Andrew Jackson - 7th President of the United States

Portrait of Andrew Jackson on Horseback. Getty Images

Andrew Jackson's Childhood and Education

Andrew Jackson was born in either North or South Carolina on March 15, 1767. His mother raised him by herself. She died of cholera when Jackson was just 14. He grew up against the background of the American Revolution. He lost both brothers in the war and was raised by two uncles. He received a fairly good education by private tutors in his early years . At 15, he chose to go back to school before becoming a lawyer in 1787.

Family Ties

Andrew Jackson was named after his father. He died in 1767, the year his son was born. His mother was named Elizabeth Hutchinson. During the American Revolution, she helped nurse Continental soldiers. She died of Cholera in 1781. He had two brothers,  Hugh and Robert, who both died during the Revolutionary War. 

Jackson married Rachel Donelson Robards before her divorce became final. This would come back to haunt them while Jackson was campaigning. He blamed his opponents for her death in 1828. Together they had no children. However, Jackson adopted three children: Andrew, Jr., Lyncoya (an Indian child whose mother had been killed on the battlefield), and Andrew Jackson Hutchings along with serving as guardian for numerous children.

Andrew Jackson and the Military

Andrew Jackson joined the Continental Army at 13. He and his brother were captured and held for two weeks. During the War of 1812, Jackson served as the major general of the Tennessee Volunteers. He led his troops to victory in March 1814 against the Creek Indians at Horseshoe Bend. In May 1814 he was made Major General of the army. On January 8, 1815, he defeated the British in New Orleans and was lauded as a war hero. Jackson also served in the 1st Seminole War (1817-19) when he overthrew the Spanish Governor in Florida.

Career Before the Presidency

Andrew Jackson was a lawyer in North Carolina and then Tennessee. In 1796, he served at the convention that created the Tennessee Constitution. He was elected in 1796 as Tennessee's first US Representative and then as US Senator in 1797 from which he resigned after eight months.

From 1798-1804, he was a Justice on the Tennessee Supreme Court. After serving in the military and being the military governor of Florida in 1821, Jackson became a US Senator (1823-25).

Andrew Jackson and the Corrupt Bargain

In 1824, Jackson ran for President against John Quincy Adams. He won the popular vote but the lack of an electoral majority resulted in the election being decided in the House. It is believed that a deal was made giving the office to John Quincy Adams in exchange for Henry Clay becoming Secretary of State. This was called the Corrupt Bargain. The backlash from this election catapulted Jackson to the presidency in 1828. Further, the Democratic-Republican Party split in two.

Election of 1828

Jackson was renominated to run for President in 1825, three years before the next election. John C. Calhoun was his Vice President. The party became known as the Democrats at this time. He ran against incumbent John Quincy Adams of the National Republican Party. The campaign was less about issues and more about the candidates themselves. This election is often seen as the triumph of the common man. Jackson became the 7th president with 54% of the popular vote and 178 out of 261 electoral votes.

Election of 1832

This was the first election that used National Party Conventions. Jackson ran again as the incumbent with Martin Van Buren as his running mate. His opponent was Henry Clay with John Sergeant as Vice President. The main campaign issue was the Bank of the United States, Jackson's use of the spoils system and his use of the veto. Jackson was called "King Andrew I" by his opposition. He won 55% of the popular vote and 219 out of 286 electoral votes.

Events and Accomplishments of Andrew Jackson's Presidency

Jackson was an active executive who vetoed more bills than all previous presidents. He believed in rewarding loyalty and appealing to the masses. He relied on an informal group of advisors called the "Kitchen Cabinet" to set policy instead of his real cabinet.

During Jackson's presidency, sectional issues began to arise. Many Southern states wished to preserve states' rights. They were upset over tariffs, and when, in 1832, Jackson signed a moderate tariff, South Carolina felt they had the right through "nullification" (the belief that a state could rule something unconstitutional) to ignore it. Jackson stood strong against South Carolina, ready to use the military if necessary to enforce the tariff. In 1833, a compromise tariff was enacted that helped mollify the sectional differences for a time.

In 1832, Jackson vetoed the Second Bank of the United State's charter. He believed the government could not constitutionally create such a bank and that it favored the wealthy over the common people. This action led to federal money being put into state banks who then loaned it out freely leading to inflation. Jackson stopped the easy credit by requiring all land purchases be made in gold or silver which would have consequences in 1837.

Jackson supported Georgia's expulsion of the Indians from their land to reservations in the West. He used the Indian Removal Act of 1830 to force them to move, even discounting the Supreme Court ruling in Worcester v. Georgia (1832) that said they could not be forced to move. From 1838-39, troops led over 15,000 Cherokees from Georgia in what is called the Trail of Tears.

Jackson survived an assassination attempt in 1835 when the two derringers pointed at him didn't fire. The gunman, Richard Lawrence, was found not guilty for the attempt by reason of insanity.

Jackson's Post Presidential Period

Andrew Jackson returned to his home, the Hermitage, near Nashville, Tennessee. He stayed active politically until his death on June 8, 1845.

Historical Significance of Andrew Jackson

Andrew Jackson is seen as one of the United State's greatest presidents. He was the first "citizen-president" representing the common man. He believed strongly in preserving the union and in keeping too much power out of the hands of the wealthy. He was also the first President to truly embrace the powers of the presidency.