Andrew Jackson: The First Imperial President

According to Professor Amy H. Sturgis, Andrew Jackson frequently appears in top ten lists of great Presidents of the United States. The following reasons are often given to justify Jackson’s high ranking among Presidents:

1. champion of the common man
2. son of the frontier
3. war hero
4. enemy of the elite
5. champion of the United States Union

Sturgis argues that most of these reasons are in fact myths when they are analyzed in greater depth. For instance, Jackson engaged in several unauthorized activities during war, like invading foreign territory that he was not authorized to invade and executing non-US citizens he was not authorized to execute.

Additionally, many of the reform efforts that came out of the so-called Jacksonian revolution made Jackson appear as a champion of the common man. However, the Jacksonian revolution did not align with Jackson the leader or Jackson the man. For instance, part of the Jacksonian revolution was the abolition movement, yet, Jackson himself owned slaves until the day he died.

Jackson’s battle with the National Bank, Sturgis argues, gave the illusion that Jackson was an enemy of the elite. Although Jackson was constitutionally sound in challenging the National Bank, his reasons for doing so were more personal, rather than legal.

For more information on Jackson’s Presidency from this perspective, read the following two books:

1. Old Hickory’s War: Andrew Jackson and the Quest for Empire

2. The Passions of Andrew Jackson

7 Comments

  1. Grady Flanagan

    Took a class in undergrad on Jacksonian Democracy. you could have called it the "Dawn of Modern Politics" since every major politician we have follows his principles. Man started the spoils system and forcibly removed all Indians from their homes.

  2. Damian Gunjak

    Basicly all the things that are wrong today started with Andrew Jackson. Jeffersons condemnation said it all. 

  3. Hunter Markson

    To be fair, a lot of other Presidents were bad as well.  So to be in the top 10 Presidents is not hard.  Being in the bottom 10 is a whole different challenge

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