Magazine article The Christian Century

Old Hickory

Magazine article The Christian Century

Old Hickory

Article excerpt

WHAT I KNEW about Andrew Jackson, the seventh president, was pretty much confined to the popular image of him: he was the hero of the battle of New Orleans and a "man of the people." After reading Jon Meacham's American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the While House. I have new appreciation for Jackson and a new understanding of how critical his presidency was. I also learned how his presidency was related to that of Abraham Lincoln. For example, it was Jackson who appointed Lincoln as postmaster for New Salem, Illinois, after Lincoln lost a race for the state legislature.

Though he was an unapologetic slaveholder, Jackson nevertheless managed to beat back southern states' attempts to nullify federal law--attempts he correctly saw as the first step toward secession. Jackson believed that slavery would one day come to an end, but like Lincoln's his overriding priority was preserving the Union.

Jackson was Meacham says, "the most contradictory of men." He was a fearless warrior and a tenderhearted lover of children; he was a man of the people and the president who ripped Native Americans from their ancient territories.

He was also a lifelong Presbyterian. …

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