Guest Author - David Lawlor
Andrew Jackson: How did his Military experience help him become the U.S. President?
What does it take to become the president? Well, first of all you need to be a superb leader. You also need the other basic elements like: intelligence, knowledge of the law, knowledge of the modern world, integrity, fearlessness, etc. So how can military experience help one achieve these elements? Look back in history to the seventh president: Andrew Jackson.
Andrew Jackson was the seventh president of the United States of America. He was president for eight years (two terms: 1829 – 1837); and in those eight years he used his military tactics very often.
Let’s start out from the beginning. He was born on March fifteen, 1767, in Waxhaws, British America. He was a child of two Presbyterian Irishmen that had moved to the US two years before he was born (Andrew and Elizabeth Jackson). His father died three weeks before he was born. He went to a normal school in the Waxhaws region. His first job after his general education was working in a saddle shop (1781). Then he started teaching children and studying law in Salisbury, North Carolina. Later, in 1787, he joined the military and was moved to Jonesborough (currently Tennessee.)
Andrew Jackson was only thirteen years old when he joined the local militia to help in the Revolutionary War efforts. He was just a courier at the time, but what else could a thirteen year old boy do? After his brother Hugh had died of starvation in the battle of Stono Ferry, he and his other brother Robert were captured by the British and imprisoned. When he was in the middle of his imprisonment, a British officer commanded him to polish his shoes. He refused and got his face and hand slashed, which left scars for his entire life. And on top of all that, his brother died of smallpox a few days after their mother had released them. Also, his mother Elizabeth Jackson became a nurse on a ship that held prisoners of war in Charleston harbor. She later died of cholera, the same disease that was killing most of her patients. She was then forgotten about in an unmarked grave. Despite all the other factors, Andrew Jackson blamed all of his family’s deaths on the British.
After his mother’s death, he decided to learn about politics and the law. Though his education was all through personal experience and study, he still had enough to become a “Frontier lawyer.” Most of the cases he backed up came out of land disputes or from physical fights. Eventually, he became so popular that he was appointed solicitor, or prosecutor, of the west district, and kept that name even in the south territory of the river of Ohio. Then, in 1796, when Tennessee became part of the United States, Andrew Jackson became their US Representative. The year after that, he became the United States Senator (as a Democrat and a Republican) and resigned a year later. After that, he became the judge of the Tennessee Supreme Court for six years. While he was prospering as a judge, he also prospered as a plantation owner and a merchant.
Andrew Jackson became a commander of the Tennessee militia in 1801 (still as a judge) as the rank of Colonel. One year later, he was promoted to General. This was just a change of name until the War of 1812 ten years later. The Native Americans had attacked some Euro-American settlements and massacred four hundred settlers to rebel and for revenge. In the Creek War, an attack on the unified Native Americans and the English, Andrew Jackson commanded the US Tennessee militia. His men also won the Battle of Horseshoe Bend under his command in 1814 a few years later. After that battle, Andrew Jackson and a few other men, like Davie Crocket, created the Treaty of Fort Jackson, which helped end the war. He was then made a Major General after this action.
Because of his bravery in the War of 1812, he was also asked to lead a defense team when the British tried to take over New Orleans. The British had a shopping 7,500 soldiers, while the defense team only had 5,000. Surprisingly, the British had 4,074 either missing, dead, captured or severely injured, and the Americans only had 142. This is the first thing that Andrew Jackson did that made him a national icon. Also the Congress gave him the “Thanks of Congress” (a very high honor at the time). Andrew Jackson also made Florida a state by commanding in the Seminole War in 1817. This attack was an order by President James Monroe, who was also a military veteran.
After all his years in the military, he decided to run for president in 1824. That year he lost to John Quincy Adams. But he did win the next election in 1828 in the Democratic Party. Four years later, he also won the 1832 election. So he had 8 years as a president. In those 8 years, Andrew Jackson used his learned tactics to lead not only the military, but also the people of America.
So I believe that the military can help one achieve the elements of becoming the president, depending on when he/she is in office. Sometimes a president needs to know how to lead people in a different way than others. For example, in wartime, a president needs to know how to lead an army. But in time of peace, a president needs to know how to strengthen our own society. So, military can help a president, but it can also ruin them. But in Andrew Jackson’s case, it helped.
David Alexander Lawlor is a student at Jewett School of the Arts. He plans on going to Harrison Arts Center, then going to a school that offers a good civil engineering program. After that, he wants to go to a city that needs engineers, “preferably with bridge or dams”. After a bit of experience, he wants to travel with his career all over the world.
Note from the Veterans Editor: The opinions of this guest author may or may not be shared by the editor, but the ability to freely express them are respectfully championed!