Amazing articles on just about every subject...

American Statesman:
 George Washington

 Benjamin Franklin

 Samuel Adams

 John Adams

 Patrick Henry

 Thomas Jefferson

 James Madison

 Alexander Hamilton

 James Monroe

 Andrew Jackson

 Read More Articles About: American Statesman

Andrew Jackson

( Originally Published Early 1900's )



The remarkable man whom we shall next consider was welcomed by overwhelming masses of the people as the true representative of democratic institutions. He issued from the wilderness a hero; he returned to his Hermitage with a magnified fame. There was long a class of white-haired Americans, perhaps not all of them yet gathered to honored graves, who believed that political virtue left the earth with shining wings when Andrew Jackson breathed his last. He was the St. Paul of Jeffersonian doctrine; yet through the intricate network of his faults and foibles, it may be seen that like St. Paul he was first Saul, and fell under a great light. If we condemn Aaron Burr remorselessly for killing his enemy in a duel, Andrew Jackson killed also his enemy in a duel. Up to and through the eight years of Presidency, General Jackson thought that all persons ought without argument to stand at one side for him. In this he was like Napoleon. After he had reached the full term of office, however, he was well pleased to retire to Nashville, hearing the affectionate plaudits of a Nation, and he was doubtless at that time the best-loved man that our Nation had ever produced. His coming out of the unknown West was like Lincoln's; his success was equaly great; he was the favored son of a united Nation, and the two men were of the same democratic fiber, toward whom the people turned magnetically, without either power or desire to question or criticise.

Andrew Jackson was born March 15, 1767, at the Waxhaw Settlement, as he believed, in South Carolina, but, as many writers discover, in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, on the upper waters of the Catawba River. The English penetrated the region, hoping to secure recruits. An officer wounded the boy Andrew because he refused to brush the officer's boots. He and his two brothers were taken prisoners to Camden, and the widowed mother died on her way to Camden. The two brothers lost their lives, and hatred of England was implanted in the heart of Andrew Jackson. At four-teen he was without relatives or means. He became a saddler's apprentice, and later a law student. After four years of study, in which it is said that he learned little, a friend appointed him public prosecutor in what is now Tennessee, but was then the Western District of North Carolina, and he arrived in Nashville at the age of twenty-one. The inhabitants had attempted to set up the State of Franklin, and were in a condition of dis-order. It is probable that only a man who valued his life lightly would have accepted Jackson's task. He seems to have joined to his ordinary dangers the collection of bad debts. Therefore his life was continually at stake on every lonesome road, and in every new circle of acquaintances. That he should soon be a leading spirit in such a state of society may be considered an index of his character—he was sure, in the end, if he survived, to be a hero.

At Nashville Jackson boarded with a widow Donelson, whose daughter Rachel and her husband, Lewis Robards, also lived with her. Robards had been married in Kentucky under Virginia law. In 1791, three years after Jackson's arrival, Robards petitioned for divorce, alleging that his wife had deserted him and was living with Jackson. The Legislature of Virginia passed a bill authorizing the Supreme Court of Kentucky to try the case with a jury, and grant a divorce if the facts were found to be as stated. Robards took no action for two years, but meantime Jackson married Mrs. Robards. Robards secured his divorce two years later, when Jackson and his wife were married again. It reflects ill on Jackson as a lawyer that he was put in this position. He remained through life extremely sensitive to criticism on this matter; he clung to his wife for thirty years, and mourned for her ever afterward in a noble and unaffected, almost romantic manner. We shall see that his fidelity to her was the most striking point in his career.

In 1796 Jackson was a member of the Constitutional Convention of Tennessee, and, it is said, suggested the naming of the State after the river. He was the first Congressman of the State, and, later, was made a United States Senator. At Philadelphia he appeared to Gal-latin as "a tall, lank, uncouth-looking personage, with long locks of hair hanging over his face, and a cue down-his back tied in an eel-skin; his dress singular, his manners and deportment those of a rough backwoodsman." "When I was President of the Senate," says Jefferson, "he was a Senator, and he could never speak on account of the rashness of his feelings. I have seen him attempt it repeatedly, and as often choke with rage."

As a Senator, Jackson was a Jacobin, and felt deeply embittered against General Washington for his friendliness to England. In 1798 the Senator resigned to become a Supreme Judge in Tennessee. In 1801 ex-Governor Sevier and Judge Jackson were candidates for the major-generalship of the militia; Jackson won by the vote of Governor Roane. In 1803 Sevier became Governor, and when he casually met Jackson both men drew their pistols, but no blood was shed. Jackson, while Judge, was proprietor of a store, and resigned his position on the bench in 1804, but retained his office of Major-General.

General Jackson was sure to meet somebody in the wilderness who could not share it with him. He was ready to fight all comers, and it seems that the best shot of the settlements, one Charles Dickinson, set out to drive him out of Tennessee or kill him. Dickinson therefore aspersed the character of General Jackson's wife in order to stir up all the bad blood there was in General Jackson, and then the duel was arranged as falling out of a quarrel over a bet at a horse-race. Jackson challenged Dickinson. The meeting took place near Adairsville, Tenn., May 30, 1806. Dickinson, on his way to the rendezvous, amused his associates by dis-playing his wonderful skill with a pistol. Once, at a distance of twenty-four feet, he fired four bullets, each at the word of command, into a space which could be covered by a silver dollar. He repeatedly severed a string with a bullet, and at a tavern, where he had per-formed this feat of marksmanship, he said to the land-lord as he rode off : "If General Jackson comes along this road, be kind enough to show him that!" At the meeting it was agreed that both parties should stand facing each other with pistol held downward. At the word, each man was to fire as soon as he should please to do so. On the word, Dickinson was quickest to fire. A puff of dust flew from Jackson's coat, and his second saw him raise his left arm and place it tightly across his chest. Meanwhile he began taking aim. "Great God !" cried Dickinson, "have I missed him?" Jackson's trigger snapped, but did not explode the load; Jackson drew the trigger back to its full-cock, again took careful aim, and fired. The bullet passed entirely through Dickinson's body. He lived until 9 o'clock that night. It was found that one of Jackson's shoes was full of blood. Dickinson's bullet had broken two of Jackson's ribs, and the wound weakened the General for life. "I would have lived long enough to kill him," said Jackson, "if he had shot me through the heart." Dickinson's friends alleged that Jackson, an uncommonly slight man, appeared that day in a coat that effectually concealed the location of his heart, and that he deceived Dickinson into firing at the wrong spot. With this bloody adjudication, however, popular opinion at once determined that Dickinson deserved death for gratuitously slandering a woman so upright as Mrs. Jack-son had proved herself to be after her marriage to Andrew Jackson.

General Jackson thought he ought to be appointed Governor of Orleans, and became embittered against President Jefferson because of non-appointment. He readily made friends with Burr when that adventurer started on his scheme of a new Empire, Burr striving to make a tool of the backwoodsman. During this period it is not impossible that Jackson was a negro-trader, who defied the Indian agent, Dinsmore. Jackson wrote to the Secretary of War that unless he removed Dinsmore the people of West Tennessee would burn him in his own agency. Dinsmore, who had done right, was removed, and Jackson was ever afterward his rancorous enemy, although Dinsmore fell into poverty and sued for reconciliation.

Meantime the French cast to politics in Tennessee carried the people along with Napoleon, and he was looked upon with awe by the bullies of the woods. As his arms prevailed, it became a fixed opinion that America must take sides with him against the world. When this policy was forced on President Madison, Major-General Jackson, now forty-five years old, came into a conspicuous position before the Nation. He offered himself with 2,500 volunteers and was ordered to New Orleans. At Natchez he was commanded to dis-band. He led home his little army, casting severe reflections on the Administration. Thomas H. Benton was an officer in the militia, and had a brother Jesse. Jackson had stood second for another man in a duel with Jesse, and there was bad blood with the Bentons. They met Jackson September 13, 1813. Blows and shots were exchanged, and Jackson was laid up with a ball in his shoulder. He carried this missile in his body for twenty years. While he was in bed from his wound the Creek Indian war broke out, and Jackson took the field as soon as he could. He quarreled with Cocke, the other Tennessee Major-General, but showed remarkable governing ability, and was a successful military man. The young men enlisted under him with enthusiasm. March 14, 1814, by his command, John Wood was shot for an assault on an officer. General Jackson defeated the Creeks at Tohopeka, and chased them out of the Hickory Ground, building Fort Jackson and winning his soubriquet of "Old Hickory." Major-General Pinckney, of the regular army, took command April 20, 1814, after covering General Jackson with the thanks of the Nation. May 31 General Jackson was appointed Major-General in the regular army, and given command of the Department of the South, with headquarters at Mobile. The English used Spanish territory in Florida as a base, and when Washington was captured, General Jackson, in the face of orders, attacked his enemies wherever he found them. He, with 5,000 men, stormed Pensacola, Florida (in Spanish territory), and when the English retreated, he also withdrew to Mobile. He was now in a military position to defend New Orleans, and reached there December 2, 1814. Between that time and the 7th of January, 1815, he was enthusiastically busy making defences. The story of his use of cotton bales is familiar, but the cotton was easily set on fire, and had to be entirely removed. General Pakenham brought 12,000 British troops in a fleet, meeting entrenchments about five feet high, some miles below the city. The English advanced in the face of a heavy artillery fire, but when they came within range of the rifles of the backwoodsmen, they were slaughtered so rapidly that they wavered. Pakenham fell. Lambert, who succeeded, withdrew his men in the night. The English loss had been over 2,000; the American loss was but seven killed and six wounded. The battle of New Orleans was fought after the Treaty of Ghent had been signed. The engagement was needless, yet it was of priceless value to the Democratic party, who could show a victory at last, and it put the seal of everlasting ignominy on the Federalist convention at Hartford, where it was well said the New Englanders would have been in better business at war with their enemies. Yet at the moment when General Jackson might have deemed it wise to court popularity, he shot six more men at Mobile for mutiny. He thus had executed as many men as he had lost in the battle. He soon after defied a civil court and was fined $1,000 for imprisoning a Judge. It certainly did not seem that he possessed the arts of a demagogue. Yet the able politicians of Congress, noting the decadence of the Virginia power, the neutrality of Monroe, the unpopularity of John Quincy Adams, Secretary of State, and heir apparent, all had an eye on General Jackson, whose hold on the people bade fair to exceed that of General Washington. When Monroe came in, General Jackson was at Washington to give advice and revenge himself on Crawford, under whose Secretaryship of War the victorious General was highly insubordinate. General Scott commented on this mutinous conduct. General Jackson challenged him. General Scott rejected the challenge on religious grounds. Jackson published the correspondence, posting Scott as a coward.

The wars had left as legacies bodies of pirates, fili-busters, Indians, and negroes, mostly on Spanish soil, and when the Seminole War broke out Jackson had good reason to believe he had tacit permission to capture Florida. Briefly stated, he pillaged, captured, and devastated on Spanish soil. He hanged two Indian captives whose persons he had gained by a base stratagem. He hanged two Englishmen, on the ground that they were stirring up war—making eleven, and with Dickinson, twelve people he had sent to a violent death. He sent up to the Administration a very disagreeable en-tanglement with Spain and England, which John Quincy Adams, Secretary of State, took on himself to unravel. Calhoun secretly assailed Jackson. Henry Clay openly attacked the Administration as soon as it adopted Jackson, and there began the Clay-Jackson feud. But as for enemies of the United States in Jack-son's purview, there were none. Success had followed him at every turn, and he had hanged or shot all who had opposed him if they fell into his hands. John Quincy Adams had no easy time clearing Jackson. A United States Senate Committee, February 24, 1819, reported strongly against General Jackson on all the points, but no action was taken. He was on hand, doubtless ready to challenge the leader of his enemies. He went on to New York city, where his fame had pre-ceded him. He was everywhere welcomed as a champion American, whom "all creation" must fear. The purchase of Florida put an end to the open questions growing out of America's assaults on Spain. General Jackson was appointed Governor of Florida under Spanish law and dropped from the army in order to prevent more trouble that was fast brewing. As Captain-General, the hot-headed Governor made more trouble for President Monroe, resigned, and went home ill and dis-gusted, and became a harsh critic of the Administration. In J. Q. Adams' diary it is written that Monroe asked Jefferson in 1818 if it would not be a good idea to ship off General Jackson as Minister to Russia: "Why, good G—!" cried Jefferson, "he would breed you a quarrel before he had been there a month."

Monroe was now to enter on his second term, Adams was to have eight years of the Presidency, and then the elderly Jackson, sick with the bullets of duellists, and the fatigues of a hard life, might harvest the manifest popularity that surrounded his name. But would that popularity endure? Where John Quincy Adams was, there would be no lack of factions, and clever leaders could not fail to perceive the favorable light in which General Jackson, idol of the new States, with no personal enemies in the old ones of the Northeast, now stood. It was the ill fate of Adams, a civilian, to stand in the way of a military hero. What the people especially liked about General Jackson was that, from his earliest vote against General Washington, he had done right as he saw it, utterly oblivious of policy or personal gain.

They were quick to believe that their own interests were to be advanced in almost anything he undertook.

William B. Lewis, a neighbor (Sumner calls him "the Great Father of the wire-pullers"), now grasped the opportunities offered by Jackson's popularity, and, as a move toward the Presidency, secured the General's nomination by the Tennessee Legislature, and his election to the United States Senate. General Jackson, thus a nominated Presidential candidate, was himself compelled to take the lesser place, because no Jackson man could beat the other candidate. He was all this time outside "the machine," and his opponents rarely used any other epithet than "murderer." But General Jackson had nothing sordid about him; he was simple, chaste, and domestic in his habits; he was not a demagogue; he did not drink liquor; he remained unrewarded by the people, although they seemed anxious to acknowledge the value of his services. Therefore, John Quincy Adams came so near losing his one term as President that General Jackson in the Electoral College had ninety-nine votes to only eighty-four for Adams. Clay kept up his feud when the election came to the House, and Adams was chosen. General Jackson shook hands with President Adams, but his rage against Clay, who had taken the "successorship" as Secretary of State, knew few bounds. General Jackson did not hesitate to repeat the charge that Clay had turned his votes in the House to Adams as the price paid for the Premiership in the Cabinet. Clay ran the charges down, but the people who were given as authorities denied having made the original assertions. Still Jackson would not retract, and, although he had not himself entered with spirit in the Presidential race, he now believed he had been wronged in some way, and therefore set out, with all the earnestness of his tempestuous nature, to be chief of the Republic. The people were told that their will had been balked by a bargain between two minority candidates. Van Buren, of New York, was able to take the party lead in his State away from Clinton by announcing himself in accord with the democratic idea of Jackson—that is, that the candidate with the plurality of votes in the Electoral College should be adopted by the House as the one whom the people undoubtedly meant to advance in their favor. The rapid shifting of party lines left Adams and Clay with only a minority of Congressmen in their support. The Tennessee Legislature again nominated General Jackson for President, and he resigned his United States Senatorship in order, as he alleged, to escape the corruption prevailing at Washington. He suggested an amendment to the Constitution, making Congressmen ineligible to all offices within the gift of the President, the bar to run two years after their retirement from Congress. The people themselves were at first quiet and well satisfied with the election of Adams, but the tremendous ferment among the politicians gradually excited them. There was an absence of cause for disputation on every point except personal ambition, and neither side knew what ground to take on public questions. Sargent tells a story that a Senator in the Jackson party was rallied because of his defeat in a vote sending Commissioners to Simon Bolivar's Congress. "Yes," replied the Senator, "they (Adams and Clay) have beaten us by a few votes after a hard battle; but if they had only taken the other side and refused the mission, we should have had them."

As the Presidential campaign of 1828 came on, it was to be seen that personal slander was to go its full length. "Coffin hand-bills" were circulated, enumerating bloody deeds that were charged against Jackson. Adams was pictured on bills as driving off with a horsewhip a crippled soldier who had dared to ask alms of him. Adams, although he received 508,064 popular votes to 648,273 for Jackson, still, in the Electoral College did not secure a single vote south of the Potomac or west of the Alleghanies. President Adams went out of office because the people believed nearly all of the false accusations made against him. He had failed to study the interests of politicians, and they had gone over to Jackson, who believed it was a duty to take care of his friends and punish his enemies, and this course, too, he was sure would purify the State.

On the 22d of December, 1828, the wife of Andrew Jackson died at the Hermitage. It is one of the saddest records of American politics that her name had been constantly in the public prints of the Presidential campaign. The day of the funeral General Jackson, President-Elect, feeble and heartbroken, walked slowly behind the coffin of Rachel, leaning upon a long cane that he was accustomed to carry on the farm. As he stood looking on her face for the last time, he lifted his cane and commanded the attention of all: "In the presence of this dear saint, I can and do forgive all my enemies. But those vile wretches who have slandered her must look to God for mercy." She was buried in the little garden near the residence. On a granite slab, in old Roman letters, is the following inscription, writ-ten by her husband : "Here lie the remains of Mrs. Rachel Jackson, wife of President Jackson, who died the 22d of December, 1828. A being so gentle and yet so virtuous, vile slander might wound, but could not dishonor. Even Death, when he tore her from the arms of her husband, could but transport her to the bosom of her God." The Nation looked upon these simple obsequies, and took the sorrow deep into its own heart.

At Washington, the next March, when General Jack-son was inaugurated, there was a Jeffersonian jubilee. Vice-President Calhoun prepared to follow Jackson as President, but Van Buren was ready to disappoint him. The President was jealous of Cabinet officers he had made the word "Cabinet" a campaign cry. He advised with a "kitchen cabinet," composed of Lewis, Kendall, Green, and Hill. Van Buren was Secretary of State. Lewis, "the original Jackson man," now wanted to return to Tennessee, but "Old Hickory" would not let him go. A place as Second Auditor of the Treasury was made for Lewis, so that the President could consult him. Kendall, Fourth Auditor of the Treasury, came to be invisibly famous as the mainspring of the Administration. Hill and Green were editors of the extreme partisan type.

John H. Eaton, of Kentucky, was Secretary of War. His first wife was a niece of Mrs. Jackson, and he was one of the President's intimate friends. His second marriage was to create as much trouble for Andrew Jackson as Nullification or United States Bank. Mr. Eaton wished to wed a widow who had been well-known ii Washington as Peggy O'Neil, and asked the Presi-dent's advice and consent. The President, glad to defy public opinion in matters of the heart, urged Eaton to marry the woman if he loved her. The alliance fol-lowed, but to make the wives of the Cabinet officers call on Mrs. Eaton was impossible, and in the angry attempt that the President made to instate Mrs. Eaton at the White House, including a disciplining of his own feminine relatives, Calhoun was turned cool. Next, the General was led to know that Calhoun had never been a Jackson man. Thereupon it- was settled that Jackson must stand for reelection, and must make a political testament asking the people, as they loved their liberties, to select Van Buren as the successor. The effort of Eaton's enemies to get Eaton out resulted finally in an utter disruption of the Cabinet, the new slate being a "unit" for Jackson and the successor on whom he had determined. Mrs. Eaton did not die till 1878.

All the previous Presidents together had removed seventy-four officers. Andrew Jackson began with a proscription of about 700. He made about 2,000 removals in all. He was the first of the Presidents to give compliant country editors post-offices. The cries of the functionaries who had been forty years in place were pitiful, and it is said some slight harm came to the public service.

The tariff of 1828 would be considered no protection today. But, at the time, it was lamented by the South-ern States as a grievous burden. They exported cot-ton and tobacco and had no factories. They therefore held that all the expense of the tax fell on them. In their handling of the Tariff bill in Congress they made it as oppressive as they could, hoping to weight it down. When the South Carolina Legislature came to pass resolutions looking toward the "nullification" of the tariff of 1828, the word quoted was borrowed from Jefferson's resolutions of 1798 against the Alien and Sedition laws. South Carolina had been, up to this time, a good "Federal" State, surrounded by secessionist commonwealths. Supplemental tariff legislation in Congress gave added offense to the South. At a banquet on Jefferson's birthday, in 1830, General Jackson offered the toast, "The Federal Union : It Must Be Pre-served." In June, 1831, Jackson wrote a letter to a Charleston Fourth-of-July committee, in which he stated that customs would be collected at Charleston by Federal force, if necessary. Here we may see the question that Samuel Adams faced at Boston, in 1765, transferred to the inner workings of our own polity. The South Carolina Legislature denounced the expressions of the President as used in his letter.

Meantime, while the tariff trouble was increasing, the first National Convention met and nominated Jack-son and Van Buren (dropping Calhoun); the National Republicans nominated Clay and Sergeant on a plat-form of tariff, bank, and river-and-harbor bill; there was an anti-Mason ticket (Wirt) which carried Vermont. South Carolina stood out, and cast her eleven votes for Floyd. Jackson and Van Buren were elected by popular and Electoral-College majorities.

In 1832 the nullifiers came in full control of the South Carolina Government, and proceeded to construct a metaphysical scheme of Constitutional secession. The Legislature itself, they held, might not have the power to disobey the Congress, but a State convention, called anew from the people, must possess a divine right (a little this side of insurrection) which all moral men must respect. The Legislature ordered a convention for November 19, 1832. This convention adopted an "ordinance" that the Tariff acts were null and void in South Carolina. The Courts of South Carolina were directed to permit no appeal to Federal Courts in cases arising out of the nullification. All officers were to take a new oath, and Carolina would secede if the Federal Government should act in a manner inimical to the new "law." The Legislature then met, and passed statutes in sympathy with the new ideas. South Carolina was to be put on a war-footing. Yet all was not smooth for the nullifiers in their own State. A Union convention met at Columbia, and Union men were strong at Charleston. Civil war was possible within the commonwealth.

Now there sat in the President's chair a man, in General Jackson, who looked on all this as a mere invention of Calhoun—Calhoun, who had thought to ruin Andrew Jackson after the Seminole executions—Calhoun, who had testified friendship and taken office on the same ticket with Andrew Jackson. Andrew Jack-son therefore beheld nullification as a purely personal affair—some more people to be hanged or shot, and it was not long before he began to study what grounds he might have for executing both Calhoun and Clay, if necessary. He ordered General Scott to Charleston, and began to mass troops. He sent two war vessels to Charleston harbor. Calhoun resigned the Vice-Presidency of the United States December 28, and was elected Senator from South Carolina. He introduced resolutions that the theory that the United States were one Nation was false in history and in reason. The Legislatures of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Delaware, New York, Missouri, Tennessee, and Indiana pronounced against nullification; North Carolina and Alabama against nullification and tariff; Georgia the same, but calling a convention of Gulf States; New Hampshire for lower tariff; Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania that the tariff should stand; Virginia offered to mediate between the United States and South Carolina. Thus South Carolina stood all alone, with signs of aid only from the cotton States. Clay, in the United States Senate, introduced a compromise tariff, and this passed with an enforcing act. The Legislature of South Carolina addressed General Jackson as a tyrant and usurper, and called another State convention, which, however, repealed nullification and yet nullified the enforcing act. This, with some angry discussion, was the end of it. South Carolina paid a lower tariff, after annulling the enforcement act—that is, the annullment was legal bluster. Benton says Jackson would have hanged Calhoun, and it is possible Clay took alarm, for it is certain that Jackson had become accustomed to the disagreeable incidents attend-ant on a firm policy. Clay claimed he saved Calhoun; Calhoun claimed that nullification killed the tariff, and Clay saved himself by getting what tariff was possible; the manufacturers and "infant industries" were sure Clay had been a traitor to them. The action of General Jackson toward South Carolina made him a hero to millions of people who had hated him. They now believed a dictatorial statesman was a proper leader when a strong arm was needed, as it certainly was needed against Calhoun.

Next General Jackson, displeased with the growing power of the financial interests, singled out another man—Nicholas Biddle—his opposite in all things personal. Biddle had been a literary editor, but had taken to finance, with astonishing success. He was at the head of the United States Bank, whose showing of money was nearly $80,000,000. The United States was rid of debt, and was selling public lands and collecting tariff that it did not need. All this money was deposited with Biddle. The Secretary of the Treasury, under the Constitution, is ordered to report to Congress, and, from the beginning has exercised powers of a plenary character. General Jackson ordered McLane, Secretary of the Treasury, to take the Treasury's money out of the big bank, a private institution in which the Government held stock—(the bank was an imitation of the bank set up by Hamilton, which Jefferson had opposed so bitterly). Jackson did not want the bank to get a new charter, soon to be applied for. He attacked all the "moneyed interests" as being dangerous to liberty. McLane refused to obey. The President thereupon transferred McLane to another portfolio and appointed Duane to the Treasury. The President went to Fredericksburg to dedicate the monument to the mother of Washington, where he made a speech ringing with Democratic faith and extolling Washington, who had laid down dictatorial powers.* The people everywhere (for he also went to Boston) received Jackson as a savior and champion. Taney (afterward the Chief Justice who decided that a negro had no rights a white man was bound to respect) wrote, encouraging the President to withdraw the deposits from Biddle's bank—about $9,000,000 at the time. General Jackson again ordered it. Duane refused. He also was transferred, and Taney was appointed Secretary of the Treasury. The withdrawal of the money created a small panic, the Wall street interests doing everything they could do to alarm the President. The Senate was strongly on the bankers' side. Taney's appointment was rejected-a blow that only angered Jackson the more. When Mar-shall died, a little later, Taney was made Chief Justice. Clay, in the Senate, brought in resolutions reciting and alleging usurpation by the President. The Democrats of the country were of a mind to abolish the Senate, and that body, secure from the ballots of the people, was looked on with the same ill will that the House of Lords at London has always evoked when it threw out popular bills. The Congressional session of 1833-4 was an exciting one. "Biddle aiming at the crown," "the moneyed aristocracy," "corruption," and other phrases and terms lost significance through iteration. Against all this wickedness, it was said, stood "the old hero," who, according to our accounts, was the most popular man who has lived in America. The Virginia Legislature passed resolutions for Biddle. General Jackson next set out to have the Clay resolution of censure expunged from the records, and "expunging" became a party question. Virginia voted to expunge, and so Tyler, Virginia's Senator who would not vote to expunge, resigned. In this way it was thought the Senate could be made "representative." The Senate did vote, at last, that black lines should be drawn around the Clay resolution on the journal of the Senate, and the words "Expunged by order of the Senate, this 16th day of January, 1837," should be written across the record. This, Gen-eral Jackson considered to be the greatest victory of his life. The bank did not fail when it had to pay the Government, but it could not get a new charter. It was re-chartered by Pennsylvania, failed three times in the great panic of 1837 (after General Jackson went out of office) and in 1841 went down with all on board. Biddle was blamed and arrested. He died insolvent. Even the Whigs, in the Whig Almanac, called "Nick Biddle a rascal" of a "corrupt bank." As for those who loved Jackson, they regarded his entire financial course as one strangely prophetic and inspired.

January 30, 1835, an insane man named Lawrence snapped a pistol twice at General Jackson. The Presi-dent openly accused Poindexter, of Mississippi, as the instigator, probably without just reason.

Toward the end of his Presidential terms, the Loco-focos took form in New York, splitting into Rumps and Buffaloes. These parties represented Jackson's ideas in the extreme—no paper currency, equal rights for all, special privileges for none, suspicion of wealth, and fealty to the Union.

All this time John Quincy Adams in the House alone was disturbing the serenity of the slave-holders. It is not likely that Calhoun himself was inclined to deal with the question until nullification. Then his ready mind told him that the South must find its friends in the warmer latitudes. Thereupon the insurrection of Texas against Mexico was encouraged, and General Jackson was glad to acknowledge the young Republic, and to look forward to its admission as a slave State. At this time it was not possible to perceive in the United States outside of Calhoun's personal following, and a few Abolitionists in the North, a desire for the disintegration of the United States. It does not seem that Jackson thought often of the slaves, one way or the other. John Quincy Adams, at the time he hated slave-holders the most savagely, often stopped to save Jackson from defeat, which he would have done for nobody whom he regarded as a true friend of slavery. Still Jackson did not conceive that the slaves of the cotton States could ever become free.

He now had his party well drilled and disciplined on the modern plan. The delegates at Baltimore to nominate a successor were largely office-holders, and there was no objection to the General's wish that Van Buren should be President. The elections fulfilled the Presi-dent's hopes, and on March 2, 1837, the proud old chieftain wrote to Trist : "On the 4th, I hope to be able to go to the Capitol to witness the glorious scene of Mr. Van Buren, once rejected by the Senate, sworn into office by Chief Justice Taney, also being rejected by the factious Senate."

"The election of Van Buren," says Sumner, "is thus presented as another personal triumph of Jackson, and another illustration of his remorseless pursuit of success and vengeance in a line in which any one had dared to cross him. This exultation was the temper in which he left office. He was satisfied and triumphant. Not another President in the whole list ever went out of office in a satisfied frame of mind, much less with a feeling of having completed a certain career in triumph."

March 7, 1837, Andrew Jackson set out from Washington for the Hermitage. He left his party in full control of the Nation by popular and electoral vote, on a platform of low taxes, no debt, no glory, no public works, no display at the expense of tax-payers. If slavery had been out of the way, it is difficult to see that this programme could ever have been out-voted. On his way home he met the same demonstrations of tender, popular affection that attended Washington's journey to Mt. Vernon. He, like Washington, was regarded as a strong man, who had been converted to the New World doctrine of freedom for all. There could be no doubt of the permanency of our institutions if the soil would produce such as he. He continued to be a never-failing oracle, and politicians did not hesitate to make long journeys in order to be seen by the people going under the sacred lintels of the Hermitage near Nashville. In 1843 he wrote a letter favoring the annexation of Texas.

He spent eight years in retirement, and saw Calhoun, Clay, and Biddle all defeated or ruined. The things he did were all approved by the people, and he was a politleal saint long before he died. There were many sides of his character that shone gloriously in the light of liberty, and the tenderness of his love for Rachel charmed many who would have been alienated by his taste for revenge. He was as true as he was terrible. He was as forceful as he was simple. He had the mettle of a dictator, and the fidelity of a democratical philosopher. His soul was as strong as his body was frail.

The Hermitage was approached through a long double row of cedars. It is a quaint old building, main rooms and shed rooms of brick, with wooden columns and copings in front. Here the old hero lived with Colonel Andrew Jackson, adopted grandson, his wife and mother, and two old negroes, man and wife. Gen-eral Jackson every day visited the grave of her he had loved, whose enemies he would have killed to a man, whose name was revered to him, whose gentle graces he regarded as those of the angels. He joined the Church, at last, and, under the urgent arguments of his spiritual saviors, forgave his enemies en masse. He was not sour; he had not expected to escape the hatreds of evil persons, and easily believed all were evil who did not believe in the Union, with low taxes and hard money. If Rachel had been with him, his cup would have over-run with joy. He died on the 8th of June, 1845, and was buried beside Rachel in the little garden. His memory has been almost worshiped by a generation, whose oldest survivors are rapidly passing away. They have left their heritage to others, who in turn have exalted Andrew Jackson, while their party traveled almost forty years in the wilderness, looking ever for their third prophet in the line from Jefferson and Jack-son. While the 8th of January (battle of New Orleans) is not a legal holiday except in Louisiana, it is one of the few well recognized banqueting days in the entire Union, and many are the declarations of political policy now celebrated in our history, that emanated originally from post-prandial orations in honor of Andrew Jack-son.

Home | More Articles | Email: