Andrew Jackson Biography Essay

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Andrew Jackson, who served as a major general in the War of 1812, commanded U.S. forces in a five-month campaign against the Creek Indians, allies of the British. After that campaign ended in a decisive American victory in the Battle of Tohopeka (or Horseshoe Bend) in Alabama in mid-1814, Jackson led American forces to victory over the British in the Battle of New Orleans (January 1815). The win, which occurred after the War of 1812 officially ended but before news of the Treaty of Ghent had reached Washington, elevated Jackson to the status of national war hero. In 1817, acting as commander of the army’s southern district, Jackson ordered an invasion of Florida. After his forces captured Spanish posts at St. Mark’s and Pensacola, he claimed the surrounding land for the United States. The Spanish government vehemently protested, and Jackson’s actions sparked a heated debate in Washington. Though many argued for Jackson’s censure, Secretary of State John Quincy Adams defended the general’s actions, and in the end they helped speed the American acquisition of Florida in 1821.

Jackson’s popularity led to suggestions that he run for president. At first he professed no interest in the office, but by 1824 his boosters had rallied enough support to get him a nomination as well as a seat in the U.S. Senate. In a five-way race, Jackson won the popular vote, but for the first time in history no candidate received a majority of electoral votes. The House of Representatives was charged with deciding between the three leading candidates: Jackson, Adams and Secretary of the Treasury William H. Crawford. Critically ill after a stroke, Crawford was essentially out, and Speaker of the House Henry Clay (who had finished fourth) threw his support behind Adams, who later made Clay his secretary of state. Jackson’s supporters raged against what they called the “corrupt bargain” between Clay and Adams, and Jackson himself resigned from the Senate.

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