In 1829 Andrew Jackson arrived in Washington in a carriage. Eight years and two turbulent presidential terms later, he left on a train. Those years, among the most prosperous in American history, saw America transformed not only by growth in transportation but by the expansion of the market economy and the formation of the mass political party. Jackson's ambivalence--and that of his followers--toward the new politics and the new economy is the story of this book.
Historians have often depicted the Old Hero (or Old Hickory) as bigger than life--so prominent that his name was wed to an era.Donald Cole presents a different Jackson, one not always sure of himself and more controlled by than in control of the political and economic forces of his age. He portrays Jackson as a leader who yearned for the agrarian past but was also entranced by the future of a growing market economy. The dominant theme of Jackson's presidency, Cole argues, was his inconsistent and unsuccessful battle to resist market revolution.
Elected by a broad coalition of interest groups, Jackson battled constantly not only his opponents but also his supporters. He spent most of his first term rearranging his administration and contending with Congress. His accomplishments were mostly negative--relocating the Indians, vetoing road bills and the Bank bill, and opposing nullification. The greatest achievement of his administration, the rise of the mass political party, was more the work of advisers than of Jackson himself.
He did, however, make a lasting imprint, Cole contends. Through his strength, passions, and especially his anxiety, Jackson symbolized the ambivalence of his fellow Americans at a decisive moment--a time when the country was struggling with the conflict between the ideals of the Revolution and the realities of nineteenth-century capitalism.
"Andrew Jackson, as the seventh president of the United States, from 1829 to 1837, has long been considered one of the best half dozen or so of all American presidents. This interesting and insightful review of the major events of Jackson's presidency can be read for profit and entertainment by student and general reader alike."--Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography
"The best account of the presidency of Andrew Jackson, distinguished for its erudition, lucidity, fairness, and balance."--American Historical Review
"The best treatment we have of Jackson's presidency--succint, balanced, probing."--Daniel Feller, author of The Public Lands in Jacksonian Politics
"Cole nimbly and authoritatively traverses one of the most exciting, dynamic, and colourful administrations in American history. Thoroughly researched, original in conception, imaginatively probing in analysis, and fascinating in detail."--TLS
"Gives 'Old Hickory' a new place in the history of the presidency. A provocative and challenging interpretation."--John M. Belohlavek, author of Let the Eagle Soar: The Foreign Policy of Andrew Jackson
"The Old Hickory that emerges from the pages of this volume is a different Jackson from the traditional, almost mythic figure, a man less sure of himself than imagined, a man more controlled by the political and economic forces of his age than the reverse."--Journal of Southern History
"A balanced and original interpretation."--Journal of American History
DONALD B. COLE is professor emeritus at Phillips Exeter Academy, New Hampshire, and the author of Martin Van Buren and the American Political System.