world as both a hero and a villain. A generation after his presidency, biographers found his reputation a mass of contradictions: “Was he a dictator or a democrat, ignoramus or genius, Satan or a saint.”
His significant acts of generosity and kindness, as well as cruel and selfish acts of horror, have become legendary, sparking the recognition of both critics and followers alike. Andrew Jackson's masterful personality was enough all by itself to make him one of the most controversial figures ever to stride across the American stage.
The presidency of Andrew Jackson began on March 4, 1829, and ended on March 4, 1837. He was our seventh president, taking office after defeating incumbent John Quincy Adams in the 1828 presidential election by a landslide, after a bitter campaign. In coalition with politicians from New York and Virginia, he mobilized his Western support and founded a political force that has become today's Democratic Party. Jackson easily won re-election in 1832, defeating Henry Clay and was succeeded by his Vice President, Martin Van Buren.
Jackson has undoubtedly had a great influence on American presidential policies and governmental activities. This law obeying, law abiding president has gone down in history with his national legacy, both the good of it and the bad.
Not only did he establish the first pocket veto to be recorded in the history of America, but he also mutilated a sovereign nation when he passed the Indian Removal Act of 1830. Jackson removed all of the Native American population from lands east of the Mississippi River by force, commanding the tribes settle within a confined area of land west of the Mississippi known as Indian Territory (Kansas and Oklahoma) and never shall they return to their ancestral homelands.
He proceeded to take advantage of his tremendous power by further expanding his presidential authority and dominating the Cabinet, firing any member who would not agree with him. People opposed to Jackson saw him as self-centered and vain. Despite his many opponents, Jackson had countless supporters. He created a most prosperous political party and gained the respect and admiration of the American public. Thus, he was deemed as the “symbol of American accomplishment.” His power and authority served as an example for all presidents who have followed in his footsteps to this very day.
Jackson continued to captivate and awe his coalition of supporters by paying every cent of the national debt, and gave the common man more vocal opportunity in politics. His two terms as president set the tone for the quarter-century era of American public discourse known as the Jacksonian Era (or Second Party System), in which the principles of Jacksonian were advanced. These decades also included the rise of the “spoils system” in American politics.
Jackson's most controversial presidential actions included: The destruction of the Second Bank of the United States; his use of patronage to build his Democratic Party; his hard money policies, which helped contribute to the Panic of 1837; and his threat to use military force against the state of South Carolina during the 1832-33 Nullification Crisis.
Overall, Andrew Jackson had a remarkable impact on America. Politically and presidential-wise, Jackson’s presidency and legacy will never be overlooked. Of all presidential reputations, Jackson’s is perhaps the most difficult to summarize or explain. Thirteen polls of historians and political scientists taken between 1948 and 2009 have ranked Jackson always in or near the top 10 presidents.
Reference: “In the Shadow of Jackson – The American Past” by Joseph R. Conlin.
-- To reach Ted W. Stillwell, send an email to Ted@blueandgrey.com or call him at 816-896-3592.