Andrew Jackson is perhaps the only president of the antebellum period whose name (and face) your students will recognize. Every time they visit an ATM, they're rewarded with a portrait of Jackson and his spectacular eyebrows. (It's an ironic legacy for a man who spent most of his presidency fighting to destroy banks.)
As the odd tribute to Jackson on our currency suggests, he has long been one of the most oversimplified of American presidents. Jackson is often described as the "great democrat," the common man’s hero. In fact, the "Age of Jackson" and the "Age of Democracy" are interchangeable labels for the period. Almost as often, however, Jackson is cast in a far more sinister light: as a dueling, Indian-hating militarist, the architect of Indian removal, and a big-time tyrant who bullied the Supreme Court and Congress to the detriment of the rule of law. None of these stereotypes really captures the essence of Andrew Jackson.