Why I Don’t Consider Andrew Jackson To Be A Hero
After the War of 1812, Andrew Jackson became a national hero in America. He had won the Battle of New Orleans by defeating the British which surprised many Americans. He first ran in the election of 1824, but lost to John Quincy Adams, the sixth president of the United States. This election was known as the “corrupt bargain” as there was speculation that Clay had helped Adams win. Despite the loss, Jackson ran against John Quincy Adams another time in the election of 1828. Jackson won with a majority of popular votes and became the seventh president of the United States. There is debate over his term and whether it was positive or negative because not everyone had admired him. The Whigs, a political party that emerged in opposition to Jackson, viewed him as a tyrannical ruler. Although Andrew Jackson had a significant impact on the future democracy of the United States, I do not see him as a hero.
A negative trait of Jackson was his hunger for power. Seen in Document N, Jackson holds a scepter and the word veto in his hands. The captions state, “King Andrew the First” and “Born to Command” which shows how some thought of Jackson. The graphic was most likely created by a member of the Whig party. He was seen as a monarch because he constantly took advantage of his powers. For example, in 1832, Jackson vetoed the recharter of the national Bank of the United States. He stated that the bank was “not only unnecessary but dangerous to the government and country”. The description of the Bank Wars, in which Jackson disliked Nicholas Biddle who was in charge of the national bank, contradicts his reasoning. Jackson mostly disliked Biddle because of the power that he held. By vetoing the national bank, that was quite beneficial for Americans, Jackson expresses his tyrannical obsession over power. This behavior is also seen in his Farewell Address in 1837. He believes that keeping the Union safe requires citizens being ready to put down all attempts “at unlawful resistance”. This is untrue because unlawful resistance had been the exact strategy the United States used to gain their own freedom from an oppressing government. In this passage, Jackson is demoralizing resistance because it would threaten his power. Therefore, Jackson had an unusual obsession over power that got in the way of his heroic facade.
Andrew Jackson’s behavior could be classified as corrupt in multiple instances. In 1829, a year after the election, he introduced rotation in office. He believed that positions should be traded off because it would be more fair. If one man had the same job for a long period of time, it would be a disadvantage to those who want the same job. However, this complex came to be known as the Spoils System. In this corrupt system, Jackson would hire people based off of their loyalty to him rather than qualifications such as skills and experience. Additionally, the following year, Jackson vetoed a request from Maysville for federal funding of improving their state structures. Jackson thought it “may impose burthens on the people”. If Jackson had followed along the American System, which had been quite successful, he should have helped finance these internal improvements. Later on, seen in his proclamation of 1832, Jackson discourages nullification to the South Carolinians because it promotes “disunion”. Jackson also mentions that nullification would be “distressing to your fellow citizens here and to the friends of good government throughout the world”. This is relevant as it shows his corruptedness for discouraging a state’s ability to nullify an unfair law. The states should be able to defend themselves equally, but here Jackson appears to be attacking the South Carolinians for thinking about nullification. During his lifetime there had been speculation about a scandal which is referred to as the Eaton Affair. The scandal was caused by Peggy Eaton, who Jackson supported. The wives of cabinet members greatly disliked Peggy due to her openly, flirtatious personality. In Document L, an Altar of Reform sits next to Jackson’s slouching body and it looks destroyed. At the bottom of the graphic, there are rats that represent the cabinet members of Jackson. However, Jackson steps on the tail Martin Van Buren, — the eighth president of the United States and Secretary of State under Jackson. Martin Van Buren had been a cabinet member that also resigned during Jackson’s term. These reasons expose the corrupted side of Jackson that contribute to his non-heroic character.
Overall, I do not see Andrew Jackson as a hero despite his impacts on the future of America. Although the Age of Jackson had increased democracy and suffrage within America, Jackson’s negative motives outshined his heroism. His hunger for power and corrupted morals influenced me more to see him as a tyrannical ruler rather than a heroic president.