Andrew Jackson was born on March 15, 1767 in the Waxhaws region on the border of North and South Carolina. His parents were Scots-Irish colonists Andrew and Elizabeth Jackson, who had emigrated from Ireland two years earlier. Jackson had two older brothers, Hugh and Robert.
When Jackson was born, his father was dead from an accident, and his mother died soon after from illness in 1781. This left Jackson as an orphan at just 14 years old. The three Jackson sons stayed with relatives, but life was tough as orphans on the frontier.
The Revolutionary War and Captivity
When the Revolutionary War broke out in 1775, the 14-year old Jackson joined a local militia as a courier. His eldest brother Hugh died during the Battle of Stono Ferry in 1779. Later that year, Andrew and Robert were captured by the British.
While being held as prisoners, Andrew was beaten by a British officer for refusing to shine the man’s shoes. Both brothers contracted smallpox, killing Robert. The war ended shortly after in 1783, leaving Jackson as the only survivor of his immediate family at just 16 years old.
American Revolution Timeline:
|Revolutionary War begins
|Declaration of Independence signed
|Battle of Stono Ferry; Hugh Jackson dies
|Jackson captured; Elizabeth Jackson dies
|Revolutionary War ends
Education and Early Career
Lacking in formal education earlier in his life, at age 17 Jackson decided to become a lawyer in Salisbury, North Carolina. After three years of apprenticeship, he was admitted to the North Carolina bar in 1787. A year later, he moved west over the Appalachian Mountains to the region that would soon become the state of Tennessee.
Jackson prospered as lawyer in Tennessee. In 1791, he married Rachel Donelson Robards, who came from a prominent local family. However, Rachel’s previous divorce had not been legally finalized, making her a bigamist. After dealing with that scandal, they legally remarried in 1794.
Between operating his legal practice and co-owning a store, Jackson began purchasing land and slaves, eventually building a plantation called The Hermitage near Nashville. He also entered Tennessee politics, becoming the first Congressman when Tennessee achieved statehood in 1796. However, Jackson resigned his seat after only one session.
Although he lacked formal military training, Andrew Jackson’s reputation for leadership and victory made him a natural general. When the War of 1812 broke out between the United States and Britain, Jackson was made major general of the Tennessee militia. Given charge of the southern frontier, his troop numbers increased from 1,500 to 4,500 volunteers.
Jackson led several successful campaigns during the war, enhanced his reputation after decisively defeating the Creek Indians at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend in 1814. His victory there resulted in the Treaty of Fort Jackson, forcing the Creeks to cede over 20 million acres of land to the United States.
In January 1815, Jackson suffered his most crushing defeat while trying to capture the British-controlled city of New Orleans. Though outnumbered, Jackson pulled off a stunning victory at the Battle of New Orleans, with only 13 American deaths compared to 700 British casualties. Although the War of 1812 officially ended weeks earlier with the Treaty of Ghent, Jackson’s renown as a military hero increased dramatically after this battle.
Events in Jackson’s Military Career:
|Creek War<br>Battle of Horseshoe Bend
|Victory over Creeks<br>Treaty of Fort Jackson
|Battle of New Orleans
After the War of 1812 ended, Jackson continued his military duties, keeping the peace between settlers and Native American tribes in the South. He led troops against the Seminole tribe in Spanish Florida, who were being harbored by the Spanish and allowed to raid American villages along the border.
Jackson captured Pensacola in 1818 and claimed the territory for the United States. His controversial invasion led to the Adams–Onís Treaty in 1819, in which Spain ceded Florida to the U.S. President James Monroe later appointed Jackson governor of the new Florida Territory.
The 1824 election was a turning point in Jackson’s political ascent. Well known for his military exploits, he ran against John Quincy Adams, Secretary of State William Crawford and Speaker of the House Henry Clay. In a four-way race without an electoral majority, the contest was thrown to the House of Representatives. Clay threw his support to Adams, who won the close vote.
Despite winning plurality of electoral and popular votes, Jackson alleged that Adams made a “corrupt bargain” with Clay to sway the House vote. After losing this bitterly contested race, Jackson resigned from the Senate and spent the next four years preparing to run again.
|John Quincy Adams
Election of 1828
In their high-profile 1828 rematch, incumbent President Adams and Jackson offered stark contrasts. Adams advocated for an interventionist federal government with extensive internal improvements; Jackson represented populist-style democracy with limited central power.
With Vice President John C. Calhoun from South Carolina, Jackson promoted individual liberty over federal authority when it came to the issue of protective tariffs. He soundly defeated Adams with an electoral count of 178 to 83 and a popular vote spread of 56% to 44%.
Andrew Jackson’s two terms as president marked a pivotal time in American political history. He was the nation’s first “common man” to rise to the highest office, representing grassroots democracy rather than elitist interests. The Democrats also became the nation’s dominant political party.
Some of Jackson’s core principles included limited taxation, states’ rights over federal authority, removal of Native Americans from eastern lands, and elimination of the national debt. Despite these stances, Congress blocked many of Jackson’s legislative efforts. The overall trend was greater democratization during his presidency.
Bureau of Indian Affairs
One of Jackson’s major goals was moving Native American tribes west of the Mississippi River to open new lands for white settlers. This was formalized in the Indian Removal Act of 1830. He appointed supporters who sympathized with southern states to form the Bureau of Indian Affairs to manage this resettlement process.
Between Jackson taking office in 1829 through late 1838, around 100,000 Native Americans were forcibly relocated west along land routes or waterways. Most were from tribes located in the South like the Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Cherokee and Seminoles. Thousands died during these physically demanding journeys now known as the Trail of Tears.
Within his administration, Jackson faced a challenge from Vice President Calhoun on the issue of federal tariffs versus states’ rights. Calhoun argued that high protective tariffs favored industrial northern states over raw material producers in the South.
In 1828, Congress passed tariffs raising rates as high as 50%. The South Carolina legislature saw this as grounds for nullifying federal laws under the Doctrine of Nullification. As a possible step towards secession, Jackson would not tolerate nullification or dissolving the union.
Although the crisis abated when tariffs were lowered in 1833, it was a foreshadowing of regional divisions that would eventually lead to the Civil War some 30 years later. Jackson’s strong actions against would-be secessionists reflected his lifelong belief in preserving the union.
Andrew Jackson was one of the most consequential presidents of the 19th century. His dramatic life story resonated with ordinary citizens, growing up poor as an orphan before becoming a famed war hero and the nation’s first “common man” president.
Jackson’s presidency marked the rise of the Democratic party and a shift towards greater democracy in politics. His staunch positions on limited federal power also previewed major states’ rights issues that would ultimately lead to the Civil War after his term ended.
While Jackson succeeded in advancing some Democratic principles like eliminating the national debt, Congress blocked many of his boldest proposals. His Indian Removal policies also led to great suffering along the Trail of Tears inflicted upon Native American tribes. Nonetheless, Jackson’s legacy as an influential populist leader who redefined the presidency continues to impact American politics today.
The Hermitage, Jackson’s long-time plantation home near Nashville, is preserved to honor his eventful life journey from humble beginnings to the White House as a military legend who ushered in a more democratic political age. The peaks and controversies of his presidency underline how Andrew Jackson fundamentally shaped 19th century American history.
When was Andrew Jackson born and where?
Andrew Jackson was born on March 15, 1767 in the Waxhaws region on the border of North and South Carolina.
What war was Andrew Jackson a commander during?
Andrew Jackson was a general during the War of 1812, leading troops in several critical battles against the British including his famous victory at the Battle of New Orleans in 1815.
Who did Andrew Jackson defeat to become president?
In the 1828 presidential election, Andrew Jackson defeated incumbent John Quincy Adams in a bitter rematch of the 1824 contest to become president.
What act led to the Trail of Tears under Jackson’s administration?
The Indian Removal Act of 1830 under Jackson’s presidency led to forced relocation of Native American tribes from eastern lands, resulting in the Trail of Tears where thousands died during the journeys west.
How did Jackson respond to the Nullification Crisis with South Carolina?
When South Carolina tried to nullify federal tariffs, Jackson did not tolerate dissolution of the union. He took strong stances affirming federal law supersedes state challenges, avoiding potential civil war at the time.