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Andrew Jackson and Why History Matters
by Michael Farrell, Veterans Today -  January 1, 2016

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“The failures that are now taking place are amongst the stock-jobbers, brokers, and gamblers, and would to God, they were all swept from the land !” – Andrew Jackson

Let's talk about treason. Treason and Andrew Jackson and the appropriate way to respond to it.

Jackson is politically incorrect these days. Hot tempered, angry and unforgiving Manifest Destiny advocate who loved a lot of Indians like brothers and children but also was responsible for the Trail of Tears and the displacement of the Five Civilized Tribes to Oklahoma. Man of the people — who at the White House on Inaugural Day had to climb out a window to escape the crush of his worshipers, who pretty much trashed the place — but drank very little and lived moderately.

Andrew Jackson (March 15, 1767 – June 8, 1845) ... Left to Right - portrait in military uniform by Charles Willson Peale, 1819 and Official White House Portrait by Ralph E.W. Earl, 1837 (Image of Andrew Jackson created January 1, 2016 by USA Patriotism! from photos of the two portraits)
Andrew Jackson (March 15, 1767 – June 8, 1845) ... Left to Right - portrait in military uniform by Charles Willson Peale, 1819 and Official White House Portrait by Ralph E.W. Earl, 1837 (Image of Andrew Jackson created January 1, 2016 by USA Patriotism! from photos of the two portraits)

 Accused as an adulterer and seducer, he married one woman and loved her unto and beyond death; and, took chivalry to new levels when Peggy Eaton was accused of being a adulteress with one of his proteges. Model of the western gunfighter, carrying lead from duels until his death.

Autodidact, lawyer, governor, senator, general and a thinker who didn't leave us a lot to read, but tons to ponder. Kris Kristofferson played Jackson in the recent History Channel “Texas Rising” which was pretty bad, but seemed to play him in much the way his friends did. Avuncular, friendly, reserved and proper, until you got him mad. So don't get him mad.

During Andrew Jackson's first term in office, the Vice President was John C. Calhoun of South Carolina. Jackson is identified largely with Tennessee since he rose to prominence as the commander of the Tennessee Militia/Volunteers in various Indian Wars including the Creek Wars. He was a Judge in Tennessee, the governor of the state, and a Senator.

But Jackson was a native of South Carolina, and both his brother and his mother died as a direct result of British actions in Charleston during the Revolution. Jackson himself was ordered as a teenager by a British officer to clean and polish his riding boots; when Jackson refused, the British officer slashed him across the face with his saber. Jackson joined the movement to the west, and rose to prominence as an attorney, but also as one with a very hot temper.

Jim Webb features Jackson in his book, Born Fighting, How the Scots-Irish Shaped America, along with other figures like William Wallace. If you want to understand that particular culture and how it interacts with outsiders, you probably ought to read Webb's book; or, for that matter, binge watch “Justified” which does a great job of showing that culture functioning in a modern, unfriendly and foreign world. Or, come talk with me and some of my friends with Scots Irish roots and bad attitudes. You'll get it.

Jackson had been an up and coming, socially-mobile attorney and plantation owner in Nashville when Aaron Burr went through to visit the west. Burr may or may not have been considering forming a company of freebooters to take over part of the south or southwest as a new nation.

His political career in the United States was basically over since he had won his duel with Alexander Hamilton. Burr was part of that New England aristocracy based in law, education, the church and trade. Burr was more radical than Jefferson in terms of his attitudes toward democracy, and in so far as he had a political ideology, it was probably closer to Thomas Paine than Jefferson.

Jackson hosted him and became in the minds of many of the main stream identified with Burr. Burr, the murderous, incestuous, womanizing traitor. Burr the Princeton-educated great grandson of Jonathan Edwards of Great Awakening Fame; Burr, the one man who terrified Hamilton more than Jefferson as the potential leader.

Burr who was insulted by Hamilton; who challenged Hamilton, who refused to apologize; Burr, who shot Hamilton and killed him, while the serving Vice President of the United States. And people swoon today because Joe Biden uses four letter words with the mic on.

Take time to deliberate; but when the time for action arrives, stop thinking and go in. ~ Andrew Jackson

Jackson didn't care about those people who disliked Burr; Burr was a friend. Never resigning as VP, Burr moved on advancing the Republican (Democrat) agenda in congress as president of the Senate before leaving to visit the west. He may have been falsely accused, may not have been, of treason, and the plan to form an alliance with Spain or against Spain but with the intent of taking New Orleans and Texas and a bunch of other places into this separate amalgamation. He was taken into custody on order of the President — Jefferson — who had him brought to Virginia locked in a carriage, where he was tried, and acquitted.

Burr left the US for an extended French visit, Jackson stalked around Virginia during and after the trial daring anyone to take Burr's name in vain, and everything was more or less forgotten. (If you're looking for a good read on the Burr Conspiracy hootenanny and mountain oyster fry, Gore Vidal's Burr is an exceptionally well-documented, accurate and enjoyable historical novel. Vidal, of course, believed that the history itself was fascinating enough; all he had to do was tell the story and throw in some dialogue and minor characters to act as narrators.)

Except any noise about treason. ~ Andrew Jackson

During the War of 1812, the initial commander of the American Army was a Revolutionary War Veteran, General James Wilkinson who had been something of a pet to Washington and had been the quintessential slimeball political general that all the following slimeballs emulate but can never top.

Wilkinson, as commander of the western Armies had been a close friend and confidant of Burr, until Burr dropped whatever it was he was doing — nobody's really sure — when Wilkinson informed Jefferson as to what his Vice President had been up to, claiming to have played along to gain information. Names were revealed including Jackson's.

Jackson challenged or threaten to challenge Wilkinson to a duel. Wilkinson withdrew the accusation and apologized. After the beginning of the was, Jackson sought a regular command but was ignored initially for... James Wilkinson to whom the Virginia mafia –Jefferson, Madison, Monroe — felt they owed a great debt.

Problem was that like most of the slimeball political generals, Wilkinson had as much business leading troops in battle as he would have had being a Tibetan Lama. He would have done less damage. Jackson was furious for many reasons and when Wilkinson's invasion of Canada was an absolute disaster at Montreal, he was fired and wandered off into history and to Spain where he died in 1825. Wilkinson had been revealed as a Spanish Military Spy in 1797, but talked his way out of that one in much the same way he did with Burr.

Jackson was beating every one who came at him, with few regulars, no federal support for his Army and in what was probably the most ignored though strategically important theater of the war. Incompetence, treason and personal treachery fit Jackson's model of general evil and uselessness.

Jackson, of course, was busy winning the Indian War in the South, especially the Battle of Horse Shoe Bend; then, in something unnecessary militarily but critically important to the pride of the nation and then myth of the United States. At New Orleans, with a mob of Indian fighters, Regulars, Milita, Cajun, Creoles, Free Slaves and Pirates, he destroyed one of the finest of Wellington's former generals, General Sir Edward Pakenham, inflicting 2600 casualties at a cost of 13.

Despite Jackson's issues with the Virginia cabal, he was very much a follower of Jefferson's beliefs and ideas. He was opposed to tariffs in general, opposed to the Bank of the United States, opposed to a strong central government, except in matters of national defense. He disliked the John Marshall's expansionist vision of the Supreme Court's authority; he abhorred alliances of any type with any aristocratic or authoritarian government, especially British.

He went back to Tennessee, ran for office, was elected to the legislature and appointed as the commander of the state's forces and the documentation makes a great record of what transpired next. Jackson proved an exceptional commander in the field; he fought a lot of duels which basically were well-organized gunfights; he also was involved in and was shot in one particular gunfight that resulted in the family he was opposing that day in Nashville moving on to St Louis and being very, very apologetic to him and supporting his positions for the rest of his life.

Twenty or so years later, Jackson now a frail older man, complained of pain in his chest where the ball from that particular gunfight had lodged in and never been removed. His White House Physician recommended that it be removed, and Old Hickory said, “Good. Now...” and took off his jacket, shirt and stood there while the doctor opened him up, removed the bullet, cleaned the wound and sewed him back up. I know this sort of thing happens all the time on cable TV but in fact it's not all that easy. It doesn't happen often when the patient is standing, in his late 60s, has severe respiratory, cardiac and abdominal illnesses and injuries as well as chronic migraines.

To keep my reputation as a bleeding heart, Commie-Pinko-Progressive-Anarchist intact, I have to admit the following: Jackson had no love for the various Indian Tribes that made up the Five Civilized Tribes. He didn't have any particular hatred for them; he just found them in the way. He made his military reputation fighting tribes on the frontier, which included Tennessee, parts of Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi and so on.

In other words, the reality of time exposed him to different reality than faced other people in other ages. This is unfortunate, horrible and inevitable — we do things differently when we know more, have more stability and are able to actually talk to each other with perspective. But, Manifest Destiny was in fact a zero-sum game. By the time Jackson moved the civilized tribes from their historic lands to the Indian Territories, the entire nation was in favor. Jackson's most famous protege, Sam Houston, was adopted by the Cherokee as a boy, and famously was called the “Raven” and treated when sober as a chief.

While the relocation was an absolute disaster for the people, it's not reasonable to assume that Jackson intended it to be an exercise in genocide, a term that didn't have any meaning in the 1830s. He figured out how to make logistics work, and assumed the Army would as well. He was wrong. Another way to look at is this — heroes suck. All our heroes did awful things to everybody they could if necessary to fulfill their goals, if you want to dig deep enough and magnify the bad stuff.

The great constitutional corrective in the hands of the people against usurpation of power, or corruption by their agents is the right of suffrage; and this when used with calmness and deliberation will prove strong enough. — Andrew Jackson

That stipulated, Jackson did a number of things that made him a great president and a true American hero. One of them was his war with the Second Bank of the United States, which was a forerunner of the Federal Reserve and guilty of most of the things that Ron Paul accuses this Fed of doing; if Nicolas Biddle had had electronic funds transfers to play with as president of the 2nd Bank of the United States, we'd have a monied aristocracy with vast inequities of wealth and political power.

Jackson had the political courage and skill to strangle the bank and prevent the renewal of it's charter with the United States. It could have stayed open as a private bank, except the bulk of its deposits were made up of deposits from the government. When that moved to a variety of banks, it no longer had the capital to influence policy or the economy. It was an ugly fight, but Jackson prevailed. When a group of bank shareholders and officials met with him in Philadelphia to persuade him to not remove the deposits, he listened politely, asked if they had anything else to say, and then responded...

Gentlemen! I too have been a close observer of the doings of the Bank of the United States. I have had men watching you for a long time, and am convinced that you have used the funds of the bank to speculate in the breadstuffs of the country. When you won, you divided the profits amongst you, and when you lost, you charged it to the bank. You tell me that if I take the deposits from the bank and annul its charter I shall ruin ten thousand families. That may be true, gentlemen, but that is your sin! Should I let you go on, you will ruin fifty thousand families, and that would be my sin! You are a den of vipers and thieves. I have determined to rout you out, and by the Eternal, (bringing his fist down on the table) I will rout you out! — Andrew Jackson

(It's a fight, by the way, that we're probably going to have to have again, not with the Fed but with the banking industry, stock market and the rest. of the malefactors of great wealth such as currency and market manipulators and speculators. ~ Michael Farrell)

Jackson's other great achievement was slapping the nascent “Nullification and Interposition” movement back into its womb, which was South Carolina, and to a large extent remains centered there. Although Jackson was not a fan of high tariffs, he agreed that some tariffs on cotton and other commodities were needed to prevent England and France from crushing the American textile industry. So, he supported them, and duties were charged.

This caused problems in South Carolina and the rest of the cotton growing south. Various political figures, quoting or misquoting Locke, Hobbes, Paine, Hamilton( which was odd since he was the strongest proponent of high tariffs to protect US industries) and Jefferson to the effect that this was slavery. The government using tariffs — a tax — to raise money for operating expenses like the Army, Navy, canals, railroads, expansion, service. Pure tyranny!

All the rights secured to the citizens under the Constitution are worth nothing, and a mere bubble, except guaranteed to them by an independent and virtuous Judiciary. — Andrew Jackson

In such a case, these philosophers argued, the state government had the right and duty to nullify the offensive federal law, tax or duty and to protect it's citizens by interposing itself between the poor suffering cotton barons and the government of the United States. The Supreme Court, normally opposed to most of Jackson's policies, weighed in that the theory was stupid, unjustified and unconstitutional. However, the legislatures of the Southern United States have never feared doing things that were stupid, unjustified, and unconstitutional in the defense of the rich, the comfortable and the ignorant.

The leader of the nullification and secessionist movement was initially Jackson's Vice President, John C. Calhoun was a hero of and role model for South Carolina's approach to the Union and States Rights as well as a champion of sectionalism — the idea that various areas of the country had common interests and should be able to pursue those interests despite the greater good of the whole.

New England was also a strong advocate of this approach to government and national policy at times; at various points up to and during the war of 1812, representatives of the New England states met to consider whether or not secession might not be in their best interests. However, by 1828, that particular idea was pretty well tossed in the trash in most of the nation. Except, of course in the South where at times it continues to pop up like a nasty wart or boil; but in what became Dixie, the deep south, it continued to fester.

Jackson initially refused to be drawn into the debate despite the urging of both sides. During the debates and arguments, Jackson supported states rights and low tariffs, refusing to be drawn into the nullification issue. However, by this time Calhoun had moved beyond nullification and states rights to a position advocating the state's final right to secession. Jackson regarded that as insane and treasonous but did not differ publicly with his Vice President, yet.

However, finally at the Jefferson Day Dinner in March 1830. Jackson rose at the formal dinner in Washington, proposing as a toast, “Our Federal Union, it must be preserved.” After the resulting drinking and clinking and “Hear, Hears”, Calhoun stood and proposed a toast while the President was still standing...something not done in those formal affairs in those days, and proposed, “The Union, next to our Liberty, the most dear.” Jackson refused to drink.

For the next two years, the President and the Vice President fought, argued and tried to convince each other that they were correct. Jackson initially saw this as a serious disagreement between gentlemen, but when he discovered that Calhoun had opposed him during the War of 1812 and after in consolidating eastern Louisiana, Southern Alabama and Mississippi and Florida for the nation, he stopped thinking of his Veep as a gentleman.

When he found his administration involved by Calhoun and his supporters in something called the “Petticoat Affair” which today seems like relatively minor Capital Hill Debauchery, he became angry. Do not make the master duelist angry. He raised the issue with the cabinet, forcing the resignation of several members who were basically Calhoun supporters, and made Calhoun feel the need for a less unhealthy climate than Washington; he spent most of the rest of his term in Charleston.

While in Charleston, Calhoun appears to have been overwhelmed by his self-importance and began lobbying for the foundation of the Nullifiers Party which supported the right of the states to nullify Federal Law. In 1834, after two additional years of arguing and threats, Jackson prevailed on Congress to pass the Force Bill, which basically said that the President could take whatever action necessary to enforce the customs laws in South Carolina, including invasion. When asked shortly after the Bill passed what he intended to do, according to legend Jackson said, “If I thought the hair on my head knew what I intended to do, I'd cut it off and burn it.”

Well, as legislative assemblies tend to do, South Carolina and Calhoun and his supporters wandered around threatening war and apocalypse in the capitol in Charleston and the various taverns and verandas in Charleston. Jackson prepared to blockade the port, sending ships into positions to enforce it, and then let it be known that if he had to send the Army in to resolve the crisis or institute the blockade, he would hang John C. Calhoun. Things calmed down, although Calhoun's influence would continue to be a problem until the next time the Nullification-Secession continuum intruded, in 1860. Both antagonists were dead by then but history seems to have made Jackson's position clearly the victor.

Except the Calhoun nonsense keeps coming up, again and again and again. When workers vote Republican, it's not like the poor whites in the south voting for the Republicans; rather, it's like the slaves being offered a choice between slavery and freedom, and choosing slavery.

In his farewell address, Jackson was not just talking about government, but about the overreach of the rich and powerful attempting to subvert the intents of common good, more perfect union, and blessings of liberty. While the people who would be his natural constituency in this country, the working class, farmers and middle class, worry inordinately about terrorism, Syrian immigrant children, and homosexual marriages, the people Jackson referred to as a “den of vipers” continue to distract the people and poison political discourse.

But you must remember, my fellow-citizens, that eternal vigilance by the people is the price of liberty, and that you must pay the price if you wish to secure the blessing. — Andrew Jackson, March 4, 1837.

Original article at Veterans Today

By Michael Farrell, Veterans Today
Copyright 2016

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