Andrew Jackson was the 7th president of the United States. He served from March 4, 1829 to March 3, 1837. Andrew Jackson's primary goal was to unite the states and form a nation that upheld the rights of all men. In the name of that vision, President Jackson made some serious economic mistakes that impacted negatively on the American people.
Andrew Jackson's early education was poor by the standards of his time. Andrew Jackson was schooled in a one room school house. Though he learned to read, write, and do simple arithmetic, he never quite mastered the art of spelling. Later he was known for his creative spelling. Andrew Jackson's first job, at age 14, was making saddles for a craftsman on a farm. Although this job lasted only six months, he remembered it until death. He learned with this job that to earn money one must work hard.
When Andrew Jackson was almost 15 years old, he returned to Charleston, South Carolina where he became a teacher in a one room school house. In 1784 when he was 16, after a year of teaching, he decided that he wanted to be a lawyer, so he traveled to Salisbury, North Carolina. There he studied law under Mr. MaCay, an attorney at law. He learned about law by copying legal documents and papers. Andrew Jackson paid close attention to Mr. MaCay when he conducted his practice. Mr. Jackson followed advice that Mr. MaCay had to offer to him. While learning law under the supervision of Mr. MaCay, Andrew Jackson was instructed to clean Mr. MaCay's office and run errands for him. After spending two years with Mr. MaCay, Andrew Jackson left his guidance and went to find a new teacher. Andrew Jackson's new teacher was John Stokes, North Carolina's leading lawyer. In 1786, after six months under the teachings of Mr. Stokes, Andrew Jackson was accepted into the bar by two state judges.
In the spring of 1788, Andrew Jackson ran into a friend that he met while working at Mr. MaCay's office. John McNairy was a judge in the Western District of North Carolina which stretched as far as the Mississippi River. Mr. McNairy offered Andrew Jackson a job as a Public Prosecutor. Andrew Jackson accepted his job offer and moved to Jonesborough, Tennessee. In this job Andrew Jackson earned $600, which was only $150 less than the governor of North Carolina. In 1797, he was elected governor of Tennessee. Being governor of a state meant that Andrew Jackson had to be a part of the Congress. After Andrew Jackson's first term, which lasted only eight months, he resigned. Andrew Jackson, as a governor, impressed Thomas Jefferson, who was vice president and in charge of the Congress. By the end of 1798, Andrew Jackson was elected to the Legislature of the Tennessee Superior Court. He was fit for this job because he had a sense of what was right and was hardly biased. During his time as a judge, he proved to be fearless, honest, stern, and almost always fair.
Andrew Jackson wanted more power, honor, and money. During the Revolutionary War he dreamt that he would be an army general. In 1802, the position of general was open. John Sevier did not want Andrew Jackson to become a general for fear that Mr. Jackson would have too much power. After a year of Mr. Sevier debating with Andrew Jackson for the spot of army general, Governor Roane appointed Andrew Jackson as the General of the Tennessee Militia. While waiting to be called on for battle, Andrew Jackson moved to Louisiana, where he made a partnership with two me. They opened a cotton gin and distillery shop. He owned three stores in nearby towns. In the stores, he sold rifles, skillets, salt, coffee, wine, calico fabric, cotton, tobacco, pelts, and to top it all off, he bought and sold slaves. In June of 1804, he was elected Major General of the United States. Being Major General taught Mr. Jackson a lot about leadership and how he must always stay calm, even during an emergency.
Andrew Jackson had two major accomplishments. Andrew Jackson influenced the development of the president's power. UP until Andrew Jackson was president the legislative branch would make the laws and the president would make the citizens obey it. Andrew Jackson did not like that set up. Andrew Jackson felt that he was leader of the whole nation and that since the people elected him to be president he should have a say in the laws being made. In 1835, Andrew Jackson was able to reduce the federal debt to $33,733.05. That was the lowest the federal debt had been since the first fiscal of 1791. Andrew Jackson was the only president in United States history to ever succeed in paying off the federal debt.
During his presidency, he accomplished things that were not in the best interest of the United States. Andrew Jackson fought a war against the Bank of the United States. In the words of Milton Meltzer, author of Andrew Jackson and His America, p.134 “At the same time that Jackson fought his relentless war against the Indians, he fought another war-against a bank-the Bank of the United States. In the Jackson legend it is often called the war against the money power. Here is the courageous president battling for the benefit of the 'little man.'” In 1818, the Bank of the United States was almost at the point of collapse. The Bank made the people pay their obligations in gold or silver. Many people only had paper money which resulted in them not paying their obligations. The people not being able to pay their obligations caused the Panic of 1819. The Panic of 1819 was a time of severe depression. This depression was the cause of many people's wages being slashed by two-thirds and workers being cut from the payroll. Many people believed that the Bank was at fault for this and also believed that no bank should be trusted, especially the Bank of the United States. So ten years later, when Andrew Jackson took office, he tried his hardest to abolish the Bank of the United States. Andrew Jackson had strong personal feelings against the Bank from the Panic of 1819. Andrew Jackson was victorious in taking away all of the money from the Bank. Unfortunately, this also caused another recession.
Andrew Jackson was a very racist man, like most of the leaders in his time. He believed that all Native Americans and African Americans had no right owning any land in the United States. Jackson wanted a “white” America. He did not want Indians to live among whites. In 1830, Andrew Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act of 1830. This Act stated that all Indian land east of the Mississippi River would be given over to the government in exchange for land west of the Mississippi River given to the Indians for eternity. Andrew Jackson basically co-wrote the Act because of the letter he wrote to the Congress on December 8th, 1829. Albert Marrin, author of Old Hickory Andrew Jackson and the American People, on page 219, made a summary of Andrew Jackson's letter. “In short, forget all previous treaties! State laws rank higher than treaties the federal government made with Indians. Tribes are not sovereign, not independent nations within states. Indians living in a state must abide by its laws. If they object, they must move away and live under a form of government they choose. Nobody can force them to go, but if they refuse, Washington supports the states' right to bring them under its law, if necessary by force.” Andrew Jackson made many treaties with Indians but they were rarely honored by the government. After the Act was passed by the Congress, the state of Georgia immediately started violently removing Indians from the land without warning. This was only the beginning of what would happen to the Indians at the hand of the “white man”.
In 1832, Andrew Jackson signed the Tariff of 1832 that taxed imported and exported goods. The North grew successfully under this tariff. This tax was rough on the southerners. If Andrew Jackson continued to tax imported goods then southerners couldn't sell their products to the English. South Carolina firmly refused to pay the taxes and threatened to withdraw from the Union if the tariff was enforced. South Carolina thought that Jackson was going to agree with their side of the issue. If Jackson had, he would have lost the respect of the North. Since the North had more inhabitants than the South, the North could pass any tax they wanted. Andrew Jackson's Vice President, John Calhoun, wanted to protect the Southern states from majority rule and developed the idea of “Nullification”. A state could declare that a law does not apply to them, meaning it is null, and therefore the law would be invalid. The northerners couldn't understand this way of thinking. They felt that the word “nullification” was just a fancy word for “treason”. To avoid war and keep the states together, the Tariff was rewritten to be more acceptable to the southerners so they would not declare it null. Although Mr. Jackson created a political compromise that avoided the crisis, he created more strain on the relationship between the North and the South.
Andrew Jackson was an excellent political leader. Andrew Jackson was able to understand people from all walks of social and economic life and could comfortably communicate with them. Andrew Jackson was a very determined man. He always stayed motivated. These traits worked for him and against him during his presidency. His violent temper was part of his undoing. His determination ran to the extreme. On an issue where he should have maintained rational and objective, instead the issue quickly became personal and rationality and compromise took a backseat. While trying to fix small problems, he created bigger ones. As a result, he caused a depression, banished an entire race and caused the country to start to split in two: North and South.