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Andrew Jackson's Common Background

Andrew Jackson was the first man to look toward the highest office of the new country that was not part of the gentry that had since been the leaders. He came from a “subsistence-farming family” that migrated with many other bands of poor people looking to the New World for a fresh start. (1) He lost his father when he was young and was raised by his widowed mother. There were no servants to help take care of him. Despite everything against him achieving much more than the average boy in his circumstances, his mother worked hard to “give him far more schooling than most country boys got.” (2) Despite all that, he still was not as educated as the men he would later face in the political arena as he “learned to read, to cipher, to write crudely, and spout a few tags of Latin.” (3) He quickly joined in the Revolutionary War at the age of thirteen “in hazardous guerrilla warfare” which helped to develop him as a man and military hero despite almost dying from a wound. (4) He decided to become something more and passed a backwoods law bar and a post. On his way there, he fought a duel and bought a slave to eventually settle down and become a “prominent member of the backwoods oligarchy” that was rising up.” (5)

He knew hard times. He knew failure at businesses. He had not had it made with money and servants around him. Jackson struggled for what he got including his military fame. His life was the stuff of legends and myth which was eaten up by the masses and was “particularly irresistible to American farmers.” (6) Jackson had a connection with the people that the other political leaders did not. He was a man from the masses. The nation was turning to a new era and a new future. That also entailed looking to new leaders who had unique experiences. Jackson fit that bill perfectly as he was from immigrants who had to work for what they had, which was not much. He could relate to failing at business and putting his all into everything he did. He was a man the people could vote for.

(1) Charles Sellers, The Market Revolution: Jacksonian America, 1815-1846, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991), 174.
(2) Ibid, 175.
(3) Ibid, 175.
(4) Ibid, 175.
(5) Ibid, 177.
(6) Ibid, 178.

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