Andrew Jackson

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Jackson was born on March 15, 1767. His parents were Scots-Irish colonists Andrew and Elizabeth Hutchinson Jackson, Presbyterians who had emigrated from Ireland two years earlier. Jackson’s father was born in Carrickfergus, County Antrim, in current-day Northern Ireland, around 1738.

 

Jackson’s father died in an accident in February 1767, at the age of 29, three weeks before his son Andrew was born in the Waxhaws area. His exact birth site is unclear because he was born about the time his mother was making a difficult trip home from burying Jackson’s father.

 

The area was so remote that the border between North and South Carolina had not been officially surveyed. During the Revolutionary War, Jackson, at age thirteen, informally helped the local militia as a courier. His eldest brother, Hugh, died from heat exhaustion during the Battle of Stono Ferry, on June 20, 1779.

 

Jackson and his brother Robert were captured by the British and held as prisoners; they nearly starved to death in captivity. When Jackson refused to clean the boots of a British officer, the officer slashed at the youth with a sword, leaving Jackson with scars on his left hand and head, as well as an intense hatred for the British.

 

Jackson began his legal career in Jonesborough, now northeastern Tennessee. Though his legal education was scanty, he knew enough to be a country lawyer on the frontier. Since he was not from a distinguished family, he had to make his career by his own merits; soon he began to prosper in the rough-and-tumble world of frontier law.

 

Most of the actions grew out of disputed land-claims, or from assault and battery. In 1788, he was appointed Solicitor (prosecutor) of the Western District and held the same position in the government of the Territory South of the River Ohio after 1791.

 

Jackson’s rise in Tennessee politics was meteoric, attesting to his strength of character. In quick succession, he was a delegate to the state constitutional convention in 1795, then Tennessee’s first congressman, then a senator. He resigned his Senate post after one year to take a job closer to home, as judge of Tennessee’s superior court.

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In 1802 he challenged Governor John Sevier for election as major general in command of the state militia. Jackson’s senior by more than twenty years, Sevier was a veteran of the Revolution and of many Indian campaigns, and the state’s leading politician.

 

Jackson’s hot temper, prickly sense of honor, and sensitivity to insult embroiled him in a series of fights and brawls. The most notorious of these affairs, in 1806, began with a minor misunderstanding over a horse race and ended in a duel with pistols between Jackson and Charles Dickinson.

 

Dickinson, a crack shot, fired first and hit Jackson in the chest. Jackson gave no sign of being hurt but coolly stood his ground, aimed carefully, and killed his foe. Jackson carried Dickinson’s bullet for the rest of his life.

 

In 1832, Jackson vetoed the Second Bank of the United State’s charter. He believed the government could not constitutionally create such a bank and that it favored the wealthy over the common people. This action led to federal money being put into state banks who then loaned it out freely leading to inflation.

 

Jackson stopped the easy credit by requiring all land purchases be made in gold or silver which would have consequences in 1837. Andrew Jackson returned to his home, the Hermitage, near Nashville, Tennessee. He stayed active politically until his death on June 8, 1845.