Society

Andrew Jackson - 7th President of The United States

At different times a plantation owner, land speculator, military general, lawyer, and the 7th President of the United States, Jackson was also one of the most controversial figures in US history.

Early life

Jackson was born on March 15, 1767, possibly on either the North Carolina or South Carolina side of the border separating the two states. His parents were Scots-Irish colonists who had originally arrived to New England. He received a rudimentary education in a local school, and worked as an apprentice to a saddle maker. Later, he studied law in Jacksonville, North Carolina, and during the American Revolutionary War he worked as a teenage courier. During the same war he was also captured and tortured by members of the British forces.

Early Political Career

After the war, he started to work as a country lawyer in the North Carolina Frontier of the burgeoning United States of America. In 1791, he was appointed as a solicitor to the government of the erstwhile territory called 'South of the River Ohio', which would later become much of what we now today as the state of Tennessee. In 1796, he became the US representative of the state of Tennessee, soon after it became the 16th state in the Union. In the following election, he was elected as a Senator. He resigned in the same year, in order to fulfill the duties as an appointed judge in the Tennessee Supreme Court in 1798.

Over the the same period of time, Jackson invested considerably large amounts of money for the time in land deals, and in so doing bought huge amounts of land along the Tennessee frontier. One of his largest speculation endeavors ultimately led to the creation of what is today Memphis, Tennessee on the Mississippi River. He also became a large-scale planter, and employed hundreds of slaves.

Military Leadership Fueling National Fame

In 1801, Jackson became a Colonel in the Tennessee Militia, and the next year was elected to act as its Major General. In the British-American conflict known today as the War of 1812, he won one of the most significant victories against the British at the Battle of New Orleans. This victory sealed his image as a military genius, and bolstered his subsequent political career. In the 1824 US Presidential Election, he stood as a candidate alongside John Adams and Henry Clay. He received a plurality of votes and states' electors, but could not secure a decisive outcome, garnering around two-fifths of popular votes. In the absence of a clear majority, the result was decided by the House of Representatives, which chose John Adams to be President. Henry Clay, another candidate in the election, also supported Adams, which became the basis of his famous campaign rhetoric for the next presidential election, claiming the result had come about due to a 'corrupt bargain'. Jackson was again nominated to run for president in 1828. At this time, he revamped the organization of the old Democratic-Republican Party, and renamed it the Democratic Party. Under this new banner, he easily defeated Adams to became the 7th president of the United States.

In the Presidential Office

Jackson's term is noted for the progressive delegation of power, seen by many as a 'handing down' of control from the traditional elite to the ordinary voters organized by party lines. His Presidency strengthened the new Democratic Party, which would continue to strongly oppose, and ultimately outlive, the Whigs. He initiated a number of investigations regarding federal funds management, and regularly released officials whom he thought were not efficient in handling money. He also put into place a full-fledged rotation system for public servants. He was also very aggressive in his policies against the native American tribes, and promoted the Indian Removal Policy, one of the saddest marks on US History.

However, the most significant crisis of his term concerned having the state of South Carolina comply with Federal legislation. The state opposed the enactment of the Tariff of Abominations on goods imported from Europe. Jackson strongly stood for the tariff as a measure of affirmative action for domestic manufacturing. When South Carolina denied to pay the tax, Jackson responded by threatening to deal with South Carolina by force of attack. The episode ultimately created a precedent upholding the primacy of Federal Jurisdiction over the states. He was re-elected once again in the 1832 Elections, and in this second term he concentrated on bank reforms and warding off depression during the Crisis of 1837.

Legacy

Jackson died of chronic tuberculosis in 1845 at his Hermitage Plantation near Nashville, Tennessee. To this day, Jackson still evokes a mixed response from scholars. As President, his government was perceived to be efficient and less corrupt compared to other US governments of the early 19th century. As a general, his exploits in the War of 1812 were widely celebrated. However, his anti-Native American policies led to displacement and pain on a massive scale. Numerous anti-Native American wars and pro-slavery policies make him further controversial yet. As a man of government, he strengthened the role of the bipartisan system in US politics, and upheld the primacy of the Federal government over the constituent states in the union of the United States. He also played an integral role in recognizing the new Republic of Texas, and helped paved the way for its ultimate destiny to become a US state. While it is difficult to classify him as an entirely good or bad man, in terms of US history he was undoubtedly a very important man.

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