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Andrew Jackson by H.W. Brands
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Feb 05, 2011

really liked it
Read in January, 2011

This is the second book I’ve read on Jackson in the last 18 months. For more on the Presidency and less on his former life--take a look at Meacham's book, American Lion. I must admit that issues like Biddle and bank crisis make my eyes glaze over.

One of the exciting things about this book for me was discovering the contexts of Jackson’s life. I tend to view history as this set of discrete facts, tenuously connected by time. But reading Jackson truly highlighted the interconnectedness of it all. Before reading this book I had no idea of more things than I can include here, but among them are the following:

-Jackson fought in the Revolutionary War as a boy;
-gritty details of Jackson’s Indian escapades;
-Davy Crockett, Sam Houston, and Andrew Jackson fought together in major Indian battles;
-Jackson married a married woman;
-Jackson killed a man in duel;
-Jackson regularly rubbed shoulders with several well-known nemeses, like John Q. Adams, Henry Clay, and John Calhoun;
-Aaron Burr approached Jackson with designs of treason;
-how nasty political campaigns were clear back then;
-that his wife died after he was elected but before he could get to Washington and that Emily Donelson, his niece was first lady;
-the Margaret Eaton affair and its affect on Washington politics (this is set out in much great detail in Meacham’s book and worth reading for that section alone).
-The Civil War almost began in the 1830’s and but for Jackson and South Carolina’s fear of him, it probably would have (wonder if it would have been better for it to have happened then);
-Sam Houston was Jackson’s protégé, was a Governor of Tennessee, and gave it all up over woman, fled to the Texas territory, and arose from that debacle like a phoenix;
-Washington Irving used to hang out with Jackson in the White House;
-Roger Taney (author the Dred Scott opinion) was Jackson’s attorney general.

Anyway, you get the idea. The book was full amazing revelations. I highly recommend it.
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