|March 15, 1767, in Waxhaw, South Carolina
|June 8, 1845, at the Hermitage near Nashville, Tennessee
|States in Union
|John C. Calhoun
Martin Van Buren
|Emily Donelson (Wife’s Niece)
Sarah Yorke Jackson (Nephew’s Wife)
Jackson’s parents were Andrew and Elizabeth Hutchinson Jackson. Jackson married Rachel Donelson in 1791, but she never served as first lady because she died shortly before his term started. The Jacksons adopted a nephew, whom they named Andrew Jackson, Jr.
Jackson was the first president who had been born in a log cabin and thus, the first to have come from humble beginnings. He worked his way up in the military to become a major general and led the defeat against the British at the Battle of New Orleans. He later became a judge and congressman. Though he lost his first bid to the presidency to John Quincy Adams, Jackson won the 1828 election in a landslide, promising to return government to the common people. Americans flocked to Washington, D.C. for the “people’s inaugural,” and the White House was open to all for the first time for the reception.
Jackson engaged in numerous conflicts with government officials during his presidency in his attempt to serve as the people’s representative. In an effort to redesign the national economy, Jackson fought to democratize banking so that the powerful Bank of the United States (which was becoming more and more corrupt) would have to compete with smaller banks. This was a tough battle because the U.S. Bank had been issuing inexpensive loans to congressmen and senators to maintain its power. Jackson vowed to use his veto to “strangle . . . the corrupting monster . . . [and eradicate] its ill-gotten power.” Earlier presidents had rarely used the veto, but Jackson saw it as a powerful resource. His veto of the U.S. Bank’s recharter is noted as the most significant veto in U.S. history because it completely redirected America’s economy. Jackson continued his attack on the U.S. Bank in his second term by ordering the withdrawal of all federal deposits. His secretary of the treasury refused, so Jackson fired him and appointed a secretary who would withdraw the deposits. The Senate passed a “resolution of censure” in retaliation, the only act of censure against a president that has ever passed. Jackson responded that as president, he was responsible to the people, not the Senate: “The people are the sovereign power. The officers are their agents.” The censure was officially expunged later in 1837.
“The great can protect themselves, but the poor and humble require the arm and shield of the law.” (1821)
Jackson worked to remove Native Americans from Georgia to territory west of the Mississippi, declaring, “Those tribes cannot exist surrounded by our settlements. They have neither the intelligence nor the moral habits. . . . Established in the midst of a superior race, they must disappear.” Jackson fought with the Supreme Court to realize his plan, and the Cherokees later called their forced removal in 1838 their ‘Trail of Tears.’
In his farewell address, Jackson stated, “My own race is nearly run; advanced age and failing health warn me that before long I must pass beyond the reach of human events. . . I thank God that my life has been spent in a land of liberty and that He has given me a heart to love my country with the affection of a son.” (March 4, 1837).
At This Time
1829: Slavery is abolished in Mexico • 1831: Virginia slaves, led by Nat Turner, revolt and 55 whites die (Southampton Insurrection) • Edgar Allan Poe publishes Poems • Michael Faraday demonstrates electromagnetic induction • 1833: Britain abolishes slavery • 1834: Mathematician Charles Babbage invents the principle of the “analytical engine,” the precursor to the modern computer. • 1835: Texas declares its right to secede from Mexico. • Fire destroys over 600 buildings in New York City. • 1836: Davy Crockett is killed at the Alamo.
Did You Know?
After Jackson and his wife had been married two years, they learned that her divorce from her first husband had not been official. They followed legal procedures to rectify the situation and then were married a second time. However, malicious rumors ensued that insisted his wife had committed adultery. Jackson’s opponents even argued that his wife was a bigamist. Jackson steadfastly defended his wife and would fight to defend her honor. His passion led him to challenge a Tennessee man who had defamed his wife to a duel, and Jackson killed him.
Later, in 1835 during Jackson’s second term, he also killed a man who had attempted to assassinate him. Jackson was therefore the first president to experience and survive an assassination attempt.
During his presidency, a citizen asked Jackson to assist a soldier who had lost his leg in battle by providing a job for him as a postmaster so that he could support his family. The gentleman insisted on informing Jackson that the soldier had voted against him. Jackson replied, “If he lost a leg fighting for his country, that is vote enough for me.”
Jackson lived most of his adult life with two bullets embedded in his body. One was removed without anesthetic after 20 years. The other was located near his heart and remained there until his death.
Information about Jackson’s home near Nashville, Tennessee.
Biography and suggested reading about Jackson sponsored by the state library of North Carolina.
In-depth essays created by the University of Virginia on Jackson’s life and administration.
Field Trips For Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson State Park
Lancaster, South Carolina
Although Jackson’s exact birthplace is unknown, this state park on land once owned by Jackson’s uncle was created to honor President Jackson. A small museum focuses on Jackson’s boyhood and colonial life in South Carolina.
Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage
Andrew Jackson built this beautiful Greek Revival mansion during his second term as president, but lived in a succession of homes on this property from 1804. It has been carefully restored to the period and completely furnished with original pieces and Jackson’s personal possessions.