America's Greatest 19th Century Presidents

America's Greatest 19th Century Presidents by Charles River Editors Page A

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Authors: Charles River Editors
aggressive teenager who was so fond of adventure. During Jackson’s childhood, political tensions between the American colonies and Great Britain erupted into the American Revolution, and war spread throughout the colonies. This gave the young Jackson – only nine years old when the Declaration of Independence was signed – the chance to find his true passion in the militia.
     
    The Revolutionary War
     
    Jackson would come to be known for his service in the War of 1812, particularly at the Battle of New Orleans, but he was fighting more than 30 years before that. Despite his young age, Jackson managed to serve during the Revolution, fighting as a 13 year old when the British shifted their strategy and began campaigning in earnest in the southern colonies near the end of the war. That may sound foolhardy, but Jackson wasn’t alone in his ambitions. In fact, his mother encouraged the idea; she had put aside her ambitions for a Presbyterian minister son long ago, and Elizabeth bitterly hated the British dating back to her time in Northern Ireland. Mrs. Jackson fervently desired to see the Patriot cause succeed, and having her sons help in the effort would make her proud.  Thus, she ensured that her children were ardent Patriots, sealing the deal by telling them stories of British oppression in Northern Ireland with the hopes of inspiring them.
     
    Elizabeth’s wishes would be fulfilled threefold. Andrew and his brothers Hugh and Robert enlisted with a local militia in the final years of the American Revolution, just as the brunt of the fighting moved southward into the Carolinas. Jackson did see some combat, though his age naturally limited his ability to fight. Jackson’s older brother, Hugh, died during a small skirmish known as the Battle of Stono Ferry near Charleston.  One evening, the remaining Jackson boys were assigned to guard the home of Captain Land against Tory invasion.  In attempting to defend the home, a small troop invaded, and the Jacksons were unable to defend.  They escaped through the surrounding marsh and managed to arrive back home in Waxhaw. 
     
    There, however, a British search ensued.  Quickly, the British found the Jackson boys and took them as prisoners, destroying the Crawford house in the process. Not surprisingly, the feisty Jacksons did not make for ideal prisoners, and both boys were staunchly disobedient.  They did not follow commands from British guards, and Jackson was slashed by a sword for his actions.  Jackson, who would later carry a bullet in his body from dueling, was left with scars on his face and left arm for the rest of his life.  However, the British imprisonment of American captives became known for poor conditions, and eventually their imprisonment wore the Jacksons down.  Robert contracted smallpox and became horribly ill, while Andrew's spirit was eventually broken.
     

     
    The memorialization of Jackson refusing to clean Major Coffin’s boots
     
    Eventually, with both boys nearly starved to death, Elizabeth attempted to come to the rescue, successfully negotiating for the release of her young sons. Unfortunately, it was too late for Robert, who was so sick by the time of his release that he died within days of being granted a release. While Andrew was still healthy enough to make a recovery, his mother, who had been a volunteer nurse for colonial forces, contracted cholera and died shortly after getting her sons released from prison.
     
    At only 14, Andrew Jackson was now an orphan who had lost both parents and both brothers, his entire immediate family.  It was a great tragedy that nobody of any age could fully cope with, and it left Andrew eternally bitter at the British, who he blamed for his personal hardships. As fate would have it, his hatred of the British left him all too eager to take vengeance 30 years later.
     
    Chapter 2: Law and Politics, 1787-1811
     
    Jackson’s Law Career
     
    Once the Revolution over, 14 year old Andrew Jackson was

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