Andrew Jackson – Good Evil & The Presidency – PBS Documentary

Updated : Nov 08, 2019 in Articles

Andrew Jackson – Good Evil & The Presidency – PBS Documentary


He learned to fight in the Revolutionary
War He used what he’s learned to kill a man gambling death He led the American army to the most
surprising victory in its history but He also launched an unauthorized invasion
of Florida he added vast regions of the south to the United States but it was
land he brutally rested from Native Americans Americans he was the founder of the Democratic Party but his enemies accused him of being an American Napoleon
his name was Andrew Jackson Andrew Jackson is made possible by
major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities democracy demands
wisdom by the Ahmanson foundation committed to the creative pursuit of quality education in the arts by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and
by contributions to your from viewers like you thank you in 1859, as America was rushin towards Civil War, James Parton, the first historian to attempt a biography of
Andrew Jackson arrived at the hermitage Jackson’s beloved home he was escorted through the mansion by Hannah Jackson who had been Andrew Jackson’s slave from the time she was 10 until Jackson died. Partin knew that many Americans
considered Andrew Jackson the country’s greatest leader since the founding
fathers. Parton wrote during the last 30 years of his life. He was the idol of the
American people. Columbus had sailed, Washington fought, Jefferson written fifty years of democratic government had passed, and the result of it all was that the people of the United States honored Andrew Jackson before all other living men. Andrew Jackson, in my mind, is one of the great presidents; and it’s not surprising that he was so loved. In fact, it is said that when the Civil War broke out in 1861. People wanted to vote for Andrew Jackson hoping he would come back and save the Union. He was that beloved for all of his flaws, for all of his contradictions, Andrew Jackson did more than any other American of his generation to enlarge the possibilities of American democracy in doing that seeing himself as president, as the
Tribune of the people, he did more than anyonetochange to enlarge the
possibilities ofthe American presidencybut Jackson was alsoone of themost
controversial presidents inAmericanhistory his policies on issues like
Indian Removal and slavery provokedfierce oppositionnotonly in his
lifetimebut beyond AndrewJackson forAfrican Americansis not sort of figure
that one whowas very dearhe wouldn’tform part ofthe the ranks of the great
men ofAmerican society because never inhis reign as presidentin his terms as
presidentdid he ever attempt to expand the rights
of peopleon the contrary he dideverythinghe couldit seems to me to
constrict those right tolimit thoserightspeople talked aboutAndrew
Jackson’sblack moods people talkaboutAndrew Jackson’sred hot temperbut the
colorof this story is green and it’sthegrain of envy and it’s the grain of
coveting Indian lands at the HermitageParton discovered a
portrait ofJackson finished just beforehe died
it wascompletely unlike the many heroicportraits of the great man and the
vulnerability it capturedbrought tolife partnersmost insightful
description of Jackson he was ademocratic autocratan urbanesavagean
atrocioussaint Americans have alwayslookedat Andrew Jackson and seen
themselvesbut over the yearsthey’velooked at Andrew Jackson andseen
differentversionsof themselvesat onetime they saw the frontiersman the poor
boy made goodthe classic self-made mantoday some Americans look back at
Jacksonand they see the slaveholder theIndian oppressoreven the Indian hater
so the debateabout Andrew Jackson isverycontemporary one he’s an
inescapablequintessential American butof what kind is hea man whom we should
admire or is he a man whomwe shoulddespise is he a man whomwe should
celebrateor is he aman for whom weshouldapologize Thomas Jefferson he
could never speak on accountof therashness of his feelingsI have seen him
attempted repeatedlyand as oftenchokedwith rage in the 1760sAndrew Jackson’s parents
traded desperate povertyin Irelandforan equally hard life on the Carolina
frontierAndrew never met his fatherbeforehe died when his wife was
pregnantwith Andrew leaving the boyandhis twoolder brothers to fend for
themselveswhen the Revolutionary Warbegan in 1775the Carolina frontier
became a dangerousplacewith one farmersiding with the Patriotsand his
next-doorneighborwith the British itwas a brawlingviolent way to grow up
you made a living with your hands andwith your spirit your military spirit to
defend yourselfand your hands to pullsomething out of the soil
so you had a constantwarinessandaconstant threatof violenceand I think
that’s one ofthe many reasons Jacksonbecamea man who was so prone to
violencehe grew up with it he didn’tknowanything else during the revolution
the fighting in the Carolinas was themost vicious ofthe entire war both
sidesexecuted men they captured andcommitted atrocities againstcivilians
outnumbered and desperatethe Patriotsrelied onyoung boys who knew every
twist and turnin the woods to carryorders through the
one of them was Andrew Jackson there was a famousstory about young Andrew13
years old being commanded by his by theBritish officer whocaptured him to
clean his bootsand Jackson refused totakesuch a servile job and the officer
slashed him across thefacewitha swordand Jackson put his arm up to defend
himself andhe carried the scars all hislifethe war inflicted other even more
horrible scars on Jackson one of his brothers died of heatstroke
while in battle and his mother and otherbrother died ofdisease intheboys eyes
it was the British whowere to blameforleaving him suddenly alone in the world
for AndrewJackson the AmericanRevolution wasa formativepsychicas
well as political eventfor the rest ofhis life he would despise the British
Empire he would growupfeelingas if heowed the British a kindof repayment for
all that the British had done to himpersonallyand to hisfamilyAndrew Jacksonwith that kind of a
backgroundyou would expecthim to be averyangry and frustrated young man and
he wasand he made quite a reputationfor himself as a man who isgettinginto
trouble causing all kinds of problemsafellow residentof the town of Salisbury
described the young troublemaker thiswayAndrew Jackson was the most roaring
rollickinghorse-racingcard playingmischievous fellow thatever lived in
Salzburghe got a small inheritance froma grandfather backin Ireland and he
wentdown to Charleston to collect itand spent the whole thing in aweek on
horses andliquor and maybe some girlstoo butit was all gone prettyfastand
he had to trudge back to theupcountryof SouthCarolinato somehow pull his
life together againthere are a lot of15 year-oldswho would nothavemadeit
and it wouldn’t have surprised anybodyif Andrew Jackson just went down the
tubesand wasforgotten at that pointbut all the peoplewho knewhim whenhe
was a boy and a young man said he hadpassion fire determination audacity and
refusal tobe crushed by the kinds ofthings that might wipe out anybodyelseafterapprentice in with a lawyer
Jackson became a lawyer himselfat theage of 20 and when he was offereda job
as a prosecutoron the frontier hejumped at the opportunity to join the
waves of Americansheadingwestwhen therevolution ends particularly
for young men likeJackson with verylittle goingfor them in theEastthere
is thishuge expanse of territoryKentucky and Tennessee to be precise
thatthere was the placeyou couldstartoff oneof the attractivefeatures of
this frontier experience wasthatall ofthese newplaces were in need of
founding fathers so to speak andthey’re like a job placement at a
new founding father needed forCountyand Tennessee and and people like
Jackson could apply I mean basically you show up andsay I’m here to create a new
community in 1788three months beforeGeorge
Washington waselected the firstpresidentoftheUnited StatesAndrew
Jackson arrived at anew settlement onthe edge ofthe American West it’s name
was Nashville Tennessee besidespracticing law
Nashville’s newest citizen bred horsesspeculated in landand most
significantly fell in love with RachelDonaldson robotsdaughter of one of
Nashville’s most prominentfamiliesRachel returned Andrews feelings but
theirrelationship faced aninsurmountablebarrier
Rachel was already married toa man fromKentucky namedLewisrobotswhenJackson
arriveshis this wild kid and Rachelyouknow was sort of wild herself sheshould
never havemarried LouisRobardsand shefinds I think companionship and a kind
of kindredspiritin Jackson and theyfall in lovebut in most of 1790s
America womenliterally belonged totheir husbandsI think it’s veryhard
forus to understandthat there was atime inthe history ofour country where
it was virtually impossibleforpeopleto divorce the woman became a part of
the husbandand shehad no separatelegalrightswhatsoever fromher husband
so in theevent a woman who wanted toleave the household she had to leaveher
childrenbehindbecause the children didnotbelong to her she had no legal
ownershipto children to property awoman had no legalidentity whatsoever
except as a part of her husbandmost unhappy couples lived in loveless
marriages rather than flout the law butAndrew and Rachel were not the kindof
people who let social conventionstopthem fromfollowing their hearts these
two hapless peopleup until this pointfind each other and the opportunity and
the desire merge for a reallyextraordinarydecision whichis for the
two to elopeto Natchez the two younglovers headed south alongtheNatchez
Trace trail their goal was the wild and wooly town of Natchezon the Mississippi
River which wasgoverned by Spain byrunning off with AndrewRachel was
making it clearthat she was never goingback toher husband no matter what the
consequences for a womanto choose to leave her
husband especiallyone who came fromRachel Donaldson’s background was an
extraordinarily courageous decision on her part because in Rachel’s caseshe
knewthatshe was essentially settingherself up to be condemned by the
societythat she lived in andthe shadowof this decision would haunt them
through the restof their daysin thebeginning the couple’s daring elopement
was worth it forthey made an idealmatch where others couldnot tame him
she could there’s one incident thatoccurredwhen they were floating down
the Mississippi River and there weresome peoplethat annoyed JacksonIdon’t
recall exactly what it is they didandhe took arifle and he startsshooting
at themand right away they ran downintothecabin and toldRachelshe said
pleasetell mr. Jackson I would like tosee him she could handlehim she was the
rightperson for himwithNashville still a frontier town
with fewchurches and fewer courtsRachel and Andrew were ableto return
homeafter six monthsand be accepted bymost ofthe community as man and wife
but Rachel’s husband was not so forgivingandhe took his case against
her to the state legislaturewhere hewon permission to sue fordivorceon the
grounds ofadulteryin 1793 the courtsgrantedLouisthe first divorce in the
historyof the stateof Kentucky notlong after Rachel and Andrew were
quietly marriedin Nashville Rachelhoped that if she and Andrew were loving
and faithful the factthat she hadbeenbranded a Scarlet womanwould soon be
forgotten but her new husband was interested in politicsand her adultery
would one day be a central issue intherace for president of the United Statesfor all hiswildness the young Andrew
Jackson alsohad the determinationvisionand charisma of a born leader and
in 1796the state of Tennesseesent himas its lone representativeto Congress
but thelearnin statesman who filled thenation’s capital didn’t quite knowwhat
tomakeof the fiery frontiersmanJackson was so passionate whenhe came
toCongress in the 1790s the ThomasJeffersonremembered that he would get
on his feetand become overwhelmed withhis emotionsliterally choked with rage
could not get out ofword and red-facedhad to sit downagain if the Washington
elitewere unimpressed with thepassionate mr. Jacksonthe feeling was
mutual Congress was stifling for Jacksonit was
a place wherepeoplemet in committeesand did backroom deals and Jackson
despised backroom deals it was a placewherepeople tradedfavors with one
another in order toget what they wantedand Jackson thought that was hideously
corrupt after just overa year in Congress
Jackson resigned declaringI was bornfor the storm and a calm does not suit
me raisingracehorses now became hisfavorite pasta and betting enormous sums
on thosehorses in match racesbecamehis passionAndrew Jackson loved horses
violence whiskey he was also someone whoif youwere his friend
you were his friend forever if yoursenemygod help you in 1805Jackson won a
huge sum ofmoney when hisopponentshorsecame up lame but a dispute over
how the payoff was madeled to anescalating series of insults between
Jacksonand a young Tennessee and namedCharles Dickinson later his friends
insisted thatDickinson had saidsomethingaboutRachel Jacksonand
here’s somethingelsethat Jackson isverysensitive about because his whole
marriageto Rachel had been under acloud fromthe beginning and anybody to
raise that pointin any direct or evenindirect way would trigger a very
violent response on May 30th 1806Charles Dickinson and
Andrew Jackson met on adueling groundDickinson was reputed tobe thebest
shotin Tennessee and when the signalwas givento fire he fired first but to
his shockhe apparently missedthen Andrew Jackson tookcareful aimand
mortally woundedDickinson only then didJackson’s second noticethat hewas
bleedingJackson had in fact been shotin thechestwith the bullet lodging
next to hisheart when heshocked iiasked how he couldpossiblyhave fired
back accuratelyjackson replied i shouldhave hit himif he had shot me through
thebrain jackson carried the bullet forthe rest ofhislifeit was unmistakable
evidence of how unsuited he was to thegive-and-takeof politics but his future
in a differentarenacould not havebeenbrighter Sam Houston the reputation of
general Jackson will adorn the proudestbrightest pages in the nation’shistory
he wears the laurel wreath which his ownvalor in 1812theUnitedStates declared war
on Great Britain Andrew Jackson had beenyearning since he was13for another
shotat the British and having beenvotedcommander of the Tennessee militia
his dreamhad now come trueto inspire fellowTennesseans to join
his armyhe declaredwho are we and forwhat are wegoing to fight
are we the titledslaveshad George thethird the military conscripts of
Napoleon thegreator the frozenpeasants of theRussians are no we are
the Freebornsons of America thecitizens ofthe onlyRepublic now
existing inthe world and theonlypeople on earth who possess rights
libertiesand property which they darecall their own but the mission Jackson
inhis men were ultimately given was farfrom glamorous tramping and slogging
throughthe forests and swamps ofthesoutheast until they hadfound and
defeated Creek Indian warriors who were alliedwiththe Britishwell Jackson is
in an enviable position hehas one offour armies assigned to punish the
creekshe is poorly supplied his troopsare very poorly trainedthey have very
short enlistmentsand it’s cold and wetandthey want to returnhomethings are
not going wellaftermonths in the fieldJackson supply
lines broke down fearing starvationsomeof his soldiersNewton ate and began to
walk home to Tennessee but Andrew Jackson threatened to kill them if they
took anotherstep it was not an idlethreatfor on two otheroccasions
Jackson had men under his commandexecuted I see in Jackson’s Indian
campaigns a ruthlessnessthat isfrightfulto beholdhe seemed possessed
almost with a determinationto go on nomatter what finallyin Marchof 1814
Jackson cornered themaincreek force itwas campedon a peninsula called
Horseshoe Bend becauseit was protectedon threesides by the TallapoosaRiver
withthe fourth side protected by amammoth breastwork of logs they had
built the creeks were convinced that their positionwas impregnablebut thenCherokee waters fighting with
Jackson’s swam across the river to thecreek village and set iton fire
Jackson saw his chanceand ordered hismen to storm the barricade after brutal hand-to-hand fighting
Jackson’s forces took the barricadefromthat point on after the barricade was
breachedit’s no longer a battleit is a Searchand Destroy mission it is
a slaughter of the1,000 Creek warriors not one
surrenderedit was Andrew Jackson’s first great
child butto his friend Sam Houston andfought beside him it was alsoa tragedy
the Sun was going down and it’s set onthe ruins of theCreekNationwhere but
a fewhours beforea thousand bravewarriors had scowled on their assailants
there was nothingtobe seenbutvolumesof densesmoke rising heavily over the
corpses of painted warriors the burningruins oftheir fortifications more
Native Americans were killedin theBattle of Horseshoe Bendthan on any
other dayinthe history ofthe UnitedStates oneof the American participants
who went down to the river that night tofill his canteensaid it very very
nicelythe Tallapoosa might very well becalled a river of bloodbecause as the
dead and dyingmade it to the riverthe Tallapoosa was turned redHorseshoe Bendwas one of the only
victories in a warthat was turning outto bea disaster for the United States
theBritish had captured Washington DCfollowing the Battle of Bladensburg
which military historians have calledthe worstdisgracein Americanmilitary
historywhen the American militiabrokenran hardly firing a shotthe British
then moved inburned the White House andtheCapitol so the war hadbeen going
very badly with Britain threatening tofurther humiliateAmerica by conquering
New Orleans thearmy was desperate tofind a generalwho could get his men to
stand and fight the general finallychosenwas incredibly tough on his men
and yet his men were fiercely loyaltohima riddle explained by his nickname
Old HickoryAndrew Jackson became OldHickorywhen he was coming back from the
front down in Mississippi and he decidedthathe would walk while the wounded row
and so he walked all the way home and his men loved himfor it it was
example of amazing spiritual leadershipand they started calling him Old Hickory
because theythoughthe was as tough asa Hickory stick Old Hickoryhad never
had a dayof formal militarytraining inhis life and yet the Battle of New
Orleanswould be depicted in song storyand art for the next 100 years
Verne Andrew Jackson and his men wereabout to shock theworld to even out the
odds with the British Jackson enlisted the aidof the Frenchpirate Jean
LafitteChoctaw Indians and the freeblacks of New Orleansthen he masked
thembeside his men on a narrow stretchofground between a swamp and the
MississippiRiverOn January 8th 1815 ahuge wavethatbattle hardened British
troops swept down on Jackson’s irregular instead ofturning and running as the
British had watched American troops doin numerous battles before Jackson and
his men marched intothe pages ofAmerican history they really thought
that once these professionals came watching towards thesefrontiersman
they’d all run and to their surprisethey not only didn’t runthey stood and
fired onefolly after another right intothefaces of these poor oncoming British
soldiersand just mowed them downJackson had proved that America could
stand upto the world’s greatestmilitary powerand win the victorythat
he wonwas almost unbelievablethe British lost hundreds of men dead on
thebattlefieldJackson’s casualties in the main battle
were8killed and 13 wounded it wasastonishingit’s still astonishingas
news ofthe victory spread across thecountry America was swept up in a wave
of patriotismunrivaled in its historyI think the wholecharacter of the
American people changed after the war of1812prior to thattime you asked the
person who or what they were they wouldsay I’m a New YorkerI’m a Virginian I’m
from Connecticut I’m from Massachusettsafter New Orleans they said I am an
American Americans pride in the victory was stoked by a floodofimages ofthe
battlefora new inventionaquatintengraving enabled artists to make
multiple color copies of the sameimagemuchfaster than ever beforea delighted
American public bought up thousands ofpicturesof the gloriousAmerican
victory at NewOrleans and at the centerof many of these new engravingswas the
new Americanhero Andrew JacksonAndrewJackson was really one ofthe
first national celebrities songs werewritten about him clubs werefounded for
himJanuary8 the anniversary oftheBattle of NewOrleans towns would have
Jackson dinnersand banquets he was acultural forcebeforehe was a political
force the festivities were boisterousfor Americans had more thanjust the
Battle of New Orleansto celebrate after1815 theAmericans were very much free
to work out their owndestiny withoutinterference from Europe this meant that
they were enthusedand excited and Ithought theycould accomplish anything
they wantedto it also lent a sense ofurgencythey believed that if they
didn’t get itright now they mightnotget another chance that this was the
time this was theplace on which a newworld wasgoing to becreated they had
tomake surethat it wasthe right newworldthis turbulent age would become
the onlyperiod in American historyknownby the nameof asingle man the
Jacksonian era yet as the era began Andrew Jackson was once againlivingon
a farmin Tennesseewith noclear futurein American politicsfor Rachel Jackson
havingAndrew home was a break from whatwas in many ways a lonely lifeshe and Andrewhad proven unable to have
childrenand her dream of spending herlife surroundedbyaloving husband and
large family hadnot come true I thinkthat whenRachel ran off with Andrew
Jackson she thought thatshewas goingto get a husband whowas devoted to her
and that they wouldhave this warmcircle around the familyfire every
nightwithchildren running about very similar
to the household she had grownup in butinstead she’s married a man who’s got
tremendous ambition so instead of having this quiet family home whichI think was
at the heart ofRachel’s desires insteadshe’s marriedto a veryambitious man
who pursues national politics becomes amilitaryleader and in her own words
spends less than the fourth ofhisnightsunder his own roof as he waited
to see what Avenue for his ambitionmight open nextAndrew Jackson tended to
his farm andhishorses and became awealthyman hisadmirers were soon
touting the political appeal of apenniless orphan who had pulled himself
upby hisown bootstrapsbut the realstoryof how Andrew Jackson becamea
wealthy man was more complicatedFrederick DouglassgeneralJackson has
to own that he owes his farmon thebanks ofthe mobile to the strong arm of
the nigrayou
you for millionsof poor white Americans
many ofwhom had come fromEuropeseeking a betterlife
the ideal Americawas one in which theycould prosper to give them that
opportunityGeneral Andrew Jackson hadforced the CreekNationto see vast
amounts ofland in what would becomeAlabama and Mississippi to the United
States the treasured mythwas that thiswas a place wherewhite Americans could
improve theirluck by relying solely ontheir own hard laborthe harsh reality wasthat it was black
Americans who were oftendoing much ofthelabor Jackson himselffounded a
plantation in northernAlabama on landfrom which he had justdriven the creeks
towork the land he brought in slavesJackson firmly believed thatthe slaves
were put on this earth to laborandwhites arehere to rule in to govern and
to leadsociety and they are at the topof the pecking orderthey are at the top
of the socialorder theyare at the topofthe political order and therefore
they’re the ones who rule superiorWhite’s lead inferior blacks followJackson named his biggest parcel of land
near NashvilleThe Hermitage at theheightof its operation well over 100
slaves at the Hermitage calledAndrewJacksonmaster he would have beenavery
paternalistic personand he would havemadethe slaves think he was their
mother andfatherand got all wrappedinto one but to enslaveanother person
another human beingyou can’t be a goodpersonyou haveto be a pretty tough
vicious mean person tohold anotherpersonor 140 people in slaveryfor all
of theirlives when one of Jackson’sslaves escapedhe offered a reward to
anyone whowould give the man300 lashes300 lashes could kill a manbecause of
the infection from 300 lasheson hisback perhaps they would putsome grease
into the woundsome ointmentinto thewoundthey may pour somewhiskey on it
you knowand which would make the man gointo shockbut he could die from those
woundshe certainly would behealed fora long time and thatwould remind all
the other slaveshere’s what you gonnaget if you try to run away from this
placethough a fewwhite Americans were
starting toquestion the morality ofenslavingblacks the fact was that
slavery was vital to American prosperityand men likeAndrew Jackson could not
envisionaworld without it humanslavery was apowerhouseofthe early
Americaneconomy slave grown productswere themost valuable exports that the
UnitedStates produced slave growncottonslave grown rice slave grown
tobaccospilled out of the plantationsof thesouth crowdedonto boatsenriched
the harbors ofNew York and Boston andthen fed an appetite of a hungry and
shivering worldand that’s where themoneycame from so the people who owned
the slavesand the people who bought andsold the produce thatthe slaves made
werethe richest people in the countryand it was the desire toget more of
those richesthat drove Americans intothe best cotton countryin theworldthe
countrythat waspossessed bythe creekinthe Choctaw and the Cherokee and the
Chickasaw Indians the relentless demand for Indian land on whichto grow cotton
created intense conflict with NativeAmericans some of the bloodiest fighting was in
southernGeorgia where white settlerswere battling Seminoles andcreekswho
were staging cross-border raids from Florida withFlorida still owned by
SpainPresident James Monroe called up aman he knew he coulddepend on to defend
America’s borders but General Jacksonhad even bigger plans Jackson really was
simplyconcerned with Indian insurgencyin Florida he was really concernedabout
the growing numbers of free and escapedblacks who werethey are freeand
escaped slaves who were there who werearmedand potentially dangerous and a
magnetfor other slaves it’s a threat tohit to the plantation economythe
combination of an Indian slave alliance had haunted Americans from the 18th
century onwardand this was somethingthat concerned Jacksonterribly without
ordersfrom WashingtonJackson launched an invasion of Florida
and competent during the invasion hecaptured two British men who he believed
were inciting attacks on Americansignoring the ruling of his own military
tribunal he had both men executedwhen news of the unauthorized invasion
reached Washingtonthe Speaker of theHouse Henry Clay declared that Jackson
had the makingsof an American Napoleonhe called on Congressto censure Jackson
being censured would have disgracedJackson but his conquest of Florida was
enormousLee popular with mostAmericansand Congress refused to censure the
great war hero Henry ClayI failto seehow the killing
oftwo thousand English personsat NewOrleans qualifiesa person for the
difficultand complicated duties of thepresidencyin 1824James Monroe was retiring after
two terms as president Andrew Jacksonthought he was an excellent candidate to
be the next occupantof a white housebut he was not the onlyone with his eye
onthe job John Quincy Adams wasthesonof John Adams America’s second president
he hadspent much of his childhood inEurope with his father and was now
Secretary of State his worldview was asdifferent fromJackson’sas his
upbringinghe was a politician withimagination he imagined an America that
was muchmore economically developed heimagined an America with muchbroader
educational opportunities foreverybodyhe imagined an America in which the
rights of Indians and blackpeople andwomenwere actually respected Treasury
Secretary William Crawfordand Speakerof the HouseHenry Clay were also
candidates forpresident as in everyprevious electionthe candidates did not
campaignand in some states residentsdid not evengetto vote forpresident
instead thestate legislaturechose thatstate’s members of the electoral college
in the earlyyears of the Republicvoters were notcalled on to choose the
President ofthe UnitedStates choosingthe presidentwas quite honestly and
quite deliberately an elitist operationthe people who were thought to be the
insidersin state government became thepresidential electorsand they chose the
president based on which set ofWashington insiders they thought was the
best and the people were basicallyexpected to acceptthat decision without
plate in an election controlled byWashingtonpoliticians the frontiersman
fromTennessee seemed certain to finishlast
when Andrew Jackson’s name was firstfloated about as acandidatefor the
presidencyall kindsof leadingpoliticians wereaghast
they understood him to be a wild-eyed military chieftaina hot-tempered
individual who had executed a couple ofBrits down in Floridawithout authority
or or apparent reason and as Jeffersonsaid he was the most unfit man
imaginable for the office of the presidencyto counter the view that
Jackson was unfit to be Presidentone ofhisadvisors John Eatonpublished a
seriesof letters that proposed anentirely new rationale for what was
important in a president in the selection of a chief magistrateof this
unionit isnot necessary that we shouldlook exclusively to the mental
qualificationsof a candidate it isstrength of charactera perseverance and
steadiness of purposethat makes thedistinguished man what John Eaton does
in the lettersof Wyoming is simplystand on its headthe conventional
understandingof the qualifications ofapresident the very qualities that made a
candidate beforeJohn Quincy Adams beingthe the idealexperience in courts of
Europeexperience and diplomacyexperience as his father secretary in
the in variousofficesof government allofthis is proof of corruption proof of
insider statusproof of being outoftouch withthe people whereas Jackson’s
complete absence ofa resume becomes hisprimaryqualification foroffice
when the voteswerecounted in 1824 theWashington establishment was stunned to
discover that Andrew Jacksonhad wonboth the most popular and electoral
votes butwith four men dividing up theelectoral voteJackson did not win a
majorityand the election was throwninto the Houseof RepresentativesSpeaker of the HouseHenry Clay had
finished last and was out of the runningbut he had enough support to play
kingmakerclay believed with all of hisheartthat Andrew Jackson was unfit to
be Presidentso hethrew his supporttoJohn Quincy Adamsand with itAdams was
elected presidentAdams then immediatelyoffered clay the job of Secretary of
State outragedJackson supporters beganrailing against what they were convinced
was a corruptbargain between Washingtoninsiders to steal the presidency from>Andrew Jackson one newspaperwhich hadendorsed Jackson declared expired at
Washington on the 9th of February 1825the virtue liberty and independence of
the UnitedStatescaused by poisonadministered by the assassin handof
John Quincy Adamstheusurper and HenryClay
what they were absolutely convinced of was that the popularwill had been
thwarted the election hadbeen stolenWashington insiders had cooked up the
whole thingand they had to make sureitdidn’t happenagain
by 1828when Andrew Jackson ran againstJohn Quincy Adamsa second time the
Jacksonians were readytolaunch thefirst truepolitical campaign in
American history their strategy wasdriven bythe fact that most states had
finallygiven the vote to all whitemales to inspire those mento get out
and votefor the firsttime in theirlivesJackson’s campaigntookadvantage
of the latestmedia revolutionlithography to flood America with
lithographsof the hero ofthe Battle ofNewOrleansif you’re going to elect the
president byappealingto the people asa wholeyou change the ground rules
completely because you have to win the popular votedown there at the
grassroots at the militiagrants in thetaverns inthe fairs in the streets all
acrossthe countryso somehow you haveto be able to reach thosepeopleyou’ve
got to fire them up the Jacksonians plan was to rally
average Americans around a new ideathatthey shouldchoose the President of the
UnitedStates so they organizedallkindsof popular demonstrations rallies
conventions assemblies of people who would get together andhurrah for
Jackson they would pass some set ofresolutions and thenthey would allhave
a barbecue andthey all have a drink andthey would startto cheer and pretty
soonyou get the sensethat everybodyinthis precinct is for Jacksonand they’d
send a resultsof that to the newspaperandtry to publicize it as much as they
couldand this was the kind of tacticthatdidn’t require finagling behind
closed doorsit could take placein theboondocks it couldhappen in rural
Tennessee rural Alabama rural New Yorkand this kindof stirring up popular
vote and giving thepeople the notionthat they should choose the president
andnot the caucus members in Washingtonthat revolutionized American politics
the people have not been willing togiveup the choice ofpresident ever since
the revolutionary new style of campaigning soon made Jackson into the
heavy favorite but then his opponents discovered the skeleton insideAndrew
and Rachel’s closet the man behind the mischief was a
confidant of henry clay’s who edited aCincinnati newspaper heuncovered and
printed the court record of Rachel Jackson’s divorce proceedings which
revealed thatRachel had lived withAndrew while she was marriedto another
man the story of Rachel’s adulterywas soon
on the front pagesof newspapers acrossthecountry
Jackson is called the Western BluebeardRachel is theAmerican Jezebel and it
said the touch of a profligate woman likeRachel is going to pollute anyone
how can someone like this be put in the White House and over the women in
Washingtonsociety Jackson blamed HenryClay for the attacks on Rachel and he
would latersay that it was one of thegreat regrets of his life thathe did
not shoot clay instead Jackson’s campaignfired back withthe chargethat
while Adams was US envoy to Russiahehadprocured an American whore for the
Russians on this and other storiestheytold aboutAdams were lies whereas the
story that the Adams people were tellingabout Jackson was true but taken
together they all made the campaign of1828quite possibly the dirtiest
campaign in allAmerican historythe viciousnessof the campaign would
have consequencesno one could haveforeseenrachel was now57 and had
becomedeeply religious she found itimpossible toaccept that people across
America were nowpublicly calling her awhoreand worse just because she had
fallen inlovewith Andrew Jacksonsomany years ago to a friend she wrote who
has been so cruelly tried as I have our enemies have dipped their arrows in
wormwood and gall and sped them at me Almighty Godwas there ever anything to
equal it to think that 30 years havepassed I’ve come to seeRachel Jackson’s life
as the plot of aGrand Opera you have ayoungwoman who makes a mistake in her
first marriageand then chooses toescape that with a very courageous
protector but bydoing that she’s madeperhapsthe biggest mistake of her life
becausethis whole story of Rachel as afallen woman explodes on the scene again
and becomes the moral wedge issue of the1820 campaignswhen the election of 1828was over and
the votes werecountedAndrew Jacksonthe war hero who had dramatically
expanded America was electedpresidentin a landslidein January of1829he
boarded a steam boatto begin hisjourneyfrom Nashville to Washington DC
had many stops along thewaythetownsfolkplanned joyous celebrations to
honor the first manof humble origins tobecomepresident but Andrew Jackson
declinedevery single invitation hereceived for hewastoo bowed down with
grief just after the electionRachelJacksonhad died of a heart attackJackson was devastated by Rachel’s death
fromthat day forward he carried herminiatureand would speak to Rachel
every night before his he went to sleepwhether he was at the Hermitageor in
Washingtonand when he was home attheHermitageeach evening he would go and
visit Rachel’s grave and yet Rachel’sdeath was seen by someas a political
godsendfor Jackson everyonearoundJackson knowsrachel is goingto be a
problemin the White House because thewomen inWashington will not accept her
sociallyand Rachel choosing shall wesay to die at thatmomentfreeze himto
focus on all the challenges he’ll havein the White Housein many ways she’s
likeMadame Butterflywhorealizes thatit’s onlythrough her death thatshe’ll
be able to give her lover what he needsbut that was not how Andrew Jackson saw
it in his eyes his enemies had made an unforgivable attack on his wife
they blameJohn Quincy Adams for notputting a stop toitand he blamed Henry
Clayfor initiating Jackson actuallybelieved that they killed her and so as
faras he wasconcerned they were hermurderers over the nexteight years
Jackson’s anger at his enemieswouldcombine with his passionate personality
and strong convictionsto produce one ofthe most turbulent presidencies America
has ever experienced DanielWebster whenGeneral Jackson comes he will bring a
breeze with himwhich way it will blowIcannot tell on March 4th 1829thousands of farmers
and tradesmenwhohad neverbeen toWashingtonDCbeforepoured into the
White Housethey had come to celebratethe inauguration of the first president
whose life storythey could identifyAndrew Jackson his whole family is wiped
out in the revolution he’s an orphanhe’sangry but he decides to make
somethingof himselfand he becomes thepresident of the United States
it’s an extraordinary careerit’s whatAmericawe like to think is all about to
Jackson’sworking-class supporters theirpresence at the inauguration celebration
was proofthat America was entering afar more democratic age and that was
precisely whatwerethe Washington eliteprominent socialite Margaret Bayard
Smith described how the inaugurationparty turned into a right what a scene
we didwitness the majesty of the peopledisappeared and a rabblea mob was
scramblingfighting romping cut glassandChinato theamount of several
thousand dollarswas broken inthestruggleto get the punch
ladies faintedmen were to be seen withbloody nosesand such a scene of
confusion took place as is impossible todescribe those who got in couldnot get
out by thedoor again but had toscramble outof windows the president
after having then nearly pressed todeathand almost suffocated by the
people in their eagerness to shake handswith Old Hickoryhad to retreat through
the back waythe riot deeply alarmed the Washington
establishment as menlike Henry Clay sawitJackson’s motley supporters had
demonstratedwhy the founding fathershad not trusted the masses to choose the
presidentnow clay and his allies worriedthat
Jackson a manfamous for his dictatorialdispositionwould use the support of
this same mindless mob to turn himself into America’s firstimperial president
it’s hard forusto imagine how muchthat generation worried that a republic
could so easily betaken over by astrong manby a military chieftain by an
emperor napoleon of course had just recentlydone that in France HenryClay
wasconvincedthat King Andrew was thefarthestthingfrom the deliberative
statesman that a republic required thathewas in fact a dangerous egomaniacal
potentialemperorpresident Jackson’splans would onlystoke Clay’s fearsfor
over thenext eight years he wouldattempt to do nothingless than reinvent
the presidencyJackson as president wasnotunlike Jackson as a general hewas
the leader he thought ofhimself as aleader he would he understood the
separationofpowers undertheConstitution but nevertheless he thought
that thePresident had a veryparticularrole as the man whohad beenelected by
allof the people to lead government inaway that no previous president could
have even thoughtof thataloneexecuteJackson’s firstassault on the
Washingtonestablishment was to firedozens of federalemployees including 13
district attorneys chargingthat theywere either incompetentor corruptor
bothmost of thesehigh-level governmentbureaucrats were regarded as untouchable
some of them had beenthere sinceGeorgeWashington’s day
Jackson within a few weeksfiredanumberofthem he removed more
government officials than all of hispredecessors put togetherbut while the president claimedpure
motives for the firingshis opponentstook one look atthe replacements
Jackson hired and proclaimed itthe workof the devil
some of these people were personally unsavorysome of them had scandals and
their backgroundsand as his opponentsand even Jackson’s some of Jackson’s own
supportersthought he was undercuttingthe competency and efficiencyof
governmentby nakedly rewarding peopleforno virtue other than being willing
to say and doanything to get himelectedand so he was turningthe United
States government into his ownpersonalpolitical machinebut just as Andrew Jackson was starting
to look invincible the Washington elitesnared his administration in a sex
scandalJackson’s friend and Secretary of War
JohnEaton had long been friendly withawomannamed Peggy O’Neil Peggy was
married to an officer in theNavybut itwas whispered amongthe ladies of
Washingtonthat she was not entirelyfaithful in 1829news arrived that
Peggy’s husband had diedon board a Navyship insteadof going into mourning
Peggyalmost immediately marriedJohn Eaton
and that was when the rumorbegan racingthroughthe capital that the naval
officer had committedsuicide afterfinding out thatthe Secretary of War
was having an affairwith Peggyto theladies ofWashington it was proof that
Jackson’s depravedrabblewho is goingtosully the cabinetjust as it had
defiledthe White Housethe problem with Peggy Eaton part
courtesan partcommon tartis she had ascandaloussexual pastand wheneveryou
see women and sex in this period youknow it’sabout fearand there was a lot
of fearin Washington and anxietyaboutthe coming ofdemocracy the ladies of
Washington maybe couldn’t domuch aboutthat but they could do something about
Margaret Eaton and they decidedtoclosetheirdoors to her it was adecision
with stunning political consequences in thecapital’s early years the social
gatheringshosted by politicians wiveswere a keyvenue for Washington’s movers
and shakersto discuss politics and formalliances but nowprominent Washington
wives includingthose of Jackson’sothercabinet secretariesbegan demanding that
their husbands boycott all gatheringstowhich Peggy Eaton was invited suddenly
it became almost impossibleto conductpolitics in Washington supposedly
becauseof a singlescarletwoman if youread the press you would imagine that
Margaret Eaton was some Cleopatra or Madame pompadourthey called Peggy Eaton
the doom of the Republic and they imputed all kindsof power to her that
shereally didn’thave but what wasbehindit was not so muchfact as this
terrible anxietyand fear about this manwho could abuse powerand somehow Peggy
Eaton symbolized that fear the simplest way forthepresident to getWashington
functioning againwas to tell John Eatonto acceptPeggy’s social isolation
but forJackson the attacks on Peggywerepainfully reminiscent of the
mudslinging against Rachelthepresident’s woundsfromthe loss of his
wifewere still raw each night he readfrom her prayer bookand then went to
sleep thinkingabout herand the more hethoughtabout Rachelthe more determined
he became to stop the same thing from happeningto Peggyand so for two years
the president spent more of his timedefendingPeggy Eaton than on any other
matter for us today theEaton affair canonly be compared toMonica Lewinsky but
actually itwas even more seriousbecause in the end ofcoursePresident
Clintondid not lose his officebut as aresult of not Margaret Eaton herself but
what she symbolized thecabinet broke upwhich was the first time this had ever
happenedin United States history andthe last to putan end to the scandal
John Eaton and the other membersofJackson’s cabinet resignedenabling the
presidentto replace them with men notcaught upin the feud
the press lampooned the cabinet secretaries as ratsfleeing Jackson’s
sinking shipAndrewJackson disunionby armed force
is treason are you ready to incur itsguilt ifthe eatin affair had anair of
melodramait was also a signthattragedy was waitingin the wings vice
presidentJohn C Calhounwhose wife hadbattled Jacksonover Peggy Eaton was
simultaneously involved in anothercrises one that threatened to bring the
nationtoCivilWar JohnC Calhoun fromabout 1830 on was obsessed for the
remainderof his lifewith onefundamentalproblem and that was the
problem of protecting slavery in anation whereslaveholders were becoming
aminorityhow could slavery be perpetuated in the
face ofan indifferent or even hostilenorth thecrisis was triggered not by
slavery but taxes Congress eagertoprotectnorthern factories had passed a
law which imposed a high taxon thecheap imported cloth used by southern
plantation owners to clothe their slaves determined toeliminate the tax and
protect slavery Calhoun began promotingnullification
under which every state had the right todisregard within itsborders any lawit
considered unconstitutional nullification appealedto Calhoun and
other South Caroliniansbecause it was away ofasserting states rights and
clearlythat was afundamental threat tothe entire idea of a federal systemand
it went straighttotheheart of thefundamental Americanquestion of who was
sovereignwas the federal governmentsovereignwas the state or the state’s
sovereignwhere the people stopped thesewere all incredibly complicated
questionsthat consumed the JacksonWhite House and Jackson’s Washingtonnullification sphere cysts supporters
werecongressmen fromSouth Carolinaitsbitterest opponents were northern
congressmen who were convinced itwouldlead to the breakupof the Union and
then there were those whose positions were unknownincluding President Andrew
Jackson on April 13th 1830all three factions
were represented at a dinner inWashington DC in honor of Thomas
Jefferson’sbirthday John C Calhoun andthe nullifiershad been plotting for
months to use the event to convert thosesitting on the fenceto their causeand
in theireyes Jackson a fellow slaveowner was a natural allyAndrewJackson
hadhis own plansfor the dinner and ashe arrived he felt the same thrill he
hadalwaysfelt before a battle as theeveningbegan the nullifiers endeavored
to build supportby makingtoast aftertoast to the importance of states rights then suddenly President Jackson raised
his glass lookingJhansiCalhounstraight in the eye
he made his toastour federal union itmust be preservedthose seven words sent
shockwaves through Washington for all nowknew where Andrew Jackson stood he
would not tear apart the nationhe hadhelpedbuildforvice-president calhoun jackson’s
opposition to nullificationwasintolerable
the two men soon stopped speaking then innovemberof 1832 the state of south
carolinaformally nullified thetax andaddedthat if the federal government
challengedits rightto do soSouthCarolina would withdraw from the Union
it’s hard forusto understand howserious nullification was it nearly led
toCivil War peopletroops in SouthCarolinawere marching Jackson himself
wanted to lead thefederalarmy intoSouth Carolinathey were fortifying
fortsin Charleston Harbor this wasverycloseto an all-out civil war and it was
Andrew Jackson’s duty to stop that insteadofreacting in anger as he had
so often beforeJackson issued apresidentialproclamationin which he
appealed to thepeople of South Carolinaseducedas you have been my fellow
countrymen by ambitious deluded anddesigning men I callupon you in the
language of truth andwith the feelingsofa fatherto retrace your stepssay we
too are citizens of America Carolina isoneof these proud States her best blood
hascemented this happyUnion and thenadd if youcan without horror and
remorsethis happy Union we willdissolvethis picture of peace and
prosperity we will deface these fertile fields we
will deluge with blood disunion by armed forcehis treason are you ready to incur
its guilt and that’s when he said theunion is perpetualit is not a union of
statesitis a unionof peopleand onceyou’re inthat union you can’t get out
and I asthe chief executive have swornto enforce the laws both those ideasare
adopted by AbrahamLincoln in hisinaugural the whole thing is set up by
Jackson with both sides preparingfor civil war
the most skilled negotiator in CongressHenry Clay succeeded in winning passage
of a compromise billthat dramaticallylowered thetariffs Jackson signed it
South Carolinaagreed to abideby it and war was
avertedor Andrew Jacksonthe story ofnullificationcontained a direwarning
if Americans kept arguingabout slaverya civilwar wasinevitableand so the
president began appealing to northernersto stop agitating againstslavery but
that was not what the abolition movement had in mind in 1835the New York
abolitionists lewis and author Tappinrealized that the steam-poweredprinting
pressmade somethingbrand-newinAmerican politics possiblea mass
mailingand so they sent pamphletstothousandsof influentialpeople inthe
south such as ministers to try andconvince them to speak out against
slavery the first batch ofpamphletsarrived in Charleston South Carolina but thepostmaster never delivered them
tothe addresses instead they were takento the town squareand burnedJacksonand Jacksonians paranoia about
slavery as is seen in this wholeincident about abolitionist literature
being sentintotheSouthlike allparanoiahas some foundation inreality
their fearis that the word wouldgetout of the slave population and within
sight slaves to revolt and this is aconcern thatthey all have in this
periodparticularly as you get into theearly 1830sin the wake of the the nat
turner rebellionanytime rebellions havetaken place slaveholdershave become
increasinglyparanoidand there and theinstinct isto squash their articulation
of these sorts ofexpressionsas quicklyasis possible
tamperingwith the mail was a seriousfederal crimebut President Jackson
tacitlyencouraged postmasters todestroy the pamphlets and he demanded
that Congressoutlaw mailing them sayingthey were incendiary thetappanFlyersprovide an interest in
insight into what we could say is the Jacksonians view of democracybecause of
all things the abilityto petitiontheability toget wordout aboutyour
positionis a fundamental tenant of alldemocratic societies so in that sense
then Jackson and his peopleareattemptingto squash a clear democratic
voicein this period Elias BoudinottheCherokee Nation what sortof hope have
we from a president whohas aninclination to disregard laws and
treaties we have nothingto expect fromsuch a president likeThomas JeffersonAndrew Jackson
fervently believed that it was small self-employed farmers who had made
America greatand he believed that thekeyto keeping it greatwas to continue
expandingWest so that each newgenerationcould have farms of their own
in Jefferson’s visionthe frontier wasthe placethat each generationwould
replicate the idealRepublican communitythe problemofcourse is thatthe native
people arealready living out there andwith oneeyeamericans managed to not
notice them but with the other eye theycouldn’t fail tonotice thembecause as
soon asyou got there youwere inconflictwith them and that creates the
the fundamentaltension that becomes thestory of Indian Removal in 1830 Jackson
won approvalforce of an Indian RemovalAct that appropriated half a million
dollars so that Native Americanslivingeast of the Mississippi couldbe removed
to land west of the Mississippi insupport ofthe Act Jackson said what
good man would prefer a country coveredwith forests and ranged by a few
thousand savages to our extensiverepublic studded with cities towns and
prosperous farms occupied by morethan twelve million
happy people and filled withall theblessings of liberty civilization and
religionbutNative American tribes suchas the Cherokeehad an entirely
differentview than white men of how torelate tothe land the Cherokee way is
to share isto be harmonious they reallywereaspiritual peoplethey had a way
oflife thatwould perhaps put mostChristians to shame they exercised that
way of lifedaily every morning thewhole village would go to the water for
ablessing and at this goingto waterritual this old man sung this songhee-yaw Connie hit aher you you Connie
he walkie Akane he WAsaucyAkaneheor neither seeAkaneheunniehey ho
ah candy so when I sang that songitwouldhave been the same soundthat you
would have heard in the 1700s so that was all disturbed becauseof the contact
with the whitessoon after the creationof theUnited
Statesmany in the Cherokee tribedecidedthat their one hope of saving
their land was to take ThomasJefferson’s advice and embrace the white
man’s way oflife the Cherokees in facttook exactlythe advice that Jefferson
offered they settled down they put onEuropean clothingto developed an
alphabet they learnedto readandwritethey set up town meetingsand a mayor
and city councilon all thosethings andthey still hadtogo becausethe problem
was they were sittingin Georgia andGeorgia was to be ours not to Hertz they
could not coexist with Georgiapreparingto expel the Cherokee to Christian
missionariesbrought a case to theSupremeCourtthat challenged Georgia’s
jurisdiction over the Cherokee Nation the Supreme Court ruled in the Cherokees
favor but Andrew Jackson declared thedecision of the SupremeCourt has fell
stillborn Jackson encouraged Georgia to ignore the
verdicton the grounds that the Cherokeewere not really a nation a writer to the
Cherokee newspaper of the Phoenixremembering that warriors fromthe
Cherokee Nation had played a keyrole inthe Battle of Horseshoe Bendthat had
launched Jackson on his road to fame at this requestasked ofGeneral Jackson
when the thunders of his cannon wereheard inthe southernforestand he will
say they are a nation theseunfortunate peoplewho flocked to
the standardof the brave commander atHorseshoeand nobly fought are now
repaidwith ingratitudeand oppressionsolely on the basis of the colorof
theirskinthousands of Cherokee families were
evictedfrom their homes by Americansoldiersand forced onto what became
knownas the Trail of Tears one of theChristianmissionaries who traveledwith
them wrote I have no languagetoexpressthe emotions which render our heartsto
witness this season of cruel oppressionin Georgia multitudes were not allowed
totake anything with them but theclothes they had on well furnished
houseswere left to pray to plundererswho like hungry wolvesfollow the
progressof the captors and rifle thehouses and strip the helpless for what
crime then wasthis whole nationdoomedto this almost unheard-of suffering the
period of Indian Removal really is a black markon American history America
which started out as ashining city on ahillsinks to the bottomof darkest
depths in Indian Removal Andrew Jackson andother Americans willing to do what
it tookto separate Indians fromtheirlandif it meantignoring treaties if it
meant ignoring principles of international lawif it meant ignoring
common decencyand a sense of justicethan it was done with smallpoxand cholera rampant on the
Trail of Tearsmore than two thousandCherokees died AndrewJackson had tried
toconvince Native Americans thathe wastheir great white father but the
Cherokee now had a differentname forhim they call him Jack Cena and other
Jerky’s people hereand we say thatwouldlaugh Jackson the devilJack Cena
he’s devil iced Andrew Jacksonunlessyou becomemore watchful you will find
that the most important powers ofgovernment have passed into thehands of
thecorporationswhen it came to Indian Removal and
slaveryPresident Jackson’s viewismirrored those of many other Americans
butthere was one issue wherehe wastrulya visionaryin his concern for how
average Americans would fare as the economy became ever moreindustrializedthe world we know was taking shapein
thoseyears and the questions that wereso urgentthen are continued to be
urgentit was the natureof capitalismit was howpeople were going to make
their livingsand there’s nothingscarier nothing more fundamentalto
people than how they’re goingto feedthemselves and clothe their families and
make their wayin the world forcenturieslearning a craft such as
shoemaking had enabledworkers to make adecentliving but across the country
artisans like shoemakers were suddenlylosing their jobs to factories all of a
sudden it’s a job thatcan be done by achild by a woman byan unskilled manfor
pennies but think what happens to the shoemakerthe shoemaker who has spent
all of hislife learningthe skills ofmaking a wholeshoe
his skillshavebecome worthless and asa result he feelsworthless and if you
look at howmuch money he’s got in hispockethemay be worthless thatway also
he’s he’s brokein the earlyyears of Andrew Jackson’s
presidencythese working-class Americanscreated a new way ofgivingvoice to
their concernsthe minstrel show on thesurface it was simply an expressionof
racism and proofof how little whiteAmericans really knew aboutblack
Americans but the hiddensecret of theminstrelshowwas that it was notjust
about how whites saw blacks butalsoabouthow they saw themselves of course
you’re putting onthat mask to make funofafrican-americans butby virtue of
putting on that mask you’ve alsoenabled yourself to speak of
yourselfthe songs of the theater at thetime revealed that the audience is
feeling squeezed by a new America it’sbeing squeezed byan America that seems
to becoming moreand more forthe richinsteadof the commonpeopleso we can
look to thestage and we can find aplace in American societywhere that
working-classcould express in apowerful and gripping way what it felts
about what this world wasdoing to themout there for aworking-class white America
putting on the mask of a slave was a wayof sayingI feel like a slave the
minstrels also talked about the mantheyhoped would free them they sangtheir
some who at our party rail call us theragtagand bobtailbut we have some
within our pale who we are sure willnever fail tovote for General Jacksonfor AndrewJackson thecentral question
of his presidencywas what he could dotoprevent these average Americans from
being exploitedbythe rich and powerfulthe answer Jackson hit upon wasto
destroy an institution thathe thoughtwas giving the wealthyan unfair
advantageit’s real title wasthe secondbank of theUnitedStatesbutJackson’s
supporters called it the monsterBankAndrew Jackson dislikes all banks and he
said at onepoint buthe particularlydisliked the Bank of the UnitedStates
as established by Congressafter the warof 1812 the reason was simpleit had too
much poweroutsideof any kindof publicaccountabilitythe bank was an enormous
economicinstitution they could reallycontrol creditand therefore control
American economy itself for Jackson thatmeant thattheAmerican economy was
being run bypeople who are notelectedthat theseunelected bankers had their
hands onthe leversof powerand couldcontrol people’s lives their destinies
and indeed control the political systemitselfto Jackson one of the monster banks
worst sinswas that it was fundingnewstyle businesses that were beginningto
wrap their chemicalsaroundboth theeconomyandthegovernment these new
businesses were called corporations the problem with corporationsas far as
Jackson was concerned was they had no bodytobe kicked or sold to be damned
they werefaceless anonymousmachinesthat weremotivated only by making
profit for their shareholdersand as aresult theycould grow much much larger
thanthe averageconsumer the averageworker the average citizen but Jackson’s
opponents thought corporations would help America become moreprosperous and
they thought his plan to blow up the bankverged on insanityboard wasthe
bankthat guaranteed that the paperdollarsin Americans wallets were worth
something Jackson tooka kind of fundamentalist
view of money and creditgold and silverdollars were real money paper was in
some sensefake those who were perhapsmore astute economists than Jackson
thought that this positionwas justshort of Neanderthal the United States
had beenbuilt on creditas Henry Claysaid in the Senatewe havealwaysbeen a
paper moneypeople we won the revolutionon paper money
clay andhis allies in Congress decidedto put some heatonOld Hickory near the
endof Jackson’s first term they passeda billextending the bank’s charter clay
calculated that the president would have no choice but tosign the bill because a
vetowouldbe seen by the Americanpublic as so irresponsible it would cost
Jackson re-election butclay had made afundamental miscalculation about the
character ofAndrew Jacksona characterthat was exemplified by an eventthat
tookplace in the midst of the battleover the bank at thePresident’srequest
anavy surgeon was brought to the WhiteHouse to operate on a painfulshoulderthe problem was a simple onethere was a
bulletin it20 years before during theWar of 1812
Major General Jacksonbecame embroiledin a feudbetween one ofhis officers
and a prominent Nashville family insteadof mediating the dispute as might have
beenexpected of a manof his statureGeneral Jackson took part in a
full-scale gun battle duringit he wasshot at point-blankrange and almost
died this sagadefined the character of
Andrew Jacksonhe could not passup afight and when he foughthe was willing
to risk everythingof the bankhedeclaredthe bankis trying to kill me
but I will kill it on July 10th 1832Jackson vetoed the bill reauthorizing
thebank the president’s address indefense ofthe veto was perhaps themost
important of his life for he had toexplainto the American people not with
bombast but with words from his heartwhy he so
fervently opposed thebank it is to beregrettedthat the rich and powerful too
oftenbend the acts ofgovernment totheir selfish purposes when the laws
undertake tomake the rich richer andthepotent more powerful the humble
members of society the farmers the mechanics andlaborers who have neither
thetime nor themeans ofsecuring likefavors to themselves have a right to
complainof the injusticeof theirgovernment we can atleast takea stand
against any prostitution of our governmenttothe advancement of the few
at the expenseofthe manyto helprally supportfor Jackson’s
re-election campaign in1832thepresident and his closestadvisorMartin
VanBuren cameup with one of theboldest strokesin American political
historythey founded the DemocraticParty Jackson thought of thedemocracy
as itwas called wasn’t called theDemocratic Party was called the
democracythought of it as theassociation ofthe vast majorityof
Americans themajority that shouldgovern to make sure that they would
govern there are all sorts of ways inwhich ordinarypeople can participate
Jackson thinks that’s important becausethe ordinarypeople have to associate
more because they don’t havetheresources thatthe richand the
well-born dofor yearsJackson’s opponents had lampooned his
frontier roots by portraying him as a jackassto their shock the Jacksonians
began embracingthe symbol well thedonkey has assembleda Democratic Party
started out as asatire as an attack onthe rubbishsortof Beverly Hillbillies
nature of theJackson’s Democratic Partybut interesting peoplelike HenryClay
and others didn’t quite understandthatin urbansettings the donkey may have
been a figure offun but for people inrural America which was most of America
at the time the donkey was essential todaily life and it was someone you could
rely on and Jacksonand the Democratswere presenting themselves as peopleyou
could rely ona second party quicklyarose to oppose theDemocrats called the
National Republicans they choseJackson’s fiercest rival Henry Clay to
run againsthim for presidentHenryClay and Andrew Jackson hated each
otherclay saw himself as a greatAmericanStatesman and couldn’t quite
understand how thisrube from theCarolinaback country who’d never gone
to schoolwho’d never read a book inClay’s viewcould possibly be so
powerfuland have such a hold over thepeoplethereby ensuring that Clay
himself would never dothatbecausehedidn’t appreciateI think Jackson’s
gifts of both charismaand the power ofhis personality duringtheelection
campaignJackson and his advisers againdemonstrated complete mastery of the
media tools available to them this man was sittingfor his portrait againand
again and again Jackson had a sense thatI want the Americanpeople to know me
and to know whatI look likeand I thinkthat’s says something abouthis
political sense he’s a first in manyways and he’s thefirst presidentthat I
know who had a desire touse the mediatocommunicatewith theAmerican people
on Election Day voters flocked to the polls in record numbersand thanks to
Jackson’s reputation as a military heroand his continuing expansion of America
they gave Old Hickorya landslidevictory but what Andrew Jackson read
into the victorywas that he now had amandateto destroy the Bank of the
UnitedStatesand so thepresidentordered the government’s money removed
from the bankbut even someinhis owncabinetthought such a step was illegal
and Jackson had toreplacetwo Treasurysecretaries beforefinding a third who
would obeyHim nothing like this wouldhappenagain until Richard Nixon during
the Watergatecrisis had to go throughthree attorneysgeneral tofind onewho
would fireArchibald Cox a specialprosecutoron the floor of the US Senate
HenryClay assertedthat nothing lessthanthe future of American democracy
was at stake we are in the midstof a revolution
hitherto bloodless but rapidly tendingtoward the concentration of all power in
the hands of one man for the onlytimein American history
the Senate centered the president peoplethroughout the nationbegan callingit
the bank war it was a warin whichreason and economics were the casualties
andthechief combatants were Jacksonand the president of theBankNicholas
Biddle the confrontation between Andrew Jackson in theBank of theUnitedStates
escalated you might almost say beyondthe bounds of sanity fromthe point of
view of Nicholas Biddle president of theBank ofthe UnitedStatesthis maniac
president was going to destroy theAmerican economy and both sides got so
wrapped up init that they did recklessthingsNicholas Biddle in an effort to
procure recharter actually triggeredwhat was called a panic in those days
the stock market crashand a briefdepression not realizingthat in doing
this he was proving every point Jacksonmade about the reckless power onthat
thebank oftheUnited States held overordinaryAmericans livesfinally in 1836thebank’s charter
expired and its doors were closedandAndrew Jackson once again emergedfrom a
battle victorious an historian has written that every once in awhile in
American historyit becomes necessary tosave American capitalism
from the capitaliststhat left to theirown devices they willso accrete power
that they will end up ruining theeconomywellJackson in some ways saw
that wasthe beginning of that processas Americancapitalism was just
beginning todevelop he saw that to keepthe system going in a democraticfashion
as he saw it it was necessary thataccountability had to be there inthe
system in a way that it did not seem tobe as of 1832Jaxon’s battles during his second term
inoffice were not just political oneafternoonas the presidentwas leaving
thecapitala mentally illman whobelieved thatJacksonhad killed his
fatherapproached himthe explosion ofthe pistols
percussion-capconvinced bystanders thatthe presidenthadbeen shot but the
gunpowder inside the pistol failed toignite the assailant then drew a second
pistol and firedpoint-blank into thepresident’s chest miraculously the
powderinsidethe second gun also failedto ignite as a result Andrew Jackson
survived the firstassassination attemptever against an American presidentthen in the presidential election of
1836Jackson’s hand-picked successorMartin Van Buren rode old hickories
coattails to victory on March 4th 1837 Andrew Jackson’s
tumultuous presidency came to an endin a sign oftheremarkablechanges that
had takenplace during his years inofficehe left Washingtonnot in a
carriage pulled by horsesas he hadarrivedeight yearsbefore but on a
train carpulled by a steam-poweredlocomotiveto a reporter Jackson said after eight
yearsas presidentI have only tworegretsthat I have not shotHenry Clay
or hangedJohn C Calhounthe legacy Andrew Jackson left behind
him was acomplicated one but if therewasone key feature that would allow
futuregenerations to make sense of itall it wastheway in which Jackson’s
fight for the rights of the average white man pointed the way for others
take rights oftheir ownjacksonian democracy had no room in it
for black people it was not willing tofree the slaves
it had utter contempt forthe politicalaspirations of women andeverybody knows
it wasutterly violent and remorselessto the Indians butlook how the victims
ofjacksonian democracy defendedthemselvesthey didn’t go out and become
monarchists instead what theydid was totake the principles of jacksonian
democracyand demand that theybeapplied to themtoo
when you look at the feministstheyusedtheDeclaration of Independence to
demand the right to vote when you lookat the abolitioniststhey said the
demandfor human equalityisgood forthe slaves aswell when the Indians
wanted to defend themselvesagainstwhite encroachment the Cherokees created
a writtenconstitution and a democraticgovernmentoftheir own sothat the
abolitionists the feministsthe Indiansall responded to this aggressive
jacksoniandemocracy not by becomingmonarchists but by saying wehave to
have some tooJackson spent theremaining years of his
life at his belovedHermitage thoughothers would one day see aconnection
between his quest for opportunity forwhite man andtheideal of opportunity
forall Andrew Jackson himselfnever didhecontinued to own dozens of slaves
never worryingthat they toiled fromsunrise to midnightwith no hope of a
betterlifeor giving any thought towhat their opinion wasof himsometimes
when they had a funeralfor a fellowslavelike at the Hermitage they would
say one dayyour head must bow as low asoursas they sang this funeral marchto
the grave one day your head must bow aslow as ours when theysangthatsong
they’re looking at Andrew Jackson themaster as they march along the whites thing that they’re just
singing a great melodious songbut ithad a deep meaningand whatit meant is
one dayyou must die– one thing thatmakes all menequal is death all men
must die equally one day your head mustbow as low ashouse onJune 8th 1845
Andrew Jackson died America’sseventhPresident was laid to rest besidehis
beloved wife Rachel in thegarden at theHermitage14 years laterJackson’s first
biographer James Parton visited the grave the historian had already spent
many monthsreading what hundreds ofJackson’s contemporaries had to say
abouthim but the writer still found itnearlyimpossible to sum up old hickoryif anyone at the end of a yeareven had
asked what Ihad discovered respectingGeneral JacksonI might have answered
thus AndrewJacksonI amgiven to understand
was a patriotand a traitorhe was oneof the greatestgenerals and wholly
ignorant of the art ofwara sticklerfor disciplinehe never
hesitatedtodisobey his superior thefirst ofStatesmen he never devised or
framed a measure he was the most candid of menand was capable of the
profoundestdissimulation he was ademocratic autocratan urbane Savage
an atrocioussaintdiscover more aboutAndrew Jackson
explore the history of the imperialpresidencyand watch debatesabout
Indian Removal slaveryand othercontroversies from the Jacksonian eraat
pbs.org andyou

100 Comments

  • Andrew Jackson was the founder of the Demoncrat Party! He would probably gag with horror in seeing what his party has become!! Very sad, and very evil, the demoncrat party are not patriotic at all now, they are vile, and treasonists!! uuggghhh

  • Jackson, MAGA first edition. Anyone who thinks this "biography" doesn't have a horribly leftist progressive spin needs to read more and from unbiased authors.

  • Pretty sure this video is PBS' perception of Andrew Jackson. BTW, vilifying someone from another time for common practices of their day is short sighted and clearly shows an ignorance of history.

  • The old gray headed man speaks of Jackson with glee as if he knew him personally. Ever heard of the “Trail of Tears.”

  • Jackson was a man of his time; we may not agree with a number of the
    things he did during his life (Some of which are totally alien to us in the
    21st century.) Stopping ("Killing") the second "national" bank (i.e. the
    forerunner of the federal reserve bank … it is a privately-owned bank)
    was something for which he should be admired.

  • WOW, How the history is made. It’s very easy to do Monday morning quarterbacking. Hindsight is always 2020. It’s ironic that historically democrat party has been an oppressive party.

  • I can't help but notice that the people that try to sugarcoat the history of this murderous psychopath happen to be white… hmmm.

  • Hmmmm so the average American feeling like they are being taken advantage of by the rich and powerful. Soooooo that feeling is not new after all.
    Funny I'm watching this while the Federal Reserve is meeting today.

  • Excellent but for the idiotic comment of some black "historians" … Judging those days by our "new" standards today makes no sense!!!

  • Whats this sanatized bs account of horseshoe bend? Jackson's men burned the village and executed men, women and children trying to surrender. The people who hid in their root cellers were roasted with their vegitable stores. The Americans then ate these said vegitables, due to their lack of supplies. We know this because of numerous written accounts. Jackson is a maniac and a cannibal, as far as I'm concerned.

  • 39 minutes in and there's already an African bitching about slavery as if this is the congressional floor in 1856.

  • When speaking on slavery you can't judge Jackson by today's standards. I will say there are a lot of stories about slaves who were treated like family and never abused by their masters. Knowing about those stories makes me not judge Jackson and others by today's standards but by the better standards of his day that actually did exist despite what people say.

  • Did he just say the campaign of 1828 was the dirtiest in history? I guess this video was made before 2016 because that was by far the most vile thing I've seen.

  • Just another typical Democrat. They are either killing people or enslaving them. They have an entire history of that with every single president they have ever elected.

  • Some of the comments are really laughable. "They should have impeached him!" and such. People need to understand that they did not have Walmart back then. Black people did not have Meth and other drugs to support themselves either. You lived by your wits. You had to fight to survive.

  • this is a SJW hit piece…..God awful and I'm not sure who your sources are, but historically inaccurate. Do your own research, this is far from the truth.

  • Jackson was hardly the first president of humble means.
    John Adams senior was the son of an illiterate mother and a shoe-making country farmer.

  • Jackson was America's Hitler. Forcing the removal of Native American Indians to march in the Trail of Tears. Thousands died and Jackson didn't lose a wink of sleep over it. A crueler man never lived.

  • Andrew Jackson was a flawed man, but, a great man as well!! He only believed what was accepted at the time he lived. When we hundreds of years after his death judge him when we didnt live in his era, that makes us his judge………Only God can judge him!! He was a great American, a great southerner, a great President……….But as we all are at times a sinner that needs forgiveness , and a flawed man, but, a great man that needs to be remembered.

  • Jackson had evil spirits slave owner killed Indians in mass scale started Democrats they follow that evil spirit
    Now we know the true spirit of the democratic party
    Superior of black and Indians
    Only they have power
    He was called the American napoleon
    Watch were you come from
    Full of rage and hatred
    This how the crap gets started

  • And how ironic that in 2016, the great mass of the electorate did not vote into office another ignorant, uncouth savage, but somehow the electoral college did…

  • My father would never use 20 dollar bills because of the hate to indians…. now all of us kids do the same .. when someone asks why no 20's??? we say to bring awareness to the continue discrimination of NATIVE AMERICANS ..

  • He was a Contrary Conservative – with Ethos. in that Relm – "that bein what the GOP was thought to be during the 1980's" Democrat then is Republican now.

    …and He said Hell No to the Idea of a Federal Reserve Bank Corp – the Outsourcing of our Monies and Currency to the enemies of a Democratic Republic.
    …and they hired an assassin to kill him, he twice took the gun and then procceesed to pistol whip the Shi- out of the idiot! Fact.

    I don't care for the idea of Andrew Jackson as a man, but I respect him in this fortitude, but I could never ever give him respect for his selfishness and complete disregard for humanity – the actions of prejudices are, every time, an expression of one's own fears and insecurities – Every single time

    and…
    This by a later day fellow Tennessean and Moderate Democrat whom recognizes the Production the enemies of Jackson now play upon the publuc of the USA. They own the Federal Reserve Bank Corp and 99% of the Media.

  • What they don't tell you about Jackson was the old men women and children murdered at Nickajack Tennessee. The entire Village of Native Cherokee.

  • "any time you have women and sex during this period you have fear."
    Bullshit
    Strict morality doesn't equate to fear.
    Damn feminist morons.

  • Despite all his sins, the fact that he stopped the Fed Bank scam makes him a truly great president, probably the best ever.

  • Jackson was a contemporary of Marx
    and shared many ideas concerning the ''shoe-maker's dilemma''
    proving good ideas in the hands of a dictator only bring more suffering

  • Most great people are flawed individuals. We all know now that slavery is evil. but we speak with the benefit of hindsight. It is hard to fathom now, that it was considered acceptable back then. What will people 200 years from now be saying about some of the things we do and believe now? People are capable of great deeds and still flawed. Jackson wasn't totally good and wasn't totally bad.

  • My favorite president ever!!!! Funny how those against enslaving the citizens are always seen as the enemy. You can bet your sweet arse that if politicians, corporations, lobbyists, Hollywood is anti a specific politician he's the best politician for the people.

  • I'm a little miffed at the description of the slave owners as cruel, evil, vicious people. By standards of 2019, perhaps that's true, but as a student of history who has a pretty good view of people of those times, I would disagree. Yes, there were plenty of evil slave owners who should be condemned, but when you live a society where such a thing is normal, it's likely that many people didn't give it much thought. It was the way things were. There was no overtly evil intent. The indiginous Incan people of South America regularly practiced human sacrifice. This horrifies us today, but it was part of their religious ceremonies.People these days have a problem with context.

  • I had to stop it at 15:32, "Helpless people?" Two people committing adultery are not helpless people. They are morally bankrupt. History will demonstrate that once he was up for the presidency–society was NOT going to accept his choice for a wife anyway–a woman who left her children, and had committed adultery to be with him. In the end it was all for naught.

    Lust is NOT love. I am not sure when people are going to learn what LOVE REALLY IS–BUT IT IS NOT THE ACT OF SEX. Read I Corinthians 13 in the Bible–this is what love really is about.

    As far as Andrew Jackson being a great man–I never really thought about him in this way. I always thought of him as a hypocrite because he owned slaves. As I grew up and learned the real history of our forefathers, I felt slapped in the head reading the US Constitution. I have a copy of it and read it yearly. Our founding fathers never practiced what they believed or wrote–THEY DID NOT BELIEVE ALL MEN WERE CREATED EQUAL–IT WAS ONLY FOR WHITE MEN.

    I am a Christian, and I have to laugh at my fellow believers when they say our country was founded on "Christian beliefs". God did not promote slavery. He did not promote the grotesque torture of human beings or promote their devaluation as a person. However, our US Constitution when it was first written–ONLY considered white men as being equal, and having rights and considered black people as property! Woman and black people could be beaten and treated as property! The Holy Bible forbids this–while God acknowledged that there was slavery–He set forth strict guidelines for those who held slaves.

    It was illegal and immoral to physically mistreat or cause physical harm and permanent disability to a slave. They were to receive wages, and after a set amount of time–were to be freed!! If they were physically injured, God ordered them to be freed, and given payment! I do not see that any slave holder in the south held to any of these Biblical principals!! Our forefathers certainly did not write those Godly requirements into our Constitution. President Lincoln finally had to make this correction.

    I cringe when I think of how backward thinking our forefathers were in some of the things they wrote and what they thought. They wanted freedom for themselves and those JUST LIKE THEM. I believe our country today would be better off, if our forefathers truly had believed in equality for all people! Liberty and life and pursuit of happiness for all people, without discriminating against others, and taking the away the rights of those already occupying the land they were stealing from those already living here. Then perhaps, slavery would not have occurred here in the first place.

    Do not kid yourself, America has a long way to go, for discrimination of every kind exists today. It is getting worse every day, not better. I am involved in an action now because of discrimination for source of income, and disability–and I am a woman to boot. While I am white, I have had a skin disease for years which artificially darkened my skin several shades darker as a child right up through my mid thirties. I was discriminated against by teachers, fellow students and employers who mistook me for a "indian, pacific islander, mexican, Hawaiian," and one employer even called me a "dirty wetback" and tried to have me deported to Mexico. This happened when I was just 19 years old. He called me such terrible names, even BOLI–Civil Rights worker could not convince the man I was born in this country! The company president was terrified I would sue them. All I wanted was my job back, so I could earn money for college. They had hired two men to take my place! I got my job back, a promotion, and a raise.

    I worked for six more months, gave notice, and then went onto college–but my first job–discrimination because I am a woman, and "person of color"–not really, and my male co-workers were paid more money than me. NOW I am disabled, and I find out I really do have some Indian blood in me. Makes me laugh. I am okay. i do not hate those who hate me. I feel sorry for them and I pray for them instead to not hurt anyone else. I have a great church who promotes loving all people and accepting all people. We leave the judging up to God. In peace

  • You can tell the light in which pbs painted this great man. We don’t live as they lived. Their ways were different than ours so it’s hard for us to judge him like they have. It’s great to have a president not into back room deals.

  • At 14:46 I say it should still be that way! Women have no business in politics law enforcement or anything else that has to do with government! And sorry to tell you that I'm in this but I don't believe you should be able to vote either

  • Does anyone have a Bibliography for this film? These are scholars here and I’d like to know what else they have written.

  • What ignorance. America is from Alaska to Argentina and this documentary speaks only of the United States calling them america. Ignorant

  • Adulterer, uncontrolled rage, violent, probably the president most guilty of raping Native American cultures. Yeah, great guy.

  • It's funny to hear these so called scholars praising and justifying Andrew Jackson. If this were some other leader on the other side of the world they be calling him a tyrant , despot , racist, etc…but instead they're using words like great, courageous, statesmen and other words that this guy is obviously not deserving of.

  • god i hate this video, not bc of the content but bc i have to write a 5 page essay over it and this video is so boring i have i rewatch it like six different times and STILL dont understand a work of it. doesnt help that it was uploaded on my birthday

  • They should ask a Native American or a black man if they think Andrew Jackson is one of the greatest presidents and see what their answer is instead of asking this old white guy.

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