Andrew Jackson was the original Clint Eastwood. Fierce, defiant, and tough as nails, “Old Hickory”, as his soldiers called him, was a fearsome foe, self-made and a red, white and blue American.
On this day in 1767, 250 years ago, Andrew Jackson was born to Scots-Irish immigrants of humble means somewhere between the North Carolina and South Carolina wilderness in what was called the Waxhaw Settlement. Three weeks before his birth, his father tragically died (he literally worked himself to death).
During the Revolutionary War, Jackson and his two brothers volunteered to fight the British (at the time, Jackson was only a mere lad of 13). Regrettably, he would be the only one in his entire family to survive the war.
In 1781, Jackson and his brother were captured by the red coats and placed in horrendous prison conditions. When a British officer ordered Jackson to clean his boots, he obstinately refused. The redcoat drew his battle sword and slashed at the young boy down upon his head.
The defiant Jackson threw up his hand to block the force of the blow but it struck him hard upon on the forehead nonetheless. It was a scar that was a constant reminder to him that he hated all things British. Shortly after being released in a prisoner-exchange, Jackson’s brother died from the smallpox that each of the boys contracted while imprisoned. After securing the release of her boys, his mother died soon after from a cholera epidemic.
Although he received a sporadic education, Jackson studied law while apprenticing under an attorney in North Carolina, and soon garnished a reputation as a fiery, passionate and somewhat charismatic personality that perfectly matched his Irish blood.
Since he did not come from wealth or a distinguished family, he was left with no option but to work hard to achieve success by merit. His life was a testimony to the Great American Experiment – that anyone can achieve greatness if they work hard enough.
By age 21, Jackson was appointed as Western District Prosecuting Attorney, a span of land stretching from the Appalachian Mountains to the Mississippi River.
When the War of 1812 broke out, Jackson immediately joined the fight against his enemies who he blamed for taking the life of his family. His quick, decisive actions led to the U.S acquiring millions of acres in land across parts of Florida and all the way to Louisiana.
At the Battle of New Orleans, Jackson fought so ferociously that the British retreated and he sealed his title as a national hero. More impressive than his battle strategies was the fact that he had no formal training in the art of war.
Politics became his next battleground and he excelled at that too. After a stint in congress he set his sights on the The White House. After losing to John Quincy Adams in the highly controversial election of 1824, he ran again four years later and in 1828 became the seventh President of the United States.
Unlike the other bureaucratic chief executives of the day, Jackson became known as “the people’s president,” and advocated for more transparency in politics. He wanted to do away with the established elite and give the power of government back to the people. “The Age of Jackson” altered the national agenda and American politics forever.
As an political outsider, Jackson was not impressed with elitist politicians. For his cabinet, he opted for “plain businessmen,” instead of the Washington D.C insiders. At his inauguration in 1829, he invited the public-at-large to attend the ball in his honor.
Today President Trump will visit the grave of the 7th president and lay a wreath in remembrance of his life and legacy.
To the current president, Jackson was admirable for his ability to never give up in the face of turmoil. Political pundits today compare Trump to Jackson, sighting similarities in populist agenda.
All past presidents are controversial in one way or another. Most everyone who truly knows Andrew Jackson will agree that he was extraordinary for his undaunted courage, resilient spirit, and unorthodox approach to politics.