The Jackson Era Introduction
In A Nutshell
Andrew Jackson was one of the most powerful and influential presidents of the nineteenth century. America's seventh president, serving between 1829 and 1837, Jackson implemented policies that profoundly affected the territorial, political, and economic development of the United States. He organized the relocation of more than 90,000 Indians from the eastern United States to territories west of the Mississippi River. He strengthened the Union by rejecting South Carolina's claim that it possessed the authority to nullify federal laws. And he destroyed the Bank of the United States, leaving the nation without a central bank capable of monitoring the nation's money supply.
Jackson's impact on American political culture was equally profound. He was elected by a coalition of southern and middle-state voters that crystallized into the Democratic Party. And he democratized American politics by running a new type of political campaign that reached out directly to the American voters.
Why Should I Care?
Andrew Jackson was one of America's most powerful and influential presidents—but he was also one of its most contradictory.
He ran for office pledging to restore the voice of the people to American politics—but on several occasions he attempted to overturn the will of Congress, the most democratically chosen of the governmental branches.
He was a staunch believer in states' rights—but he threatened to send troops into South Carolina when the state claimed that it had the right to nullify a federal law.
He adopted an Indian child and encouraged intermarriage between Indians and whites—but as president, he forced 90,000 Indians living in the eastern part of the United States to move thousands of miles onto desolate new lands west of the Mississippi River.
He fought in several wars and multiple duels, living the last thirty years of his life with a bullet lodged in his chest—but he allowed his administration to be paralyzed by an argument over a woman's virtue.
Can the contradictions within Andrew Jackson's actions be reconciled?
Was he inconsistent or complex?
Who was the real Andrew Jackson?