His Scots-Irish parents emigrated from Ireland two years before his birth. At age 13, Andrew Jackson joined a local militia to fight during the Revolutionary War. His eldest brother, Hugh, died during the Battle of Stono Ferry, June 20, 1779. Andrew Jackson and another brother, Robert, were taken prisoner and nearly starved to death. Ordered to polish the boots of a British officer, Jackson refused and was slashed with a sword across the hand, arm and head, leaving permanent scars. His brother died of smallpox which he contracted in prison.
On May 29, 1780, British forces, numbering 14,000, laid siege to Charleston, South Carolina. After six weeks, Continental Major General Benjamin Lincoln surrendered. Nearly 6,000 Americans were taken captive, the largest number of Americans prior to the Civil War. Buildings were converted into prisons, and many prisoners were put on British starving ships where they contracted diseases. Caring for the sick American prisoners were volunteer women, including Andrew Jackson’s mother, Elizabeth. Tragically, she contracted “ship fever” and died, being buried in an unmarked grave. Andrew Jackson was an orphan at age 14.
Jackson became a frontier country lawyer and in 1788 was appointed prosecutor. In 1796, he was elected as a delegate to the Tennessee constitutional convention, where he is credited with proposing the Indian name “Tennessee.”
Tennessee citizens elected Jackson a U.S. Congressman then U.S. Senator. In 1798, Jackson served as a judge on Tennessee’s Supreme Court. Speculating in land, Jackson bought the Hermitage plantation near Nashville and was one of three investors who founded Memphis.
During the War of 1812, Andrew Jackson fought the Red Stick Creek Indians who had massacred 500 at Ft. Mims, Alabama. Sam Houston and David Crockett served under Jackson. A strict battlefield officer, he was described as being “tough as old hickory,” leading to his nickname “Old Hickory.”
Andrew Jackson won the battle of New Orleans against the British in 1815. He invaded Spanish Florida, defeated Seminole Indians and served as the territorial governor of Florida. Jacksonville, Florida is named for him.
Andrew Jackson carried bullet fragments in his body from duels, most notably from defending his wife’s honor. The stressful personal attacks during his presidential campaign contributed his wife Rachel’s death just three months before he took office.
The seventh U.S. president, Andrew Jackson stated in his second inaugural: “It is my fervent prayer to that Almighty Being before whom I now stand, and who has kept us in His hands from the infancy of our Republic to the present day … that He will … inspire the hearts of my fellow-citizens that we may be preserved from danger.”
Andrew Jackson, who is considered the founder of the modern Democrat Party, unfortunately supported slavery and the tragic Indian Removal Act.
When Nicholas Biddle sought to have his Second Bank of the United States gain monopoly control over the nation’s financial system, Andrew Jackson stopped it in what is referred to as the Bank War.
Andrew Jackson told his Vice President Martin Van Buren: “The bank, Mr. Van Buren, is trying to kill me, but I will kill it.”
During the Bank War, there was an assassination attempt on Andrew Jackson, Jan. 30, 1835. The assailant fired two pistols at point blank range, but the damp fog in Washington, D.C. caused the gunpowder to misfire. Davy Crockett wrestled the assailant down.
King William IV of England heard of the incident and expressed his concern. President Jackson wrote back, exclaiming: “A kind of Providence had been pleased to shield me against the recent attempt upon my life, and irresistibly carried many minds to the belief in a superintending Providence.”
Andrew Jackson completely paid off the national debt, which was the only time in American history this was done. Since Andrew Jackson’s wife had died, his nephew’s wife, Emily Donelson, served as the unofficial First Lady.
When Emily Donelson died, Andrew Jackson wrote to his nephew, Colonel Andrew Jackson Donelson, Dec. 30, 1836: “We cannot recall her, we are commanded by our dear Saviour, not to mourn for the dead, but for the living. … She has changed a world of woe for a world of eternal happiness, and we ought to prepare as we too must follow. … ‘The Lord’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven.'”
On March 25, 1835, Andrew Jackson wrote in a letter: “I was brought up a rigid Presbyterian, to which I have always adhered. Our excellent Constitution guarantees to every one freedom of religion, and charity tells us (and you know Charity is the real basis of all true religion) … judge the tree by its fruit. All who profess Christianity believe in a Saviour, and that by and through Him we must be saved.”
Andrew Jackson concluded: “We ought, therefore, to consider all good Christians whose walks correspond with their professions, be they Presbyterian, Episcopalian, Baptist, Methodist or Roman Catholic.”
On June 8, 1845, “Old Hickory” died.
Of the Bible, Andrew Jackson stated: “That book, Sir, is the Rock upon which our republic rests.”
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