Three Fun Facts About Andrew Jackson

The Battle of New Orleans by Edward Percy Moran Poster

Today is Andrew Jackson’s Birthday. I was reminded of this after reading an article on Medium titled, “How Paul Ryan will pick our next President — and his name shall be Mitt.” In this article, the author writes about what happens when no presidential candidate receives the majority of electoral votes: “the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President.”

And this is how Andrew Jackson was robbed of the Presidency during the election of 1824, when his arch nemesis Henry Clay made the “corrupt bargain” of pushing his support to John Quincy Adams. President Adams subsequently appointed Clay as Secretary of State.

The best biography of Jackson is American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House, by Jon Meacham. It won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Biography.

Here are three fun facts about Andrew Jackson:

  • Jackson led as he lived: “sometimes with his heart, sometimes with his mind, sometimes with both.” With his frequent duels and brawls, many thought he was reckless, while others saw that he used his reputation strategically to his advantage. Jackson did not go from being an orphaned teenager to reaching the pinnacle of power — and then staying there — by being reckless. He endured and conquered.
  • Jackson was the first president to come from the common people, unlike the first six who came from the educated elite in Virginia or Massachusetts. He elevated the executive branch to the center of national politics. As an example, the first six presidents used ten vetoes combined; Jackson alone used twelve (four of which he issued in three days). He tied political parties to the patronage system. The first six presidents replaced a total of 73 officeholders while Jackson replaced 919. He tried to remove the Electoral College, but failed. His vision for the Republic was the direct election of a president, who chose his own administration, and the people would judge his administration every four years.
  • To his soldiers, he was known as “Old Hickory.” To his grateful nation, he was known as “The Hero of New Orleans.” In his own words, “I was born for a storm and a calm does not suit me.” When captured as a teenager during the Revolutionary war, Jackson was cut by a British officer after refusing to shine his boots. His brutality against the Indians were noted and his unauthorized invasion of Florida almost earned him a censure. Beyond his ferocity in youth and in combat, Jackson was a force to be reckoned with politically. John C. Calhoun, representing South Carolina, was the strongest proponent of the constitutional theory of state nullification. Jackson considered it treason and threatened to send in federal troops to enforce federal laws in South Carolina.

Next up: Thomas Jefferson’s birthday is on April 13th (James Madison’s birthday is tomorrow but I haven’t finished his biography yet).

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