The general and the TV personality

Andrew Jackson, personally, made our destiny manifest.  He defended the Louisiana Purchase at the Battle of New Orleans,  and drove the Spanish out of Florida.  When one of his lieutenants, President of Sam Houston of the Republic of Texas, brought the vast territory it claimed into the Union, he did at at the request of his old commander, and idol, Andrew Jackson.

“Young Hickory”, as he was called, James K. Polk, was not just Jackson’s political protege, but virtually a Jackson pawn.  Everything he did in life, including choosing his wife, he did at Jackson’s direction.  He started a war with Mexico to get California, and he did it at Jackson’s bidding.

Personally, Jackson was absolutely fearless, even as an old man.  While President, he regretted the fact that his office prevented him from challenging one of his political enemies to a duel.  At 13, he rode as a courier for the Revolutionary forces in South Carolina.  This was a lion of a man.

So, naturally enough, I resist any comparison of Trump to Jackson.  Please.  But there were personal attributes of our 7th President that Trump does share.

Jackson was vengeful, never forgot a slight, and never apologized.  He claimed that the last words his mother spoke to him, before she left for a prison ship in Charleston to tend for her kin, were  “But sustain your manhood always.  Never bring a suit in law for assault and battery or for defamation.  The law affords no remedy for such outrages that can satisfy the feelings of a true man.”

Jackson was not a particularly well read man, and only semi-educated.  But he had total confidence in his own judgement, and in his righteousness.  One man with courage makes a majority, and he never entertained any doubts about what he’d done.  And he was brilliant.  Despite the handicap of his lack of education, he dominated the politics of his time.  He knew exactly what he was doing.

Jackson lied when it suited him.  He made up a story about a wedding ceremony that never took place in order to hide the adulterous relationship he had with his wife before their actual marriage.  He lied to the Indian tribes he dealt with.  And he lied in politics as well.

Jackson’s political career was a result of his popularity with the working men of America.  The lower, working classes and small farmers were his base.  He was a rich man, with slaves and a plantation.  But he was a man of the people, and they loved him for it.

Jackson was also a cruel and vicious man.  His treatment of the Cherokees and other tribes is a disgrace to this country.

It was, in fact, manifest that Americans were going to get the best part of the North American continent.  What really got California wasn’t the war that Polk started.  American settlers were coming in droves, and there was no way for the Mexicans to stop them.   They were going to take California, just like the Americans settled, and then took Texas away from Mexico.  We got what we did in the Oregon dispute with Great Britain because Americans were settling the Willamette Valley, and already greatly outnumbered the transient British traders.

We own this country because we settled it, not because we conquered it.  But conquering better suited the slave South, and that’s what really drove the war with Mexico.  California was going to become American, without a war, because it was Americans who were going to settle it.

Every war this country has had since its founding has been a colossal mistake, that should and could have been avoided.  It’s no different today.  I hope Trump understands that, and realizes the days of war hero Presidents are past.


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