7th President of the United States (March 15, 1767 – June 8, 1845)
Age at inauguration: 61 years old
Vice President: John C. Calhoun (1829–1832)
Martin Van Buren (1833–1837)
- The Hero of New Orleans for his military victory in the Battle of New Orleans
- Old Hickory, allegedly given to him by his soldiers for being as "tough as old hickory"
- King Mob
- King Andrew for his supposedly excessive use of the veto power
- Jack Ass Andrew Jackson's critics disparaged him as a "Jack Ass" however Jackson embraced the animal, making it the unofficial symbol of the Democratic Party.
Born: Maarten Van Buren December 5, 1782 Kinderhook, New York, U.S.
Died: June 8, 1845 (aged 78) Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.
Cause of death: Tuberculosis
Resting Place: The Hermitage Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.
Father: Andrew Jackson
Mother: Elizabeth Hutchinson Jackson
Married: Rachel Donelson (m. 1794; died 1828)
Children: Andrew Jr (adopted), Lyncoya (adopted: native american), Andrew Jackson Hutchings (adopted: Rachel Donelson's grandson)
Education: Harvard University (BA, MA)
Other Government Positions:
- United States Senator from Tennessee March 4, 1823 – October 14, 1825
Presidential Salary: $25,000/year
Early life and education
Andrew Jackson was born on March 15, 1767 in the Waxhaws region of the Carolinas. His parents were Scots-Irish colonists Andrew and Elizabeth Hutchinson Jackson, Presbyterians who had emigrated from present day Northern Ireland two years earlier. Jackson's father was born in Carrickfergus, County Antrim, in current-day Northern Ireland, around 1738. Jackson's parents lived in the village of Boneybefore, also in County Antrim. His paternal family line originated in Killingswold Grove, Yorkshire, England.
When they immigrated to North America in 1765, Jackson's parents probably landed in Philadelphia. Most likely they traveled overland through the Appalachian Mountains to the Scots-Irish community in the Waxhaws, straddling the border between North and South Carolina. They brought two children from Ireland, Hugh (born 1763) and Robert (born 1764). Jackson's father died in a logging accident while clearing land in February 1767 at the age of 29, three weeks before his son Andrew was born. Jackson, his mother, and his brothers lived with Jackson's aunt and uncle in the Waxhaws region, and Jackson received schooling from two nearby priests.
Jackson's exact birthplace is unclear because of a lack of knowledge of his mother's actions immediately following her husband's funeral. The area was so remote that the border between North and South Carolina had not been officially surveyed. In 1824 Jackson wrote a letter saying that he was born on the plantation of his uncle James Crawford in Lancaster County, South Carolina. Jackson may have claimed to be a South Carolinian because the state was considering nullification of the Tariff of 1824, which he opposed. In the mid-1850s, second-hand evidence indicated that he might have been born at a different uncle's home in North Carolina. As a young boy, Jackson was easily offended and was considered something of a bully. He was, however, said to have taken a group of younger and weaker boys under his wing and been very kind to them.
Revolutionary War service
Later that year, their mother Elizabeth secured the brothers' release. She then began to walk both boys back to their home in the Waxhaws, a distance of some 40 miles (64 km). Both were in very poor health. Robert, who was far worse, rode on the only horse that they had, while Andrew walked behind them. In the final two hours of the journey, a torrential downpour began which worsened the effects of the smallpox. Within two days of arriving back home, Robert was dead and Andrew in mortal danger. After nursing Andrew back to health, Elizabeth volunteered to nurse American prisoners of war on board two British ships in the Charleston harbor, where there had been an outbreak of cholera. In November, she died from the disease and was buried in an unmarked grave. Andrew became an orphan at age 14. He blamed the British personally for the loss of his brothers and mother.
Legal career and marriage
After the Revolutionary War, Jackson received a sporadic education in a local Waxhaw school. On bad terms with much of his extended family, he boarded with several different people. In 1781, he worked for a time as a saddle-maker, and eventually taught school. He apparently prospered in neither profession. In 1784, he left the Waxhaws region for Salisbury, North Carolina, where he studied law under attorney Spruce Macay. With the help of various lawyers, he was able to learn enough to qualify for the bar. In September 1787, Jackson was admitted to the North Carolina bar. Shortly thereafter, a friend helped him get appointed to a vacant prosecutor position in the Western District of North Carolina, which would later become the state of Tennessee. During his travel west, Jackson bought his first slave and in 1788, having been offended by fellow lawyer Waightstill Avery, fought his first duel. The duel ended with both men firing into the air, having made a secret agreement to do so before the engagement.
Jackson moved to the small frontier town of Nashville in 1788, where he lived as a boarder with Rachel Stockly Donelson, the widow of John Donelson. Here Jackson became acquainted with their daughter, Rachel Donelson Robards. The younger Rachel was in an unhappy marriage with Captain Lewis Robards; he was subject to fits of jealous rage. The two were separated in 1790. According to Jackson, he married Rachel after hearing that Robards had obtained a divorce. Her divorce had not been made final, making Rachel's marriage to Jackson bigamous and therefore invalid. After the divorce was officially completed, Rachel and Jackson remarried in 1794. To complicate matters further, evidence shows that Rachel had been living with Jackson and referred to herself as Mrs. Jackson before the petition for divorce was ever made. It was not uncommon on the frontier for relationships to be formed and dissolved unofficially, as long as they were recognized by the community.
Land speculation and early public career
In 1794, Jackson formed a partnership with fellow lawyer John Overton, dealing in claims for land reserved by treaty for the Cherokee and Chickasaw. Like many of their contemporaries, they dealt in such claims although the land was in Indian country. Most of the transactions involved grants made under the 'land grab' act of 1783 that briefly opened Indian lands west of the Appalachians within North Carolina to claim by that state's residents. He was one of the three original investors who founded Memphis, Tennessee, in 1819.
After moving to Nashville, Jackson became a protege of William Blount, a friend of the Donelsons and one of the most powerful men in the territory. Jackson became attorney general in 1791, and he won election as a delegate to the Tennessee constitutional convention in 1796. When Tennessee achieved statehood that year, he was elected its only U.S. Representative. He was a member of the Democratic-Republican Party, the dominant party in Tennessee. Jackson soon became associated with the more radical, pro-French and anti-British wing. He strongly opposed the Jay Treaty and criticized George Washington for allegedly removing Republicans from public office. Jackson joined several other Republican congressmen in voting against a resolution of thanks for Washington, a vote that would later haunt him when he sought the presidency. In 1797, the state legislature elected him as U.S. Senator. Jackson seldom participated in debate and found the job dissatisfying. He pronounced himself "disgusted with the administration" of President John Adams and resigned the following year without explanation. Upon returning home, with strong support from western Tennessee, he was elected to serve as a judge of the Tennessee Supreme Court at an annual salary of $600. Jackson's service as a judge is generally viewed as a success and earned him a reputation for honesty and good decision making. Jackson resigned the judgeship in 1804. His official reason for resigning was ill health. He had been suffering financially from poor land ventures, and so it is also possible that he wanted to return full-time to his business interests.
After arriving in Tennessee, Jackson won the appointment of judge advocate of the Tennessee militia. In 1802, while serving on the Tennessee Supreme Court, he declared his candidacy for major general, or commander, of the Tennessee militia, a position voted on by the officers. At that time, most free men were members of the militia. The organizations, intended to be called up in case of conflict with Europeans or Indians, resembled large social clubs. Jackson saw it as a way to advance his stature. With strong support from western Tennessee, he tied with John Sevier with seventeen votes. Sevier was a popular Revolutionary War veteran and former governor, the recognized leader of politics in eastern Tennessee. On February 5, Governor Archibald Roane broke the tie in Jackson's favor. Jackson had also presented Roane with evidence of land fraud against Sevier. Subsequently, in 1803, when Sevier announced his intention to regain the governorship, Roane released the evidence. Sevier insulted Jackson in public, and the two nearly fought a duel over the matter. Despite the charges leveled against Sevier, he defeated Roane, and continued to serve as governor until 1809.
Planting career and controversy
Men, women, and child slaves were owned by Jackson on three sections of the Hermitage plantation. Slaves lived in extended family units of between five and ten persons and were quartered in 400 square feet (37 m2) cabins made either of brick or logs. The size and quality of the Hermitage slave quarters exceeded the standards of his times. To help slaves acquire food, Jackson supplied them with guns, knives, and fishing equipment. At times he paid his slaves with monies and coins to trade in local markets. The Hermitage plantation was a profit-making enterprise. Jackson permitted slaves to be whipped to increase productivity or if he believed his slaves' offenses were severe enough. At various times he posted advertisements for fugitive slaves who had escaped from his plantation. In one advertisement placed in the Tennessee Gazette in October 1804, Jackson offered "ten dollars extra, for every hundred lashes any person will give him, to the amount of three hundred."
The controversy surrounding his marriage to Rachel remained a sore point for Jackson, who deeply resented attacks on his wife's honor. By May 1806, Charles Dickinson, who, like Jackson, raced horses, had published an attack on Jackson in the local newspaper, and it resulted in a written challenge from Jackson to a duel. Since Dickinson was considered an expert shot, Jackson determined it would be best to let Dickinson turn and fire first, hoping that his aim might be spoiled in his quickness; Jackson would wait and take careful aim at Dickinson. Dickinson did fire first, hitting Jackson in the chest. The bullet that struck Jackson was so close to his heart that it could not be removed. Under the rules of dueling, Dickinson had to remain still as Jackson took aim and shot and killed him. Jackson's behavior in the duel outraged men in Tennessee, who called it a brutal, cold-blooded killing and saddled Jackson with a reputation as a violent, vengeful man. He became a social outcast.
After the Sevier affair and the duel, Jackson was looking for a way to salvage his reputation. He chose to align himself with former Vice President Aaron Burr, who after leaving office in 1805, his political career over after the killing of Alexander Hamilton in a duel in 1804, went on a tour of what was then the western United States. Burr was extremely well received by the people of Tennessee, and stayed for five days at the Hermitage. Burr's true intentions are not known with certainty. He seems to have been planning a military operation to conquer Spanish Florida and drive the Spanish from Texas. To many westerners like Jackson, the promise seemed enticing.Western American settlers had long held bitter feelings towards Spain due to territorial disputes and the persistent failure of the Spanish to keep Indians living on their lands from raiding American settlements. and by Spain's disinterest in returning fugitive slaves. On October 4, 1806, Jackson addressed the Tennessee militia, declaring that the men should be "at a moment's warning ready to march." On the same day, he wrote to James Winchester, proclaiming that the United States "can conquer not only the Floridas [at that time there was an East Florida and a West Florida.], but all Spanish North America." He continued:
I have a hope (Should there be a call) that at least, two thousand Volunteers can be lead into the field at a short notice—That number commanded by firm officers and men of enterprise—I think could look into Santafee and Maxico—give freedom and commerce to those provinces and establish peace, and a permanent barier against the inroads and attacks of forreign powers on our interior—which will be the case so long as Spain holds that large country on our borders.
Jackson agreed to provide boats and other provisions for the expedition. However, on November 10, he learned from a military captain that Burr's plans apparently included seizure of New Orleans, then part of the Louisiana Territory of the United States, and incorporating it, along with lands won from the Spanish, into a new empire. He was further outraged when he learned from the same man of the involvement of Brigadier General James Wilkinson, whom he deeply disliked, in the plan. Jackson acted cautiously at first, but wrote letters to public officials, including President Thomas Jefferson, vaguely warning them about the scheme. In December, Jefferson, a political opponent of Burr, issued a proclamation declaring that a treasonous plot was underway in the West and calling for the arrest of the perpetrators. Jackson, safe from arrest because of his extensive paper trail, organized the militia. Burr was soon captured, and the men were sent home. Jackson traveled to Richmond, Virginia, to testify on Burr's behalf in trial. The defense team decided against placing him on the witness stand, fearing his remarks were too provocative. Burr was acquitted of treason, despite Jefferson's efforts to have him convicted. Jackson endorsed James Monroe for president in 1808 against James Madison. The latter was part of the Jeffersonian wing of the Democratic-Republican Party. Jackson lived relatively quietly at the Hermitage in the years after the Burr trial, eventually accumulating 640 acres of land.
War of 1812
Creek campaign and treaty
On January 10, 1813, Jackson led an army of 2,071 volunteers to New Orleans to defend the region against British and Native American attacks. He had been instructed to serve under General Wilkinson, who commanded Federal forces in New Orleans. Lacking adequate provisions, Wilkinson ordered Jackson to halt in Natchez, then part of the Mississippi Territory, and await further orders. Jackson reluctantly obeyed. The newly appointed Secretary of War, John Armstrong Jr., sent a letter to Jackson dated February 6 ordering him to dismiss his forces and to turn over his supplies to Wilkinson. In reply to Armstrong on March 15, Jackson defended the character and readiness of his men, and promised to turn over his supplies. He also promised, instead of dismissing the troops without provisions in Natchez, to march them back to Nashville. The march was filled with agony. Many of the men had fallen ill. Jackson and his officers turned over their horses to the sick. He paid for provisions for the men out of his own pocket. The soldiers began referring to their commander as "Hickory" because of his toughness, and Jackson became known as "Old Hickory." The army arrived in Nashville within about a month. Jackson's actions earned him respect and praise from the people of Tennessee. Jackson faced financial ruin, until his former aide-de-camp Thomas Benton persuaded Secretary Armstrong to order the army to pay the expenses Jackson had incurred. On June 14, Jackson served as a second in a duel on behalf of his junior officer William Carroll against Jesse Benton, the brother of Thomas. In September, Jackson and his top cavalry officer, Brigadier General John Coffee, were involved in a street brawl with the Benton brothers. Jackson was severely wounded by Jesse with a gunshot to the shoulder.
On August 30, a group of Muscogee (also known as Creek Indians) called the Red Sticks, so named for the color of their war paint, perpetrated the Fort Mims massacre. During the massacre, hundreds of white American settlers and non-Red Stick Creeks were slaughtered. The Red Sticks, led by chiefs Red Eagle and Peter McQueen, had broken away from the rest of the Creek Confederacy, which wanted peace with the United States. They were allied with Tecumseh, a Shawnee chief who had launched Tecumseh's War against the United States, and who was fighting alongside the British. The resulting conflict became known as the Creek War.
Jackson, with 2,500 men, was ordered to crush the hostile Indians. On October 10, he set out on the expedition, his arm still in a sling from fighting the Bentons. Jackson established Fort Strother as a supply base. On November 3, Coffee defeated a band of Red Sticks at the Battle of Tallushatchee. Coming to the relief of friendly Creeks besieged by Red Sticks, Jackson won another decisive victory at the Battle of Talladega. In the winter, Jackson, encamped at Fort Strother, faced a severe shortage of troops due to the expiration of enlistments and chronic desertions. He sent Coffee with the cavalry (which abandoned him) back to Tennessee to secure more enlistments. Jackson decided to combine his force with that of the Georgia militia, and marched to meet the Georgia troops. From January 22–24, 1814, while on their way, the Tennessee militia and allied Muscogee were attacked by the Red Sticks at the Battles of Emuckfaw and Enotachopo Creek. Jackson's troops repelled the attackers, but outnumbered, were forced to withdraw to Fort Strother. Jackson, now with over 2,000 troops, marched most of his army south to confront the Red Sticks at a fortress they had constructed at a bend in the Tallapoosa River. On March 27, enjoying an advantage of more than 2 to 1, he engaged them at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend. An initial artillery barrage did little damage to the well-constructed fort. A subsequent Infantry charge, in addition to an assault by Coffee's cavalry and diversions caused by the friendly Creeks, overwhelmed the Red Sticks.
The campaign ended three weeks later with Red Eagle's surrender, although some Red Sticks such as McQueen fled to East Florida. On June 8, Jackson accepted a commission as brigadier general in the United States Army, and 10 days later became a major general, in command of the Seventh Military Division. Subsequently, Jackson, with Madison's approval, imposed the Treaty of Fort Jackson. The treaty required the Muscogee, including those who had not joined the Red Sticks, to surrender 23 million acres (8,093,713 ha) of land to the United States. Most of the Creeks bitterly acquiesced. Though in ill-health from dysentery, Jackson turned his attention to defeating Spanish and British forces. Jackson accused the Spanish of arming the Red Sticks and of violating the terms of their neutrality by allowing British soldiers into the Floridas. The first charge was true, while the second ignored the fact that it was Jackson's threats to invade Florida which had caused them to seek British protection. In the November 7 Battle of Pensacola, Jackson defeated British and Spanish forces in a short skirmish. The Spanish surrendered and the British fled. Weeks later, he learned that the British were planning an attack on New Orleans, which sat on the mouth of the Mississippi River and held immense strategic and commercial value. Jackson abandoned Pensacola to the Spanish, placed a force in Mobile, Alabama to guard against a possible invasion there, and rushed the rest of his force west to defend the city.
The Creeks coined their own name for Jackson, Jacksa Chula Harjo or "Jackson, old and fierce."
Battle of New Orleans
The British arrived on the east bank of the Mississippi River on the morning of December 23. That evening, Jackson attacked the British and temporarily drove them back. On January 8, 1815, the British launched a major frontal assault against Jackson's defenses. An initial artillery barrage by the British did little damage to the well-constructed American defenses. Once the morning fog had cleared, the British launched a frontal assault, and their troops made easy targets for the Americans protected by their parapets. Despite managing to temporarily drive back the American right flank, the overall attack ended in disaster. For the battle on January 8, Jackson admitted to only 71 total casualties. Of these, 13 men were killed, 39 wounded, and 19 missing or captured. The British admitted 2,037 casualties. Of these, 291 men were killed (including Pakenham), 1,262 wounded, and 484 missing or captured. After the battle, the British retreated from the area, and open hostilities ended shortly thereafter when word spread that the Treaty of Ghent had been signed in Europe that December. Coming in the waning days of the war, Jackson's victory made him a national hero, as the country celebrated the end of what many called the "Second American Revolution" against the British. By a Congressional resolution on February 27, 1815, Jackson was given the Thanks of Congress and awarded a Congressional Gold Medal.
Alexis de Tocqueville ("underwhelmed" by Jackson according to a 2001 commentator) later wrote in Democracy in America that Jackson "was raised to the Presidency, and has been maintained there, solely by the recollection of a victory which he gained, twenty years ago, under the walls of New Orleans." Some have claimed that, because the war was already ended by the preliminary signing of the Treaty of Ghent, Jackson's victory at New Orleans was without importance aside from making him a celebrated figure. However, the Spanish, who had sold the Louisiana Territory to France, disputed France's right to sell it to the United States through the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Had the British defeated Jackson at New Orleans, they might have held on to the territory or returned it to Spain. Furthermore, Article IX of the Treaty of Ghent stipulated that the United States must return land taken from the Creeks to their original owners, essentially undoing the Treaty of Fort Jackson. Thanks to Jackson's victory at New Orleans, the American government felt that it could safely ignore that provision and it kept the lands that Jackson had acquired.
Enforced martial law in New Orleans
Jackson, still not knowing for certain of the treaty's signing, refused to lift martial law in the city. In March 1815, after U.S. District Court Judge Dominic A. Hall signed a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a Louisiana legislator whom Jackson had detained, Jackson ordered Hall's arrest. State senator Louis Louaillier had written an anonymous piece in the New Orleans newspaper, challenging Jackson's refusal to release the militia after the British ceded the field of battle. He too was put in jail. Jackson did not relent his campaign of suppressing dissent until after ordering the arrest of a Louisiana legislator, a federal judge, and a lawyer, and after the intervention of State Judge Joshua Lewis. Lewis was simultaneously serving under Jackson in the militia, and also had signed a writ of habeas corpus against Jackson, his commanding officer, seeking Judge Hall's release.
Civilian authorities in New Orleans had reason to fear Jackson—he summarily ordered the execution of six members of the militia who had attempted to leave. Their deaths were not well publicized until the Coffin Handbills were circulated during his 1828 presidential campaign.
First Seminole War
Several Native American tribes, which became known as the Seminole, straddled the border between the U.S. and Florida. The Seminole, in alliance with escaped slaves, frequently raided Georgia settlements before retreating back into Florida. These skirmishes continually escalated, and the conflict is now known as the First Seminole War. In 1816, Jackson led a detachment into Florida which destroyed the Negro Fort, a community of escaped slaves and their descendants. Jackson was ordered by President Monroe in December 1817 to lead a campaign in Georgia against the Seminole and Creek Indians. Jackson was also charged with preventing Florida from becoming a refuge for runaway slaves, after Spain promised freedom to fugitive slaves. Critics later alleged that Jackson exceeded orders in his Florida actions. His orders from President Monroe were to "terminate the conflict. "Jackson believed the best way to do this was to seize Florida from Spain once and for all. Before departing, Jackson wrote to Monroe, "Let it be signified to me through any channel ... that the possession of the Floridas would be desirable to the United States, and in sixty days it will be accomplished."
Jackson invaded Florida on March 15, 1818, capturing Pensacola. He crushed Seminole and Spanish resistance in the region and captured two British agents, Robert Ambrister and Alexander Arbuthnot, who had been working with the Seminole. After a brief trial, Jackson executed both of the men, causing a diplomatic incident with the British. Jackson's actions polarized Monroe's cabinet, some of whom argued that Jackson had gone against Monroe's orders and violated the Constitution, since the United States had not declared war upon Spain. He was defended by Secretary of State John Quincy Adams. Adams thought that Jackson's conquest of Florida would force Spain to finally sell the province, and Spain did indeed sell Florida to the United States in the Adams–Onís Treaty of 1819. A congressional investigation exonerated Jackson, but he was deeply angered by the criticism he received, particularly from Speaker of the House Henry Clay. After the ratification of the Adams–Onís Treaty in 1821, Jackson resigned from the army and briefly served as the territorial Governor of Florida before returning to Tennessee.
Election of 1824
Jackson turned down an offer to run for governor of his home state, but accepted John Overton's plan to have the legislature nominate him for president. On July 22, 1822, he was officially nominated by the Tennessee legislature. Jackson had come to dislike Secretary of the Treasury William H. Crawford, who had been the most vocal critic of Jackson in Monroe's cabinet, and he hoped to prevent Tennessee's electoral votes from going to Crawford. Yet Jackson's nomination garnered a welcoming response even outside of Tennessee, as many Americans appreciated Jackson's attacks on banks. The Panic of 1819 had devastated the fortunes of many, and banks and politicians seen as supportive of banks were particularly unpopular. With his growing political viability, Jackson emerged as one of the five major presidential candidates, along with Crawford, Adams, Clay, and Secretary of War John C. Calhoun. During the Era of Good Feelings, the Federalist Party had faded away, and all five presidential contenders were members of the Democratic-Republican Party. Jackson's campaign promoted him as a defender of the common people, as well as the one candidate who could rise above sectional divisions. On the major issues of the day, most prominently the tariff, Jackson expressed centrist beliefs, and opponents accused him of obfuscating his positions. At the forefront of Jackson's campaign was combatting corruption. Jackson vowed to restore honesty in government and to scale back its excesses.
In 1823, Jackson reluctantly allowed his name to be placed in contention for one of Tennessee's U.S. Senate seats. The move was independently orchestrated by his advisors William Berkeley Lewis and U.S. Senator John Eaton in order to defeat incumbent John Williams, who openly opposed his presidential candidacy. The legislature narrowly elected him. His return, after 24 years, 11 months, 3 days out of office, marks the second longest gap in service to the chamber in history. Although Jackson was reluctant to serve once more in the Senate, he was appointed chairman of the Committee on Military Affairs. Eaton wrote to Rachel that Jackson as a senator was "in harmony and good understanding with every body," including Thomas Hart Benton, now a senator from Missouri, with whom Jackson had fought in 1813. Meanwhile, Jackson himself did little active campaigning for the presidency, as was customary. Eaton updated an already-written biography of him in preparation for the campaign and, along with others, wrote letters to newspapers praising Jackson's record and past conduct.
Democratic-Republican presidential nominees had historically been chosen by informal Congressional nominating caucuses, but this method had become unpopular. In 1824, most of the Democratic-Republicans in Congress boycotted the caucus. Those who attended backed Crawford for president and Albert Gallatin for vice president. A Pennsylvania convention nominated Jackson for president a month later, stating that the irregular caucus ignored the "voice of the people" in the "vain hope that the American people might be thus deceived into a belief that he [Crawford] was the regular democratic candidate." Gallatin criticized Jackson as "an honest man and the idol of the worshipers of military glory, but from incapacity, military habits, and habitual disregard of laws and constitutional provisions, altogether unfit for the office." After Jackson won the Pennsylvania nomination, Calhoun dropped out of the presidential race and successfully sought the vice presidency instead.
In the presidential election, Jackson won a plurality of the electoral vote, taking several southern and western states as well as the mid-Atlantic states of Pennsylvania and New Jersey. He was the only candidate to win states outside of his regional base, as Adams dominated New England, Clay took three western states, and Crawford won Virginia and Georgia. Jackson won a plurality of the popular vote, taking 42 percent, although not all states held a popular vote for the presidency. He won 99 electoral votes, more than any other candidate, but still short of 131, which he needed for a true majority. With no candidate having won a majority of the electoral votes, the House of Representatives held a contingent election under the terms of the Twelfth Amendment. The amendment specifies that only the top three electoral vote-winners are eligible to be elected by the House, so Clay was eliminated from contention. Jackson believed that he was likely to win this contingent election, as Crawford and Adams lacked Jackson's national appeal, and Crawford had suffered a debilitating stroke that made many doubt his physical fitness for the presidency. Clay, who as Speaker of the House presided over the election, saw Jackson as a dangerous demagogue who might topple the republic in favor of his own leadership. He threw his support behind Adams, who shared Clay's support for federally funded internal improvements such as roads and canals. With Clay's backing, Adams won the contingent election on the first ballot. Furious supporters of Jackson accused Clay and Adams of having reached a "corrupt bargain" after Adams appointed Clay as his Secretary of State. "So you see," Jackson growled, "the Judas of the West has closed the contract and receive the thirty pieces of silver. [H]is end will be the same." After the election, Jackson resigned his Senate seat and returned to Tennessee.
Election of 1828 and death of Rachel Jackson
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. New York Senator Martin Van Buren, who had been a prominent supporter of Crawford in 1824, emerged as one of the strongest opponents of Adams's policies, and he settled on Jackson as his preferred candidate in 1828. Van Buren was joined by Vice President 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 avoided campaigning but made himself available to visitors at his Hermitage plantation. In the election, Jackson won a commanding 56 percent of the popular vote and 68 percent of the electoral vote. The election marked the definitive end of the one-party Era of Good Feelings, as Jackson's supporters coalesced into the Democratic Party and Adams's followers became known as the National Republicans. In the large Scots-Irish community that was especially numerous in the rural South and Southwest, Jackson was a favorite.
The campaign was heavily personal. As was the custom at the time, neither candidate personally campaigned, but their political followers organized campaign events. Both candidates were rhetorically attacked in the press. Jackson was labelled a slave trader who bought and sold slaves and moved them about in defiance of higher standards of slaveholder behavior. A series of pamphlets known as the Coffin Handbills were published to attack Jackson, one of which revealed his order to execute soldiers at New Orleans. Another accused him of engaging in cannibalism by eating the bodies of American Indians killed in battle, while still another labeled his mother a "common prostitute" and stated that Jackson's father was a "mulatto man."
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. Jackson's campaigners fired back by claiming that while serving as Minister to Russia, Adams had procured a young girl to serve as a prostitute for Emperor Alexander I. They also stated that Adams had a billiard table in the White House and that he had charged the government for it.
Rachel had been under extreme stress during the election, and often struggled while Jackson was away. She began experiencing significant physical stress during the election season. Jackson described her symptoms as "excruciating pain in the left shoulder, arm, and breast." After struggling for three days, Rachel finally died of a heart attack on December 22, 1828 three weeks after her husband's victory in the election (which began on October 31 and ended on December 2) and 10 weeks before Jackson took office as president. A distraught Jackson had to be pulled from her so the undertaker could prepare the body. He felt that the abuse from Adams's supporters had hastened her death and never forgave him. Rachel was buried at the Hermitage on Christmas Eve. "May God Almighty forgive her murderers," Jackson swore at her funeral. "I never can."
Jackson believed in the ability of the people to "arrive at right conclusions."[ They had the right not only to elect but to "instruct their agents & representatives." Office holders should either obey the popular will or resign.He rejected the view of a powerful and independent Supreme Court with binding decisions, arguing that "the Congress, the Executive, and the Court must each or itself be guided by its own opinions of the Constitution." Jackson thought that Supreme Court justices should be made to stand for election, and believed in strict constructionism as the best way to insure democratic rule. He called for term limits on presidents and the abolition of the Electoral College. Jackson "was far ahead of his times–and maybe even further than this country can ever achieve."
On March 4, 1829, Andrew Jackson became the first United States president-elect to take the oath of office on the East Portico of the U.S. Capitol. In his inaugural speech, Jackson promised to respect the sovereign powers of states and the constitutional limits of the presidency. He also promised to pursue "reform" by removing power from "unfaithful or incompetent hands." At the conclusion of the ceremony, Jackson invited the public to the White House, where his supporters held a raucous party. Thousands of spectators overwhelmed the White House staff, and minor damage was caused to fixtures and furnishings. Jackson's populism earned him the nickname "King Mob."
Jackson devoted a considerable amount of his presidential time during his early years in office responding to what came to be known as the "Petticoat affair" or "Eaton affair." Washington gossip circulated among Jackson's cabinet members and their wives, including 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. Controversy also ensued because Peggy had married soon after her previous husband's death, and it was alleged that she and her husband had engaged in an adulterous affair while her previous husband was still living. Petticoat politics emerged when the wives of cabinet members, led by Mrs. Calhoun, refused to socialize with the Eatons. Allowing a prostitute in the official family was unthinkable—but Jackson refused to believe the rumors, telling his Cabinet that "She is as chaste as a virgin!" Jackson believed that the dishonorable people were the rumormongers, who in essence questioned and dishonored Jackson himself by, in attempting to drive the Eatons out, daring to tell him who he could and could not have in his cabinet. Jackson was also reminded of the attacks that were made against his wife. These memories increased his dedication to defending Peggy Eaton.
Meanwhile, the cabinet wives insisted that the interests and honor of all American women was at stake. They believed a responsible woman should never accord a man sexual favors without the assurance that went with marriage. A woman who broke that code was dishonorable and unacceptable. Historian Daniel Walker Howe notes that this was the feminist spirit that in the next decade shaped the woman's rights movement. Secretary of State Martin Van Buren, a widower, was already forming a coalition against Calhoun. He could now see his main chance to strike hard; he took the side of Jackson and Eaton.
In the spring of 1831, Jackson, at Van Buren's suggestion, demanded the resignations of all the cabinet members except Barry. Van Buren himself resigned to avoid the appearance of bias. In 1832, Jackson nominated Van Buren to be Minister to Great Britain. Calhoun blocked the nomination with a tie-breaking vote against it, claiming the defeated nomination would "... kill [Van Buren], sir, kill dead. He will never kick, sir, never kick." Van Buren continued to serve as an important adviser to Jackson and was placed on the ticket for vice president in the 1832 election, making him Jackson's heir-apparent. The Petticoat affair led to the development of the Kitchen Cabinet. The Kitchen Cabinet emerged as an unofficial group of advisors to the president. Its existence was partially rooted in Jackson's difficulties with his official cabinet, even after the purging.
Indian removal policy
Throughout his eight years in office, Jackson made about 70 treaties with Native American tribes both in the South and the Northwest. Jackson's presidency marked a new era in Indian-Anglo American relations initiating a policy of Indian removal. Jackson himself sometimes participated in the treaty negotiating process with various Indian tribes, though other times he left the negotiations to his subordinates. The southern tribes included the Choctaw, Creek, Chickasaw, Seminole and the Cherokee. The northwest tribes include the Chippewa, Ottawa, and the Potawatomi.
Relations between Indians and Americans increasingly grew tense and sometimes violent as a result of territorial conflicts. Previous presidents had at times supported removal or attempts to "civilize" the Indians, but generally let the problem play itself out with minimal intervention. There had developed a growing popular and political movement to deal with the issue, and out of this policy to relocate certain Indian populations. Jackson, never known for timidity, became an advocate for this relocation policy in what many historians consider the most controversial aspect of his presidency.
In his First Annual Message to Congress, Jackson advocated land west of the Mississippi River be set aside for Indian tribes. On May 26, 1830, Congress passed the Indian Removal Act, which Jackson signed into law two days later. 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. The act specifically pertained to the Five Civilized Tribesin the South, the conditions being that they could either move west or stay and obey state law, effectively relinquishing their sovereignty.
Jackson, Eaton, and General Coffee negotiated with the Chickasaw, who quickly agreed to move. Jackson put Eaton and Coffee in charge of negotiating with the Choctaw. Lacking Jackson's skills at negotiation, they frequently bribed the chiefs in order to gain their submission. The tactics worked, and the chiefs agreed to move. The removal of the Choctaw took place in the winter of 1831 and 1832, and was wrought with misery and suffering. The Seminole, despite the signing of the Treaty of Payne's Landing in 1832, refused to move. In December 1835, this dispute began the Second Seminole War. The war lasted over six years, finally ending in 1842. Members of the Creek Nation had signed the Treaty of Cusseta in 1832, allowing the Creek to either sell or retain their land. Conflict later erupted between the Creek who remained and the white settlers, leading to a second Creek War. A common complaint amongst the tribes was that the men who had signed the treaties did not represent the whole tribe.
The state of Georgia became involved in a contentious dispute with the Cherokee, culminating in the 1832 Supreme Court decision in Worcester v. Georgia. Chief Justice John Marshall, writing for the court, ruled that Georgia could not forbid whites from entering tribal lands, as it had attempted to do with two missionaries supposedly stirring up resistance amongst the tribespeople. Jackson is frequently attributed the following response: "John Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it." The quote, apparently indicating Jackson's dismissive view of the courts, was attributed to Jackson by Horace Greeley, who cited as his source Representative George N. Briggs. Remini argues that Jackson did not say it because, while it "certainly sounds like Jackson...[t]here was nothing for him to enforce." This is because a writ of habeas corpus had never been issued for the missionaries. The Court also did not ask federal marshals to carry out the decision, as had become standard.
A group of Cherokees led by John Ridge negotiated the Treaty of New Echota. Ridge was not a widely recognized leader of the Cherokee, and this document was rejected by some as illegitimate. Another faction, led by John Ross, unsuccessfully petitioned to protest the proposed removal. The Cherokee largely considered themselves independent, and not subject to the laws of the United States or Georgia. The treaty was enforced by Jackson's successor, Van Buren. Subsequently, as many as 4,000 out of 18,000 Cherokees died on the "Trail of Tears" in 1838. More than 45,000 American Indians were relocated to the West during Jackson's administration, though a few Cherokees walked back afterwards or migrated to the high Smoky Mountains. The Black Hawk War took place during Jackson's presidency in 1832 after a group of Indians crossed into U.S. territory.