Andrew Jackson (March 15, 1767 – June 8, 1845) was an American soldier and statesman who served as the seventh President of the United States from 1829 to 1837 and was the founder of the Democratic Party. Before being elected to the presidency, Jackson served in Congress and gained fame as a general in the United States Army. As president, Jackson sought to advance the rights of the “common man” against a “corrupt aristocracy” and to preserve the Union.
He became a practicing lawyer in Tennessee and in 1791 he married Rachel Donelson Robards. Jackson served briefly in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. Upon returning to Tennessee, he was appointed a justice on the Tennessee Supreme Court, serving from 1798 until 1804. In 1801, Jackson was appointed colonel in the Tennessee militia, and was elected its commander the following year. He led Tennessee militia and U.S. Army regulars during the Creek War of 1813–1814, winning a major victory at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend. The subsequent Treaty of Fort Jackson required the Creek surrender of vast lands in present-day Alabama and Georgia. Jackson won a decisive victory in the War of 1812 over the British army at the Battle of New Orleans, making him a national hero. Following the conclusion of the War of 1812, Jackson led U.S. forces in the First Seminole War, which helped produce the Adams–Onís Treaty of 1819 and the transfer of Florida from Spain to the United States. Following the ratification of the treaty, Jackson briefly served as Florida’s first territorial governor before winning election as a U.S. Senator from Tennessee.
Jackson was a candidate for president in 1824 but, lacking a majority of electoral votes, lost the election in the House of Representatives to John Quincy Adams. In reaction to a “corrupt bargain” between opponents Adams and Henry Clay, Jackson’s supporters founded the Democratic Party. He ran again for president in 1828 against Adams and won in a landslide. As president, Jackson faced a threat of secession by South Carolina over the “Tariff of Abominations” enacted under Adams. The Nullification Crisis was defused when the tariff was amended and Jackson threatened the use of military force if South Carolina attempted to secede. Congress, led by Clay, attempted to reauthorize the Second Bank of the United States; Jackson regarded the Bank as a corrupt institution and vetoed the renewal of its charter. After a lengthy struggle, Jackson and the congressional Democrats thoroughly dismantled the Bank. In 1835, Jackson became the only president to completely pay off the national debt, fulfilling a longtime goal.
In foreign affairs, Jackson’s administration concluded a “most favored nation” treaty with Great Britain, settled U.S. claims of damages by France from the Napoleonic Wars, and recognized the Republic of Texas. His presidency marked the beginning of the ascendancy of the “spoils system” in American politics. In 1830, Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act, which relocated most members of the Native American tribes in the South to Indian Territory (now Oklahoma). The relocation process dispossessed the Indians and resulted in widespread death and sickness. In his retirement, Jackson remained active in Democratic Party politics, supporting the presidencies of Martin Van Buren and James K. Polk.
Jackson was widely revered in the United States, but his reputation has declined since the mid-20th century, largely due to his role in Indian removal and support for slavery. Surveys of historians and scholars have ranked Jackson between 6th and 18th most successful among United States presidents.
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