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Andrew Jackson A Tyrant Essay, Research Paper
“I cannot be intimidated from doing that which my judgment and conscience tell me is right by any earthly power.”
This quote by Jackson underlies the fact the he was a selfish, tyrannical ruler. He did not make decisions based on the interests of the whole nation but on his own personal benefit, in search of self- achievement. Although he was portrayed or possibly manipulated the citizens to believe that he was a president for the common man, that was simply not the way he acted. As president, he purposely ignored the power of the Judicial branch to judge laws, and strengthened the power of the Executive branch above the limits in the Constitution. He was also said to be rude and uneducated, which might have led to the reasons why he was such a power hungry tyrant; but before one makes this harsh judgment they must first realize the type of life that Andrew Jackson lived. It almost certainly was the main reason why his thought process was so different from the regular wealthy, educated earlier presidents.
The third child of Irish immigrants, he joined the Army when he was only thirteen years old. Although he was young he had already developed hatred towards the British, because his oldest brother was killed fighting in the Revolution. Even though Jackson was an exceptional soldier, both him and his middle brother were captured by British troops. After their mother pleaded for their release, the boys were set free, but due to the poor living conditions of the army camp, Jackson’s family was overcome by the smallpox disease. Leaving him all alone in life. This traumatic time in his life could have been the start of all his psychological problems.
It seems that trouble almost always found Jackson. After being a lawyer for only a few years, an argument with another lawyer in the town led to an insult. Eventually Jackson challenged the man to a duel. Things did not look good for Jackson’s opponent because Jackson was a notoriously good shot, but at the last minute Jackson offered his enemy some bacon and a joke, and they laughed together. This shows Jackson had the power to manipulate people. In just a few years of law Jackson, now eighteen met his soon to be wife, Rachel Robards. There was a small problem though…Rachel was married. But Jackson being the terrifying man that he was, played with a huge knife during the divorce trial; this petrified her first husband, and after a short trail the case was thrown out and Rachel was divorced. Jackson and Rachel were married in August of 1791; this brought his spirits up very much. Proof of this is in how he says,
“Heaven will be no heaven to me if I do not meet my wife there.”
Even though Andrew Jackson had matured a lot by the early eighteen hundreds, his temper was still blazing. In October 1803, He came across a Tennessee’s governor, whom happened to be an old rival; reportedly the governor said something about Rachel Jackson. Without delay Jackson challenged the governor to a duel, he refused and Jackson put an announcement in a local paper, calling the man a coward. The humiliated governor then persuaded a young marksman named Charles Dickinson to offend Rachel and challenge her husband to a duel. Jackson then met Dickinson in a Kentucky meadow at dawn. Dickinson being a faster draw, fired first. He hit Jackson in the chest, a bad wound; but Jackson’s soon retaliated with a shot to the stomach that instantly killed his opponent. Dickinson’s bullet was too close to Jackson’s heart to be removed by the surgeons back then, and it stayed there for the rest of his life.
Jackson, getting bored with the farm life and politics decided he wanted to command an army once again; he led a small volunteer group south down the Mississippi River. But when the government got wind of this they sent him back to Nashville, where Jackson promptly got in another brawl with a rival. This one exploded into a shoot-out among quite a few men, and Jackson took a bullet to the shoulder. Doctors recommended it be amputated, but Jackson refused; this bullet, too, remained in him.
These are just a few examples of how Jackson’s past may have contributed greatly to his presidency; he had hatred towards many rivals and not to mention the British. Another soon to be rival on Jackson’s list was John Quincy Adams; this was because in the election of 1824, Adams and Henry Clay made what Jackson called “a corrupt bargain” And this caused Jackson to lose the 1824 election which he believed he had rightfully earned.
But the election of 1828 was much different; from the beginning it was personal. Jackson was convinced that he was the winning candidate for president, and Adams’ backers were horrified at the thought of a vulgar frontiersman in the White House. The year 1828 brought a complete and everlasting change to the way presidential elections were done. This was an extremely offensive election in which Adams’ followers took the name National Republicans. They published in papers across the country this filthy and hateful report:
General Jackson’s mother was a COMMON PROSTITUTE brought to this country by British soldiers! She afterward married a MULATTO MAN, with whom she had several children, of which number General Jackson IS ONE!!
Although Adams and his supporters tried there hardest to corrupt Jackson’s chances at becoming president, Jackson received three times the amount of electoral votes that Adams did, thus making him the President of the United States.
Once in office Jackson immediately showed signs of bad leadership by using the Spoils System, which is where his put his friends into his Cabinet. In his 1st Inaugural Address he says,
”In the performance of a task thus generally delineated I shall endeavor to select men whose diligence and talents will insure in their respective stations able and faithful cooperation.”
This shows that right from the start Jackson was perhaps lying, this is to be believed because Jackson put his friends in office to override the Democrats rather than to equal the two parties out. Then the next big issue, the Bank War came. In which he destroyed the national bank, and again due to much evidence, Andrew Jackson’s actions as president were mainly based on his personal feelings. Jackson already hated the national bank before his presidency. As a former, wealthy land entrepreneur, he had lost huge amounts of money because of the national bank in the 1790’s. As a result, he refused to recharter the bank when Henry Clay proposed it in 1832. Even though it was passed through Congress, Jackson vetoed it claiming that it was unconstitutional when it had already been declared constitutional by the Marshall in 1819 during the McCulloch vs. Maryland case. This was one of many vetoes made by Jackson under the executive branch. The National Republicans, who were now called the Whigs, thought they could use the issue of vetoes against Jackson in the election of 1832, but their plan backfired and Jackson won the election by a huge margin.
In his 2nd Inaugural Address, Jackson states,
“So many events have occurred within the last four years which have necessarily called forth- sometimes under circumstances the most delicate and painful- my views of the principles and policy which ought to be pursued by the General Government that I need on this occasion but allude to a few leading considerations connected with some of them.”
This again shows that he feels he has the ability to overpower the rest of the United States Government. In his second term Jackson faced many issues such as the Tariff of Abominations and nullification acts, which he forced Congress to pass acts, again proving he felt he had a higher power over the rest of the government, and abusing his power by forcing Congress to pass acts. But by far the main issue during Jackson’s second term was the Indian issue, in which Jackson used his power to support the removal of the Cherokee Indians. This was a foolish move on Jackson’s part because his reputation rested upon his cold-blooded slaughter of Native Americans at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend, where Jackson’s militia killed over 800 Creeks, shooting them down “like dogs,” in the Creek War of 1814. Many Americans started to believe that Jackson was prejudice.
Even before the removal issue, there was already much conflict between Americans and the Indians. As America was expanding and settlers were moving west, they were intruding the Indians’ land. Before these invasions; however, treaties were made not permitting anyone to push the Indians out of their land in Georgia. Jackson completely agreed with the treaties but when Georgia disobeyed the government and invaded the Indians, he denied and ignored what was taking place. The Indians who had been guaranteed land by the United States even appealed in court. And even though the ruling was in favor of the Indians, Georgia continued to defy the ruling. But Jackson did not put in an effort to mend this dilemma. In fact Georgia and Jackson even ignored the Supreme Court ruling, Jackson made the United States army gather roughly 15,000 soldiers and forced the Cherokee Indians to move westward. This lengthy and horrific journey was what the Cherokees called the Trail of Tears. During this about one out of every four Indians died due to disease or lack of food. Another thing that outraged the Indians were that the American government, mainly Jackson promised the Indians nine million dollars for their relocation, but after the torturous journey was completed Jackson and his government took six million dollars out for the relocation costs.
Jackson abused his power as president by exceeding his limits and allowing his personal happiness and emotions influence his decisions that may have affected him positively but affected the rest of the United States in a negative way; which was unbelievably selfish. He left the nation with confusion and failures instead of contributing to it, achievements. Jackson once said,
“I know what I am fit for. I can command a body of men in a rough way; but I am not fit to be President.”
I do not think he realized how right he was.
1. Cayton, Andrew, Perry, Elisabeth I. and Allan M. Winkler. American Pathways to the Present. Needham: Prentice Hall, 1995
2. Kunhardt, Phillip B, Phillip III and Paul. “Andrew Jackson the 7th president.” The American President. (April 9, 2000): Online. Internet. May 2, 2001
3. Jackson, Andrew. “First Inaugural Address.” Inaugural addresses of the Presidents of the United States. (1989): p.3
4. Jackson, Andrew. “Second Inaugural Address.” Inaugural addresses of the Presidents of the United States. (1989): p.2
5. Zinn, Howard. ”As Long as the Grass Grows or Water Runs ” A Peoples History of the United States: 1492 to Present. New York City: Harper Collins, 1999
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