Andrew Jackson

American general and politician, 7th President of the United States (1767−1845)

Andrew Jackson (15 March 17678 June 1845) was the seventh President of the United States of America (1829-1837), regarded as a hero for his actions in the Battle of New Orleans (1815), a founder of the Democratic Party, and the eponym of the era of Jacksonian democracy. He was the first American president to have been a Democrat.

The individual who refuses to defend his rights when called by his Government, deserves to be a slave, and must be punished as an enemy of his country and friend to her foe.
Take time to deliberate; but when the time for action arrives, stop thinking and go in.


The brave man inattentive to his duty, is worth little more to his country, than the coward who deserts her in the hour of danger.
I know what I am fit for. I can command a body of men in a rough way, but I am not fit to be President.


  • They must be either for or against us. Distrust them and you make them your enemies, place confidence in them, and you engage them by every dear and honorable tie to the interest of the country, who extends to them equal rights and privileges with white men.
    • In New Orleans, Louisiana, 1814. As quoted in The Life of Andrew Jackson (1967), by John Spencer Bassett, Archon Books. p. 156-157.
  • As sons of freedom you are now called upon to defend your most inestimable blessing. As Americans, your country looks with confidence on her adopted children, for a valorous support, as a faithful return for the advantages enjoyed under her mild and equitable government.
    • In New Orleans, Louisiana, 1814. As quoted in The Life of Andrew Jackson (1967), by John Spencer Bassett, Archon Books. p. 156-157.
  • The individual who refuses to defend his rights when called by his Government, deserves to be a slave, and must be punished as an enemy of his country and friend to her foe.
    • "Proclamation to the people of Louisiana" from Mobile (21 September 1814).
  • The brave man inattentive to his duty, is worth little more to his country, than the coward who deserts her in the hour of danger.


  • Do they think that I am such a damned fool as to think myself fit for President of the United States? No, sir; I know what I am fit for. I can command a body of men in a rough way, but I am not fit to be President.
    • As told to H.M. Brackenridge, Jackson's secretary, in 1821; quoted by James Parton, The Life of Andrew Jackson (1860), vol. II, ch. XXVI (Houghton Mifflin and Co., 1888), page 354. Parton cites his source as H.M. Brackenridge, Letters, page 8.
  • Internal improvement and the diffusion of knowledge, so far as they can be promoted by the constitutional acts of the Federal Government, are of high importance.
  • In the performance of a task thus generally delineated I shall endeavor to select men whose diligence and talents will insure in their respective stations able and faithful cooperation, depending for the advancement of the public service more on the integrity and zeal of the public officers than on their numbers.


  • The decision of the Supreme court has fell still born, and they find that it cannot coerce Georgia to yield to its mandate.
    • Letter (7 April 1832) on the ruling in Worcester v. Georgia.
  • The bank, Mr. Van Buren, is trying to kill me, but I will kill it.
    • Said to Martin Van Buren (8 July 1832) and quoted in The Autobiography of Martin Van Buren, published in Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1918, vol. II (1920), ed. John Clement Fitzpatrick, ch. XLIII (p. 625)
    • Referring to the Second Bank of the United States
  • It is maintained by some that the bank is a means of executing the constitutional power "to coin money and regulate the value thereof." Congress have established a mint to coin money and passed laws to regulate the value thereof. The money so coined, with its value so regulated, and such foreign coins as Congress may adopt are the only currency known to the Constitution. But if they have other power to regulate the currency, it was conferred to be exercised by themselves, and not to be transferred to a corporation. If the bank be established for that purpose, with a charter unalterable without its consent, Congress have parted with their power for a term of years, during which the Constitution is a dead letter. It is neither necessary nor proper to transfer its legislative power to such a bank, and therefore unconstitutional.
    • Veto Message Regarding the Bank of the United States [1] (10 July 1832)
    • Often paraphrased as: If Congress has the right under the constitution to issue paper money, it was given them to be used by themselves, not to be delegated to individuals or corporations.
  • It is to be regretted that the rich and powerful too often bend the acts of government to their selfish purposes. Distinctions in society will always exist under every just government. Equality of talents, of education, or of wealth can not be produced by human institutions. In the full enjoyment of the gifts of Heaven and the fruits of superior industry, economy, and virtue, every man is equally entitled to protection by law; but when the laws undertake to add to these natural and just advantages artificial distinctions, to grant titles, gratuities, and exclusive privileges, to make the rich richer and the potent more powerful, the humble members of society — the farmers, mechanics, and laborers — who have neither the time nor the means of securing like favors to themselves, have a right to complain of the injustice of their government. There are no necessary evils in government. Its evils exist only in its abuses. If it would confine itself to equal protection, and, as Heaven does its rains, shower its favors alike on the high and the low, the rich and the poor, it would be an unqualified blessing.
  • To say that any State may at pleasure secede from the Union, is to say that the United States are not a nation because it would be a solecism to contend that any part of a nation might dissolve its connection with the other parts, to their injury or ruin, without committing any offense. Secession, like any other revolutionary act, may be morally justified by the extremity of oppression; but to call it a constitutional right, is confounding the meaning of terms, and can only be done through gross error, or to deceive those who are willing to assert a right, but would pause before they made a revolution, or incur the penalties consequent upon a failure.
  • Hemans gallows ought to be the fate of all such ambitious men who would involve their country in civil wars, and all the evils in its train that they might reign & ride on its whirlwinds & direct the Storm — The free people of these United States have spoken, and consigned these wicked demagogues to their proper doom.
    • Regarding the resolution of the Nullification Crisis, in a letter to Andrew I. Crawford (1 May 1833).
  • It was settled by the Constitution, the laws, and the whole practice of the government that the entire executive power is vested in the President of the United States.
    • Message of Protest to the United States Senate (15 April 1834).
  • The people are the government, administering it by their agents; they are the Government, the sovereign power.

Attributed to Andrew JacksonEdit

Every good citizen makes his country's honor his own, and cherishes it not only as precious but as sacred.
Be good children, and we shall all meet in Heaven... I want to meet you all, white and black, in Heaven.
  • Our Federal Union! It must be preserved!
    • Toast at a celebration of Thomas Jefferson's birthday (13 April 1830); as quoted in Public Men and Events from the Commencement of Mr. Monroe's Administration, in 1817, to the Close of Mr. Fillmore's Administration, in 1853 (1875) by Nathan Sargent
  • Heaven will be no heaven to me if I do not meet my wife there.
    • Statement shortly before his death, as quoted in Life of Andrew Jackson (1860) by James Parton, p. 679.
  • Oh, do not cry. Be good children, and we shall all meet in Heaven ... I want to meet you all, white and black, in Heaven.
    • Last recorded words, to his grand-children and his servants, as quoted in The National Preacher (1845) by Austin Dickinson, p. 192.
  • Every good citizen makes his country's honor his own, and cherishes it not only as precious but as sacred. He is willing to risk his life in its defense and is conscious that he gains protection while he gives it.
    • Excellent Quotations for Home and School Selected for the use of Teachers and Pupils (1890) by Julia B. Hoitt, p. 218.
  • Peace, above all things, is to be desired, but blood must sometimes be spilled to obtain it on equable and lasting terms.
    • As quoted in Many Thoughts of Many Minds: A Treasury of Quotations from the Literature of Every Land and Every Age (1896) edited by Louis Klopsch, p. 209.
  • It is a damn poor mind indeed which can't think of at least two ways to spell any word.
    • Sometimes reported as having been a retort to statements of his political rival, John Quincy Adams, who had boycotted Harvard University's awarding of a Doctorate of Laws degree to Jackson in 1833, declaring "I would not be present to witness her [Harvard's] disgrace in conferring her highest literary honors on a barbarian who could not write a sentence of grammar and could hardly spell his own name." Quoted in News Reporting and Writing 4th edition (1987) by M. Mencher.
      Unsourced variant: Never trust a man who has only one way to spell a word.
  • Take time to deliberate; but when the time for action arrives, stop thinking and go in.
    • Quoted as "a maxim of Gen. Jackson's" in Supplement to the Courant Vol. XXII No. 25, Hartford, Saturday, December 12, 1857, p. 200
  • You are uneasy; you never sailed with me before, I see.
    • Remark to an elderly gentleman who was sailing with Jackson down Chesapeake Bay in an old steamboat, and who exhibited a little fear. Life of Jackson (Parton). Vol. iii. p. 493.


  • John Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it!
    • As quoted in The American Conflict (1865) by Horace Greely, as a reaction to the Supreme Court ruling in Worcester v. Georgia (1832); reported as a misattribution in Paul F. Boller, Jr., and John George, They Never Said It: A Book of Fake Quotes, Misquotes, & Misleading Attributions (1989), p. 53, noting that historian Robert V. Remini believes Jackson did not make this statement, though it summarizes his attitude, as evidenced in a statement similar in nature made in a letter to John Coffee: "the decision of the Supreme Court has fell still born, and they find that they cannot coerce Georgia to yield to its mandate."
  • Corporations have neither bodies to kick nor souls to damn.
    • This is widely attributed to Jackson on the internet, but in research done for Wikiquote, no published source has been found. Similar remarks, "Corporations have neither bodies to be punished, nor souls to be condemned, they therefore do as they like." and "It has no soul to damn and no body to kick." have been attributed to Edward Thurlow, 1st Baron Thurlow (9 December 1731 – 12 September 1806).
  • Gentlemen! I too have been a close observer of the doings of the Bank of the United States. I have had men watching you for a long time, and am convinced that you have used the funds of the bank to speculate in the breadstuffs of the country. When you won, you divided the profits amongst you, and when you lost, you charged it to the bank. You tell me that if I take the deposits from the bank and annul its charter I shall ruin ten thousand families. That may be true, gentlemen, but that is your sin! Should I let you go on, you will ruin fifty thousand families, and that would be my sin! You are a den of vipers and thieves. I have determined to rout you out, and by the Eternal, (bringing his fist down on the table) I will rout you out!


  • I killed the bank.
    • Some claim that Jackson said this on his deathbed.
    • Some websites also claim that this is inscribed upon Jackson's tombstone.
  • Any man worth his salt will stick up for what he believes right, but it takes a slightly better man to acknowledge instantly and without reservation that he is in error.
    • General Peyton C. March, as quoted in Crew Resource Management for the Fire Service (2004) by Randy Okray and Thomas Lubnau II, p. 25.
  • Never take counsel of your fears.
  • No one need think that the world can be ruled without blood. The civil sword shall and must be red and bloody.
    • Martin Luther, Von Kaufhandlung und Wucher, 1524, (Vol. XV, p. 302, of the Weimar edition of Luther's works).
  • One man with courage makes a majority.
A man with God is always in the majority. ~ John Knox
Any man more right than his neighbors constitutes a majority of one. ~ Henry David Thoreau
One on God's side is a majority ~ Wendell Phillips
  • To the victors belong the spoils.
    • Reported as a misattribution in Paul F. Boller, Jr., and John George, They Never Said It: A Book of Fake Quotes, Misquotes, & Misleading Attributions (1989), p. 54; Boller and George report that this was actually said by New York Senator William L. Marcy (January 1832).

Quotes about Andrew JacksonEdit

  • He told his friends that he purposed washing his hands utterly of public life and political affairs; that he had now been to all intents and purposes a public servant from the age of thirteen to that of threescore and ten ... that he had lived his whole life in plain sight of the public and the people, hiding nothing, simulating nothing, confessing nothing, extenuating nothing and regretting nothing — except that he could never get a chance to shoot Clay or hang Calhoun.
  • A charismatic figure, Jackson was combative, quick-tempered, and thin-skinned. To his friends he was generous, considerate, and above all loyal; to his enemies, mean-spirited and spiteful. "When Andrew Jackson hated," Robert V. Remini, a modern Jacksonian scholar, has written, "it often became grand passion. He could hate with a Biblical fury and would resort to petty and vindictive acts to nurture his hatred and keep it bright and strong and ferocious." He at time exploded with anger, but it is believed that he never really lost his temper. Rather, he launched into tirades quite purposefully either to intimidate his opposition or to end debate on a matter that was dragging on too long. Martin Van Buren, his closest adviser, marveled at Jackson's ability to turn his anger on and off at will. One minute he could be shrieking at the cabinet in the high register his voice invariably had whenever he was agitated; the next moment, alone with Van Buren after the others had left, he was relaxed and in good humor. At social occasions Jackson surprised many with his grace, poise, and charm. Around women he shed his backwoods manner and earthly language to engage comfortably in social discourse. He delighted in disappointing those who, he said, "were prepared to see me with a tomahawk in one hand and a scalping knife in the other."
    • William A. DeGregorio, The Complete Book of U.S. Presidents (1984), p. 105-106
  • There is something too mean in looking upon the Negro, when you are in trouble, as a citizen, and when you are free from trouble, as an alien. When this nation was in trouble, in its early struggles, it looked upon the Negro as a citizen. In 1776 he was a citizen. At the time of the formation of the Constitution the Negro had the right to vote in eleven States out of the old thirteen. In your trouble you have made us citizens. In 1812 General Jackson addressed us as citizens; 'fellow-citizens'. He wanted us to fight. We were citizens then! And now, when you come to frame a conscription bill, the Negro is a citizen again. He has been a citizen just three times in the history of this government, and it has always been in time of trouble. In time of trouble we are citizens. Shall we be citizens in war, and aliens in peace? Would that be just?
  • [W]ith sound-money and gold-standard morality transcendent, Jackson's destruction of the Bank was all but universally regarded as a villainous action. ...In more recent times, as the conventional wisdom of bankers has come... modestly into question and a heightened democratic ethos has ascribed both perception and virtue to the common man, Jackson's action has been viewed with contrasting warmth. He was... speaking for the small, energetic and aspiring folks of the new states, the new farms and the frontier.
    He was, in an important respect, their accidental ally. He opposed the bank as a monopoly—a monster which, as Biddle held, had power to rival that of the state. ...[I]t was also the power of his political enemies. But he favored hard money—he was for currency consisting of gold and silver and for eschewing all paper as the instrument of the devil. In getting rid of the bank, he got... the softest [money] of all—an explosion of new banks, and avalanche of bank notes. But this, and the loans so allowed, were what his constituents most wanted. Had Andrew Jackson succeeded in establishing... hard money... his name would have been reviled by the... small, energetic and aspiring folk of the frontier. Historians, in pondering whether Jackson was right or wrong on financial matters, must allow... a third possibility... that he was confused.
  • Jackson is one of the most consequential figures in American history. He was a war hero, a conqueror, a genuine populist who fought for the people against elite interests, and a great president. He embodied the hard-fighting Ulster Scots who settled the frontier and triumphed over Indian savagery. Outside of the Founders, hardly any Americans can claim more importance than Jackson.
  • The Jacksonian movement in politics, although it took the name of the Democratic Party, fought so hard in favor of slavery and white supremacy, and opposed the inclusion of non-whites and women within the American civil polity so resolutely, that it makes the term 'Jacksonian Democracy' all the more inappropriate as a characterization of the years between 1815 and 1848.
  • Andrew Jackson then is a sturdy obstacle to the Democrats' ongoing and increasingly frenzied campaign to erase from America's history all the unsavory things their party has championed for most of its existence, namely, slavery, secession, civil war, segregation, socialism, and, most recently the slaughter of infants. And so their longtime hero Andrew Jackson has been, as Sam Spade once said, chosen to take the fall alongside the battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia to help erase the Democrats' consistently reprehensible behavior and policies from the history books.
  • General Jackson, on his death-bed, said, pointing to the Bible: "That book, sir, is the rock on which our Republic rests—the bulwark of our free institutions."
    • "Constitution—Its Amendment" in The Reformed Presbyterian and Covenanter, Volume 2 No. 11 (November 1864), p. 321. This is the earliest occurrence yet located of this anecdote. Other early citations (with various wordings) include B. F. Morris, Christian Life and Character of the Civil Institutions of the United States (Philadelphia, 1864), p. 191; Rev. Dr. Luther T. Townsend of Boston University, in an address at the "Anniversary of the Freedman's Aid Society" as recorded in the Third Annual Report of the Freedmen's Aid Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church (1868), p. 77.
  • A colored battalion was organized for the defense of New Orleans, and General Jackson publicly thanked them for their courage and conduct.
    • Henry Wilson, Colored Patriots of the American Revolution (1855), by William Cooper Nell, p. 107
  • In 1836, Americans living in Texas- then a province of Mexico- declared an independent republic and almost immediately sought to join the Union. Andrew Jackson had championed the acquisition of Texas, but Van Buren was far less enthusiastic, knowing that the arrival of this much potential slave territory would inflame the North. After becoming president, he delayed full recognition for months, and then delayed Texan demands for annexation as well. Both sides were angry- John Quincy Adams saw in Van Buren little more than Jackson's expansionism "covered with a new coat of varnish," while Southerners denounced Van Buren for his timidity. Jackson wrote edgy letters to his successor, demanding stronger action and crossing well beyond the bounds of postpresidential propriety.
    • Ted Widmer, Martin Van Buren (2005), p. 117-118
  • Van Buren offered more satisfaction to the South as he pursued a different Jacksonian legacy. Throughout his presidency he continued the brutal Indian removals that had freed up vast quantities of land in Jackson's Southwest. Thousands of Cherokees were forced to march along the "Trail of Tears" from Georgia to Oklahoma, and the Seminoles in Florida were violently hunted down (their leader Osceola was tricked into capture with a false flag of truce). Van Buren dwelt in the lying pieties of the day when he reported to Congress that the government's treatment of the Indians had been "directed by the best feelings of humanity." One of his favorite nieces, an insubordinate teenager, told him she hoped he lost the election because of what he and Jackson had done to the natives.
    • Ted Widmer, Martin Van Buren (2005), p. 118
  • [Jacksonian Democracy] stretches the concept of democracy about as far as it can go and still remain workable. ... As such it has inspired much of the dynamic and dramatic events of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in American history—Populism, Progressivism, the New and Fair Deals, and the programs of the New Frontier and Great Society.
    • Robert V. Remini, The Life of Andrew Jackson (2011), HarperCollins, p. 307.

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