Andrew Jackson And How He Changed The Role Of Presidency
In 1767, Andrew Jackson was born in the Waxhaws, a region between the present North Carolina and South Carolina. Being a son to Irish immigrants, Jackson was not privileged to receive adequate formal schooling. Even though Jackson was born from a poverty stricken background, he later worked his way and become a wealthy lawyer in Tennessee, a land owner, and by the year 1812, a well-known rising politician. Consequently, when the war broke out in 1812, between Britain and the United States, Jackson’s leadership skills in the war earned him massive national respect and fame. Therefore, he became a national hero after the role he played in the defeat of British during the war especially in the Battle of New Orleans. Nevertheless, Jackson would become an influential as well as polarizing America’s political figure in the period of 1820s and 1830s. Again, Jackson became United States seventh President in the period of 1829-1837, after initially narrow lose to John Quincy Adams in the election held in 1924. Therefore, it is crucially important to understand the critical role Jackson played in shaping the model of America’s Presidency as he influenced formation of the Democratic Party, played key part in the fall of Second Bank of the United States, support for liberty of all, and the role he played in institution of policies that shaped way of life of Americans at the time.
Andrew Jackson presidency in the United States marked a huge shift, especially a historical shift in the manner of undertaking government business. Also, Jackson was also the first man to be elected to the House of Representatives from Tennessee and later went on to shortly serve in the Senate. As such, he left a permanent mark in the politics of America at the time and United States Presidency. For instance, when he was elected as the President, Jackson became the first United States President who invited the public to the inauguration ball at White House which instantly earned him popularity amidst the Americans. In the event, the crowd that arrived was so massive that several dishes and furniture were broken as most of the people fought for space to take a view of the president. Also, the scramble for space by the people was largely due to the fact that Jackson was the first frontier president who resided outside Virginia or Massachusetts. Further, as Jackson proclaimed himself to be the champion of common man, he carried out key reforms and instituted policies that were marked by the following activities
1. Corruption Clean up
In the first two years of Jackson’s reign at the helm of United States Presidency, it was marred with controversies, such as the Eaton Affair. John Eaton who was a close friend to Jackson and hence a secretary of war married a lady named Margaret Timberlake. However, given Margaret’s questionable background, the Washington elite wives refused to interact and accept her within their social circles. As a result, Jackson was forced to defend his friend John Eaton and thereby demanded that Mrs Eaton be let into the Washington social circles. Thus, the cabinet members were not happy with his decision and hence started positioning themselves to succeed him, thinking he would serve as one term president. Consequently, for Jackson to rid himself of controversy, he dismissed the entire cabinet leaving only the Postmaster General and hence turned to unofficial advisers for guidance.
However, despite the controversial Eaton Affair, Jackson still held his ground and position in his reform, economic and retrenchment plans. This is because at the time he took office, the government was a den of corruption. Therefore he made a resolve to rid, cleanse the government of corruption menace, and thereby restore the finances of the nation. As a result, Jackson decided to replace about a ten percent of government officers which was remarkably higher percentage when linked to his predecessors. Due to this bold move of Jackson, he is credited with ‘the principle of rotation in office’ since the officers that were replaced were largely corrupt, and inept. This action of removing non-performing state officers also resonated with the public.
2. Budget rationalization
Also, at the time Jackson resumed office, there were inconsistencies within the framework of government expenditures and by extension congressional appropriations. As such, Jackson resolved to take a keen interest in the same. At one time, Jackson vetoed a road bill initially approved by Congress for the reasons that the bill only benefited a given section of the country, being too costly, as well as the road bill failed to improve the defense system of the country. Surprisingly, before Jackson, previous Presidents only vetoed bills they deemed to be unconstitutional. Therefore, Jackson established as a matter of policy a new principle of vetoing legislation on other grounds. Similarly, the common man also resonated with Jackson’s spending and control systems that ensured that the national revenue was increased which enabled him to easily pay off the national debt in the year 1835. As a result, the remainder of his term the country became debt free, and interestingly enough, this was the only time in America’s history that the federal government became debt free.
3. Overseeing the Indian Removal Act
In addition, Jackson was faced with a difficult decision which involved the removal of Indian tribes within the United States to the West of the Mississippi as one of his hallmark reforms. According to Jackson, the United States policy to assimilate the tribes had failed and therefore the Native Americans way of life would be compromised going forward. Similarly, Jackson recognized that the whites strongly desired their lands and more so were engulfed in fear that were the Native Americans to remain as their neighbors in those lands they would eventually face extermination. However, in Congress several opposition groups fought Jackson’s policy of removal but failed miserably given their limited number when it reached the time of voting since they had only a handful of votes. Accordingly, Congress authorized the Indian Removal Act in 1831, and hence Jackson was empowered to make treaties with tribes while organizing for their displacement.
Later on, in a span of two years after Jackson left office, the Indian Removal process was completed. However, the process was marked with great loss of life especially for the Native Americans given the inadequate supplies, mega corruption from government officials and the forceful removal. On the contrary, today Jackson’s policy of Indian removal and its following negative consequences led to one of the downturns in his remarkable presidential legacy.
4. The Bank Tussle
Furthermore, Jackson was faced with a crucial decision that would later on define his presidency and later on reshape the trajectory of his office. By 1816, the Congress chartered second bank which is private which was designed to hold money of the country, regulate currency, and also, make loans. However, during the early years the bank was characterized with spells of corruption and deplorable financial management. Due to this poor management, the United States experienced massive economic hardships. Moreover, President Jackson also realized the immense power the banks held in the United States economy. However, Jackson still believed that the Bank of the United States had with it so much power that it could use in a bad way and thereby ruin the economy of the United States. Again, this was due to the distrust that Jackson had for banks in general. Moreover, Jackson also viewed the bank as a real threat to the country’s national security. This is because Jackson knew that the banks were controlled by foreign investors who majorly had allegiances from other governments systems. Also, he viewed this a conflict between liberty and government power.
Also, according to Jackson he believed that people should be able to sacrifice some level of individual liberty to achieve the beneficial aspects of government. However, in his belief system too Jackson believed that when a government institution gains too much power it stands as a direct threat to the liberty of all people .Therefore, according to Jackson, he would only re-consider the chartering of the Bank if it only had limited powers.
5. Fixing South Carolina
Again, residents of South Carolina believed that the Tariff of 1832 favored the northern manufacturers while in essence hurt the state as the local industries faced competition from cheaper goods which were imported. As such, John Calhoun who was Jackson’s former vice-president proposed the idea that the state was bestowed with the constitutional right to secede the Union as they had a constitutional right to nullify any type of federal law. Therefore, by late 1832 the state of South Carolina nullified the Tariff of 1832 while also threatening to secede.
However, according to Jackson he did not favor this idea and even went ahead to use the promise of force to correct the disobedience of the law. Again after so much deliberation, Congress passed a compromise tariff that calmed down the State of South Carolina. At the same time, a bill that would authorize nullification against the use of force. In the end, with the actions of Jackson, he prevented the possible break of South Carolina from the Union. Also, this set a precedent that would be followed by other people such as Abraham Lincoln to use against the call of secession.
6. Jackson as a family oriented President
When the wife to Jackson Rachel passed away, he was affected deeply and later on spent the rest of his life mourning Rachel. Also, adding to his misery, his health began to deteriorate as he felt pain from wounds he received while at the military camp and also due to the effects of aging. Therefore, to cushion him from the pain associated with Rachel demise, Jackson resorted to filling the White house with friends and family which quite resonated with a majority of the population that saw Jackson as man of the people and also affected by life’s common tragedies. Also, within the White house, he left physical mark by redecorating a list of rooms, making improvements at service buildings and grounds. At the same time, Jackson used the White House as a private place for other affairs and public social events which to many of his detractors became a surprise as they initially saw him as a tyrant military man who is uncivilized and anti-social and against family tradition that forms the foundation of American society.
7. Success with Foreign Affairs Relations
Jackson from the outset as a leader, decided to rule by the foreign affair principle of not asking anything that is clearly right nor submitting to nothing that is clearly wrong. As a result, Jackson made a point of not taking an aggressive action against any foreign nation. Subsequently, as a result of this principle, Americans ministers found a new sense of respect due to American rights and ability to trade across the globe. Also, due to the good relations philosophy, a lot of trade opportunities came up as new ports emerged, America also regained the status as a most-favored nation for trade, and thereby collecting a huge chunk of money owed by foreign governments to the United States. Similarly, because of his foreign affairs principles he never meddled in the internal affairs of Mexico regarding the situation of getting Texas from Mexico. Again, as he left office, Jackson approved that Texas be recognized as a state.
8. Reforming Currency
Through Jackson signing the bill, he went ahead and reformed the nation’s currency. Thus, Jackson believed that the paper money system was enabling speculators to afford to purchase huge chunks of land that pushed the prices high and hence others could not afford it. Therefore to counter this, Jackson issued a Specie Circular which ensured that government land should be purchased with silver and gold or unless it was being bought with the actual settlers directly.
In conclusion, Jackson as the seventh President of the United States he left office on March 1837, left a lasting mark on the American Presidency that forever altered the course of history in the United States. As a result, through his noble actions and in his tenure set equal the mandate of the Executive Branch of government and that of Congress with regard to power structure and his ability to influence how laws are formed and the government policies. In addition, Jackson also ensured the preservation of the Union against persistent threat from secessionists and nullifiers. Also, during his reign, other nations around the world regarded the United States with utmost respect given Jackson management model of national and foreign affairs. More significantly, Jackson’s time the United States become more democratic, liberal and provided a space favorable for positive policies aligned to development of the nation.