Andrew Jackson

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More on Andrew Jackson

1) From a Constitution to Manifest Destiny

2) The Leader of the Opposition

3) The Master of Monticello 1809 to the End


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Andrew Jackson  
Took On Eastern Oligarchs
to Serve
Rural America and
He Governed as a King


Read horizontally. 

I WILL KILL IT!  Life got off to a difficult beginning as
Andrew lost his parents and brothers by age 14 and had to live on family charity. In 1796 as Tennessee's first congressman lawyer Andrew Jackson arrived in Philadelphia with his ponytail wrapped in deerskin. His victories at New Orleans and in Florida over the English in the War of 1812 had made him the most idealized American since General Washington.

First Bank of the U.S. States was chartered in 1791 after an historic battled between Federalist Treasury Secretary Hamilton and Republican Jefferson. Tom saw no need for a central bank and he had anxiety about its power and lack of accountability.

In 1816 a Second Bank of the United States with a twenty year charter was established. It was the federal government's fiscal agent. Loans to House and Senate members by the bank gave banking Oligarch of the day Nicholas Biddle, a valuable weapon in the battle against Jackson.

Jackson lost his 1824 presidential election bid with Adams because the bank had used its ' "golden favors " ' to help Adams. Largely owned by foreign autocracy, AJ felt the bank was corrupt and had excessive power over farmers, mechanics, and those unconnected to the eastern ' " moneyed aristocracy" ' 

President John Quincy Adams lost his 1828 reelection bid to Andrew Jackson who was against extending the Bank of the United States charter and its condescending President Nicholas Biddle. A confrontation with Biddle early in Jackson's second term  made it clear that AJ thought the bank unconstitutional. See The Panic of 1825 and the Most Fantastic Financial Swindle-of-All-Time    

Editor's Note: Personal land speculation losses in Tennessee made Jackson feel that "debt, bankers, and paper money --' "ragg money" '-- were the devil's work.

Editor's Note: Alexander Hamilton experienced Revolutionary War misery caused by excess currency inflation. He felt a central bank would stop this. Jefferson and Madison who opposed the bank had not served in the war. They felt the bank better served the industrial north.  The agricultural south wanted inflation to make "real" debt payments to northern banks less painful. Politics is often local. Think QE2 and current criticism of the Federal ReserveSee A Brief History of U.S. Banking.  

Jackson's Became Famous as an Indian Fighter and a General

Treaty of Fort Jackson of 1814 saw AJ imposed tough terms on the Creek Indians.

Click to enlarge pictures. 3/5/16

Jackson's Indian Removal Act and subsequent treaties resulted in the forced removal of several Indian tribes from their traditional territories, including Trail of Tears 

The Politics

Hamilton had instituted the First Bank of the United States during Washington's presidency. When asked about constitutionality, Hamilton told Washington it was an implied power, a power  needed to accomplish a specific power granted by the constitution. Jefferson was furious as he wanted a narrow interpretation of the US Constitution but as President, he would use implied power for the Louisiana Purchase. Once purchased, he got Congressional approval. Source Meacham's Thomas Jefferson Part III

Democratic cartoon from 1833 shows Jackson destroying the Bank with his "Order for the Removal", to the annoyance of Bank President Nicholas Biddle, shown as the Devil himself. Numerous politicians and editors who were given favorable loans from the Bank run for cover as the financial temple crashes down. A famous fictional character Major Jack Downing (right) cheers: "Hurrah! Gineral!"

Jackson lost the 1824 presidential election, which went to the House because Jackson lacked an Electoral College majority. Jackson insisted there was an electoral college  ' " corrupt bargain " '-- between John Quincy Adams, who became President and Henry Clay, who became Secretary of State. President Jackson blamed his wife Rachel's death a month after he won the 1828 election on election politics. Handbills had suggesting she was an  "adulteress and whore" for not having been  properly divorce when they married. As his father before him, John Adams became only the second President not to attend his successor's inaugural. See Famous Duels from American History  3/5/16

In his December of 1829 first annual message Jackson denounced the bank as unable to keep a sound currency and unconstitutional even though the Supreme court of 1819 ruled in favor of the bank. To fight Jackson Biddle enlisted friendly congressmen to make a report countering Jackson's complaints about the bank and then used Bank funds to publish the report throughout the country.

Senator Henry Clay was chosen to oppose Jackson's 1832 reelection attempt. "While a member of the House, Clay had been a well-paid director and council for the Bank. He now claimed ' "no connection " 'with the Bank for a decade, but in fact, Biddle had just given him a quit five-thousand dollars."  Before the election and thinking Jackson's  reelection would result in a veto, Biddle ask Congress for an early charter renewal. Jackson vetoed the renewal bill. See 1792. Bank of the United States check signed by John Jacob Astor. Click to enlarge

Biddle had not given up on a bank charter renewal. He called for a run on moneyed institution to cause a shortage of funds and an outcry for a new charter. Jackson countered with a plan to move all federal funds from the Bank to "pet banks". However, William Duane at Treasury refused because Biddle would crush the use of pet banks. Jackson's Cabinet sided with Duane and when Duane refused to resign, Jackson fired him. Think President Truman fires General Douglas MacArthur. When no one seriously objected, the President had more power.

The withdrawal of federal funds from the bank was newsworthy. The"Boston Post said Jackson was like Jesus expelling the money-changers from the temple."  Biddle tightened credit hoping to excite the public. This caused distress among New York merchants who went to the White House and complained. At one point Jackson said "Go to the monster!... Go to Nicholas Biddle! We have no money here... Biddle has all the money."  Biddle's efforts resulted in a March 28, 1834 Senate censure of President Jackson. Led by Clay, the Whigs began blocking all Jackson's governing efforts. When Biddle refused to let Jackson withdrew pension funds, Jackson stopped paying pensions and told veterans to blame Biddle's bank and the Whigs who defend it. In November, the voters turned the Whigs out. Biddle opened a new bank but that did not go well and when sued by bank shareholders he escaped with an immense fortune to his country home. He beat criminal indictment but was dead by fifty-eight. See The man on the twenty-dollar bill and the panic of 1837


"Jackson's audacity in firing Secretary of the Treasury Duane who had refused to remove government deposits from the Bank of the US gave later Presidents more power. Had he not redefined the veto and broadened expectations of what Presidents owed the people, American's future would have been very different."

This democratic cartoon from 1833 shows Jackson destroying the bank with the approval of an Uncle Sam like figure to the far right and annoyance of the bank's President shown as the Devil. WIKIPEDIA Click to enlarge

Few Presidents before him vetoed bills and he was the first to do so simply because he did not like it. Neither the Senate the House got the two-thirds votes necessary to overturn Jackson's bank charter renewal veto. Biddle "flung open the cash draws" to stop the President's 1832 reelection, but Jackson and Van Buren with 55% of the vote easily beat Clay. As Jackson predicted Clay would not do well west of the mountains and south of the Potomac where Clay only won home state Kentucky. 

I WAS BORN FOR THE STORM  "Before Independence Day, 1832, the Senate and House voted to renew the charter of the Second Bank of the "United State."  Most of Jackson's cabinet was against a clash with Biddle so he got help from his wordsmith-tactician Amos Kendall to help with the fight. Amos became a member of what became known as the President's  "Kitchen Cabinet. He drafted most of Jackson's hellfire message include the one related to the sustained  Bank's renewal veto.

Jackson's Kitchen Cabinet included his longtime political allies  Martin Van BurenFrancis Preston Blair, Amos Kendall, William B. LewisAndrew Jackson DonelsonJohn OvertonIsaac Hill, and Roger B. Taney.

As newspapermen, Blair and Kendall were given particular notice by rival papers.


Jackson as President No one really knew what Jackson stood for but he would dominate events and help define political characteristics of a new democracy. Key events of Jackson’s presidency included 1) refusal to enforce a Supreme Court ruling the Cherokee Nation was entitled to federal protection from Georgia's proposed removal to Oklahoma which would result in the notorious Trail of Tears 2) the veto of the Maysville Road project because internal improvements were state responsibilities 3) the South Carolina nullification crisis concerning tariffs because, as a nationalist, he believed states must follow federal law and 4) the destruction of the second national bank made in response to his business losses involving eastern bankers.

A Presidency Transformed
Jackson transformed the office of president in the name of “the people.” He made massive use presidential vetoes expanded executive power to eliminate special privilege dominating Washington.  A spoils system rewarded party members with federal appointments held by entrenched aristocratic educated bureaucrats. His trusted advisory “kitchen cabinet” was not subject to Senate confirmation.

1 From the 2007 first edition

2. Table, column and row titles, and name abbreviations are by
Walter Antoniotti   

3. Editor's addition 
4. Editor's Note: Washington's fears of political though logical were avoided as
US Undergoes the First Peaceful 1800 Transfer of a Democratic System from Turning Points in American History Notes from A Great Course audio by E. O'Donnell and
The Skeptic' Guide-to American History  A Great Course audio by Professor Mark A. Stoler, Ph.D.

5. Help in keeping track of presidential elections, they happen on even numbered decades as Lincoln was elected in 1860, Kennedy, 1960. For more on Washington see Don't Know Much About History Chapter 3 on Growth of a Nation from the Creation of the Constitution to Manifest Destiny and Meacham's Thomas Jefferson. PART VII reviewing Jefferson as opposition to the Federalists of Hamilton and Adams.

In the name of democracy he fostered !) corruption of the American political system, 2) a dangerous expansion and abuse of executive power, 3) a crippling of the American financial system, and 4) a gross denial of rights for opponents of slavery and for Indians. All were justified via the old Jeffersonian doctrine of limited government and states’ rights. The contradictory elements of the Jacksonian coalition was they had little in common other than a desire for change using the lowest common denominator able to hold this coalition together, a strict interpretation of the Constitution

Jackson’s Legacy was a democratic era in which all 1) free white males voted and 2) laissez-faire  ideological economic revolution triumphed over government directed economic growth. These two were fused in American ideology of equality of opportunity with no special government favors. Favored were a highly speculative economy with rapid growth with its ensuing risks over the traditionalists who favored government supervision modest growth. Favored political was  a spoils system and other related political reforms to enhance the “special privileges” that Jackson sought to destroy.  The Jacksonian age was paradoxically accompanied by the rise of the “cult of true womanhood” and “scientifi c racism,” almost as if expanded rights for some meant that others must be defined as inferior.



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