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Andrew Jackson: A Biographyby Linda Przygodski
The fiery eyes peering from the front of the twenty-dollar bill belong to the first president who would’ve passed one of the major litmus tests for anyone running for President of the United States today. Andrew Jackson was the ultimate man of the people, and the guy you wanted to have a beer with. He was the first
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ABOUT THE BOOK
The fiery eyes peering from the front of the twenty-dollar bill belong to the first president who would’ve passed one of the major litmus tests for anyone running for President of the United States today. Andrew Jackson was the ultimate man of the people, and the guy you wanted to have a beer with. He was the first “common man” who ascended to the highest office in the land. He was an Everyman who achieved greatness and received his share of scorn for a life and presidency that was anything but ordinary and certainly never dull.
The nickname “Old Hickory” explains much about Jackson, who was born in South Carolina in 1767. “Old Hickory” was tough and aggressive, a person who wasn’t allowed to be a kid for very long because his father died before he was born and he joined the army as a teenager after his mother passed. He went off to fight the Revolutionary War and later became America’s greatest military hero of the era. He fell madly in love, only to watch his beloved wife die before he was elected as the 7th President of the United States in 1828. His presidency was filled with upheaval and controversy, and he survived the first assassination attempt against a U.S. president.
That’s just scratching the surface of Andrew Jackson’s life and impact on the United States. Some historians view Jackson as one of the best presidents the U. S. has ever had. Others see him as a dictator and one of the worst American leaders. Jackson believed in a strong presidency and expanded the power of the office, leading critics to dub him a tyrant. For instance, he vetoed 12 pieces of legislation, more than the first six presidents combined.
Still, he never wavered in his effort to be a man of the people, sometimes to a fault. Too often, he made decisions strictly based on polls, which did not yield the result of making him more popular. But Andrew Jackson didn’t know any other way than to try to stand up for the little guy, because, essentially, that’s who he was.
EXCERPT FROM THE BOOK
United States officials could see they had a hero on their hands with Jackson. In need of a bona fide military leader and a morale boost, the American government promoted Jackson to Major General and placed him in charge of the war effort on the southern front of the United States.
Jackson immediately went to New Orleans, the destination he was called away from at the start of the war. Jackson fortified the city and drew a battle line. The U.S. had developed a habit of retreating in the face of fierce fighting during the War of 1812, and the British expected more of the same when they attacked New Orleans.
The result would be far, far different under Jackson’s command. The British assault failed this time as Jackson and his men stood their ground and drove their enemies back. The casualty difference was staggering. More than 2,000 British soldiers were killed or wounded. Jackson lost just 13 men in the fighting. The Battle of New Orleans, fought in January 1815, changed the tone of the war, and cemented Jackson’s reputation as the country’s top military leader and flat-out hero. No American other than George Washington was held in higher regard than Andrew Jackson.
Jackson was pressed into military action one more time in 1817 when the Native American tribes refused to cede the land given up in the treaty after Horseshoe Bend. His strategy to achieve this goal was to attack the Creek and Seminole Indians by invading the Spanish Territory of Florida and showing the military might of the United States. He wasn’t given explicit orders to do this, but was not punished for exceeding his orders, either. The act further cemented his revered military reputation.
Jackson was appointed the governor of the Florida Territory and helped oversee the transfer of ownership from Spain to the U.S.
Now, the stage was set for his first, albeit failed run at the presidency in 1824. Andrew Jackson: The President and Legend
The parallels between Jackson’s election experiences and recent American election history are stunning. It’s along the same lines as today’s “have-a-beer-with” test, which has become a major narrative in the media. In a simplistic way, it’s used to illustrate which presidential candidate is more in touch with the “average Joe” by deciding whom would be the better guy to hang out and have a beer with. Long before there was Bush vs. Gore and the controversial result of the 2000 United States presidential election, there was the election of 1824.
Before winning the presidency in 1828, Jackson had run for the highest political office in 1824. And the resu
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