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Andrew Jackson: Our Seventh President
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message 1: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Aug 16, 2009 05:53PM) (new)

Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
"Andrew Jackson (March 15, 1767 – June 8, 1845) was the seventh President of the United States (1829–1837). He was military governor of Florida (1821), commander of the American forces at the Battle of New Orleans (1815), and eponym of the era of Jacksonian democracy. A polarizing figure who dominated American politics in the 1820s and 1830s, his political ambition combined with widening political participation, shaping the modern Democratic Party.[1:] His legacy is now seen as mixed, as a protector of popular democracy and individual liberty, checkered by his support for Indian removal and slavery.[2:][3:] Renowned for his toughness, he was nicknamed “Old Hickory”. As he based his career in developing Tennessee, Jackson was the first president primarily associated with the American frontier. His portrait appears on the United States twenty-dollar bill." --- Source - wikipedia

On this thread, all general discussions regarding Andrew Jackson can take place. Urls, links, resource information, discussion about upcoming books and other print sources regarding Andrew Jackson can be discussed on this thread.

Everyone is invited to participate in the discussions regarding this president. Please feel free to post questions, remarks and opinions here regarding Andrew Jackson.

Here is a wikipedia write-up regarding #7.

message 2: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Aug 17, 2009 06:15PM) (new)

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There is the First Ladies Library. It has some wonderful write-ups on all of the First Ladies. Here is the one on Rachel Jackson:

message 3: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
The American Lion is being discussed during the months of August and September as part of The Presidential Series.

Here is a sample chapter:

message 4: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Aug 18, 2009 10:56PM) (new)

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I wouldn't recommend viewing The History Channel presentation until after you have read The American Lion; wouldn't want to spoil the suspense and story line.

One you finish the book by all means - here is the youtube presentation of The History Channel documentary.

Andrew Jackson - Part One:

Andrew Jackson - Part Two:

Andrew Jackson - Part Three

Andrew Jackson - Part Four:

Andrew Jackson - Part Five:

Andrew Jackson - Part Six:

Andrew Jackson _ Part Seven:

Andrew Jackson - Part Eight:

Andrew Jackson - Part Nine:

Andrew Jackson - Part Ten:


Andrew Jackson His Life and Times by H.W. Brands The Life of Andrew Jackson (Perennial Classics) by Robert V. Remini Andrew Jackson by Robert V. Remini The Battle of New Orleans Andrew Jackson and America's First Military Victory by Robert V. Remini

Patriotic Fire Andrew Jackson and Jean Laffite at the Battle of New Orleans by Winston Groom Andrew Jackson (The American Presidents series) by Sean Wilentz Andrew Jackson The Course of American Freedom, 1822-1832 (Andrew Jackson) by Robert V. Remini Andrew Jackson and the Bank War A Study in the Growth of Presidential Power (Norton Essays in American History.) by Robert V. Remini

Andrew Jackson (Great Generals) by Robert V. Remini Andrew Jackson - The Border Captain by Marquis James

Jackson's Way Andrew Jackson And the People Of The Western Waters by John Buchanan

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The Passions of Andrew Jackson by Andrew Burstein Portrait of a President - Andrew Jackson by Marquis James Andrew Jackson Seventh President 1829-1837 (Getting to Know the Us Presidents) by Mike Venezia In Bitterness and in Tears Andrew Jackson's Destruction of the Creeks and Seminoles by Sean Michael O'Brien Andrew Jackson and the Politics of Martial Law Nationalism, Civil Liberties, and Partisanship by Matthew Warshauer Old Hickory's War Andrew Jackson and the Quest for Empire by David Stephen Heidler

History of Andrew Jackson (volumes I and II) by Buell, Augustus C. The Presidency of Andrew Jackson (American Presidency Series) by Donald B. Cole Andrew Jackson And His America (Milton Meltzer Biographies) by Milton Meltzer Andrew Jackson Seventh President of the United States (Encyclopedia of Presidents) by Alice Osinski Andrew Jackson (American Presidents Reference Series) by Richard E. Ellis Old Hickory A Life Sketch of Andrew Jackson by James G. Barber

message 6: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Aug 26, 2009 04:35AM) (new)

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This is an interesting oil portrait of Andrew Jackson on the White House Historical site with some interesting tidbits:

When President Andrew Jackson came to Washington he was grieving over the recent death of his wife Rachel. The President was known for his height, shock of white hair, temper, and devotion to his deceased wife (he wore a miniature of her around his neck). While in office, Jackson was celebrated as a man of the people. He was a military hero of the War of 1812 and fought for the cause of the common man. Jackson added running water to the White House in 1833 and completed the gardening projects started by John Quincy Adams.

message 7: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Aug 26, 2009 04:39AM) (new)

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Here is the White House Historical Society photograph of Emily Donelson who was the niece of Rachel and Andrew Jackson.

"Emily Donelson was Andrew Jackson’s favorite niece, and her husband was the President’s private secretary. When Rachel Jackson died shortly before the inauguration, Emily, only twenty-one, was asked to be the White House hostess. Though young, she was an able mother and household manager.

Date: 1830"

message 8: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Sep 17, 2009 02:20AM) (new)

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The City of Washington from beyond the Naval Yard: At the time of Andrew Jackson's presidency - 1829 - 1837

Title: The City of Washington From Beyond the Navy Yard

Description: Far from the muddy and incomplete town John and Abigail Adams knew when they moved to Washington, the city during the Jackson years was steadily improving. This 1833 painting reveals the trade of the city: two dry-docks of the Navy Shipyard on the Anacostia River, healthy shipping traffic on the Potomac, the Capitol building, and a mass of houses and buildings reaching from the White House to Capitol Hill.

Date: 1833

Creator: George Cooke (1793-1849)

Credit: White House Historical Association (White House Collection)

message 9: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Sep 17, 2009 02:20AM) (new)

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The Andrew Jackson Table (which was located in the East Room):

The following is a very interesting rendition of what the East Room looked like during the Andrew Jackson presidency.

I imagine that the men of the day liked to spit; since there were twenty-one spittoons placed around the room (lol).

Here is the description:

Title: The East Room in the President's Mansion

Description: President Jackson decorated the East Room with bright yellow wallpaper, blue and yellow curtains, blue upholstery and carpeting, and golden stars. The ceiling itself was white (white-washed yearly to keep it clean) with flower-like centerpieces from which three glass chandeliers hung, each eight feet from top to bottom and holding 54 candles. There were also twenty-one spittoons placed strategically around the room. Over President Jackson’s two terms, Congress allotted around $50,000 to redecorate the White House and build the North Portico.

Date: 1861

Creator: Sachse, E. & Co. (w.c. 1840-1871)

Credit: White House Historical Association (White House Collection)

message 10: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Sep 17, 2009 02:19AM) (new)

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Here is a picture of the Andrew Jackson china:

From the descriptor I learned that the White House served French cuisine; and Andrew Jackson preferred American food (wonder what that was considered in Jackson's day). However, when he chose a manufacturer for the White House china (or maybe Emily his niece did that - not sure)...a manufacturer from France was chosen - the same one used by President Monroe. The china was supposed to match the new decor of the East Room shown in the previous post.

The sun ray pattern is sort of reminiscent to me of the Oval Office rug that Laura Bush had designed for George W.

Here is the descriptor from the White House Historical Society:

Title: Andrew Jackson China

Description: Though Andrew Jackson preferred American food, not the French food usually served in the White House, his blue-bordered dessert china came from the French manufacturer used by President Monroe. A gold rim edges the plate, and an American eagle with arrows and an olive branch, decorates the center. The eagle is the Arms of the United States. The sunray pattern around the American eagle matched Jackson’s East Room decorations.

Date: 1833

Creator: Dagoty-Honore, Paris

Credit: Photograph by Will Brown, copyright White House Historical Association

message 11: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Sep 17, 2009 02:19AM) (new)

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Now here is a rendition of an inaugural party worth remembering; the only one not looking too pleased is President Jackson with his back up against the wall - a pretty rowdy crowd:

Here is the descriptor:

Title: President Andrew Jackson During his Inauguration at the White House

Description: President Jackson was known for opening up the White House to visitors of all classes. His inauguration party lasted for hours as throngs of people from packed streets pushed into the White House. This painting captures the rowdy scene with its broken furniture and stifling crowd. It took a whole week to scrub and clean the White House after the party.

Date: 1970

Creator: Louis S. Glanzman

Credit: Louis S. Glanzman

message 12: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Sep 17, 2009 02:19AM) (new)

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This rendition is amazing; when I read about a block of cheese being left for the people by Jackson; I guess I imagined something quite different. Can you imagine that this block of cheese was gone in two hours time! And even more unbelievable is that Jackson when he received this gift placed it in the entrance of the White House to age for two years!!!!!

Here is the descriptor:

Title: Jackson's Great Cheese Levee

Description: A New York dairy farmer sent President Jackson an interesting gift: a 1,400-pound cheese. Jackson left it in the Entrance Hall of the White House to age for two years. In 1837 the President invited the public to come and eat it. The cheese was gone in two hours, but the stain and smell in the Entrance Hall lasted for a long while.

Date: 1886

Creator: Benjamin Perley Poore

Credit: Perley's Reminiscences

message 13: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Sep 17, 2009 02:18AM) (new)

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The North View of the White House

What is interesting is that the White House looks very much the same; but different. The North Portico of the White House was obviously started under John Quincy Adams; but was completed by Andrew Jackson. I have to say that President Jackson seemed to know how to get things done!

When I looked at this photo and having visited the White House (like many of you); I did not recall any statue of Thomas Jefferson on the lawn as shown in this picture. So I did a little research and have discovered that this statue was actually commissioned and placed by James Polk on the White House lawn; but was later moved to the Capitol Building somewhere before 1900; because in one of the White House photos - all of a sudden, the fountain shows up in its place. From what I have discovered it was James Polk during his presidency who placed the statue and was president after Jackson from 1845 - 1849 so I am unsure why the White Historical Society is showing this photo dated 1845 unless they are simply showing the North Portico being complete.

Here is the descriptor:

Title: The North View of the White House

Description: In 1830, President Jackson completed the North Portico started under John Quincy Adams. Columns surround the outline of the portico, and iron fences adorned the north façade from 1833 to 1902. In this view, a horse-drawn carriage approaches the North Portico. A statue of Thomas Jefferson is on the north lawn.

Date: 1849

Creator: Edward Weber and Company

Credit: Library of Congress

Here is a write-up with photos of the varying views and looks of the White House with a picture of the statue itself, etc. (specifically views of the North Lawn):

message 14: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
The White House write-up on ole Andrew:

message 15: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Sep 02, 2009 01:12PM) (new)

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Bibliography on Jacksonian America:.

message 16: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

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(Excellent Project)


message 17: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

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message 18: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

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(Excellent info, podcasts, etc)

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message 20: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

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message 21: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

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message 22: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

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message 23: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

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message 24: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Sep 02, 2009 09:09PM) (new)

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VERY ODD AND SURPRISING - Letter threatening Jackson's life determined to be written by father of man who killed Lincoln

The Booth family was obviously quite unbalanced- astounding:

message 25: by Liz (new)

Liz | 119 comments CARTOONS about Andrew Jackson
I always find the political cartoons of the day to provide an enlightening perspective of how a politician was viewed. They seem to go a step farther than written public commentary. My son believes that future generations will be required to analyze The Daily Show as part of their historical reviews. lol!

Bentley, you will enjoy the one of Clay sewing Jackson's mouth shut :).

message 26: by Liz (new)

Liz | 119 comments Genealogy of Andrew Jackson
Ok, so I admit that I was ready to take pen to paper to start tracing out Andrew Jackson's and his wife's tree while reading some of the passages . . . But, the nice thing about being President is that others will come along and do it for you :). Rachel (Donelson) Jackson's family is also profiled.

message 27: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
Liz wrote: "CARTOONS about Andrew Jackson
I always find the political cartoons of the day to provide an enlightening perspective of how a politician was viewed. They seem to go a step farther than written publ..."

Liz, these are great cartoons.

message 28: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
Liz wrote: "Genealogy of Andrew Jackson
Ok, so I admit that I was ready to take pen to paper to start tracing out Andrew Jackson's and his wife's tree while reading some of the passages . . . But, the nice thi..."

For those who love genealogy, a terrific find. Interesting.

message 29: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Sep 12, 2009 11:37AM) (new)

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For those of you who are interested:

Here is an interesting interview and exhange which took place at The National Constitution Center with Jon Meacham (author of The American Lion) which is our highlighted book this month and Richard Beeman from the University of Pennsyvania.

Here is the summary:


At a moment when the American public is focused on the presidency and how presidents lead the nation, the National Constitution Center welcomes back Newsweek editor Jon Meacham for a discussion about his remarkable biography of President Andrew Jackson.

Orphan, battle-hardened warrior, founder of the Democratic Party, and architect of the modern presidency, Jackson rose from nothing to the pinnacle of power. American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House is an exciting portrait of one of our most important, yet least remembered presidents.

Richard Beeman, professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania, moderates - National Constitution Center

Here is the full program which also can be downloaded, etc. (Fora-TV - great site by the way)

Note: This was an EXCELLENT interchange and the Q&A was especially entertaining.

For those of you not familiar with Richard Beeman:

It looks like he owns two very beautiful Bernese Mountain Dogs...I am a dog lover.

Here is Beeman's personal site

Beeman is a well known historian who wrote: "Plain, Honest Men"

[image error]

He also wrote the following;

Beyond Confederation Origins of the Constitution and American National Identity by Richard Beeman

The Varieties of Political Experience in Eighteenth-Century America (Early American Studies) by Richard R. Beeman

Here is the url to the National Constitution Center:

About the NCC:

message 30: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig A book on the 1828 election:

Vindicating Andrew Jackson The 1828 Election and the Rise of the Two-Party System (American Presidential Elections) by Donald B. Cole by Donald B. Cole

Product Info:
The presidential election of 1828 is one of the most compelling stories in American history: Andrew Jackson, hero of the Battle of New Orleans and man of the people, bounced back from his controversial loss four years earlier to unseat John Quincy Adams in a campaign notorious for its mudslinging. With his victory, the torch was effectively passed from the founding fathers to the people.

This study of Jackson's election separates myth from reality to explain why it had such an impact on present-day American politics. Featuring parades and public participation to a greater degree than had previously been seen, the campaign itself first centered on two key policy issues: tariffs and republicanism. But as Donald Cole shows, the major theme turned out to be what Adams scornfully called "electioneering": the rise of mass political parties and the origins of a two-party system, built from the top down, whose leaders were willing to spend unprecedented time and money to achieve victory.

Cole's innovative study examines the election at the local and state, as well as the national, levels, focusing on New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky, and Virginia to provide a social, economic, and political cross section of 1828 America. He describes how the Jacksonians were better organized, paid more attention to detail, and recruited a broader range of workers--especially state-level party leaders and newspaper editors who were invaluable for raising funds, publicizing party dogma, and smearing the opposition. The Jacksonians also outdid the Adams supporters in zealotry, violence of language, and the overwhelming force of their campaigning and succeeded in painting their opponents as aristocratic, class conscious, and undemocratic.

Tracing interpretations of this election from James Parton's classic 1860 biography of Jackson to recent revisionist accounts attacking Old Hickory for his undemocratic treatment of blacks, Indians, and women, Cole argues that this famous election did not really bring democracy to America as touted--because it was democracy that enabled Jackson to win. By offering a more charismatic candidate, a more vigorous campaign, a more acceptable recipe for preserving the past, and a more forthright acceptance of a new political system, Jackson's Democrats dominated an election in which campaigning outweighed issues and presaged the presidential election of 2008.

This book is part of the American Presidential Elections series.

message 31: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig If you find this in your library or used book store, it is a solid effort:

Election of Andrew Jackson

(no image)Election Andrew Jackson by Robert V. Remini


The bitter election campaign that evolved modern party machinery and organized mass propaganda method.

message 32: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
Good adds Bryan, thank you.

message 33: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960)

The famous equestrian statue of Andrew Jackson in Jackson Square in New Orleans. Made from cannons from the Battle of New Orleans, it has caused controversy because of the horse's position. A rearing horse with both legs off the ground indicates that the rider was killed in battle, which of course, Jackson was not. Regardless, it is a fait accompli and is one of the landmarks of the city.
One of the urban myths is that Jackson is tipping his hat to the Pontalba Hotel across the square which was reputed to be a sporting house. It makes for a good story but is it true???.....probably not.

message 34: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig Thanks, Jill, I remember seeing this when I visited New Orleans.

message 35: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) Like the typical tourist, I had my picture taken in front of the statue!!

message 36: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig A Companion to the Era of Andrew Jackson

A Companion to the Era of Andrew Jackson by Sean P Adams Sean P Adams


A Companion to the Era of Andrew Jackson offers a wealth of new insights on the era of Andrew Jackson. This collection of essays by leading scholars and historians considers various aspects of the life, times, and legacy of the seventh president of the United States.

Provides an overview of Andrew Jackson's life and legacy, grounded in the latest scholarship and including original research spread across a number of thematic areas

Features 30 essays contributed by leading scholars and historians

Synthesizes the most up-to-date scholarship on the political, economic, social, and cultural aspects of the Age of Andrew Jackson

message 37: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig Rachel Jackson: C-SPAN's First Ladies: Influence & Image:

message 38: by Rebecca (last edited Apr 07, 2013 06:09PM) (new)

Rebecca (iowareader) | 129 comments I hope this is sufficiently "on topic", but Robert Remini, author of "Andrew Jackson" (plus several other books on Jackson) passed away this past week. Below is the obit from the Washington Post (chosen because WaPo is still accessible without a paid subscription).

Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson by Robert V. Remini by Robert Remini

message 39: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
A great loss Becky - I appreciated Mr. Remini very much and his fine works.

For citations, make sure to use just regular text in your sentences and add the citation at the bottom of your post. A lot easier and less time.
No need to put in a no photo icon - better like below.

Andrew Jackson by Robert V. Remini by Robert V. Remini (no photo)

A wonderful tribute to a great historian and he will be sorely missed.

message 40: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig Very sad, one of my favorites

message 41: by Jacob (last edited Dec 17, 2013 01:50PM) (new)

Jacob I view Jackson with considerable contempt, regarding his ignoring of the Supreme Court's decision in Cherokee Nation v. Georgia, and he openly violated it with his Indian Removal Act. The Cherokee Nation v. Georgia case stemmed from a series of discriminatory pieces of legislation imposed by the Georgia legislature on the Cherokees. Chief John Ross then attempted to sue the state, with his lawyer, William Wirt who argued that because the Cherokees were a separate nation, they were not subject to the jurisdiction of Georgia. Chief Justice John Marshall ruled with the Cherokees. However, Andrew Jackson ignored the decision, resulting in my contempt for him.

message 42: by Jacob (new)

Jacob Unfortunately, I had to read the court's actual decision to learn this, however there is probably a book in circulation regarding the case.

message 43: by Martin (new)

Martin Zook | 615 comments I will never figure Jackson's esteemed ranking among U.S. presidents.

If ever there was someone on the wrong side of history, Andy was it.

Start with race. "the Indian Removal Bill constituted the highest priority in the new president's legislative agenda (p.347)," accoring to "What Hath God Wrought," the Oxford American History volume covering Jackson's administration. In a survey history, which rarely gets into much detail, 15 pages are devoted to the Indian removal program, the highest priority of his administration. Check out pages 354-6 and 414-16 JJ for the case you cited.

Tens of thousands of Native Americans died during the forced removals. 80,000 were dislocated, according to one estimate. Their lands were stolen from them. If payment was received, it tended to be far below the value of the prime lands the first Americans tended to populate.

On slavery, Jackson stopped just short of nullification.

Economic policy? A disaster. His opposition to centralized banking helped perpetuate a dysfunctional banking system and a cycle of booms and busts that especially was hard on the middling.

And this guy's face is on the double sawbuck?

What Hath God Wrought The Transformation of America, 1815-1848 by Daniel Walker Howe by William P. Grady

message 44: by Jerome, Assisting Moderator - Upcoming Books and Releases (new)

Jerome | 4302 comments Mod
You raise good points, and the removal of the Cherokee is one of the many black spots on our history, but the times and circumstances must have conditioned Jackson that way. Jackson was a veteran Indian fighter, he was personally brash enough to ignore the Supreme Court, and most Americans at the time probably could have cared less about what happened to the Cherokee.

Also, Jackson viewed all of his political enemies as personal foes, and he probably enjoyed confronting them. He hated Nicholas Biddle so he had no problems going after the bank. If he could precipitate an economic crisis just to discredit his political foes, he had no problem with that.

message 45: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig Jackson and many of his colleagues also saw the Supreme Court in a different way. They truly saw it as a third branch of government, to be ignored sometimes. I think the concept of the SC being the final say was just sinking in, but for Jackson, it certainly did not.

I agree, Jerome, Jackson seem to see life as a constant battle over foes. He started fighting the British as an early teen and never saw much positive in the world. He was armed for battle.

message 46: by Martin (last edited Dec 18, 2013 07:39AM) (new)

Martin Zook | 615 comments It wasn't just the removal of the Cherokees. It was the entire populations of the five civilized tribes (Cherokee, Choctaw, Seminole, Chickasaw, and Creek). And that was just for starters. Other tribal groups were similarly victimized.

The thinking at the time was that white settlers envied the land that the original Americans first settled. So, the government of white men, for white men, forcably removed them, not unlike the Germans removed Jews, or like other groups have been victimized by those with superior technological force.

It's true that a number of white settlers and their somewhat democratically elected officials felt justified in stealing the land belonging to the original Americans. And, it's true that Andrew Jackson was an extreme extension of that thinking.

But you guys don't find that appalling?

I mean, really, isn't the justification that, hey that's the way things were back then not too dissimilar to the thinking by others who have conducted similar atrocities on other ethnic groups?

message 47: by Jerome, Assisting Moderator - Upcoming Books and Releases (new)

Jerome | 4302 comments Mod
The job of historians should be to explain what happened and why and how, etc. Questioning its morality, in my opinion, is a separate issue. Today, with the passage of history, Jackson's actions would be considered appalling. But back then, they were not.

message 48: by Bryan (last edited Dec 18, 2013 08:24AM) (new)

Bryan Craig Indeed, Jerome. I'm just commenting from a historical perspective, and if you ask a ethical question, yes, it is appalling.

So, here is a story told by H.W. Brands, again not to make a ethical judgement, but to throw it out there. So, he was out West on a book signing for his Jackson book. There was a man without a book in line. Strange, Brands thought. So, the man came to the table and told him that he was Cherokee, and said Jackson was right. If the Cherokees stayed put, they would have been decimated by whites like the extinct tribes in the NE were. I'm sure this man's opinions are in the minority, but it is a interesting thought. I didn't expect it, that is for sure.

Andrew Jackson His Life and Times by H.W. Brands by H.W. Brands H.W. Brands

message 49: by Martin (new)

Martin Zook | 615 comments Let's try this one on for size:

A German says, "Well, you know, ethics is beyond the scope of history. It's enough to recount what happened, how, and why to those unfortunate Jews.

"But really, how can we be judgmental. It's just how people thought at the time.

"As to why it happened? Of course Germans needed the land and resources taken by the Jews, who after all viewed themselves as a separate nation."

How does that sound?

The names of oppressor and oppressed are interchangeable. If it's not history's role to tell these stories, I'm not sure history has a role.

message 50: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig Great points, Martin. So, the dominant ethical theory is relativism, that all things are relative, so in such a system, you cannot make ethical judgements in the past.

However, you can argue that there are universal truths that cross time, things like don't kill, hurt, etc. We can learn from history and try to understand why those ethical choices or policy choices were made, and apply those learned lessons to today.

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