Skip to comments.Andrew Jackson: His Life and Times by H. W. Brands
Posted on 01/05/2006 8:00:31 PM PST by Pharmboy
Andrew Jackson: His Life and Times by H. W. Brands. Published by Doubleday, a division of Random House, New York. 2005, 560 pages.
Part of gaining a deeper understanding of American history is reading presidential biographies. Each biography is not only a look at the person who occupied America's highest office but is a window on the events, individuals and decisions that shaped America's destiny and character. H. W. Brands is a history professor at the University of Texas at Austin and is best known for his biography of Benjamin Franklin "The First American," that was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2001. His latest book published in November 2005, is on America's seventh president Andrew Jackson.
President Jackson was 10 years old when the American Revolution broke out in 1776 and he would witness and participate in the ugliest aspect of our revolution, the British campaign to subdue the South. Living in the Waxhaws District along the present day border of South and North Carolina, he was subjected to the nefarious British cavalry raider Tarleton and his dragoons who gave no quarter to surrendering revolutionaries. Jackson served as a message carrier for the Continental Army, and before the end of the Revolution would land in a British prison in Camden, suffer a sword gash by a British officer bent on humiliating him and would lose his mother and brother. Andrew Jackson developed a hatred of the British he never overcame.
After the Revolution he settled in the west around Nashville and learned the law. He also had a history of engaging in skirmishes with Native American tribes resentful of expansion by settlers. The violence of Tennessee regions would further shape Jackson's view.
The book covers his involvement with the institution of slavery, which began in 1788 when he was given a slave in compensation for legal services. As President he disdained abolitionists and felt that slavery was paramount to America's economic prosperity, he also felt discussion of the issue was divisive for the union. Before becoming president, Jackson was a war hawk who campaigned and won a Major General's position as commander of the Tennessee Militia. Chapters cover his use of the militia to fight native tribes and the way in which he exceeded his authority by seizing portions of Florida from the Spanish. The 1814 Battle of New Orleans pitted 11,000 British regular troops against about 5,000 Chocktaw, freed blacks, Louisiana, Kentucky and Tennessee militiamen as well as Baratarian Pirates under the command of Jackson. He held the defense of New Orleans using terrain, artillery and attacking in a foggy night to dull the British advance and cause them to withdraw by sea. This catapulted Jackson into the national stage and presidency in 1829.
Andrew Jackson's presidency tested the limits of democracy descending into mob rule and his record with the Native American tribes is not a good one. Jackson was the president who enabled the infamous tragedy the "Trail of Tears" march with the eviction of the Cherokees from Georgia. The Jackson presidency was a highly controversial one and is vital in understanding the evolution of balancing executive, legislative and judicial powers. Brands' new book is a highly recommended read for those wanting to deepen their understanding of American history.
RevWar/Colonial History/Gen. Washington ping list (Freepmail me to get ON or get OFF this list). Just the fact that he came up against Tarleton is worth it...
If we only had folks as brave in their young teenage years as Jackson was, we could never be defeated.
BTW: I still see the Brits as the brutal red coats. Roosevelt was right to oppose aiding the Poms in preserving their empire.
The book covers his involvement with the institution of slavery, which began in 1788 when he was given a slave in compensation for legal services
...thus establishing the long held tradition of legal interns.
Oh they definitely had their brutal period. The story of the RevWar prison ships docked where the old Brooklyn Navy Yard was brutal enough.
Seems like the Battle of New Orleans took place after the war had been diplomatically closed out, but before fast enough communications. :')
Jackson split the old Democratic party, creating the Jackson wing of that party, which is the one that survives. Also, he was the last president until Lincoln to win reelection.
Thanx for the ping!
I went to grade school with a girl whose last name was Lawrence, Her first and middle name was Rachael Jackson...and her brother was Andrew Jackson Lawrence. They purported to be descended from The President's family. I never knew if that was true or not, but found it interesting.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.