Andy Miller's Reviews > Andrew Jackson and the Course of American Democracy, 1833-1845

Andrew Jackson and the Course of American Democracy, 1833-1845 by Robert V. Remini
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Nov 24, 12

Read in December, 2011

This is Remini's third and final volume on Andrew Jackson's life. He continues his well written, thoroughly researched biography centering on his compelling argument that Jackson transformed the United States from a Republic to a Democracy, that he altered our path from a governments of elites and business interests to a true democracy where a worker had an equal voice to a banker.

There is also an excellent section on Jackson's response to South Carolina's nullification crisis and how he laid the foundation for Lincoln's later argument that the South could not secede from the Union.

The shortcoming, and it is a huge shortcoming, is the discussion of slavery and Indian Removal. While Remini does not ignore the two issues, his treatment of them is as an apologist. He dismisses Jackson's positions on protecting slavery as being a man of his times, yet he is occasionally forced to acknowledge abolitionists and others like John Quincy Adams who fought to stop the spread of slavery. Instead of acknowledging that these men took correct moral stands despite being of the same time as Jackson, Remini dismisses them and essentially parrots Jackson's argument that they were not sincere and were a threat to the union for raising the issue.

The same is true with Indian Removal. Remini notes that Clay and Webster voted against the horrible treaty that was forced on the Cherokees but argues that Jackson's attitude and actions towards the Indian was a function of his time. In this case, however, men like Webster and Jackson did the right thing but Remini dismisses their doing the right thing with a belittling tone.

An honest discussion of slavery and Indian Removal need not make Jackson a villian. Jackson's efforts in democratizing our country, his success in providing for a robust, growing economy, and his true commitment to our country deserve full credit. His horrible actions regarding slavery and Indian removal make him human, an example of complexities in our leaders which cause us to acknowledge the virtues and shortcomings. Unfortunately, Remini did not do that

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