Andrew Jackson Biography

Seventh President of the United States

Years Served as President: 1829-1837

Vice President: John Caldwell Calhoun, Martin Van Buren

Party: Democrat

Age at Inauguration: 61

Andrew Jackson portrait

Home State: South Carolina

Date of Birth: March 15, 1767

Died: June 18, 1845

Married: Rachel Donelson

Children: Three adopted sons, legal guardian for eight more children

Nickname: Old Hickory

What is Andrew Jackson known for?

Andrew Jackson was a war hero from the War of 1812. He was born in poverty, orphaned young, and known as the first “common man” to be elected president.

Early Life

Andrew Jackson was born in a backwoods region on the border between North and South Carolina. The exact location of his birth is unknown, and the two Carolinas have debated over which is his home state. However, Andrew himself said that he was from South Carolina.

south-carolina-seal

He was the son of two Irish immigrants and lived a life of poverty. His father (also named Andrew) died before his birth. Growing up, Andrew received little formal schooling.

When the British invaded the Carolinas in 1780-1781, all three of the Jackson brothers volunteered to fight in the Revolutionary War. Andrew was only about 13 and probably served as a courier (messenger).

Before the war was over, both of Andrew’s brothers and his mother died. One brother died of heatstroke, another of smallpox, and his mother of cholera.

sickness emoticon

Andrew himself was also taken prisoner by the British. He was struck with a saber when he refused to shine one officer’s boots, leaving lasting scars.

In his late teens, Andrew began studying law. He became a lawyer in North Carolina and soon moved to the settlement that would become Nashville, Tennessee.

Family Life

In Tennessee, Andrew met and married Rachel Donelson. Rachel was the daughter of a local colonel. Andrew earned enough money through his private law practice to build a mansion, the Hermitage.

Rachel Donelson
Rachel Donelson

Rachel and Andrew were not able to have children of their own. Over the years, however, they adopted three boys and became the guardians of several other children.

Political and Military Career

In 1796, Andrew Jackson helped create the new Tennessee state constitution. He became the first man from Tennessee to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Andrew was then elected to the U.S. Senate, and later became the judge of Tennessee’s superior court. After that, he was chosen to lead the state militia.

When the War of 1812 broke out against the British, Andrew Jackson served as a major general. He led a successful five-month campaign against the Creek Indians, who were allies of the British.

He also led American troops to victory in the famous Battle of New Orleans, which cemented his fame as a national war hero.

Because Andrew was so popular, many people started suggesting that he run for president. The first time he ran, it was a five-way race. As predicted, Andrew did receive the most popular votes.

Battle of Orleans
Battle of New Orleans

But for the first time in U.S. history, none of the candidates received the required majority of electoral votes. The House of Representatives had to decide the president.

After Speaker of the House Henry Clay announced his support for John Quincy Adams, Adams won the presidency. Adams then appointed Henry Clay as his Secretary of State.

Many of Andrew Jackson’s supporters called this a “corrupt bargain” between Adams and Clay, and Andrew himself resigned from the Senate.

Presidency

Four years later, Andrew Jackson ran for president again. This time, he won.

He was considered the first common man to rise to the United States presidency. As president, Andrew was known for his strong personality and for making it clear that he was in charge.

He didn’t hesitate to use his presidential veto power, and he didn’t consult with others about many of his decisions. His opponents called him “King Andrew I.”

Two new political parties grew out of the old Democratic Republican Party. The Democrats supported Andrew Jackson, and the National Republicans (also called the Whigs) did not.

Still, he remained popular throughout his presidency. He easily won re-election and received about 56% of the popular vote.

Andrew suggested getting rid of the electoral college, and he opposed the national bank. He saw it as “an enemy of the common people.”

Although he did support states’ rights, he made it clear that states should be expected to follow most federal laws. He believed in a small but relatively powerful federal government.

federal-government-powers

After the Presidency

By the time Andrew Jackson left the White House, he was even more popular than when he entered it.

He may even have been able to win a third term, but he chose not to run again.

He supported presidential candidate Martin Van Buren, who won the next election over Whig rival William Henry Harrison.

Andrew retired to the Hermitage, where he died at the age of 78.

Fun Facts About Andrew Jackson

Andrew Jackson was the first U.S. president from a state other than Massachusetts or Virginia.

He was also the first president born to immigrant parents, the only president to serve in both the American Revolution and the War of 1812, and the first president to have been a prisoner of war.

Andrew Jackson hated paper money, but his picture appears on the $20 bill.

Emily Donelson

After Andrew’s wife Rachel died a few weeks before his inauguration, he asked his niece Emily Donelson to serve as his hostess in the White House.

His nickname “Old Hickory” was earned during the Battle of New Orleans, when the soldiers said that their general was “as tough as old hickory.”

Andrew Jackson was involved in several duels. During one duel, he was shot in the chest but managed to remain standing and kill his opponent. The bullet couldn’t be safely removed and stayed in his chest for the next 40 years.

parrot

Andrew was also the target of the first presidential assassination attempt. Luckily, both the assassin’s pistols misfired. The president was fine, and the assassin was captured.

Andrew’s pet parrot, Poll, attended his funeral. He had to be removed from the funeral for cursing.

US Presidents