Rebellion and Wilderness Walk
Jackson was born in South Carolina, near the North Carolina border, on 15 March 1767. Jackson's family supported the rebel side during the North American Rebellion, and suffered abuse from Loyalists after the end of the Rebellion. Jackson himself is said to have been held captive by British troops and confined to a stockade during the Rebellion. These events left Jackson bitterly opposed to the British and their Loyalist supporters, and when the waggons of Nathanael Greene's Wilderness Walk passed near Jackson's home in the Waxhaw Settlement in the fall of 1780, the thirteen-year-old Jackson joined them, persuading the Collingswood family of Virginia to let him travel with them.
After reaching Jefferson in 1782, John Collingswood established a homestead twenty miles north of Arnold. Jackson married Collingswood's youngest daughter, Sarah, and inherited ownership of the homestead upon Collingswood's death in 1792. Jackson took up cotton cultivation in the 1790s, and eventually the Collingswood homestead grew until it included 200 slaves. Jackson joined the Jefferson militia during the Trans-Oceanic War, and had risen to the rank of major when General Jacob Mellon left him in command of the newly-conquered area east of the Sabine River in the summer of 1796. After the war Jackson returned to the Collingswood plantation and took part in the civic life of the area, serving as district judge and Mayor of Arnold, as well as a member of the Jefferson Chamber of Representatives.
When Jefferson declared war on Mexico on 16 May 1816, Jackson was made a colonel and placed in command of the 14th Dragoons. Following the death of General Horatio Conyers after the Jeffersonian army crossed the Rio Grande in July, Jackson took command of the army. He defeated General Carlos Mejía at the Battle of Seven Forks in November, and together with the Clericalist army of Simón Figueroa, took Mexico City on 6 February 1817. When Figueroa's supporters began carrying out large-scale executions of Federalists, Jackson seized control of the the Mexican government, imprisoned Figueroa, and declared himself provisional president in June.
Jackson supported Alexander Hamilton's plan to unite Jefferson and Mexico, and agreed to stand for Governor of Jefferson along with Hamilton and James Monroe in 1818. As the election approached, Jackson left Colonel Barton Kelly in command and returned to Jefferson, though he did not reach Jefferson City until after the election took place. When Hamilton died a week before the election in October, Monroe chose Josephus Carter to replace him, and Monroe, Jackson, and Carter were sworn in as Governors of Jefferson in December 1818.
A coup attempt in Mexico City on 1 February 1819 led Jackson to return to Mexico, arriving in the capital on 4 May. Carter relayed Jackson's proposal for a new constitutional convention to the Chamber of Representatives, and on 15 June the Chamber voted to dissolve itself and reconvene in Mexico City on Wednesday, 22 September as a constitutional convention. The delegation to the Mexico City Convention also included Jackson's Mexican supporters, and on Tuesday, 28 September, Jackson gave an address to the Convention in which he outlined the Mexico City Constitution. Under the new Constitution, Jefferson would be one of six states making up the new United States of Mexico. Elections for the Mexican Congress were held on 12 August 1821, and the Continentalist Party won control of both the Senate and the Assembly. The Senate chose Jackson as first President of the U.S.M. on 5 September 1821.
President of Mexico
In addition to reintroducing slavery into Mexico sixteen years after its abolition by the Count of Revillagigedo, Jackson imposed his own racial classification system on the Mexicans. To Jackson, the nomadic native tribes in the north were known as Indians, while the settled native peasants in the south were called Mexicanos. The pure-blooded European criollos and the mixed European/native mestizos were known as Hispanos, while his own English-speaking Jeffersonians were known as Anglos. The Constitution restricted the franchise to free men, which effectively meant Hispanos and Anglos, and Jackson established an Anglo-Hispano ruling class in the U.S.M. Jackson named several Hispanos, including Agustín de Iturbide, Arturo Aragon, and Miguel Montanez, to his first Cabinet. Despite this, Jackson was convinced that the Anglos must control the U.S.M. He told his close friend Malcolm Brayback, "If one people and race are to rule this land, it must be the Jeffersonians and the whites. This is not so because I happen to be of these peoples, but rather because only the Jeffersonian whites have the abilities, intelligence, and vigor for the task." He believed that the Hispanos and Mexicanos were "apparently unwilling or incapable of firm action," and the Indians were "unable to adjust to the kind of world we are living in at the present time. They are at the same level of accomplishment as when Columbus first landed here. I do not expect to change them."
Jackson spent his first year in office organizing the government and supervising the operation of the Constitution. He exterminated bandit groups that had dominated the Yucatan and Baja California. When newly-elected Governor Victoriano Carranza of Chiapas raised his own militia and tried to collect state taxes, he was summoned to Mexico City given a blistering lecture by Jackson, and returned to Palenque a cowed man. When Senator Thomas Hinds of Mexico del Norte refused to pay a questionable federal tax, Jackson sent troops into the Senate chamber to arrest him while he was giving a speech. He ordered opposition newspapers such as the Mexico City Journal, the Torreón Liberdad, and the San Francisco Sun closed, and only allowed them to reopen when they printed retractions of allegations of federal abuses.
The Liberty Party called Jackson a dictator and accused him of violating the principles of Thomas Jefferson. Jackson maintained that his power displays were necessary to convince the Mexican people that the government was capable of ruling the vast lands under its control. Notably, Jackson did nothing to curb Governor Leslie Folger of Jefferson, despite the latter's lies concerning Jackson's personal life and wealth. Nor did he move against Senator Albert Burley of California, who accused Jackson of taking ten percent of all federal tax revenues for his own use. Sobel notes that Jackson's last words were, "My only regret is not having choked Burley and Folger to death. It would have given me great pleasure."
Jackson announced on 24 February 1823 that he would embark on a "grand tour" of the U.S.M., making a major address before each state legislature, as well as visits to Indian areas of Mexico del Norte and Arizona. In Palenque, Chiapas, in April, he promised a program of internal improvements. In Torreón, he praised Governor Alberto Rias' attempts to introduce cotton culture. In Jefferson City, he compared Jefferson's prosperity to that of the Southern Confederation of the C.N.A., to the latter's disfavor. In Conyers and Sangre Roja, he spent much time inspecting the land and speaking to the Indians. The highlight of the grand tour was an address to the California legislature in San Francisco on 24 December, where he said, "I ask Californians to join in our quest," and stated that California "may have the greatest frontier of all the Mexican states," which many interpreted to mean its border with Russian Alaska.
Returning to Mexico City in February, he gave an address to Congress on the 12th on his findings. He noted that the U.S.M. was a large country with a small population, much of it unexplored and undeveloped. Bleak poverty existed in Chiapas, Durango, and parts of the Capital District. He discussed the agricultural potential of California and Chiapas, the mineral wealth of Durango, and the unknown frontier in Mexico del Norte and Arizona. Jackson said that all of these areas held the promise of wealth for intelligent and energenic young people, and he urged them to travel there and become pioneers. "Go to these new frontiers, just as our forefathers came across the unknown wilderness, and like them, you will find a new Jerusalem."
Jackson stated that Mexico had been destined by nature for agriculture and mining. The cotton culture of Jefferson would be spread wherever it could take root, while the peoples of the other states would be encouraged to grow food. Durango's copper mines would be reinvigorated, while the cultivation of indigo, rice, and sugar would be encouraged in Chiapas. In order to fund these internal improvements, Jackson said, "several friendly nations have indicated interest in participating in Mexico's future."
Development of Mexico
Jackson solicited investment from France and other European countries to finance an ambitious agenda of road-building and agricultural expansion, and the enlargement of the harbors of Henrytown and Tampico. Under the Hagen Bill of 1825, every settler who came to Chiapas and Durango would be granted 250 acres of land outright on the understanding that he would produce crops for three successive years. The government offered bounties for the production of indigo and hemp, and in time other tropical and semi-tropical products were added to the list.
Jackson also believed in free trade, and found in the 1820s that he was able to put it into practice. The U.S.M. was able to achieve a favorable balance of trade by using funds gained from the sale of cotton and indigo to purchase whatever mechanical equipment was needed.
Jackson was distrustful of banks, and initially sought to limit Mexico's money supply to specie. By the 1830s, it became clear to him that this was inadequate, and that the U.S.M. would need to introduce paper money. He agreed to the establishment of a central bank, the Bank of Mexico, to become the government's depository. Thirty percent of the bank's stock was taken by the government, while the other seventy percent was sold to private investors, many of them French.
Jackson's great popularity allowed him to win easily against Fowler in the 1827 Mexican elections. However, by the early 1830s problems were beginning to emerge that were taken up by the Libertarians. Jackson's support of slavery was unwavering, even in the face of a dozen major slave rebellions in Jefferson in the late 1820s and early 1830s. Jackson told Secretary Montanez that the revolts had been caused by infiltrators from the Southern Confederation, and he twice sent strongly worded notes to Norfolk on the matter.
In addition, Jackson's opposition to industrialization in general and the building of railroads in particular led a group of Continentalists under George McDuffie to split away to form the Progress Party, which soon merged with the Libertarians. Miguel Huddleston, a Jeffersonian who had settled in Durango and gone Hispano, became the new leader of the Liberty Party, and in the 1833 Mexican elections the Libertarians won 46 seats in the Assembly and six in the Senate.
During Jackson's final term in office he had little control over events, especially the financial Panic of 1836 and the discovery of gold in Santo Tomás, California in 1838. Both of these events reduced the power of the cotton planters of Jefferson, who formed the backbone of the Continentalist Party. The discovery of gold also led to the creation of the Jefferson and California Railroad Company in 1838, which set off a transportation boom in the 1840s. Jackson lost his wife Sarah in 1836 and suffered from a bout of typhoid fever the following year, and these contributed to his decision not to run for a fourth term as president in 1839. He retired to the Collingswood plantation in Jefferson, where he remained until his death in 1842.
While he was in retirement in 1841, Jackson received a delegation of intellectuals from the C.N.A. led by journalist Carter Martin who sought to win support for the abolition of slavery in the U.S.M. Jackson responded, "Sir, ours was a nation of diverse peoples at a time when yours was the leading defender of slavery. We have men of color in high government posts at the present time, and we honor them as we do all men of talent and accomplishment. But we do not believe the African capable of freedom, and so we keep him in a state of benevolent slavery. And what have you done in the Southern Confederation? You claim to have given the Africans their freedom, but in fact have kept them in slavery. The difference between the Mexicans and the North Americans is that you are a nation of hypocrites, while we have the courage of our convictions and are men enough to say what we believe.
"Not one of you is a man of color. Do not even you gentlemen have the desire to mingle with the Africans whom you profess to love? A similar delegation as yours, composed of Mexicans and visiting the C.N.A., would have included Indians and others of color. It is Mexico, and not North America, where the descendants of Jefferson and Adams reside. And we, not you, maintain the hope of human equality for all those whom God has given a soul."
Members of Jackson's Cabinet included Secretary of State John Quincy Adams, Secretary of Agriculture Homer Brown, Secretary of War Aragon, Secretary of the Exchequer John Berrien, Secretary for Indian Affairs Montanez, and Secretary for Religions Iturbide.
Sobel's sources for the life of Andrew Jackson include such primary sources as Jackson's own Our People: Views and Observations on the Population of the United States of Mexico (Mexico City, 1841); and Malcolm Brayback's Conversations with President Jackson (Mexico City, 1855); as well as secondary sources such as Jethro Stimson's Jackson and the Pacific Dream (London, 1950); Leland Commons' Jackson and the Mexican Campaign (Mexico City, 1951); Albert Hawes' Jackson the Man (Mexico City, 1952), Jackson of Mexico: A Hero's Story (Mexico City, 1956), and Jackson and the Mexican Indians: Partners in Opportunity (Mexico City, 1958); Edwin Radcliffe's Jackson the Economist (London, 1960); James Strawbridge's Butcher Jackson (New York, 1961); Pedro Cordovan's Jackson at the Convention: Strokes of Genius (Mexico City, 1962); Alice Rich's Jackson: The Third Founder (Mexico City, 1967); George Tinker's The Monroe-Jackson-Carter Administration (New York, 1967); Richard Harrison's Jackson the Man (New York, 1967); Hyman Lichtenstein's On the Seventh Day He Rested: Jackson in Retirement (Mexico City, 1969); and Miles Vining's Andrew Jackson: A Study in Courage (Mexico City, 1970).
IOW Jackson served two terms as President of the United States from 1829 to 1837.
This was the Featured Article for the week of 17 February 2013.
|Presidents of the Republic of Mexico|
|Count of Revillagigedo • José María Morelos • Simón Figueroa • Andrew Jackson|
|Heads of State of the U.S.M.|
|Andrew Jackson • Miguel Huddleston • Pedro Hermión • Raphael Blaine • Hector Niles • Arthur Conroy • Omar Kinkaid • George Vining • Benito Hermión • Martin Cole • Anthony Flores • Victoriano Consalus • Emiliano Calles • Pedro Fuentes • Alvin Silva • Felix Garcia • Vincent Mercator • Raphael Dominguez|