Andrew Jackson: Courage and Conviction

  • In our lifetime, freedom has been on the decline in favor of statism (more government)
    • The “American dream” was the belief (major belief after WWII) that if you could dream it, you could do it through hard work…wealth could be earned through hard work.
    • The bigger the government gets, the less freedom you have to do those things that you dream of…less and less ability to achieve the “American dream.”

  • Andrew Jackson was a fighter – fought in the Revolutionary War
    • Pictures of him show a scar on his face, which was given to him from a British soldier who told him to shine his shoes – Jackson refused – soldier sliced his chin à since then Jackson knew he didn’t like tyranny and would fight against it.
    • Jackson would develop the courage of convictions and would be a true leader – did he sometimes take the wrong side on an issue – probably – but he knew what he believed and fought for what he believed -à he didn’t check first what everyone else wanted him to believe.
    • Jackson fought in the Revolution, then fought Indians, and fought in Florida. He fought in the War of 1812 (won final Battle of New Orleans)…said his toughest battle was not in war, but was a political battle à over the Second National Bank (as president) – he said it nearly killed him.

  • The end of the pledge says “with liberty and justice for all” à justice is important – Jackson fought for justice.
    • First, understand inflation – if 10 people were on an island earned money (100 a day) but one could print monopoly money. You could either work or have access to this monopoly money and it’d be real money. You could print as much as you want and use it. All of sudden the one doing this says I’m worth more than 100 so takes 10,000…then 100,000. Do you think if one guy is carrying 100,000 around could he outbid the others? Yes. Prices will rise. Most would say that’s not fair – not justice. Nine have to work for money and one can just print monopoly money and not work. We all understand that we can’t just have any person have access to all the printed money. Why do we let the government do it?
    • When the Declaration of Independence says “we are all created equal” it doesn’t mean 100% equal (Mr. Hill is not equal to Lebron James)…it means equal opportunity based on our willingness to get educated, learn a skill, and work hard – that’s justice. The American dream is something we work for, not what we vote for.

  • Jackson and the bank
    • Firsthand experience with banks printing money and using it as real money (in the Revolution/Continental dollar and in the west after) – led to inflation – led to price increases – collapsed since not backed by gold or silver.
    • First National Bank had begun early in America – was up for re-charter when Jackson was seeking office…Jackson said he was going to stop the Second National Bank.
    • The bank president was Nicholas Biddle. He heard Jackson’s talk and simply said he doesn’t understand business like we do and said Jackson won’t follow through on what he’s saying…but Jackson did what he promised and said he would not sign the renewal (due by the end of his presidency).
      • First presidential message – “Both the constitutionality and expediency of the law creating this bank are well questioned by a large portion of our citizens and must be admitted by all that it’s failed to create a sound currency.” The purpose of the first bank was to stop ups and downs in economy – didn’t stop these.
      • Jackson was basically telling the bank leaders that he knew their schemes.

  • Biddle felt he needed to get a following…but wasn’t skilled in leadership, so he’d buy a following…he got Henry Clay and Daniel Webster to support the bank – they were lawyers and Biddle paid them to represent his firms.
    • Clay and Webster both wanted to be president of the U.S. – if you want to be president it benefits you to take the opposite stance of one in office to try to gain support…they were hired by Biddle, who had access to as much money as he wanted.
    • Their strategy was not to wait for the end of Jackson’s 2nd term (when the charter was completely up), but to go after the renewal early – end of Jackson’s first term – make it an issue in the election…attempt to show business interests that would support the bank and upset others thinking Jackson would cave.
    • Clay and Webster thought for sure Jackson would cave in – they missed the measure of the man. It’s becoming scarce today to find men and women willing to stand for their convictions when people start criticizing. Jackson knew first hand what this type of banking system does.

Video: Jackson and the Bank War:

  • The re-charter passed the House and Senate thanks to the help of Webster and Clay – if he signed it, he’d have no POLITICAL problems – but vetoed it because he knew the impacts of the bank’s monopoly on the money.
    • Jackson’s veto message: “It is to be regretted that the rich and powerful bend the acts of government to their selfish purposes. Distinctions in society will always exist under any just government (this means that some will always be better at some things than others). Equality of talents, of education, and/or of wealth cannot be produced by human institutions (we’re not going to get everyone equal in terms of their abilities). In the full enjoyment in 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 artificially to make the rich richer and the potent more powerful, the humble members of society have a right to complain of the injustice of gov’t.”
    • Jackson said if you’re wealthy because of your own hard work good for you but if it’s due to the expense of others, I’m shutting it down – he said no to the bank – could’ve said yes and had it easy, but no meant the rich and powerful would be against him.
    • Jackson said gov’t is to provide justice – that’s not evil – but the abuse of government can lead to injustice. EXAMPLE: in baseball, if the umpire was paid by the one team, the umpire would likely give calls to the team paying him. All we ask of the umpire is call it as you see it – justice. That’s what we ask of gov’t. We expect the gov’t to be the umpire – let the game be played, not team up with the other team – that’s what Jackson was saying – that some had an unfair ability to have access to the money through the bank.

  • What happened to Jackson after his veto and telling the truth? Biddle declared war when he found out Jackson wouldn’t be bought or bullied.
    • Biddle sent articles to journalists and wrote that he would pay the editors to publish the papers (he’d pay $1,000 – equivalent to $25,000 today).
    • Biddle figured he would smear Jackson’s reputation – people would read the papers and read these articles – Jackson still didn’t cave. Webster wrote to Biddle saying his retainer fee needed sent for him to continue supporting the bank.
    • The National Bank had the money coming in from the government and could issue it out to the banks it wanted to – Biddle decided to call all loans (bank can demand full payment at any time)…imagine a business that had a loan.
National bank called its loans – state banks therefore had to call all loans – businesses had to close – led to a recession. Demands went out for Jackson to resign the charter.
  • Jackson said this bank had too much control over the economy…Biddle thought he was winning by showing the power of the bank, but he went too far. People in states saw that one guy controlling one bank creating this much panic is not good…many state leaders woke up and threw their support to Jackson
It hurt their states, but they started to support Jackson.

  • Biddle wrote a friend that in a half an hour he can remove the constitutional scruples in D.C., remove other positions – said he’d pay numerous people to support him over Jackson – said he’d buy people and believed it’d work.
    • Jackson/gov’t said he’d pull the federal money out of the central bank and instead spread it around to various banks.
    • Biddle felt he was more powerful than the president. Now, today we deal with trillions of dollars. We need an Andrew Jackson.
    • Biddle said others might break but the Bank of the United States will not break.
    • Jackson was laying in bed and he said to his VP (Van Buren) “the bank is trying to kill me, but I will kill it.” Jackson won re-election in a landslide. Everything he said in his first presidential address and his veto message had played out.

  • Each generation must fight their own new battle of freedom vs. tyranny. The best governments are the ones that have checks and balances against their own power. Equal opportunity to win or fail is what’s important based on the content of your character.

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