Presidency of Andrew Jackson

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Jackson (1824)

The presidency of Andrew Jackson began on March 4, 1829, when Andrew Jackson was inaugurated as President of the United States, and ended on March 4, 1837. Jackson, the seventh United States president, took office after defeating incumbent President John Quincy Adams in the bitterly-contested 1828 presidential election. During the 1828 presidential campaign, Jackson founded a political force that became the Democratic Party. Jackson won re-election in 1832, easily defeating Henry Clay. He was succeeded by Vice President Martin Van Buren.

Jackson's presidency saw several important developments in domestic policy. A strong supporter of the removal of Native American tribes from U.S. territory east of the Mississippi River, Jackson began the process of forced removal known as the "Trail of Tears." He instituted the spoils system for federal government positions, using his patronage powers to build a powerful and united Democratic Party. In response to the Nullification Crisis, Jackson threatened to send federal soldiers into South Carolina, but the crisis was defused by the passage of the Tariff of 1833. He presided over the disestablishment of the Second Bank of the United States, which he viewed as an anti-democratic bastion of elitism. The destruction of the bank and his hard money policies would contribute to the Panic of 1837.

Jackson was the most influential and controversial political figure of the 1830s. Historian James Sellers has stated, "Andrew Jackson's masterful personality was enough by itself to make him one of the most controversial figures ever to stride across the American stage."[1] Jackson was fearful for the survival of republican values in America, and constantly sought out political enemies he alleged were subverting those values. His actions encouraged his political opponents to coalesce into the Whig Party, which favored the use of federal power to modernize the economy through support for banking, tariffs on manufactured imports, and internal improvements such as canals and harbors.

His two terms as president set the tone for the quarter-century era of American public discourse known as the Jacksonian Era (or Second Party System by political historians), in which the principles of Jacksonian democracy were advanced. Of all presidential reputations, Jackson’s is perhaps the most difficult to summarize or explain. A generation after his presidency, biographer James Parton found his reputation a mass of contradictions: "he was dictator or democrat, ignoramus or genius, Satan or saint." Thirteen polls of historians and political scientists taken between 1948 and 2009 have ranked Jackson always in or near the top ten presidents.[2]

Election of 1828

"Some account of the bloody deeds of General Andrew Jackson," c. 1828

The 1828 election was a rematch between Jackson and John Quincy Adams, who had faced–off against each other four years earlier in the 1824 presidential election. In that election, which was a four–man race, Jackson won a plurality, but not the required majority, of the electoral vote. Adams, Secretary of War William H. Crawford, and Speaker of the House Henry Clay, all of whom were members of the Democratic-Republican Party, also received significant shares of the electoral vote. Under the rules of the Twelfth Amendment, the U.S. House of Representatives held a contingent election. The House elected Adams as president. Jackson denounced the House vote as the result of an alleged "corrupt bargain" between Adams and Clay, who became Adams's Secretary of State after the latter succeeded outgoing President James Monroe in March 1825.[3]

Jackson was nominated for president by the Tennessee legislature in October 1825, more than three years before the 1828 election. It was the earliest such nomination in presidential history, and it attested to the fact that Jackson's supporters began the 1828 campaign almost as soon as the 1824 campaign ended. Adams's presidency floundered, as his ambitious agenda faced defeat in a new era of mass politics. Critics led by Jackson attacked Adams's policies as a dangerous expansion of federal power. Senator Martin Van Buren, who had been a prominent supporter of Crawford in the 1824 election, emerged as one of the strongest opponents of Adams's policies, and he settled on Jackson as his preferred candidate in the 1828 election. Van Buren was joined by Vice President John C. Calhoun, who also opposed much of Adams's agenda on states' rights grounds. Van Buren and other Jackson allies established numerous pro-Jackson newspapers and clubs around the country, while Jackson made himself available to visitors at his Hermitage plantation. In the 1828 election, Jackson won a commanding 56 percent of the popular vote and 68 percent of the electoral vote, carrying most states outside of New England.[4] Concurrent congressional elections also gave Jackson's allies nominal majorities in both houses of Congress, although many of those who campaigned as supporters of Jackson would diverge form Jackson during his presidency.[5] The 1828 election marked the definitive end of the one-party "Era of Good Feelings", as Jackson's supporters coalesced into the Democratic Party and Adams's followers became known as the National Republicans.[4]

1828 election results

The 1828 campaign was very much a personal one. As was the custom at the time, neither candidate personally campaigned, but their political followers organized many campaign events. Both candidates were rhetorically attacked in the press. Jackson was strongly attacked as a slave trader, who bought and sold slaves and moved them about in defiance of higher standards of slaveholder behavior.[6] A series of pamphlets known as the Coffin Handbills were published to attack Jackson, one of which revealed his order to execute soldiers at New Orleans.[7] Another accused him of engaging in cannibalism by eating the bodies of Native Americans killed in battle,[8] while still another labeled his mother a "common prostitute" and stated that Jackson's father was a "mulatto man."[9]

Rachel Jackson was also a frequent target of attacks, and was widely accused of bigamy, a reference to the controversial situation of her marriage with Jackson.[10] Jackson's campaigners fired back by claiming that while serving as Minister to Russia, Adams had procured a young girl to serve as a prostitute for Emperor Alexander I. They also stated that Adams had charged the government to purchase a billiard table for the White House.[11] Rachel began experiencing significant physical stress during the election season. Rachel died of a heart attack on December 22, 1828, three weeks after her husband's victory in the election. A distraught Jackson had to be pulled from her so the undertaker could prepare the body.[12] He felt that the accusations from Adams's supporters had hastened her death and never forgave him. Rachel was buried at the Hermitage on Christmas Eve. "May God Almighty forgive her murderers", Jackson swore at her funeral. "I never can."[13]


Jackson's name has been associated with Jacksonian democracy or the shift and expansion of democracy with the passing of some political power from established elites to ordinary voters based in political parties. "The Age of Jackson" shaped the national agenda and American politics.[14] Jackson's philosophy as president was similar to that of Thomas Jefferson, as he advocated republican values held by the Revolutionary War generation.[15] Jackson feared that monied and business interests would corrupt republican values.[16]

Jackson believed in the ability of the people to "arrive at right conclusions," and he thought that they should have the right not only to elect but also to "instruct their agents & representatives."[17] Office holders should either obey the popular will or resign.[15] He rejected the view of a powerful and independent Supreme Court, arguing that "the Congress, the Executive, and the Court must each or itself be guided by its own opinions of the Constitution."[18] Jackson thought that Supreme Court justices should be made to stand for election, and believed in strict constructionism as the best way to insure democratic rule.[19] He also called for term limits on presidents and the abolition of the Electoral College.[20]

Administration and cabinet

The Jackson Cabinet
Office Name Term
President Andrew Jackson 1829–1837
Vice President John C. Calhoun 1829–1832
None 1832–1833
Martin Van Buren 1833–1837
Secretary of State Martin Van Buren 1829–1831
Edward Livingston 1831–1833
Louis McLane 1833–1834
John Forsyth 1834–1837
Secretary of Treasury Samuel D. Ingham 1829–1831
Louis McLane 1831–1833
William J. Duane 1833
Roger B. Taney 1833–1834
Levi Woodbury 1834–1837
Secretary of War John H. Eaton 1829–1831
Lewis Cass 1831–1836
Attorney General John M. Berrien 1829–1831
Roger B. Taney 1831–1833
Benjamin F. Butler 1833–1837
Postmaster General William T. Barry 1829–1835
Amos Kendall 1835–1837
Secretary of the Navy John Branch 1829–1831
Levi Woodbury 1831–1834
Mahlon Dickerson 1834–1837

Instead of choosing party leaders, Jackson chose "plain businessmen" whom he intended to control. Jackson appointed his friend and close political ally, John Eaton of Tennessee, as Secretary of War.[21] For the key positions of Secretary of State and Secretary of the Treasury, Jackson chose two northerners, Martin Van Buren of New York and Samuel Ingham of Pennsylvania.[22] He appointed John Branch of North Carolina as Secretary of the Navy and John Berrien of Georgia as Attorney General.[23] Recognizing the growing importance of the Post Office, Jackson elevated the position of Postmaster General to the cabinet, and he named William T. Barry of Kentucky as Postmaster General.[24] Of the six cabinet officials, only Van Buren was a major political figure in his own right. Jackson's cabinet was criticized from various quarters; Calhoun and Van Buren were both disappointed that their respective factions were not more prominent in the cabinet, while leaders from the state of Virginia and the region of New England complained about their exclusion.[23] Jackson's first choice of cabinet proved to be unsuccessful, full of bitter partisanship and gossip, especially between Eaton, Vice President John C. Calhoun, and Van Buren. By the spring of 1831, all except Barry had been forced to resign.[25] Jackson's nephew, Andrew Jackson Donelson, served as the president's personal secretary, and Donelson's wife, Emily, acted as the White House hostess. General William Berkeley Lewis and journalist Amos Kendall also became close presidential advisers.[26]

Jackson appointed new cabinet officials in mid-1831, with only Barry staying on as Postmaster General. Governor Lewis Cass of the Michigan Territory became Secretary of War, ambassador and former Congressman Louis McLane of Delaware took the position of Secretary of the Treasury, Senator Edward Livingston of Louisiana became Secretary of State, and Senator Levi Woodbury of New Hampshire became Secretary of the Navy. Roger Taney, who had served as the Attorney General of Maryland, replaced Berrien as the U.S. Attorney General. In contrast to Jackson's initial choices, the cabinet members appointed in 1831 were prominent national leaders, none of whom were aligned with Calhoun.[27] Outside of the cabinet, journalist Francis Preston Blair also emerged as an influential adviser.[28]

At the start of his second term, Jackson transferred McLane to the position of Secretary of State, while William J. Duane replaced McLane as Secretary of the Treasury and Livingston became the ambassador to France.[29] Due to his opposition to Jackson's removal of federal funds from the National Bank, Duane was dismissed from the cabinet before the end of 1833. Taney became the new Secretary of the Treasury, while Benjamin F. Butler replaced Taney as Attorney General.[30] Jackson was forced to shake up his cabinet again in 1834 after the Senate rejected Taney's nomination and McLane resigned. John Forsyth of Georgia was appointed Secretary of State, Mahlon Dickerson replaced Woodbury as Secretary of the Navy, and Woodbury became the fourth and final Secretary of the Treasury under Jackson.[31] Jackson dismissed Barry in 1835 after numerous complaints about the latter's effectiveness as Postmaster General, and Jackson chose Amos Kendall as Barry's replacement.[32]

Judicial appointments

Jackson appointed six Justices to the Supreme Court of the United States.[33] Most were undistinguished. His first appointee, John McLean, had been nominated in Barry's place after Barry had agreed to become postmaster general.[34] McLean "turned Whig and forever schemed to win" the presidency. His next two appointees–Henry Baldwin and James Moore Wayne–disagreed with Jackson on some points but were poorly regarded even by Jackson's enemies.[35] In reward for his services, Jackson nominated Taney to the Court to fill a vacancy in January 1835, but the nomination failed to win Senate approval.[34] Chief Justice John Marshall died in 1835, leaving two vacancies on the court. Jackson nominated Taney for Chief Justice and Philip Pendleton Barbour for Associate Justice. Both were confirmed by the new Senate.[36] Taney served as Chief Justice until 1864, presiding over a court that upheld many of the precedents set by the Marshall Court.[37] He was generally regarded as a good and respectable judge, but his opinion in Dred Scott v. Sandford largely overshadows his career.[38] On the last full day of his presidency, Jackson nominated John Catron, who was confirmed.[39] Jackson also appointed eighteen judges to the United States district courts.


Jackson's first inauguration, on March 4, 1829, was the first time in which the ceremony was held on the East Portico of the United States Capitol.[40] Due to the acrimonious campaign and mutual antipathy, Adams did not attend Jackson's inauguration.[41] Ten thousand people arrived in town for the ceremony, eliciting this response from Francis Scott Key: "It is beautiful; it is sublime!"[42] Jackson was the first president to invite the public to attend the White House inaugural ball. Many poor people came to the inaugural ball in their homemade clothes and rough-hewn manners. The crowd became so large that the guards could not keep them out of the White House, which became so crowded with people that dishes and decorative pieces inside were broken. Some people stood on good chairs in muddied boots just to get a look at the President. The crowd had become so wild that the attendants poured punch in tubs and put it on the White House lawn to lure people outside. Jackson's raucous populism earned him the nickname "King Mob".[43] Though numerous political disagreements had marked Adams's presidency and would continue during his own presidency, Jackson took office at a time when no major economic or foreign policy crisis faced the United States.[41] He announced no clear policy goals in the months before Congress convened in December 1829, save for his desire to pay down the national debt.[44]

Petticoat affair

Secretary of War John H. Eaton

Jackson devoted a considerable amount of his presidential time during his early years in office responding to what came to be known as the "Petticoat affair" or "Eaton affair."[45] Washington gossip circulated among Jackson's cabinet members and their wives, including Vice President Calhoun's wife Floride Calhoun, concerning Secretary of War Eaton and his wife Peggy Eaton. Salacious rumors held that Peggy, as a barmaid in her father's tavern, had been sexually promiscuous or had even been a prostitute.[46] Controversy also ensued because Peggy had married soon after her previous husband's death, and it was alleged that she and her husband had engaged in an adulterous affair while her previous husband was still living.[47] Petticoat politics emerged when the wives of cabinet members, led by Floride Calhoun, refused to socialize with the Eatons. Allowing a prostitute in the official family was unthinkable—but Jackson refused to believe the rumors, telling his Cabinet that "She is as chaste as a virgin!"[46] Jackson believed that the dishonorable people were the rumormongers, who in essence questioned and dishonored Jackson himself by, in attempting to drive the Eatons out, daring to tell him who he could and could not have in his cabinet. He was also reminded of similar attacks that had been made against his wife, and Eaton was an important political ally.[48]

Meanwhile, the cabinet wives insisted that the interests and honor of all American women were at stake. They believed a responsible woman should never accord a man sexual favors without the assurance that went with marriage. A woman who broke that code was dishonorable and unacceptable. Historian Daniel Walker Howe notes that this was the feminist spirit that in the next decade shaped the woman's rights movement.[49] The controversy over Eaton dragged on into 1830 and 1831, as the other cabinet wives continued to ostracize Eaton.[50] Jackson's cabinet and closest advisers became polarized between Vice President Calhoun and Secretary of State Van Buren, a widower who remained on good terms with the Eatons.[51] Jackson became increasingly alienated from Calhoun, while Van Buren emerged as one of his closest allies.[52] In early 1831, as the controversy continued unabated, Van Buren proposed that the entire cabinet resign, and the Petticoat Affair finally ended after Eaton stepped down in June 1831.[53] Van Buren was rewarded with a nomination the position of ambassador to Great Britain, but the Senate rejected his nomination.[54] Calhoun, who cast a tie-breaking vote in the Senate to defeat Van Buren's nomination, believed that the Senate vote would end Van Buren's career, but in fact it strengthened Van Buren's position with Jackson and many other Democrats.[55] Following the Petticoat Affair, Jackson acquired the Globe newspaper to have a weapon for fighting the rumor mills.[56][57]

Rotation in office and spoils system

Upon assuming the presidency, Jackson enforced the 1820 Tenure of Office Act, which limited appointed office tenure and authorized the president to remove and appoint political party associates. Jackson believed that a rotation in office was actually a democratic reform preventing father-to-son succession of office and made civil service responsible to the popular will.[58] Reflecting this view, Jackson told Congress in December 1829, "In a country where offices are created solely for the benefit of the people, no one man has any more intrinsic right to official station than another."[59][60]

The need to energize his nationwide party and reward his supporters, given the political realities of Washington, led Jackson to make partisan appointments despite his personal reservations.[61] Jackson removed an unprecedented number of presidential appointees from office, though Thomas Jefferson had dismissed a smaller but still significant number of Federalists during his own presidency.[62] Jackson rotated about 20% of federal office holders during his first term, some for dereliction of duty rather than political purposes.[63][64] Many of Jackson's appointees, including Amos Kendall and Isaac Hill, were controversial, and many of those who Jackson removed from office were popular.[65] Jackson's opponents labeled his appointments process a "spoils system," arguing that he was primarily motivated by a desire to use government positions to reward supporters and build his own political strength.[66] Jackson's appointment policy also created political problems within his own coalition, as Calhoun, Van Buren, Eaton, and others clashed over various appointments.[67] He also encountered resistance in the Senate; by the end of his presidency, Jackson had had more nominees rejected than all previous presidents combined.[68]

Historians believe Jackson's presidency marked the beginning of an era of decline in public ethics.[69] Supervision of bureaus and departments whose operations were outside of Washington, such as the New York Customs House, the Postal Service, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs proved to be difficult. However, other practices that later became associated with the spoils system, including the buying of offices, forced political party campaign participation, and collection of assessments, did not take place until after Jackson's presidency.[70] Eventually, in the years after Jackson left office, presidents would eventually remove appointees as a matter of course; while Jackson dismissed 45 percent of those who held office, Abraham Lincoln would dismiss 90 percent of officeholders after the beginning of his presidency.[71]

In an effort to purge the government from the alleged corruption of previous administrations, Jackson launched presidential investigations into all executive cabinet offices and departments.[72] His administration conducted a high-profile prosecution against Tobias Watkins, an auditor at the Treasury Department during Adams's presidency.[65] Jackson withdrew many candidates he believed were lax in their handling of monies.[72] He also asked Congress to reform embezzlement laws, reduce fraudulent applications for federal pensions, and pass laws to prevent evasion of custom duties and improve government accounting. Postmaster General Barry resigned after a congressional investigation into the postal service revealed mismanagement of mail services, collusion and favoritism in awarding lucrative contracts, failure to audit accounts and supervise contract performances.[73]

Indian removal policy

Jackson's Indian Removal Act and subsequent treaties resulted in the forced removal of several Indian tribes from their traditional territories, including the Trail of Tears.

Jackson's presidency marked a new era in Indian-Anglo American relations, as he initiated a policy of Indian removal.[74] Relations between Indians and Americans had grown increasingly tense and sometimes violent as a result of territorial conflicts.[74] Previous presidents had at times supported removal or attempts to "civilize" the Indians, but had generally not made Native American affairs a top priority[75] By the time Jackson took office, approximately 100,000 Native Americans lived East of the Mississippi River within the United States, with most located in Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin Territory, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida Territory.[76] Jackson had spent much of his career fighting the Native Americans of the Southwest, and he considered Native Americans to be inferior to those who were descended from Europeans.[77] In his 1829 Annual Message to Congress, Jackson advocated for setting aside land west of the Mississippi River for Indian tribes; while he favored voluntary relocation, he also proposed that any Native Americans who did not relocate would lose their independence and be subject to state laws.[78]

A significant political movement, including many evangelical Christians and others from the North, rejected Indian removal and instead favored continuing efforts to "civilize" Native Americans.[79] Despite the opposition of Senator Theodore Frelinghuysen and others, Jackson's allies won the passage of the Indian Removal Act in May 1830. The bill passed the House by in a 102 to 97 vote, with most Southern congressmen voting for the bill and most Northern congressmen voting against it.[80] The act authorized the president to negotiate treaties to buy tribal lands in the east in exchange for lands farther west, outside of existing state borders.[81] The act specifically pertained to the "Five Civilized Tribes" in the Southern United States, the conditions being that they could either move west or stay and obey state law.[82] The Five Civilized Tribes consisted of the Cherokee, Muscogee (also known as the Creek), Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Seminole Indians, all of whom had adopted aspects of European culture, including some degree of sedentary farming.[83]

Jackson, Eaton, and General John Coffee negotiated with the Chickasaw, who quickly agreed to move.[84] Jackson put Eaton and Coffee in charge of negotiating with the Choctaw. Lacking Jackson's skills at negotiation, they frequently bribed the chiefs in order to gain their submission. The tactics worked, and the chiefs agreed to move. The removal of the Choctaw took place in the winter of 1831 and 1832, and was wrought with misery and suffering.[85] The Seminole, despite the signing of the Treaty of Payne's Landing in 1832,[86] refused to move. In December 1835, this dispute began the Second Seminole War. The war lasted over six years, finally ending in 1842.[87] Members of the Creek Nation signed the Treaty of Cusseta in 1832, allowing the Creek to either sell or retain their land.[88] However, conflict later erupted between the Creek who remained and the white settlers, leading to a second Creek War.[89] A common complaint was that the men who had signed the treaties did not represent the whole tribe.[87][89]

White-haired man stands outdoors beside a tree with cane.
Jackson painted by Earl, 1830

The state of Georgia became involved in a contentious dispute with the Cherokee, culminating in the 1832 Supreme Court decision of Worcester v. Georgia. In that decision,Chief Justice John Marshall, writing for the court, ruled that Georgia could not forbid whites from entering tribal lands, as it had attempted to do with two missionaries supposedly stirring up resistance amongst the tribespeople.[90] Jackson is frequently attributed the following response: "John Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it." Remini argues that Jackson did not say it because, while it "certainly sounds like Jackson...[t]here was nothing for him to enforce." This is because a writ of habeas corpus had never been issued for the missionaries.[91]

A group of Cherokees led by John Ridge negotiated the Treaty of New Echota. Ridge was not a widely recognized leader of the Cherokee, and this document was rejected by some as illegitimate.[92] Another faction, led by John Ross, unsuccessfully petitioned to protest the proposed removal.[93] The Cherokee largely considered themselves independent, and not subject to the laws of the United States or Georgia.[94] The treaty was enforced by Jackson's successor, Van Buren. Subsequently, as many as 4,000 out of 18,000 Cherokees died on the "Trail of Tears" in 1838.[95] More than 45,000 American Indians were relocated to the West during Jackson's administration, though a few Cherokees walked back afterwards or migrated to the high Smoky Mountains.[96]

By the end of Jackson's presidency, nearly 50,000 Native Americans had move across the Mississippi River, and that movement would continue after he left office.[97] Jackson prioritized removing Native Americans from the South, as he believed that the Native Americans of the Northwest could be "pushed back."[98] In 1832, the Black Hawk War broke out after Chief Black Hawk led a band of Native Americans across the Mississippi River to their ancestral homeland in Illinois. A combination of the U.S. army and the Illinois militia drove out the Native Americans by the end of the year.[99]

Nullification crisis and the tariff

In 1828, Congress had approved the so-called "Tariff of Abominations", which set the tariff at an historically high rate.[100] The tariff was popular in the Northeast and, to a lesser extent, the Northwest, since it protected domestic industries from foreign competition.[101] Southern planters strongly opposed high tariffs, as it resulted in higher prices for imported goods.[100] This opposition was especially intense in South Carolina, where the dominant planter class faced few checks on extremism.[102] The South Carolina Exposition and Protest of 1828, secretly written by Calhoun, had asserted that their state could "nullify"—declare void—the tariff legislation of 1828.[103] In his 1829 Annual Message to Congress, Jackson advocated leaving the tariff in place until the national debt was paid off. He also favored a constitutional amendment that would, once the national debt was paid off, distribute surplus revenues from tariffs to the states.[78]

John C. Calhoun of South Carolina

Calhoun was not as extreme as some within South Carolina, and he and his allies kept more radical leaders like Robert James Turnbull in check early in Jackson's presidency. However, the Petticoat Affair strained relations between Jackson and Calhoun, while South Carolina nullifiers became increasingly strident in their opposition to the Tariff of Abominations.[104] Though Jackson sympathized with states' rights concerns, he rejected the idea of nullification.[105] One incident came at the April 13, 1830, Jefferson Day dinner, involving after-dinner toasts. Robert Hayne began by toasting to "The Union of the States, and the Sovereignty of the States." Jackson then rose, and in a booming voice added "Our federal Union: It must be preserved!" – a clear challenge to Calhoun. Calhoun clarified his position by responding "The Union: Next to our Liberty, the most dear!"[103] Relations between the Jackson and Calhoun reached a breaking point in May 1830, after Jackson discovered a letter that indicated that Calhoun had asked President Monroe to censure then-General Jackson for his invasion of Spanish Florida in 1818.[101] Jackson and Calhoun began an angry correspondence which lasted until Jackson stopped it in July 1830.[106] By the end of 1831, an open break had emerged not just between Calhoun and Jackson but also between their respective supporters.[107] Writing in the early 1830s, Calhoun claimed that three parties existed. One party (led by Calhoun himself) favored free trade, one party (led by Henry Clay) favored protectionism, and one party (led by Jackson) occupied a middle position.[108]

Believing that Calhoun was leading a conspiracy to undermine his administration, Jackson built a network of informants in South Carolina and made military plans for a possible insurrection. He also threw his support behind a tariff reduction bill that he believed would defuse the nullification issue.[109] The Tariff of 1832, written by Treasury Secretary Louis McLane, bill lowered duties from 45% to 27%. In May 1832, Representative John Quincy Adams introduced a slightly revised version of the bill, which Jackson accepted, and it was passed into law in July 1832.[110] However, the bill failed to satisfy many in the South, and a majority of southern Congressmen voted against it.[111]

Calhoun, who openly came out in favor of nullification in 1831, built his own political organization in South Carolina that opposed Jackson. In November 1832, South Carolina held a state convention that declared the tariff rates of 1828 and 1832 to be void within the state; the convention also purported that federal collection of import duties would be illegal after January 1833.[109] South Carolina also elected Calhoun to replace Robert Y. Hayne in the Senate, while Hayne became governor of the state.[112] In his December 1832 Annual Message to Congress, Jackson called for another reduction of the tariff, but he also vowed to suppress any rebellion.[113] Days later, Jackson issued his Proclamation to the People of South Carolina, which strongly denied the right of states to nullify federal laws or secede.[114] Jackson's nationalist stance split the Democratic Party and set off a national debate over nullification. Outside of South Carolina, no Southern states endorsed nullification, but many also expressed opposition to Jackson's threat to use force.[115] Jackson ordered the unionist South Carolina leader, Joel Roberts Poinsett, to organize a posse to suppress any rebellion, and promised Poinsett that 50,000 soldiers would be dispatched if any rebellion did break out.[116] At the same time, Governor Hayne asked for volunteers for the state militia, and 25,000 men volunteered.[117]

Seeking to defuse the crisis, Democratic Congressman Gulian C. Verplanck introduced a tariff reduction bill in the House of Representatives that would restore the tariff levels of the Tariff of 1816, and South Carolina leaders decided to delay the onset of nullification while Congress considered a new tariff bill.[118] As the debate over the tariff continued, Jackson asked Congress to pass a "Force Bill" explicitly authorizing the use of military force to enforce the government's power to collect import duties.[119] Though the House effort to write a new tariff bill collapsed, Clay initiated Senate consideration of the topic by introducing his own bill.[120] Clay, the most prominent protectionist in the country, worked with Calhoun's allies rather than Jackson's allies to pass the bill.[121] He won Calhoun's approval for a bill that provided for gradual tariff reductions until 1843, with tariff rates ultimately reaching levels similar to those proposed in the Verplanck bill. Though Southern leaders would have preferred lower rates, they accepted Clay's bill as the best compromise they could achieve at that point in time.[122] The Force Bill, meanwhile, passed both houses of Congress; many Southern congressmen opposed the bill but did not vote against it in an effort to expedite consideration of the tariff bill.[123]

Clay's tariff bill received significant support across partisan and sectional lines, and it passed 149–47 in the House and 29–16 in the Senate.[124] Despite his intense anger over the scrapping of the Verplanck bill and the new alliance between Clay and Calhoun, Jackson saw the tariff bill as an efficient way to end the crisis. He signed both the Tariff of 1833 and the Force Bill into law on March 2.[125] Simultaneous passage of the Force Bill and the tariff allowed both the nullifiers and Jackson to claim that they had emerged victorious from the confrontation.[126] The South Carolina Convention met and rescinded its nullification ordinance, and, in a final show of defiance, nullified the Force Bill.[127] On May 1, Jackson wrote, "the tariff was only the pretext, and disunion and southern confederacy the real object. The next pretext will be the negro, or slavery question."[128]

Bank War and 1832 re-election


1833 Democratic cartoon shows Jackson destroying the devil's Bank

In 1816, the Second Bank of the United States had been chartered by President James Madison to restore an economy devastated by the War of 1812.[129] The bank's duties included storing government funds, extending credit, and issuing banknotes. The bank had approximately $35 million in capital which represented more than twice the annual expenditures of the U.S. government.[130] Monroe had appointed Nicholas Biddle as the Bank's executive in 1822.[131] Jackson believed that the Bank was a fundamentally corrupt monopoly. Its stock was mostly held by foreigners, he insisted, and it exerted an unfair amount of control over the political system. Jackson used the issue to promote his democratic values, believing the Bank was being run exclusively for the wealthy.[131] He accused it of making loans with the intent of influencing elections.[132] In his address to Congress in 1830, Jackson called to replace the Bank with a similar institution that would have no private stockholders and no ability to lend or purchase land. Its only power would be to issue bills of exchange.[133]. Senator Thomas Hart Benton, a strong supporter of the president despite a brawl years earlier, gave a speech strongly denouncing the Bank and calling for open debate on its recharter, but Senator Daniel Webster led a motion that narrowly defeated the resolution.[134]

Though Jackson and many of his allies detested the bank, others within the Jacksonian coalition supported the Bank, including Eaton and Senator Samuel Smith.[130] Despite his misgivings, Jackson supported a plan proposed in late-1831 by his moderately pro-Bank Treasury Secretary Louis McLane, who was secretly working with Biddle, to recharter a reformed version of the Bank in a way that would free up funds which would in turn be used to strengthen the military or pay off the nation's debt. This would be done, in part, through the sale of government stock in the Bank. Over the objections of Attorney General Taney, an irreconcilable opponent of the Bank, Jackson allowed McLane to publish a Treasury Report which essentially recommended rechartering the Bank.[135]

In the years leading up to the 1832 election, it was unclear whether Jackson, frequently in poor health, would seek re-election. Even if he did run again, many leaders believed that the 1832 field of candidates would be as fractured as it had been in the 1824 election.[136] However, Jackson announced his intention to seek re-election in 1831.[137] The Anti-Masonic Party emerged by capitalizing on opposition to Freemasonry after the disappearance and possible murder of William Morgan in 1827.[138] In 1830, a meeting of Anti-Masons called for the first national nominating convention, and in September 1831 the fledgling party nominated a national ticket led by William Wirt of Maryland.[139] In December 1831, the National Republicans convened and nominated a ticket led by Henry Clay. Clay had rejected overtures from the Anti-Masonic Party, and his attempt to convince Calhoun to serve as his running mate failed, leaving the opposition to Jackson split among different leaders.[140] Various individuals were considered as possible Democratic vice presidential nominees in the 1832 election, including Van Buren, Judge Philip Pendleton Barbour, Treasury Secretary McLane, and Senator William Wilkins, Associate Justice John McLean, and even Calhoun. In order to agree on a national ticket, the Democrats held their first national convention in May 1832.[141] Van Buren emerged as Jackson's preferred running mate after the Eaton affair, and Van Buren won the vice presidential nomination on the first ballot of the Democratic convention.[55]

1832 election

Hoping to make the Bank a major issue in the 1832 election, Clay and Webster urged Biddle to immediately apply for recharter rather than wait to reach a compromise with the administration.[142] Biddle received advice to the contrary from moderate Democrats such as McLane and William Lewis, who argued that Biddle should wait because Jackson would likely veto the recharter bill. In January 1832, Biddle submitted to Congress a renewal of the Bank's charter without any of the proposed reforms.[143] In May 1832, after months of congressional debate, Biddle assented to a revised bill that would re-charter the bank but give Congress and the president new powers in controlling the institution, while also limiting the Bank's ability to hold real estate and establish branches.[144] The recharter bill passed the Senate on June 11 and the House on July 3, 1832.[131] When Van Buren met Jackson on July 4, Jackson declared, "The Bank, Mr. Van Buren, is trying to kill me. But I will kill it."[145] Jackson officially vetoed the bill on July 10. His veto message, crafted primarily by Taney, Kendall, and Andrew Jackson Donelson, attacked the Bank as an agent of inequality that supported only the wealthy.[146] He also noted that, as the Bank's charter would not expire for another four years, the next two Congresses would be able to consider new re-chartering bills.[147] Jackson's political opponents castigated the veto as "the very slang of the leveller and demagogue", claiming Jackson was using class warfare to gain support from the common man.[131]

1832 election results

The political struggle over the Bank emerged as the major issue of the 1832 campaign, although the tariff and especially Indian removal were also important issues in several states.[148] At Biddle's direction, the Bank poured thousands of dollars into the campaign to defeat Jackson, seemingly confirming Jackson's view that it interfered in the political process.[149] On July 21, Clay said privately, "The campaign is over, and I think we have won the victory."[150] Jackson, however, managed to successfully portray his veto as a defense of the common man against governmental tyranny. Clay proved to be no match to Jackson's popularity and the Democratic Party's skillful campaigning.[151] Jackson won the election by a landslide, receiving 54 percent of the popular vote and 219 electoral votes. Clay received 37 percent of the popular vote and 49 electoral votes, while Wirt received eight percent of the popular vote and seven electoral votes.[152] The South Carolina legislature awarded the state's electoral votes to states' rights advocate John Floyd.[153] Jackson believed the solid victory was a popular mandate for his veto of the Bank's recharter and his continued warfare on the Bank's control over the national economy.[154]

Removal of deposits and censure

In January 1833, at the height of the Nullification Crisis, Congressman James K. Polk introduced a bill to remove the federal government's deposits from the National Bank, but it was quickly defeated.[155] Following the end of the Nullification Crisis in March 1833, Jackson renewed his offensive against the bank, despite some opposition from within his own cabinet.[156] Throughout mid-1833, Jackson made preparations to remove federal deposits from the National Bank, sending Amos Kendall to meet with various bank leaders to see whether they would accept federal deposits.[157] In a September 1833 cabinet meeting, Jackson presented his proposal to gradually shift federal deposits out of the National Bank.[158] Later that month, the administration announced that it would stop depositing federal assets in the bank on October 1, 1833.[159] After new Secretary of the Treasury William Duane refused to authorize the transfer of federal funds, Jackson dismissed him from the Cabinet, appointing Roger Taney in his place.[159] The Jackson administration placed federal deposits in a variety of state banks which were friendly to the administration's policies, known to critics as pet banks.[160] The federal government had approximately $10 million deposited in the bank when the administration began the withdrawals; the Bank controlled another $10 million in deposits from other sources, and its $20 million in total deposits represented roughly 20% of all bank deposits in the United States.[161] Biddle responded to the withdrawals by stockpiling the Bank's reserves and contracting credit, thus causing interest rates to rise. Intended to force Jackson into a compromise, the move backfired, increasing anti-Bank sentiment.[162] The transfer of large amounts of bank deposits, combined with rising interest rates, contributed to the onset of a financial panic in late 1833.[163]

When Congress reconvened in December 1833, it immediately became embroiled in the controversy of the Bank withdrawals and the subsequent financial panic.[164] Neither the Democrats nor the anti-Jacksonians exercised complete control of either house of Congress, but the Democrats were stronger in the House of Representatives while the anti-Jacksonians were stronger in the Senate.[165] Senator Clay introduced a measures to censure the Jackson for unconstitutionally removing federal deposits from the National Bank. In March 1834, the Senate voted censure Jackson in a 26–20 vote.[166] It also rejected Taney as Treasury Secretary, forcing Jackson to find a different treasury secretary; he eventually nominated Levi Woodbury, who was confirmed by the Senate.[31] The House however, led by Ways and Means Committee chairman James K. Polk, declared on April 4 that the Bank "out not to be rechartered" and that the depositions "ought not to be restored." It also voted to continue to allow pet banks to be places of deposit and voted even more overwhelmingly to investigate whether the Bank had deliberately instigated the panic.[167] By mid-1834, the relatively mild financial panic had ended, and Jackson's opponents had failed to recharter the Bank or reverse Jackson's removals. The Bank's federal charter would expire in 1836, and though the Bank continued to function under a state charter, it never regained the influence it had had at the beginning of Jackson's administration.[168] In January 1837, when the Jacksonians had a majority in the Senate, the censure was expunged after years of effort by Jackson supporters.[169]

Rise of the Whig Party

Henry Clay of Kentucky

Clear partisan affiliations had not formed at the start of Jackson's presidency. He had supporters in the Northwest, the Northeast, and the South, all of whom had different positions on different issues.[170] The Nullification Crisis briefly scrambled the partisan divisions that had emerged after 1824, as many within the Jacksonian coalition opposed his threats of force, while some opposition leaders like Daniel Webster supported them.[171] Jackson's removal of the government deposits in late 1833 ended any possibility of a Webster-Jackson alliance and helped to solidify partisan lines.[172] Jackson's threats to use force during the Nullification Crisis and his alliance with Van Buren motivated many Southern leaders to leave the Democratic Party, while opposition to Indian removal and Jackson's actions in the Bank War galvanized spurred opposition from many in the North. Attacking the president's "executive usurpation," those opposed to Jackson coalesced into the Whig Party. The Whig label implicitly compared "King Andrew" to King George III, the King of Great Britain at the time of the American Revolution. The National Republicans, including Clay and Webster, formed the core of the party, but many Anti-Masons like William H. Seward of New York and Thaddeus Stevens of Pennsylvania also joined. Many disaffected Democrats defected to the Whigs, including former Attorney General John Berrien, Senator Willie Person Mangum of North Carolina, and John Tyler of Virginia. Beginning in December 1833, voting behavior in Congress began to be dominated by partisan affiliation.[173] By the time of the 1836 presidential election, Whigs and Democrats had established state parties throughout the country, though party strength varied by state and many of Jackson's opponents in the Deep South eschewed the Whig label.[174] While Democrats openly embraced partisanship and campaigning, many Whigs only reluctantly accepted the new system of party politics, and they lagged behind the Democrats in establishing national organizations and cross-sectional unity.[175]

Panic of 1837

Political cartoon showing people suffering from economic trouble
A New York newspaper blamed the Panic of 1837 on Andrew Jackson, depicted in spectacles and top hat.

The national economy boomed after mid-1834 as state banks liberally extended credit.[176] Due in part to the booming economy, Jackson paid off the entire national debt in January 1835, the only time in U.S. history that that has been accomplished.[177][178] In the aftermath of the Bank War, Jackson asked Congress to pass a bill to regulate the pet banks.[179] Jackson sought to restrict the issuance of paper banknotes under $5, and also to require banks to hold specie (gold or silver coins) equal to one fourth of the value of banknotes they issued. As Congress did not act on this proposal by the end of its session in March 1835, Secretary of the Treasury Woodbury forced the pet banks to accept restrictions similar to those that Jackson had proposed to Congress.[180] The debate over financial regulation became tied to a debate over the disposition of the federal budget surplus and proposals to increase the number of pet banks. In June 1836, Congress passed a bill that doubled the number of pet banks, distributed surplus federal revenue to the states, and instituted Jackson's proposed bank regulations. Jackson considered vetoing the bill primarily due to his opposition to the distribution of federal revenue, but he ultimately decided to let it pass into law. As the number of pet banks increased from 33 to 81, regulation of the government's deposits became more difficult, and lending increased. The growing number of loans contributed to a boom in land prices and land sales; the General Land Office solid 12.5 million acres of public land in 1835, compared to 2 million acres in 1829.[181] Seeking to curb land speculation, Jackson issued the Specie Circular, an executive order that required buyers of government lands to pay in specie.[182]

The period of good economic conditions ended with the onset of the Panic of 1837.[183] Contributing factors included Jackson's veto of the Second National Bank renewal charter in 1832 and subsequent transfer of federal monies to state banks in 1833 that caused western banks to relax their lending standards. Jackson's Specie Circular, albeit designed to reduce speculation and stabilize the economy, left many investors unable to afford to pay loans in gold and silver. The same year there was a downturn in Great Britain's economy, resulting in decreased foreign investment in the United States. As a result, the U.S. economy went into a depression, banks became insolvent, the national debt increased, business failures rose, cotton prices dropped, and unemployment dramatically increased.[183] The depression that followed lasted for four years until 1841 when the economy began to rebound.[177][184]

Other domestic issues

BEP engraved portrait of Jackson as President
BEP engraved portrait of Jackson as President

Internal improvements

In the years before Jackson had taken office, the idea of the federally-funded internal improvements such as roads and canals had become increasingly popular.[185] Jackson had campaigned against Adams's support for federally-funded infrastructure projects, but unlike, some states' rights supporters, Jackson did think that such projects were constitutional so long as they aided the national defense or improved the national economy. In what became known as the Maysville Road veto, Jackson vetoed a bill that would have funded a road connecting two towns in Kentucky. Advocates claimed that it would become part of the national road system, but Jackson argued that the road was not of national importance. Despite the veto, federal funding on infrastructure would increase substantially during Jackson's presidency, reaching a total greater than all previous administrations combined.[186] During Jackson's presidency, the National Road was extended from Ohio into Illinois.[187]

Slavery controversies

The issue of slavery was not a major theme during Jackson's presidency. He was a slaveowner himself, having approved the expansion of slavery to the territories, while disapproving anti-slavery agitation. Even so, two notable controversies related to the issue of slavery arose while he was in the White house. In 1835, the American Anti-Slavery Society launched a mail campaign against the peculiar institution. Tens of thousands of antislavery pamphlets and tracts were sent to southern destinations through the U.S. mail. Across the South, reaction to the abolition mail campaign bordered on apoplexy.[188] In Congress, Southerners demanded that none of the tracts should be delivered. Jackson, who wanted sectional peace after the turmoil of the Nullification crisis, placated Southerners. His Postmaster General Amos Kendall gave Southern postmasters discretionary powers to discard the tracts. Abolitionists and their supporters then denounced the suppression of free speech.[189]

That same year another conflict unfolded, when abolitionists sent the U.S. House of Representatives petitions to end the slave trade and slavery in Washington, D.C.[190] This infuriated pro-slavery Southerners, who attempted to prevent acknowledgement or discussion of the petitions. On December 18, 1835 South Carolina congressman James H. Hammond strongly denounced abolitionists as "ignorant fanatics". Northern Whigs objected that anti-slavery petitions were constitutional and should not be forbidden.[190] Jackson wanted the issue of these petitions resolved quickly. South Carolina Representative Henry L. Pinckney introduced a resolution that denounced the petitions as "sickly sentimentality", declared that Congress had no right to interfere with slavery, and tabled all further anti-slavery petitions. Southerners in Congress, including many of Jackson's supporters, favored the measure (the 21st Rule, commonly called the "gag rule"), which was passed quickly and without any debate; temporarily suppressing abolitionist activities in Congress.[190]

U.S. Exploring Expedition

Sketch of a ship with sails at sea
USS Porpoise, a brig ship laid down in 1835 and launched in May 1836; used in the U.S. Exploring Expedition

Jackson initially opposed any federal exploratory scientific expeditions during his first term in office.[191] The last scientific federally funded expeditions took place from 1817 to 1823, led by Stephen H. Harriman on the Red River of the North. Jackson's predecessor, President Adams, attempted to launch a scientific oceanic exploration in 1828, but Congress was unwilling to fund the effort. When Jackson assumed office in 1829 he pocketed Adams' expedition plans. However, wanting to establish his presidential legacy, similar to Jefferson and the Lewis and Clark Expedition, Jackson finally sponsored scientific exploration during his second term. On May 18, 1836, Jackson signed a law creating and funding the oceanic United States Exploring Expedition. Jackson put Secretary of the Navy Mahlon Dickerson in charge, to assemble suitable ships, officers, and scientific staff for the expedition; with a planned launch before Jackson's term of office expired. Dickerson however proved unfit for the task, preparations stalled and the expedition was not launched until 1838, during the presidency of Van Buren.[191] One brig ship, USS Porpoise, later used in the expedition; having been commissioned by Secretary Dickerson in May 1836, circumnavigated the world and explored and mapped the Southern Ocean, confirming the existence of the Antarctica continent.[192]

Administrative reforms

Jackson presided over several reforms in the executive branch. Postmaster General Amos Kendall reorganized the Post Office and successfully pushed for the Post Office Act of 1836, which made the Post Office a department of the executive branch. Under Commissioner Ethan Allen Brown, the General Land Office was reorganized and expanded to accommodate the growing demand for public land. The Patent Office was also reorganized and expanded under the leadership of Henry Leavitt Ellsworth. After his request to divide the State Department into two departments was rebuffed, Jackson divided the State Department into eight bureaus. Jackson also presided over the establishment of the Office of Indian Affairs, which coordinated Indian removal and other policies related to Native Americans. By signing the Judiciary Act of 1837, Jackson played a role in extending the circuit courts to several western states.[193]

States admitted to the Union

Two new states were admitted into the Union during Jackson's presidency: Arkansas (June 15, 1836)[194] and Michigan (January 26, 1837).[195] Both states increased Democratic power in Congress and helped Van Buren win the presidency in 1836.[196]

Foreign affairs

Jackson's Minister to France William C. Rives successfully negotiated payments that France owed the U.S. for damages caused by Napoleon.

Spoliation and commercial treaties

Foreign affairs under Jackson were generally uneventful prior to 1835.[197][198] His administration's foreign policy focused on expanding trade opportunities for American commerce.[199] The Jackson administration negotiated a trade agreement with Great Britain that opened the British West Indies colonies to American merchant ships. Such an agreement had been sought by previous presidents, including Adams, and it represented a major foreign policy success for Jackson.[200] The State Department also negotiated routine trade agreements with Russia, Spain, the Ottoman Empire, and Siam. American exports (chiefly cotton) increased 75%, while imports increased 250%.[201] Jackson increased funding to the navy and used it to defend American commercial interests in far-flung areas such as the Falkland Islands and Sumatra.[202]

A second major foreign policy emphasis in the Jackson administration was the settlement of spoliation claims.[203] The most serious crisis was a debt that France owed for the damage Napoleon had done two decades earlier. France agreed to pay, but kept postponing payment. Jackson made warlike gestures, while domestic political opponents ridiculed his bellicosity. Jackson's Minister to France William C. Rives finally obtained the ₣ 25,000,000 francs involved (about $5,000,000) in 1836.[204][205] The Department of State also settled smaller spoliation claims with Denmark, Portugal, and Spain.[201]

Recognition of Republic of Texas

Upon taking office, the Jackson administration continued Adams's policy of trying to purchase the Mexican state of Coahuila y Tejas. Jackson believed that Adams had wrongly bargained away the territory in the Adams–Onís Treaty, and he hoped to expand the United States west. The territory was even more appealing for expansionists because it contained many American settlers. Upon gaining independence, Mexico had invited American settlers to the underdeveloped province, and 35,000 American settlers moved to the state between 1821 and 1835. Most of the settlers came from the Southern United States, and many of these settlers brought slaves with them. In 1830, fearing that the state was becoming a virtual extension of the United States, Mexico banned immigration into Coahuila y Tejas. Mexico also rebuffed offers by the United States to purchase the territory. Chafing under Mexican rule, the American settlers became increasingly dissatisfied.[206]

In 1835, American settlers along with local Tejanos in Texas fought a war for independence. Texan leader Stephen F. Austin sent a letter to Jackson pleading for an American military intervention, but the United States remained neutral in the conflict.[207] By May 1836, the Texans had routed the Mexican military, establishing an independent Republic of Texas. The new Texas government sought recognition from President Jackson and annexation into the United States.[208] Antislavery elements in the U.S. strongly opposed annexation because slavery was flourishing there in the virgian cotton lands.[209][210] Jackson was hesitant with recognizing Texas, unconvinced that the new republic could maintain independence from Mexico, and not wanting to make Texas an anti-slavery issue during the 1836 election. After the election, Jackson formally recognized the Republic of Texas, and nominated Alcée Louis la Branche as chargé d'affaires.[201][211]

Attack and assassination attempt

Several people in a crowd, man aims a gun at Jackson
Richard Lawrence's attempt on Jackson's life, as depicted in an 1835 etching

On January 30, 1835, what is believed to be the first attempt to kill a sitting President of the United States occurred just outside the United States Capitol. When Jackson was leaving through the East Portico after the funeral of South Carolina Representative Warren R. Davis, Richard Lawrence, an unemployed house painter from England, aimed a pistol at Jackson, which misfired. Lawrence then pulled out a second pistol, which also misfired, possibly due to the humid weather.[212] Jackson, infuriated, attacked Lawrence with his cane. Others present, including Davy Crockett, restrained and disarmed Lawrence.[213]

Lawrence offered a variety of explanations for the shooting. He blamed Jackson for the loss of his job. He claimed that with the President dead, "money would be more plenty", (a reference to Jackson's struggle with the Bank of the United States) and that he "could not rise until the President fell." Finally, Lawrence told his interrogators that he was a deposed English king—specifically, Richard III, dead since 1485—and that Jackson was his clerk.[214] He was deemed insane and was institutionalized.[215] Jackson initially suspected that a number of his political enemies might have orchestrated the attempt on his life, but his suspicions were never proven.[216]

Presidential election of 1836

1836 electoral vote results

Jackson, not running in 1836, was determined to make Van Buren his successor in order to continue the Jackson administration's policies.[217] With Jackson's support, Van Buren won the presidential nomination of the Democratic Convention without opposition.[218] Two names were put forward for the vice-presidential nomination: Representative Richard M. Johnson of Kentucky, and former senator William Cabell Rives of Virginia. Southern Democrats, and Van Buren himself, strongly preferred Rives. Jackson, on the other hand, strongly preferred Johnson. Again, Jackson's considerable influence prevailed, and Johnson received the required two-thirds vote after New York Senator Silas Wright prevailed upon non-delegate Edward Rucker to cast the 15 votes of the absent Tennessee delegation in Johnson's favor.[219][218]

Van Buren's competitors in the election of 1836 were three members of the newly established Whig Party, still a loose coalition bound by mutual opposition to Jackson's anti-bank policies.[219] The Whigs ran several regional candidates in hopes of sending the election to the House of Representatives, where each state delegation would have one vote and the Whigs would stand a better chance of winning.[220] Senator Hugh Lawson White of Tennessee emerged as the main Whig nominee in the South. White ran against the Force Bill, Jackson's actions in the Bank War, and Van Buren's unpopularity in the South. William Henry Harrison, who had gained national fame for his role in the Battle of Tippecanoe, established himself as the main Whig candidate in the North, although Webster also sought the presidency.[221]

Van Buren won the election with 764,198 popular votes, 50.9 percent of the total, and 170 electoral votes. Harrison led the Whigs with 73 electoral votes, White receiving 26, and Webster 14. Willie Person Mangum of South Carolina received his state’s 11 electoral votes.[222] Van Buren's victory resulted from a combination of his own attractive political and personal qualities, Jackson's popularity and endorsement, the organizational power of the Democratic party, and the inability of the Whig Party to muster an effective candidate and campaign.[223]

Historical reputation

Equestrian statue of Gen. Jackson, Jackson County Courthouse, Kansas City, Missouri, commissioned by Judge Harry S. Truman

Jackson remains one of the most studied and controversial figures in American history. Historian Charles Grier Sellers says, "Andrew Jackson's masterful personality was enough by itself to make him one of the most controversial figures ever to stride across the American stage." There has never been universal agreement on Jackson's legacy, for "his opponents have ever been his most bitter enemies, and his friends almost his worshippers."[224] He was always a fierce partisan, with many friends and many enemies. He has been lauded as the champion of the common man, while criticized for his treatment of Indians and for other matters.[225] According to early biographer James Parton:

Andrew Jackson, I am given to understand, was a patriot and a traitor. He was one of the greatest generals, and wholly ignorant of the art of war. A brilliant writer, elegant, eloquent, without being able to compose a correct sentence or spell words of four syllables. The first of statesmen, he never devised, he never framed, a measure. He was the most candid of men, and was capable of the most profound dissimulation. A most law-defying law-obeying citizen. A stickler for discipline, he never hesitated to disobey his superior. A democratic autocrat. An urbane savage. An atrocious saint.[226]

In the 20th century, Jackson was written about by many admirers. Arthur M. Schlesinger's Age of Jackson (1945) depicts Jackson as a man of the people battling inequality and upper-class tyranny.[227] From the 1970s to the 1980s, Robert Remini published a three-volume biography of Jackson followed by an abridged one-volume study. Remini paints a generally favorable portrait of Jackson.[228] He contends that Jacksonian democracy "stretches the concept of democracy about as far as it can go and still remain workable. ... As such it has inspired much of the dynamic and dramatic events of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in American history—Populism, Progressivism, the New and Fair Deals, and the programs of the New Frontier and Great Society."[229] To Remini, Jackson serves as "the embodiment of the new American...This new man was no longer British. He no longer wore the queue and silk pants. He wore trousers, and he had stopped speaking with a British accent."[228] However, other 20th-century writers such as Richard Hofstadter and Bray Hammond depict Jackson as an advocate of the sort of laissez-faire capitalism that benefits the rich and oppresses the poor.[227]

Jackson's initiatives to deal with the conflicts between Indians and American settlers has been a source of controversy. Starting mainly around 1970, Jackson came under sharp attack from historians on this issue. Howard Zinn called him "the most aggressive enemy of the Indians in early American history"[230] and "exterminator of Indians."[231] In 1969, Francis Paul Prucha argued that Jackson's removal of the "Five Civilized Tribes" from the extremely hostile white environment in the Old South to Oklahoma probably saved their very existence.[232] Similarly, Remini claims that, if not for Jackson's policies, the Southern tribes would have been totally wiped out, just like other tribes-namely, the Yamasee, Mahican, and Narragansett–which did not move.[233]

Brands observes that Jackson's reputation declined after the mid-20th century as his actions towards Indians and African Americans received new attention. After the Civil Rights movement, Brand writes, "his unrepentant ownership of slaves marked him as one to be censured rather than praised." Further, "By the turn of the present [21st] century, it was scarcely an exaggeration to say that the one thing American schoolchildren learned about Jackson was that he was the author of the Trail of Tears." Jackson was often hailed during his lifetime as the "second George Washington", because, while Washington had fought for independence, Jackson confirmed it at New Orleans and made the United States a great world power. Over time however, while the Revolution has maintained a reasonably strong presence in the public conscience, memory of the War of 1812, including the Battle of New Orleans, has sharply declined. Brands argues that this is because once America had become a military power, "it was easy to think that America had been destined for this role from the beginning."[234]

Still, Jackson's performance in office has generally been ranked in the top half in public opinion polling. His position in C-SPAN's poll dropped from 13th in 2009 to 18th in 2017. Some associate this decline with the frequent praise Jackson has received from sitting President Donald Trump, who hung Jackson's official portrait in the Oval Office.[235]


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  • Booraem, Hendrik (2001). Young Hickory: The Making of Andrew Jackson. Lanham, MD: Taylor Trade Publishing. ISBN 0-8783-3263-4. ; 344 pages; coverage to age 21
  • Brands, H. W. (2005). Andrew Jackson: His Life and Times. New York: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. ISBN 1-4000-3072-2. 
  • Cole, Donald B. (1993). The Presidency of Andrew Jackson. University Press of Kansas. ISBN 0-7006-0600-9. 
  • Kendall, Amos (1843). Life of Andrew Jackson: Private, Military, and Civil. New York: Harper & Brothers. 
  • Meacham, Jon (2008). American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House. New York: Random House Publishing Group. ISBN 0-8129-7346-1. 
  • Parton, James (1860a). Life of Andrew Jackson, Volume 1. New York: Mason Brothers. 
  • Parton, James (1860b). Life of Andrew Jackson, Volume 3. New York: Mason Brothers. 
  • Remini, Robert V. (1977). Andrew Jackson and the Course of American Empire, 1767–1821. New York: Harper & Row Publishers, Inc. ISBN 0-8018-5912-3. 
  • Remini, Robert V. (1981). Andrew Jackson and the Course of American Freedom, 1822–1832. New York: Harper & Row Publishers, Inc. ISBN 978-0-8018-5913-7. 
  • Remini, Robert V. (1984). Andrew Jackson and the Course of American Democracy, 1833–1845. New York: Harper & Row Publishers, Inc. ISBN 0-8018-5913-1. 
  • Remini, Robert V. (1988). The Life of Andrew Jackson. New York: Harper & Row Publishers, Inc. ISBN 0-0618-0788-5.  Abridgment of Remini's 3-volume biography.
  • Snelling, William Joseph (1831). A Brief and Impartial History of the Life and Actions of Andrew Jackson. Boston: Stimpson & Clapp. 
  • Wilentz, Sean (2005). Andrew Jackson. New York: Henry Holt and Company. ISBN 0-8050-6925-9. 

Specialized studies

  • Adams, Henry (1986) [1891]. History of the United States of America During the Administrations of James Madison. New York: Library Classics of the United States. ISBN 0-9404-5035-6. 
  • Adams, Henry (1879). The Life of Albert Gallatin. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co. 
  • Bates, Christopher G. (2015). The Early Republic and Antebellum America: An Encyclopedia of Social, Political, Cultural, and Economic History. New York: Routledge. ISBN 9781317457404. 
  • Berutti, Ronald A. (1992). "The Cherokee Cases: The Fight to Save the Supreme Court and the Cherokee Indians". American Indian Law Review. 17 (1): 291–308. doi:10.2307/20068726. JSTOR 20068726. 
  • Bogart, Ernest Ludlow (1907). The Economic History of the United States. London, UK: Longmans, Green, and Company. 
  • Boller, Paul F. Jr. (2004). Presidential Campaigns: From George Washington to George W. Bush. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19516-716-3. 
  • Borneman, Walter R. (2008). Polk: The Man Who Transformed the Presidency and America. New York: Random House. ISBN 978-1-4000-6560-8. 
  • Byrne, James Patrick; Coleman, Philip; King, Jason Francis (2008). Ireland and the Americas: Culture, Politics, and History : a Multidisciplinary Encyclopedia. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO. 
  • Cheathem, Mark R. (April 1, 2011). "Andrew Jackson, Slavery, and Historians". History Compass. 9 (4): 326. doi:10.1111/j.1478-0542.2011.00763.x. ISSN 1478-0542. 
  • Cumfer, Cynthia (2007). Separate peoples, one land: The minds of Cherokees, Blacks, and Whites on the Tennessee frontier. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press. ISBN 978-0-8078-3151-9. 
  • Durham, Walter T. (1990). Before Tennessee: the Southwest Territory, 1790-1796: a narrative history of the Territory of the United States South of the River Ohio. Piney Flats, TN: Rocky Mount Historical Association. ISBN 0-9678-3071-0. 
  • Eaton, Clement (1942). "Mob Violence in the Old South". The Mississippi Valley Historical Review. 29 (3): 351. doi:10.2307/1897915. ISSN 0161-391X. JSTOR 1897915. 
  • Ellis, Richard E. (1974). Woodward, C. Vann, ed. Responses of the Presidents to Charges of Misconduct. New York: Delacorte Press. pp. 61–68. ISBN 0-440-05923-2. 
  • Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. Washington, D.C.: Myron E. Sharpe, Inc. Archived from the original on May 4, 2016. 
  • Garrison, Tim Allen (2002). The Legal Ideology of Removal: The Southern Judiciary and the Sovereignty of Native American Nations. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press. ISBN 0-8203-3417-0. 
  • Gullan, Harold I. (2004). First fathers: the men who inspired our Presidents. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 0-471-46597-6. 
  • Howe, Daniel Walker (2007). What Hath God Wrought: the Transformation of America, 1815–1848. Oxford, NY: Oxford University Press. 
  • Jackson, Elmer Martin (1985). Keeping the lamp of remembrance lighted: a genealogical narrative with pictures and charts about the Jacksons and their allied families. Hagerstown, MD: Hagerstown Bookbinding and Printing Co. 
  • Jahoda, Gloria (1975). The Trail of Tears: The Story of the American Indian Removals 1813–1855. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston. ISBN 0-03-014871-5. 
  • Kennedy, Kathleen; Ullman, Sharon Rena (2003). Sexual Borderlands: Constructing an American Sexual Past. Columbus, OH: Ohio State University Press. ISBN 978-0-8142-0927-1. Archived from the original on April 7, 2015. 
  • Lansford, Tom; Woods, Thomas E., eds. (2008). Exploring American History: From Colonial Times to 1877. 10. New York: Marshall Cavendish. p. 1046. ISBN 978-0-7614-7758-7. 
  • Latner, Richard B. (2002). "Andrew Jackson". In Graff, Henry. The Presidents: A Reference History (3 ed.). New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. ISBN 978-0-684-31226-2. OCLC 49029341. 
  • Leeden, Michael A. (2001). Tocqueville on American Character. New York: Macmillan. ISBN 0-3122-5231-5. Retrieved January 15, 2014. 
  • Lewis, J. D. (2012). NC Patriots 1775–1783: Their Own Words. 1 – The NC Continental Line. Little River, SC: J.D. Lewis. pp. 193–94. ISBN 978-1-4675-4808-3. 
  • Marszalek, John F. (2000) [1997]. The Petticoat Affair: Manners, Mutiny, and Sex in Andrew Jackson's White House. Baton Rouge, LA: LSU Press. ISBN 0-8071-2634-9. 
  • Martin, François-Xavier (1829). The History of Louisiana, from the Earliest Period, Vol. 2. New Orleans, LA: A.T. Penniman & Co. 
  • Mills, William J. (2003). Exploring Polar Frontiers: A Historical Encyclopedia. 1. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, Inc. ISBN 1-57607-422-6. 
  • Nevins, Allan; Commanger, Henry Steele; Morris, Jeffrey (1992) [1941]. A Pocket History of the United States. New York: Simon & Schuster. 
  • Niven, John (1988). John C. Calhoun and the Price of Union: A Biography. Baton Rouge, LA: LSU Press. ISBN 978-0-8071-1858-0. 
  • Nowlan, Robert A. (2012). The American Presidents, Washington to Tyler. Jefferson, NC: McFarland Publishing. ISBN 978-0786463367. 
  • Ogg, Frederic Austin (1919). The Reign of Andrew Jackson; Vol. 20, Chronicles of America Series. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. 
  • Olson, James Stuart (2002). Robert L. Shadle, ed. Encyclopedia of the Industrial Revolution in America. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-313-30830-6. 
  • Paletta, Lu Ann; Worth, Fred L. (1988). The World Almanac of Presidential Facts. New York, NY: World Almanac Books. ISBN 0-345-34888-5. 
  • Prucha, Francis Paul (1969). "Andrew Jackson's Indian policy: a reassessment". Journal of American History. 56 (3): 527–539. doi:10.2307/1904204. Archived from the original on March 3, 2016. 
  • Rorabaugh, W.J.; Critchlow, Donald T.; Baker, Paula C. (2004). America's Promise: A Concise History of the United States. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 0-7425-1189-8. 
  • Rutland, Robert Allen (1995). The Democrats: From Jefferson to Clinton. Columbia, MO: University of Missouri Press. ISBN 0-8262-1034-1. 
  • Sabato, Larry; O'Connor, Karen (2002). American Government: Continuity and Change. New York: Pearson Longman. ISBN 978-0-321-31711-7. 
  • Schwartz, Bernard (1993). A History of the Supreme Court. New York: Oxford University Press. 
  • Warshauer, Matthew (2006). Andrew Jackson and the Politics of Martial Law. Knoxville, TN: University of Tennessee Press. 
  • Wilentz, Sean (2006). The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. ISBN 0-393-05820-4. 
  • Zinn, Howard (1980). "7: As Long As Grass Grows or Water Runs". A People's History of the United States. Abingdon-on-Thames, UK: Routledge Taylor and Francis Group. 


  • Adams, Sean Patrick, ed. (2013). A Companion to the Era of Andrew Jackson. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons. 
  • Curtis, James C. (1976). Andrew Jackson and the Search for Vindication. Boston: Little, Brown and Co. 
  • Sellers, Charles Grier Jr. (1958). "Andrew Jackson versus the Historians". Mississippi Valley Historical Review. 44 (4). 

Primary sources

  • Jackson, Andrew (1926). Bassett, John Spencer; Jameson, J. Franklin, eds. The Correspondence of Andrew Jackson. 5. Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Institute of Washington.  7 volumes total.
  • The Papers of Andrew Jackson Edited first by Sam B. Smith and Harriet Chappell Owsley, and now by Dan Feller, Sam B. Smith, Harriet Fason Chappell Owsley, and Harold D. Moser. (9 vols. 1980 to date, U of Tennessee) online.
    • Searchable digital edition online
  • Richardson, James D. ed. A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents (1897), reprints his major messages and reports.
  • Library of Congress. "Andrew Jackson Papers", a digital archive that provides direct access to the manuscript images of many of the Jackson documents. online

External links

U.S. Presidential Administrations
Preceded by
J. Q. Adams
Jackson Presidency
Succeeded by
Van Buren
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