DID YOU KNOW: Andrew Jackson (March 15, 1767 – June 8, 1845) was an American soldier and statesman who served as the seventh President of the United States from 1829 to 1837. Before being elected to the presidency, Jackson gained fame as a general in the United States Army and served in both houses of Congress. As president, Jackson sought to advance the rights of the "common man" against a "corrupt aristocracy" and to preserve the Union.
Born in the Waxhaws to Scotch-Irish migrants, Jackson became a frontier lawyer and married Rachel Donelson Robards. He served briefly in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate representing Tennessee. After resigning, he served as a justice on the Tennessee Supreme Court from 1798 until 1804. Jackson purchased a property later known as the Hermitage, and became a wealthy, slaveowning planter. In 1801, he was appointed colonel of the Tennessee militia and was elected its commander the following year.
He led troops during the Creek War of 1813–1814, winning the Battle of Horseshoe Bend. The subsequent Treaty of Fort Jackson required the Creek surrender of vast lands in present-day Alabama and Georgia. Jackson won a decisive victory in the War of 1812 over the British at the Battle of New Orleans, making him a national hero. After the war, Jackson led U.S. forces in the First Seminole War, which caused the annexation of Florida from Spain.
Jackson briefly served as Florida's first territorial governor before returning to the Senate. He ran for president in 1824, winning a plurality of the popular and electoral vote. As no candidate won an electoral majority, the House of Representatives elected John Quincy Adams in a contingent election. In reaction to the alleged "corrupt bargain" between Adams and Henry Clay and the ambitious agenda of President Adams, Jackson's supporters founded the Democratic Party.
Jackson ran again in 1828, defeating Adams in a landslide. Jackson faced the threat of secession by South Carolina over the "Tariff of Abominations." The crisis was defused when the tariff was amended, and Jackson threatened the use of military force if South Carolina attempted to secede. Congress, led by Clay, tried to reauthorize the Second Bank of the United States; Jackson regarded the Bank as a corrupt institution and vetoed the renewal of its charter. After a lengthy struggle, Jackson and his allies thoroughly dismantled the Bank.
In 1835, Jackson became the only president to completely pay off the national debt, fulfilling a longtime goal. His presidency marked the beginning of the ascendancy of the "spoils system" in American politics. In 1830, Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act, which relocated most members of the Native American tribes in the South to Indian Territory. The relocation process dispossessed the Indians and resulted in widespread death and sickness. In foreign affairs, Jackson's administration concluded a "most favored nation" treaty with Great Britain, settled claims of damages against France from the Napoleonic Wars, and recognized the Republic of Texas. He vehemently opposed the rising trend of abolitionism.
In his retirement, Jackson remained active in Democratic Party politics, supporting the presidencies of Martin Van Buren and James K. Polk. Though fearful of its effects on the slavery debate, Jackson advocated the annexation of Texas, which was accomplished shortly before his death. Jackson was widely revered in the United States as an advocate for democracy and the common man, but his reputation has declined since the civil rights movement, largely due to his role in Indian removal and support for slavery. Surveys of historians and scholars have ranked Jackson favorably among United States presidents.
He was known as Old Hickory.