Up until 1829 all of our presidents had been aristocratic, dignified, educated, and presidential... and then came Andrew Jackson.
When the 1828 election rolled around, a lot of people were terrified when they heard Andrew "Old Hickory" Jackson was running. If you're wondering how a guy we're calling a bad ass got such a lame nickname, it's because he used to carry a hickory cane around and beat people senseless with it, and if you're wondering why he did that, it's because he was a fucking lunatic.*The guy who kicked out the Native Americans, basically. Un-basically, Andrew Jackson (1767-1845) was the seventh president of the United States of America, serving from 1829 to 1837, and was the first president from the Democratic Party. He was also a living testament to how Badass a man can be (although Theodore Roosevelt certainly would argue with that statement). He was born on the border between North and South Carolina - his birthplace (maybe 18 miles south of Charlotte) can be placed at one of two cabins standing scant yards apart, one on each side of the border. His father died before Jackson was born. At the age of 12, Jackson served in the Patriot militia under Col. Davies during the American Revolution. During the war, he and his brothers were captured and confined in disease-ridden quarters; this led to the deaths of his brothers and also of his mother who tended to them when they were sick. After the war, Jackson had no immediate family left alive, so he was taken in by a judge in Salisbury, North Carolina. This judge was himself one of the few survivors of a battle/massacre known at the time as the Waxhaw Massacre, now more commonly called Buford's Defeat, where he had been left for dead with over twenty wounds. Under his tutelage, Jackson studied law. Jackson then moved to western North Carolina, which later became Tennessee, and began a political career. During the War of 1812 (in which the United States fought the British, contemporary with the Napoleonic Wars) Jackson commanded US forces against the British and their allies in Georgia and Alabama, and in January 1815 made his name with his successful defense of New Orleans. He received the nickname "Old Hickory" from his troops because of his toughness. After that war he served again in a campaign against the Seminoles in which he controversially invaded Spanish Florida. He first ran for the executive office in 1824, but controversially lost to John Quincy Adams in a very close election. His marriage to Rachel Donelson Robards was considered bigamous since her divorce was not officially completed at the time of their wedding. Jackson believed his political opponents' use of this as an issue in the 1828 campaign resulted in her death before his inauguration. He was famously defensive of Rachel, even going into a duel against a judge that insulted her. He was in many duels, the number of which varies depending on what source you consult; some say 13, while others rank the number somewhere in the hundreds, both of which are entirely too many times for any reasonable human being to stand in front of someone who is trying to kill them with a loaded gun. He stopped when he was voted into office. When Jackson became a senator, one of his foes from his duels was also in the Senate. The man had shot him, and he still had the bullet in his body. He soon got it out and even gave it to the man who shot him as a sort of peace treaty. When ever he'd get hemorrhages in his arm, he'd ask his servants for a razor and a bowl and cut them open to let them bleed out. Jackson served as president from 1829 to 1837, and is known as the quintessential populist president. Jackson invited the public to his inauguration, and they famously trashed the White House. Throughout his presidency, he spoke out against the Electoral College system because he believed that the executive branch was the one federal office that was truly the people's, and not the states' (he believed the College brought state interference into the election). He also proposed that the president should only serve one term, more than a bit ironic for a two-term president to say. In order to expand presidential powers, Jackson expanded the Spoils System—basically, he gave government offices to party members and, sometimes, friends that had very similar views ("to the victor go the spoils"). More than a few scandals were caused by this, and one later president was actually assassinated over it (his death led to reforms that saw the abolishment of the Spoils System). He admitted Arkansas and Michigan to the Union. One of Jackson's most controversial measures was the removal of American Indians from the Southern Appalachians and the Black Belt to Oklahoma in what would become infamously known as "The Trail of Tears", and Jackson is often painted as an anti-Indian racist because of this. Indeed, the Indian Removals actually went against a previous Supreme court Decision that recognized the Cherokee nation as a sovereign nation. Upon hearing of this decision, Jackson famously declared "Marshall [Chief Justice at the time] has made his decision, now let's see him enforce it." To be fair, he did it because he believed it would prevent war with the tribes and, possibly, a civil war. He later faced a challenge from South Carolina, which claimed the right to nullify federal laws that opposed its interests, particularly tariffs. Jackson's vice president, John C Calhoun, supported his home state's position and the president threatened to use military force against the state. Secession was avoided due largely to Henry Clay, who supported the high tariffs that South Carolina protested. On the economic front, Jackson, continuing Adams' policy of paying off large chunks of the national debt, paid off every cent the federal government owed before he left office, the only time in American history that the federal government carried no debt. His was also the last administration for over 70 years that left the United States with a budget surplus at its conclusion, with Calvin Coolidge finally breaking the streak of budget deficits. Towards the end of his first term and throughout his second term, he fought to shut down the Second Bank of the United States. The Bank served as a central bank, controlling currency and holding Treasury deposits but its commercial ventures and the partisan activities of the bank administrators were the focus of Jackson's rage, deeming the institution corrupt for using US Treasury money for private enterprises and for indirectly funding the presidential campaigns of both Quincy Adams in 1828 and Henry Clay in 1832. The struggle eventually resulted in an economic panic that plagued the presidency of his successor, but Jackson still believed he was in the right. It is enough to say that nothing short of death would have stopped Jackson, and bullets just weren't going to work. In 1835, Richard Lawrence made the first assassination attempt on a sitting president. Both pistols misfired and Jackson immediately attacked Lawrence with his cane until the president's aides restrained him. This was a couple decades before the Secret Service was formed, let alone took up presidential protection duties. Lawrence was later found to be insane and institutionalized. For some reason, Jackson was not. In short, Jackson was a complex and fascinating man, and none too gentle with his adversaries (see above about his tendency to get into duels), and certainly shaped the United States as we know it today. Most importantly, he transformed the Presidency into the people's agent with broad powers to shape policy. And that's just the short version. Often considered the last of the Founding Fathers-era Presidents (although some assign that status to either James Monroe or John Quincy Adams); beginning with Van Buren the remainder of 19th-century Presidents have an air of trivia-question obscurity (with one obvious exception and some other borderline cases.). Andrew Jackson's only regrets about his life were that he didn't shoot Henry Clay, and that he didn't hang John C Calhoun. That's right. In a life rich with murdering people for little-to-no reason, Jackson's only regret was that he didn't kill quite enough people. People like Calhoun who, remember, was Jackson's vice president.* His Last Words were purported to be either "Oh, do not cry. Be good children, and we shall all meet in Heaven... I want to meet you all, white and black, in Heaven" or "I hope to meet you all in Heaven. Be good children, all of you, and strive to be ready when the change comes." Unfortunately he failed to mention what "the change" was though. If you don't think Andrew Jackson's Last Words were memorable enough, after he died someone asked one of his servants if they thought Andrew Jackson had gone to heaven. To which the servant replied: "If General Jackson wants to go to heaven, who's going to stop him?"
Real Life tropes he embodied:
Depictions in popular media