Andrew Jackson

How many of you are from Tennessee? Well, today we plan to tell you about a famous Tennessean who was selected to have his statue placed in the Hall of Fame in Washington, D.C. to represent his state. This man of the people was a man of many talents and accomplishments—lawyer, judge, soldier, governor, congressman, senator, and last, the 7th President of the United States. Can you name him? He was Andrew Jackson.
Soldiers who fought for him loved him, although he was demanding and so tough they nicknamed him “Old Hickory.” Andrew Jackson and his “rag-tag” army of recruits, farmers, hunters and some New Orleans pirates and Cherokee Indians met the British invasion of Louisiana and won a smashing victory over the British redcoats at the Battle of New Orleans. This was the only clear-cut victory for the American forces in the War of 1812.
At this time, Florida belonged to Spain and the boundary between the U.S. and Spanish Florida ran generally on the same line as Florida’s northern border today, except that it ran all the way from the Atlantic Ocean to New Orleans. West Florida around Pensacola and Apalachicola was a refuge for outlaws, run away slaves and hostile Seminole Indians. President Monroe sent Gen. Jackson into Florida to break up these gangs and Jackson captured both Pensacola and Apalachicola. While Jackson was doing this job, President Monroe was negotiating with Spain to buy the whole of Florida. This was accomplished in 1821 for the grand sum of five million dollars. That same year, Andrew Jackson became military governor of Florida.
Jackson was hailed as a military hero and a man of the people. His friends wanted him to be President and started a movement to have him nominated. Jefferson, Madison and Monroe had held the Presidency for twenty-four years as members of the Republican Party, which was also called the Democratic-Republican Party. Other candidates for President—William H. Crawford of Georgia, John Quincy Adams of Massachusetts, and Henry Clay of Kentucky—also belonged to the Republican Party. A congressional caucus met in Washington and selected a senator, William H. Crawford of Georgia, as the Republican Party nominee.
Supporters of the other candidates raised a howl of protest, so the Tennessee Legislature nominated Andrew Jackson, the Kentucky Legislature nominated Henry Clay, and a political group in Boston nominated John Quincy Adams. Jackson received 99 electoral votes, Adams 84, Crawford 41, and Clay 37. None of the candidates received a majority of the electoral votes, so the election was thrown into the House of Representatives.
Jackson had the most popular and electoral votes, but Henry Clay, who was Speaker of the House, gave his support to John Quincy Adams and Adams was elected. As soon as Adams was inaugurated, he named Henry Clay to be Secretary of State. Jackson supporters claimed that a corrupt deal had been made between Adams and Clay to deprive Jackson of the Presidency. Jackson’s supporters immediately set to work to prepare for the next election four years later. This time, Jackson organized his own party. They threw out the Republican name and adopted the name Democratic Party. This party held the first political convention in the United States and nominated Andrew Jackson for President. This is the same Democratic Party that we have today, and its roots go back to what is proudly referred to as Jacksonian democracy.
Jackson won by a landslide and became the 7th President of the United States. He enjoyed two terms in the White House. He was a strong president and wielded great power in directing affairs of the country. He never lost his feeling for the common citizens of this country. Martin Van Buren described it best, “The people were his blood relations.” His Administration was noted for the expansion of civil and human rights in the general population and for the decline in the power of the rich landowners and the business leaders who had assumed the role of ruling class during the first fifty years of the American republic.
Most remarkable was the paying off of the public debt. Jackson exercised real financial responsibility during his term. Wouldn’t it be great if this fiscal responsibility rubbed off on politicians today!
There was one unusual incident during Jackson’s first term in office, known afterwards as “the Peggy Eaton affair.” Jackson’s Secretary of War John H. Eaton had married a barmaid by the name of Peggy O’Neal, and this created a social problem. Mrs. Calhoun, wife of the Vice President, would not invite Peggy into her home and neither would several wives of Cabinet members. President Jackson took the side of Peggy Eaton and tried to have her accepted socially by Cabinet members and their wives. Only the Secretary of State was agreeable, but he was a widower and that did not help the situation. The Secretary of State, Martin Van Buren, resigned from the Cabinet and soon was followed by Secretary of War Eaton and several others. Jackson then asked for the resignations of the other members of his Cabinet and appointed a completely new Cabinet. This solved the problem for the President, but he did not forget Martin Van Buren. When Jackson’s second term expired, he picked Martin Van Buren to succeed him as the 8th President of the United States.

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