Andrew Jackson Versus Historians: How Changes in American Moralism Created a Monster

  • 2017

Andrew Jackson Versus Historians: How Changes in American Moralism Created a Monster

Author:
Eric Draudt
Abstract:

Andrew Jackson was, and still is one of the most polarizing Presidents in the history of the United States. His face is on our currency, much like George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, yet, there isn’t an era of America named after them like Jackson. Washington belongs to the Revolutionary era and Lincoln belongs to the Civil War era, but Jackson belongs to the Age of Jackson. The Jacksonian Age saw a rebirth of Republican values, the spread of democracy, the rise of the common man, and the growth of federal power. These alone could keep historians arguing over Jackson indefinitely. However, the most controversial and hotly debated issue concerning Jackson’s presidency is Native American removal. Since his retirement from office, Jackson’s actions have generated debate over the legitimacy of the forced removal.

Recently, America has entered a new age of moralistic values. With little research, one can see a trend of when the defense of Jackson ended, and when the persecution began; the American Civil Rights Movement. The change in American moralism permeates through the pens of our historians, and turned a president who promoted American values, into a monster. Historians often make the mistake of using modern moralistic thought to interpret the past. While this makes for some interesting historical works, it does not make them historically accurate, and that remains true for the historiography of Andrew Jackson’s decision to remove the Natives.