Andrew Jackson: His Life and Times
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In this, the first major single-volume biography of Andrew Jackson in decades, H.W. Brands reshapes our understanding of this fascinating man, and of the Age of Democracy that he ushered in.
An orphan at a young age and without formal education or the family lineage of the Founding Fathers, Jackson showed that the Presidency was not the exclusive province of the wealthy and the well-born but could truly be held by a man of the people. On a majestic, sweeping scale Brands re-creates Jackson’s rise from his hardscrabble roots to his days as frontier lawyer, then on to his heroic victory in the Battle of New Orleans, and finally to the White House. Capturing Jackson’s outsized life and deep impact on American history, Brands also explores his controversial actions, from his unapologetic expansionism to the disgraceful Trail of Tears. This is a thrilling portrait, in full, of the president who defined American democracy.
distant frontier. Other effects of the revolution in transport were less visible but no less profound. As farmers and manufacturers shipped their goods over longer distances, they increasingly depended on a stable, predictable money supply, one that spanned not merely cities or states but the nation as a whole. The panic of 1819 had demonstrated what happened when money vanished; the next panic would spread more rapidly along the improved avenues of commerce. In Jackson’s early days as a
administration and shared their reservations about Jackson. She attended the inauguration out of curiosity, to see how the new president and his horde of followers would behave. She was pleasantly surprised. “It was grand—it was sublime!” she wrote a friend regarding the ceremony at the Capitol. “Thousands and thousands of people, without distinction of rank, collected in an immense mass round the Capitol, silent, orderly and tranquil.” But the tranquility and sublimity couldn’t be sustained
part of the Kitchen Cabinet and offered a job at the Treasury. Certain senators claimed offense at Hill’s criticism of President and Mrs. Adams. Others, including some favorably disposed toward Jackson, protested the use of public pay to reward friendly editors. Like Thomas Ritchie, they thought this practice undermined freedom of the press. Finally, and perhaps most to the point, advocates of the Bank of the United States, alarmed at Hill’s editorial opposition to the bank and wishing to serve
action of the General Government.” To this last assertion Calhoun’s long document ultimately reduced. The vice president claimed for South Carolina a veto on the actions of the federal government: a right to nullify federal laws as they pertained to the state. Whether the federal government would honor the claim was the question that hung over Washington in the months after Calhoun penned his exposition. “The next two or three years will be of the deepest interest to us and the whole Union,” he
the chance for material security—than Jackson’s Democrats did. The continuing change in attitudes toward slavery likewise made the politics of the 1840s more complicated than the politics of previous decades. When Jackson had first run for president, the slave question hardly came up, but now it surfaced all the time. The Whigs were by no means abolitionist on principle. Clay still owned his slaves, comfortably enough. But abolitionists fit more easily into the Whig coalition than they did into