“The bank, Mr. Van Buren, is trying to kill me, but I will kill it. ” (Freidel) This quote from Andrew Jackson addressing the Second Bank of the United States said on July 8th 1832 showed his determination and inclination to do what was needed for his people and his country. Despite being so resilient and resolute, Jackson was arguably one of the most influential and controversial presidents in United States history.
From his reprisal towards John Quincy Adams after losing the election of 1824, permanently altering the political party system, wishing to dispense of the Electoral College at his first annual message to the Congress, and abolishing the Second Bank of the United States, Andrew Jackson unequivocally left his mark in American history. Before becoming a political icon, Jackson had a major role in the military. With significant victories in the War of 1812, he made his made his presence known in the public.
Although the War had officially ended on December 24th, 1814, the news travelled very slowly and on January 8th, 1815 the last engagement of the war occurred in the Battle of New Orleans. Jackson gathered over 4,500 men, including free blacks, the Tennessee militia, and anyone who was capable enough to take on the 8,000 British soldiers in Louisiana. Fighting on the Rodriguez Canal, Jackson’s line of men took on the two British attack troops. After all the fighting, the British sustained approximately 2,000 casualties whereas Jackson’s men only withstood around 100.
This unexpected victory catapulted him into fame, making him become known as “Old Hickory” for how robust he was, just like a piece of hickory wood. His efficacious military career propelled him towards nomination for precedency by the Tennessee Legislature in 1822. In 1824, Jackson was formally put on the ballot for precedency. Up against John Quincy Adams, a secretary of state and a rational man to follow Monroe, Henry Clay of Kentucky, who hoped to win by Southern vote, and William H. Crawford, a secretary of treasury, he had some stiff opposition.
Jackson and Adams each made strong and successful campaigns, earning them each an abundance of profusion electoral votes. The election resulted with 99 electoral votes for Jackson, 84 electoral votes for Adams and 78 electoral votes for the other candidates. With no majority, they were forced to decide the president through the House of Representatives. Henry Clay stated that he supported Adams before the House voted. 13 states in the House voted Adams, 7 voted Jackson, making John Quincy Adams the president in 1824.
Jackson and his followers were enraged, charging both Clay and Adams with “Corrupt Bargain”. The charges were denied, but Jackson’s supporters, still angered, worked to embarrass Adams as much as they could during his precedency. Jackson was immediately nominated again for precedency in 1825 The election of 1825 was one of the “bitterest in American history” (Curtis, pg. 10) stated by James C. Curtis, dividing the Democratic – Republican Party into two separate divisions of people. Andrew Jackson was up against John Quincy Adams, who wanted reelection as president.
The supporters of Jackson and his views called themselves the Democrats, eventually leading to the development of the Democratic Party. The opposing people called themselves the Republicans, referring to Jackson as the “Jackass”, leading to the development of the Republican Party and the use symbol of the donkey to represent their party. At the end of the election, Andrew Jackson accumulated 178 electoral votes and 642,553 popular votes, beating John Quincy Adams, who had 83 electoral votes and 500,897 popular votes.
At his Inauguration Ball, after being elected as president, he was the first president to ever invite the people to attend. He earned the nickname “King Mob” for how many people attended the inauguration. During his time as president, he was the first to ever assume control over his veto power. Previous presidents used the veto power only to reject bills that they deemed unconstitutional. Jackson used the veto power as a matter of policy, assuming command over Congress easily by not submitting to them in the matter of policy making.
Still upset about the results in the election of 1824, Jackson proposed the idea of abolishing the Electoral College and giving the power to the people to elect their own president and vice president. The idea was immediately shot down. The people, however, gave him their support deeming him the “People’s President”. Perhaps one of his greatest feats as president was eradicating the Second Bank of the United States. He became embroiled in a “war” against the Second Bank of the United States. He believed that the bank was a “… theoretically private corporation that served as a government sponsored monopoly. (Biography)
He thought that they were corrupt, immoral and wielded too much power over the people. Henry Clay and his supporters disagreed and sought to recharter the bank early to make it an official election issue. This proposal backfired when Andrew Jackson assumed control of his veto power to refuse the re-charter. With the public’s support, he was quickly reelected in 1832. All the efforts to recharter the bank eventually fizzled with him as president and the institution finally shuttered in 1836, releasing all its funds to state banks.
In conclusion, Andrew Jackson unambiguously left his mark in American history. By not backing down throughout his military exploits and through his precedency, he made himself into someone whom the people of is time and era looked up to and aspired to be. From the unforeseen triumph at the Battle of New Orleans to him succeeding in obliterating the Second Bank of the United States, he made himself into a tenacious, honored, and respected president whom is still someone we model our government after and still debate and discuss his notorious actions today.