Muddy boots! In 1829, Andrew Jackson became the first President not born into wealth and privilege.
Andrew Jackson, seventh President of the U.S.
Rachel Jackson, his wife
* Esther Wick, citizen of a small, town
* Josiah Higgins, her neighbor
* Child, a passerby
* Speaker 1, a Jackson supporter
* Speaker 2, an Adams supporter
Andrew Jackson Donelson, nephew of Andrew and Rachel.
John Marshall, Chief Justice of the U.S.
people in a crowd
servants at the Executive Mansion
* Thomas, a youth
Crowd of Jackson supporters
Prologue narrator: Unlike the first six U.S. Presidents, Andrew Jackson was raised in poverty, not privilege. His parents, Scotch-Irish immigrants, struggled with the poor soil of their farm, which bordered two British colonies, North and South Carolina. Andrew was born there, in a log cabin, on March 15, 1767. Andy's father died shortly before the day of his birth. By the time the boy was 15, his mother and two brothers had also died.
Jackson worked hard all his life--as a farmer, lawyer, shopkeeper, and soldier. During the War of 1812, he earned a reputation for heroism and toughness--and the nickname "Old Hickory'." Jackson was stubborn and opinionated, with a hot temper. He also was outspoken about the country's troubles: an economic depression, high unemployment, and corruption in big business and government. In 1822, the Tennessee State Legislature chose him as a presidential candidate.
Everyday Americans saw Jackson as one of their own--a rough-and-tumble "common man" who would never forget where he came from.
Narrator A: In 1824, Jackson runs for President. He is such a well-known and respected war hero that he doesn't campaign all that hard. Supporters just yell out his name, and crowds cheer. But no candidate wins a majority of the electoral vote in the four-candidate race. Therefore, the election goes to the House of Representatives, which decides the presidency for John Quincy Adams.
Andrew Jackson: I've never lost a fight. I don't intend to start now!
Rachel Jackson: You did very well, Andy. Imagine, a self-taught man of humble birth winning so many votes in a race for President!
Andrew: Almost doesn't count. I know that all those fine gentlemen and ladies of high birth and privilege look down on me. They may talk about "the rights of man" and this being a democracy where no one is above another. But when it comes down to it, they're embarrassed by the likes of me.
Rachel: Well, not for long. The Tennessee State Legislature has asked you to run again in 1828.
Andrew: I will! There's nothing I like better than a challenge!
Narrator B: Jackson begins running for office soon after Adams becomes President in 1825. For almost three years, Jackson and Adams are locked in a fiercely waged campaign. At one campaign stop...
Esther Wick (looking up from a newspaper): Hey, did you see this? Thomas Jefferson apparently doesn't think much of your Old Hickory.
Josiah Higgins: Mr. Jefferson wrote our Declaration of Independence, and he was a great President. But who would you rather have by your side in a battle? Old Hickory, that's who!
Wick (calling out to a passing child): What's that noise yonder?
Child: There's a Jackson rally over by the courthouse, ma'am. A fiddler is playin', folks are handin' out fried chicken and sellin' banners and badges and beer mugs and all!
Narrator C: At the rally ...
Speaker 1 (shouting to the crowd): I don't have to tell you people how bad things have been. The rich and mighty have run the economy into the ground. The government in D.C. is corrupt through and through. Do you really think they care a fig for regular folk like you and me?
Speaker 2 (jumping up on a barrel nearby): That's hogwash, folks, and you know it! Don't even think of putting Jackson in charge of the country. He's barely educated! His countrified manners aren't fit for the Executive Mansion!
Speaker 1: He was a hero in the War of 1812, especially at the Battle of New Orleans!
Speaker 2: He was cruel to his British prisoners of war!
Speaker 1: Andy Jackson is a man of the people, folks! He's just like you and me. Don't we want a leader who can fight for us?
Narrator D: After a long, hard-fought campaign, the election finally arrives. When the counting is over, Jackson is the clear winner.
Andrew Jackson Donelson: Great news, Uncle! You beat Adams by more than 100,000 votes.
Andrew: That's good. But I won the popular vote last time, too.
Donelson: Yes, but this time you cleaned up in the electoral count as well: 178 Jackson, 83 Adams!
Andrew: Praise be! Those bigwig wheeler-dealers had better watch out!
Rachel: I can't say I ever wanted to go to Washington. I don't belong among all them highfalutin folk.
Andrew: They're no better than we are, my dear, and no better than our neighbors and friends. They may not know that yet, but they will soon.
Narrator E: Inauguration Day is March 4, 1829. Jackson is at a hotel in Washington, D.C.--without his beloved Rachel. She had fallen ill and died just before Christmas.
At the appointed time, Andrew Jackson, candidate of the newly founded Democratic Party, is sworn in as the seventh President of the U.S.
Chief Justice John Marshall: Repeat after me: "I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of the President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States."
Narrator A: Jackson repeats the oath. The crowd cheers. After his inaugural address, Jackson rides on horseback from the Capitol to the Executive Mansion [later called the White House]. Pennsylvania Avenue is lined with thousands of people eager to catch a glimpse of their new leader.
Samuel (in the crowd): I never thought I'd see the day--an ordinary fellow, just like us, sittin' in the President's House!
Chris: Look! There he goes!
Eliza: You'll remember this moment for the rest of your life, child. It's historic, that's what it is.
Samuel: Where is everybody going?
Eliza: Over to the President's House to join the party. Come on!
Narrator B: A mob of "just plain folks" goes to the White House and pours in, uninvited. People stand on tables and chairs, trying to get a peek at Jackson. Glasses are smashed, carpets are ruined--
Housekeeper: This is horrible!
Butler: These people are tromping their muddy boots everywhere. And how dare they wear coonskin caps and leather breeches to the President's house! They smell like they have lived in the woods for months.
Housekeeper: Oh, dear! Is this what the next four years will be like?
Thomas: Hey! Where did the President go? (chanting) We want Andy!
Crowd (yelling): We want Andy!
Narrator C: As the fervor grows, Jackson's aides fear for his safety.
Donelson: Uncle, we must get you out of here before you're crushed!
Narrator D: Jackson's aides surround him and whisk him safely out of the building and back to his hotel.
Jackson: I don't need to be in a fancy house to do the people's work. Let's get it started!
Epilogue narrator: Jackson made the presidency more powerful. But for the first time, the President was subject to the will of the people. Jackson's presidency, though marred by a financial panic, still fascinates historians and politicians alike.
Think About It
1. What was Andrew Jackson's appeal to "just plain folks"?
2. How might Jackson's "humble birth" have made his ideas of the presidency different from those of his predecessors?
The upcoming inauguration of Barack Obama will mark a major shift in U.S. presidencies: Obama will be the first African-American to take office. The 1829 inauguration of Andrew Jackson also marked a major shift in U.S. presidencies.
Andrew Jackson was the first President born a U.S. citizen. (The previous six, all born during colonial times, were British subjects until America declared its independence.) He was the first President of humble birth, and the first born west of the Appalachian Mountains. Perhaps most significant, Jackson was the first President elected by appealing to, and winning the support of, the "common man." (All voters were men: Women did not have the right to vote until 1920.)
* In His Own Words
Read the following quotes to students, or write them on the board. Then have students pick one to rephrase in their own words.
* "I know what I am fit for. I can command a body of men in a rough way; but I am not fit to be President."
* "The people are the government, administering it by their agents; they are the government, the sovereign power."
* "The President is the direct representative of the American people ... [and is] elected by the people and responsible to them."
* "If government would confine itself to equal protection, and ... shower its favors alike on the high and the low, the rich and the poor, it would be an unqualified blessing."
* "Our government is founded upon the intelligence of the people.... I have great confidence in the virtue of the great majority of the people, and I cannot fear the result."
* Write It
* Jackson's concern for the "common man" did not extend to all Americans. Research and write a paragraph about his complex relationship with Native Americans.
* Andrew Jackson's administration: ipl.org/div/potus/ajackson.html
* Andrew Jackson profile: whitehouse.gov/history/presidents /aj?.html
* Home of President Andrew Jackson: thehermitage.com
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|Title Annotation:||American History Play|
|Date:||Jan 19, 2009|
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