- May 7, 2019
- 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
- Hughes Library, 25 Heritage Green Pl. Greenville, 29601
View Map | Cost: Free
Talk: Andrew Jackson
With over thirty years as a professional educator and even more as a professional magician, Larry Bounds brings his skills together from the classroom and the stage to recreate historical characters for the Chautauqua audience. His earned a BA in Theatre and a Masters in Education from The Univ. of Tennessee, and has performed in Chautauqua programs presenting Einstein, Churchill, Houdini, Disney, Walter Cronkite and others since 2002. He teaches Advanced Placement and Honors English for Greenville County Schools at Wade Hampton High. In addition to teaching, Larry has performed since the 1970s as a professional magician appearing for eight years with Ripley’s Believe It or Not! and three years in a Kentucky theme park. He also managed magic shops in Atlanta and has taught courses in magic for two universities.
“I was born for the storm, and a calm does not suit me.” . . . Andrew Jackson
For his entire life, Andrew Jackson was a product of revolution and an instrument for revolution.
The American Revolution
Jackson’s parents immigrated from Ireland to a South Carolina frontier settlement in hopes of a better life. It was there that Andrew Jackson was born in 1767, just days after his father died while clearing timber for his family’s new farm. It is claimed that Jackson’s initial public appearance was at the age of 9, in 1776, as the first public reader of the Declaration of Independence for his small Waxhaws community.
In 1780, 13-year-old Jackson joined the fight for American independence with his two older brothers. He defied a British officer and was slashed by a saber leaving Jackson with a scar across his face for the rest of his life. Both of his brothers died in service, and his mother died as she traveled home from Charleston where she had tended to his cousins who were being held by the British. Jackson was never able to locate his mother’s final resting place. He came to hate all things British.
The Revolution of the Westward Frontier Expansion
With no immediate family remaining in South Carolina following the Revolutionary War, Jackson sought a career to improve his position in life. After studying and rejecting saddle-making, he studied law and became licensed in North Carolina. He then crossed the Appalachians into that part of North Carolina that is now Tennessee to practice law and land speculation in the communities of the growing frontier. He also bet on horses and earned a reputation as a duelist. He defended his honor many times successfully, although he carried lead shot from near misses in his arm for years and near his heart for the rest of his life.
Finally settling into the newly formed community of Nashville, Jackson married the daughter of the city’s founder and became a legislator and state judge. He quickly rose in political stature and developed a reputation for a fierce temperament that would brook no defiance. When Aaron Burr crossed country following the shooting of Alexander Hamilton, he visited Jackson and shared his vision for American expansion into Mexican territories.
The westward expansion that had carried Jackson to Tennessee and offered more Americans opportunities for land had also pushed many Native Americans into a corner. When a Creek Indian uprising occurred, including a massacre at Fort Mims, Alabama, Jackson commanded a volunteer army that crushed the Indians of Alabama and Florida. His volunteer army also seized control of New Orleans during the War of 1812 and though badly outnumbered, defeated a British invasion in 1814 making Jackson a national hero. Jackson turned his newly acquired national reputation into the stimulus for his Presidential bid.
The Revolutionary Rise of the Common Man
Trading on his military fame, Jackson won a plurality of the presidential electoral vote in 1824, but backroom politics gave the presidency to John Quincy Adams (see inset box). Jackson spent the next four years organizing a party framework that would guarantee his victory for president in 1828, and his plans worked.
Not aligned with the political power structures that had become the norm for the young American republic with its political aristocracy and power centers in Virginia and Massachusetts, Jackson revolutionized political discourse. He communicated directly with the American people, the common man, through his speeches to Congress delivered in simple, powerful, and direct language. In these addresses Jackson positioned himself as the defender of the values of the typical American. He spoke out as the man who would protect his people from the intrusions of Congress into their lives. In that role he served as Presidential “disrupter in chief” more than commander in chief by blocking Congress at every turn, even developing the technique known as the pocket veto to kill legislation. During his eight years in office only a single major piece of legislation was enacted at his request – the 1830 Indian Removal Act. And he dominated his inner circle and expanded his executive power by firing and replacing members of his Cabinet that failed in any way to support his personal vision for his Presidency – a view that included erasing the national debt and making government as limited in scope as possible.
Jackson saw expanding government as the source of growing divisions among the American people. His view of the world insisted on an indivisible United States. Jackson would not tolerate any campaigns such as the Nullification Crisis or the Secessionist responses to the growing Abolitionist Movement that threatened to divide America. Jackson responded harshly to any individuals he saw as responsible for leading such movements. His attacks on Henry Clay, John C. Calhoun, and the Cherokee chief John Ross were vicious. He waged war on the power of the national bank and gloated when he killed it.
Thus, depending on his contemporaries’ political points of view, Jackson stood defiantly as a stalwart champion for the rights of all Americans or as “King Andrew” – the tyrant – an abusive, immovable, and undemocratic example of executive power run amok.
Andrew Jackson’s legacy was to forge America’s longest lasting political party – the Democratic Party – and develop the electoral policies that would guarantee, for better or worse, our nation’s continuing two-party system to this very day. He created strong allegiances that would stand the test of time – allegiances of those dedicated to his vision of America and allegiances of those so totally against all he stood for that they would unite permanently in opposition.
When Jackson retired to his estate outside of Nashville called The Hermitage, he became a senior statesman and king-maker. Under his watchful eye Martin Van Buren served as his chosen successor. Jackson groomed future President and Tennesseean James K. Polk to initiate a war with Mexico that would allow the occupation of California and the Great Southwest securing Jackson’s dream of a united United States from sea to shining sea.
Andrew Jackson was shaped by the ever-changing storms of revolution into which he was born, but he braved those storms better than almost anyone and, in the end, became a force for revolutionary change himself.
The Election of 1824
For the first time since the creation of the 12th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the candidate with the most electoral votes (Jackson 99) lost to the candidate with the second most (John Quincy Adams 84). The key to Adams’ win was “the corrupt bargain,” a deal with Henry Clay (4th place with 37 votes) that guaranteed Clay a high office in Adams’ administration. Jackson was so outraged by this act that he reorganized the Democratic-Republican Party into the Democratic Party we have today while Adams headed the new National Republican Party later known as the Whigs. And the two party system we have today was born.
1767 – Born in the Waxhaw District of South Carolina
1780 – Joined the American army in the Revolutionary War
1791 – Married Rachel Donelson, daughter of Nashville’s founder
1796-1804 – Tennessee congressman and TN Supreme Court justice
1812-1814 – Commanded troops in the War of 1812
1817-1818 – Commanded troops in Second Seminole War
1821 – Governor of Florida Territory
1823-1825 – U. S. senator
1828 – Wife Rachel dies just after Jackson wins Presidency
1829-1837 – Seventh President of the U. S.
1845 – Died at his home the Hermitage outside Nashville, TN
Desperate courage makes One a majority.
The brave man inattentive to his duty, is worth little more to his country, than the coward who deserts her in the hour of danger.
Do they think that I am such a damned fool as to think myself fit for President of the United States? No, sir; I know what I am fit for. I can command a body of men in a rough way, but I am not fit to be President.
The bank, Mr. Van Buren, is trying to kill me, but I will kill it.
The wisdom of man never yet contrived a system of taxation that would operate with perfect equality.
It is a damn poor mind indeed which can’t think of at least two ways to spell any word.
But you must remember, my fellow-citizens, that eternal vigilance by the people is the price of liberty, and that you must pay the price if you wish to secure the blessing.
Peace, above all things, is to be desired, but blood must sometimes be spilled to obtain it on equable and lasting terms.
Heaven will be no heaven to me if I do not meet my wife there.
Oh, do not cry. Be good children, and we shall all meet in Heaven … I want to meet you all, white and black, in Heaven. (Jackson’s dying words)
Andrew Jackson: His Life and Times by H.W. Brands (2005)
The focus is on Jackson’s military career and his influence that changed the nature of America’s democracy.
The Passions of Andrew Jackson by Andrew Brustein (2003)
Jackson’s is intriguingly compared to Washington and Jefferson.
The Life of Andrew Jackson by Marquis James (1933)
Combines two books: The Border Captain and Andrew Jackson: Portrait of a President, New York. Winner of the 1938 Pulitzer Prize for Biography.
American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House by Jon Meacham (2008)
Winner of the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Biography with its focus on Jackson’s close circle of friends.
The Petticoat Affair: Manners, Mutiny, and Sex in Andrew Jackson’s White House by John F. Marszalek (2000)
This is a thorough study of the sex scandal that threatened Jackson’s administration.
Andrew Jackson and his Indian Wars by Robert V. Remini (2002)
The tale of Jackson’s Indian wars and the path that led to the Trail of Tears.
The Life of Andrew Jackson by Robert V. Remini (2001)
A winner of the National Book Award, this is a solid and concise biography.
The Age of Jackson by Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr (1945)
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for History, this is a classic Jackson text.
Andrew Jackson, Symbol for an Age by John William Ward (1962)
This text reveals how Jackson was viewed by his contemporaries.