This evenhanded, largely unflattering portrait of Andrew Jackson acknowledges that he was a controversial figure in his time and remains so to contemporary Americans, venerated by some and despised by others.
This complete biography assesses Jackson’s successes and failures in business, politics, the military, his personal life, and as seventh president of the United States. Though he espoused the principles of egalitarianism, dignity, and freedom, he “never questioned the morality of slavery.” Kanefield notes Jackson’s embracing of paternalism, “the belief that white women and all people of color were better off under the dominion of white men.” Regarding Native Americans, Jackson’s “view was that Indians were like children who tended to be cruel and vicious and needed stern punishment to force them to behave in a civilized manner.” Supporting these characterizations are direct quotes from Jackson himself, although interestingly, Kanefield never actively describes Jackson’s words or actions as racist. Although Jackson defied federal laws by attacking Indian villages on the Tennessee frontier and refusing to enforce the Supreme Court ruling against the Indian Removal Act, Kanefield acknowledges his courageous, uncompromising stance in the Nullification Crisis with South Carolina during his presidency. In assessing his legacy, Kanefield observes, “Jackson’s brand of conservatism—including his nationalism and notions of white male supremacy—threads its way through American history from his time to ours, and remains a powerful force in our politics.”
A concise profile that successfully reveals Jackson’s personal complexities and contradictions and his controversial legacy as a public figure. (maps, archival images, chapter notes, timeline, bibliography) (Biography. 10-14)