The Life of Andrew Jackson

The Life of Andrew Jackson

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by Robert V. Remini

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Robert V. Remini's prize-winning, three-volume biography Life of Andrew Jackson won the National Book Award on its completion in 1984 and is recognized as one of the greatest lives of a U.S. President. In this meticulously crafted single-volume abridgment, Remini captures the essence of the life and career of the seventh president of the United States. As president

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Robert V. Remini's prize-winning, three-volume biography Life of Andrew Jackson won the National Book Award on its completion in 1984 and is recognized as one of the greatest lives of a U.S. President. In this meticulously crafted single-volume abridgment, Remini captures the essence of the life and career of the seventh president of the United States. As president, from 1829-1837, Jackson was a significant force in the nations's expansion, the growth of presidential power, and the transition from republicanism to democracy.

Jackson is a highly controversial figure who is undergoing historical reconsideration today. He is known as spurring the emergence of the modern American political division of Republican and Democractic parties, for the infamous Indian removal on the Trail of Tears, and for his brave victory against the British as Major General at the Battle of New Orleans.

Never an apologist, Remini portrays Jackson as a foreceful, sometimes tragic, hero--a man whose strength and flaws were larger than life, a president whose conviction provided the nation with one of the most influential, colorful, and controversial administrations in our history.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Remini is the author of an acclaimed three-volume biography of the seventh president and now follows up with a superb condensation that incorporates the results of recent research. He describes Old Hickory's early struggle to overcome his reputation as a violent and vengeful man (``virtually a social outcast'' in western Tennessee); the spectacular fulfillment of his search for military glory at Horseshoe Bend and New Orleans; and his frequently turbulent two-term administration (1829-1837). In this vivid biography, Remini analyzes his subject's shortcomings, which included wretched administrative appointments, inability to replace the corrupt U.S. Bank with a better system and failure to bring Texas into the Union. But the overall emphasis is on a chief executive who ``served the American people extremely well,'' preserved the integrity of the Union, saved the government from misrule and liquidated the national debt. Jackson stepped down from office more popular than when he entered the White House. Illustrations. (August)

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HarperCollins Publishers
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Chapter One

Boy from the Waxhaw District

It was not half an hour before dawn, January 8, 1815. A thick mist rolled from the murky waters of the Mississippi River and covered the ground separating two armies facing each other. Slowly, as the light of the new day spread across the plain, the mist gradually thinned and drifted away, revealing the British army, in magnificent array, stretched across two-thirds of the open field. A short distance in front of them and crouched behind an open ditch, American militiamen, sharpshooters, frontiersmen, pirates, blacks, army regulars, and others, waited for the attack to begin, their guns pointed straight ahead.

Then, with a screech, a Congreve rocket rose from one flank of the British army, followed by a second that ascended from the other flank. They signaled the beginning of the Battle of New Orleans.

Displaying superb military discipline, the army of redcoats charged forward. The Americans saw them and cheered. They had been waiting for hours for this moment and could scarcely contain their excitement and joy. Their guns trained on the brightly colored targets before them. Trigger fingers tensed. Suddenly the entire American line was illuminated with a devastating blaze of fire. A battalion band in the background struck up "Yankee Doodle" as artillery, rifles, and small arms emptied into the faces of the oncoming British. The initial roar of defiance no sooner echoed away than another thundering rebuke smashed into the scarlet ranks. And with each volley, dozens of redcoats crumbled to the ground.

The commanding officer of the American forces, General Andrew Jackson of Tennessee, stood behind the ditch in a central position and surveyed his line with rapid glances to the left and right. His soldiers loved him and had already dubbed him "Old Hickory" in recognition of his strength, tenacity, and courage. At the moment he looked calm and resolute. He stood ramrod straight, surrounded by his aides, when suddenly he raised his voice in a single command. "Give it to them, my boys," he called to his men. "Let us finish the business to-day."

"Fire! Fire!" ordered General William Carroll to the Tennessee and Kentucky sharpshooters. And it was executed with deadly precision. Not hurriedly or excitedly but calmly and deliberately. Hardly a shot was wasted by the skilled marksmen as row after row of American riflemen shattered the advancing column. One British officer said he never saw a more destructive fire poured upon a single line of men. Every shot seemed to find its mark; scores of soldiers pitched to the ground, many of them falling on top of one another.

Then it happened. The advancing troops lost their nerve and the column halted. "The horror before them was too great to be withstood." They could no longer face the "flashing and roaring hell" in front of them. They recoiled and began a general retreat.

The commanding officer of the British army, Lieutenant General Sir Edward Michael Pakenham, saw his men halt and turn around and he rode forward from his position in the rear to stop them. "For shame, for shame," he screamed at them, "recollect that you are British soldiers. This is the road you ought to take," he admonished as he pointed to the fiery furnaces before them.

A shower of lead balls from the sharpshooters behind the ditch greeted Pakenham's call to advance. One shattered his right arm, another killed his horse. Mounting an aide's pony, Pakenham pursued the retreating column with cries to halt and reform their line.

They heard him. Once out of range of the fierce American rifles their spirits surged again. They advanced once more. At the same time a column of 900 Highlanders off to the left side of the line were ordered to cross the field and help their comrades. The tartan-trousered Highlanders followed an oblique route to the right while the once-fleeing column headed back toward the ditch.

But the ditch saw what was happening and responded instantly. Round, grape, musketry, rifle, and buckshot raked the entire length of the Highlanders' line. The carnage was frightful. And once the British column returned within rifle range the mud ditch barked its command to halt. Round after round smashed into the British ranks. One thirty-two-pounder, loaded to the muzzle with musket balls, crashed into the head of the column at point-blank range and leveled it to the ground, some 200 men killed or wounded in this single salvo. In the fire General Pakenham was struck several times. One bullet ripped open his thigh, killed his horse, and threw both to the ground. As his aides started to lift him, a second shot struck him in the groin and Pakenham instantly lost consciousness. He was carried to the rear out of gun range and propped up under an oak tree in the center of the field. Within minutes Lieutenant General Sir Edward Pakenham died.

The brave Highlanders halted not one hundred yards from the ditch, taking round after round from the Americans until more than 500 of them lay on the ground. At last they too turned and fled in horror and dismay. The British army lay shattered on the field.

The Americans stopped firing when the redcoats retreated out of range. Then word was passed down the line to cease fire. The men rested on their arms. The entire assault had taken hardly more than two hours, the principal attack lasting only thirty minutes.

General Jackson walked slowly down the line with his staff, stopping at the center of each command to congratulate the men on their bravery and skill. Then, the entire line suddenly burst forth with loud and prolonged cheers for their General. Jackson nodded and gestured his appreciation. The cheering continued for many minutes.

But when the Americans scaled the parapet they had built behind their ditch and wandered around the battlefield, their smiles and happy countenances vanished as they gazed upon the horror stretched out...

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