Andrew Jackson: The Seventh President (1829-1837)
Take a look at the face on the twenty-dollar bill. That's Andrew Jackson! Jackson was the first “common man,” or someone from average parents, to be elected to the presidency. He was a tough guy and a military hero. He also changed American democracy forever.
Andrew Jackson's father died before he was born, and his mother died when he was just fourteen. His parents and his two older brothers had emigrated from Ireland before Andrew was born. Jackson was born in South Carolina ten years before the American Revolution began.
Both of Jackson's brothers died in the American Revolution. Jackson himself took part in the fighting (he was barely a teenager!) and was captured by the British. While he was a prisoner, Jackson was assigned to run errands for a British officer. When the boy refused to polish the officer's boots, the man got mad and swung at Andrew's head with his sword.
Jackson put up his hand to protect his face. The sword blade cut through his hand and left a scar that ran down one side of the young man's face. He had that scar (and hated the British for it) for the rest of his life.
ALL ABOUT JACKSON
NICKNAME: Old Hickory
BIRTH: March 15, 1767; Waxhaw, SC
DEATH: June 8, 1845; The Hermitage, TN
YEARS AS PRESIDENT: 1829–1837
SPOUSE: Rachel (1767–1828) Rachel Jackson had been married previously and thought she was divorced when she originally went through a marriage ceremony with Jackson in August of 1791.
VICE PRESIDENT: John C. Calhoun of South Carolina (1829–1832) and Martin Van Buren of New York (1833-1837)
Professional Career Before Becoming President
After the Revolution was over, Jackson decided to move across the Appalachian Mountains into Tennessee to seek his fortune and start a new life. Within a few short years Jackson was a lawyer, the owner of a large plantation, and Tennessee's first U.S. senator! He was also elected a general in the Tennessee militia. He took his military career very seriously.
Jackson led Tennessee volunteer troops in fighting against the Creek Native Americans, eventually defeating them at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend in 1814. After that he invaded the Spanish territory of Florida, claiming that he was chasing Native Americans and British agents. Jackson's army captured Pensacola within a month.
WORDS TO KNOW
A duel was an organized fight between two men over a disagreement or an insult. Andrew Jackson fought many duels during his lifetime. One particular duel in 1806 (fought over an insult to Jackson's wife) left Jackson with a bullet lodged so close to his heart that it could never be removed. Amazingly, Jackson had the second shot in this duel and killed his opponent.
Before the end of the year, Jackson had been ordered to protect New Orleans against an expected British attack.
In January of 1815, Jackson's Tennesseans and local militia troops successfully fought the British attack. Over 2,000 British troops were killed. Jackson's losses totaled just thirteen killed and fifty-eight wounded. His victory at the Battle of New Orleans made Andrew Jackson a national hero.
After losing the presidential election of 1824, Andrew Jackson made sure he was ready for a rematch with President John Quincy Adams in the election of 1828. Jackson won in a landslide.
This was the first time that ordinary people had an effect on an election in America. Jackson was the first president born poor, and he was the first son of recently immigrated parents to win the presidency.
Although he was rich and successful, Jackson remembered what it was like to be poor. As a result, Jackson did his best to destroy the national bank of the United States.
Jackson thought that having a national bank kept the rich rich, and made the poor poorer. So he made sure that the bank's charter was not renewed. Jackson once said of the rich: “It is to be regretted that the rich and powerful too often bend the acts of government to their own selfish purposes.”
In 1832 Jackson found out that his vice president, John C. Calhoun, was secretly supporting Jackson's political enemies. Jackson wasn't someone who forgot when someone did something bad to him. Along with Calhoun's betrayal, he remembered how Kentucky politician Henry Clay had stopped him from winning the presidency in 1824. These memories caused Jackson to later say that his only regrets were that “I did not shoot Henry Clay or hang John C. Calhoun.”
Retirement and Death
When Andrew Jackson left office in 1837 he was sixty-nine years old. There would not be an older American president until Ronald Reagan came to office over 140 years later. Jackson spent his last years suffering from poor health at The Hermitage, his estate in Tennessee. He died there in 1845 at the age of seventy-eight.
Usually you have to search the library or online to find a picture of a president. But there is a very common portrait of President Andrew Jackson that you probably have in your house right now! Use the decoder to learn where President Jackson's picture is hiding.