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American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House
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message 1: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Aug 24, 2009 10:43AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
This is the thread for the discussion of Chapter Three of The American Lion.

The chapter title is: A MARRIAGE, A DEFEAT, AND A VICTORY

American Lion Andrew Jackson in the White House by Jon Meacham

message 2: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
Please feel free to discuss any aspect of Chapter Three: A MARRIAGE, A DEFEAT, AND A VICTORY when you complete this chapter. This is a non spoiler thread..

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The 1824 Presidential Election was hotly contested and was between Andrew Jackson, Henry Clay, John Quincy Adams and William Crawford. John C. Calhoun was in the mix trying to simply win the Vice Presidency slot which was the practice in 1824. Andrew Jackson won 41.3% of the popular vote and 99 electoral college votes which was shy of the 131 needed; he was out in front. However, it appeared to many that Clay and Quincy Adams struck a bargain when the election fell to the House of Representatives to decide; that left Clay out of the contention because he came in fourth place and according to the Twelve Amendment at that time only the top three would be able to compete. John C. Calhoun had been the fifth contender but then had decided to throw all his eggs in the VP basket.

It appears that at that time being Secretary of State almost made you heir apparent for the presidency; Adams was the current Secretary of State and all of his predecessors who had served as Secretary of State eventually became President; so when Clay who hated Jackson threw his support behind Adams instead of Jackson who was the front runner; everyone felt that a bargain had been made between Adams and Clay (promising him the Secretary of State position and becoming the heir apparent so to speak).

Do you think what occurred in the 1824 Presidential election was fair and above reproach or was their a corrupt bargain reached between Quincy Adams and Clay?

Here is a write-up on that election:

It is interesting to note how these candidates really were all regional players (each had their constituency from their locale).

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A little bit about the contenders:

Henry Clay:

Henry Clay was actually quite admired except of course by Andrew Jackson.

What was Henry Clay's platform?

"He was a dominant figure in both the First Party System to 1824, and the Second Party System after that. Known as "The Great Compromiser" and "The Great Pacifier" for his ability to bring others to agreement, he was the founder and leader of the Whig Party and a leading advocate of programs for modernizing the economy, especially tariffs to protect industry from international competition, a national bank, and internal improvements to promote canals, ports and railroads.

He was a leading war hawk and, according to historian Clement Eaton, was "more than any other individual" responsible for the War of 1812.[1:] Clay was also called "Henry of the West" and "The Western Star."[2:]

Although his multiple attempts to become president were unsuccessful, to a large extent he defined the issues of the Second Party System. He was a major supporter of the American System, and had success in brokering compromises on the slavery issue, especially in 1820 and 1850.

He was part of the "Great Triumvirate" or "Immortal Trio," along with his colleagues Daniel Webster and John C. Calhoun. In 1957, a Senate committee chaired by John F. Kennedy named Clay as one of the five greatest senators in U.S. history.[3:] In his early involvement in Illinois politics and as a fellow Kentucky native, Abraham Lincoln was a great admirer of Clay."

Source - wikipedia

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John Quincy Adams:

John Quincy Adams was our sixth president of the United States under the new constitution. Please see the thread devoted to his presidency.

There was quite a bit of acrimony between Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams. Adams refused to go to Jackson's inauguration and Jackson refused to attend the perfunctory farewell and transition meeting with the preceding president who happened to be Quincy Adams. Jackson blamed Quincy Adams in part for Rachel's heart attack. When Jackson was to be given an honorary degree at Harvard, Adams insinuated that Jackson was not worthy.

Who was at fault for this mean spirited behavior?

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William Crawford:

William Harris Crawford (February 24, 1772 – September 15, 1834) was an American politician and judge during the early 19th century. He served as United States Secretary of War from 1815 to 1816 and United States Secretary of the Treasury from 1816 to 1825, and was a candidate for President of the United States in 1824.

Crawford was one of the unsuccessful candidates for president in 1824.

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John C. Calhoun:

John Caldwell Calhoun (March 18, 1782 – March 31, 1850) was the 7th Vice President of the United States and a leading Southern politician from South Carolina during the first half of the 19th century. Calhoun was an advocate of slavery, states' rights, limited government, and nullification.

He was the second man to serve as Vice President under two administrations, (as a Democratic-Republican under John Quincy Adams and as a Democrat under Andrew Jackson); the first Vice President to have been born after the American Revolution; and the first Vice President to resign from office.
Calhoun briefly served in the South Carolina legislature. There he wrote legislation making South Carolina the first state to adopt universal suffrage for white men.

Although Calhoun died nearly 11 years before the start of the American Civil War, he was an advocate of secession. Nicknamed the "cast-iron man" for his determination to defend the causes in which he believed, Calhoun supported state's rights and nullification, under which states could declare null and void federal laws which they deemed to be unconstitutional.

He was an outspoken proponent of the institution of slavery, which he famously defended as a "positive good" rather than as a "necessary evil".[2:] His rhetorical defense of slavery was partially responsible for escalating Southern threats of secession in the face of mounting abolitionist sentiment in the North. Calhoun was one of the "Great Triumvirate" or the "Immortal Trio" of statesmen, along with his colleagues Daniel Webster and Henry Clay.

Calhoun served in the House of Representatives (1810–1817). He was appointed Secretary of War (1817–1824) under James Monroe and Secretary of State (1844–1845) under John Tyler.

message 8: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new) - rated it 4 stars

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In 1957, then Senator John F. Kennedy had the distinct honor of selecting five outstanding senators:

The five named included John C. Calhoun, Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, Robert M. LaFollette, Sr, and Robert A. Taft. I wonder what Andrew Jackson would have thought of these selections.

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And the one that Senator Kennedy (at that time in 1957) was deemed the greatest or most outstanding was Henry Clay!!!

This is the write-up:

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I wonder how Andrew Jackson would have felt with the honors bestowed upon these men especially with his quote:

"I have only two regrets: I didn't shoot Henry Clay and I didn't hang John C. Calhoun."

message 11: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Aug 25, 2009 07:44PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

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I do not know about anybody else but I was getting confused about the relationship of Emily and her husband to Andrew Jackson and Rachel.

I read the following:

Emily Tennessee Donelson was born on her father's farm in Donelson, Tennessee. Her father John Donelson was the brother of Rachel Donelson Jackson, the wife of the future President. Unlike many girls of her day, Emily was afforded a formal education. She studied at Nashville Female Academy in Nashville, Tennessee, and was considered an accomplished student.
On September 16, 1824, seventeen year old Emily married Andrew Jackson "A.J." Donelson. A.J. Donelson was Emily's first cousin and a ward of their mutual uncle and aunt, Andrew and Rachel Donelson Jackson.

Andrew Jackson Donelson's father was another one of Rachel's brothers (Samuel). When his father Samuel died when Andrew was five; he was somehow sent to live with his namesake and his father's sister; his aunt Rachel at the Hermitage. Of course, he became close to his uncle since he was being raised by him and his aunt Rachel.

Interesting little tale about Andrew Jackson Donelson:

OLD HICKORY'S NEPHEW: (rather dashing as a young man)

I find it odd how two first cousins would get married in those days???

message 12: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
Some more on his nephew:

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As everyone is aware, Senator Edward Kennedy passed away. One thing that is interesting in reading The American Lion is that we learn about Andrew Jackson and the fact that he was conferred an honorary degree from Harvard at a special convocation; there have been very few special convocations at Harvard where a degree is conferred. It happened last December 2008 for Senator Kennedy.

The article stated:

Kennedy joins an elite group of individuals who have received their honorary degrees at special convocations. Past such honorees include Nelson Mandela, Winston Churchill, George Washington, Andrew Jackson, and James Monroe.

That is quite an elite line-up; three presidents (Jackson, Washington, Monroe), an emiment British statesman and Prime Minister (Churchill) and Nelson Mandela.

This was from the Harvard University Gazette:

I have also attached the url which has the archived webcast which can be watched. It is very worthwhile and he will be sorely missed. Be sure to watch it if you can.

I thought it was interesting that Andrew Jackson was one of the honorees at a special convocation to receive the degree as Senator Kennedy did in December. As you recall, it was John Quincy Adams who wrote to Harvard and pretty much scolded them for conferring the degree on Jackson. Considering this week's events and the fact that we are reading about Andrew Jackson, I thought that these url's may prove interesting. The archived website even shows a much younger Ted Kennedy catching a touch down for Harvard at the Harvard Yale game so many years ago.


message 14: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Aug 31, 2009 08:40AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

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I had always wondered about the electoral college and what were some of the true reasons for this idea. Meacham professes that the Federalists at the time of the creation of the union did not really want to bother with the "people's will" or who they wanted to select for president; the electoral college was a devise or scheme to check the people's will and thwart any attempt that the popular vote would determine who was president. In fact, they rather preferred the backroom deals and decisions deciding who should lead; most of the time it was someone from Massachusetts or Virginia or a former Secretary of State!

What does this tell us about our founding fathers? Were they really interested in freedom for all and the ability to influence how you are governed? Or were they simply a new elite who felt that they knew best?

How does the Electoral College Work?

Origins of the Electoral College -

During this time period, the caucus was the means to elect or nominate presidents; handled by the elite versus the people (King Caucus).

message 15: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new) - rated it 4 stars

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Very humorous how John Quincy Adams and his family as well as Webster were holding out hope that it was Jackson that had died and not Rachel. News and communication must have been fairly garbled in that day and age.

Vincent (vpbrancato) | 1246 comments So I was just away for a week in Maine - no computers etc - and finihsed the book - and I just think I begin to see how this works and am I correct that only Bentley has made commmetns on this book so far?

Anyway the individuality of Jackson going alone at 14 to Tennessee shows and the enviromental influence that seems to have allowed Emily to be so self confident and capable (probably a very intelligent woman also) is quite impressive.

I would make other commmets but others are probalby less far along in the book than this.

message 17: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Sep 01, 2009 07:51AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
The party system went through a metamorphosis during this period; Republicanism became more Jeffersonian and Federalism seemed to be dying out. What we can be sure of is that Andrew Jackson's winning the Presidency was really the first time that the mandate of the people elected their leader in the United States. Having a mandate due to the votes that one receives as President and its plurality has come to mean a lot of things; Jackson seemed to be the first President to benefit from universal sufferage.

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Vince wrote: "So I was just away for a week in Maine - no computers etc - and finihsed the book - and I just think I begin to see how this works and am I correct that only Bentley has made commmetns on this book..."

I think so Vince; feel free to comment on any point related to any specific chapter. I will get the other chapters opened up for you. Where in Maine were you; I was born in Maine and still have ties there. A wonderful state.

Yes, Emily was quite accomplished and her family had allowed her to acquire schooling well beyond what was considered the norm in that day. A very accomplished woman.

message 19: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
Vince, what did you think of the book overall? I am enjoying it so far and I am fascinated by this man.

Vincent (vpbrancato) | 1246 comments Hi Bentley

I put the following review onto the my books in web site and didn't realize it would not get here.

This is a very good book - I learned a lot - I never before understood the role Jackson seemed to play in moving the Presidency from the seemingly original role as executive and worker for the Congress to a real self directed officer - maybe I make that too simple - This seems to be the first guy who was not near or linked to the founding fathers that got the Presidency - and he did what he thought was best for America. - The family and personal loyalty influences are terribly revealing and Meacham say she has access to newly discouvered letters which helped him.
The self confidence and self sufficency off the American frontier - as personified particularly by Jackson and his niece Emily are themselves a bit of an eye opener for me
It gets only four stars becasue it was slow at times.

message 21: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Sep 01, 2009 08:14AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
I too admired the spunk of Jackson and Emily and smile when I think what was considered the frontier in those days. But at that time I guess it was.

Thank you for your review Vince and good for you for getting through the entire book so soon. This selection is the selection for August and September for the Presidential Series; but we have some other great books slated that you can get started on. I am glad that your vacation was so relaxing that you got to finish the entire book!!! Great job. Isn't it amazing that after all of the years of study of American History that all of us received; that most of us are surprised by the fact that really he was the first person truly elected by the people. I was also amazed how some of the others like John Quincy Adams (who actually sounded like a stuffed shirt according to Meacham) were physically sick at the thought of Jackson taking over the helm. He came into Washington without much fanfare (a couple of carriages or so) but really left an imprint on our country. I think there was no doubt he loved his country and did what he thought was best. He did not have the kind of advisers that one might think that you should have today (they were a motley crew); but I even learned about the term cabinet and how this group was origninally called his Kitchen Cabinet because of where they took their notes. Another thing that strikes me as telling is how the founding fathers actually separated themselves from the people that they were allegedly serving; they had actually set up their own elite protected circle; their own fraternity of sorts where they held all of the power over the people. I guess one could give them a pass and say that the group was involved in nation building at that time.

message 22: by Sarah (new)

Sarah | 67 comments I have mixed feelings about universal suffrage. Personally, I think that the right to vote comes with certain responsibilities that some people don't take too seriously. I feel that a lot of people don't research the issues enough but rely on the media to guide them in their decisions .. mostly with sensationalized commercials. I don't think there is a way to solve this problem.. I would not advocate taking someone's right away .. but I do think its a real problem.

Do you think our system today is really so different from the president being chose froma certain elite group? If anything, I feel this may be worse today. There is a certain background you have to have to be considered for president and unfortunately .. money is also a major factor.

If anyone knows more about the electoral process maybe you can answer a question for me. So a state gets a certain number of electors and essentially votes for these electors (when voting for president), then these people actually vote for the president. Do these people have to vote for the candidate that the majority of people in their state want them too or can they vote anyway they want? I don't really understand the point or what keeps these people honest.

message 23: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Sep 06, 2009 08:19PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
Sarah, I understand where you are coming from believe me; many times I have stated to myself that we get the leaders we deserve.

a) First, I agree with you that there are always going to be those folks who like to listen to a "talking head" and do not do any research or reading on their own (if they fall into that category); and I agree with you Sarah, there seems to be a lot of them; just like there were a lot of them who stormed the White House to get their free cheese and spiked punch at Andrew Jackson's inauguration. There also seems to be many more of them now and the more they have not read about the issues the angrier and the more uncivil these folks seem to be. I am not sure how our country became so uncivil.

b) But in a democracy how do we measure who has taken their rights seriously and who has not? It would be a very subjective situation to try to assess folks on an individual basis; like for example making everyone take a basic civics test for starters. Unfortunately, these scenarios would be discriminatory.

c) I personally refuse to watch those attack ads on television and 99% of infomercials; the millions that are wasted on these miserable pieces could be so well spent on the unfortunate or even cancer research; it is a shame.

d) Good or bad, I do believe that our system is very different from the president being chosen from an elite group like the founding fathers. In America anybody can run for president; whether they will get the backing needed is of course something else. And both major parties do seem to vet their candidates but their are many choices at the beginning of the primary season on both sides usually and a plethora of special interest parties although we do not hear much from them even though many of them end up on the ballot on election day. The founding fathers were far more insular; their meetings and debates for the most part were done in secret and they always picked one of their own; if you were not a founding father; forget about it. And there is no doubt about it, they liked that power and control.

e) You are right Sarah; money does play a factor because these kinds of elections are extremely expensive. It does seem you have to either have money or access to it; and/or you have to be so charismatic that you can raise the money from the people.

f) The Electoral Process:

I think these urls should answer most of your questions.

These are two Q&A's that you might be interested in based upon your questions:

What are the qualifications to be an elector?

The U.S. Constitution contains very few provisions relating to the qualifications of electors. Article II, section 1, clause 2 provides that no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector. As a historical matter, the 14th Amendment provides that State officials who have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the United States or given aid and comfort to its enemies are disqualified from serving as electors. This prohibition relates to the post-Civil War era.

A State's certification of electors on its Certificates of Ascertainment is generally sufficient to establish the qualifications of electors.

Must electors vote for the candidate who won their State's popular vote?

There is no Constitutional provision or Federal law that requires electors to vote according to the results of the popular vote in their States. Some States, however, require electors to cast their votes according to the popular vote. These pledges fall into two categories—electors bound by State law and those bound by pledges to political parties.

Which States bind electors to popular vote results? Refer to Electors Bound by State Law and Pledges to find out.

The Supreme Court has held that the Constitution does not require that electors be completely free to act as they choose and therefore, political parties may extract pledges from electors to vote for the parties' nominees. Some State laws provide that so-called "faithless electors" may be subject to fines or may be disqualified for casting an invalid vote and be replaced by a substitute elector. The Supreme Court has not specifically ruled on the question of whether pledges and penalties for failure to vote as pledged may be enforced under the Constitution. No elector has ever been prosecuted for failing to vote as pledged.

Today, it is rare for electors to disregard the popular vote by casting their electoral vote for someone other than their party's candidate. Electors generally hold a leadership position in their party or were chosen to recognize years of loyal service to the party. Throughout our history as a nation, more than 99 percent of electors have voted as pledged.

Your questions are excellent; the Electoral College was a compromise to the founding fathers who believed that the people did not really know what was in their best interest. I happen to disagree and am very happy that I live in a democracy and get an opportunity to vote; but some folks every year just throw away their opportunity by not voting at all. The Electoral College does seem to provide another check and balance; and maybe this is not a bad idea at all.


PS: Great analysis and questions Sarah. What do the rest of you think about Sarah's feelings about universal suffrage; do you think that Americans take their voting rights seriously or not?

Vincent (vpbrancato) | 1246 comments Sarah wrote: "I have mixed feelings about universal suffrage. Personally, I think that the right to vote comes with certain responsibilities that some people don't take too seriously. I feel that a lot of peop..."

----------------------------------------------just a couple of comments after some time for reflection

It is true that money is a factor but often the money is a result of achievement. In our very recent past Bill Clinton who worked his way up from not a very prosperous childhood achieved the presidency so I think that although money and threreofre maybe good education contribute to election success.

The real media problem can only be attacked I thinnk by qulaity education. One of the places America seemingly suffers in education is in that there are so many different school managers (states rights) and so often the members of school boards are not educators or even well educated. I don't see an easy solutioin but I do beleive that states should take the efforts to impose standards - and although "no child left behind" seems to have not succeeded some documentable form of educational success should be in place to control how Federal money is used to supplement state resources in eductiaon I think.

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