Thursday, August 18, 2016

Andrew Jackson: The Donald Trump of the 19th Century

"My friends, circumstances render it impossible that you can flourish in the midst of a civilized community. You have but one remedy within your reach, and that is to remove to the west. And the sooner you do this, the sooner you will commence your career of improvement and prosperity." - Andrew Jackson

Andrew Jackson was the seventh president of the United States under of the U.S. Constitution. He is known for being the inheritor of the Democratic Party, the creation of Thomas Jefferson, and for his support for individual liberty.

Andrew Jackson was born on March 15, 1767, near the unmarked border between North and South Carolina. He was born into a recently immigrated Scots-Irish farming family. During the Revolutionary War, which his family supported because of their dislike for the English Crown, Jackson served as a courier. At age 13, he was captured and tortured by the British army. As an adult, Jackson moved to Tennessee, where he studied to become a lawyer. Eventually, he was elected to a term in U.S. House of Representatives. After this, he was elected to two terms in the United States Senate.

In 1801, Jackson was granted the rank of Colonel in the Tennessee militia. His experience in the militia up built his political and military reputation and affected his beliefs on Native Americans and the frontier life. Jackson's public and private ventures brought him a certain deal of wealth. He owned hundreds of slaves on the Hermitage Plantation. In 1806, he killed a man in a duel over a matter of honor, regarding his wife Rachel. He gained national fame through his role in the War of 1812, most famously for his decisive victory over the British invasion army at the Battle of New Orleans, which actually happened some two weeks after the Treaty of Ghent had already been signed, ending the war. In response to conflict with the Seminoles in Spanish Florida, he invaded the territory in 1818. This led directly to the First Seminole War and the Adams–OnĂ­s Treaty of 1819, which formally added Florida into the union. Interestingly enough, just before Jackson's invasion of Florida, he had received orders from, then, President James Monroe to not enter Florida. This was also done while he still held a seat in the United States Senate.

After winning election to the Senate for a second term, Jackson decided to run for president in 1824. Although he got a plurality in both the electoral and popular vote, against three major candidates, Jackson failed to secure the needed votes when the election was sent to the House of Representatives. They gave the election to John Quincy Adams. Jackson was not happy, and he claimed that he lost because Adams and the Speaker of the House, Henry Clay, had made a 'Corrupt Bargain.' It was Henry Clay's job to ensure that Adams was declared the winner of the race for the Presidency; after which, he would be appointed to the office of Secretary of State.

Four years later, in 1828, however, it was not so easy to keep Jackson from the Presidency. He spent the entire four years after his first defeat stumping on the fact that he had been robbed by corrupt elites. He painted himself as the only true candidate of the people. He got the people excited about the next election, and  he spun his loss as a loss for them. He then declared that he would not let them lose again. Jackson one his second shot at the Presidency. When he was sworn in, he broke precedent when he invited the population to come see it, unlike previous presidents who were known for having personal ceremonies. Whilst in office, he declared that his eight years would see the rise of the common man.

As President, Jackson faced the threat of secession from South Carolina, over the Tariff of 1828, which they referred to as the "Tariff of Abominations." The law was enacted by Congress enacted under Adams. He denied the right of a state to secede from the union or to nullify federal law. The Nullification Crisis ended when the House reached a compromise and the tariff was amended, to alleviate South Carolina's objections to the law. The crisis also came to quick end because South Carolina knew Jackson's reputation, and took it seriously when he threatened to personally lead the invasion of the sate if they attempted to secede.

President Jackson purposely and regularly ignored the power of the Judicial branch to judge laws. For example, the Cherokee nation resisted the "Indian Removal Act" challenging in court the Georgia laws that restricted their freedoms on tribal lands. In its 1831 ruling on Cherokee Nation v. the State of Georgia (30 U.S. 1), the Supreme Court addressed the question of whether native tribes could be treated as "foreign nations." It decided that they should be counted as wards of the federal government; but the following year, ruled that they were indeed sovereign and immune from Georgia laws. Nevertheless, President Jackson refused to heed the Court's decision.

Jackson was also known to be a very loud critic of a national banking system. In anticipation of the 1832 election, Congress, led by Clay, attempted to reauthorize the Second Bank of the United States four years before the expiration of its charter. Jackson vetoed the renewal of its charter, thereby seemingly putting his chances for reelection in jeopardy. However, by identifying himself as the defender of the common person against wealthy bankers, he was able to defeat Clay in the election that year. Further, he thoroughly disassembled the bank by the time its charter expired in 1836. Events such as these personified Jackson's constant struggles with Congress, as well as, his running rivalry with Clay, whom he is known to have severely disliked.

Jackson's Presidency was also marked the beginning of the ascendancy of the spoils system in American politics. He is the President who made it common practice to give away political positions in exchange for certain considerations. A person is given the job as the Tax Assessor/Collector of the Western Reserve, a large open range of land still left in Ohio, and in exchange, he would promise to vote for bill that the President wanted passed, to implement policies in his tax region that matched those of the man that gave him the job, or for some other consideration to be named later.

In 1830, Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act, which he had worked to push through Congress. This act allowed him to negotiate removal treaties with Native American tribes, whom the Supreme Court had ruled were not allowed to legally own their ancestral lands. Jackson believed that the Native Americans were inferior to white settlers and wanted to force them west of the Mississippi. The motivation behind forcefully removing the tribes from their lands was to make the land open for the expansion of slavery and the cotton industry.

The result was that many tribes were tricked, or forced off their lands, if they refused to go willingly, resulting in many deaths from skirmishes with soldiers, as well as, from starvation and disease. The Cherokee, in particular, were forced to undergo a forced march that became known as the Trail of Tears. They were forced off their land so quickly that they were not able to gather adequate supplies and over four thousand mend, women, and children died from malnourishment, exposure, and disease. In total, Jackson oversaw the removal of over 46,000 Native Americans from their lands.

Though Andrew Jackson and Donald Trump are far from the same person, the conditions for their rise are the same. The elite were taking advantage of the poor, there were multiple enemies to blame for the hardships that common folk were facing, and both indicated that their plan was the only plan that could possibly bring about the changes need to improve society. Well, Jackson's actions actually did very little to help pour Americans, in fact, they made it harder for some to get the money they needed to start their own homesteads, and as for one of the perceived enemies, he was able to convince poor ignorant people that it was okay to force fifty thousand people from their homes, so that the institution of slavery could expand. One can only imagine to what extremes Trump will be willing to go.

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