Andrew Jackson stalks through the corridors of the early republic like some passionate beast, goaded by revenge and resentment, wielding terrible weapons with which he smashes down everything in his path—the British, whose swords scarred him for life in the Revolution; the Cherokee, Creek, and Choctaw, whose lands he coveted; the Spanish, dismissed with a slap of his hand; the British again, who scattered like chaff at New Orleans before the rifles of his buckskin-clad militia; Henry Clay and John Quincy Adams, who challenged him as “the Military Chieftain” and “King Andrew”; Nicholas Biddle and his “Monster” Bank; John C. Calhoun and the nullifiers whom Jackson took as a direct challenge to his presidency. And this doesn’t include the men he literally killed, or tried to kill: Waightstill Avery, John Sevier, Charles Dickinson, and his would-be assassin, Richard Lawrence, whom he counter-attacked with his cane. Jackson is the object of massive multi-volume biographies—from Robert Remini (1977-84), Marquis James (1934-37), John Bassett (1911), and James Parton (1859-61)—and a full-length biopic, The President’s Lady (1953), in which Charlton Heston played Jackson, almost as a warm-up to playing Moses in The Ten Commandments.

***

Yet Jackson is also a man of bizarre contradictions. He claimed to speak

Subscribe for access This article is reserved for subscribers.