Andrew Jackson: In Search of Honor, in Defense of Reputation
Andrew Jackson spent his life in search of wealth and the preservation of a reputation for good character. For the most part, wealth eluded him and his reputation was always in question. He marched through life acting in ways he believed to be right, but that others saw to be wrong. He played out the role of the gentry but, while he acted the role, he never felt secure about his place in that class. Although he was a general, who in the later portion of his life headed a powerful political army, leading the people was not the same as being first among leaders. He was America's first tribune of the people. He led his army into battle against men he labeled enemies, his enemies and so the people's enemies. He came to believe that challenges to his character were challenges to his countrymen's characters. He placed the highest value on personal loyalty branding all who questioned his actions or cast aspersions upon his character as enemies--his and the people's.
The argument of this chapter is that Jackson's sense of honor and concern for personal reputation explain much about his political behavior. 1 Jackson was the product both of the world of Ulster that so characterized the generation of his parents, aunts, and uncles, and of the world of the southwestern frontier. Albeit a young one, he was also a product of the fight for independence and the postwar rush in the Carolinas to acquire land beyond the mountains.