A New Generation of Leaders Emerge from the War of 1812

Article excerpt

America's second war with Britain (1812-1815) saw the rise of a new and influential citizenry in an ever-expanding society. Prominent among them were war veterans.

ANDREW JACKSON

(1767-1845) b. Waxhaw Settlement, S.C.

Seventh President of the U.S.

Andrew Jackson served two terms as President (1828-1837). He championed equality of opportunity for Americans from all walks of life, majority rule, limited government and fiscal responsibility. He was the first and last President to pay off the national debt.

As a general in the Tennessee militia and later the regular U.S. Army, he led troops to victory over the Creek Indians at Horseshoe Bend, Ala., and the British at New Orleans. Three years after the war, he defeated the Spanish in Florida.

The quintessential self-made man, Jackson launched his career in the legal profession. He was Tennessee's first senator and representative in Congress and was Florida's territorial governor. For the remainder of his life, Jackson was the most popular man in the nation. At the age of 78, he died of kidney failure.

WILLIAM HENRY HARRISON

(1773-1841) b. "Berkeley," Va.

Ninth President of the U.S.

Harrison was the first President to die in office. Contracting pneumonia, he died in April 1841, only one month after his inauguration, leaving no time to establish a presidential legacy.

A general in both the Kentucky militia and regular U.S. Army, his greatest victory was over the British and Indians at the Battle of the Thames River in Ontario. Previous to the war, he had earned fame at the Battle of Tippecanoe. In 1794, he was at the Battle of Fallen Timbers in the Northwest Territory Indian War.

Before the war, he had served as governor of Indiana Territory for 12 years. After the war, Harrison served in the House and Senate, the Ohio legislature and briefly as minister to Colombia. As a congressman, his primary concern was providing for the care of widows and orphans of soldiers killed.

THOMAS HART BENTON

(1782-1858) b. Hillsborough, N.C.

Statesman

During three decades in the Senate, Benton became one the nation's most respected statesman. He was largely responsible for achieving monetary stability and proposed what later became the homestead system of land grants in the West.

A colonel of Tennessee volunteers in the war, Benton served as aid de-camp to Andrew Jackson. He was later a lieutenant colonel in the regular U.S. Army until 1815. Eager to enter the battle against the Greeks, he was denied that opportunity because of a political vendetta.

Before the war he was a lawyer; shortly thereafter he became a newpaper editor in St. Louis. In the Senate from 1821-1851 and the House for two years after, he gained national notoriety. …