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Andrew Jackson back in spotlight with Obama’s presidential victory

Andrew Jackson back in spotlight with Obama’s presidential victory

Posted: Monday, November 17, 2008 9:03 pm
By: AP


NASHVILLE (AP) — Andrew Jackson is back in the spotlight among historians and political scientists who compare today’s political and economic environment to the one he faced as president-elect in 1828.

Democratic control of the presidency and Congress and the country’s recent economic collapse have prompted comparisons between President-elect Barack Obama and the populist Jackson.

Jackson, known as “Old Hickory,” railed against “the rich and powerful (who) too often bend the acts of government to their selfish purposes.”

“Already, certain historians are looking back at that anti-banker, anti-corporation champion of the common man against the rich and saying, ‘Hey, all of a sudden that sounds real contemporary,”’ said Dan Feller, project director of The Papers of Andrew Jackson at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. Feller and other Tennessee authors attended a book fair last week at the Tennessee State Museum.

A recent string of biographies on Jackson have helped spur the attention, Feller said, with the most notable example being “American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House” by Newsweek editor and Sewanee graduate Jon Meacham.

In a Nov. 10 Newsweek article advancing the book’s release, Meacham describes Jackson as a “kind of forgotten father of his country,” whose tenure was marked by familiar aspects of the modern presidency: struggles over key appointments, use of the media for public contact and a constant redefining of democracy.

Jackson, of Nashville, was a national hero of the War of 1812 who became the seventh U.S. president.

Feller said Jackson hasn’t received this much attention since the 1940s. Then, as the nation emerged from battles against fascism during World War II, “The Age of Jackson” by historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. painted the president as a champion of democracy.

“He was a champion of the common man, a defender of nationality, a patriotic unifier,” Feller said.

In recent years, historians have described Jackson as everything from a benevolent father figure to a racist dictator for his forced relocation of Native Americans, known as the Trail of Tears.

As the UT project publishes volumes of correspondences from throughout and after Jackson’s political career, defining the man himself will probably always continue, Feller said.

“Jackson has been at one time or another embraced by everyone from socialists to libertarians,” Feller said. “He keeps assuming different personas.”


Information from: The Tennessean,
Published in The Messenger 11.17.08

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