Tag Archives: Jackson

Weekly History News Roundup

Framers intended President to take a salary… Trump’s promise is not historically sound


Trump visits the Hermitage… Comparisons to Jackson are still being made


Park Service cuts affecting Philadelphia… Franklin Print shop and Declaration House to close this year


Yale’s removal of Calhoun name sparks interest... Minnesota considers changing lake name


Historians struggle to shape Obama’s legacy... partisanship stands in the way of scholarship


Old Hickory rolling over



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Weekly History News Roundup

DNA suggests salmonella may have killed off Aztecsrare strain of bacteria discovered in corpses


Volunteers struggling to save historic Jewish sites in Middle East… ISIS targets Jewish heritage sites across region


National Museum of African-American history tops 1 million visitorslatest Smithsonian open just four months


Grad student discovers “lost” Whitman novel… mystery tale was published anonymously before the Civil War


Jackson-Trump comparisons do not stand up to historyThe 45th President wishes he were more like the 7th


Tennessee is first state to guarantee annual funding for Civil War preservationfund provides matching grants for private donations

A must visit

A must visit

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2016 in Context

Americans have elected unorthodox candidates to the Presidency before… though Donald Trump’s victory could prove to be the most radical of them all.  Here is a list of the stranger decisions of our electorate…


5.  William Henry Harrison–  Desperate for a return to Jacksonian form, Whigs from around the country rallied around the lifelong soldier and Virginia aristocrat.  Though his personal story hardly resembled Jackson’s, Harrison’s reputation as an Indian fighter was enough to propel him to the Presidency.  At the time, he was the oldest man elected to the office.

Bully Pulpit

Bully Pulpit

4.  Theodore Roosevelt-  Though many historians claim Roosevelt crafted his persona to gain higher office, his pedigree as historian, rancher, and reformer set him apart from other post- Civil War politicians.  The Office was changing and Roosevelt was the perfect candidate for the era.  At the time, he was the youngest man to hold the office.


3.  Zachary Taylor-  With a nickname like ‘Old Rough ‘n’ Ready’, Taylor was clearly an unconventional choice in 1848.  Not only had he never held public office, but also claimed(proudly) to have never voted.  We elected a candidate with no experience, no affiliation, and no agenda….sound familiar?

Let us see what's in there

Let us see what’s in there

2.  Andrew Jackson-  On the surface, Jackson appeared the perfect candidate- military service, humble roots, and holding elected office at all levels.  What separated him was his temperament- Jackson was incredulous, uncouth, and violent.  A man too often consumed by his passions and pride, Jackson’s judgement was often affected by these detriments.  His brand of raucous populism forever changed electoral politics.


1.  Donald Trump-  Frustratingly unprincipled, irretrievably vulgar, and perilously ignorant,  Trump stands as the greatest gamble the American voters have ever taken.  The political elite controlling our government so abused the voters’ trust, Trump became their last resort.  Harnessing a dangerous breed of populism, Trump proved an effective demagogue on the campaign trail- and fear has swept him to the Presidency.

Time will tell?

Time will tell?

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Whose Name is Called

Stonewall Jackson summoned AP Hill…during his final, delirious moments on May 10, 1863.  The two men had often been at odds during the war (not that difficult to be in Jackson’s doghouse, especially when he had his own reputation to consider.)  But the memory of Hill’s soldiers always being prepared stuck with Jackson even on his deathbed.

Beneath the shade of the trees

Robert E. Lee called upon Hill’s bravery… as he passed in and out of conscienceness  on October 12, 1870.  Lee insisted “Hill MUST come up”  before passing away.  The Confederacy’s two most revered commanders remembered the contributions of the Light Division (even if it was in fever induced delirium.)

Old reliable

Whose name could Ambrose Powell Hill call…as he lay dying near Petersburg, Virginia on April 2, 1865?  Hill had been struck down while leading what was left of his division to the front.  AP Hill often claimed he did not want to live to see the Confederacy fall.  He died seven days before Lee’s surrender.

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Biggest Presidential Election Upsets

Many Presidential elections are decided… long before the votes are cast.  Technology makes predicting election results an acceptable part of the modern campaign cycle.  Historical analysis provides election scorecards on races prior to modern media technology.  Despite all the prognostication, there are several key elections which defied expectations.

5.  1892—  Grover Cleveland became the first candidate to be nominated by a party three times and was seeking his second (non-consecutive) term.  Benjamin Harrison was a solid, but uninspiring incumbent who had narrowly defeated Cleveland four years earlier.  Republicans spent millions in a campaign centered on currency policy.  Harrison enlisted allies like Ohio Governor William McKinley but was unable to campaign personally because of the death of his wife in October, 1892.  Cleveland overcame the powerful Republican campaign and the sympathetic figure cut by his opponent to win easily in what must be considered an upset.

Wins the rematch

4.  1960–  John F. Kennedy was young and relatively inexperienced when he challenged two-term Vice President, Richard Nixon.  The Cold War was the dominant issue of the day and no one seemed to have stronger anticommunist credentials than Nixon.  Kennedy attacked the failures of the Eisenhower administration including the U2 incident and the fall of Cuba to Castro’s communists.  He even went as far as to fabricate statistics to accuse Nixon and Eisenhower of allowing the Soviets to pull ahead in the arms race.  Kennedy pulled out one of the narrowest victories of the 20th century.  Illinois was the swing state and Kennedy’s victory there has long been disputed.  Kennedy became the youngest man elected President and used  current technology to secure the upset.

3.  1844–  The first election to feature a darkhorse candidate, James K. Polk emerged from the pack and upset perennial challenger Henry Clay.  Democrats were hoping to restore the Jacksonian policies that had them in power for over a decade.  Finding a successor to Jackson had proven impossible, but Polk emerged from an uninspired field to win the nomination.  The Whigs nominated their ideological leader, Henry Clay (his 4th presidential run.)  The annexation of Texas and westward expansion dominated the campaign and Polk presented a strong expansionist platform.  Clay was better known, but the American people were ready for expansion and embraced Polk’s fiery rhetoric.

Who is James K. Polk ?

2.  1824–  Andrew Jackson rode the wave of his popularity to what seemed to be an election victory.  Regional voting results divided the electoral count so no candidate secured a majority of the votes.  Jackson won a plurality in the electoral and popular results.  The matter was turned over to the House of Representatives where Henry Clay used his influence to secure the election for John Quincy Adams.  In return, Adams named Clay as his Secretary of State.  Jackson claimed collusion by his arch-enemy Clay and publicly denounced the “Corrupt Bargain.”   Adams’ victory was a clear upset over the wildly popular Jackson.

1.  1948–  Discussed in an earlier post, Truman’s victory was the greatest upset in Presidential election history.  Thomas Dewey enjoyed comfortable leads in almost every national poll.  This caused Dewey to run an uninspired campaign, rarely leaving his home state of New York.  Truman launched an aggressive rail campaign across the country, taking the fight to all Republicans, not just Dewey.  Truman won the key states of Ohio, Illinois, and California by less than 1%.  The pro-Republican Chicago Daily Tribune made sure that Truman’s victory became iconic.

Not so fast…..

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Presidential Campaign Scandals part 2

John Quincy Adams was in trouble… in his reelection bid in 1828.  Andrew Jackson built a nationwide network of support during Adams’ term in office.  Jackson’s campaign structure was the first of its kind and by 1828 there were pro-Jackson committees in every state.  All property requirements for voting had been removed, drastically increasing the electorate.  Jackson’s populist message resonated with the newly enfranchised voters.  In many ways, the election of 1828 was our first modern election.  Adams was forced to resort to another modern strategy to win a second term, scandal.

Jackson avenging 1824

Andrew Jackson was a man with… many skeletons in his closet.  Jackson was a hard-drinking gambler who killed Charles Dickinson in a duel.  The Adams campaign  publicized all of Jackson’s indiscretions, even attacking his mother’s honor.  But it was the salacious reporting on Jackson’s marriage to Rachel Donelson Robards that dragged the campaign into modernity.  Cincinnati newspaperman Charles Hammond asked,  “Ought a convicted adulteress and her paramour husband be placed in the highest offices of this free and Christian land?”

Jackson’s skeletons

Rachel Donelson Robards was in a loveless marriage… when she met Andrew Jackson in 1788.  Divorces were difficult in the 18th century and women had few recourses other than waiting for a husband to file papers.  Rachel left her husband in 1790 to live with Jackson in Natchez, Mississippi territory.  Believing that Lewis Robards had finalized the divorce, Jackson married Rachel in August of 1791.  Due to a technicality, the divorce was not finalized in time,  making Rachel a bigamist.  Robards finally secured the divorce in 1793.  Andrew and Rachel were remarried in Tennessee a year later.  The charge of bigamy followed the Jacksons throughout their marriage, prompting Jackson’s duel against Charles Dickinson in 1806.

“Heaven will be no heaven for me if she is not there.”

American voters rejected the negative campaign… of John Quincy Adams, and Jackson won in a landslide.  Rachel’s health deteriorated  during the campaign and the scandalous attacks made her condition worse.  She died December 22,1828.  Jackson would go to Washington alone.  Old Hickory blamed Adams and Henry Clay for her death,  “I can and do forgive all my enemies. But those vile wretches who have slandered her must look to God for mercy.”  The American voters did a great service rejecting the smear tactics of the Adams campaign.  Unfortunately, private lives of politicians and the scandals associated with them continue to dominate American political campaigns.  A return to the spirit of 1828 is needed.

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Weekly History News Roundup

Jackson being replaced on the $20… Harriet Tubman will be featured on front of the bill


Mass graves linked to Ancient Greece… 80 skeletons most likely followers of Athenian tyrant


FBI files reveal agency prevented attempt on Hitler’s lifeJewish gangsters plotted assassination in 1933


CIA finally honors fallen Green Beret… soldier was first American killed in 2001 Afghanistan war


Lost Wright Bros. patent discovered after 36 years… mishandled paperwork allowed document to be lost



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