Abraham Lincoln's Presidency

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Contrast Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Jackson.

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Both came from humble beginnings—Lincoln was born in a log cabin in Kentucky in 1809 while Jackson was born on the frontier on the North Carolina-South Carolina border in 1767. Both overcame their humble start to be quite prosperous before opening their political careers. Lincoln was one of the best patent lawyers in Illinois while Jackson was a prosperous planter in Tennessee Both were elected by the "common man" even though they did not personally campaign. Both had nicknames that demonstrated their frontier beginnings. Lincoln was known as "The Railsplitter" while Jackson was known as "Old Hickory." Both were elected to two presidential terms.

There were quite a few differences between the men. Jackson won acclaim as an Indian fighter in conflicts against the Creek and Seminole Indians while Lincoln barely saw action in Black Hawk's War. Lincoln was known for his gentle manner and his ability to tell a good story in order to lighten a serious situation. Jackson was known for his temper, having fought multiple duels. Jackson survived his two terms while Lincoln was killed early in his second term. While both men faced secession crises, each handled it differently. Jackson threatened to lead the army against South Carolina when it threatened to leave the Union. Lincoln waited until cooler heads prevailed before the Civil War; sadly, they never did and South Carolinians fired the first shots of the Civil War against Fort Sumter in April 1861. Lincoln was defined by the Civil War. It is harder to define the Jacksonian presidency but two of his more famous acts in his administration were the Indian Removal Act and his failure to renew the National Bank. Lincoln did not approve of slavery's expansion while Jackson personally owned slaves at his plantation in Nashville. Lincoln was hated and seen as incompetent by many of his own party. This would last until his death. Lincoln has been treated quite well by historians as one of the best presidents. Jackson enjoyed accolades while he was alive but he is often criticized by historians for his actions against the Cherokee. Jackson's inability to build consensus and his fondness for the veto led to the formation of the Whig Party. While Lincoln was reviled by many Democrats and some Republicans, his main source of political irritation was the radicals in his own party who would have probably hindered his generous Reconstruction terms to the South. Lincoln's successor, Andrew Johnson, was largely ridiculed for being unfit for the high office while Van Buren and James Polk were able to ride Jackson's legacy to the presidency.

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