Andrew Jackson

Andrew Jackson

Andrew Jackson was born in Waxhaw, South Carolina, in 1767. His father died before he was born. His mother and two brothers also died and by the age of 14 Jackson was the only member of his family left alive.

Jackson studied law at Salisbury, North Carolina and started work as a lawyer in McLeanville, in November, 1787. The following year he moved to Nashville. He helped to write the constitution of Tennessee and became its representative in Congress in 1796. He also served as judge in the Tennessee Supreme Court (1798-1804). Jackson became extremely wealthy and eventually purchased slaves and built a mansion, the Hermitage, near Nashville.

On the outbreak of the War of 1812 Jackson served as Major-General of the Militia and achieved a decisive victory at Horseshoe Bend in 1814. Jackson now joined the regular army and successfully defending New Orleans against the British forces led by Sir Edward Pakenham. In 1818 Jackson invaded Florida defeated the Seminoles. These events turned Jackson into a national hero.

In 1824 he was the Democratic candidate for the presidency. He obtained the highest popular vote, but not a majority of electoral votes and the House of Representatives decided that John Quincy Adams should be president. Jackson was extremely popular in the west and south of the country and was elected as president in 1828. His vice president was John Calhoun.

Jackson and Calhoun soon clashed over the issue concerning the rights of individual states. Calhoun eventually resigned over Jackson's unwillingness to allow South Carolina to nullify the protective tariff introduced in 1828. When Calhoun continued to campaign in favour of this policy he sent armed troops to Charleston. He also privately threatened to hang Calhoun.

When Jackson took office there were several land disputes between Native Americans and white settlers. The Cherokees had substantial land in Georgia. To protect their land they adopted a written constitution that proclaimed that the Cherokee nation had complete jurisdiction over its own territory. The state of Georgia responded by making it illegal for a Native American to bring a legal action against a white man.

The Seminole tribe had disputes with settlers in Florida. The Creeks were involved in several battles with the federal army in Alabama and Georgia. The Chickisaw and Choctaw tribes also had land disputes with emigrants who had settled in Mississippi.

Jackson argued that the solution to this problem was to move all these five tribes to Oklahoma. When Andrew Jackson gained power he encouraged Congress to pass the 1830 Indian Removal Act. He argued that the legislation would provide land for white invaders, improve security against foreign invaders and encourage the civilization of the Native Americans. In one speech he argued that the measure "will separate the Indians from immediate contact with settlements of whites; enable them to pursue happiness in their own way and under their own rude institutions; will retard the progress of decay, which is lessening their numbers, and perhaps cause them gradually, under the protection of the government and through the influences of good counsels, to cast off their savage habits and become an interesting, civilized, and christian community."

Jackson was re-elected with an overwhelming majority in 1832. He now pursued the policy of removing Native Americans from good farming land. He even refused to accept the decision of the Supreme Court to invalidate Georgia's plan to annex the territory of the Cherokee. This brought Jackson into conflict with Whig leaders such as Henry Clay and Daniel Webster.

Andrew Jackson died at his home, the Hermitage, on 8th June, 1845 and was replaced by his vice president, Martin Van Buren.

© , September 1997 - April 2014

Primary Sources

(1) Andrew Jackson, speech (May, 1830)

It gives me great pleasure to announce to Congress that the benevolent policy of the government, steady pursued for nearly thirty years, in relation with the removal of the Indians beyond the white settlements is approaching to a happy consumation.

The consequences of a speedy will be important to the United States, to individual states, and to the Indians themselves. It puts an end to all possible danger of a collision between the authorities of the general and state governments, and of the account the Indians. It will place a dense population in large tracts of country now occupied by a few savaged hunters. By opening the whole territory between Tennessee on the north and Louisiana on the south to the settlement of the whites it will incalculably strengthen the Southwestern frontier and render the adjacent states strong enough to repel future invasion without remote aid.

It will separate the Indians from immediate contact with settlements of whites; enable them to pursue happiness in their own way and under their own rude institutions; will retard the progress of decay, which is lessening their numbers, and perhaps cause them gradually, under the protection of the government and through the influences of good counsels, to cast off their savage habits and become an interesting, civilized, and Christian community.

(2) Indian Removal Act (28th May, 1830)

An Act to provide for an exchange of lands with the Indians residing in any of the states or territories, and for their removal west of the river Mississippi.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, That it shall and may be lawful for the President of the United States to cause so much of any territory belonging to the United States, west of the river Mississippi, not included in any state or organized territory, and to which the Indian title has been extinguished, as he may judge necessary, to be divided into a suitable number of districts, for the reception of such tribes or nations of Indians as may choose to exchange the lands where they now reside, and remove there; and to cause each of said districts to be so described by natural or artificial marks, as to be easily distinguished from every other.

And be it further enacted, That it shall and may be lawful for the President to exchange any or all of such districts, so to be laid off and described, with any tribe or nation of Indians now residing within the limits of any of the states or territories, and with which the United States have existing treaties, for the whole or any part or portion of the territory claimed and occupied by such tribe or nation, within the bounds of any one or more of the states or territories, where the land claimed and occupied by the Indians, is owned by the United States, or the United States are bound to the state within which it lies to extinguish the Indian claim thereto.

And be it further enacted, That in the making of any such exchange or exchanges, it shall and may be lawful for the President solemnly to assure the tribe or nation with which the exchange is made, that the United States will forever secure and guaranty to them, and their heirs or successors, the country so exchanged with them; and if they prefer it, that the United States will cause a patent or grant to be made and executed to them for the same: Provided always, That such lands shall revert to the United States, if the Indians become extinct, or abandon the same.

And be it further enacted, That if, upon any of the lands now occupied by the Indians, and to be exchanged for, there should be such improvements as add value to the land claimed by any individual or individuals of such tribes or nations, it shall and may be lawful for the President to cause such value to be ascertained by appraisement or otherwise, and to cause such ascertained value to be paid to the person or persons rightfully claiming such improvements. And upon the payment of such valuation, the improvements so valued and paid for, shall pass to the United States, and possession shall not afterwards be permitted to any of the same tribe.

And be it further enacted, That upon the making of any such exchange as is contemplated by this act, it shall and may be lawful for the President to cause such aid and assistance to be furnished to the emigrants as may be necessary and proper to enable them to remove to, and settle in, the country for which they may have exchanged; and also, to give them such aid and assistance as may be necessary for their support and subsistence for the first year after their removal.

And be it further enacted, That it shall and may be lawful for the President to cause such tribe or nation to be protected, at their new residence, against all interruption or disturbance from any other tribe or nation of Indians, or from any other person or persons whatever.

And be it further enacted, That it shall and may be lawful for the President to have the same superintendence and care over any tribe or nation in the country to which they may remove, as contemplated by this act, that he is now authorized to have over them at their present places of residence: Provided, That nothing in this act contained shall be construed as authorizing or directing the violation of any existing treaty between the United States and any of the Indian tribes.

And be it further enacted, That for the purpose of giving effect to the Provisions of this act, the sum of five hundred thousand dollars is hereby appropriated, to be paid out of any money in the treasury, not otherwise appropriated.