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Andrew Jackson: Luck, Fate & The Making of a Brand

March 15, 2022

blank vertical space, 24 pixels highPainting of President and general Andrew Jackson next to Mark Armstrong caricature of Jacksonblank vertical space, 32 pixels highblank vertical space, 16 pixels highI drew a caricature of Andrew Jackson recently. I wound up giving him a tougher look than you see in his portraits circa 1835.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

He became frail in later life, which is when those portraits were painted. He had a fiery temper, and in his prime, as an army general, was nicknamed “Old Hickory,” after the wood known for its strength and toughness.

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After reading about him, I decided he needed a sterner eyebrow.blank vertical space, 16 pixels highblank vertical space, 16 pixels highblank vertical space, 24 pixels high

Andrew Jackson (1767-1845) was the seventh president of the United States (1829-1837).blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Today, he’s probably remembered for two things: beating the British at the Battle of New Orleans (1815), and being the guy on the $20 bill.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

He led a colorful and tempestuous life. Here are a few highlights.blank vertical space, 16 pixels highblank vertical space, 32 pixels high

1. He was Irish. His parents were both Irish immigrants.blank vertical space, 16 pixels highblank vertical space, 24 pixels high

2. He’s the only president to have been a prisoner of war.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

His father died in a logging accident shortly before he was born. During the Revolutionary War, he joined a local militia at age 13 and served as a courier.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

He and his brother Robert were captured by the British in 1781. A British officer slashed Jackson’s left hand and face when Jackson refused to polish his boots.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

The brothers were released as part of a prisoner exchange, but both his brother and mother died shortly thereafter. He was orphaned at 14.blank vertical space, 16 pixels highblank vertical space, 24 pixels high

3. He killed a man in a duel in 1806.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Charles Dickinson was a Tennessee lawyer with a reputation as an expert marksman. He accused Jackson of reneging on a bet. After a further exchange of insults, Jackson challenged Dickinson to a duel.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Dickinson fired first, hitting Jackson in the chest. Jackson put his hand over the wound and stayed standing long enough to fire his pistol and fatally wound Dickinson. Jackson carried the bullet near his heart for the rest of his life.blank vertical space, 16 pixels highblank vertical space, 24 pixels high

4. Jackson rose to national fame when he defeated a much bigger British force at New Orleans in January, 1815. It was the final battle in the War of 1812.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

The great irony: the battle took place two weeks after Britain and the U.S. had signed a peace treaty in Belgium. Neither side had gotten the news.blank vertical space, 16 pixels highblank vertical space, 24 pixels high

5. Jackson is generally acknowledged as the first “people’s president,” meaning he wasn’t a political insider, a member of the East Coast elite.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

A huge crowd descended on Washington to cheer their hero at his inauguration in 1829. Things got a little rowdy.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Margaret Smith, a society matron at the time, describes the scene at the White House:blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

“But what a scene did we witness!… the whole house had been inundated by the rabble mob… Cut glass and china to the amount of several thousand dollars had been broken in the struggle to get the refreshments…blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Ladies fainted, men were seen with bloody noses and such a scene of confusion took place as is impossible to describe…blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

“Ladies and gentlemen only had been expected… not the people en masse. But it was the People’s day, and the People’s President and the People would rule.”blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

I have a feeling Hillary Clinton would have called them deplorables.blank vertical space, 16 pixels highblank vertical space, 24 pixels high

6. Jackson had a pet parrot named Poll. He bought the parrot, an African Gray, in 1827. Parrots can live 50 years or more, and Poll was still alive and well when Jackson died in 1845.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

The funeral was held at The Hermitage, Jackson’s home in Tennessee. Poll was in attendance, and he cursed and swore
so loudly, he had to be removed.
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The Reverend William Menefee Norment described the incident:blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

“Before the sermon and while the crowd was gathering, a wicked parrot that was a household pet got excited and commenced swearing… and had to be carried from the house…blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

(the bird) let loose perfect gusts of cuss words… (people were) horrified and awed at the bird’s lack of reverence.”blank vertical space, 16 pixels highblank vertical space, 24 pixels high

7. Jackson survived the first-ever attempted assassination of a president.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Jackson attended a congressman’s funeral in the Capitol Building on January 30, 1835. As he exited the building, a house painter named Richard Lawrence pulled a derringer single-shot pistol and fired at Jackson from only feet away. The cap of the pistol detonated, but the powder failed to ignite and discharge the bullet.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

He pulled a second pistol, which also misfired. Jackson, who was 67 years old and frail from illness and injuries, charged Lawrence and beat him with his cane. Bystanders tackled Lawrence, and the president was hustled away.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

“The pistols were examined,” U.S. Senator Thomas Hart Benton later wrote, “and found to be well loaded and fired afterwards without fail, carrying their bullets true, and driving them through inch boards at thirty feet.”blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

One theory: it was a damp and misty day, and the dampness may have prevented the powder in the pistols from igniting. The odds of both guns misfiring is estimated to be about 125,000 to 1.blank vertical space, 16 pixels highblank vertical space, 24 pixels high

8. Jackson distrusted banks, and after being reelected in 1832, he killed off what was then the National Bank by vetoing legislation to renew its charter.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

He also distrusted paper money because he’d once accepted paper notes when he sold some land. The buyers went bankrupt, and the notes became worthless. He never accepted paper money again.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

He’d be livid to think he wound up on the $20 bill.blank vertical space, 16 pixels highblank vertical space, 32 pixels high

A few personal reflections:blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

My grandmother was an Irish immigrant. No fiery temper, though. She was as sweet as all the pies she used to bake.blank vertical space, 16 pixels highblank vertical space, 24 pixels high

Jackson grew up without a father, was a prisoner of war, got slashed with a sword, and was orphaned at 14.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

He would have had no counseling as we know it today. I’m sure his childhood experiences scarred him for life.blank vertical space, 16 pixels highblank vertical space, 24 pixels high

We don’t duel with pistols anymore. Nowadays, we use social media to kill (cancel) people. Since it’s bloodless killing, we can pretend we’re civilized.blank vertical space, 16 pixels highblank vertical space, 24 pixels high

The fact that the Battle of New Orleans was fought after a peace treaty was signed is one of the few things I remember from my eighth grade American History class.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Without the battle that made him a national hero, it’s unlikely there would have been a Jackson presidency.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

History would have been different. Life is a strange and tenuous business.blank vertical space, 16 pixels highblank vertical space, 24 pixels high

There have always been elites who believe they were born
to rule. True today more than ever. It affects how you treat people. And people notice.blank vertical space, 16 pixels highblank vertical space, 24 pixels high

Hooray for Poll the Parrot! I’m no fan of bad language. I am, however, a big fan of the absurdities of life.blank vertical space, 16 pixels highblank vertical space, 24 pixels high

To think the weather may have prevented an assassination.
I guess damp, rainy days have their place. 125,000 to 1. Hmm… the luck of the Irish, maybe?blank vertical space, 16 pixels highblank vertical space, 24 pixels high

Once bitten, twice shy. A bad experience with paper money killed off the National Bank which helped cause a 5-year depression after Jackson left office.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Bad experiences create biases, and we all have them. Part of the invisible baggage we carry around. We should stop and take inventory more often.

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About Mark: I’m an illustrator specializing in humor, branding, social media, and content marketing. My images
are different, like your brand needs to be.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

You can view my portfolio, and connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Questions? Send me an email.blank vertical space, 40 pixels highRecommendation testimonial for Mark Armstrong Illustration from Luke Burgis author of Wanting: Power of Mimetic Desire in Everyday Life entrepreneur in residence Catholic University America

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. March 19, 2022 10:37 PM

    Wow, he trained that parrot… in distemper. 😀

    Like

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