Andrew Jackson

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Andrew Jackson (1767-1845)
Jackson was born on the border between North and South Carolina. His father died a short time before his birth. At the age of 14, Jackson lost his mother to cholera while she was nursing American soldiers being held by the British. As a boy of 13, during the Revolutionary War, Jackson took part in the Battle of Hanging Rock. He was taken prisoner by the British, and when one of the British officer demanded that the clean his boots, Jackson refused. The officer hit him with the dull side of his saber, leaving a scar Jackson bore for the rest of his life. After the war Jackson studied law and became a prosecutor. For one year he was Tennessee's representative in Congress and for five months he was a member of the Senate. From 1798-1804, Jackson served as Judge on the Tennessee Supreme Court. In 1812, Jackson was appointed Major General in the Volunteer Corps.

In October 1813, after the Creek Indian uprising, Jackson led a 2,500 strong Tennessee force against the Creeks, defeating a force of 1,000 Indians. In May 1814, Jackson was promoted to Major General in the regular army. In October of that year he invaded Florida and captured Pensacola. He then marched north and west to New Orleans, where he undertook the defense of that city.

On January 8, 1815 (after the treaty of Ghent had been signed), Jackson led his troops to a stunning victory over the British regulars who were attacking New Orleans. There were 2,000 British casualties and 21 American casualties. The stunning victory made Jackson a national hero. In 1817, President Monroe ordered Jackson to try to stop Seminole Indians attacks on settlers in Georgia. Jackson was instructed not to invade Florida unless he was in hot pursuit of the Seminoles. Jackson exceeded his instructions and invaded Florida. He overthrew the governor and executed two British citizens, allegedly for inciting the Seminole tribe to violence. An unsuccessful attempt was made to censure Jackson for exceeding his authority.

From 1823 to 1825 Jackson served in the Senate. In 1824 he made an unsuccessful bid for the Presidency.
Andrew Jackson's election in 1828 is described as The Revolution of 1828. It brought to power the first American President not rooted in the Eastern aristocracy. He was elected by the "common" man and acted within that mandate.

Jackson's Presidency is the beginning of the modern Presidency, one in which the powers vested in the office of the President grew immensely.

Jackson was the first President to introduce the spoils system to national government, basing appointments on political support. Thus, patronage - present on a state level - became predominant on a national level. Jackson used his function as the head of the party to enhance his power.

Jackson used his veto power extensively. He vetoed more bills in his term of office than all the previous presidents put together. Jackson was also the first to use the pocket veto, a delaying tactic in which the President does not sign a bill within ten days of the end of the Congressional term, preventing it from becoming law.

One of Jackson's major tests as President came over the issue of tariff and nullification. This conflict masked the larger issue of states rights. There had been rising sectional unhappiness over the higher tariffs imposed by the federal government. South Carolina objected outright to the tariffs, and to counteract the tariffs, passed a nullification act. Jackson refused to tolerate such an act, and threatened to hang those supporting it. Eventually, a compromise was reached, but not before the groundwork was laid for an ongoing tension between the states and the Presidency which would eventually lead to the Civil War.

Jackson was a major opponent of the Second Bank of the United States, considered an instrument of the Eastern establishment. He succeeded in having the bank's charter revoked.

When Jackson retired from the Presidency, he departed with his popularity intact and the Presidency a much stronger institution.