South Carolina’s Andrew Jackson

 

Andrew Jackson

March 15, 1767- June 8, 1845

Andrew Jackson served as a Soldier, U.S. senator, president of the United States. Andrew Jackson was born in the Waxhaw community of Lancaster District on March 15, 1767, Jackson was the son of Andrew Jackson and Elizabeth Hutchinson. Jackson’s father died before he was born, so Jackson was raised by his mother in the home of relatives and attended local schools in the Lancaster District. During the Revolution War Jackson’s mother and two older brothers (Hugh & Robert) died from illnesses. His actions against Tories (supported the British) led to his arrest by the British in April 1781. During his detainment, a British officer demanded that Jackson clean his boots. Jackson refused and for his refusal Jackson was slashed with a sword which left scars on his hand and head.

In 1784 Jackson moved to Salisbury, North Carolina, to study law, he passed the bar in 1787. He then moved into what would later become Tennessee, landing in Nashville, he immediately gained the spot light as an excellent prosecutor and attorney. He met Rachel Donelson Robards who was going through a divorce, there were cloudy circumstances over her divorce and accusations of adultery, but he subsequently married Rachel on January 18, 1794, the events surrounding Rachel plagued Jackson during his presidential campaigns.

Even though the marriage to Rachel haunted Jackson’s presidential runs, it was Jackson’s political connections and Rachel’s prominent family that energized Jackson’s rise in politics. He served at Tennessee’s constitutional convention in 1796 and as the state’s first U.S. Representative. He served one year in the U.S. Senate before winning election to the Tennessee Superior Court. In 1802 Jackson gained a top position as major general in the militia.

During the War of 1812, Jackson defeated the Creek Indians at Horseshoe Bend in 1814, which led to him being commissioned as major general in the U.S. Army. Jackson was sent to New Orleans where he collected a mixed force of irregulars to impede a British attempt to take the city of New Orleans. This astounding victory over the British regulars made Jackson a national symbol. His popularity was amplified when he conquered Spanish Florida in 1818 and hanged two British followers accused of rousing the Indians along the Alabama-Georgia border. President James Monroe and Secretary of War John C. Calhoun, along with the cabinet came close to renouncing Jackson’s actions prior to a treaty purchasing Florida from Spain which ended the predicament.

After a short term as territorial governor of Florida, Jackson returned to Tennessee, Jackson’s actions brought him an enormous amount of popularity making Jackson a presidential contender. Jackson was nominated for president in 1822 with hardly any support initially, during this time Jackson accepted the U.S. Senate seat by the Tennessee legislature in 1823. Once in Washington, Jackson voiced his displeasure against the widespread corruption he discovered when arriving in Washington. In the 1824 presidential election, Jackson received the most popular votes, but fell short of gathering an Electoral College majority. The U.S. House of Representatives, along with the support of Speaker Henry Clay, it gave the presidency to John Quincy Adams, who then appointed Clay as Secretary of State. Jackson was furious at this “corrupt bargain” and made it known that this was a deliberate rejection of the will of the people.

Jackson resigned his Senate seat and returned to Tennessee in 1825. An alliance of anti-administration adversaries began to form around Jackson and the call for change. An early and nervous alliance was made with Calhoun, and Jackson agreed to back a newspaper run by Duff Green, a Calhoun supporter. A short time later, New York’s Martin Van Buren and other well-known politicians adjoined their support to Jackson’s candidacy, creating the core of the modern Democratic Party. A nasty campaign followed in 1828 powered by rumors concerning Jackson’s marriage, but Jackson with Calhoun as his vice presidential candidate carried them to an overwhelming victory. Jackson advocated limited government, removal of the Indians beyond the Mississippi, replacement of public officials, and payment of the national debt.

Jackson, a supporter of states’ rights, was a committed nationalist and viewed nullification as the first step towards disunion and an abandonment of majority rule. In reply to Calhoun and the developing nullification sentiment, Jackson, at the 1830 annual Jefferson Dinner declared, “Our Union: It must be preserved.”

Soon after Jackson was in the White House he uncovered information that Calhoun, as secretary of war, had backed Jackson’s arrest and punishment over his invasion of Florida, this information expanded the rift between Jackson and Calhoun. It was thought by many in Washington that Martin Van Buren was behind the Jackson-Calhoun rift as an attempt to replace Calhoun as Jackson’s successor. The ultimate break between Jackson & Calhoun occurred when Jackson orchestrated for a new newspaper to promote the administration’s policies. Things exploded when Calhoun published his thoughts over the Florida affair, this caused Jackson to then eliminate his cabinet, an action never previously taken. Van Buren assumed Calhoun’s spot on the 1832 ticket, strengthening his role as Jackson’s successor.

The Tariff of 1832 reintroduced nullification sentiment in South Carolina, the following November a South Carolina convention nullified the tariff acts and prohibited the collection of custom duties within the state. On December 10, 1832, Jackson issued a proclamation declaring the actions “incompatible with the existence of the Union and destructive of the great object for which it was formed” and solicited the use of force. A compromise tariff was signed into law just days before Jackson’s second inauguration, this ended the crisis of a nullification threat.

Jackson’s popularity amid the common people, his resilient personality, leadership, and his underappreciated political skills strengthened his presidency during his two terms from March 4, 1829 – March 4, 1837. His platform against nullification forced southerners to seek more radical means whenever slavery became the main issue. Jackson’s political opponents merged into the Whig Party and securely started the two-party political system. With Jackson’s control of the Democratic Party it led to Martin Van Buren’s election as president in 1836.

Andrew Jackson Home After leaving office, Jackson retired to his home of Hermitage, outside of Nashville. He died on June 8, 1845, and was buried in his garden. Andrew Jackson is the only South Carolinian to have ever served as president of the United States.

 

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