Wallace Kaufman's Reviews > Andrew Jackson: His Life and Times

Andrew Jackson by H.W. Brands
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Jan 06, 11

Read in December, 2010

For those who like their politicians pure, don't read this dose of reality. For those who know of Jackson only that he was a populist and that his inauguration chaos with its thousands of rude/crude rowdies--this will explain how that came about and that in many ways it signalled the first great democratization of national politics.

Jackson, almost as much as Washington, changed and preserved the on-going process of democratizing America. Sure, he was a slave holder, disobeyed orders as a military commander, administered justice that was too harsh at times, and brought great misery on southeastern Indian tribes. At times he fought hard and publicly for fair treatment of blacks and Indians and he adopted Indian children. He was also a man who sacrificed great fortune to preserve and protect his country; a man who won the loyalty and trust of his troops, including his Indian troops.

If anyone embedded in American culture the belief that democracy could work and that fame and fortune and family status should not be a qualification for holding office or having privilege--that man was Jackson. He's essential to any understanding of the essential current of American political thinking.

For all his faults Jackson is the gold standard of what the term "public servant" means at its best.
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