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There is a widely published cartoon from President Andrew Jackson’s time in office in which he is portrayed as a king and is labeled as “King Andrew the First.” The implication here is that he is acting more like a king than a president in a democracy. Let us examine why someone might characterize Jackson in this way. The cartoon can be seen in this link.
The major reason why someone might see President Jackson in this way is because of his liberal use of the veto power. In his two terms in office, Jackson vetoed 12 bills. By contrast, all of the previous presidents together had vetoed a total of ten bills. It took them a combined nine terms in office to issue their ten vetoes while Jackson vetoed 12 bills in just two terms. Jackson’s opponents felt that using the veto so much was an action more consistent with an autocratic ruler than with a president in a democratic system. They particularly felt this way when Jackson used the veto and other presidential powers to destroy the Second Bank of the United States. Because they felt that Jackson was taking more power for himself than was appropriate in a democratic system, they labeled him as “King Andrew.”
Of course, this is not to say that Jackson really was autocratic. As we know from recent and current history, the partisan opponents of a president can exaggerate what they see as his faults. Not all Americans would have agreed with this cartoonist and the cartoonist’s portrayal of Jackson is not necessarily a fair one.
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