Andrew Jackson - Presidency, Facts and Trail of Tears

Andrew Jackson - Presidency, Facts and Trail of Tears

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Born in poverty, Andrew Jackson (1767-1845) had become a wealthy Tennessee lawyer and rising young politician by 1812, when war broke out between the United States and Britain. His leadership in that conflict earned Jackson national fame as a military hero, and he would become America’s most influential–and polarizing–political figure during the 1820s and 1830s. After narrowly losing to John Quincy Adams in the contentious 1824 presidential election, Jackson returned four years later to win redemption, soundly defeating Adams and becoming the nation’s seventh president (1829-1837). As America’s political party system developed, Jackson became the leader of the new Democratic Party. A supporter of states’ rights and slavery’s extension into the new western territories, he opposed the Whig Party and Congress on polarizing issues such as the Bank of the United States (though Andrew Jackson’s face is on the twenty-dollar bill). For some, his legacy is tarnished by his role in the forced relocation of Native American tribes living east of the Mississippi.

Andrew Jackson’s Early Life

Andrew Jackson was born on March 15, 1767, in the Waxhaws region on the border of North and South Carolina. The exact location of his birth is uncertain, and both states have claimed him as a native son; Jackson himself maintained he was from South Carolina. The son of Irish immigrants, Jackson received little formal schooling. The British invaded the Carolinas in 1780-1781, and Jackson’s mother and two brothers died during the conflict, leaving him with a lifelong hostility toward Great Britain.

Jackson read law in his late teens and earned admission to the North Carolina bar in 1787. He soon moved west of the Appalachians to the region that would soon become the state of Tennessee, and began working as a prosecuting attorney in the settlement that became Nashville. He later set up his own private practice and met and married Rachel (Donelson) Robards, the daughter of a local colonel. Jackson grew prosperous enough to build a mansion, the Hermitage, near Nashville, and to buy slaves. In 1796, Jackson joined a convention charged with drafting the new Tennessee state constitution and became the first man to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Tennessee. Though he declined to seek reelection and returned home in March 1797, he was almost immediately elected to the U.S. Senate. Jackson resigned a year later and was elected judge of Tennessee’s superior court. He was later chosen to head the state militia, a position he held when war broke out with Great Britain in 1812.

Andrew Jackson’s Military Career

Andrew Jackson, who served as a major general in the War of 1812, commanded U.S. forces in a five-month campaign against the Creek Indians, allies of the British. After that campaign ended in a decisive American victory in the Battle of Tohopeka (or Horseshoe Bend) in Alabama in mid-1814, Jackson led American forces to victory over the British in the Battle of New Orleans (January 1815). The win, which occurred after the War of 1812 officially ended but before news of the Treaty of Ghent had reached Washington, elevated Jackson to the status of national war hero. In 1817, acting as commander of the army’s southern district, Jackson ordered an invasion of Florida. After his forces captured Spanish posts at St. Mark’s and Pensacola, he claimed the surrounding land for the United States. The Spanish government vehemently protested, and Jackson’s actions sparked a heated debate in Washington. Though many argued for Jackson’s censure, Secretary of State John Quincy Adams defended the general’s actions, and in the end they helped speed the American acquisition of Florida in 1821.

Jackson’s popularity led to suggestions that he run for president. At first he professed no interest in the office, but by 1824 his boosters had rallied enough support to get him a nomination as well as a seat in the U.S. Senate. In a five-way race, Jackson won the popular vote, but for the first time in history no candidate received a majority of electoral votes. The House of Representatives was charged with deciding between the three leading candidates: Jackson, Adams and Secretary of the Treasury William H. Crawford. Critically ill after a stroke, Crawford was essentially out, and Speaker of the House Henry Clay (who had finished fourth) threw his support behind Adams, who later made Clay his secretary of state. Jackson’s supporters raged against what they called the “corrupt bargain” between Clay and Adams, and Jackson himself resigned from the Senate.

Andrew Jackson In the White House

Andrew Jackson won redemption four years later in an election that was characterized to an unusual degree by negative personal attacks. Jackson and his wife were accused of adultery on the basis that Rachel had not been legally divorced from her first husband when she married Jackson. Shortly after his victory in 1828, the shy and pious Rachel Jackson died at the Hermitage; Jackson apparently believed the negative attacks had hastened her death. The Jacksons did not have any children but were close to their nephews and nieces, and one niece, Emily Donelson, would serve as Jackson’s hostess in the White House.

Jackson was the nation’s first frontier president, and his election marked a turning point in American politics, as the center of political power shifted from East to West. “Old Hickory” was an undoubtedly strong personality, and his supporters and opponents would shape themselves into two emerging political parties: The pro-Jacksonites became the Democrats (formally Democrat-Republicans) and the anti-Jacksonites (led by Clay and Daniel Webster) were known as the Whig Party. Jackson made it clear that he was the absolute ruler of his administration’s policy, and he did not defer to Congress or hesitate to use his presidential veto power. For their part, the Whigs claimed to be defending popular liberties against the autocratic Jackson, who was referred to in negative cartoons as “King Andrew I.”

Bank of the United States and Crisis in South Carolina

A major battle between the two emerging political parties involved the Bank of the United States, the charter of which was due to expire in 1832. Andrew Jackson and his supporters opposed the bank, seeing it as a privileged institution and the enemy of the common people; meanwhile, Clay and Webster led the argument in Congress for its recharter. In July, Jackson vetoed the recharter, charging that the bank constituted the “prostration of our Government to the advancement of the few at the expense of the many.” Despite the controversial veto, Jackson won reelection easily over Clay, with more than 56 percent of the popular vote and five times more electoral votes.

Though in principle Jackson supported states’ rights, he confronted the issue head-on in his battle against the South Carolina legislature, led by the formidable Senator John C. Calhoun. In 1832, South Carolina adopted a resolution declaring federal tariffs passed in 1828 and 1832 null and void and prohibiting their enforcement within state boundaries. While urging Congress to lower the high tariffs, Jackson sought and obtained the authority to order federal armed forces to South Carolina to enforce federal laws. Violence seemed imminent, but South Carolina backed down, and Jackson earned credit for preserving the Union in its greatest moment of crisis to that date. Jackson survived an assassination attempt on January 30, 1835, beating his would-be assassin, Richard Lawrence, with his walking cane. Andrew Jackson died at his home, the Hermitage, of congestive heart failure on June 8, 1845.

Andrew Jackson’s Legacy

In contrast to his strong stand against South Carolina, Andrew Jackson took no action after Georgia claimed millions of acres of land that had been guaranteed to the Cherokee Indians under federal law, and he declined to enforce a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that Georgia had no authority over Native American tribal lands. In 1835, the Cherokees signed a treaty giving up their land in exchange for territory west of Arkansas, where in 1838 some 15,000 would head on foot along the so-called Trail of Tears. The relocation resulted in the deaths of thousands.

As a slave-owner himself, Jackson opposed policies that would have outlawed slavery in western territories as the United States expanded. When abolitionists attempted to send anti-slavery tracts to the South during his presidency, he banned their delivery, calling them monsters that should “atone for this wicked attempt with their lives.”

In the 1836 election, Jackson’s chosen successor Martin Van Buren defeated Whig candidate William Henry Harrison, and Old Hickory left the White House even more popular than when he had entered it. Jackson’s success seemed to have vindicated the still-new democratic experiment, and his supporters had built a well-organized Democratic Party that would become a formidable force in American politics. After leaving office, Jackson retired to the Hermitage, where he died in June 1845.

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Andrew Jackson and the Trail of Tears

A Trail of Tears memorial plaque in Tennessee. Editorial credit: JNix /

During the Age of Expansion in the 1800s, the population of the United States was growing and needed more land. In response, President Andrew Jackson ratified the "Indian Removal Act" on May 28, 1830. Despite the legal protections granted in earlier treaties, this legislation was designed to push Native Americans in the eastern United States off of their ancestral lands and onto federally designated Indian Territory west of the Mississippi River.

What would come to be known as "The Trail of Tears" originally referred to the Cherokee Removal experience but is now understood more widely as the collective experience of Native American displacement in this era. Up to 100,000 people were subject to relocation, and approximately 15,000 individuals died as a direct result of their journeys.

The Indian Removal Act of 1830

The remaining Eastern American Indian Tribes, particularly in the South, mostly lived communally on land which in some cases crossed state lines. Legally, state governments had no authority to deal with the Indians, a right guaranteed to the federal government by the Constitution. As demand for southern cotton grew so did the need for more land on which to grow it, and some Indians had their own plantations, on land either leased or owned. Most did not, preferring the communal style of living which had been their tribal tradition.

In 1830 Andrew Jackson pushed Congress to pass legislation which would empower the President to remove the Indians from the land they occupied and relocate them to lands west of the Mississippi, just above the Mexican province of Texas. Jackson is frequently condemned for this action, but it was in response to intense pressure from the white population of the South and their representatives. Opposition to the plan was led by David Crockett of Tennessee, and Congressional debate was heated but the act passed, with Jackson presenting his views in the 1829 State of the Union address and in letters to his supporters.

Jackson expressed the view that the Indians&rsquo way of life could not be maintained within the confines of the states, with pressures on both game for sustenance and land for crops eventually extinguishing tribal life. Those Indians who had adopted individual land ownership were allowed to stay where they were if they wished, but those who preferred their traditional manner of existence needed to be outside the physical jurisdiction of the individual states, and on land over which the federal government held full jurisdiction. Jackson viewed the often expressed notion of preserving the Indian&rsquos way of life as romantic nonsense incompatible with progress.

Another problem Jackson was dealing with was the state governments. Although the Supreme Court ruled that the individual states&rsquo held no jurisdiction over the Indian lands within their boundaries, Jackson was concerned that states&rsquo rights advocates would eventually lead to conflicts between state militias and federal troops sent to enforce federal laws. Jackson had another challenge to federal supremacy on his hands, the Nullification Crisis in South Carolina, and in his mind the presence of conflict with the state&rsquos over the Indian lands could add to the challenge to federal law. He believed that removal to the Indian lands (present day Oklahoma) was for the benefit of the Indians, the states, and the federal government.

Jackson is often blamed for the sad events of the Trail of Tears and he certainly bears his share of responsibility for what ensued during the forced relocation. The Indian Removal Act was not intended to exterminate the Indian tribes but was an attempt to allow them to maintain their traditions without the steadily increasing pressure on the lands they occupied. The tragic events which followed were due to a variety of factors including inept or corrupt management of the removal, prejudices and racial hatreds, bad weather, insufficient supply, and in some cases outright murder.

Sometimes Disputed and Often Quite Surprising: Andrew Jackson’s Presidency

Andrew Jackson, who served as the seventh president of the United States, from 1829 to 1837, created the framework for full democratic participation, established strong relationships with foreign nations and was the only president to pay off the national debt. He set a new precedent for who the president should become a true representative of “the people.”

The Eaton Affair

Andrew Jackson’s time as president would mark a major historical shift for the United States. Unfortunately, the first two years of his term were marred by a social scandal that turned political.

Just months before Jackson took office, his close friend and Secretary of War John Eaton, married Margaret “Peggy” Timberlake of whom Washington socialites disapproved due to her questionable upbringing and rumors concerning her past. When the other Cabinet members’ wives refused to associate with Mrs. Eaton, Jackson was forced to defend his friends, especially since John Eaton had defended Rachel Jackson so vigorously during the 1828 campaign. He demanded Mrs. Eaton be accepted into Washington’s social circles. This became known as the “Eaton Affair.”

At the same time, several of Jackson’s cabinet members, thinking he would only serve one term, were positioning themselves to succeed him as president. These divisive actions resulted in Jackson showing favor only to those who socialized with the Eatons and proved their loyalty to him in other ways.

To rid himself of the immediate controversy, Jackson dismissed his entire cabinet in 1831, except for the Postmaster General. In time, this caused Jackson to turn to a group of unofficial advisors. His opponents labeled them his “Kitchen Cabinet” because of their “back door” access to the President.

Indian Removal Act

One of Jackson’s reforms was removing Indian tribes in the United States to the west of the Mississippi River.

He argued that the United States’ policy of attempting to assimilate the tribes into white society had failed and that the Native Americans’ way of life would eventually be destroyed. Furthermore, he recognized that whites desired their lands and feared that if the Native Americans remained in those areas, they would eventually be exterminated. Opposition groups fought Jackson’s removal policy in Congress, but their efforts failed by a handful of votes. Congress’ authorization of the Indian Removal Act (IRA) in 1830 empowered Jackson to make treaties with the tribes in arranging for their displacement.

Though he had railed against government corruption in the past, Jackson largely ignored the shady treaties forced upon the various tribes and the corrupt actions of government officials. The Indian Removal Act was immediately applied to the removal of the Five Tribes of the Southeast—the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek and Seminole—with great loss of Native American life due to this corruption, inadequate supply and military force. However, the IRA was a nationally binding policy and has been used to justify government interference with Native Nations since 1830. Jackson’s Indian Removal policy and its tragic consequences, including the Trail of Tears, is the most conspicuous blight on his presidential legacy.

Decentralizing the Bank

With the Eaton Affair behind him and his programs in full swing, Jackson turned his attention to an issue that would define his presidency and forever reshape the office he held. In 1816, the United States Congress chartered the private Second Bank of the United States to hold the country’s money, make loans and regulate currency. Bank profits benefited private stockholders as well as the U.S. government, which owned stock in the bank. In its early years, the bank was riddled with corruption and poor financial management. This resulted in economic hardship in the U.S.

Under the direction of the bank’s new president, Nicholas Biddle, however, the Bank’s fortunes were turned around. The nation’s money was now being astutely managed, producing a good business climate as a result.

Jackson realized their important role in the U.S. economy, but his distrust in banks in general led him to believe the Bank of the United States held too much power and could wield it at any moment to ruin the U.S. economy. Furthermore, he saw the Bank as a threat to national security since its stockholders were mainly foreign investors with allegiances to other governments.

The crux of the issue for Jackson was what he saw as the never-ending battle between liberty and power in government. In his belief system, people should sacrifice some individual liberty for the beneficial aspects of government. But if any government institution became too powerful, it stood as a direct threat to individual liberty.

Jackson signaled early on in his administration that he would consider re-chartering the Bank but only if its powers were limited.

After defeating Henry Clay in the 1832 presidential election, Jackson interpreted that victory as “the people’s” mandate to destroy the powerful Bank and replace it with a decentralized government banking system. While he pushed his banking plan through Congress, he handicapped the Bank by ordering the removal of government deposits.

In response, the Bank created an artificial economic panic by calling in loans. The opposition-controlled Senate censured Jackson for removing the deposits without Congressional authorization. Meanwhile, the old debate over liberty and power raged as Jackson, Congress and the Bank were all accused of abusing their powers. Finally, in April 1834, the House approved Jackson’s actions against the Bank.

Paying Off the National Debt

Jackson took office with great expectations to cleanse the government of corruption and restore the nation’s finances. He kept a watchful eye over government expenditures and congressional appropriations. Jackson’s spending controls, along with increased revenue, enabled him to pay off the national debt in 1835 and keep the nation debt-free for the remainder of his term.

This feat did come at the expense of the state of South Carolina, which was footing nearly two-thirds of the nation’s taxes at that time under the Tariff of Abominations. South Carolina then proceeded to nullify federal law, leading to the Nullification Crisis.

Not overlooking that looming crisis, it is worth noting that this is the only time in the nation’s history that the federal government has been debt free.

Legacy in Office

When Jackson vacated office in March 1837, he left his mark on the presidency and forever changed the course of American history.

Through his actions and tenure as president, Jackson squarely set the Executive Branch on an equal footing with Congress in terms of power and the ability to shape law and government policies.

Jackson preserved and defended the Union against threats from nullifiers and secessionists. Nations across the globe viewed the United States with newfound respect due to Jackson’s management of foreign affairs. Most importantly, however, Jackson’s presidency pushed the nation further toward democracy, but much work remained in granting equal rights and freedoms to those still oppressed in the United States.

Sometimes disputed and often quite surprising, Andrew Jackson helped to inspire a new era of belief and hope in the American dream—the idea that anyone can succeed through hard work and natural ability, rather than through unearned power and privilege.

Discover so much more about who Andrew Jackson was with a visit to his home and carefully curated museum at The Hermitage in Nashville, Tennessee.

Andrew Jackson and the Indian Removal Act of 1830

Jackson supported the removal of Native Americans at least a decade before his presidency. As an army general, he had spent years leading brutal campaigns against the Creeks in Georgia and Alabama and the Seminoles in Florida -- campaigns that resulted in the transfer of hundreds of thousands of acres of land from Indian nations to white farmers. As such, the same became his top legislative priority when he became the President of the United States in 1829. In 1830, Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act into law, which provided the federal government with powers to exchange lands with Native tribes and provide infrastructure improvements on the existing lands. While the Act was criticized by many, including Christian missionaries, Jackson viewed the demise of Indian tribal nations as inevitable, pointing to the advancement of settled life and demise of tribal nations in the American northeast.

After the Act was signed into law, the Cherokee filed several lawsuits regarding conflicts with the state of Georgia -- one of the biggest supporters of the Indian Removal Act. While the Supreme Court ruled against legislative interference by the state of Georgia, Jackson vigorously negotiated a land exchange treaty with the Cherokee, fearing open warfare and a broader civil war. After only a fraction of the Cherokees left voluntarily, the US government, under the presidency of Martin Van Buren, forced most of the remaining Cherokees west in 1838. The Cherokees were temporarily remanded in camps in eastern Tennessee. In November, the Cherokee were broken into groups of around 1,000 each and began the journey west. They endured heavy rains, snow, and freezing temperatures.

By 1840, tens of thousands of Native Americans had been driven off of their land in the southeastern states and forced to move across the Mississippi to Indian Territory. The federal government promised that their new land would remain unmolested forever, but as the line of white settlement pushed westward, “Indian Country” shrank and shrank. In 1907, Oklahoma became a state, and the Indian Territory was gone for good. The Creek, Choctaw, Seminole, and Chicksaw were also relocated under the Indian Removal Act of 1830. One Choctaw leader portrayed the removal as "A Trail of Tears and Deaths", a devastating event that removed most of the Native population of the southeastern United States from their traditional homelands.


In 1830, a group of Indian tribes, collectively referred to as the "Five Civilized Tribes" (the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Muscogee, and Seminole tribes) were living as autonomous nations in what would be later termed the American Deep South. The process of cultural transformation from their traditional way of life towards a white American way of life as proposed by George Washington and Henry Knox was gaining momentum, especially among the Cherokee and Choctaw. [9] [10]

American settlers had been pressuring the federal government to remove Indians from the Southeast many settlers were encroaching on Indian lands, while others wanted more land made available to the settlers. Although the effort was vehemently opposed by some, including U.S. Congressman Davy Crockett of Tennessee, President Andrew Jackson was able to gain Congressional passage of the Indian Removal Act of 1830, which authorized the government to extinguish any Indian title to land claims in the Southeast.

In 1831, the Choctaw became the first Nation to be removed, and their removal served as the model for all future relocations. After two wars, many Seminoles were removed in 1832. The Creek removal followed in 1834, the Chickasaw in 1837, and lastly the Cherokee in 1838. [11] Some managed to evade the removals, however, and remained in their ancestral homelands some Choctaw still reside in Mississippi, Creek in Alabama and Florida, Cherokee in North Carolina, and Seminole in Florida. A small group of Seminole, fewer than 500, evaded forced removal the modern Seminole Tribe of Florida is descended from these individuals. [12] A small number of non-Native Americans who lived with the tribes, including some of African descent (including over 4,000 slaves, and others as spouses or freedmen), also accompanied the Indians on the trek westward. [11] By 1837, 46,000 Indians from the southeastern states had been removed from their homelands, thereby opening 25 million acres (100,000 km 2 ) for white settlement. [11] [13]

Before 1838, the fixed boundaries of these autonomous tribal nations, comprising large areas of the United States, were subject to continual cession and annexation, in part due to pressure from squatters and the threat of military force in the newly declared U.S. territories—federally administered regions whose boundaries supervened upon the Native treaty claims. As these territories became U.S. states, state governments sought to dissolve the boundaries of the Indian nations within their borders, which were independent of state jurisdiction, and to expropriate the land therein. These pressures were exacerbated by U.S. population growth and the expansion of slavery in the South, with the rapid development of cotton cultivation in the uplands after the invention of the cotton gin by Eli Whitney. [14]

Jackson's role

Andrew Jackson's support for the removal of Native Americans began at least a decade before his presidency. [15] Indian removal was Jackson's top legislative priority upon taking office. [16] The removals, conducted under both Presidents Jackson and Van Buren, followed the Indian Removal Act of 1830, which provided the president with powers to exchange land with Native tribes and provide infrastructure improvements on the existing lands. The law also gave the president power to pay for transportation costs to the West, should tribes willingly choose to relocate. The law did not, however, allow the president to force tribes to move west without a mutually agreed-upon treaty. [17] Referring to the Indian Removal Act, Martin Van Buren, Jackson's vice president and successor, is quoted as saying "There was no measure, in the whole course of [Jackson's] administration, of which he was more exclusively the author than this." [16]

In the years after the Act, the Cherokee filed several lawsuits regarding conflicts with the state of Georgia. Some of these cases reached the Supreme Court, the most influential being Worcester v. Georgia (1832). Samuel Worcester and other non-Indians were convicted by Georgia law for residing in Cherokee territory in the state of Georgia without a license. Worcester was sentenced to prison for four years and appealed the ruling, arguing that this sentence violated treaties made between Indian nations and the United States federal government by imposing state laws on Cherokee lands. The Court ruled in Worcester's favor, declaring that the Cherokee Nation was subject only to federal law and that the Supremacy Clause barred legislative interference by the state of Georgia. Chief Justice Marshall argued, "The Cherokee nation, then, is a distinct community occupying its own territory in which the laws of Georgia can have no force. The whole intercourse between the United States and this Nation, is, by our constitution and laws, vested in the government of the United States." [18]

Andrew Jackson did not listen to the Supreme Court mandate barring Georgia from intruding on Cherokee lands. He feared that enforcement would lead to open warfare between federal troops and the Georgia militia, which would compound the ongoing crisis in South Carolina and lead to a broader civil war. Instead, he vigorously negotiated a land exchange treaty with the Cherokee. [19] Political opponents Henry Clay and John Quincy Adams, who supported the Worcester decision, were outraged by Jackson's refusal to uphold Cherokee claims against the state of Georgia. [20] Author and political activist Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote an account of Cherokee assimilation into the American culture, declaring his support of the Worcester decision. [21]

Jackson chose to continue with Indian removal, and negotiated the Treaty of New Echota, on December 29, 1835, which granted the Cherokee two years to move to Indian Territory (modern-day Oklahoma). Only a fraction of the Cherokees left voluntarily. The U.S. government, with assistance from state militias, forced most of the remaining Cherokees west in 1838. [22] The Cherokees were temporarily remanded in camps in eastern Tennessee. In November, the Cherokee were broken into groups of around 1,000 each and began the journey west. They endured heavy rains, snow, and freezing temperatures.

When the Cherokee negotiated the Treaty of New Echota, they exchanged all their land east of the Mississippi for land in modern Oklahoma and a $5 million payment from the federal government. Many Cherokee felt betrayed that their leadership accepted the deal, and over 16,000 Cherokee signed a petition to prevent the passage of the treaty. By the end of the decade in 1840, tens of thousands of Cherokee and other tribes had been removed from their land east of the Mississippi River. The Creek, Choctaw, Seminole, and Chicksaw were also relocated under the Indian Removal Act of 1830. One Choctaw leader portrayed the removal as "A Trail of Tears and Deaths", a devastating event that removed most of the Native population of the southeastern United States from their traditional homelands. [23]


The latter forced relocations have sometimes been referred to as "death marches", in particular about the Cherokee march across the Midwest in 1838, which occurred on a predominantly land route. [14]

Native Americans who had the means initially provided for their own removal. Contingents that were led by conductors from the U.S. Army included those led by Edward Deas, who was claimed to be a sympathizer for the Cherokee plight. [ citation needed ] The largest death toll from the Cherokee forced relocation comes from the period after the May 23, 1838 deadline. This was at the point when the remaining Cherokee were rounded into camps and pressed into oversized detachments, often over 700 in size (larger than the populations of Little Rock or Memphis at that time). Communicable diseases spread quickly through these closely quartered groups, killing many. These contingents were among the last to move, but following the same routes the others had taken the areas they were going through had been depleted of supplies due to the vast numbers that had gone before them. The marchers were subject to extortion and violence along the route. In addition, these final contingents were forced to set out during the hottest and coldest months of the year, killing many. Exposure to the elements, disease, and starvation, harassment by local frontiersmen, and insufficient rations similarly killed up to one-third of the Choctaw and other nations on the march. [24]

There exists some debate among historians and the affected tribes as to whether the term "Trail of Tears" should be used to refer to the entire history of forced relocations from the United States east of the Mississippi into Indian Territory (as was the stated U.S. policy) or to the five tribes described above, to the route of the land march specifically, or to specific marches in which the remaining holdouts from each area were rounded up.

The territorial boundaries claimed as sovereign and controlled by the Indian nations living in what were then known as the Indian Territories—the portion of the early United States west of the Mississippi River not yet claimed or allotted to become Oklahoma—were fixed and determined by national treaties with the United States federal government. These recognized the tribal governments as dependent but internally sovereign, or autonomous nations under the sole jurisdiction of the federal government.

While retaining their tribal governance, which included a constitution or official council in tribes such as the Iroquois and Cherokee, many portions of the southeastern Indian nations had become partially or completely economically integrated into the economy of the region. This included the plantation economy in states such as Georgia, and the possession of slaves. These slaves were also forcibly relocated during the process of removal. [14]

Under the history of U.S. treaty law, the territorial boundaries claimed by federally recognized tribes received the same status under which the Southeastern tribal claims were recognized until the following establishment of reservations of land, determined by the federal government, which were ceded to the remaining tribes by de jure treaty, in a process that often entailed forced relocation. The establishment of the Indian Territory and the extinguishment of Indian land claims east of the Mississippi anticipated the establishment of the U.S. Indian reservation system. It was imposed on remaining Indian lands later in the 19th century.

The statutory argument for Indian sovereignty persisted until the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Cherokee Nation v. Georgia (1831), that (e.g.) the Cherokee were not a sovereign and independent nation, and therefore not entitled to a hearing before the court. However, in Worcester v. Georgia (1832), the court re-established limited internal sovereignty under the sole jurisdiction of the federal government, in a ruling that both opposed the subsequent forced relocation and set the basis for modern U.S. case law.

While the latter ruling was defied by Jackson, [25] the actions of the Jackson administration were not isolated because state and federal officials had violated treaties without consequence, often attributed to military exigency, as the members of individual Indian nations were not automatically United States citizens and were rarely given standing in any U.S. court.

Jackson's involvement in what became known as the Trail of Tears shaped what occurred immensely: in a speech regarding Indian removal, Jackson said,

It will separate the Indians from immediate contact with settlements of whites free them from the power of the States enable them to pursue happiness in their own way and under their own rude institutions will retard the progress of decay, which is lessening their numbers, and perhaps cause them gradually, under the protection of the Government and through the influence of good counsels, to cast off their savage habits and become an interesting, civilized, and Christian community.

According to Jackson, the move would be nothing but beneficial for all parties. His point of view garnered support from many Americans, many of whom would benefit economically from the forced removals.

This was compounded by the fact that while citizenship tests existed for Indians living in newly annexed areas before and after forced relocation, individual U.S. states did not recognize tribal land claims, only individual title under State law, and distinguished between the rights of white and non-white citizens, who often had limited standing in court and Indian removal was carried out under U.S. military jurisdiction, often by state militias. As a result, individual Indians who could prove U.S. citizenship were nevertheless displaced from newly annexed areas. [14] The military actions and subsequent treaties enacted by Jackson's and Martin Van Buren's administrations pursuant to the 1830 law, which Tennessee Congressman Davy Crockett had unsuccessfully voted against, [26] are widely considered to have directly caused the expulsion or death of a substantial part of the Indian population then living in the southeastern United States.

The Choctaw nation resided in large portions of what are now the U.S. states of Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. After a series of treaties starting in 1801, the Choctaw nation was reduced to 11,000,000 acres (45,000 km 2 ). The Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek ceded the remaining country to the United States and was ratified in early 1831. The removals were only agreed to after a provision in the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek allowed some Choctaw to remain. The chief of the Choctaw tribe, George W. Harkins, wrote to the citizens of the United States before the removals were to commence:

It is with considerable diffidence that I attempt to address the American people, knowing and feeling sensibly my incompetency and believing that your highly and well-improved minds would not be well entertained by the address of a Choctaw. But having determined to emigrate west of the Mississippi river this fall, I have thought proper in bidding you farewell to make a few remarks expressive of my views, and the feelings that actuate me on the subject of our removal. We as Choctaws rather chose to suffer and be free, than live under the degrading influence of laws, which our voice could not be heard in their formation.

United States Secretary of War Lewis Cass appointed George Gaines to manage the removals. Gaines decided to remove Choctaws in three phases starting in 1831 and ending in 1833. The first was to begin on November 1, 1831, with groups meeting at Memphis and Vicksburg. A harsh winter would batter the emigrants with flash floods, sleet, and snow. Initially, the Choctaws were to be transported by wagon but floods halted them. With food running out, the residents of Vicksburg and Memphis were concerned. Five steamboats (the Walter Scott, the Brandywine, the Reindeer, the Talma, and the Cleopatra) would ferry Choctaws to their river-based destinations. The Memphis group traveled up the Arkansas for about 60 miles (100 km) to Arkansas Post. There the temperature stayed below freezing for almost a week with the rivers clogged with ice, so there could be no travel for weeks. Food rationing consisted of a handful of boiled corn, one turnip, and two cups of heated water per day. Forty government wagons were sent to Arkansas Post to transport them to Little Rock. When they reached Little Rock, a Choctaw chief referred to their trek as a "trail of tears and death". [28] The Vicksburg group was led by an incompetent guide and was lost in the Lake Providence swamps.

Alexis de Tocqueville, the French philosopher, witnessed the Choctaw removals while in Memphis, Tennessee in 1831:

In the whole scene there was an air of ruin and destruction, something which betrayed a final and irrevocable adieu one couldn't watch without feeling one's heart wrung. The Indians were tranquil but somber and taciturn. There was one who could speak English and of whom I asked why the Chactas were leaving their country. "To be free," he answered, could never get any other reason out of him. We . watch the expulsion . of one of the most celebrated and ancient American peoples.

Nearly 17,000 Choctaws made the move to what would be called Indian Territory and then later Oklahoma. [30] About 2,500–6,000 died along the trail of tears. Approximately 5,000–6,000 Choctaws remained in Mississippi in 1831 after the initial removal efforts. [24] [31] The Choctaws who chose to remain in newly formed Mississippi were subject to legal conflict, harassment, and intimidation. The Choctaws "have had our habitations torn down and burned, our fences destroyed, cattle turned into our fields and we ourselves have been scourged, manacled, fettered and otherwise personally abused, until by such treatment some of our best men have died". [31] The Choctaws in Mississippi were later reformed as the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and the removed Choctaws became the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. The Choctaws were the first to sign a removal treaty presented by the federal government. President Andrew Jackson wanted strong negotiations with the Choctaws in Mississippi, and the Choctaws seemed much more cooperative than Andrew Jackson had imagined. When commissioners and Choctaws came to negotiation agreements it was said the United States would bear the expense of moving their homes and that they had to be removed within two and a half years of the signed treaty. [32]

The U.S. acquired Florida from Spain via the Adams–Onís Treaty and took possession in 1821. In 1832 the Seminoles were called to a meeting at Payne's Landing on the Ocklawaha River. The Treaty of Payne's Landing called for the Seminoles to move west, if the land were found to be suitable. They were to be settled on the Creek reservation and become part of the Creek tribe, who considered them deserters [ full citation needed ] some of the Seminoles had been derived from Creek bands but also from other tribes. Those among the tribe who once were members of Creek bands did not wish to move west to where they were certain that they would meet death for leaving the main band of Creek Indians. The delegation of seven chiefs who were to inspect the new reservation did not leave Florida until October 1832. After touring the area for several months and conferring with the Creeks who had already settled there, the seven chiefs signed a statement on March 28, 1833, that the new land was acceptable. Upon their return to Florida, however, most of the chiefs renounced the statement, claiming that they had not signed it, or that they had been forced to sign it, and in any case, that they did not have the power to decide for all the tribes and bands that resided on the reservation. The villages in the area of the Apalachicola River were more easily persuaded, however, and went west in 1834. [33] On December 28, 1835, a group of Seminoles and blacks ambushed a U.S. Army company marching from Fort Brooke in Tampa to Fort King in Ocala, killing all but three of the 110 army troops. This came to be known as the Dade Massacre.

As the realization that the Seminoles would resist relocation sank in, Florida began preparing for war. The St. Augustine Militia asked the War Department for the loan of 500 muskets. Five hundred volunteers were mobilized under Brig. Gen. Richard K. Call. Indian war parties raided farms and settlements, and families fled to forts, large towns, or out of the territory altogether. A war party led by Osceola captured a Florida militia supply train, killing eight of its guards and wounding six others. Most of the goods taken were recovered by the militia in another fight a few days later. Sugar plantations along the Atlantic coast south of St. Augustine were destroyed, with many of the slaves on the plantations joining the Seminoles. [34]

Other warchiefs such as Halleck Tustenuggee, Jumper, and Black Seminoles Abraham and John Horse continued the Seminole resistance against the army. The war ended, after a full decade of fighting, in 1842. The U.S. government is estimated to have spent about $20,000,000 on the war, at the time an astronomical sum, and equal to $536,344,828 today. Many Indians were forcibly exiled to Creek lands west of the Mississippi others retreated into the Everglades. In the end, the government gave up trying to subjugate the Seminole in their Everglades redoubts and left fewer than 500 Seminoles in peace. Other scholars state that at least several hundred Seminoles remained in the Everglades after the Seminole Wars. [35]

As a result of the Seminole Wars, the surviving Seminole band of the Everglades claims to be the only federally recognized tribe which never relinquished sovereignty or signed a peace treaty with the United States.

In general the American people tended to view the Indian resistance as unwarranted. An article published by the Virginia Enquirer on January 26, 1836, called the "Hostilities of the Seminoles", assigned all the blame for the violence that came from the Seminole's resistance to the Seminoles themselves. The article accuses the Indians of not staying true to their word—the promises they supposedly made in the treaties and negotiations from the Indian Removal Act. [36]

After the War of 1812, some Muscogee leaders such as William McIntosh signed treaties that ceded more land to Georgia. The 1814 signing of the Treaty of Fort Jackson signaled the end for the Creek Nation and for all Indians in the South. [37] Friendly Creek leaders, like Selocta and Big Warrior, addressed Sharp Knife (the Indian nickname for Andrew Jackson) and reminded him that they keep the peace. Nevertheless, Jackson retorted that they did not "cut (Tecumseh's) throat" when they had the chance, so they must now cede Creek lands. Jackson also ignored Article 9 of the Treaty of Ghent that restored sovereignty to Indians and their nations.

Jackson opened this first peace session by faintly acknowledging the help of the friendly Creeks. That done, he turned to the Red Sticks and admonished them for listening to evil counsel. For their crime, he said, the entire Creek Nation must pay. He demanded the equivalent of all expenses incurred by the United States in prosecuting the war, which by his calculation came to 23,000,000 acres (93,000 km 2 ) of land.

Eventually, the Creek Confederacy enacted a law that made further land cessions a capital offense. Nevertheless, on February 12, 1825, McIntosh and other chiefs signed the Treaty of Indian Springs, which gave up most of the remaining Creek lands in Georgia. [38] After the U.S. Senate ratified the treaty, McIntosh was assassinated on April 30, 1825, by Creeks led by Menawa.

The Creek National Council, led by Opothle Yohola, protested to the United States that the Treaty of Indian Springs was fraudulent. President John Quincy Adams was sympathetic, and eventually the treaty was nullified in a new agreement, the Treaty of Washington (1826). [39] The historian R. Douglas Hurt wrote: "The Creeks had accomplished what no Indian nation had ever done or would do again — achieve the annulment of a ratified treaty." [40] However, Governor George Troup of Georgia ignored the new treaty and began to forcibly remove the Indians under the terms of the earlier treaty. At first, President Adams attempted to intervene with federal troops, but Troup called out the militia, and Adams, fearful of a civil war, conceded. As he explained to his intimates, "The Indians are not worth going to war over."

Although the Creeks had been forced from Georgia, with many Lower Creeks moving to the Indian Territory, there were still about 20,000 Upper Creeks living in Alabama. However, the state moved to abolish tribal governments and extend state laws over the Creeks. Opothle Yohola appealed to the administration of President Andrew Jackson for protection from Alabama when none was forthcoming, the Treaty of Cusseta was signed on March 24, 1832, which divided up Creek lands into individual allotments. [41] Creeks could either sell their allotments and receive funds to remove to the west, or stay in Alabama and submit to state laws. The Creeks were never given a fair chance to comply with the terms of the treaty, however. Rampant illegal settlement of their lands by Americans continued unabated with federal and state authorities unable or unwilling to do much to halt it. Further, as recently detailed by historian Billy Winn in his thorough chronicle of the events leading to removal, a variety of fraudulent schemes designed to cheat the Creeks out of their allotments, many of them organized by speculators operating out of Columbus, Georgia and Montgomery, Alabama, were perpetrated after the signing of the Treaty of Cusseta. [42] A portion of the beleaguered Creeks, many desperately poor and feeling abused and oppressed by their American neighbors, struck back by carrying out occasional raids on area farms and committing other isolated acts of violence. Escalating tensions erupted into open war with the United States after the destruction of the village of Roanoke, Georgia, located along the Chattahoochee River on the boundary between Creek and American territory, in May 1836. During the so-called "Creek War of 1836" Secretary of War Lewis Cass dispatched General Winfield Scott to end the violence by forcibly removing the Creeks to the Indian Territory west of the Mississippi River. With the Indian Removal Act of 1830 it continued into 1835 and after as in 1836 over 15,000 Creeks were driven from their land for the last time. 3,500 of those 15,000 Creeks did not survive the trip to Oklahoma where they eventually settled. [23]

The Slave-Owning, Indian-Killing History Of The Man On The $20 Bill

Despite a movement to replace President Andrew Jackson with a woman on the $20 bill, it appears the slave-owning Indian killer is here to stay for now. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew announced this week that Alexander Hamilton -- the architect of the first national bank and a critic of slavery -- will make way for, or at least share the $10 spotlight with, a woman in 2020.

Both Hamilton and Jackson have recently been subjects of off-Broadway shows at The Public Theater in New York. This year, Hamilton was the titular character of a hip-hop musical that portrayed him favorably as a common man, revolutionary and martyr. Jackson was portrayed in the 2011 musical “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” as a maverick, murderer and thief.

That pop-culture portrayal of the seventh president has deep roots in the legacy of violence, Indian removal and enslavement that Jackson left this country.

In 1804, Jackson, then a major general in the Tennessee militia, posted a notice in the newspaper offering $50 for the return of a runaway slave named Tom Gid and "ten dollars extra, for every hundred lashes any person will give him, to the amount of three hundred."

Two years later, Jackson challenged Charles Dickinson to a duel after Dickinson called Jackson's wife, Rachel, a bigamist and accused him of cheating on a horse racing bet. In the duel, Dickinson fired first, striking Jackson in the chest. Jackson’s gun misfired, and according to the rules of dueling, upheld among the slave owners, the score was settled.

But Jackson re-cocked his weapon and fired again, killing Dickinson. In the eyes of his contemporaries, Jackson had broken the code of the duel and committed nothing less than murder.

It would not be the last time “Old Hickory” broke the law and used violence to get what he wanted.

During the War of 1812, Jackson led a bloody campaign against the Red Stick faction of the Creek Nation, who were allied with the British. After defeating the Red Sticks, he forced the entire Creek Nation -- including his Lower Creek allies -- to sign a treaty ceding 23 million acres of Creek land in present-day Georgia and Alabama to the United States.

After conquering the Creeks, Jackson became a national hero for defeating the British at the Battle of New Orleans in 1815. His victory came after the signing of a peace treaty, news of which reached the U.S. following the battle. Jackson's triumph helped propel him to the presidency 13 years later.

After the war, Jackson returned to the business of killing and taking land from Indians and expanding the institution of slavery. In 1817, he interpreted an order to subdue the Seminole -- a community of Red Sticks, Miccosukees and runaway slaves living along the border of Florida -- as an invitation to invade the Spanish-controlled territory. Unable to defeat the Seminole, who continued to resist conquest throughout the 19th century, Jackson burned their houses and crops. Then he turned his attention to the Spanish colonists and essentially claimed Florida for the United States. Along the way, he executed two British nationals for helping the Indians -- an international controversy at the time.

A decade later, then-President Jackson signed into law the Indian Removal Act of 1830, which enabled the violent dispossession of Indian Nations from their lands in order to expand black slavery in the Deep South.

The Indians resisted this legislation, and in 1832 the Cherokee won a Supreme Court decision protecting some of their rights as a sovereign nation. Jackson is said to have scoffed at the court's decision, declaring of the chief justice, “John Marshall has made his decision. Now let him enforce it!”

By 1837, Jackson’s administration had removed 46,000 citizens of the Choctaw, Cherokee, Seminole, Creek and Chickasaw nations from their homelands and forced them to march one thousand miles on the Trail of Tears to the so-called Indian Territory west of the Mississippi. An estimated 4,000 Cherokee, as well as untold numbers of the Indians' black slaves, died along the way. When choosing who among the forced migrants would receive meager rations along the journey, U.S. military personnel had to decide whether the slaves counted as humans deserving of basic necessities like blankets and food, or property deserving of nothing.

The death march of indigenous and enslaved peoples typified the violent progress of American slavery and settlement as it swept across the continent.

A portrait of the man most singularly responsible for this suffering has been printed on every bloody $20 bill in circulation since 1928.

Why the Ghost of Andrew Jackson Haunts the Modern U.S. Presidency

Only one U.S. president has an entire era named after him. And it's not Washington, Kennedy, Roosevelt or Lincoln. The man who holds that distinction is Andrew Jackson, a two-term commander-in-chief who served from 1829 to 1837.

"We call Washington's time the Revolutionary and founding eras, not the Age of Washington. Lincoln belongs in the Civil War era, Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson in the Progressive era," wrote Daniel Feller, a professor at the University of Tennessee, in an essay for The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. "But the interval roughly from the 1820s through 1840s, between the aftermath of the War of 1812 and the coming of the Civil War, has often been known as the Jacksonian Era, or the Age of Jackson."

While all presidents seem to wax and wane in the public consciousness to some degree, Jackson's name pops up regularly, even more so in recent years. But why would the ghost of a president who died in 1845 still haunt contemporary political discourse?

The answer is, like Jackson, complicated.

For starters, President Donald Trump has a habit of name-dropping Jackson, whom he admires, to such a degree that he hung a portrait of his hero in the Oval Office.

"Inspirational visit, I have to tell you. I'm a fan," Trump said during a 2017 visit to Jackson's Nashville mansion, according to The Washington Post. Both Jackson and Trump won power in part by stoking resentment in working-class people toward the rich and famous, calling themselves champions of society's underdogs, the Post pointed out.

But unlike Trump, who was born rich, Jackson was a self-made man who literally fought his way to the top. He also served with distinction in the military and was elected to multiple vital governmental positions before assuming the presidency.

"The image of Jackson as a quintessential product of American democracy has stuck. Yet always complicating it has been the interplay between the personal and the political. If Jackson is a potent democratic symbol, he is also a conflicted and polarizing one," wrote Feller.

As a man, Jackson was known for his violent temper, iron will and his decisiveness under fire. Others have noted his fairness, self-awareness and political brilliance. He was also a blatant racist, bigot and narcissist.

No matter his personal failings, he overcame incredibly difficult odds on his path to success.

Born to Fight

Andrew Jackson was born in 1767, just a few years before the Revolutionary War. He signed up to fight at the tender age of 13. Early hardships were tangible — two of his brothers and his mother died during the war, and Jackson placed their deaths squarely on the British.

As an impoverished orphan, he grew up in various foster homes and had little formal education. However, he worked for several attorneys and — vitally — managed to learn enough of the legal system to become a lawyer himself. These skills would serve him well for the rest of his life.

Upon moving to Tennessee, which was then considered part of the untamed West, Jackson slowly climbed in power and wealth, through land dealings and shrewd politicking. In 1796, he was elected as the new state's only U.S. representative. The next year, he was elected as a U.S. senator, where his hatred for political niceties became abundantly clear.

Miserable, he returned to Tennessee and was elected as a judge of the state's Supreme Court. In 1804, he resigned, citing poor health.

Amid these accomplishments, Jackson was also a cotton plantation owner and merchant, who owned perhaps 150 men, women and children as slaves. That's one reason for a recent campaign to have former slave and abolitionist Harriet Tubman replace him on the U.S. $20 bill, a change that the Trump administration put on hold.

In May 1806, a man named Charles Dickinson accused Jackson of cheating him out of a horse race bet he also insulted Jackson's wife, Rachel. Jackson challenged Dickinson to a pistol duel. Dickinson shot first and struck Jackson near his heart, but Jackson stood and returned fire, killing his opponent. Contrary to legend, which contends that Jackson engaged in anywhere from five to 100 duels during his lifetime, it was the first and only formal pistol duel that he ever fought.


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. Jackson had won a plurality, but not the required majority, of the electoral vote in the 1824 election, while Adams, Secretary of War William H. Crawford, and Speaker of the House Henry Clay also received a significant share of the 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. Jackson also won the support of Vice President John C. Calhoun, who 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. [4]

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. Jackson was attacked as a slave trader, [5] and his conduct was attacked in pamphlets such as the Coffin Handbills. [6] 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. [7]

Despite the attacks, 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. [8] The 1828 election marked the definitive end of the one-party "Era of Good Feelings", as the Democratic-Republican Party broke apart. Jackson's supporters coalesced into the Democratic Party, while Adams's followers became known as the National Republicans. [4] Rachel had begun experiencing significant physical stress during the election season, and she died of a heart attack on December 22, 1828, three weeks after her husband's victory in the election. [9] Jackson felt that the accusations from Adams's supporters had hastened her death, and he never forgave Adams. "May God Almighty forgive her murderers", Jackson swore at her funeral. "I never can." [10]

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. [11] Due to the acrimonious campaign and mutual antipathy, Adams did not attend Jackson's inauguration. [12] Ten thousand people arrived in town for the ceremony, eliciting this response from Francis Scott Key: "It is beautiful it is sublime!" [13] 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. Jackson's raucous populism earned him the nickname "King Mob". [14] 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. [12] 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. [15]

Jackson's name has been associated with Jacksonian democracy or the shift and expansion of democracy as political power shifted from established elites to ordinary voters based in political parties. "The Age of Jackson" shaped the national agenda and American politics. [16] Jackson's philosophy as president was similar to that of Thomas Jefferson, as he advocated republican values held by the Revolutionary War generation. [17] He 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." [18] He rejected the need for 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." [19] Jackson thought that Supreme Court justices should be made to stand for election, and believed in strict constructionism as the best way to ensure democratic rule. [20] He also called for term limits on presidents and the abolition of the Electoral College. [21]

The Jackson Cabinet
PresidentAndrew Jackson1829–1837
Vice PresidentJohn C. Calhoun1829–1832
none [a] 1832–1833
Martin Van Buren1833–1837
Secretary of StateMartin Van Buren1829–1831
Edward Livingston1831–1833
Louis McLane1833–1834
John Forsyth1834–1837
Secretary of the TreasurySamuel D. Ingham1829–1831
Louis McLane1831–1833
William J. Duane1833
Roger B. Taney1833–1834
Levi Woodbury1834–1837
Secretary of WarJohn Eaton1829–1831
Lewis Cass1831–1836
Attorney GeneralJohn M. Berrien1829–1831
Roger B. Taney1831–1833
Benjamin Franklin Butler1833–1837
Postmaster GeneralWilliam T. Barry1829–1835
Amos Kendall1835–1837
Secretary of the NavyJohn Branch1829–1831
Levi Woodbury1831–1834
Mahlon Dickerson1834–1837

Instead of choosing party leaders for his cabinet, Jackson chose "plain businessmen" whom he intended to control. [22] 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. [23] He appointed John Branch of North Carolina as Secretary of the Navy, John Macpherson Berrien of Georgia as Attorney General, [24] and John Eaton of Tennessee, a friend and close political ally, as Secretary of War. [22] 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 to lead the department. [25] Of the six officials in Jackson's initial cabinet, only Van Buren was a major political figure in his own right. Jackson's cabinet choices were 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. [24] In addition to his official cabinet, Jackson would come to rely on an informal "Kitchen Cabinet" of advisers, [26] including General William Berkeley Lewis and journalist Amos Kendall. Jackson's nephew, Andrew Jackson Donelson, served as the president's personal secretary, and wife, Emily, acted as the White House hostess. [27]

Jackson inaugural cabinet suffered from bitter partisanship and gossip, especially between Eaton, Vice President John C. Calhoun, and Van Buren. By mid-1831, all except Barry (and Calhoun) had resigned. [28] 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 previously 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. [29] Outside of the cabinet, journalist Francis Preston Blair emerged as an influential adviser. [30]

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. [31] Due to his opposition to Jackson's removal of federal funds from the Second Bank of the United States, 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. [32] 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. [33] 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. [34]

Jackson appointed six Justices to the Supreme Court of the United States. [35] Most were undistinguished. [36] His first nominee was John McLean, a close ally of Calhoun's who had been Adams's Postmaster General. Because McLean was reluctant to make full use of his office's powers of patronage, Jackson delicately removed him from office with an appointment to the Supreme Court. [37] McLean "turned Whig and forever schemed to win" the presidency. Jackson's next two appointees–Henry Baldwin and James Moore Wayne–disagreed with Jackson on some points but were poorly regarded even by Jackson's enemies. [38] 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. [36] Chief Justice John Marshall died later that year, leaving two vacancies on the court. Jackson nominated Taney for Chief Justice and Philip P. Barbour for Associate Justice, and both were confirmed by the new Senate. [39] Taney served as Chief Justice until 1864, presiding over a court that upheld many of the precedents set by the Marshall Court. [40] On the last full day of his presidency, Jackson nominated John Catron, who was confirmed. [41] By the time Jackson left office, he had appointed a majority of the sitting members of the Supreme Court, the only exceptions being Joseph Story and Smith Thompson. [42] Jackson also appointed eighteen judges to the United States district courts.

Jackson devoted a considerable amount of his time during his early years in office responding to what came to be known as the "Petticoat affair" or "Eaton affair." [43] 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. [44] Some also accused the Eatons of having engaged in an adulterous affair while Peggy's previous husband, John B. Timberlake, was still living. [45] Petticoat politics emerged when the wives of cabinet members, led by Floride Calhoun, refused to socialize with the Eatons. [44] 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. Historian Daniel Walker Howe argues that the actions of the cabinet wives reflected the feminist spirit that in the next decade shaped the woman's rights movement. [46]

Jackson refused to believe the rumors regarding Peggy Eaton, telling his cabinet that "She is as chaste as a virgin!" [44] He was infuriated by those who, in attempting to drive the Eatons out, dared to tell him who he could and could not have in his cabinet. The affair also reminded him of similar attacks that had been made against his wife. [47] Though he initially blamed Henry Clay for the controversy over Eaton, by the end of 1829 Jackson had come to believe that Vice President Calhoun had masterminded the dissension in his cabinet. [48] The controversy over Eaton dragged on into 1830 and 1831, as the other cabinet wives continued to ostracize Eaton. [49] 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. [50] 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. [51] With the sole exception of Postmaster General Barry, the other cabinet officials also left office, marking the first mass resignation of cabinet officials in U.S. history. [52]

Van Buren was rewarded with a nomination to the position of ambassador to Great Britain, but the Senate rejected his nomination. [53] 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. [54] By cultivating the support of Jackson, Van Buren emerged from the Petticoat Affair as Jackson's heir apparent. Three decades later, biographer James Parton would write that "the political history of the United States, for the last thirty years, dates from the moment when the soft hand of Mr. Van Buren touched Mrs. Eaton's knocker." [52] Meanwhile, Jackson and Vice President Calhoun became increasingly alienated from one another. [55] Following the Petticoat Affair, Jackson acquired the Globe newspaper to use as a weapon against the rumor mills. [56] [57]

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. [58] Jackson believed that a rotation in office (the removal of governmental officials) was actually a democratic reform preventing nepotism, and that it made civil service responsible to the popular will. [59] 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." [60] [61] Jackson rotated about 20% of federal office holders during his first term, some for dereliction of duty rather than political purposes. [62] [63] The Post Office was most strongly affected by Jackson's rotation policy, but district attorneys, federal marshals, customs collectors, and other federal employees were also removed from office. [64]

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. [65] Because he believed that most public officials faced few challenges for their positions, Jackson dismissed the need for a meritocratic appointment policy. [66] Many of Jackson's appointees, including Amos Kendall and Isaac Hill, were controversial, and many of those who Jackson removed from office were popular. [67] Jackson's appointment policy also created political problems within his own coalition, as Calhoun, Van Buren, Eaton, and others clashed over various appointments. [68] His appointments encountered some resistance in the Senate, and by the end of his presidency, Jackson had had more nominees rejected than all previous presidents combined. [69]

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. [70] His administration conducted a high-profile prosecution against Tobias Watkins, the Auditor at the Treasury Department during Adams's presidency. [67] John Neal, a friend of Watkins and critic of Jackson, said that this prosecution served to "feed fat his ancient grudge" and was "characteristic of that willful, unforgiving, inexorable man, who was made President by the war-cry." [71]

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. [72] Despite these attempts at reform, historians believe Jackson's presidency marked the beginning of an era of decline in public ethics. [73] 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, some of the 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. [74] Eventually, in the years after Jackson left office, presidents would remove appointees as a matter of course while Jackson dismissed 45 percent of those who held office, Abraham Lincoln would dismiss 90 percent of those who had held office prior to the start of his presidency. [75]

Indian Removal Act Edit

Prior to taking office, 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. [76] His presidency marked a new era in Indian-Anglo American relations, as he initiated a policy of Indian removal. [77] Previous presidents had at times supported removal or attempts to "civilize" the Native Americans, but had generally not made Native American affairs a top priority. [78] 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. [79] Jackson prioritized removing Native Americans from the South, as he believed that the Native Americans of the Northwest could be "pushed back." [80] In his 1829 Annual Message to Congress, Jackson advocated for setting aside land west of the Mississippi River for Native American 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. [81]

A significant political movement, consisting largely of evangelical Christians and others from the North, rejected Indian removal and instead favored continuing efforts to "civilize" Native Americans. [82] Overcoming opposition led by Senator Theodore Frelinghuysen, Jackson's allies won the passage of the Indian Removal Act in May 1830. The bill passed the House by a 102 to 97 vote, with most Southern congressmen voting for the bill and most Northern congressmen voting against it. [83] 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. [84] 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. [85] 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. [86]

Cherokee Edit

With Jackson's support, Georgia and other states sought to extend their sovereignty over tribes within their borders, despite existing U.S. treaty obligations. [87] Georgia's dispute with the Cherokee culminated 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 among the tribespeople. [88] The Supreme Court's ruling helped establish the doctrine of tribal sovereignty, but Georgia did not release the prisoners. [89] 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." [90] The court had held that Georgia must release the prisoners, but it had not compelled the federal government to become involved. In late 1832, Van Buren intervened on behalf of the administration to put an end to the situation, convincing Georgia Governor Wilson Lumpkin to pardon the missionaries. [91]

As the Supreme Court was no longer involved, and the Jackson administration had no interest in interfering with Indian removal, the state of Georgia was free to extend its control over the Cherokee. In 1832, Georgia held a lottery to distribute Cherokee lands to white settlers. [92] Under the leadership of Chief John Ross, most Cherokee refused to leave their homeland, but a group led by John Ridge and Elias Boudinot negotiated the Treaty of New Echota. In return for $5 million and land west of the Mississippi River, Ridge and Boudinot agreed to lead a faction of the Cherokee out of Georgia a fraction of the Cherokee would leave in 1836. Many other Cherokee protested the treaty, but, by a narrow margin, the United States Senate voted to ratify the treaty in May 1836. [93] The Treaty of New Echota 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. [94]

Other tribes Edit

Jackson, Eaton, and General John Coffee negotiated with the Chickasaw, who quickly agreed to move. [95] Jackson put Eaton and Coffee in charge of negotiating with the Choctaw tribe. Lacking Jackson's skills at negotiation, they frequently bribed the chiefs in order to gain their submission. [96] The Choctaw chiefs agreed to move with the signing of the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek. The removal of the Choctaw took place in the winter of 1831 and 1832, and was wrought with misery and suffering. [96] Members of the Creek Nation signed the Treaty of Cusseta in 1832, allowing the Creek to either sell or retain their land. [97] Conflict later erupted between the Creek who remained and the white settlers, leading to a second Creek War. [98] The Creek uprising was quickly crushed by the army, and the remaining Creek were escorted across the Mississippi River. [99]

Of all the tribes in the Southeast, the Seminole proved to be the most resistant to mass relocation. The Jackson administration reached a removal treaty with a small group of Seminole, but the treaty was repudiated by the tribe. Jackson sent soldiers into Florida to remove the Seminole, marking the start of the Second Seminole War. The Second Seminole War dragged on until 1842, and hundreds of Seminole still remained in Florida after 1842. [100] A shorter conflict broke out in the Northwest in 1832 after Chief Black Hawk led a band of Native Americans across the Mississippi River to their ancestral homeland in Illinois. A combination of the army and the Illinois militia drove out the Native Americans by the end of the year, bringing a close to the Black Hawk War. [101] By the end of Jackson's presidency, nearly 50,000 Native Americans had moved across the Mississippi River, and Indian removal would continue after he left office. [102]

First term Edit

In 1828, Congress had approved the so-called "Tariff of Abominations", which set the tariff at a historically high rate. [103] The tariff was popular in the Northeast and, to a lesser extent, the Northwest, since it protected domestic industries from foreign competition. [104] Southern planters strongly opposed high tariff rates, as they resulted in higher prices for imported goods. [103] This opposition to high tariff rates was especially intense in South Carolina, where the dominant planter class faced few checks on extremism. [105] 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. [106] Calhoun argued that, while the Constitution authorized the federal government to impose tariffs for the collection of revenue, it did not sanction tariffs that were designed to protect domestic production. [107] Jackson sympathized with states' rights concerns, but he rejected the idea of nullification. [108] 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. [81]

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. As the Petticoat Affair strained relations between Jackson and Calhoun, South Carolina nullifiers became increasingly strident in their opposition to the "Tariff of Abominations." [109] Relations between the Jackson and Calhoun reached a breaking point in May 1830, after Jackson discovered a letter that indicated that then-Secretary of War Calhoun had asked President Monroe to censure Jackson for his invasion of Spanish Florida in 1818. [104] Jackson's adviser, William Lewis, acquired the letter from William Crawford, a former Monroe cabinet official who was eager to help Van Buren at the expense of Calhoun. [110] Jackson and Calhoun began an angry correspondence which lasted until July 1830. [111] By the end of 1831, an open break had emerged not just between Calhoun and Jackson but also between their respective supporters. [112] 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. [113]

Believing that Calhoun was leading a conspiracy to undermine his administration, Jackson built a network of informants in South Carolina and prepared for a possible insurrection. He also threw his support behind a tariff reduction bill that he believed would defuse the nullification issue. [114] 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. [115] The bill failed to satisfy many in the South, and a majority of southern Congressmen voted against it, [116] but passage of the Tariff of 1832 prevented tariff rates from becoming a major campaign issue in the 1832 election. [117]

Crisis Edit

Seeking to compel a further reduction in tariff rates and bolster the ideology of states' rights, South Carolina leaders prepared to follow through on their nullification threats after the 1832 election. [118] In November 1832, South Carolina held a state convention that declared the tariff rates of 1828 and 1832 to be void within the state, and further declared that federal collection of import duties would be illegal after January 1833. [114] After the convention, the South Carolina Legislature elected Calhoun to the U.S. Senate, replacing Robert Y. Hayne, who had resigned to become that state's governor. Hayne had often struggled to defend nullification on the floor of the Senate, especially against fierce criticism from Senator Daniel Webster of Massachusetts. [119]

In his December 1832 Annual Message to Congress, Jackson called for another reduction of the tariff, but he also vowed to suppress any rebellion. [120] 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. [121] 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. [122] At the same time, Governor Hayne asked for volunteers for the state militia, and 25,000 men volunteered. [123] 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. [124]

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. [125] 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. [126] Though the House effort to write a new tariff bill collapsed, Clay initiated Senate consideration of the topic by introducing his own bill. [127] Clay, the most prominent protectionist in the country, worked with Calhoun's allies rather than Jackson's allies to pass the bill. [128] 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. Southern leaders would have preferred lower rates, but they accepted Clay's bill as the best compromise they could achieve at that point in time. [129] 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. [130]

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. [131] 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 acceptable way to end the crisis. He signed both the Tariff of 1833 and the Force Bill into law on March 2. [132] 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. [133] Despite his earlier support for a similar measure, Jackson vetoed a third bill that would have distributed tariff revenue to the states. [134] The South Carolina Convention met and rescinded its nullification ordinance, and, in a final show of defiance, nullified the Force Bill. [135] Though the nullifiers had largely failed in their quest to lower tariff rates, they established firm control over South Carolina in the aftermath of the Nullification Crisis. [136]

First term Edit

The Second Bank of the United States ("national bank") had been chartered under President James Madison to restore an economy devastated by the War of 1812, and President Monroe had appointed Nicholas Biddle as the national bank's executive in 1822. The national bank operated branches in several states, and granted these branches a large degree of autonomy. [137] The national bank's duties included storing government funds, issuing banknotes, selling Treasury securities, facilitating foreign transactions, and extending credit to businesses and other banks. [138] [137] The national bank also played an important role in regulating the money supply, which consisted of government-issued coins and privately issued banknotes. By presenting private banknotes for redemption (exchange for coins) to their issuers, the national bank limited the supply of paper money in the country. [137] By the time Jackson took office, the national bank had approximately $35 million in capital, which represented more than twice the annual expenditures of the U.S. government. [138]

The national bank had not been a major issue in the 1828 election, but some in the country, including Jackson, despised the institution, [139] The national bank's stock was mostly held by foreigners, Jackson insisted, and it exerted an undue amount of control over the political system. [140] Jackson had developed a life-long hatred for banks earlier in his career, and he wanted to remove all banknotes from circulation. [139] In his address to Congress in 1830, Jackson called for the abolition of the national bank. [141] 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. [142] Seeking to reconcile with the Jackson administration, Biddle appointed Democrats to the boards of national bank branches and worked to speed up the retirement of the national debt. [143]

Though Jackson and many of his allies detested the national bank, others within the Jacksonian coalition, including Eaton and Senator Samuel Smith, supported the institution. [138] Despite some misgivings, Jackson supported a plan proposed in late 1831 by his moderately pro-national bank Treasury Secretary Louis McLane, who was secretly working with Biddle. McLane's plan would recharter a reformed version of the national bank in a way that would free up funds, partly through the sale of government stock in the national bank. The funds would in turn be used to strengthen the military or pay off the nation's debt. Over the objections of Attorney General Taney, an irreconcilable opponent of the national bank, Jackson allowed McLane to publish a Treasury Report which essentially recommended rechartering the national bank. [144]

Hoping to make the national 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. [145] 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 national bank's charter without any of McLane's proposed reforms. [146] In May 1832, after months of congressional debate, Biddle assented to a revised bill that would re-charter the national bank but give Congress and the president new powers in controlling the institution, while also limiting the national bank's ability to hold real estate and establish branches. [147] The recharter bill passed the Senate on June 11 and the House on July 3, 1832. [140]

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." [148] Jackson officially vetoed the bill on July 10. His veto message, crafted primarily by Taney, Kendall, and Andrew Jackson Donelson, attacked the national bank as an agent of inequality that supported only the wealthy. [149] He also noted that, as the national bank's charter would not expire for another four years, the next two Congresses would be able to consider new re-chartering bills. [150] 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. [140]

1832 election Edit

In the years leading up to the 1832 election, it was unclear whether Jackson, frequently in poor health, would seek re-election. [151] However, Jackson announced his intention to seek re-election in 1831. [152] Various individuals were considered as possible Democratic vice presidential nominees in the 1832 election, including Van Buren, Judge Philip P. Barbour, Treasury Secretary McLane, 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. [153] Van Buren emerged as Jackson's preferred running mate after the Eaton affair, and the former Secretary of State won the vice presidential nomination on the first ballot of the 1832 Democratic National Convention. [54] [154] Later that year, on December 28, Calhoun resigned as Vice President, after having been elected to the U.S. Senate. [155] [b]

In the 1832 election, Jackson would face a divided opposition in the form of the Anti-Masonic Party and the National Republicans. [157] Since the disappearance and possible murder of William Morgan in 1827, the Anti-Masonic Party had emerged by capitalizing on opposition to Freemasonry. [158] 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. [159] 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. [157] For vice president, the National Republicans nominated John Sergeant, who had served as an attorney for both the Second Bank of the United States and the Cherokee Nation. [160]

The political struggle over the national bank emerged as the major issue of the 1832 campaign, although the tariff and especially Indian removal were also important issues in several states. [161] National Republicans also focused on Jackson's alleged executive tyranny one cartoon described the president as "King Andrew the First." [162] At Biddle's direction, the national bank poured thousands of dollars into the campaign to defeat Jackson, seemingly confirming Jackson's view that it interfered in the political process. [163] On July 21, Clay said privately, "The campaign is over, and I think we have won the victory." [164]

Jackson, however, managed to successfully portray his veto of the national bank recharter as a defense of the common man against governmental tyranny. Clay proved to be no match for Jackson's popularity and the Democratic Party's skillful campaigning. [165] Jackson won the election by a landslide, receiving 54 percent of the popular vote and 219 electoral votes. [166] Nationwide, Jackson won 54.2 percent of the popular vote, a slight decline from his 1828 popular vote victory. Jackson won 88 percent of the popular vote in the states south of Kentucky and Maryland, and Clay did not win a single vote in Georgia, Alabama, or Mississippi. [167] 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. [166] The South Carolina legislature awarded the state's electoral votes to states' rights advocate John Floyd. [168] Despite Jackson's victory in the presidential election, his allies lost control of the Senate. [169]

Removal of deposits and censure Edit

Jackson's victory in the 1832 election meant that he could veto an extension of the national bank's charter before that charter expired in 1836. Though a congressional override of his veto was unlikely, Jackson still wanted to ensure that the national bank would be abolished. His administration was unable to legally remove federal deposits from the national bank unless the Secretary of the Treasury issued an official finding that the national bank was a fiscally unsound institution, but the national bank was clearly solvent. [170] In January 1833, at the height of the Nullification Crisis, Congressman James K. Polk introduced a bill that would provide for the removal the federal government's deposits from the national bank, but it was quickly defeated. [171] Following the end of the Nullification Crisis in March 1833, Jackson renewed his offensive against the national bank, despite some opposition from within his own cabinet. [172] Throughout mid-1833, Jackson made preparations to remove federal deposits from the national bank, sending Amos Kendall to meet with the leaders of various banks to see whether they would accept federal deposits. [173]

Jackson ordered Secretary of the Treasury William Duane to remove existing federal deposits from the national bank, but Duane refused to issue a finding that the federal government's deposits in the national bank were unsafe. In response, Jackson replaced Duane with Roger Taney, who received an interim appointment. Rather than removing existing deposits from the national bank, Taney and Jackson pursued a new policy in which the government would deposit future revenue elsewhere, while paying all expenses from its deposits with the national bank. [174] The Jackson administration placed government deposits in a variety of state banks which were friendly to the administration's policies critics labeled these banks as "pet banks." [175] Biddle responded to the withdrawals by stockpiling the national bank's reserves and contracting credit, thus causing interest rates to rise. Intended to force Jackson into a compromise, the move backfired, increasing sentiment against the national bank. [176] The transfer of large amounts of bank deposits, combined with rising interest rates, contributed to the onset of a financial panic in late 1833. [177]

When Congress reconvened in December 1833, it immediately became embroiled in the controversy regarding the withdrawals from the national bank and the subsequent financial panic. [178] 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. [179] Senator Clay introduced a measures to censure Jackson for unconstitutionally removing federal deposits from the national bank, and in March 1834, the Senate voted to censure Jackson in a 26–20 vote. [180] It also rejected Taney as Treasury Secretary, forcing Jackson to find a different treasury secretary he eventually nominated Levi Woodbury, who won confirmation. [33]

Led by Polk, the House declared on April 4, 1834, that the national bank "out not to be rechartered" and that the depositions "ought not to be restored." The House also voted to allow the pet banks to continue to serve as places of deposit, and sought to investigate whether the national bank had deliberately instigated the financial panic. [181] By mid-1834, the relatively mild panic had ended, and Jackson's opponents had failed to recharter the national bank or reverse Jackson's removals. The national bank's federal charter expired in 1836, and though Biddle's institution continued to function under a Pennsylvania charter, it never regained the influence it had had at the beginning of Jackson's administration. [182] Following the loss of the national bank's federal charter, New York City supplanted Philadelphia (the national bank's headquarters) as the nation's financial capital. [183] In January 1837, when the Jacksonians had a majority in the Senate, the censure was expunged after years of effort by Jackson supporters. [184]

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. [185] 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. [186] Jackson's removal of the government deposits in late 1833 ended any possibility of a Webster-Jackson alliance and helped to solidify partisan lines. [187] 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 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. [188]

The National Republicans, including Clay and Webster, formed the core of the Whig Party, but many Anti-Masons like William H. Seward of New York and Thaddeus Stevens of Pennsylvania also joined. Several prominent Democrats defected to the Whigs, including former Attorney General John Berrien, Senator Willie Person Mangum of North Carolina, and John Tyler of Virginia. [188] Even John Eaton, the former Secretary of War, became a member of the Whig Party. [189] Beginning in December 1833, voting behavior in Congress began to be dominated by partisan affiliation. [188] 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. [190] 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. [191] Along with the Democrats, the Whigs were one of the two major parties of the Second Party System, which would extend into the 1850s. [189] Calhoun's nullifiers did not fit neatly into either party, and they pursued alliances with both major parties at various times. [192]

The national economy boomed after mid-1834 as state banks liberally extended credit. [193] 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. [194] [195] In the aftermath of the Bank War, Jackson asked Congress to pass a bill to regulate the pet banks. [196] 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. [197]

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 sold 12.5 million acres of public land in 1835, compared to 2 million acres in 1829. [198] Seeking to curb land speculation, Jackson issued the Specie Circular, an executive order that required buyers of government lands to pay in specie. [199] The Specie Circular undermined the public's trust in the value of paper money Congress passed a bill to revoke Jackson's policy, but Jackson vetoed that bill on his last day in office. [200]

The period of good economic conditions ended with the onset of the Panic of 1837. [201] 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. [201] The depression that followed lasted until 1841, when the economy began to rebound. [194] [202]

Internal improvements Edit

In the years before Jackson had taken office, the idea of using federal funding to build or improve internal improvements (such as roads and canals) had become increasingly popular. [203] Jackson had campaigned against Adams's support for federally funded infrastructure projects, but, unlike some states' rights supporters, Jackson believed that such projects were constitutional so long as they aided the national defense or improved the national economy. [204] The National Road was one of the major infrastructure projects worked on during Jackson's presidency, and his tenure saw the National Road extended from Ohio into Illinois. [205] In May 1830, the House passed a bill to create the Maysville Road, which would link the National Road to the Natchez Trace via Lexington, Kentucky. With the strong support of Van Buren, Jackson vetoed the bill, arguing that the project was too localized for the federal government to become involved. Jackson further warned that government expenditures on infrastructure would be costly and threatened his goal of retiring the national debt. The veto shored up Jackson's support among pro-states' rights "Old Republicans" like John Randolph, but angered some Jacksonians who favored internal improvements. [206]

Despite the Maysville Road Veto, federal funding for infrastructure projects increased substantially during Jackson's presidency, reaching a total greater than all previous administrations combined. [204] Because of a booming economy and high levels of federal revenues, the Jackson administration was able to retire the national debt even while spending on infrastructure projects increased. [207]

Slavery controversies Edit

A slaveowner himself, Jackson favored the expansion of slavery into the territories and disapproved of anti-slavery agitation. Though slavery was not a major issue of Jackson's presidency, 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. [208] In Congress, Southerners demanded the prevention of delivery of the tracts, and Jackson moved to placate Southerners in the aftermath of the Nullification Crisis. Postmaster General Amos Kendall gave Southern postmasters discretionary powers to discard the tracts, a decision that abolitionists attacked as suppression of free speech. [209]

Another conflict over slavery in 1835 ensued when abolitionists sent the U.S. House of Representatives petitions to end the slave trade and slavery in Washington, D.C. [210] These petitions infuriated pro-slavery Southerners, who attempted to prevent acknowledgement or discussion of the petitions. Northern Whigs objected that anti-slavery petitions were constitutional and should not be forbidden. [210] 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, thus temporarily suppressing abolitionist activities in Congress. [210]

Two other important slavery-related developments occurred while Jackson was in office. In January 1831, William Lloyd Garrison established The Liberator, which emerged as the most influential abolitionist newspaper in the country. While many slavery opponents sought the gradual emancipation of all slaves, Garrison called for the immediate abolition of slavery throughout the country. Garrison also established the American Anti-Slavery Society, which grew to approximately 250,000 members by 1838. [211] In the same year that Garrison founded The Liberator, Nat Turner launched the largest slave rebellion in U.S. history. After killing dozens of whites in southeastern Virginia across two days, Turner's rebels were suppressed by a combination of vigilantes, the state militia, and federal soldiers. [212]

U.S. Exploring Expedition Edit

Jackson initially opposed any federal exploratory scientific expeditions during his first term in office. [213] Jackson's predecessor, President Adams, had 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 a presidential legacy similar to that of Jefferson, who had sponsored the Lewis and Clark Expedition, Jackson decided to support 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 of planning the expedition, but Dickerson proved unfit for the task, and the expedition was not launched until 1838. [213] 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 continent of Antarctica. [214]

Administrative reforms Edit

Jackson presided over several reforms in the executive branch. [215] 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. [216]

States admitted to the Union Edit

Two new states were admitted into the Union during Jackson's presidency: Arkansas (June 15, 1836) [217] and Michigan (January 26, 1837). [218] Both states increased Democratic power in Congress and voted for Van Buren in 1836. [219]

Spoliation and commercial treaties Edit

Foreign affairs under Jackson were generally uneventful prior to 1835. [220] [221] His administration's foreign policy focused on expanding trade opportunities for American commerce. [222] The Jackson administration negotiated a trade agreement with Great Britain that opened the British West Indies and Canada to American exports, though the British refused to allow American ships to engage in the West Indian carrying trade. [223] The agreement with Britain, which had been sought by previous presidents, represented a major foreign policy success for Jackson. [224] 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%. [225] 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. [226]

A second major foreign policy emphasis in the Jackson administration was the settlement of spoliation claims. [227] The most serious crisis involved a debt that France owed for the damage Napoleon had done two decades earlier. France agreed to pay the debt, 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. [228] [229] The Department of State also settled smaller spoliation claims with Denmark, Portugal, and Spain. [225]

Recognition of Republic of Texas Edit

Jackson believed that Adams had bargained away rightfully American territory in the Adams–Onís Treaty, and he sought to expand the United States west. He continued Adams's policy of attempting to purchase the Mexican state of Coahuila y Tejas, which Mexico continued to rebuff. Upon gaining independence, Mexico had invited American settlers to that 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. Chafing under Mexican rule, the American settlers became increasingly dissatisfied. [230]

In 1835, American settlers in Texas, along with local Tejanos, fought a war for independence against Mexico. 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. [231] 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. [232] Antislavery elements in the U.S. strongly opposed annexation because of slavery's presence in Texas. [233] [234] Jackson was reluctant to recognize Texas, as he was unconvinced that the new republic would maintain its independence from Mexico and did not want to make Texas an anti-slavery issue during the 1836 election. After the 1836 election, Jackson formally recognized the Republic of Texas, and nominated Alcée Louis la Branche as chargé d'affaires. [225] [235]

On January 30, 1835, the first attempt to kill a sitting president occurred just outside the United States Capitol. When Jackson was leaving through the East Portico after a funeral, 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. [236] Jackson, infuriated, attacked Lawrence with his cane, and others present restrained and disarmed Lawrence. [237] Lawrence said that he was a deposed English king and that Jackson was his clerk. [238] He was deemed insane and was institutionalized. [239] Jackson initially suspected that a number of his political enemies might have orchestrated the attempt on his life, but his suspicions were never proven. [240]

Jackson declined to seek a third term in 1836, instead throwing his support behind his chosen successor, Vice President Van Buren. [241] With Jackson's support, Van Buren won the presidential nomination of the Democratic Convention without opposition. [242] 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, as well as Van Buren, strongly preferred Rives, but Jackson 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. [242] [243]

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 Bank War. [243] 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. [244] 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 Daniel Webster also had the support of some Northern Whigs. [245]

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, while White received 26, and Webster 14. [246] Willie Person Mangum received the 11 electoral votes of South Carolina, which were awarded by the state legislature. [247] 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. [248]

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." [249] 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. [250] 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. [251]

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. [252] 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. [253] 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." [254] 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." [253] 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. [252]

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." [255] Starting mainly around 1970, Jackson came under sharp attack from historians for his Indian removal policies. Howard Zinn called him "the most aggressive enemy of the Indians in early American history" [256] and "exterminator of Indians." [257] By contrast, 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. [258]

Despite some criticism, Jackson's performance in office has generally been ranked in the top half in polls of historians and political scientists. His position in C-SPAN's poll of historians 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. [259] A 2018 poll of the American Political Science Association’s Presidents and Executive Politics section ranked Jackson as the fifteenth best president. [260]

Trail of Tears Facts: Conclusion

United States came into existence as a country 54 years before the Indian Removal Act of 1830 was signed. See the irony! One of the foundation ideologies of the country was that:

“all men have been created equal and that their Creators endowed them with few unalienable rights which included pursuit of happiness, liberty and life…”

And, what did they do? They wiped out the Native Americans who actually never did anything wrong. They simply lived peacefully, limited to their ancestral lands.

Do we have to say anything more? Perhaps not! Only thing left is a ‘Resounding Sorry,’ which is genuine. Perhaps, even that won’t suffice.

Watch the video: Read Along to Andrew Jackson - Presidency, Facts u0026 Trail of Tears (June 2022).

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