Andrew Jackson

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Jackson, Andrew,

1767–1845, 7th President of the United States (1829–37), b. Waxhaw settlement on the border of South Carolina and North Carolina (both states claim him).

Early Career

A child of the backwoods, he was left an orphan at 14. His long military career began in 1781, when he fought against the British in a skirmish at Hanging Rock. He and his brother were captured and imprisoned at Camden, S.C. After studying law at Salisbury, N.C., he was admitted to the bar in 1787 and practiced in the vicinity until he was appointed solicitor for the western district of North Carolina (now Tennessee).

In 1788 he moved west to Nashville. He was prosperous in his law practice and in land speculation until the Panic of 1795 struck, leaving him with little more than his estate, the Hermitage. There, he built (1819–31) a home, on which he lived as a cotton planter during the intervals of his political career. The house, a handsome example of a Tennessee planter's home, with a fine formal garden, was constructed of bricks made on the estate. Jackson married Rachel Donelson before she had secured a legal divorce from her first husband, and though the ceremony was later repeated, his enemies made capital of the circumstance.

He rose in politics, was a member of the convention that drafted the Tennessee Constitution, and was elected (1796) as the sole member from the new state in the U.S. House of Representatives. The next year when his political chief, William Blount, was expelled from the Senate, Jackson resigned and, to vindicate his party, ran for the vacant seat. He won, but in 1798 he resigned. From 1798 to 1804 he served notably as judge of the Tennessee superior court.

War Hero

In the War of 1812War of 1812,
armed conflict between the United States and Great Britain, 1812–15. It followed a period of great stress between the two nations as a result of the treatment of neutral countries by both France and England during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars,
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 Jackson defeated the CreekCreek,
Native North American confederacy. The peoples forming it were mostly of the Muskogean branch of the Hokan-Siouan linguistic stock (see Native American languages).
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 warriors, tacit allies of the British, at Horseshoe BendHorseshoe Bend,
a turn on the Tallapoosa River, near Dadeville, E central Ala., site of a battle on Mar. 27, 1814, in which the Creeks, led by chief William Weatherford, were significantly defeated by a militia under the command of Andrew Jackson.
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, Ala. (Mar., 1814) after a strenuous campaign and won the rank of major general in the U.S. army. He was given command of an expedition to defend New Orleans against the British. The decisive victory gained there over seasoned British troops under Gen. Edward Pakenham, though it came after peace had already been signed in Europe, made Jackson the war's one great military hero.

In 1818 he was sent to take reprisals against the SeminoleSeminole,
Native North Americans whose language belongs to the Muskogean branch of the Hokan-Siouan linguistic stock (see Native American languages). They separated (their name means "separatist") from the Creek in the early 18th cent.
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, who were raiding settlements near the Florida border, but, misinterpreting orders, he crossed the boundary line, captured Pensacola, and executed two British subjects as punishment for their stirring up the Native Americans. He thus involved the United States in serious trouble with both Spain and Great Britain. John Q. AdamsAdams, John Quincy,
1767–1848, 6th President of the United States (1825–29), b. Quincy (then in Braintree), Mass.; son of John Adams and Abigail Adams and father of Charles Francis Adams (1807–86).
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, then Secretary of State, was the only cabinet member to defend him, but the conduct of Old Hickory, as Jackson was called by his admirers, pleased the people of the West. He moved on to the national scene as the standard-bearer of one wing of the old Republican party.


Jackson rode on a wave of popularity that almost took him into the presidency in the election of 1824. The vote was split with Henry ClayClay, Henry,
1777–1852, American statesman, b. Hanover co., Va. Early Career

His father died when he was four years old, and Clay's formal schooling was limited to three years.
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, John Quincy AdamsAdams, John Quincy,
1767–1848, 6th President of the United States (1825–29), b. Quincy (then in Braintree), Mass.; son of John Adams and Abigail Adams and father of Charles Francis Adams (1807–86).
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, and William H. CrawfordCrawford, William Harris,
1772–1834, American statesman, b. Amherst co., Va. (his birthplace is now in Nelson co.). He moved with his parents to South Carolina and later to Georgia. After studying law he practiced at Lexington, Va.
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, and when the election was decided in the House of Representatives, Clay threw his influence to Adams, and Adams became President.

By the time of the election of 1828, Jackson's cause was more assured. John C. CalhounCalhoun, John Caldwell
, 1782–1850, American statesman and political philosopher, b. near Abbeville, S.C., grad. Yale, 1804. He was an intellectual giant of political life in his day. Early Career

Calhoun studied law under Tapping Reeve at Litchfield, Conn.
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, who was the candidate for Vice President with Jackson, brought most of Crawford's former following to Jackson, while Martin Van BurenVan Buren, Martin,
1782–1862, 8th President of the United States (1837–41), b. Kinderhook, Columbia co., N.Y. Early Career

He was reared on his father's farm, was educated at local schools, and after reading law was admitted (1803) to the bar.
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 and the Albany Regency swung liberal-controlled New York state to him. The result was a sweeping victory; Jackson polled four times the popular vote that he had received in 1824. His inauguration brought the "rabble" into the White House, to the distaste of the established families.

There was a strong element of personalism in the rule of the hotheaded Jackson, and the Kitchen CabinetKitchen Cabinet,
in U.S. history, popular name for the group of intimate, unofficial advisers of President Jackson. Early in his administration Jackson abandoned official cabinet meetings and used heads of departments solely to execute their departmental duties, while the
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—a small group of favorite advisers—was powerful. Vigorous publicity and violent journalistic attacks on anti-Jacksonians were ably handled by such men as the elder Francis P. BlairBlair, Francis Preston,
1791–1876, American journalist and politician, b. Abingdon, Va. Through the Frankfort, Ky., journal Argus of Western America, which he edited with Amos Kendall, Blair was an ardent supporter of Andrew Jackson. At William T.
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, Duff GreenGreen, Duff,
1791–1875, American journalist and politician, b. Woodford co., Ky. After service in the War of 1812, he settled in Missouri, where he became (1824) editor of the St. Louis Enquirer. He moved (1825) to Washington, D.C.
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, and Amos KendallKendall, Amos
, 1789–1869, American journalist and statesman, b. Dunstable, Middlesex co., Mass. He edited (1816–29) at Frankfort, Ky., the Argus of Western America, one of the most influential Western papers of the day.
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. Party loyalty was intense, and party members were rewarded with government posts in what came to be known as the spoils systemspoils system,
in U.S. history, the practice of giving appointive offices to loyal members of the party in power. The name supposedly derived from a speech by Senator William Learned Marcy in which he stated, "to the victor belong the spoils.
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. Personal relationships were of utmost importance, and the social slights suffered by the wife of Secretary of War John H. Eaton (see O'Neill, MargaretO'Neill, Margaret
(Peggy O'Neill), c.1796–1879, wife of John Henry Eaton, U.S. secretary of war under President Andrew Jackson. She was the daughter of a Washington tavern keeper and married John Timberlake, a purser in the U.S. navy.
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) helped to break up the cabinet.

Calhoun's antagonism was more fundamental, however. Calhoun and the South generally felt threatened by the protective tariff that favored the industrial East, and Calhoun evolved the doctrine of nullificationnullification,
in U.S. history, a doctrine expounded by the advocates of extreme states' rights. It held that states have the right to declare null and void any federal law that they deem unconstitutional.
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 and resigned from the vice presidency. Jackson stood firmly for the Union and had the Force Bill of 1833 (see force billforce bill,
popular name for several laws in U.S. history, notably the act of Mar. 2, 1833, and the Reconstruction acts of May 31, 1870; Feb. 28, 1871; and Apr. 20, 1871.
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) passed to coerce South Carolina into accepting the federal tariff, but a compromise tariff was rushed through and the affair ended. Jackson, on the other hand, took the part of Georgia in its insistence on states' rights and the privilege of ousting the Cherokee; he refused to aid in enforcing the Supreme Court's decision against Georgia, and the tribe was removed.

More important than the estrangement of Calhoun was Jackson's long fight against the Bank of the United StatesBank of the United States,
name for two national banks established by the U.S. Congress to serve as government fiscal agents and as depositories for federal funds; the first bank was in existence from 1791 to 1811 and the second from 1816 to 1836.
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. Although its charter did not expire until 1836, Henry Clay succeeded in having a bill to recharter it passed in 1832, thus bringing the issue into the 1832 presidential election. Jackson vetoed the measure, and the powerful interests of the bank were joined with the other opponents of Jackson in a bitter struggle with the antibank Jacksonians.

Jackson in the election of 1832 triumphed over Clay. His second administration—more bitterly resented by his enemies than the first—was dominated by the bank issue. Jackson promptly removed the funds from the bank and put them in chosen state banks (the "pet banks"). Secretary of Treasury Louis McLaneMcLane, Louis,
1786–1857, American statesman, b. Smyrna, Del. He served in the U.S. House of Representatives (1817–27) and in the Senate (1827–29), resigning to become minister to England (1829–31).
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 refused to make the transfer as did his successor W. J. DuaneDuane, William John,
1780–1865, U.S. Secretary of Treasury (June–Sept., 1833), b. Clonmel, Ireland. He emigrated (1796) to Philadelphia with his father, William Duane (1760–1835), and assisted him in publishing the Aurora until 1806.
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, but Roger B. TaneyTaney, Roger Brooke
, 1777–1864, American jurist, 5th chief justice of the United States (1836–64), b. Calvert co., Md., grad. Dickinson College, 1795. Early Life

Taney was born of a wealthy slave-owning family of tobacco farmers.
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 agreed with Jackson's views and made the transfer (see also Independent Treasury SystemIndependent Treasury System,
in U.S. history, system for the retaining of government funds in the Treasury and its subtreasuries independently of the national banking and financial systems. In one form or another, it existed from the 1840s to 1921.
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Jackson was a firm believer in a specie basis for currency, and the Specie Circular in 1836, which stipulated that all public lands must be paid for in specie, broke the speculation boom in Western lands, cast suspicion on many of the bank notes in circulation, and hastened the Panic of 1837. The panic, which had some of its roots in earlier crop failures and in overextended speculation, was a factor in the administration of Martin Van Buren, who was Jackson's choice and a successful candidate for the presidency in 1836.


Jackson retired to the Hermitage and lived out his life there. He was still despised as a high-handed and capricious dictator by his enemies and revered as a forceful democratic leader by his followers. Although he was known as a frontiersman, Jackson was personally dignified, courteous, and gentlemanly—with a devotion to the "gentleman's code" that led him to fight several duels.

Jacksonian Democracy

The greatest popular hero of his time, a man of action, and an expansionist, Jackson was associated with the movement toward increased popular participation in government. He was regarded by many as the symbol of the democratic feelings of the time, and later generations were to speak of Jacksonian democracy. Although in broadest terms this movement often attacked citadels of privilege or monopoly and sought to broaden opportunities in many areas of life, there has been much dispute among historians over its essential social nature. At one time it was characterized as being rooted in the democratic nature of the frontier. Later historians pointed to the workers of the eastern cities as the defining element in the Jacksonian political coalition. More recently the older interpretations have been challenged by those seeing the age as one that primarily offered new opportunities to the middle class—an era of liberal capitalism. Jackson had appeal for the farmer, for the artisan, and for the small-business ower; he was viewed with suspicion and fear by people of established position, who considered him a dangerous upstart.


See biographies by M. James (2 vol., 1933–37, repr. 1968), H. Syrett (1953, repr. 1971), J. W. Ward (1955, repr. 1962), R. V. Remini (3 vol., 1977–84), and H. W. Brands (2005); A. M. Schlesinger, Jr., The Age of Jackson (1945); G. G. Van Deusen, The Jacksonian Era (1959, repr. 1963); R. V. Remini, Andrew Jackson and the Bank War (1967), and ed., The Age of Jackson (1972); R. Latner, The Presidency of Andrew Jackson (1979); A. Burstein, The Passions of Andrew Jackson (2003); J. Meacham, American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House (2008); D. S. Reynolds, Waking Giant: America in the Age of Jackson (2008).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Jackson, Andrew


Born Mar. 15, 1767, in Waxhaw; died June 8, 1845, at the Hermitage, in Nashville, Tenn. American military and political figure.

Jackson achieved fame during the War of 1812. In 1821 he became the governor of Florida, and in 1823 he was elected to the Senate. He was the president of the United States from 1829 to 1837. His political followers founded the Democratic Party of the United States which was a union of small farmers and rich plantation owners. Jackson advocated a democratization of the electoral system, a restriction of the power of the Bank of the United States, and a legalization of the activity of workers’ organizations. He sanctioned the preservation of Negro slavery, the extermination of the Indians, and the conquest of new territories. Jackson established the system of granting official posts to the supporters of the party that had won an election [spoils system].


Schlesinger, A. The Age of Jackson. Boston, 1946.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Jackson, Andrew

(1767–1845) seventh U.S. president; born in Waxhaw, S.C. Reared in a frontier settlement and largely self-educated, he was admitted to the bar and in 1788 was named public prosecutor in Nashville, in North Carolina territory. When the territory became the new state of Tennessee, he became its first U.S. representative in the House (1769), its senator (1797–98), and a judge on its supreme court (1798–1804). Meanwhile, he had established his estate, "the Hermitage," near Nashville and married Rachel Robards (twice, for they discovered she had not been formally divorced the first time). Named major-general of Tennessee militia during the War of 1812, in September 1814 he defeated the Creek Indians, who were British allies, at Horseshoe Bend. Commissioned a major-general in the regular army, he stormed Pensacola, Fla., and then routed the British in the Battle of New Orleans (January 1815). Retaining his army commission as commander of the Southern District, he created some controversy when in 1818 he invaded Florida on a campaign against the Seminoles and executed two British subjects for stirring up the Indians. Now the South's hero, known everywhere as "Old Hickory," he was elected to the Senate (Dem.-Rep., Tenn.; 1823–24) and in 1824 narrowly lost the presidency to John Quincy Adams when the election was thrown into the House of Representatives. Winning the election of 1828, he set a precedent for the "spoils system" by filling hundreds of offices with his supporters. As president (1829–37), he walked a tightrope between the issues of slavery, nullification, and states' rights; in the name of the latter he suppressed the Bank of the U.S.A. Among his more problematic achievements was his relentless removal of many Indians to west of the Mississippi. In the long run, Jackson's main legacy was the new strength his personality bequeathed to the office of the presidency for the future; also, the new Democratic Party formed around him and his popular image as champion of the common man, even though he himself had little patience with the wishes of most people. On leaving the presidency, he retired from public life and spent his declining years at "the Hermitage."
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
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