Andrew Jackson the 7th president of the United States has a varied legacy. For some he was a heroic leader and one of the great historical presidents. For others he was Tyrant. To sort out Jackson’s past as either a hero or a villain let’s look at his accomplishments overall.
One thing that is not debatable is Jackson’s service in the military. While serving with the Tennessee Militia he quickly worked his way up to the rank of Major General. While serving as Major General he participated in the battle of 1812. During this time he was embroiled in several specific conflicts. One of which would be the Creek War. During this conflict Jackson would end up taking charge of U.S. regulars, along with Native American tribes; The Cherokee, Choctaw, and Lower Creek warriors in addition to his own Tennessee Militia. Along with these groups he was also accompanied by Sam Houston and David Crockett. During this conflict he would face off against the “Red Creek” Native Americans.
The Red Creek were a group of Native Americans that began attacking white settlements on the instructions of the Shawnee chief Tecumseh. Once the dust settled on the conflict, treaties where signed between the two factions. However, the initial treaty was thrown out by Jackson for a far stricter and by many standards unfair treaty that affected both those that fight against him as well as those that sided with him during the conflict. This would be the start of some of the actions that Jackson would later be criticized for. The second major conflict in the War of 1812 that Jackson took part in was the battle of New Orleans.
However, unlike the Creek Wars the battle of New Orleans was a complete victory for Jackson’s forces. The final score for the British forces were a total of 2,037 casualties; with 291 dead of which 3 general officers, 1,262 were wounded, and 484 captured or unaccounted for. For the American forces they clocked in at a total of 71 casualties; 13 were dead, 39 were wounded, and 19 were unaccounted for. Sadly, this high point in Jackson’s life wouldn’t last. Not long after he would institute marshal law upon the entire city of New Orleans. This would all kick off after Jackson had a legislator arrested.
A U. S District Court Judge would write a writ of habeas corpus against Jackson only for Jackson to order the District Court Judge arrested himself. The legislator himself was arrested for calling out Jackson on continuing to detain British forces after the battle was long over. All of this coming to a head after Jackson declared authority to enforce Marshal Law on the city of New Orleans. It wasn’t until after a former captain serving under Jackson, Judge Joshua Lewis also signed a writ of habeas corpus against Jackson that Jackson would yield on the matter.
The Pros of Andrew Jackson
1. Strong supporter of government reform against corruption.
2. Major proponent against party politics in government.
The Cons of Andrew Jackson
1. Advocate against abolition and those supporting anti-slavery beliefs.
2. Was one of the primary presidents to begin moving the Native Americans off of their land.
Jackson would gain presidency in 1829. He was a strong advocate against money in politics. This also would lead to his increased popularity with the common and poorer folk. This would be a common theme throughout his presidency. Jackson would push for greater political reform such as investigating his executive cabinet officials. He was instrumental in fighting corruption in office going to the extent to promote better embezzlement laws, laws to boost government accounting and other corruption reforms. Jackson was a strong advocate of putting financial control back into the hands of the populous and out of the hands of those that gain the most from them.
However, despite his strong stance against corruption and financial reform he also had other agendas that he advocated for. Specifically he took a strong stance against abolitionists and those that supported anti-slavery beliefs. One such incident was the mailing of anti-slavery tracts from northern abolitionists to southern slave holding states. Many slave owners objected to such tracts being sent and in one incident broke into a post office and burned these tracts. Despite a law against these tracts being sent never coming to a resolution within congress and/or the senate Jackson was a vocal advocate against the sending of these tracts. Combine this with his various treaties made with numerous Native American tribes.
Many of the treaties were for the sole purpose of pushing them further west to make room for settlements specifically in the south. These would set the stage for the historically tragic events known as the trail of tears in which thousands of Native American were forced to relocate out of their home lands to lands further west leading to the catastrophic death of many of these individuals.
When one looks back on Andrew Jackson’s legacy some people see one of a great president fighting against corruption both in government and though the banking industry. Others will remember him as an advocate for slavery and the heart-rending outcome of the once glorious Native American culture.