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Andrew Jackson - Referat

The Hero of New Orleans, Old Hickory, Father of the Democrats, Sharp Knife or King Andrew - Andrew Jackson got many nicknames in the course of his life. Some were related to his great achivements, some to his his harsh character. He’s one of the most controversial presidents of the United States.

Life & Achievements

Andrew Jackson was born on March 15 in 1767 in poverty. His family – Irish immigrants - (by the way: he was the first Irish-American president) lived in a region on the border of North and South Carolina. When he got president both states insisted that he was born in their area, but Jackson himself always said that he was from South Carolina.
In 1780/81 - when Jackson was 13 - the British invaded the Carolinas and he was captured by them. A very famous story of him -called “Andy’s scars” - took place during this captivity. One officer ordered Jackson to clean his boots, but he refused. The officer raised his sword and cut in his head and his hand. Here you can see a picture of the scene.The scars remained all his life.

During the invasion his mother and also his two brothers died. The result was an enormous hatred against Great Britain.
Despite his difficult childhood with poor education he got a succesful lawyer and married Rachel Donelson. An interesting fact here is that Rachel had not been legally divorced from her first husband when she was already married to Jackson. This was brought to light during the presidential campaign. Rachel was accused of bigamy and adultery, but Jackson always defended his wife. During one incident, he even challenged one accuser to a duel, and he killed him. Jackson himself was also seriously injured: a bullet broke two ribs, just missed his heart and remained stuck in his chest till his death – so 39 years.

He was not only lawyer, judge, politician and merchant he also cultivated a farm, called the Hermitage. And many slaves were working on his farm.
By 1812, when war broke out between the US and Britain he went to military and there got national hero of the US. His troops gave him the nickname “Old Hickory" cause he was as tough as old hickory wood on the battlefield.

Jackson’s popularity led to suggestions that he should run for president. And indeed he won the popular vote, but for the first time in history no candidate received a majority of electoral votes, so The House of Representatives was charged with deciding between the leading candidates. To the surprise of many they did not choose Andrew Jackson who had the support among the population. No - the so called “corrupt bargain” took place. Henry Clay, the Speaker of the House at the time and John Quincy Adams - the other candidate- made a deal. Clay convinced Congress to elect Adams, and Adams made Clay his Secretary of State. Of course the supporters of Jackson were extremley outraged.

But Jackson returned four years later and he won redemption. He defeated Adams and became the nation’s seventh president. Sadly 2 months before his presidential inauguration, his wife Rachel died. He blamed his rivals for her death, as it was the bloodiest candidature of all time with many personal attacks. The press condemned his wife and her first marriage.

Jackson's innauguration was the biggest drinking party in Washington, D.C.'s history at the time. He invited his old army friends and his wild neighbors from where he grew up.
And that’s what the public liked about him. He was a “common man” – the first president with a modest background and not conceited or arrogant at all.
In 1828 the Jeffersonian party split into fractions. The pro-Jacksonites became the Democrats –
Jackson is known as the father of the Democratic Party and the anti-Jacksonites became the so called Whig Party.

Andrew Jackson was throughout his military and political career well known as an Indian hater. You can hardly believed that when you hear that he adopted three children and two of them were Indian orphans. But still… he refused to give the natives equality and expelled them from their territories in favor of white settlers. He relocated the Indians to poor and desolated terretories in Oklahoma. Because of diseases, poor management, inadequate supply countless of them died. That’s why they call their way to Oklahoma the Trail of Tears.

Here you can see a picture of the trail. It’s about 2 200 km long.
Estimated 15 000 Creeks did the 6 month long trip, 4 000 of them died.
In 1832 he was re-elected. He won against Henry Clay – who was his arch enemy since the corrupt bargain.
An important event in his second tenure was the Nullification Crisis, which arose in the early 1830s when leaders of South Carolina advanced the idea that they did not have to follow a federal law about the tariff and in fact could "nullify" it. This would have meant that the states didn't have to pay the tariff, but more importantly, it would have meant that the states would have had authority over the federal government. The situation almost developed into a civil war, but was finally resolved in the spring of 1833 when South Carolina agreed to a new fairer tariff passed by Congress.

One of Jackson’s central political concerns was to smash the Bank of the United States. He had experienced, that the interest rates and credit policy of the national bank drove American farmers into financial ruin. He saw through it a significant threat to the citizens and economy of the country. It took him almost 9 years but in 1841 he was finally able to stop the so called “Bank War” and to destroy the national bank.

Andrew Jackson was the first US president who should be assasinated. In 1835, the unemployed English painter Richard Lawrence directed two guns at him. Fortunatley, both guns could not be fire, and Jackson himself beat up the attacker to near death with his cane – walking stick. Lawrence had been taken to a psychiatry and was never charged with the assassination.

Jackson retired after his presidency to his Hermitage and died there of lead poisoning caused by the bullet that had remained in his chest on June 8, 1845, at the age of 78.
To sum up Jackson was despite several mistakes a successful president who has achieved a lot for the US citizens. He was a hero, but not a saint.

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