Andrew Jackson was the seventh President of the United States of America. He served two terms as President from 1829-1837. Martin Van Buren replaced Jackson as president and was his chosen successor. Before Jackson was a president he served in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate representing the state of Tennessee. The author of this book, Jon Meacham, was born and raised in Tennessee. President Jackson and his legacy were valued and I could pick up on that through Meacham’s work in this book. In our society, family is a key factor in our daily lives. Family is something of value and Meacham believes people need to see that. His thesis was to show how President Andrew Jackson was a family man first. Jackson had a tough upbringing as a child because he was orphaned at a young age. This is difficult for anyone to go through but for Jackson it made him realize the value of family.
His wife, Rachel Donelson, provided him stability which gave him a sense of comfort. This was important during this time in America because that comfort gave him the ability to perform at a high level whether it is in war or in government. His wife was never able to become a first lady because she became ill and died days after his election. The role of Vice President was given to Donelson’s niece, Emily Donelson.
Andrew Jackson’s worldview was founded on his faith that was instilled in him at a very young age (Meacham 16). His mother, Elizabeth Jackson, hoped her son would be a minister (Meacham 16). During this time in America ministers held center stage that presided at the most important parts of a Christians life which are baptism, communion, marriage, and death (Meacham 16). Meacham talks about how ordained figures put things in order, arrange them, control them and even command them (Meacham 16). It was meant to show how the teaching’s of Jackson’s mother drove his ambitious for political power to be that figure. Jackson turned to his faith in times of crisis and it his religion played a huge role in who he was as a person and as a president (Meacham 16).
While President Jackson was in office he used his political power to represent the people. Traditionally, the president would serve as the chief executive for Congress. President Jackson had a huge role in determining how our nation was run. He used his power to over rule Congress if needed because he wanted to create fairness within the government. He always considered the people first. The Cherokee Nation v. The State of Georgia is a perfect example of how President Jackson used his power to make decisions which ultimately caused issues during his presidency. On August 1832, the Black Hawk War ended with the Battle of the Axe creating controversy in the United States (Meacham 203). It resulted in hundreds of Indians being killed including women and children (Meacham 203). Jackson played a major role in the war because the Indians were seeking an agreement for the land that was once their’s. Militiamen in the area shed blood first when the Indians approached them with an offer (Meacham 203). Jackson immediately called upon Winfield Scott to command thousands of federal troops to seek out and kill the Black Hawk tribe (Meacham 203).
The Cherokee Nation v. The State of Georgia was a controversial Supreme Court Case. Cherokee Nation sought an injunction from the Supreme Court to prevent the state of Georgia from enforcing a series of laws stripping the Cherokee people of their rights and displacing them from their land, asserting that the laws violated treaties the Cherokees had negotiated with the United States (Federal Judicial Center 1). The Supreme Court did not hear the case because it identified the Cherokee as a dependent nation. They considered the Cherokee to have a relationship to the United States in the capacity of a guardian and ward legal relationship (Federal Judicial Center 1). The definition for this relationship is the The legal relationship that exists between a person (the guardian) appointed by a court to take care of and manage the property of a person (the ward) who does not possess the legal capacity to do so, by reason of age, comprehension, or self-control (“”Guardian and Ward 1). The United States exerted their control towards the Cherokee basically saying that have zero legal power and they are considered property.
One year had passed and the Supreme Court overturned the ruling in the Worcester v. Georgia case. It was declared that the Cherokee were sovereign and were not subject to Georgia laws in the territory (Federal Judicial Center 1). This is where President Andrew Jackson exerted his power because he did not agree with the ruling handed down by the Supreme Court. Jackson wanted to remove all Native Americans from their territory and place them in designated area known as the Indian territory (Trail of Tears 1). Jackson allowed U.S. forces to forcible remove and relocated Native Americans from their homeland (Trail of Tears 1). The Cherokee tribe were finally relocated in 1838 (Trail of Tears 1). The events became known as the Trail of Tears because it resulted in the death of nearly 4,000 Native Americans (Trail of Tears).
This event was a pivotal time in American history that played a key factor in defining the presidential legacy of Andrew Jackson. The thing the book showed me was the type of man Jackson valued and wanted to become. His upbringing reminds me of myself because I was raised in a Christian household that emphasized the same values his mom taught him at a young age. The Trail of Tears is an event that I learned about in middle school it is very profound when defining Jacksons legacy. It led to a very dark time in American history and after learning about Jackson’s upbringing it was hard to understand his reasoning. The Native Americans posed as a threat to American expansion and also brought about controversy within the Union. President Jackson was a firm believer in preserving the Union and he did not want to take any threat lightly. This decision will be a part of his legacy forever but the book does not allow it to over shadow the good president Jackson was able to achieve while in office.
Meacham, Jon. American Lion Andrew Jackson in the White House. Random House, 2009.
“”Guardian and Ward.”” West’s Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. 2008. The Gale Group 4 Dec. 2018 https://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Guardian+and+Ward
Federal Judicial Center. U.S. v. Cruikshank | Federal Judicial Center, 18 Mar. 1831, www.fjc.gov/history/timeline/cherokee-nation-v.-georgia.
Editors, History.com. Trail of Tears . History.com, A&E Television Networks, Aug. 29AD, 2018 , www.history.com/topics/native-american-history/trail-of-tears.
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