From the Dossier: Andrew Jackson

2/21/2012 • Andrew Jackson, MHQ Dossier

"Old Hickory" Jackson (Library of Congress)
"Old Hickory" Jackson (Library of Congress)

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Andrew Jackson
Famed Indian fighter; hero of the Battle of New Orleans; seventh president of the United States (1829–1837)

Firing back
When he was a boy, friends gave Jackson a rifle overloaded with powder. The recoil threw him to the ground, and he furiously told the pranksters, “By God, if any of you laughs, I’ll kill him.”

Lessons of war
By the time he was 15, Jackson had fought the Indians and the British—bloody experiences that shaped his worldview. As one Jackson relative put it: “Andy will fight his way in the world.”

Gory footnote
Jackson’s victory at the 1814 Battle of Horseshoe Bend in central Alabama effectively ended the Creek War. After the fighting, his men cut off the noses of the dead Indians—some 900 in all—to mark them and avoid double counting.

Jackson liked to mentor young soldiers, among them Sam Houston. The Texas-hero-to-be was a 21-year-old militia volunteer at Horseshoe Bend. He caught Jackson’s eye when he had an arrow pulled from deep in his thigh so that he could continue to fight.

Wartime civil rights
Though a slaveholder who considered blacks inferior, Jackson armed hundreds of freed blacks at the Battle of New Orleans, ignoring protests from city leaders concerned that giving them guns would spark a slave revolt.

In Andrew Jackson: A Life and Times, a biography of Jackson by H. W. Brands, the historian concludes: “What truly set him apart from other generals was his ability to motivate his men. Many of them loved him….Nearly all of them feared him.”


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