This substantive book by the historian Heidler spouses (Washington’s Circle: The Creation of the President) focuses less on Andrew Jackson’s controversial actions as president than on how he attained that office and, in so doing, permanently altered American political campaigning. Jackson won the presidency by gaining the votes of ordinary white men who viewed him as like them, someone who would be their defender against the entrenched interests of an American aristocracy, but there was nothing accidental about his rise to prominence. As the Heidlers show, it was stage-managed by a number of “managers and handlers” who saw in the hero of the Battle of New Orleans a man who would advance their plans for a national government that was very different in ideology and practice than its predecessors. They are particularly skilled in exploring, in nuance and detail, how a disparate group of politicians, journalists, and fixers created the popularity of a man who had “a nasty temper, a violent streak, and a past littered with appalling lapses in judgement,” setting the template for the modern political campaign of image-building and manipulation of public opinion. This lively and insightful read teaches the reader nearly as much about today’s politics as it does about those of the 1820s. Agent: Geri Thoma, Writers House. (Oct.)
"The Heidlers tell an engrossing story that covers a remarkably complex history in relatively few pages. It is a true page-turner."New York Journal of Books
"This lively and insightful read teaches the reader nearly as much about today's politics as it does about those of the 1820s."Publishers Weekly, starred review
"A superb chronicle of one of America's first 'modern'
political organizations and national campaigns."Booklist, starred review
"The Heidlers are careful interpreters of contemporary politics, deftly limning the issues surrounding Southern sectionalism and parsing the differences that underlay the electoral battles between John Quincy
Adams and Jackson and their claims to be true heirs to the revolutionary tradition of the Founders... A thoughtful survey."Kirkus Reviews
The election of Andrew Jackson in 1828 was a victory for the hero of New Orleans but also for an emerging form of popular politics. David and Jeanne Heidler tell the story of both with verve and insight. At a moment when Jacksonian analogies are rife, their book couldn't be more timely.H.W. Brands, New York Times bestselling author of The General vs. The President
"Many thoughtful citizens feared that Andrew Jackson's election in 1828 spelled the death of the Republic, and this book shows why. Written with verve and conviction, it shows how Jackson's handlers first mastered the trick of packaging a volatile character with a checkered history into an irresistible presidential candidate. In The Rise of Andrew Jackson, David and Jeanne Heidler have given us both an eye-popping story and a sober lesson for our time."Daniel Feller, University of Tennessee, editor of The Papers of Andrew Jackson
"Vividly written, The Rise of Andrew Jackson unpacks Old Hickory's climb to the White House only to find savvy spinmeisters and shrewd political operatives managing him all the way, often straining to control his legendary temper. In providing this misunderstood part of Jackson's story, the Heidlers paint a fascinating portrait of the bare-knuckles politics of the 1820s, one that resonates today."David O. Stewart, author of The Summer of 1787
"Two of my favorite historians, David and Jeanne Heidler, here explain how a determined band of Andrew Jackson's supporters made him President of the United States, and in the process permanently transformed American politics. The story they tell--carefully researched, cleverly constructed, full of ironies and surprises--is poised to become the definitive account of a still controversial electoral campaign."Daniel Walker Howe, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848
High-strung, scarcely literate, combative, vengeful, power-hungry, and corrupt: The adjectives could come from any headline covering presidential politics, but here they center on a president elected in 1828 with a powerful machine behind him.
Andrew Jackson (1767-1845) arrived on the political scene at a time when just about every voter would have called himself a Republican of some stripe; political parties had not yet fully evolved, so contests tended to be matters of personality rather than issues. Jackson, write the Heidlers (co-authors: Washington's Circle: The Creation of the President, 2015, etc.) changed that, backed by two broad groups of supporters whom they call "Jacksonians" and "Jacksonites"—"Jacksonians supported universal white manhood suffrage, territorial expansion, and the elimination of the Second Bank of the United States; Jacksonites were those willing to use Jackson's popularity to achieve political power." To be a Jacksonian, then, meant to be a true believer, whereas one did not have to agree with a single tenet to be a Jacksonite. There were tenets aplenty: Jackson did introduce an issues-driven platform to early Republican politics, scrapping over issues such as Indian removal and the question of whether a national bank represented constitutional overreach even though the lack of regulation of the banking business meant that nearly anyone could hang up a shingle and become a banker, setting a course for financial crisis. The Heidlers are careful interpreters of contemporary politics, deftly limning the issues surrounding Southern sectionalism and parsing the differences that underlay the electoral battles between John Quincy Adams and Jackson and their claims to be true heirs to the revolutionary tradition of the Founders. In the end, they write, it was apparent that "Jackson was the inheritor of the Jeffersonian tradition of limited government and fiscal prudence," which did little to fend off sectionalist rivalries that would play out in things like the Missouri Compromise and the Civil War.
A thoughtful survey, though general readers may prefer more popular studies by Robert Remini and H.W. Brands.
A book about a U.S. president with "little political skill and a poor temperament for political life," supported by "a previously inchoate political movement spurred by broad discontent" might sound familiar. But this work tells of the seventh U.S. president, Andrew Jackson (1767–1845), a divisive figure in American history. Lamenting the current oversimplified views of Jackson, whether by his critics as a slaveholding and anti-Indian racist or his admirers as a lionized common man, historians David and Jeanne Heidler begins with his fame-inducing exploits in the War of 1812 (where he acquired the nickname Old Hickory), charting his rise through the early American military and political scene. They examine how people of disparate factions—protectionists who favored high tariffs, party bosses who valued loyalty, antipatronage crusaders looking to quash corruption—united in a "rambunctious" movement that buoyed Jackson to two consequential presidential terms. VERDICT Presidential biography completists will find H.W. Brands's Andrew Jackson: His Life and Times more comprehensive, but this condensed political history will serve anyone seeking context about the country's first convention-breaking leader.—Chad Comello, Morton Grove P.L., IL