"Up until 1829 all of our presidents had been aristocratic, dignified, educated, and presidential... and then came Andrew Jackson."
(1767-1845) was the seventh president of the United States of America, serving from 1829 to 1837
, right after John Quincy Adams
and right before Martin Van Buren
, and was the first president from the Democratic Party. He was also a living testament to how Badass
a man can be; no future president was near as badass until Theodore Roosevelt
came to office.
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 who 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 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 went against a previous Supreme court Decision that recognized the Cherokee nation as a sovereign nation. Upon hearing of this decision, Jackson reportedly famously declared "Marshall [Chief Justice at the time] has made his decision, now let's see him enforce 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. Jackson nominated Roger Taney as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court
- he's the man who gave the ruling in Dred Scott v. Sandford
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.
Often considered the last of the Founding Fathers-era Presidents (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 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
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:
- Appropriated Appelation: His opponents once called him a "jackass" so he adopted that animal as the mascot of the Democratic party.
- Arch-Enemy: He fucking loathed Henry Clay, who returned the favor.
"I have but two regrets. I did not hang John C. Calhoun and I did not shoot Henry Clay."
— Jackson upon leaving the presidency.
- Assassin Outclassin': He very nearly beat his attempted killer to death. The only reason he didn't is he was restrained from doing so.
- Badass: And how! Beating the crap out of his own would-be assassin, getting in about a hundred duels and surviving every single one, and digging a bullet out of his arm without anesthesia during a Cabinet meeting should definitely qualify him as this.
- Badass Baritone: According to the writing of several of his contemporaries, Jackson had a deep, raspy voice that became absolutely terrifying when he screamed.
- Badass Boast:
- When the Nullification Crisis came around, Jackson promised "if one drop of blood be shed there in defiance of the laws of the United States, I will hang the first man of them I can get my hands on to the first tree I can find."
- When South Carolinian John C. Calhoun supported his state's threat of seccesion during the Nullification Crisis, Jackson alledgedly threatened him with the following: "John Calhoun, if you secede from my nation, I will secede your head from the rest of your body!".
- During the Battle against the Second Bank, Jackson told his vice-president Martin Van Buren, "The bank, Mr. Van Buren, is trying to kill me but I will kill it!".
- When informed that the Senate had denied Jackson's appointee, Martin Van Buren, the post of Ambassador to England after John Calhoun voted against the motion, Jackson's response was a loud and furious "By The Eternal, I'll smash them!".
- Badass Bookworm: Quite the lawyer.
- Badass Grandpa: He nearly beat a would-be assassin to death with his cane when he was 67 years old.
- Badass Longcoat: Was in the habit of wearing a gigantic greatcoat, especially during duels, which had the bonus of hiding how thin he was and sometimes caused his opponents to miss.
- Red Baron: Old Hickory
- Handicapped Badass: By the time he was elected President, he was crippled with respiratory problems, severe arthritis in multiple places, prone to coughing up blood, and had several bullets that were never removed that caused him constant pain. None of this stopped him from being a badass.
- Like a Badass out of Hell: After his death, when one of his servants was asked whether he thought Jackson would go to heaven or hell, the servant replied:
"If General Jackson wants to go to heaven, who's going to stop him?"
- Beam Me Up, Scotty!: Jackson never said "to the victor go the spoils" in reference to the mass replacements of civil servants for Democratic party members. The phrase was actually spoken by Senator William L. Marcy.
- He quite likely never said "John Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it!" in regards to Indian removal either. Marshall's Supreme Court decision in Worcester v. Georgia set aside the conviction of a white man violating Georgia law regarding political activity, and constrained the states in regard to actions regarding Indian land. The federal government wasn't party to the suit, so there was nothing to enforce, and federal authority over relations with Indian tribes (under which they were subsequently removed) was, then as now, considered paramount.
- Berserk Button: Three. Don't insult his wife, don't tell him banks aren't corrupt institutions, and DON'T insult his integrity.
- Blessed Are the Cheesemakers: New York dairy farmers gifted him with a 1400 pound block of cheddar cheese in 1835. In 1837 he threw a party inviting the public to eat it.
- Blood Knight: The only reason anyone would willingly choose to stand in front of people shooting at him for fun.
- Cane Fu: As demonstrated when he nearly beat his would-be assassin to death with one.
- Cassandra Truth: Regarding the Nullification Crisis: "[T]he tariff was only the pretext, and disunion and southern confederacy the real object. The next pretext will be the negro, or slavery question."
- The Chessmaster: Believe it or not, yes. The guy often exaggerated his temper in order to cultivate his frontier badass image with the public and scare people into submission. He used his veto addresses to Congress more as messages to the common people. During the Bank War, he also cleverly forced the Bank leaders to resort to tactics which only made them more unpopular. Regardless of how bad most of his policies actually were, Jackson honestly was a strong leader.
- Crazy Awesome:
- Compliment Backfire: Jackson hated paper money, so what do we do to remember him? Put his face on the $20 bill. That's right, he's probably rolling in his grave every time you use a $20.
- Crowning Moment Of Awesome: Any of his badassery counts.
- His earliest known example was when he was twelve years old. A British officer tried to pay him to shine his boots. Jackson refused. The officer slashed Jackson's face with his sword for his insolence. Jackson still refused to shine the boots. That's right, his first battle scars were for saying "screw you and the shoes you walked in on."
- When a man pulled a gun on him while he was President in an attempt to assassinate him, it malfunctioned. The man produced a second gun, which also malfunctioned. Jackson proceeded to beat the crap out of the would-be assassin with his cane, and he had to be pulled off the assassin.
- Crowning Moment of Heartwarming: One of his cabinet secretaries wives had a checkered past and got a lot of crap for it. Jackson defended her honor and fired EVERYONE in his administration who gave her any grief. This was mostly because it reminded him of what happened to his wife Rachel and especially potent since he believed the political smears about her is what ended up killing her.
- Crowning Moment of Funny: It's no secret Jackson loved profanity, and he was good at it too. He was so good at it he learned how to do it in two languages (English and Spanish). Quite possibly the only thing he loved more (other than his wife) was his pet parrot, Pol. Jackson loved that bird so much that Pol was even present at the president's funeral... right up until he started swearing. In two languages. The bird was unceremoniously removed.
- He was famous for winning the War of 1812 at the Battle of New Orleans, but the War of 1812 officially ended two weeks before the battle. Old Hickory didn't care; he took the credit anyways.
- Determinator: This man didn't let trivial things like getting shot slow him down, kept up his campaign against the Second Bank Of the United States until it was disgraced, and DID NOT back down on his position that secession was illegal.
- Duel to the Death: His favorite thing to do, with his wife second and swearing at number three.
- Fair for Its Day: He wanted to remove the Indian tribes because they would get killed in wars against white settlers. Contrast Henry Clay who said the extinction of Indians would be no great loss.
- He certainly wasn't fair for his time on the issue of slavery. The British abolished slavery four years into his term; his pre-presidency career was SLAVE-TRADER. An abolition movement was already in full swing at the time In the United states.
- Fiery Redhead: And HOW!
- Fighting Irish: He was the son of Irish Immigrants and, as noted, loved a good fight.
- Fowl-Mouthed Parrot: His beloved parrot Pol, who had to be unceremoniously removed from Jackson's funeral because he started swearing. In two languages.
- Freudian Excuse: Modern examination of his body has revealed that he suffered from lead poisoning for much of his life (possibly from the many bullets inside him?), which explains some of his more... erratic behavior.
- Happily Married: To his wife Rachel, to whom he was insanely devoted to...though "insanely" can be applied to everything Jackson ever did.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: "insane" is listed here because it is listed under his duels and there were a lot of duels.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: With John Coffee, his second in command during the War of 1812 and with Martin Van Buren, his second vice-president and eventual successor.
- Hot-Blooded: He knew it. He would use his temper to get his way even when he wasn't mad.
- Immune to Bullets: How does a man get shot so many times and still live?
- During the attempt to assassinate him (the first ever attempt on an American President), the would-be murderer pulled a pair of flintlock pistols at point-blank range. Both misfired. Perhaps the damp weather had something to do with it or perhaps the bullets were afraid of him.
- Improbable Age:
- Jackson was all of 12 years old when he joined the American fight for independence.
- He was also 67 years old when he beat his 32 year-old would-be assassin half to death with a cane.
- Made Of Hickory: The sheer amount of bullets he got hit with in life should have killed him several times over, including one lodged a few inches from his heart which never got removed. Eventually he survived so much even his enemies would concede bullets simply weren't going to take him down.
- Memetic Badass: Not as famous in pop culture as a certain other badass president, but people still make videos about him. 
- Morality Chain: His wife, whom he was utterly devoted to, and his much beloved parrot, Pol.
- Mugging the Monster: As mentioned above, an assassin who went after him found out the hard way how bad an idea that was, and Jackson's security was barely able to keep the President from killing the dope.
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast: The Creek Indians called Jackson "Sharp Knife".
- Never Live It Down: A good amount of the duels were from the opponent having insulted Jackson's wife, Rachel, calling her a bigamist because the two got married before Rachel's divorce from her former husband had been completed.
- Not in Front of the Parrot: Oh, very much in front of the parrot, resulting in fluent bilingual profanity. It had to be removed from his funeral because it wouldn't stop swearing.
- Our Presidents Are Different: President Action/Iron/and to the common man, President Personable.
- Renaissance Man: Freedom fighter, hunter, lawyer, duelist, horse breeder and racer, businessman, war general, Governor of Florida and President of the United States of America. Jackson took all these varied professions and made them his bitches.
- Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: He was reported as saying "John Marshall has made his ruling, now let him come to the White House and enforce it." This was in response to him enacting the Indian Removal Act, going over the head of John Marshall (then the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court) who had declared that the Indians had rights to their own territory. The fact that Jackson sworn an oath to enforce the Supreme Court's rulings didn't seem to matter.
- Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Martin Van Buren was the sensitive guy to Jackson's manly man.
- Sir Swears-a-Lot
- The Tyson Zone: Admit it, if someone told you that Andrew Jackson did something crazy like, say, try to split the District of Columbia in two in order to create the largest private swimming pool in the world, you would at least flirt with the possibility that he did.
- Values Dissonance: Many who remembered him as great felt quite differently about the Trail of Tears. Jackson believed that the land the Native Americans held wasn't being properly harvested for its resources and offered the Native Americans the possibility to use the land the right (read: white) way. When the natives politely refused, Jackson kicked them out of their valuable ancestral land and sent them to the far less valuable and comparatively inhospitable Oklahoma, which resulted in the deaths of thousands of natives through disease and exhaustion. Granted, Jackson later regretted his involvement in the deaths of thousands of natives, but he was still responsible for unintentionally sending thousands of people to their deaths because of his racial prejudices.
- What Could Have Been: He would have invaded Cuba had he not gotten sick after the Florida campaign.
- You Make Me Sic: He had notoriously poor spelling
Depictions in popular media
- He is a major character (though not the protagonist) in the Trail of Glory series by Eric Flint. Flint has mentioned that Jackson is wonderful to have as a character, since whatever he makes him do, the real-life Jackson did something just as outrageous. The characterisation feels very true to life.
- Amazingly, he ends up in Samurai Shodown VI. It's not explicit, but there is a white-haired American named 'Andrew', in the early 1800s, whose home stage is the White House...
- Axel and Zexion fused into Andrew Jackson in the webcomic Ansem Retort. This is possible because Axel is a murderer and Zexion is a politician.
- The creator announced that in between Seasons 6 and 7 will be a miniseries called "Andrew Jackson Fucks Shit Up".
- Andrew Jackson turned out to be the key to unlocking Axel and Zex's memories of the original timeline, when time started to get fucked and Jack Bauer ended up on the twenty-dollar bill.
- The miniseries was delayed as to not overwhelm us with too much badass too soon, but it looks like it has begun.
- There is also a musical about him, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson
- Jackson appears in these Hark! A Vagrant strips.note
- He's played by Charlton Heston in the 1953 film The President's Lady.
- In Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Frylock creates a cloning machine that they use to clone $1 bills. They do it so much that it screws with physics and causes George Washington to come to life and scold them for their activities. Frylock later states that they should have cloned $20s instead, as "Jackson wouldn't have given a shit."
- The West Wing has a Running Gag about his aforementioned Big Block of Cheese, honoring that spirit by allowing non-powerful political organizations to meet with senior White House staff in order to have their concerns be heard by their government.