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Andrew Jackson, the seventh president of the United States, was born in the Waxhaw’s area near the border between North and South Carolina on March 15, 1767. Jackson's parents lived in North Carolina but historian’s debate on which side of the state line the birth took place.
Jackson was the third child and third son of Scots-Irish parents. His father, also named Andrew, died as the result of a logging accident just a few weeks before the future president was born. Jackson's mother, Elizabeth ("Betty") Hutchison Jackson, was by all accounts a strong, independent woman. After her husband's death she raised her three sons at the South Carolina home of one of her sisters.
The Declaration of Independence was signed when young Andrew was nine years old and at thirteen he joined the Continental Army as a courier. The Revolution took a toll on the Jackson family. All three boys saw active service. One of Andrew's older brothers, Hugh, died after the Battle of Stono Ferry, South Carolina in 1779, and two years later Andrew and his other brother Robert were taken prisoner for a few weeks in April 1781. While they were captives a British officer ordered them to clean his boots. The boys refused, the officer struck them with his sword and Andrew's hand was cut to the bone. Because of his ill treatment Jackson harbored a bitter resentment towards the British until his death.
Both brothers contracted smallpox during their imprisonment and Robert was dead within days of their release. Later that year Betty Jackson went to Charleston to nurse American prisoners of war. Shortly after she arrived Mrs. Jackson fell ill with either ship fever or cholera and died. Andrew found himself an orphan and an only child at fourteen. Jackson spent most of the next year and a half living with relatives and for six of those months was apprenticed to a saddle maker. http://statelibrary.dcr.state.nc.us/nc/bio/public/jackson.htm#Childhood
Jackson was elected to his first political office, town alderman, in 1829. Thereafter, his rise in politics was rapid. He served as mayor of Greeneville and in both houses of the state legislature. In 1843, he was elected to the first of five terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. He was elected governor of Tennessee in 1853 and a U.S. senator in 1857. He was serving in the Senate at the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861.
Jackson thought of himself as a man of the common people, and he was a popular speaker among the simple mountain folk of eastern Tennessee.
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The secession crisis of 1860-61 opened a new chapter in Jackson’s life. When Lincoln was elected president in 1860, the Southern states, including Jackson's own state of Tennessee, prepared to secede, or break away, from the Union. One of the main disputes between North and South was over slavery. Jackson, like nearly all Southerners, was loyal to the institution of slavery. But unlike most Southerners, he was even more loyal to the United States. He was ready to sacrifice everything to keep it from breaking apart.
During 1861, Jackson traveled all over his home state, trying to persuade the people not to take Tennessee out of the Union. He repeatedly risked his life as he faced crowds of people who had once been his friends but were now his enemies, telling them that secession was treason. In self-defense he carried a loaded pistol, and more than once he was forced to use it. Jackson did not give up until the last hope of saving his state was gone. Tennessee seceded in June 1861.
Although Jackson was now a man without a state, he stayed on in Washington, D.C., as the loyal senator from a disloyal state. Previously a lifelong Democrat, as a Unionist he now allied himself with the Republicans, the party of Lincoln.
After the Union Army recaptured parts of Tennessee in early 1862, Lincoln, deeply impressed with Johnson's courage, asked him to return as the state's military governor. Jackson instantly agreed. He remained at his post until nearly the end of the war, although there was hardly a week during that entire period when his life was not in danger. His loyalty had its reward. When Lincoln ran successfully for re-election in 1864, he chose Jackson as his vice president. Robert V. Remini, The Life of Andrew Jackson (New York, 1988)
At their inauguration in 1865, an incident took place that gave the public an unfavorable first impression of the new vice president. Jackson had been suffering from typhoid fever, and his friends suggested that he take a little whiskey, and then considered a remedy for many ailments. He took too much, however, and his inaugural speech was confused. Six weeks later, Lincoln was dead and Andrew Jackson was president.
When the war finally ended in 1865, a majority of Northerners wanted to ensure that the South's loyalty to the Union would never again be in danger. In addition to the preservation of the Union, the victory had resulted in the destruction of slavery. The North now felt that the South should give the newly freed blacks the same protection and the same rights as other citizens. Most Republicans in Congress, however, felt that the Southern states would not take such steps without a certain amount of pressure. They believed that laws would have to be passed to "reconstruct" the South.
Jackson’s failure to understand Northern feelings on this question of reconstruction led to the failure of his entire presidency. A strong believer in states' rights, he felt that the South should be allowed to deal with blacks in its own way, without interference from the federal government. Johnson believed that he, and not Congress, should decide when the Southern states were ready for readmission to the Union. In his opinion they should be readmitted immediately. He insisted that Congress had no right to pass laws for the South when Southern representatives were not present to vote. But Congress was unwilling to readmit the Southern representatives until a full study could be made of conditions in the South. These differences of opinion led to the bitterest quarrel that has ever occurred between a president and Congress. Matters worsened when several Southern legislatures in late 1865 and early 1866 passed state laws, known as Black Codes, which discriminated against African Americans.
Early in 1866, Congress passed the Freedmen's Bureau bill and the Civil Rights bill, which gave some federal protection to Southern blacks. Jackson vetoed (rejected) them both, although the Civil Rights bill was re-passed over his veto. Later in the year another Freedmen's Bureau bill was successfully enacted. In the spring, Congress approved the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which defined citizenship to include African Americans and entitled them to the equal protection of the laws. It also stated that certain leaders of the former Confederate government could not hold public office until further notice. Jackson advised the Southern states not to ratify, or approve, the amendment. (It was ratified in 1868.) Oration of the Hon. Stephen A. Douglas,: On the inauguration of the Jackson statue, at the city of Washington, January 8, 1853
by Stephen Arnold Douglas
All of this led Congress to pass the Reconstruction Acts in March 1867. They were vetoed by Jackson but were re-passed over his veto. The acts put the South under military occupation, set up new state governments, and gave blacks the right to vote and hold public office. Many former Confederate leaders were forbidden either to vote or to hold office.
The dispute came to a head in 1868. Earlier, in 1867, Congress had enacted the Tenure of Office Act, which forbade the president from removing certain officeholders without the approval of the Senate. Jackson had wanted to get rid of Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, because he thought Stanton was too friendly with leaders in Congress. Early in 1868 he dismissed Stanton. The House of Representatives thereupon impeached the president; that is, it officially accused him of breaking the law. In his trial by the Senate, which followed, Johnson was judged not guilty by the bare margin of one vote. It was found that the Tenure of Office Act did not apply to cabinet members who were held over from a previous term, and Lincoln had appointed Stanton.
The Jackson administration was involved in two important events abroad. In 1866, Secretary of State William H. Seward, who had served in the post under Lincoln, forced France to withdraw its troops from Mexico, where it had earlier attempted to create an empire under Maximilian of Austria. Seward also negotiated the purchase of Alaska from Russia in 1867, although the price, $7.2 million, was thought much too high.
After his acquittal by the Senate, Jackson served out the rest of his term of office without further disturbance. He sought but failed to win the Democratic nomination for president, and with the end of his term in 1869, he returned to Tennessee. For several years thereafter, he tried, without success, to return to public office. Finally, in 1874, he was once more elected to the Senate from his home state, taking his seat in March 1875. History of American Presidential Elections: Election Years, 1789-1824 by A.M., Jr. Schlesinger
Robert V. Remini, The Life of Andrew Jackson (New York, 1988)
Oration of the Hon. Stephen A. Douglas,: On the inauguration of the Jackson statue, at the city of Washington, January 8, 1853
by Stephen Arnold Douglas
History of American Presidential Elections: Election Years, 1789-1824 by A.M., Jr. Schlesinger