Did He Seriously?

Headline: "Trump hangs portrait of Andrew Jackson in Oval Office."

Is it more amazing given that Jackson is basically the founder of the Democratic Party, or because of the Trail of Tears legacy given the fight Trump just picked with the Standing Rock Sioux?

Andrew Jackson stands at the head of a muscular tradition of American politics, one that the Democrats have completely abandoned in recent years. So repentant are they of his legacy, which included both full-throated embrace of slavery and the unabashed ethnic cleansing of Native Americans, they can hardly bear to remember that he's on the $20 bill because they put him there.

All the same, if you want a model for Making America Great -- the first time -- Jackson's hard to beat. He was ruthless, but he never once hesitated to put America first. I wonder what this portends.

UPDATE: Note Joel's objections to this characterization, and defense of Jackson, in the comments.


Joel Leggett said...

Grim, could you please provide an explanation, or example, of why you think Andrew Jackson's administration was characterized, at least in part, by a "full-throated embrace of slavery?"

FWIW, I would also point out that the federal Indian removal policy existed prior to the Jackson Administration. Furthermore, the infamous Trail of Tears was executed not by Jackson, but his successor, Martin Van Buren.

Grim said...


The Trail of Tears was conducted pursuant to the Indian Removal Act of 1830, which Jackson strongly advocated Congress to pass, and then personally signed into law.

As for slavery, Jackson was a slave trader as well as a slave owner, and authorized the Postal Service to refuse to deliver anti-slave tracts in the South. Here is an advertisement he published seeking return of one of his escaped slaves, offering an addition to the promised bounty "for every hundred lashes any person will give him, to the amount of three hundred."

There's a lot to be said for his personal courage, his loyal defense of his wife, and his excellence as a military leader (none of which virtues seem to adhere to Trump, by the way). Still, in fairness we can't overlook these truths about him. He was the man he was, virtues and flaws alike.

Texan99 said...

"Up against the wall, Establishment pukes"? I'm guessing Trump isn't trying to make a nuanced statement about Jackson's policies, but is attracted to his brash, outsider, rags-to-White-House, hated-by-the-tea-sippers persona.

Joel Leggett said...


By no means do I seek to make Andrew Jackson into a flawless saint. He certainly had his faults, as we all do. That said, I think we should insist on accuracy.

I am aware of Andrew Jackson's participation in the institution of slavery. Nevertheless, I believe your claim that his administration was characterized by a full-throated defense of slavery is inaccurate. First of all, Jackson's stated reason for preventing the distribution of the tracks, as told to Amos Kendall, was to prevent stirring up a "servile insurrection." Trying to prevent a slave revolt is not the same thing as providing a vocal or public defense of the institution of slavery. FWIW, the tract you link to was from 1804, long before Jackson ever became president.

Furthermore, I also recognize Jackson's participation in the Indian Removal policy. Once again, to be both fair and accurate you also have to recognize that Indian Removal was federal policy prior to the Indian Removal Act of 1830. Additionally, the execution and oversight of the policy was conducted under the Van Buren Administration. My point is that the issue of the Indian Removal policy, and any guilt associated with it, is more complex and spread among more parties than simply laying it at the feet of Jackson accurately permits.

Grim said...

I am certainly willing to be fair to Jackson, who did many great things as well. How would you propose characterizing his relationship to slavery and Indian removal, if not as phrased in this post?

Joel Leggett said...

He was simply a product of his time and reflected the overwhelming majority attitude of his contemporaries on these issues. The man should be judged according to the moral standards of his time.

I would also note that Jackson believed that Indian removal was the best way to ensure the safety of the Cherokee tribe. He stated this repeatedly. As someone who had previously adopted an orphaned Indian child I don't think he was dishonest about his reasons. Violent conflict was brewing between the Cherokee and Georgia at the time. If Jackson had sent federal troops to suppress the Georgians he most likely would have encouraged open rebellion. When one looks at the options Jackson had available at the time the issue isn't so easily dismissed as Indians good, Jackson bad.

Grim said...

It's doubtless true that entering the conflict on the side of the Cherokee would have provoked rebellion, and not just in Georgia.

I have appended a note to the original post.

Joel Leggett said...

Thank you. You are a scholar and a gentleman.

Ymar Sakar said...

People should stop believing the negative propaganda about Jackson, as well as the positive propaganda.

But they won't.

Jackson's decisions were rather moderate for his day, a compromise between the Christian doctrine of anti slavery and independence, vs the Southern philosophy of a permanent caste system backed by Slavery 2.0. Jackson giving all whites the vote, absent property, put a minor dent into the slave lord's power, but since slave lords had the political and economic capital, the poor Irish and others didn't get to exercise their rights as often as they could have. Poor union workers who go against the union and break strikes or conduct illegal strikes, end up missing knees and fingers. A slave and horse was worth more to the Southern slave lords than the Irish whites were.

As for the Cherokee, they didn't get out in time. There was a severe fight for who would lead the US to power, Lucifer or Lucifer's foe, in 1830. Around that time was the formation of the Democratic party. Decades later, some odd years before Civil War I, the Southern Baptist alliance was formed to promote slavery, facilitate Moral Standards for the slave lord aristocrats, and to conduct sufficient opiate for masses operations amongst the poor Scots and Irish, to keep them in line, forever in enmity against the Christians and other anti slavers.

For an example of who got out in time, consider Joseph Smith, the founder of the Latter Day Saints. Got chased out of two states, while keeping his head from a lynching. He got chased down eventually, probably by societies sympathetic to slavery, as many abolitionists had "lynching" incidents before Lincoln was ever on the ballot. They got accidentally lynched the way blacks got accidentally deleted when they tried voting Republican in the Deep South.

The Cherokee, in many ways, prayed to the wrong gods. Unfortunate for them. Utah is a state, and several things were done to sabotage that, but a state has protections against invasion and destruction by the "United States". An Indian province protected by the feds, is not equally as well protected as the state of Utah was.