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← History vs. Andrew Jackson - James Fester

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Showing Revision 2 created 01/22/2014 by Jessica Ruby.

  1. A national hero? Or public enemy number one?
  2. Historical figures are often controversial,
  3. but few were as deified or vilified
  4. in their lifetime
  5. as the seventh President of the United States.
  6. This is History vs. Andrew Jackson.
  7. "Order, order, hm, uh, what were we...ah yes, Mr. Jackson!
  8. You stand accused of degrading the office of the presidency,
  9. causing financial collapse
  10. and wanton cruelty against American Indians.
  11. How do you plead?"
  12. "Now, Your Honor, I am not a big city lawyer,
  13. but I do know a few things.
  14. And I know that President Jackson was
  15. a self-made frontiersman,
  16. a great general,
  17. a real man of the people."
  18. "Your Honor, this 'man of the people' was a gambler,
  19. a drunk, and a brawler.
  20. Why, I've heard it said that
  21. he would fight at the drop of the hat
  22. and then drop the hat himself.
  23. I ask you,
  24. was such a man fit for the most distinguished office in the nation?
  25. Can we forget the debacle of his inauguration?
  26. Who ever heard of inviting a drunken mob
  27. into the White House?
  28. It took ages to get the upholstery clean."
  29. "That drunken mob, sir, was the American people,
  30. and they deserve to celebrate their victory."
  31. "Order, order! Now, did this celebration have pie?"
  32. "Very well. Mr. Jackson, is it not the case
  33. that immediately upon assuming office
  34. you introduced the spoils system,
  35. replacing hundreds of perfectly good federal employees
  36. with incompetent party loyalists?"
  37. "Your Honor, the President did no such thing.
  38. He tried to institute rotation in office
  39. to avoid any profiteering or funny business.
  40. It was the rest of the party
  41. who insisted on giving posts to their lackeys."
  42. "But Mr. Jackson complied, did he not?"
  43. "Now, uh, see here."
  44. "Moving on.
  45. Mr. Jackson, did you not help to cause
  46. the financial Panic of 1837,
  47. and the ensuing economic depression
  48. with your obsessive war
  49. against the Bank of the United States?
  50. Was not vetoing its reauthorization,
  51. as you did in 1832,
  52. an act of irresponsible populace pandering
  53. that made no economic sense?"
  54. "Your Honor, the gentleman has quite the imagination.
  55. That bank was just a way for rich Yanks
  56. to get richer.
  57. And all that money panic was caused
  58. when British banks raised interest rates
  59. and cut lending.
  60. To blame it on the President is preposterous, I say."
  61. "But if Mr. Jackson had not destroyed the National Bank,
  62. it would have been able to lend to farmers
  63. and businesses when other credit dried up,
  64. would it not?"
  65. "Hm, this is all highly speculative.
  66. Can we move on?"
  67. "Certainly, Your Honor.
  68. We now come to Mr. Jackson's
  69. most terrible offense:
  70. forcing entire tribes out of their native lands
  71. via the Indian Removal Act."
  72. "I resent that accusation, sir.
  73. The U.S. of A. bought that land from the Indians
  74. fair and square."
  75. "Do you call coercion and threats
  76. by a nation with a far more powerful army
  77. fair and square?
  78. Or signing a treaty for removing the Cherokee
  79. with a small group that didn't include
  80. their actual leaders?
  81. They didn't have time to properly
  82. supply themselves before the army came
  83. and forced them to march the Trail of Tears."
  84. "Now, hold on a minute.
  85. This was all Van Buren's doing
  86. after President Jackson left office."
  87. "But Mr. Jackson laid the groundwork
  88. and made sure the treaty was ratified.
  89. All President Van Buren had to do afterwards
  90. was enforce it."
  91. "Look here, Your Honor.
  92. Our government's been purchasing
  93. Indian land since the beginning,
  94. and my client was negotiating these deals
  95. even before he was President.
  96. President Jackson truly believed
  97. it was best for the Indians
  98. to get compensated for their land
  99. and move out West,
  100. where there was plenty of space
  101. for them to keep living
  102. the way they were accustomed,
  103. rather than stick around
  104. and keep butting heads with the white settlers.
  105. Some of whom, I remind our court,
  106. wanted to exterminate them outright.
  107. It was a different time."
  108. "And yet, even in this different time,
  109. there were many in Congress
  110. and even the Supreme Court
  111. who saw how wrong the Removal Act was
  112. and loudly opposed it,
  113. were there not?"
  114. "My client was under a great deal of pressure.
  115. I say, do you think it's easy
  116. governing such a huge country
  117. and keeping the Union together,
  118. when states are fixing to nullify
  119. federal laws?
  120. President Jackson barely got South Carolina
  121. to back down over those import tariffs,
  122. and then Georgia had to go discover gold
  123. and start grabbing up Cherokee land.
  124. It was either get the Indians to move
  125. or get in another fight with a state government."
  126. "So, you admit that Mr. Jackson
  127. sacrified moral principles to achieve
  128. some political goals?"
  129. "I do declare, show me one leader who hasn't."
  130. As societies change and morals evolve,
  131. yesterday's hero may become
  132. tomorrow's villain, or vice versa.
  133. History may be past,
  134. but our understanding of it is always on trial.