Evaluating Andrew Jackson

It is said that Jackson is one of the most controversial presidents to ever reside over the United States.  Many people assail Andrew Jackson for being too powerful of a president.  Others assail him for his policy on Indian Removal.  It’s easy to attack the past without understanding.  If one takes time to really appraise Andrew Jackson and the Indian situation, true understanding can be reached.

 Andrew Jackson was indeed a strong president. He vetoed many bills passed by Congress, denying their passing.  He took a firm hold of the executive branch.  Those who opposed or threatened the Union were immediately crushed.  

Many say that this kind of power is too tyrannical and controlling.  Yet one must consider the situation at the time of 1829-1837.  The United States of America was still fairly new.  Thus, taking control was essential to ensuring the Union’s survival.  At a time when so many crises occured a weak president could not have held together America.  The United States could have crumbled under the pressure.  Thanks to Andrew, control was held and the Union preserved.  A strong president was needed to ensure survival of the United States and lead it to a better future.


Andrew Jackson has been the subject of even more controversy because of his policy on Indian Removal.  Andrew Jackson issued the Indian Removal Act in 1830s.  Because of this act, thousands of Native American people were forced to relocate.  This causes many people to dispel Andrew Jackson as an “Indian hater” or “heartless tyrant”  But do these critics really know the facts? 

Yes, Andrew Jackson did issue the Indian Removal Act, relocating Indians.  But was this his doing alone? Jackson was pressured by the voters and public to relocate the Indians.  Even if he had wanted to let Indians stay, the voters and Congress would have pushed to move them anyways.  Andrew tried to at least ensure they received just compensation for migrating.  Andrew is often blamed as being the “Indian hater” president.  But what many don’t realize is that he was not the first nor the last to force Indian removal. President Jefferson and Adams had both removed Indians from homelands.


Also, at the heart of the Indian Removal Act was not malice or hatred towards Indians.  Jackson wanted to help the United States while making it more convenient for Native Americans.  Many Americans didn’t understand the cultural value of land to the Indians.  Thus, Jackson and the whole country presumed that relocation would benefit Indians as they could have their own private land, away from white settlers.  Indians were pressured to leave.  But President Jackson never used troops or direct force to expel them.  In a message to Congress he urges that, “The emigration should be voluntary.”


And yes, Jackson did fight against the Indians in the War of 1812.  Yet does this mean he hated Indians?  No.  Jackson did what he must to ensure the safety of his people.  In the civil war, brothers fought beside brothers, fathers fought against sons.  Not out of hatred by duty.  The same goes for Jackson. He was doing his duty for the United States.  Jackson’s goodwill can even be seen towards Indians as he adopted an Indian boy named Lyncoya. He raised the Indian boy as his own.  This benevolent act shows that Jackson never hated Indians.


It is very unfortunate the relocation of Indian tribes.  Yet Jackson cannot be blamed solely for this.  At heart, Jackson had good intentions but the attitudes of the nation as a whole were never very favorable to the Indians. This is behind the heart of the Indian Removal Tragedy, not Andrew Jackson