United States History, Law and Politics

Internet Biography of Andrew Jackson

by William P. Meyers

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Andrew Jackson is one of the best-known American presidents. His portrait is on the modern $20 bill dispensed by ATMs. Yet despite the sometimes heroic efforts of high school American History teachers, the typical American knows little about Jackson's life or Presidency.

Numerous detailed biographies of Andrew Jackson have been published over the last two centuries. Short works have also been issued. The problem is that few people will take time to read the longer biographies, while the short ones tend to be of the heroic myth sort that minimize Jackson's flaws and the actual social, political, and economic issues of his life.

Andrew Jackson is important not just because he served for eight years as the President of the United States. I think he had more influence over time as the central figure in the creation of the modern political machine known as the Democratic Party. Many of his strengths and flaws were incorporated into that Party and were copied by later political parties, notably the Whigs and the Republican Party.

Jackson was a child-warrior in the American Revolution, and so his political experience can be said to pre-date the writing of the United States Constitution. The interpretation of that Constitution, by Jackson, the courts, Congress, states, and people, was still very open to debate during his life.

This Internet Biography is meant to provide a medium-length introduction to Jackson's life that works for modern readers. Each page is short enough to be read at a sitting, while covering a single subject or closely related groups of subjects. Thus someone interested in a particular subject like the conquest of Florida or the election of 1824 could learn a great deal from a single page, without having to read the entire book.

Some subjects could not be condensed to a single page, but were woven into Jackson's life and times. Slavery, and Jackson's role as a slave owner and trader, comes up at intervals. So does his role in fighting native American Indians and taking their lands by tricks and by force.

I have tried to provide complete, if brief, coverage of the major points of Jackson's life, including his military career. However, I have minimized coverage of the details of the Battle of New Orleans, as that is well-covered elsewhere.

Hopefully this Internet biography will inspire readers to dig deeper into American history, perhaps reading a full-scale biography of President Jackson. Hopefully, too, examining the past will help the reader understand, and act upon, the current troubles of the United States of America.

Next: Young Andrew Jackson

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