Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States

Edited by: Lalor, John J.
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New York: Maynard, Merrill, and Co.
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Includes articles by Frédéric Bastiat, Gustave de Molinari, Henry George, J. B. Say, Francis A. Walker, and more.
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JACKSON, Andrew, president of the United States 1829-37, was born in Waxhaw settlement, N. C., March 15, 1767, and died at "The Hermitage," near Nashville, Tenn., Jan. 8, 1845. He was admitted to the bar in 1786, settled in Nashville, and there became prominent as a prosecuting officer and in the state militia. He was a democratic representative 1796-7, and United States senator 1797-8. He distinguished himself in service against the southern Indians in the war of 1812, was made major general in the regular army, and inflicted a total defeat upon the British army near New Orleans, Jan. 8, 1815. After a few years of further service (see ANNEXATIONS, II.), he again became United States senator from Tennessee (1823-5). In 1824-5 he was defeated as a candidate for the presidency (see DISPUTED ELECTIONS, II), but the defeat resulted in a complete upheaval of political conditions in which almost all the political leaders hitherto prominent disappeared. Jackson and Clay withstood it. Calhoun's state did not feel it, and Adams reappeared in another field (see those names); with these exceptions there is an almost entire change of persons in politics after 1828. Jackson was elected president in 1828 and again in 1832, and after the close of his second term retired to private life.


—Jackson's early opportunities for education were very limited, and the unceasing action of his maturer years left him little time to remedy this defect. He is said, on very good authority, to have believed that the earth was flat; his familiar letters are disfigured by grammatical and other mistakes; and his public papers were always carefully revised, and often entirely written, by trusted subordinates. When forced to rely altogether upon his own pen he was apt to slip, as in his once famous general order of 1814, in which he told his army that the infliction of partial evils for an ultimate good was a dispensation of Providence, "and perhaps a wise one." It is an open secret that his nullification proclamation was the work of Edward Livingston, and his bank veto that of Amos Kendall (see NULLIFICATION : BANK CONTROVERSIES, III.); nevertheless, in all cases, it is equally certain that Jackson allowed his subordinates only the privilege of expressing his ideas and policy, and that he expected from them a certain mechanical skill of expression, not the inception of a policy. Any influence upon him by subordinates was only obtained by indirection or by force of sympathy.


—In temper Jackson was arbitrary, forceful, persistent, not at all impulsive but willing to yield to his naturally hot temper, on occasion; in brief, he was force personified, not aggressive force merely, but the force of self-control as well. According to the necessity of the case, he could either maintain equanimity against every exasperation, or pass into a fit of passion more demoniacal than human. In politics he was the legitimate successor of Jefferson as the assertor of individual rights against the tendency to class formation, but with this difference, that in Jefferson's time individualism claimed only recognition, while in Jackson's it had advanced to more active life. Under Madison, Monroe and Adams features had become powerful in the government which can only seem evil from the individual point of view: the incorporation of a bank to do government work, the protection of various classes of manufactures by tariff taxation, and the expenditure of public money upon roads and canals. Against all these Jackson fought as actively as Jefferson did passively. On the other hand, Jackson's individualism did not prevent him, as it did Jefferson, from being a thoroughly national man, for in Jackson's time individualism had taken a place as a co-ordinate factor in the national development. It is easy to mark the points in Jefferson's teachings from whose unhealthy development arose the Calhoun idea of nullification, but it would be impossible to imagine such a process in Jackson's case. Jefferson and Jackson had the same ultimate but a different immediate object: the former to protect the individual through the states; the latter to protect the individual through the nation. Jefferson would have opposed nullification in 1831-2, but not with the heat and sense of personal antipathy which Jackson exhibited.


—The events of Jackson's administrations are elsewhere given. (See ANTI-MASONRY; CHEROKEE CASE; BANK CONTROVERSIES, III.; DEPOSITS, REMOVAL OF; CENSURES, I.; INTERNAL IMPROVEMENTS; VETO; NULLIFICATION; DEMOCRATIC PARTY, IV.; SLAVERY.) The name given to his term of office by von Holst—"the reign of Andrew Jackson"—is in a sense correct. It was a mild species of that Cæsarism to which all republics seem to turn naturally, in emergencies of war or peace. In any just estimate of the political career of the United States, it is worthy of notice, on the one hand, that the nearest approaches to Cæsarism have been the perfectly constitutional administrations of Jackson and Lincoln; and, on the other, that the nearest approaches to aristocracy have been found in grants of special privileges, for general benefit, to certain corporations or manufactures. Such a record is at least fair for a republic.


—Jackson's administrations, however, are notable for the complete failure of one point of the American democratic idea. "Rotation in office," the notion that all public servants must be elected for short terms and easily removable by the people, was first announced in theory by Jefferson, and first attempted in practice by Jackson. The result is elsewhere treated. (See CIVIL SERVICE REFORM.)


—The best life of Jackson is Parton's. A corrective to it, in many respects, may be found in 2 von Holst's United States, though this author allows to Jackson's opponents the right to follow the line of expediency in politics which he generally refuses to Jackson himself. For this, however, the cardinal dogma of Jackson's party is principally responsible. (See DEMOCRATIC PARTY, VI.) A slightly different view from Parton's will be found in 1 Benton's Thirty Years' View. See also authorities under DEMOCRATIC PARTY and WHIG PARTY; authorities under articles above referred to, and TENNESSEE; Eaton's Life of Jackson (1818); Goodwin's Life of Jackson (1832); Jenkins' Life of Jackson (1847); Harper's Magazine, January, 1855; Baldwin's Party Leaders; Sargent's Public Men and Events; Mayo's Political Sketches; J. A. Hamilton's Reminiscences; Memoirs of Jas. G. Bennett; Prof. W. G. Sumner's Life of Jackson. (1882); and a list of 210 works having reference to Jackson, following the preface in 1 Parton's Life of Jackson.


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