Presidents of the United States

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Andrew Jackson

From: Portrait and Biographical record of Rockland and Orange Counties, New York
By: Chapman Publishing Company
Published: 1895


ANDREW JACKSON, the seventh President of the United States, was born in Waxhaw settlement, N. C,, March 15, 1767, a few days after his father's death. His parents were poor emigrants from Ireland, and took up their abode in W'axhaw settlement, where they lived in deepest poverty.

Andrew, or Andy, as he was universally called, grew up a very rough, rude, turbulent boy. His features were coarse, his form ungainly, and there was but very little in his character made visible which was attractive.

When only thirteen years old he joined the volunteers of Carolina against the British invasion. In 1781, he and his brother Robert were captured and imprisoned for a time at Camden. A British officer ordered him to brush his mud-spattered hoots. "I am a prisoner of war, not your servant," was the reply of the dauntless boy.

Andrew supported himself in various ways, such as working at the saddler's trade, teaching school, and clerking in a general store, until 1784, when he entered a law office at Salisbury, N. C. He, however, gave more attention to the wild amusements of the times than to his studies. In 1788, he was appointed solicitor for the Western District of North Carolina, of which Tennessee was then a part. This involved many long journeys amid dangers of every kind, but Andrew Jackson never knew fear, and the Indians had no desire to repeat a skirmish with "Sharp Knife."

In 1791, Mr. Jackson was married to a woman who supposed herself divorced from her former husband. Great was the surprise of both parties, two years later, to find that the conditions of the divorce bad just been definitely settled by the first husband. The marriage ceremony was performed a second time, but the occurrence was often used by his enemies to bring Mr. Jackson into disfavor.

In January, 1796, the Territory of Tennessee then containing nearly eighty thousand inhabitants, the people met in convention at Knoxville to frame a constitution. Five were sent from each of the eleven counties. Andrew Jackson was one of the delegates. The new State was entitled to but one member in the National House of Representatives. Andrew Jackson was chosen that member. Mounting his horse, he rode to Philadelphia, where Congress then held its sessions, a distance of about eight hundred miles.

Jackson was an earnest advocate of the Democratic party, and Jefferson was his idol. He admired Bonaparte, loved France, and hated England. As Mr. Jackson took his seat, Gen. Washington, whose second term of office was then expiring, delivered his last speech to Congress. A committee drew up a complimentary address ir reply. Andrew Jackson did not approve of the address, and was one of the twelve who voted against it. He was not willing to say that Gen. Washington's administration had been "wise, firm and patriotic."

Mr. Jackson was elected to the United States Senate in 1797, but soon resigned and returned home. Soon after he was chosen Judge of the Supreme Court of his State, which position he held for six years.

When the War of 1812 with Great Britain commenced, Madison occupied the Presidential chair. Aaron Burr sent word to the President that there was an unknown man in the West, Andrew Jackson, who would do credit to a commission if one were conferred upon him. Just at that time Gen. Jackson offered his services and those of twentyfive hundred volunteers. His offer was accepted, and the troops were assembled at Nashville.

As the British were hourly expected to make an attack upon New Orleans, where Gen. Wilkinson was in command, he was ordered to descend the river with fifteen hundred troops to aid Wilkinson. The expedition reached Natchez, and after a delay of several weeks there without accomplishing anything, the men were ordered back to their homes. But the energy Gen. Jackson had displayed, and his entire devotion to the comfort of his soldiers, won for him golden opinions, and he became the most popular man in the State. It was in this expedition that his toughness gave him the nickname of "Old Hickory."

Soon after this, while attempting to horsewhip Col. Thomas Benton for a remark that gentleman made about his taking part as second in a duel in which a younger brother of Benton's was engaged, he received two severe pistol wounds. While he was lingering upon a bed of suffering, news came that the Indians, who had combined under Tecumseh from Florida to the Lakes to exterminate the white settlers, were committing the most awful ravages. Decisive action became necessary. Gen. Jackson, with his fractured bone just beginning to heal, his arm in a sling, and unable to mount his horse without assistance, gave his amazing energies to the raising of an army to rendezvous at Fayettesville, Ala.

The Creek Indians had established a strong fort on one of the bends of the Tallapoosa River, near the center of Alabama, about fifty miles below Ft. Strother. With an army of two thousand men, Gen. Jackson traversed the pathless wilderness in a march of eleven days. He reached their fort, called Tohopeka or Horse-shoe, on the 27th of March, 1814. The bend of the river enclosed nearly one hundred acres of tangled forest and wild ravine. Across the narrow neck the Indians had constructed a formidable breastwork of logs and brush. Here nine hundred warriors, with an ample supply of arms, were assembled.

The fort was stormed. The fight was utterly desperate. Not an Indian would accept quarter. When bleeding and dying, they would fight those who endeavored to spare their lives. From ten in the morning until dark the battle raged. The carnage was awful and revolting. Some threw themselves into the river; but the unerring bullets struck their heads as they swam. Nearly every one of the nine hundred warriors was killed. A few, probably, in the night swam the river and escaped. This ended the war.

This closing of the Creek War enabled us to concentrate all our militia upon the British, who were the allies of the Indians. No man of less resolute will than Gen. Jackson could have conducted this Indian campaign to so successful an issue. Immediately he was appointed MajorGeneral.

Late in August, with an army of two thousand men on a rushing march, Gen. Jackson went to Mobile. A British fleet went from Pensacola, landed a force upon the beach, anchored near the little fort, and from both ship and shore cornmenced a furious assault. The battle was long and doubtful. At length one of the ships was blown up and the rest retired.

Garrisoning Mobile, where be had taken his little army, he moved his troops to New Orleans, and the battle of New Orleans, which soon ensued, was in reality a very arduous campaign. This won for Gen. Jackson an imperishable name. Here his troops, which numbered about four thousand men, won a signal victory over the British army of about nine thousand. His loss was but thirteen, while the loss of the British was twenty-six hundred.

The name of Gen. Jackson soon began to be mentioned in connection with the Presidency, but in 1824 he was defeated by Mr. Adams. He was, however, successful in the election of 1828, and was re-elected for a second term in 1832. In 1829, just before he assumed the reins of government, he met with the most terrible affliction of his life in the death of his wife, whom he had loved with a devotion which has perhaps never been surpassed. From the shock of her death he never recovered.

His administration was one of the most memorable in the annals of our country-applauded by one party, condemned by the other. No man had more bitter enemies or warmer friends. At the expiration of his two terms of office he retired to the Hermitage, where he died June 8, 1845. The last years of Mr. Jackson's life were those of a devoted Christian man.

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