Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Book recommendation: AMERICAN LION: Andrew Jackson in the White House by Jon Meacham


AMERICAN LION: Andrew Jackson in the White House by Jon Meacham  


Along with Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson was recognized at annual dinners as one of the founders of the modern Democrat party. Then “woke” democrats discovered both were slave owners, an unrepentant one in Jackson’s case. Who knew? It’s just as well. During his eight years, Jackson, who believed in a limited federal government, paid off the national debt. Can you imagine a politician today, Democrat or Republican, doing that?


At least as bad, Jackson was responsible for the removal of the Cherokees from the southeast, known now as the “Trail of Tears.” This book does not gloss over the evil he did.


But it is not too much to say that Jackson created the modern presidency by force of personality. He also dealt both firmly and with diplomacy with the “nullification crisis.” It was South Carolina’s view that a state could nullify federal law like the tariff, much as some cities today claim the right to nullify federal immigration law. Though a slave owner, he believed in the paramountcy and permeance of the union. His deft handling of the issue postponed the Civil War for 28 years, though he foresaw it would eventually come over slavery.


He also destroyed the bank of the United States, believing it used the people’s money to bribe officials. Jackson was always for the average guy—as long as the average guy was white. He could be brutal, but could also pick up an Indian child on a battlefield and raise him in his home.


Meacham draws on many hitherto unpublished letters and manuscripts in crafting this excellent biography. It gives a terrific overview of politics in the decades before the Civil War. The political invective and attacks far outstrip today’s nastiness. It is worth reading.

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