Not long ago, Americans celebrated the birthdays of Presidents Washington and Lincoln, an appropriate honor for two of the giant figures of this Republic. Now, we celebrate Presidents Day – by taking advantage of discounted cars and mattresses.
Still, Lincoln and Washington remain ubiquitous as the great American
Presidents – but they have not always stood alone on their pedestals.
Andrew Jackson has been lost to mists of history and political
correctness. But for many generations he too was revered as a
Presidential giant. FDR (another giant) travelled to Jackson’s home
The Hermitage and met an old woman who had tended to Jackson as an old
man. Afterwards, FDR wrote, “The more I learn about old Andy Jackson
the more I love him.”
Far be it for this brief missive to attempt to resurrect Jackson’s
reputation. Some of his recent anonymity is well deserved –
particularly for his monstrous policies towards the Native Americans.
But Jackson believed the United States was a special country and
devoted his life to preserving the Union and democratic rule. His
efforts were not as dramatic as those of Lincoln – but Jackson’s
America was a newer and more fragile entity.
Jackson was president in a time of political and intellectual ferment,
what Samuel Huntington in American Politics: The Promise of
Disharmony calls a period of creedal passion when Americans seek
to remake the country in accord to its treasured values of freedom,
equality, limited government, and democracy. We may be entering such
a phase again and we would be wise to follow Truman’s course and study
the Old General.