Andrew Jackson: The Face of the 20-dollar Bill

American statesman (Waxhaw, South Carolina 1767- l'Hermitage 1845).

A 20-dollar bill with the face of former president Andrew Jackson




Andrew Jackson was born in the boundary between the two Carolinas. He scarcely participated in the Independence War, but he cultivated since a very early age, a special hatred to the English. Once peace was established between the English and the American, he studied law and became a lawyer in 1787. The following year, he took up the charge of attorney in the western district in North Carolina and settled in Nashville. When the district became part of the current state of Tennessee, Jackson played a very important role in the Constitutional Convention, he was elected Representative, and later in 1797, Senator. In 1798, he refused the charge of Justice of the Supreme Court of Tennessee, a mandate of 6 years. At that time, no signs would make people think that this man would later become the 7th President of the United States of America. Jackson was a notable figure but he was linked to Aaron Burr, who was accused by former president Thomas Jefferson for treason. Moreover, his skills as a debater seem to eclipse with his other qualities.


In 1812, when the Anglo-American War broke out, he became a national hero. First, as general of the militia in his state, and second as commander of the American army. He carried out a vigorous campaign against the creeks (allies of the English,) who were defeated by Jackson's troops by landslide on March 27, 1814. He later tried to conquest the territory of Florida, at the time a Spanish colony, but he had to translate urgently to Louisiana, as the English threatened to take hold of New Orleans. This time, once again, he emerged victorious on January 8, 1815.

In 1817-1818 he took up the rank of commander of an expedition against the Seminola Indians in Florida, who took slaves from the South and were enjoying beautiful and fertile lands. They also carried out raids against the Americans. However, he contravened orders of president Monroe. Having 2,000 men at his power, he crossed the border, made prisoners two British and he occupied the entire Florida. The North Americans welcomed his actions and the diplomats were forced to admire his courageous deeds. In 1821, Jackson became the first governor of Florida.

In 1823, the general occupied again a seat in the Senate. His friends encouraged him to present a candidacy for the U. S presidential elections in 1824. He obtained in the Electoral College a good number of mandates, but not the absolute majority. The House of Representatives finally decided to incline in favor of John Quincy Adams. Disappointed, Jackson started to prepare his candidacy for the next presidential elections. In these elections, carried out in November 1828, he won by landslide and he managed to do the same in 1832.

His contemporaries and some historians had desired to present him as the Common man. Jackson would symbolize, after the "dynasty" of the Virginian presidents, the triumph of democracy in the west.

There's no doubt that Andrew Jackson had a strong personality. Man from the West, in fact, individualist, easy to work with, seemed to look like the people from the Frontier. Also, his sense of honor was only comparable to his patriotism, easily distrustful. However, it is not false that Jackson owned cotton plantations in Tennessee, worked by slaves; that he speculated with the lands; that he belonged to the Commission which wanted a solid currency and the payment of the debts, even in times of crisis. He was, without a doubt, a partisan of democracy, but he knew pretty well how to take advantage of the circumstances. Martin Van Buren, senator of new York, made him understand that the implantation of the universal suffrage gave the parties a new and important clientele: the old party of Jefferson had to modernize and convert into the point of confluence of the West and South and of the financial interests in New York.

To mobilize a big number of voters, they needed a hero: this was Jackson. To satisfy the loyal supporters of the Party, rewards were needed. The "spoils system" conceded to the winners the public functions.

Frankly, Jackson defended a few bunch of simple ideas. The Union had in him a determined champion. In 1828, the South acted against Protectionism and protested against the new rights of the slaves, and they counted with the president to make their desires come true. The personal preferences of Jackson were inclined to decrease the amount of fees, but when, in 1832, South Carolina threatened with secession, he prepared an armed intervention against it, avoiding the outbreak of a civil war. In his foreign relations, he showed the same nationalist intransigence: he demanded from France war compensation payments that came up from the First Empire.

But, from his point of view, it was not the mission of the federal government to intervene in the economic issues: the principle of "private property" was sacred. Jackson refused to use the federal funds to subsidize the intern public jobs, in any state.

In 1832, the main issue of the electoral campaign focused in the renovation, for 20 years, of the Second Bank of the United States, funded in 1816. The president declared publicly his hostility against the "Monster", who controlled the local banks. He accused it of being an agent of political corruption and an instrument used by the rich aristocracy, to impose the People a monetary ring and to oppress the workers. The vocabulary used by Jackson reminded people of Jefferson, but the aim of these policies responded to the needs of a country which have initiated the path to the Industrial Revolution. Besides this, Jackson counted with the support of Wall Street, who were hoping to deal with their competitors in Philadelphia, the businessmen who were angry about the banks' power and the farmers and planters who were seeking to obtain credit.

The presidential elections in 1832 were a huge triumph for Jackson and they announced the disappearance of the Second Bank.

Finally, the Indian policy of the Jackson Administration, was subjected to the desires of the so-called frontiersmen. Despite the decisions taken by the Supreme Court, the president supported Georgia, who wanted to expel the Cherokees. He organized their deportation to the West of the Mississippi River in gruesome conditions.

In 1837, "Old Hickory" left his charge as president to his old loyal fellow, the lieutenant Van Buren. He retired to his property in l'Hermitage (near Nashville, Tennessee), where he died, on June 8, 1845, surrounded by universal respect.

The main merit of Jackson was, without a doubt, to have opened the path to the territorial and economic expansion of the United States of America.

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