General Andrew Jackson

GENERAL ANDREW JACKSON was born on the 15th of March, 1767, at the Waxsaw settlement, in South Carolina. His parents emigrated to this country, two years previously, from the north of Ireland. He lost his father at a very early age; and the task of bringing him up devolved exclusively upon his mother. Intending him, it is said, to become a clergyman, she resolved, though restricted, in her pecuniary circumstances, to give him a liberal education. For this purpose, she placed him at an academy, where he continued until his studies were interrupted by the advance of the British troops into the neighborhood, during the revolutionary war. Young as lie was (scarcely 14 years of age), in company with an elder brother, he joined the American army. Before long, however, they had the misfortune of being made prisoners by the enemy, who mal treated them as rebels, and inflicted upon them injuries of which the brother died after having been exchanged. Andrew Jackson commenced the study of the law at Salisbury, in North Carolina, in the winter of 1784, and was admitted to the bar in 1786. In 1788, he removed to Nashville, then a new settlement in the western district of North Carolina. This district having been ceded to the United States, and organized into a territory in 1790, he was appointed to the office of United States' attorney; and when the territory, in its turn, in 1796 became the state of Tennessee, he was a member of the convention to frame a constitution for it, and took a conspicuous part in the proceedings of this body. He was immediately afterwards chosen a representative, and in the next year a senator, in Congress. But his seat in the Senate he held only for a single session, alleging, as a reason for resigning it, his distaste for the intrigues of politics. On this, he was appointed by the Legislature of Tennessee to be a judge of the Supreme Court of that state; an office which he accepted with reluctance, and from which he soon retired to his farm on the Cumberland river, near Nashville. And there he continued to reside till the breaking out of the war with Great Britain, in 1812. During the earlier part of his residence in Tennessee, General Jackson had repeatedly distinguished himself by his prowess, in the warfare carried on by the settlers with their Indian neighbors, and had even earned from the latter, by his exploits, the appellations of Sharp Knife ' and Pointed Arrow.' That after attaining to a prominent position in civil life, he should be selected by his fellow citizens to occupy a corresponding military rank among them, was therefore almost a matter of course. The war of 1812, accordingly, found him a major-general of one of the divisions of. the Tennessee militia. In the month of November of that year, he proceeded, by the direction of the government, at the head of a body of between two and three thousand volunteers, who had assembled on his invitation, down the Mississippi to Natchez, for the protection of the country against an apprehended hostile movement on the part of the Indians. The danger having passed away, he was ordered by the secretary of war to disband his troops on the spot. This order he did not hesitate to disobey, on account, as he stated, of many of his men being sick, and unprovided with the means of paying their expenses on their way home. They returned accordingly in a body with their General, whose apology for the course which he pursued was accepted by the government. In 1-813 and 1814, General Jackson was employed against the Creek and Muscogee Indians, who had invaded the frontier settlements of Alabama and Georgia, and inflicted on the inhabitants the usual horrors of savage warfare. After a succession of bloody victories achieved by him over those tribes, they agreed, by a treaty concluded in August, 1814, to lay down their arms. In the month of May of this year, he was appointed a major-general in the service of the United States; and having first seized upon the town of Pensacola, in consequence of the admission into its harbor, by the Spanish governor, of a British squadron to refit, he proceeded to take the command of the forces intended for the defense of New Orleans against the approaching attack of the enemy. On arriving there on the 1st of December, he took his measures with the utmost decision and promptness. Becoming convinced of the expediency of taking precautions against the treachery of some disaffected individuals, he proposed to the Legislature of Louisiana, then in session, to suspend the privilege of the writ of Habeas Corpus. Impatient, however, of the time consumed in deliberating on his proposal, he proclaimed martial law, thus at once superseding the civil authority by the introduction of a rigid military police. Towards the enemy he acted with the same determined energy. Scarcely had the British troops effected a landing, when he marched against them, and by unexpectedly assailing them, in the night of the 22d of December, gained some advantages; the most important of which was that for which this movement of the General was chiefly made, namely, the impression produced upon his followers of their own ability to perform successfully the part assigned to them, at least while commanded by him, as well as that communicated to the invaders, of the formidable character of the opposition which they were destined to encounter. The contest for the possession of New Orleans was brought to a close by the memorable battle of the 8th of January, 1815, which raised the reputation of the American commander to the highest pitch among his countrymen, and served as a satisfactory apology with many for the strong measures adopted by him before the landing of the enemy, as well as for others which he adopted immediately after the retreat of the latter. General Jackson's next public employment was the conduct of the war against the Seminole Indians, in 1818.