Born on the western frontier of the Carolinas, Andrew Jackson (1767–1845) was the seventh president of the United States and the first from west of the Appalachians. Jackson rose from poverty to a career in law and politics, becoming Tennessee’s first congressman, a senator, and judge on the state supreme court. Although he would later gain a reputation as the champion of the common people, in Tennessee he was allied by marriage, business, and political ties to the state’s elite. As a land speculator, cotton planter, and attorney, he accumulated a large personal fortune and acquired more than 100 slaves.

In the War of 1812, Jackson led the Tennessee militia in defeating the Creeks at Horseshoe Bend and the British at New Orleans, making him a national war hero. After the war, speculators, creditors, and elite leaders in Tennessee, who hoped to exploit Jackson’s popularity in order to combat anti-banking sentiment and fend off challenges to their dominance of state politics, pushed for Jackson’s nomination for the presidency. In 1822, Jackson finally accepted the nomination; he lost the 1824 contest to John Quincy Adams, but he ran again in 1828 and defeated Adams. Jackson’s presidency saw major economic and political tensions. His two terms were marked by the Bank War, the Nullification Crisis, and the forced removal of American Indians to the West. Though he left office as a hugely popular president, Jackson’s policies earned him bitter political enemies and a mixed legacy of democracy and controversy.

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