Andrew Jackson, a well-known military hero, became the seventh President of the United States. He was the first Tennessean to claim the country’s highest office.
Andrew Jackson was a forceful, fiery-tempered man who became a national war hero and, as the seventh President of the United States, was the first Tennessean to occupy the White House.
Early Years of President Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson was born in Waxshaw, South Carolina on March 15, 1767, but suffered a tragic childhood. His father died before he was born and the rest of his family died during the Revolutionary War. His brother Hugh apparently died of heat stroke, his brother Robert succumbed to smallpox and his mother died of cholera while tending to captured Americans. Jackson also contracted smallpox and received a severe sword slash on his arm when he refused to clean a British officer’s boots.
After the war Jackson lived with relatives and briefly taught school but started studying law in 1784. Receiving his license in 1787 he practiced law in what is now Eastern Tennessee but moved to Nashville in 1788 when he was appointed as a district attorney. He built a successful law practice, entered business ventures and started acquiring land including the Hermitage, which served as his home for the rest of his life.
Shortly after arriving in Nashville, Jackson met Rachel Donelson Robards who was in the process of a divorce from Lewis Robards. Jackson and Rachel married in 1791 thinking the divorce was final but Robards had delayed it and accused Rachel of adultery. The divorce became final in September 1793, and Jackson remarried Rachel in January, 1794.
Andrew Jackson was actively involved in getting Tennessee accepted as a state. When Tennessee joined the union in 1796 Jackson served as its first representative to the U.S. House. He then served one year in the Senate but stepped down to sit as a judge in the Tennessee Superior Court. Jackson became the Major General in command of the Tennessee militia in 1802 and stepped down as a judge in 1804 to devote his attention to the militia and his business ventures.
Military Career of Andrew Jackson
During the War of 1812, Jackson was ordered to defend New Orleans twice. The first time, in 1812, he was ordered to disband his troops before reaching New Orleans but given no provisions or pay for his men. Personally underwriting their journey home, Jackson earned the nickname of “Old Hickory.”
Sent back in 1814, Jackson used an assortment of army regulars and volunteers to defeat a much superior British force at New Orleans. Because the British suffered over 2,000 casualties to only 71 American casualties, Andrew Jackson became a national hero of the same magnitude as George Washington.
Jackson was involved in putting down Creek Indian attacks in what is now Alabama from 1813 to 1814. His negotiations with the Creek and subsequent negotiations over the new few years with other southern Indian tribes netted vast amounts of territory for the U.S. government.
In 1817, General Jackson was sent to stop raids by the Seminole Indians who were crossing the border from Spanish Florida. Jackson interpreted his orders to mean an invasion of Florida which he quickly conquered. Jackson was not punished for his actions but was later appointed, in 1821, to serve as governor of the Florida territory after Spain ceded it to the United States in 1819.
Andrew Jackson as 7th President of the United States
Andrew Jackson resigned as Florida Governor in 1824 and ran for President against John Quincy Adams. Jackson won the popular vote but a lack of an electoral majority sent the vote to the U.S. House who put Adams into office. Jackson ran again in 1828 winning 54% of the popular vote and 178 of 261 electoral votes to become the seventh President of the United States.
Serving two terms as president Jackson is best remembered for several events:
- Kitchen Cabinet – Although Andrew Jackson had his official cabinet, he had an informal set of advisors whom he relied on to help him set policies.
- Second Bank of the United States – President Jackson vetoed the bank’s charter believing that it was unconstitutional and that it favored wealthy citizens to the detriment of the public.
- Trail of Tears – Jackson supported Georgia’s desire to move the Cherokee Indians to western reservations. Using the Indian Removal Act of 1830, Jackson forced the Cherokee to move to Oklahoma. Thousands of Indians died on the journey which was dubbed the Trail of Tears.
- National Debt – It was during Andrew Jackson’s administration that the national debt was eliminated.
Andrew Jackson was also the first President targeted for assassination. Richard Lawrence pulled two pistols on Jackson on January 30, 1835, but they both misfired. Jackson started beating Lawrence with his hickory cane forcing Jackson’s aides to rescue the would-be assassin from the President.
President Andrew Jackson’s Last Years
Jackson continued to influence the federal government after he left office in 1837. His successor, Martin Van Buren, was a close confidant who received constant advice from Jackson. During the 1844 Democrat convention, Jackson worked to get his friend and fellow Tennessean James K. Polk nominated as their presidential candidate because of his support for the annexation of Texas. Polk won the election.
Returning home to Nashville, Andrew Jackson died at his home, the Hermitage, on June 8, 1845, at the age of 78.
- The Presidents – Andrew Jackson. White House.gov
- American President: Andrew Jackson. MillerCenter.org