Skip to comments.Itís time for Democrats to ditch Andrew Jackson
Posted on 05/03/2013 10:38:58 PM PDT by neverdem
As Biden speaks at event named for Old Hickory tonight, more appalling stories show party should dump him as icon
Spring means that appeals for money are bursting forth from both major political parties. It also means Democratic officials in states and counties around the country are busy getting people out to their major fundraiser, the Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner. And theyre bringing in the big guns: Vice President Joe Biden will keynote the South Carolina Democrats dinner tonight.
But after an election in which Democrats rode a wave of minority support to keep the White House and Senate, party activists should wonder about one of the founders for whom that event is named. If branding matters, then the tradition of honoring perhaps the most systematic violator of human rights for Americas nonwhites should finally run its course.
Renowned journalist T.D. Allmans gripping “Finding Florida: The True History of the Sunshine State” argues that brutality was a habit of mind for party icon Andrew Jackson long before he laid the groundwork, as president, for the Trail of Tears, the thousand-mile death march that killed 4,000 Cherokees in 1838−39.
Allman takes us back to July 1816 at a place called the Negro Fort in Floridas Panhandle, the site of modern-day Fort Gadsden. Florida then belonged to Spain, and the area around the fort was home to Spanish-speaking black and Choctaw Indian farmers who had settled along the Apalachicola River with permission from the Spanish. Unfortunately for them, then-U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Andrew Jackson hated the idea of a free colored community across the border that might serve as a magnet for runaway slaves.
So he invented a pretext for doing away with them, telling his subordinates they were villains bent on rapine and plunder. In reality, they were guilty of nothing more than raising crops, and Allman says no historian has ever produced a shred of evidence to the contrary.
No matter; Jackson illegally ordered troops into Spanish territory to destroy the fort, a wooden affair a little larger than a modern-day high school basketball court. Alerted to the attack and crowded into its walls for self-protection were about 330 civilians, more than 200 of them women and children. On July 27, 1816, Jacksons troops attacked the fort, slaughtering 270 of them. Mainstream histories claim that a single cannon shot blew up the structure, though Allman finds that account hard to square with the evidence, calling it one of the worst massacres in U.S. history. Jacksons forces then set off on a terror campaign along the river, kidnapping free blacks and marching them back into U.S. territory, where they turned them over to friends and associates to keep as slaves.
Jackson wasnt finished with Florida. In 1819, with its power waning, Spain traded the territory to the United States as part of the Adams-Onís Treaty. Florida historian Canter Brown documents(PDF) how Jackson, appointed Floridas provisional governor in 1821, proceeded in short order to violate the treatys terms guaranteeing the rights and privileges of Floridas free blacks. He had Native American allies launch a raid into western Florida to destroy the village of Angola, where black and mixed-race people lived, some of them descendants of escaped slaves. After razing the town, the allies seized 300 prisoners. No one knows exactly what happened to those captured, but Browns evidence indicates Jackson and the raids commander well may have profited personally by selling them back into slavery.
Seven years later, as president, Jackson would make way for the slave-based cotton empire in the South by forcing native tribes off their land. That he did so by violating the terms of his own Indian Removal Act, the precursor to the Trail of Tears, should matter at least a little. Indian tribes actually had the right under that law to voluntarily choose to give up their land in Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia, as University of Toledo history professor Alfred Cave demonstrated(PDF) in a 2003 article in the journal the Historian. What the law didnt authorize Jackson to do was precisely what he did allow the Indians to be removed from their land at bayonet point.
But is it unfair to hold Jackson to todays standards? It would be — had Jacksons contemporaries not tried their best to stop him. Cave documents a campaign against Jacksons Indian removal policy that continued throughout the 1830s; one signature petition from New York City was 47 yards long. From 1830 to 1842, 85 percent of opposition Whig Party congressional votes on removal were cast in opposition to Jacksons policy, according to a 1993 journal article by historian Fred Rolater. And Allman describes an 1837 investigation by congressman William Jay concluding that Jacksons destruction of the Negro Fort constituted an illegal use of taxpayer funds to support slavery.
Today, Democrats sound open to reconsidering whether honoring Jackson still makes sense. In Jacksons home state of Tennessee, party spokesman Brandon Puttbrese says, I think we welcome these kinds of conversations about our history. What he did in office these are not things we should be proud of, but theyre definitely things we must learn from. But if so, why keep Jackson as the partys brand? One explanation might just be inertia its been that way forever, so its still that way, says Puttbrese.
In Arkansas, party representative Candace Martin acknowledges that If you look at the overall values of the Democratic Party, then Andrew Jackson probably would not be representative … Its maybe something that we should be debating.
And a Democratic official in one state who didnt want to be named thinks Jacksons days are numbered as a fundraising brand: When I think of Andrew Jackson, I automatically think Trail of Tears the official says. If a bunch of people in my generation were creating this dinner, I dont think we would name it the Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner. I think a lot of things that happen in politics are just like, Well thats the way its always been.
Mississippi party chairman Rickey Cole does offer a robust defense of Jackson, the namesake of that states capital. Cole argues that Jackson was committed to public investment, a value that carried through Democrats from Woodrow Wilson to Franklin Roosevelt and todays party leaders. And it was Jacksonians who got rid of the requirement that white men had to own property to vote, he says. For that day, for that time, it was progressive, Cole says.
But the historical record casts doubt on even those parts of Jacksons legacy. His states’ rights, small-federal-government philosophy led him to veto much-needed federal money for transportation improvements like one extending the National Road in 1830. And Allman doesnt buy the idea that Jacksons expansion of suffrage to all white men eventually led to freedom for everyone else. That cover story papers over Jacksons violent expansion of slavery into the Southeast, which dramatically strengthened the Southern slave powers and fueled the Civil War. I dont accept the argument that Jacksons main contribution to history was expanding freedom, Allman says. His main contribution was expanding slavery.
Should Jacksons history matter to Democrats? If not, its hard to explain why Republicans went to such lengths before the presidential campaigns in both 2008 and 2012 to paint themselves as the historic defenders of minority rights by recounting the crimes of Southern Democrats before the civil rights era. Todays Democrats play into their hands by continuing to embrace Jackson; in the battle for minority votes, branding could prove to be the difference.
State parties have dumped Jackson before. In 1978, Minnesota Democrats renamed their Jefferson-Jackson dinner for Hubert Humphrey. Oklahoma Democrats replaced him with former Majority Leader Carl Albert in the 1990s. And in 2010, the North Dakota party picked legendary Sen. Quentin Burdick as the fundraisers namesake instead.
With Republicans also raising money with Lincoln-Reagan dinners this spring, Democrats have to take a harder look at what the past means for their future. If so, theyll find its not hard to do better. Roosevelt-Kennedy has a nice ring to it.
I fail to see the connection of Andy with the Democrats.
Andy Jackson seized the reserve bank, sold all its assets and paid off the national debt. The Dems love the bank and would borrow and print money at every chance they had.
That's probably the reason they want to dump him. He was a fiscally responsible power hungry murderous bigot.
I started reading a book on economics a couple of years back. There was a whole section on Karl Marx, how he had studied economics in detail, and had a deeper knowledge of economics than almost anyone in history. I stopped reading at that point.
And theyre bringing in the big guns....
This is sending in the big guns.
Andrew Jackson did some admirable things before his Presidency, such as volunteering to fight in the American Revolution as a young teenager and beating the British at the battle of New Orleans, but there is lots to criticize in his Presidency, beyond his Indian policy.
The original Tennessee constitution of 1796 had not barred free black men from voting. The new one adopted while Jackson was President did--but I don't know if he had any influence on that decision at the state level.
The Cherokee Trail of Tears happened under the next President, Martin van Buren (also a Democrat), but it was a consequence of the Jackson policies.
They're stuck with him. Andrew Jackass is the source-name of the RAT's famous mascot.
Personally I think they should call it the Connor-Wallace dinner.
For Bull Connor and George Wallace.
Karl Marx had a Ph.D. from a German university and if he had not been a political radical might have had a successful career as a professor at a German university (he was a baptized Jew so I don’t think his Jewish ancestry would have barred him from a career). He was smart—just extremely wrongheaded. Claudius Ptolemaeus was a brilliant scientist—but his Ptolemaic theory of the solar system is completely wrong. Marx is the Ptolemy of modern economic thought.
The obsession of Jackson and his peeps with destroying the Bank was probably a very bad idea, as it turned out.
The USA almost certainly needed a National Bank at the time, and now, for that matter. Which is not to necessarily say Biddle’s bank or the Federal Reserve was or are the banks we need.
When Jackson shut down the Bank, he made a speculative and inflationary bubble and the resultant eventual Panic of 1837 inevitable.
The Biddle family has produced a number of distinguished Americans. A great-great-grandson of Nicholas Biddle of Bank War fame was A. J. Drexel Biddle, Jr. (1897-1961), a U.S. diplomat under FDR and later, also a major general (buried in Arlington National Cemetery). Francis Biddle (1886-1968), Attorney General 1941-1945, was descended from a cousin of Nicholas Biddle. Francis Biddle initially opposed FDR’s internment of Japanese-Americans and Japanese citizens living in the US, but later went along with the policy. He was also one of the judges at the Nuremberg trials.
Allman is just plain wrong, and his book is renowned in Florida for being wrong a LOT of the time.
Jackson had a fort in US territory that had to be supplied by boats that went past the Negro Fort. It was probably established to pick up a fight with the Negro Fort occupants. Here's what happened with the first such convoy.
Soon, a rowboat filled with Negro Fort warriors approached the schooners, waved, then fired several volleys. The Americans returned fire, but they fell short as the Indians withdrew. Two days later, after waiting a week, the U.S. Navy commander of the supply convoy - Jarius Loomis - dispatched four sailors in a rowboat ashore for fresh water and oysters. They carried empty kegs and buckets.
After steering through the mudflats and putting ashore, the men were attacked by 40 Negro Fort defenders who killed two sailors and captured a third, who they later burned alive in hot tar. The fourth sailor hid and was found the next day by a U.S. rescue party. The incident became known as the "Watering Party Massacre".
While Jackson's incursion into Spanish Florida may or may not have been legally justified by these events, it's really difficult to say he attacked innocent farmers just minding their own business.
Couple other distortions in the article, there may be more:
Jackson was not present at Negro Fort. Or probably anywhere nearby. The attack was commanded by a Col. Clinch.
The Negro Fort was indeed destroyed by a "hot shot" that took a lucky (or unlucky) bounce into a powder magazine holding tons of powder left over from the British occupation. It was one of the largest explosions in American history to that point. The slave raiding troops had no incentive to intentionally massacre the blacks, as implied in the article. The blacks were their potential loot.
As usual in real history, as opposed to liberal revisionism, things are more complicated than the evil white American intentionally massacring inoffensive black farmers.
What a farce!
Excerpt from the 1801 Inaugural Address of Thomas Jefferson
"Let us, then, with courage and confidence pursue our own Federal and Republican principles, our attachment to union and representative government. Kindly separated by nature and a wide ocean from the exterminating havoc of one quarter of the globe; too high-minded to endure the degradations of the others; possessing a chosen country, with room enough for our descendants to the thousandth and thousandth generation; entertaining a due sense of our equal right to the use of our own faculties, to the acquisitions of our own industry, to honor and confidence from our fellow-citizens, resulting not from birth, but from our actions and their sense of them; enlightened by a benign religion, professed, indeed, and practiced in various forms, yet all of them inculcating honesty, truth, temperance, gratitude, and the love of man; acknowledging and adoring an overruling Providence, which by all its dispensations proves that it delights in the happiness of man here and his greater happiness hereafterwith all these blessings, what more is necessary to make us a happy and a prosperous people? Still one thing more, fellow-citizensa wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicities.
"About to enter, fellow-citizens, on the exercise of duties which comprehend everything dear and valuable to you, it is proper you should understand what I deem the essential principles of our Government, and consequently those which ought to shape its Administration. I will compress them within the narrowest compass they will bear, stating the general principle, but not all its limitations. Equal and exact justice to all men, of whatever state or persuasion, religious or political; peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none; the support of the State governments in all their rights, as the most competent administrations for our domestic concerns and the surest bulwarks against antirepublican tendencies; the preservation of the General Government in its whole constitutional vigor, as the sheet anchor of our peace at home and safety abroad; a jealous care of the right of election by the peoplea mild and safe corrective of abuses which are lopped by the sword of revolution where peaceable remedies are unprovided; absolute acquiescence in the decisions of the majority, the vital principle of republics, from which is no appeal but to force, the vital principle and immediate parent of despotism; a well disciplined militia, our best reliance in peace and for the first moments of war, till regulars may relieve them; the supremacy of the civil over the military authority; economy in the public expense, that labor may be lightly burthened; the honest payment of our debts and sacred preservation of the public faith; encouragement of agriculture, and of commerce as its handmaid; the diffusion of information and arraignment of all abuses at the bar of the public reason; freedom of religion; freedom of the press, and freedom of person under the protection of the habeas corpus, and trial by juries impartially selected. These principles form the bright constellation which has gone before us and guided our steps through an age of revolution and reformation. The wisdom of our sages and blood of our heroes have been devoted to their attainment. They should be the creed of our political faith, the text of civic instruction, the touchstone by which to try the services of those we trust; and should we wander from them in moments of error or of alarm, let us hasten to retrace our steps and to regain the road which alone leads to peace, liberty, and safety."
Now, the question is: do current Party leaders subscribe to principles and ideas which will lead us to "retrace our steps and to regain the road which alone leads to peace, liberty, and safety"?
That seems to rule out any connection for current Democrats with Jefferson, which, might lead to a consideration of a possible ideological connection with Jackson. Consider this:
By the Founders' formula, "the People's" written Constitution was the anchor of our liberties, binding government to the "People's" limitations on its power.
Current Democrat Party philosophy, in effect, undoes all the monumental work accomplished by the Founders on behalf of liberty and leaves the law afloat and without anchor, relying, as of old, on mere men and women.
From Page xv of "Our Ageless Constitution," here are excerpted words from President Andrew Jackson's Proclamation of December 10, 1832:
"We have received it [the Constitution] as the work of the assembled wisdom of the nation. We have trusted to it as to the sheet anchor of our safety in the stormy times of conflict with a foreign or domestic foe. We have looked to it with sacred awe as the palladium of our liberties, and with all the solemnities of religion have pledged to each other our lives and fortunes here and our hopes of happiness hereafter in its defense and support. Were we mistaken, my countrymen, in attaching this importance to the Constitution . . .? No. We were not mistaken. The letter of this great instrument is free from this radical fault. . . . No, we did not err! . . . The sages . . . have given us a practical and, as they hoped, a permanent* Constitutional compact. . . . The Constitution is still the object of our reverence, the bond of our Union, our defense in danger, the source of our prosperity in peace: it shall descend, as we have received it, uncorrupted by sophistical construction, to our posterity. . . ."
*Underlining added for emphasis
And, it was Thomas Jefferson who used another metaphor with reference to the Constitution when he indicated that "the People" must "bind them (government) by the chains of the Constitution." In another instance, he declared: "It was intended to lace them up straitly within the enumerated powers. . . ."
Perhaps a Wilson-FDR Dinner might be more appropriate!
If you ever get to the Gilcrease Institute and Museum in Tulsa OK, be sure to look for a framed handbill broadside against Andrew Jackson.
It is several columns of fine print with a row of coffins across the top.
I sat down and read it in it’s entirety one day during a visit there..
It is basically an expose of Jackson’s part in the MURDER of US Militia troops who had received their discharge to go home. On their way out of camp they were ordered to stop and do some more work. They refused because they were now discharged.
Jackson ordered them shot as mutineers.