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Andrew Jackson's Election & Presidency

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  • 0:00 Who Was Andrew Jackson?
  • 1:14 Jackson Comes to Power
  • 2:21 Presidency of Andrew Jackson
  • 4:16 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Nate Sullivan

Nate Sullivan holds a M.A. in History and a M.Ed. He is an adjunct history professor, middle school history teacher, and freelance writer.

In this lesson, we will learn about the election and presidency of Andrew Jackson. We will highlight and analyze key events, people, and themes associated with the Jacksonian era.

Who Was Andrew Jackson?

Andrew Jackson was a president like no other. He was wild. I mean, just look at his hair on the $20 bill. That says it all. Jackson was very different from the presidents who came before him. Washington, Adams, Jefferson, all those guys had received formal education and were fairly well-to-do. They belonged to the upper class of society. Not Jackson. He was born a commoner and was self-educated. He was very much a 'self-made man', to use that terminology.

Jefferson prided himself on passing himself off as a 'man of the people', but he did attend the best schools, drank fancy wine, was wealthy, and was very much an aristocrat. Jackson, however, was the real deal in the sense that he was a commoner--just an ordinary man who grew up to become president.

Jackson was a war hero before becoming president. He earned the name 'Old Hickory' for his toughness and resolve in battle. He was said to be tough as hickory wood. During the War of 1812, General Jackson earned fame for his role in leading American forces to victory in the Battle of New Orleans. Jackson was temperamental, fiery, courageous, and down-to-earth.

Jackson Comes to Power

As a young man, Jackson worked as a lawyer before getting into politics and the military. Having become famous as the 'Hero of New Orleans,' Jackson was nominated for president in 1824. Although he won the popular vote, he lost the election to John Quincy Adams. Jackson and his supporters believed the election was corrupt and that they had been robbed of what was rightfully theirs. Immediately, Jackson and his supporters set out to reclaim the White House in the following election. Dropping the term 'Republican' from the name of their party, the 'Democratic-Republicans,' the new Democratic Party was led by Andrew Jackson. Because of this, Jackson is often considered the 'Father of the modern Democratic Party.'

Jackson ran again for president in 1828. The Election of 1828 was a rematch between Jackson and John Quincy Adams. This time Jackson easily defeated Adams, having secured 56% of the popular vote and 178 electoral votes to Adams's 83. Thus, Jackson became our nation's seventh president.

The Presidency of Andrew Jackson

Shortly after assuming the presidency, Jackson's wife, Rachel, died. A lot of cruel things had been said about Rachel over the course of Jackson's campaign, and she and Jackson had both been accused of adultery. Jackson believed her death was partially the result of the stress stemming from these negative attacks.

Jackson's legacy is highly contested. His mistreatment of Native Americans continues to be a controversial issue. In fact, recently, maybe you've heard some things about efforts to remove Jackson from the $20 bill. In 1830, Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act, which authorized the president to basically force Native American tribes out of their homelands to other areas west of the Mississippi. This was a tragic event. Historians use the term 'Trail of Tears' to describe the forced relocation of Native Americans following the Indian Removal Act. On their way out West, various tribes suffered from exposure, disease, and starvation. It really was a trail filled with tears. For this reason, Andrew Jackson is disliked by many people.

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