Jackson’s picture on a $20 bill.  Does he deserve a place with George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Lincoln? Yes? No? Why? Be specific. Andrew Jackson, both because of his forceful decisions...

Jackson’s picture on a $20 bill.  Does he deserve a place with George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Lincoln? Yes? No? Why? Be specific.

Andrew Jackson, both because of his forceful decisions and strong personality, still remains one of our more controversial presidents. Examine carefully his attitudes and actions toward the following issues: Bank of the United States, the Nullification Crisis, and the forced removal of the Indians. Then write an essay of approximately 500 words, judging whether Jackson deserves to be considered a great or near-great president.


Expert Answers
marilynn07 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Andrew Jackson deserves a place on our money for several reasons.  He was in the Continental Army as a courier (runner) when he was a young boy (13). He was abused by a British officer while held prisoner in South Carolina in 1781. He suffered from smallpox while held as a prisoner of war. Both his brothers and mother died during this time leaving him an orphan at age 14.

Later as Jackson grew to be a  man, he taught school and practiced law. He was the first congressman elected from the new state of Tennessee after Tennessee separated from North Carolina, and he was elected general of the Tennessee militia in 1802.

Jackson distinguished himself militarily during the Creek wars in the Carolina and Georgia areas and against the Seminole Indians in Florida. He was promoted to major general in the regular army during the Creek Wars.  The deciding factor in Jackson's military and political career was his decisive defeat of the British in the Battle of New Orleans at the close of the war of 1812.  It was during the war of 1812 that his nickname "Old Hickory" was given and stuck.  In Nashville, Tennessee, there is a road named "Old Hickory Blvd" in his honor.

Jackson was the first "populist" president who was a commoner not an aristocrat. This is important for several reasons. It created a true sense of government for the people by the people in the person being elected president. It opened the doors to anyone who is a citizen and of age to run for president.  We can see the evidence of his profound effect on the office of president today in the person of Barak Obama.

Jackson was the first president to use the "pocket veto" and he did use it more than the 6 previous presidents. He believed that the U.S. did not need a national bank which only served the interests of the wealthy classes.

Another major issue during Jackson's presidency was his refusal to sanction the recharter of the Bank of the United States. Jackson thought Congress had not had the authority to create the Bank in the first place, but he also viewed the Bank as operating for the primary benefit of the upper classes at the expense of working people. Jackson used one of his dozen vetoes, and the Bank's congressional supporters did not have enough votes to override him. The Bank ceased to exist when its charter expired in 1836, but even before that date the president had weakened it considerably by withdrawing millions of dollars of federal funds. (http://statelibrary.ncdcr.gov/nc/bio/public/jackson.htm)

Andrew Jackson's record with Native Americans is not good. He faught against the Creek Nation as well as against the Seminole Nation. It was under the Jackson presidency that the Indian Removal Act became law in 1930.

Two years later Jackson did nothing to make Georgia abide by the Supreme Court's ruling in Worcester vs. Georgia in which the Court found that the State of Georgia did not have any jurisdiction over the Cherokees. Georgia ignored the Court's decision and so did Andrew Jackson. In 1838-1839 Georgia evicted the Cherokees and forced them to march west. About twenty-five percent of the Indians were dead before they reached their new lands in Oklahoma. The Indians refer to this march as the "Trail of Tears" and even though it took place after Jackson's presidency, the roots of the march can be found in Jackson's failure to uphold the legal rights of Native Americans during his administration. (http://statelibrary.ncdcr.gov/nc/bio/public/jackson.htm)

The nation grew under Jackson's presidency and two states were added to the union: Arkansas and Michigan.

Andrew Jackson's health was never good, and he died in 1845 at the Hermitage in Tennessee leaving the property to his adopted nephew Andrew Jackson, Jr.


dbello eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There is no doubt that Jackson was considered a controversial figure during his life, and it is from that perspective that you should contemplate whether or not he deserves to be on the $20 dollar bill. While your essay topic is an interesting one, it omits one very important element; the mindset of Jackson's mid 1820's reality which greatly differs from our 21st century, politically correct mindset. (regardless of our opinion of political correctness) Jackson viewed the 'nullification' issue as a threat to the nations unity so his response was to derail that threat. If viewed through 21st century eyes his actions seem extreme.  Jackson distrusted 'private banks' because he felt they had the potential to sway the economy, so he fought against the potential power private banks had upon the United States.  Although the policy backfired, Jackson did not want to see  the U.S. held captive by their unbridled power. The Indian Removal Act was Jackson's answer to Manifest Destiny. Obviously the forced removal of the Native Americans leave a bad taste in our mouth today, the action was not recieved the same way in 1832. Jackson's presidency is noted for its common bare bones approach to the nations future, spreading democratic ideals of the nation FOR THAT TIME AND MINDSET. I think he does deserve to be on the $20 dollar bill, because he blazed his own trail (whether we agree or disagree with some of his policies)

brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are certainly things to like about Jackson as a person, being the first common man in the Presidency, and the way in which he changed our outlook on democracy and the office, but I can't get past his native policies, and the genocide that occurred on his orders.  Also, the fact that he ignored the Supreme Court ruling overturning the Indian Removal Act strikes me as a particular example of presidential arrogance.

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I am torn on this one.  I agree with the previous posts in terms of Jackson's historical presence at the time would make his presence on currency as logical. Yet, my own personal view toward Jackson, specifically towards Native Americans and his conscious defense of the spoils system, is against praising Jackson.  I guess I believe, but I am not convinced.  It's a tough situation for me.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
I don't buy the argument that just because he's on the bill means he's an equal of the other presidents who are on bills. Jackson did some terrible things, especially the Trail of Tears, but he also accomplished some important things, including financial reform.
boryung | Student

History books are not very kind to Andrew Jackson, and for good reason.

Jackson may have been the first Populist president, but he in fact owned slaves and was a relatively prosperous plantation owner. His political platform belied his actual lifestyle.

Though Jackson stood up for the common man during his campaigns, once he became president, his actions were not that of a president who desires to subordinate big government to the wishes of the individual. He nearly invaded South Carolina for its refusal to comply to very protestable laws that clearly could have been negotiated over. Rather than respect states' rights, Jackson tried to take them away from a state that did not follow his orders right away.

And then, of course, there's Jackson's record with Native Americans. The policies of the Jacksonian administration included the Trail of Tears and many other forced removals of thousands of Native Americans from their homes. Many Native Americans died on the Trail of Tears and during the other removals.

Jackson's policy with the Bank of the United States was detrimental to the United States economy. Martin Van Buren's subsequent Specie Circular policy was implemented to solve the problems caused by the removal of the Bank. The Specie Circular, however, only worsened the problem. Jackson's actions concerning the bank caused problems for the U.S. economy until another a national bank was finally recreated about a century later.

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question