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When the 1828 election rolled around, a lot of people were terrified when they heard Andrew "Old Hickory" Jackson was running. If you're wondering how a guy we're calling a bad ass got such a lame nickname, it's because he used to carry a hickory cane around and beat people senseless with it, and if you're wondering why he did that, it's because he was a fucking lunatic.
The guy who kicked out the Native Americans, basically. Un-basically, Andrew Jackson was the seventh president of the United States of America, serving from 1829 to 1837. He was also a living testament to how Badass a man can be (although Theodore Roosevelt certainly would argue with that statement).
He was born on the border between North and South Carolina - his birthplace (maybe 30 km south of Charlotte) can be placed at one of two cabins standing scant yards apart, one on each side of the border. His father died before Jackson was born. At the age of 12, Jackson served in the Patriot militia under Col. Davies during the American Revolution. During the war his brothers and himself were captured and confined in disease-ridden quarters that lead to the deaths of his brothers, and of his mother who tended to them when they were sick.
After the war, Jackson had no immediate family left alive, and was taken in by a judge in Salisbury, North Carolina. This judge was himself one of the few survivors of a battle/massacre known at the time as the Waxhaw Massacre, now more commonly as Buford's Defeat, where he had been left for dead with over twenty wounds. Under his tutelage, Jackson studied law. Jackson then moved to western North Carolina, which later became Tennessee, and began a political career. During the War of 1812 (contemporary with the Napoleonic Wars, in which the United States fought the British) Jackson commanded US forces against the British and their allies in Georgia and Alabama, and in January 1815 made his name with his successful defense of New Orleans. He received the nickname "Old Hickory" from his troops because of his toughness. After that war he served again in a campaign against the Seminoles in which he controversially invaded Spanish Florida.
His marriage to Rachel Donelson Robards was considered bigamous since her divorce was not officially completed at the time of their wedding. Jackson believed his political opponents' use of this as an issue in the 1828 campaign resulted in her death before his inauguration. He was famously defensive of Rachel, even going into a duel against a judge that insulted her.
He was in many duels, number of which varies depending on what source you consult; some say 13, while others rank the number somewhere in the 100's, both of which are entirely too many times for any reasonable human being to stand in front of someone who is trying to kill them with a loaded gun. He stopped when he was voted into office.
When Jackson became a senator, one of his foes from his duels was also in the Senate. The man had shot him, and he still had the bullet in his body. He soon got it out and even gave it to the man who shot him as a sort of peace treaty. When ever he'd get hemorrhages in his arm, he'd ask his servants for a razor and a bowl and cut them open to let them bleed out.
Jackson served as president from 1829 to 1837, and is known as the quintessential populist president. Jackson invited the public to his inauguration, and they famously trashed the White House. One of Jackson's most controversial measures was the removal of American Indians from the east coast to Oklahoma in what would be infamous as "The Trail of Tears", and Jackson is often painted as an anti-Indian racist because of this. The Trail of Tears actually went against a Supreme court Decision that recognized the Cherokee nation as as sovereign nation. Upon hearing of this decision, Jackson famously declared "Marshall [Chief Justice at the time] has made his decision, now let's see him enforce it". His was also the last administration for over 70 years that left the United States with a budget surplus at its conclusion, with Calvin Coolidge finally breaking the streak of budget deficits.
Towards the end of his first term and through his second term, he fought to shut down the Second Bank of the United States. The Bank served as a central bank, controlling currency and holding Treasury deposits, but its commercial activities were the focus of Jackson's rage. The struggle eventually resulted in an economic panic, but Jackson still believed he was in the right. It is enough to say that nothing short of death would have stopped Jackson, and bullets just weren't going to work.
Around the same time, he also faced a challenge from South Carolina, which claimed the right to nullify federal laws that opposed its interests, particularly tariffs. Jackson's vice president John C. Calhoun supported his home state's position and the president threatened to use military force against the state.
In 1835, Richard Lawrence made the first assassination attempt on a sitting president. Both pistols misfired and Jackson immediately attacked Lawrence with his cane until the president's aides restrained him. This was a couple decades before the Secret Service was formed, let alone took up presidential protection duties. Lawrence was later found to be insane and institutionalized. For some reason, Jackson was not.
In short, Jackson was a complex and fascinating man, and none too gentle with his adversaries (see above about his tendency to get into duels), and certainly shaped the United States as we know it today. Most importantly, he transformed the Presidency into the people's agent with broad powers to shape policy. And that's just the short version.
Technically, the last of the Founding Fathers-era Presidents (although some assign that status to either James Monroe or John Quincey Adams); beginning with Van Buren the remainder of 19th-century Presidents have an air of trivia-question obscurity (with one obvious exception and some other borderline cases.).
His Last Words were purported to be "I have only two regrets: I didn't shoot Henry Clay, and I didn't hang John C. Calhoun."
That's right. In a life rich with murdering people for little-to-no reason, Jackson's only regret was that he didn't kill quite enough people. People like Calhoun who, remember, was Jackson's vice president.
The Nullification Crisis of 1832-33, which nearly started the Civil War thirty years early might've had something to do with it.
Real Life tropes he embodied
- Badass: Beating the crap out of his own would be assassin, getting in about a hundred duels and surviving every single one, and digging a bullet out of his arm without anesthesia during a Cabinet meeting should definitely qualify him as this.
- Badass Boast: When the Nullification Crisis came around, Jackson promised "if one drop of blood be shed there in defiance of the laws of the United States, I will hang the first man of them I can get my hands on to the first tree I can find."
- Badass Bookworm: Quite the lawyer, actually
- Badass Longcoat: Was in the habit of wearing a gigantic greatcoat, especially during duels, which had the bonus of hiding how thin he was and sometimes caused his opponents to miss
- Badass Nickname: Old Hickory
- Handicapped Badass: By the time he was the President, he was crippled with respiratory problems, severe arthritis in multiple places, prone to coughing up blood, and had several bullets that were never removed that caused him constant pain. None of this stopped him from being a badass.
- Berserk Button: Three. Don't insult his wife, don't tell him banks aren't corrupt institutions, and DON'T insult his integrity.
- Blessed Are the Cheesemakers: New York dairy farmers gifted him with a 1400 pound block of cheddar cheese in 1835. In 1837 he threw a party inviting the public to eat it.
- Cane Fu: As demonstrated when he nearly beat his would-be assassin to death with one.
- Crazy Awesome: He had a tendency to come off as totally nuts, especially during his badassery. In his most famous duel, he allowed his opponent to shoot him first, knowing the man would shoot quickly and poorly, and have to reload, giving Jackson ample time to carefully aim and kill the man. With a bullet in his chest.
- A bullet which he refused to have removed because he knew that time spent removing the bullet would fall under the category of "time not dueling", Jackson's least favorite category
- Crowning Moment of Awesome: Any of his badassery counts.
- His earliest known example was when he was twelve years old. A British officer tried to pay him to shine his boots. Jackson refused. The officer slashed Jackson's face with his sword for his insolence. Jackson still refused to shine the boots.
- Crowning Moment of Heartwarming: One of his cabinet secretaries wives had a checkered past and got a lot of crap for it. Jackson defended her honor and fired EVERYONE in his administration who gave her any grief.
- Crowning Moment of Funny: It's no secret Jackson loved profanity, and he was good at it too. He was so good at it he learned how to do it in two languages (English and Spanish). Quite possibly the only thing he loved more (other than his wife) was his pet parrot, Pol. Jackson loved that bird so much that Pol was even present at the president's funeral... right up until he started swearing. In two languages. The bird was unceremoniously removed.
- Determinator: This man didn't let trivial things like getting shot slow him down, kept up his campaign against the Second Bank Of the United States until it was utterly disgraced, and DID NOT back down on his position that secession was illegal.
- Immune to Bullets: How does a man get shot so many times and still live?
- During the attempt to assassinate him (the first ever attempt on an American President), the would-be murderer pulled a pair of flintlock pistols at point-blank range. Both misfired. Perhaps the damp weather had something to do with it. Or perhaps the bullets were afraid of him.
- Improbable Age: Jackson was all of 12 years old when he joined the American fight for independence.
- Insult Backfire: His opponents once called him a "jackass" so he adopted that animal as the mascot of the Democratic party.
- Made of Iron: The sheer amount of bullets he got hit with in life should have killed him several times over, including one lodged a few inches from his heart which never got removed. Eventually he survived so much even his enemies would concede bullets just weren't going to take him down.
- Morality Pet: His wife, whom he was utterly devoted to, and his much beloved parrot, Pol.
- Mugging the Monster: As mentioned above, an assassin who went after him found out that hard way how bad an idea that was, and Jackson's security was barely able to keep the President from killing the dope.
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast: The Creek Indians called Jackson "Sharp Knife".
- Our Presidents Are Different: President Action/Iron/and to the common man, President Personable
- Screw the Rules, I Make Them: He once famously said "John Marshall has made his ruling, now let him come to the White House and enforce it." This was in response to him enacting the Indian Removal Act, going over the head of John Marshall (then the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court) who had declared that the Indians had rights to their own territory.
- Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right: International law, military custom and even the Constitution didn't stop him from doing what he thought was right for the country.
- Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Martin Van Buren was the sensitive one.
- The Oathbreaker: As president, Jackson swore an oath to uphold the supreme law of the land. This includes the Constitution, Supreme Court decisions, and treaties with foreign nations. He ignored a supreme court decision to effectively destroy the Cherokee nation, a sovereign nation with whom the United States had a standing treaty.
- Values Dissonance: Many who remembered him as great felt quite differently about the Trail of Tears. At the time it almost led to civil war and the Trail of Tears was in part, a solution to prevent a civil war.
- What Could Have Been: He would have invaded Cuba had he not gotten sick after the Florida campaign.
Depictions in popular media
- He is a major character (though not the protagonist) in the Trail of Glory series by Eric Flint. Flint has mentioned that Jackson is wonderful to have as a character, since whatever he makes him do, the real-life Jackson did something just as outrageous. The characterisation feels very true to life.
- Amazingly, he ends up in Samurai Shodown VI. Not quite identified exactly, but a white-haired American named 'Andrew', in the early 1800s, whose home stage is the White House...
- Axel and Zexion fused into Andrew Jackson in the webcomic Ansem Retort. This is possible because Axel is a murderer and Zexion is a politician.
- And the creator just announced that in between Seasons 6 and 7 will be a miniseries called "Andrew Jackson Fucks Shit Up".
- Andrew Jackson turned out to be the key to unlocking Axel and Zex's memories of the original timeline, when time started to get fucked and Jack Bauer ended up on the twenty-dollar bill.
- The miniseries was delayed as to not overwhelm us with too much badass too soon, but it looks like it has begun.
- There is also a musical about him, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson
- Jackson appears in these Hark A Vagrant strips.
- He's played by Charlton Heston in the 1953 film The President's Lady.