Andrew Jackson

Thomas Jefferson by Thomas Sully, 1824

Thomas Jefferson by Thomas Sully, 1824

Seventh President of the United States, Andrew Jackson, was born on March 15, 1767, to Scottish-Irish immigrant parents Andrew Jackson, Sr. and Elizabeth “Betty” Hutchinson, who came from Carrickfergus, in modern-day Northern Ireland, in 1765. Jackson was the first president not born an aristocrat, and as “citizen president” he was loved by many ordinary Americans despite his controversial record on many policies.

One of Jackson’s biographiers, James Parton, even commented that normal Americans thought of him “before all other living men”. He had less political experience than any President that had come before him, but like George Washington had won favour by winning battles against the British, in particular the Battle of New Orleans. While he was President the opposition feared he might become a dictator, branding him “King Arthur I” as an insult, but at the same time Jackson tried to be a flag-bearer for expanding democracy and was known for saying “the people are sovereign”. Historically the period of his Presidency is important as one where “Jacksonian Democracy” developed and the republic become a popular democracy.

Early Years

At his birth, Andrew was little more than the third son of an immigrant farmer family living in the Waxhaw settlement on the boundary between North and South Carolina. While the new world offered promise to immigrants, this promise seemed like it had been cut short for the family when his farther suddenly died. Despite this tragedy, Jackson was able to attend school in the Waxhaws.

Andrew Jackson by Ralph Eleaser Whiteside Earl

Andrew Jackson by Ralph Eleaser Whiteside Earl

At thirteen, just a teenager, he joined the Continental Army along with his brother Robert. His role included being a messenger at the Battle of Hanging Rock. Jackson was captured at the house of his cousin by the British in April 1781 where he refused the order of a British officer to clean the officer’s boots. As punishment he was slashed on the forehead and hand with a sword, leaving him with a permanent scar on his forehead. This also left him with a hatred of the British for the remainder of his life.

His imprisonment took him to Camden where he contracted smallpox, then a common but often deadly disease. He was eventually released in a prisoner exchange. Tragically his mother died the same year treating American prisoners of war from cholera in Charleston. His two brothers had also died during the revolution, leaving Jackson without a family at such a young age.

By 1784 Jackson had decided upon a career path: he was to become a lawyer. To pursue this he moved to Salisbury in North Carolina and studied under Spruce McCay then Colonel John Stokes. While studying he, like many students today, also had a wild side was was known for horse racing, game cocking, card playing and more. Despite his hard-playing attitude he received his license to practice law in 1788 and moved to Nashville which today is in Tennassee but then was still part of North Carolina.

It was while in Nashville that Jackson met, and fell in love with, Rachel Donelson Robards from one of the most powerful families in Tennessee. Rachel had been wife of Lewis Robards, but they had become estranged and she believed he had taken out a divorce. The couple went to Natchez, a town held by the Spanish, and apparently married in 1791. As it transpired, Rachel was in fact still legally married to Lewis Roberts and was only granted a divorce in 1793 due to her ‘adultery’ with Andrew Jackson. This allowed Andrew and Rachel to legally get married on the 17th January, 1794. The couple adopted one of Rachel’s nephews, who they named Andrew Jackson Jr.

Andrew Jackson by D.M. Carter and A.H. Ritchie

Andrew Jackson by D.M. Carter and A.H. Ritchie

The Start of a Political Career

Andrew become known as a good lawyer, and with his new family connections and his friendship with the territorial governor William Blount, he quickly advanced his political career. In 1796 he became a delegate to the state constitution convention for Tennessee which drafted the first constitution for the state. He made such a mark that he was elected the first Representative for the new state later in 1796, and in 1797 to the Senate.

Jackson however felt he was more suited to being a judge on the Superior Court of Tennessee and thus resigned after just five months of being a Senator. His career as judge would last longer, spanning the following six years.

Despite settling down into a important career and being a respected politician, Jackson maintained some of the rough-and-ready attitude of his youth. In 1806 he had a quarrel with Charels Dickinson, another Nashville lawyer, over a bet on a horse-race. The two duelled, with Jackson receiving a bullet deep into his chest and close to his heart – too close indeed to ever be removed. But Jackson then fired a shot at Dickinson which killed him. He later duelled the brothers Jesse and Thomas Hart Benton in 1813, leaving him with a bullet in his shoulder that was only removed when he was President in 1832.

Jackson, who due to his ruggedness became known as “Old Hickory,” continued serving in the army becoming a nationally recognized hero following his defeat of the British in the Battle of New Orleans in 1815. Later, he fought the Creek Wars as well as the Seminole War in Florida. He became Florida’s military governor in 1819 after Spain ceded it to the United States in the Adams-Onis Treaty.

Jackson prospered sufficiently to buy slaves and to build a mansion, the Hermitage, near Nashville. He was the first man elected from Tennessee to the House of Representatives, and he served briefly in the Senate.

Jackson ran for the Presidency in 1824, where he received more popular and electoral votes any of the other candidates. However, because he did not receive a majority of either the outcome of the election had to be decided by the House of Representatives who, in a surprising turn, awarded the office to John Quincy Adams. Feeling the election had been stolen from him, Jackson was not one to accept defeat, and he and his supporters began campaigning immediately. Thanks largely to his humble beginnings and reputation as a national hero, Jackson won the next election in 1828 by a substantial majority. He took office in 1829.

Andrew Jackson by Edward Anthony, April, 1845

Andrew Jackson by Edward Anthony, April, 1845

Jackson’s victory was due in part to large numbers of Western farmers as well as people in the cities supporting him. Because he was the first candidate not born into the aristocracy, he was considered a friend of the common man, and was known as the people’s president. This was the first election in which many states allowed people without land to vote, and they cast their vote for Jackson. His popularity with voters led to him being elected to a second term in 1832.

The election of 1828 was extremely negative in its tone due to allegations regarding Jackson’s marriage to Rachel Robards. Rachel was undergoing a divorce from her first husband, Col. Lewis Robards, at the time she and Jackson married. Only after the marriage did the couple find out her divorce was not final. They separated until the divorce was finalized, then were were legally married soon after. Rachel died on 22 December 1828, six weeks after his election to the presidency, and Jackson blamed Adams for her death due to the vicious gossip that had been spread during the election. Jackson never forgave Adams for that incident. In addition, he killed a man named Charles Dickinson in 1806 in a duel (with pistols) over Mrs. Jackson’s honor.

Jackson is credited with instituting a practice that is common to this day in politics, that of the “spoils” system, or what is known as patronage. He replaced a large number of federal employees with supporters who had worked on his campaign. He felt this system promoted the growth of democracy and involved more people in the political system.

A notable crisis during his period of office was the nullification crisis (or secession crisis), from 1828 to 1832. This involved a disagreement between southern colonies and the north. High tariffs on imports of common goods were seen southern farmers as unfairly benefiting Northern merchants and industrial entrepreneurs. The issue was brought to a head when the Vice President, John C. Calhoun, supported the claim of his home state, South Carolina, that it had the right to ‘nullify’, or declare illegal, the tariff legislation of 1828. Although Jackson, a southerner himself, was sympathetic to the south, his strong support of federalism caused a bitter rivalry between he and Calhoun to occur. The crisis was finally resolved in 1833 with a compromise settlement.

Andrew Jackson at 78

Andrew Jackson at 78

Another significant crisis during Jackson’s presidency was the notorious Indian Removal Act of 1830. This is the incident in which Native American tribes (Cherokee, Seminole, Choctaw, Creek, and Chickasaw) were removed from their homelands in the south and relocated to what was called the Indian Territory, which later became Oklahoma. Many of these people died along what has become known as the infamous Trail of Tears.

On January 30, 1835 the first assassination attempt against an American president occured in the United States Capitol. It happened while Jackson was leaving a funeral. A mentally ill man named Richard Lawrence fired a pistol at him at point-blank range. The pistol misfired and Lawrence pulled another pistol which also misfired. Jackson’s demeanor as a pugnacious fighter kept him from running for cover. Instead, he boldly confronted his attacker and proceeded to beat the man over the head with his cane.

Jackson never remarried after the death of his wife Rachel. His only child was an adopted son, also named Andrew. Jackson died on June 8, 1845.

Andrew Jackson Facts

  • President No.: 7th
  • When did Andrew Jackson serve? 1829-1837
  • What was Andrew Jackson’s party? Democratic-Republican
  • Where was Andrew Jackson from? Tennessee
  • Who was Andrew Jackson’s wife? Rachel Donelson Jackson
  • When was Andrew Jackson born? March 15, 1767
  • Where was Andrew Jackson born? Waxhaw, South Carolina.
  • When did Andrew Jackson die? June 8, 1845
  • Where did Andrew Jackson die? The Hermitage near Nashville, Tennessee.
  • Which college did Andrew Jackson attend? Salisbury, North Carolina
  • What was Andrew Jackson’s Jobs Before President? Lawyer, Governor of the Territory of Florida, U.S. Senator, Congressman
  • What was Andrew Jackson’s height? 6 feet, 1 inches
  • What was the population when Andrew Jackson was president? 15,900,000
  • What were Andrew Jackson hobbies? Riding
  • What pets did Andrew Jackson keep? Horses
  • What transportation did Andrew Jackson use? Train
  • How did Andrew Jackson communicate? Letter


Andrew Jackson Speeches

Andrew Jackson State of the Union Addresses

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