Andrew Jackson became prominent nationally after the Battle of New Orleans during the War of 1812. His tenacity and refusal to abandon those soldiers who were sick or wounded led his soldiers to comment that he was "hard as a hickory stick," thus leading to his nickname of "Old Hickory."
Jackson served in the U.S. House of Representatives and also as a Senator from Tennessee before running for President in 1824. Although he had a plurality of electoral votes in a five man race, the House of Representatives, which decided the election, elected John Quincy Adams of Massachusetts. Jackson complained of a "corrupt bargain" between Adams and Henry Clay and immediately began his campaign for the 1828 election. He and Martin van Buren are considered the founders of the modern day Democratic Party.
Jackson was elected President in 1828 when he defeated John Q. Adams. Several events marked his Presidency:
- The Nullification Crisis, sparked by the Tariff of 1828, often called the Tariff of Abominations. South Carolina, under the leadership of John C. Calhoun who had been Jackson's Vice President, attempted to declare the Tariff null and void within its borders, and there was talk of secession. In response, Jackson issued his Nullification Proclamation which denied the right of any state to annul an Act of Congress. Famously, Jackson declared at the Jefferson Day dinner, "Our Federal Union; it must be preserved." His firm resolve in the face of the Nullification Crisis is credited with preserving the Union for the time being.
- Jackson declared war on the Second Bank of the United States. When Congress passed a Bill authorizing the renewal of the Bank's charter, Jackson vetoed the Bill. His veto was sustained, and the bank's days were numbered. When he won re-election in 1832, he took this as a mandate to destroy the bank. He ordered all federal funds withdrawn from the bank and deposited in "pet banks," and thereby destroyed the Bank of the U.S.
- Cherokee Indians had attempted to peacefully coexist in and with the State of Georgia. In two separate decisions, the Supreme Court, under John Marshall, affirmed the Cherokee Indian tribe's right to land in Georgia. Jackson did nothing to enforce Marshall's ruling, and the Cherokee were forced to abandon their land and move to Oklahoma in the famous "trail of tears."
- Of somewhat lesser significance, Jackson appointed Roger Taney to the Supreme Court on the death of John Marshall. Taney had been Jackson's Secretary of the Treasury who had removed federal funds from the Bank of the U.S. it was Taney as Chief Justice who issued the famous opinion in Dred Scott vs. Sanford.
An excellent biography of Jackson's years in the White House is American Lion by John Meacham. You might also consider Andrew Jackson by H.W. Brands.