counter create hit American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House - Download Free eBook
Ads Banner
Hot Best Seller

American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House

Availability: Ready to download

The definitive biography of a larger-than-life president who defied norms, divided a nation, and changed Washington forever Andrew Jackson, his intimate circle of friends, and his tumultuous times are at the heart of this remarkable book about the man who rose from nothing to create the modern presidency. Beloved and hated, venerated and reviled, Andrew Jackson was an The definitive biography of a larger-than-life president who defied norms, divided a nation, and changed Washington forever Andrew Jackson, his intimate circle of friends, and his tumultuous times are at the heart of this remarkable book about the man who rose from nothing to create the modern presidency. Beloved and hated, venerated and reviled, Andrew Jackson was an orphan who fought his way to the pinnacle of power, bending the nation to his will in the cause of democracy. Jackson's election in 1828 ushered in a new and lasting era in which the people, not distant elites, were the guiding force in American politics. Democracy made its stand in the Jackson years, and he gave voice to the hopes and the fears of a restless, changing nation facing challenging times at home and threats abroad. To tell the saga of Jackson's presidency, acclaimed author Jon Meacham goes inside the Jackson White House. Drawing on newly discovered family letters and papers, he details the human drama-the family, the women, and the inner circle of advisers- that shaped Jackson's private world through years of storm and victory. One of our most significant yet dimly recalled presidents, Jackson was a battle-hardened warrior, the founder of the Democratic Party, and the architect of the presidency as we know it. His story is one of violence, sex, courage, and tragedy. With his powerful persona, his evident bravery, and his mystical connection to the people, Jackson moved the White House from the periphery of government to the center of national action, articulating a vision of change that challenged entrenched interests to heed the popular will- or face his formidable wrath. The greatest of the presidents who have followed Jackson in the White House-from Lincoln to Theodore Roosevelt to FDR to Truman-have found inspiration in his example, and virtue in his vision. Jackson was the most contradictory of men. The architect of the removal of Indians from their native lands, he was warmly sentimental and risked everything to give more power to ordinary citizens. He was, in short, a lot like his country: alternately kind and vicious, brilliant and blind; and a man who fought a lifelong war to keep the republic safe-no matter what it took.


Compare
Ads Banner

The definitive biography of a larger-than-life president who defied norms, divided a nation, and changed Washington forever Andrew Jackson, his intimate circle of friends, and his tumultuous times are at the heart of this remarkable book about the man who rose from nothing to create the modern presidency. Beloved and hated, venerated and reviled, Andrew Jackson was an The definitive biography of a larger-than-life president who defied norms, divided a nation, and changed Washington forever Andrew Jackson, his intimate circle of friends, and his tumultuous times are at the heart of this remarkable book about the man who rose from nothing to create the modern presidency. Beloved and hated, venerated and reviled, Andrew Jackson was an orphan who fought his way to the pinnacle of power, bending the nation to his will in the cause of democracy. Jackson's election in 1828 ushered in a new and lasting era in which the people, not distant elites, were the guiding force in American politics. Democracy made its stand in the Jackson years, and he gave voice to the hopes and the fears of a restless, changing nation facing challenging times at home and threats abroad. To tell the saga of Jackson's presidency, acclaimed author Jon Meacham goes inside the Jackson White House. Drawing on newly discovered family letters and papers, he details the human drama-the family, the women, and the inner circle of advisers- that shaped Jackson's private world through years of storm and victory. One of our most significant yet dimly recalled presidents, Jackson was a battle-hardened warrior, the founder of the Democratic Party, and the architect of the presidency as we know it. His story is one of violence, sex, courage, and tragedy. With his powerful persona, his evident bravery, and his mystical connection to the people, Jackson moved the White House from the periphery of government to the center of national action, articulating a vision of change that challenged entrenched interests to heed the popular will- or face his formidable wrath. The greatest of the presidents who have followed Jackson in the White House-from Lincoln to Theodore Roosevelt to FDR to Truman-have found inspiration in his example, and virtue in his vision. Jackson was the most contradictory of men. The architect of the removal of Indians from their native lands, he was warmly sentimental and risked everything to give more power to ordinary citizens. He was, in short, a lot like his country: alternately kind and vicious, brilliant and blind; and a man who fought a lifelong war to keep the republic safe-no matter what it took.

30 review for American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House

  1. 5 out of 5

    Christine

    I think this book confused people. They were expecting a McCullough-esque hardcore biography of everything Jackson did EVER. Not so. As Meacham himself states in his Author's note, he was going for a biographical portrait of Jackson's time in the White House. And on that account, this is an excellent book. It gives a great picture of the tumult surrounding Jackson's two terms, the things that made him tick, and the decisions that defined his presidency. No, it didn't really tell us all about I think this book confused people. They were expecting a McCullough-esque hardcore biography of everything Jackson did EVER. Not so. As Meacham himself states in his Author's note, he was going for a biographical portrait of Jackson's time in the White House. And on that account, this is an excellent book. It gives a great picture of the tumult surrounding Jackson's two terms, the things that made him tick, and the decisions that defined his presidency. No, it didn't really tell us all about Andrew Jackson's childhood, or go into minute details about the deaths of his family. That's not the point. Instead, American Lion wants to make you understand Jackson the myth, Jackson the People's President, and how that Jackson managed to bend the Executive Power of our nation to his will. It shows why Lincoln, despite being opposite of Jackson in almost all his beliefs, would turn to Jackson in the country's greatest time of need--just before the Civil War. Andrew Jackson was hard in a lot of ways, but he loved the Union and he loved the people. Jackson's presidency was the first time that the office was seen in our modern light--as a strong office with its own power instead of merely a puppet of the Congress. American Lion is a refreshing look at 19th century American politics. (If you think the mud-slinging in current political contests is bad, just take a look at Jackson's two runs for the White House.) We owe a lot of who we are as a country to Andrew Jackson's years in power.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Diane

    Jon Meacham won a Pulitzer Prize for this biography of Andrew Jackson, America's seventh president. Jackson was certainly an intriguing subject. He's known as an advocate for the "common man" and for fighting against corruption, but he is also known for owning slaves and for supporting the removal of native Americans from their lands. Jackson was a man of his time, to be sure. When I learned the author was coming to my city to do a reading for his latest book, The Soul of America, I prepared for Jon Meacham won a Pulitzer Prize for this biography of Andrew Jackson, America's seventh president. Jackson was certainly an intriguing subject. He's known as an advocate for the "common man" and for fighting against corruption, but he is also known for owning slaves and for supporting the removal of native Americans from their lands. Jackson was a man of his time, to be sure. When I learned the author was coming to my city to do a reading for his latest book, The Soul of America, I prepared for the event by reading Jon Meacham's books about Andrew Jackson and Thomas Jefferson. Reading the biographies of Jackson and Jefferson back to back provided some interesting insights into America's founding and early decades. It's amazing how issues Jackson discussed and acted on back in the 1830s are still relevant today. This is an incredibly detailed biography. The amount of time dedicated to what's known as the Petticoat Affair became a bit tedious to listen to on a long road trip, but overall, I'm glad I read this book and learned more about the complicated character of Jackson. Recommended for fans of history. Personal Note: I finished American Lion on a Friday evening while driving to Nashville, Tennessee. Jackson's family home, called The Hermitage, sits just outside Nashville and I was able to visit it on a beautiful Saturday morning. In the visitor center, guests can watch an introductory film about Andrew Jackson. Guess who was interviewed in the film? Jon Meacham. After watching it, I leaned over to my traveling companion and said, "That 20-minute film basically summarized the 400-page book I just read." I'm still glad I read it. And if you're ever in Nashville, I do recommend visiting Jackson's home. Opening Passage "It looked like war. In his rooms on the second floor of the White House, in the flickering light of candles and oil lamps, President Andrew Jackson was furious and full of fight. He had just been reelected to a second term as America's seventh president, and South Carolina was defying him. He hated it, for he believed to his core that the state was about to destroy the nation. For Jackson, the crisis was not only political. It was personal. Four hundred and fifty miles down the Atlantic seaboard from Washington, in Charleston, radicals were raising an army to defend South Carolina's right to nullify federal laws it chose not to accept — the first step, Jackson believed, toward secession, and the destruction of the Union. 'I expect to hear soon that a civil war of extermination has commenced,' Jackson said, musing about arresting the Southern leaders and then hanging them."

  3. 5 out of 5

    Joe

    A terrible book about a horrible man written by a coward. I know that sounds harsh but there's no other way to describe it. The book claims to be only about his years in the White House. It isn't. Frequently, Meacham cherry picks and subsequently white washes Jackson's past sins in an effort to show him as a complicated hero. Jackson wasn't complicated. He was maybe one of the simplest presidents America ever had. Here are some simple facts: 1) His greatest military victory was the Battle of New A terrible book about a horrible man written by a coward. I know that sounds harsh but there's no other way to describe it. The book claims to be only about his years in the White House. It isn't. Frequently, Meacham cherry picks and subsequently white washes Jackson's past sins in an effort to show him as a complicated hero. Jackson wasn't complicated. He was maybe one of the simplest presidents America ever had. Here are some simple facts: 1) His greatest military victory was the Battle of New Orleans. Unbeknownst to Jackson, it took place approximately 14 days after the War of 1812 was over. Therefore, at best, the victory was a tragedy. 2) Later, while still serving in the military, without any orders to do so, seized what is now Florida for America. Florida had been owned by Spain, a sovereign nation. Jackson should have been charged for any and all lives lost during this illegal conflict as a war criminal. 3) Fought against the National Banking system simply because he lacked the cognitive capacity to understand it. 4) His legacy on Native American removal/massacre/war is one of the saddest in all of American history. He was truly a monster. I went into this book knowing very little about Jackson and if I had remained confined to what was printed in the book I would still know very little. With this work, Meacham really tried to re-write history. He would tell tiny snippets of all the issues I listed about but only enough so that the reader wouldn't figure out the truth. This is unacceptable. I realize that many biographers admire their subjects...that's frequently why they take on the project in the first place. But as a historian, it is his duty to present the facts. Let the reader know the good and the bad and let us decide if he was a monster or a hero. I would like to think Meacham didn't include the necessary facts because he is incompetent but I fear that it was all purposeful propaganda garbage. The vast majority of the book was super boring. Here's my impression of 75% of the book: "How dare you, sir!" "No, how dare you, sir!" with lots of "hrumphs" thrown in for good measure. Please avoid this work at all costs and if you see Jon Meacham call him foul names for me. An hour on Wikipedia will give you all you need on this jerk.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Gillian

    Um, did you know Andrew Jackson was a huge badass? He was also sort of a jerk. And he invented the Democratic party basically. Plus he was not very cool to the Native Americans.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sharon Barrow Wilfong

    "History has been ransacked to find examples of tyrants sufficiently odious to illustrate him by comparison. Language has been tortured to find epithets sufficiently strong to paint him in description. Imagination has been exhausted in her efforts to deck him with revolting and inhuman attributes. tyrant, despot, usurper; destroyer of the liberties of his country; rash ignorant, imbecile; endangering the public peace with all foreign nations; destroying domestic prosperity at home..." While some "History has been ransacked to find examples of tyrants sufficiently odious to illustrate him by comparison. Language has been tortured to find epithets sufficiently strong to paint him in description. Imagination has been exhausted in her efforts to deck him with revolting and inhuman attributes. tyrant, despot, usurper; destroyer of the liberties of his country; rash ignorant, imbecile; endangering the public peace with all foreign nations; destroying domestic prosperity at home..." While some of you may be assuming I have quoted a contemporary political commentator, and our current political climate has certainly taken on the dizzying aspects of a three ringed circus, I am in fact quoting Thomas Hart Benton, a devoted partisan to Andrew Jackson who is describing "Old Hickory's" enemies, of which there was no shortage. Surprisingly, thirty years earlier, during the War of 1812, Benton was one of those enemies who got into such a fierce altercation with then General Jackson, that they tried to kill each other in a duel. Ron Meacham's excellent biography of one of our most controversial presidents does not record Jackson's life before becoming the seventh president of the United States but starts with his first years after becoming president. This is perhaps a pity because those years are quite spectacular and give valuable context to how Jackson became the sort of president he was, but one will have to go to Robert Remini's more thorough Life of Andrew Jackson. But we see the drama, the color, and Jackson's legacy. We also see how nullification and secession was broiling in the South back in the 1830s. We also are given clearer understanding as to what caused those feelings of succession. Slavery was not actually on the table then since only a few Christian missionaries and abolitionists (also Christian) were the only outspoken opponents of slavery. What the South decried was they considered to be unfair taxation of their produce. This may or may not be valid, but one will have to go to another source of information because neither Meacham nor Remini provide enough to allow the reader to form a conclusion as to whether the taxes on Southern goods was fair or not. We do know, according to Meacham that Jackson made some concessions and partially lowered the tax rate but not to the satisfaction of the South, nor John C. Calhoun, Jackson's former vice president. Yes, Jackson had two vice presidents because the first, Calhoun, turned on him and decided to run a bid for the presidency against him. Van Buren became Jackson's second president and also the nation's succeeding president. What is one to make of Andrew Jackson? We know about the Trail of Tears enforced by him. His documents show that he saw clear incompatibility with the Native and American cultures but insisted that if the American Indians conformed to American society they could keep their land and stay. This was a false promise. The Indians that chose to stay and conform soon found themselves thrust on to the Trail to the West. Certainly a blot on our history. Yet Jackson adopted an Indian boy and raised him for many years (until the boy in teenage years became ill and died). Jackson was not against slavery. He had slaves and he did not free them when he died. But he was vehemently against secession. He passionately believed in the Federation. In fact he firmly believed so much in the Federation and that as president he was the Federation. The people had elected him. He represented their interests and nothing was going to interfere with that. He apparently did not believe that members of the House or Senate represented the people because he made a record number of executive orders, setting the ground work for later presidents. He destroyed the National Bank for this reason. He believed that a private bank was corrupt and would exploit the people. As the people's spokesman he acted believing that everything he did was in the American citizen's interest. How he possessed this special knowledge of the will of the people he never explained and often it seemed as though he confused his personal will with the people's will. As a result he had the habit of ram-rodding over anyone that conflicted with his intentions. The main legacy Jackson left was the groundwork for the Democratic Party as we know it today. He firmly believed it was the government's job to provide for and protect the people. It was under Jackson's presidency that Texas became encouraged to join the Union. Stephen F. Austin pleaded with Jackson to send in troops and protect the U.S. citizens living inside the Texas territory from the marauding Mexican gangs that were over running American cattle farms and General Santa Ana who was determined to make Texas a part of Mexico. Jackson inexorably reminded Austin that Texas was not a part of the United States and therefore was not entitled to U.S. protection. The Battle of the Alamo was a pivotal moment in Texas history that led to Texas becoming a member of the United States of America. Towards the end of his life, Jackson experienced a kind of conversion. He had always considered himself a Christian, although he refused to join a church because he thought the leader of the country should be religiously neutral. However, there was a radical change in his attitude and beliefs towards the end of his life. He joined a church and on his death bed gathered his family and slaves around them. "'God will take of you for me.' He was speaking not only to his relations and the children, but to the slaves who had gathered in the room to mark the end. Jackson said: 'Do not cry; I hope to meet you all in Heaven- yes, all in Heaven, white and black.'. Near death, Jackson sought comfort in the promises of the faith he had embraced in retirement. 'My conversation is for you all,' he said and then renewed his talk of the world to come. ' Christ has no respect to color,' Jackson said. 'I am in God and God is in me....'" As are most people, Jackson was a complicated person, but, love him or hate him, one cannot deny that he set in motion significant events that propelled us to the country as we know it today.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Darwin8u

    "Jackson was a transformative president in part because he had a transcendent personality" - Jon Meacham, American Lion A solid history of a complicated man. One of the more influential Presidents, Jackson can and should be both praised and condemned. In many ways, he epitomized our young nation. Problematic, in the extreme, in regards to Native Americans and slaves, energetic, complicated, narcissistic, driven, and not to be trifled with. Jackson is often revered by Presidents who want to appear "Jackson was a transformative president in part because he had a transcendent personality" - Jon Meacham, American Lion A solid history of a complicated man. One of the more influential Presidents, Jackson can and should be both praised and condemned. In many ways, he epitomized our young nation. Problematic, in the extreme, in regards to Native Americans and slaves, energetic, complicated, narcissistic, driven, and not to be trifled with. Jackson is often revered by Presidents who want to appear both populist and strong. Jackson, however, is no Trump. With obvious blind spots (Slavery and Natives) he typically acted according to an inner guide. He felt our nation needed a stronger executive to protect the people from the tyranny of bureaucracy and moneyed interests. He was brutal to anyone who stood in his way. Meacham doesn't shy away from Jackson's failings, but also spends a bit too much time (in my opinion) in dealing with Jackson's family. After reading a bunch of Caro, I was afraid I would be severely disappointed with Meacham (like I was with the most recent Walter Isaacson book, Leonardo da Vinci). It was, however, better than I expected.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Brad Lyerla

    Jackson usually is praised for his vision of the presidency and commitment to the Federal Union, while simultaneously lamented for his demagoguery and racism. Meacham takes these subjects on without reservation. In Meacham's account, Jackson is at his very best while staring down the threat to the union posed by the Nullification Movement which arose in South Carolina and was championed by John C. Calhoun, Jackson's vice president. (Times were different.) He is at his worst when orchestrating Jackson usually is praised for his vision of the presidency and commitment to the Federal Union, while simultaneously lamented for his demagoguery and racism. Meacham takes these subjects on without reservation. In Meacham's account, Jackson is at his very best while staring down the threat to the union posed by the Nullification Movement which arose in South Carolina and was championed by John C. Calhoun, Jackson's vice president. (Times were different.) He is at his worst when orchestrating the removal of the native american populations of Georgia and Alabama to regions west of the Mississippi River. And his demogoguery blossoms into full blown megalomania when he convinces himself that he is acting in the best interests of the indians, indeed, as their protecting father -- even as he subjected them to the horrors of a 19th century 'ethnic cleansing'. Meacham explores some of the effects of Jackson's populism on the quality of political discourse during his first election. Taking his case to the people, particularly the roughened voters of the emerging western states, Jackson had no compunction about dispensing with lofty rhetoric in favor of a "telling it like it is" style that appealed to what Easterners considered the vulgar west. Jackson was accused, with some justification, of manipulating "the rabble" in order to achieve his political goals. The election was capped by a rowdy party in the White House after his inauguration. Meacham's depiction of the aftermath of this celebration reminds one of the morning after a particularly drunken frat party combined with a whiskey-fueled, saloon shoot'em up, which did nothing to calm the fears of the establishment that the voters had elected a barbarian as president. Meacham is entertaining in his description of the petticoat wars of Jackson's first administration and the bitter fight over the national bank that dominated the early part of his second administration. While not offering anything highly original on this subject (as far as I can tell as a first time reader on Jackson), Meacham details how Jackson's vision of the role of the presidency was instrumental in re-defining and strengthening the executive branch of government against fears, deeply seated in the pre-war experience with King George, that the emergence of a strong president would undermine the American democracy. Meacham keeps the psychoanalysis of Jackson to a minimum, but does occasionally explain Jackson's motivations in psychological terms. For example, as an orphan, Jackson is depicted as acting to create a stable household for himself. Similarly, he is described as understanding his role as President to be a father figure to the people and a bulwark against the rich and privileged. To his credit, Meacham does not overdo this sort of thing, and his restraint in this regard contributes to the pleasure of reading his book, for which he won the Pulitzer Prize. I might also say that this book focuses on Jackson's years in the White House, 1829 to 1836. It is a compliment to Meacham that I now want to locate a good biography describing Jackson's years before the White House. One suspects those years, when Jackson fought duels, Indian wars, the Battle of New Orleans and may have committed bigamy, will make the White House years look dull as mashed potatoes in comparison. But there is nothing dull about Meacham's book. It is a very fine biography and an engrossing introduction to a complicated and important subject.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    When you try and tackle a subject as complicated as Andrew Jackson, and limit a book to just his presidency, it's just impossible to properly portray the man in the White House. So for those who have never read Marquis James or Robert Remini's multi-volume depiction of Jackson, the first 180 pages of this book read like a season story arch of a prime time soap opera. The "Eaton Affair" was a very central topic of Jackson's first term of presidency, but to understand why it was such a central When you try and tackle a subject as complicated as Andrew Jackson, and limit a book to just his presidency, it's just impossible to properly portray the man in the White House. So for those who have never read Marquis James or Robert Remini's multi-volume depiction of Jackson, the first 180 pages of this book read like a season story arch of a prime time soap opera. The "Eaton Affair" was a very central topic of Jackson's first term of presidency, but to understand why it was such a central focus, you need to know more about Jackson and his hard-line approach to loyalty (especially to a wife) - and Meacham just isn't able to explain Jackson's pre-White House years in just a few paragraphs. I've spoken to a couple of people about this book (one of which just gave up after 100 pages) and they warned me that it was very hard to get into the story. And I can see why - the portrayal of events makes it look like all of Washington was in a choke-hold by Margaret Eaton and Emily Donelson. It took me 3 weeks to slog through these pages and 3 days to read the remainder of the book. The second half of the book (occurring right around the point of the Cabinet purge) is much more interesting and engaging. There were a lot of really interesting Americans at that time (Clay, Webster, Calhoun, Van Buren) - all of them somewhat in the shadow of Jackson's limelight. For any Civil War buffs, Meacham's several chapters on the Nullification Crisis are well done and show clearly just how strong the state rights issues were (lead by South Carolina) - and how Jackson's handling of the Crisis pushed back the inevitable War 30 years. If you're looking for a single volume on Jackson, Remini's concise "Andrew Jackson" gives a good overall picture. If you are willing to invest 1000 pages to the subject pick up Marquis James' Pulitzer winning two volume treatment of Jackson (available also as free PDF download if you can't find it second hand).

  9. 5 out of 5

    Mehrsa

    I was hoping this would be a bit more critical, but it was a hagiography of a very complicated and problematic president. Meacham does not let him getaway with his treatment of the Native Americans or his slaves (the latter he barely even talks about). There is this assumption in the book that the territorial expansions were all good. I don't think anyone would come out and say that the ends justify the means, but while Jackson is critiqued for his treatment of the natives or Mexicans inhabiting I was hoping this would be a bit more critical, but it was a hagiography of a very complicated and problematic president. Meacham does not let him getaway with his treatment of the Native Americans or his slaves (the latter he barely even talks about). There is this assumption in the book that the territorial expansions were all good. I don't think anyone would come out and say that the ends justify the means, but while Jackson is critiqued for his treatment of the natives or Mexicans inhabiting the land, ultimately he's revered for securing the land. How can we separate the two? Same with the expansion of slavery. He kept the union together for longer, but at what cost to human lives? Yes, at the time many people did not care about the lives of black slaves and native americans and we have evolved. Kind of--first of all, lots of people at the time knew it was wrong and said so publicly. And two, why not take our more accurate perspective now and tell the story right? PREFERRED SYNOPSIS: "Jackson pretended to be a man of the people, but he thought only white men were people. This was a convenient belief because it allowed Jackson to murder Native Americans and pillage their land and continue to promote the bondage of African Americans--two of the cruelest acts of our government. Jackson and his allies (which included most American men in the government north and south) knew this was wrong, but they cared more about power and land so they used arguments about racial inferiority and divine right to justify their cruel and self-serving actions. We should study the lives of men like Jackson in order to make sure we never lionize such men again and in so doing enable cruelty." Note: I was most interested in his bank war and there's quite a bit in here on that, but that also diminishes the stupidity of what Jackson did. Reading this made me see Jackson in a new more favorable light, which I think was the point. Trump is no Jackson. And I grant that times were very different with regards to accepting violence and saving the union at all costs. But even compared to the standards of the time, Jackson was cruel and power-hungry. Still, I do appreciate how tenuous the Republic was and how much it needed a brute like Jackson to hold it together.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Bob Mayer

    Given current events, this book is timely to read. Jackson did some terrible things, most particularly the treatment of Native Americans. But he also kept the Union together in the face of huge dissent. Of course, that only delayed the Civil War and kept another generation in chains. The big takeaway is that no matter his faults, his primary concern was for the country and the people. If only modern politicians would do so, rather than focusing on their own enrichment and egos.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Larry Bassett

    OK here's the bottom line: I listened to this book in the audible format and it was dull enough on occasion that I dozed off. Not too often and not too long but it did happen! I decided to read this book now in an effort to understand Mr. Trump's apparent admiration for Andrew Jackson. Other Goodreads reviews are mixed. Jackson was yet another president who owned slaves. And he was yet another president who pushed the Native Americans aggressively out of their home territory. I finished the book OK here's the bottom line: I listened to this book in the audible format and it was dull enough on occasion that I dozed off. Not too often and not too long but it did happen! I decided to read this book now in an effort to understand Mr. Trump's apparent admiration for Andrew Jackson. Other Goodreads reviews are mixed. Jackson was yet another president who owned slaves. And he was yet another president who pushed the Native Americans aggressively out of their home territory. I finished the book not knowing quite what to think about him. 30 years before the Civil War the country was on the verge of splitting up but Jackson somehow kept it together. The story of that era is told in quite great detail. While Jackson was trying to keep the Union together his vice president Calhoun was trying to pull South Carolina out. Jackson was only the seventh president of the US. He was way back in the 1830s. His house burned down during that time and quite a few of his papers were destroyed. That evidently has made accurately establishing his history somewhat complicated. This book relies on personal and family letters for much of the information. At the end of the book the author talks about obtaining access to some of the material for the first time. Reading this book at the beginning of the Trump presidency was fascinating. I quoted quite a few paragraphs that seem to reflect Trump politics. Check them out and see what you think. The vitriol against Jackson may have rivaled that against Trump. And yet the author seems to come down on a fairly positive view of Jackson. There seems to be some debate about how accurately the author has presented the subject. One third of the book is footnotes which surely is one way the author is trying to say believe me. But the author also acknowledges that many of his sources were the papers and letters of the people and family immediately surrounding Jackson. It would be logical that those people might see the man in a most friendly light. He is portrayed as a family man and this is carried even to the extent of him feeling the people of the nation were his family. Much is made of the fact that he was an orphan and was always creating images of family and had family and children living with him in the White House.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Cassidy Cassidy

    While a terrifically thorough listing of the era's political issues and the personalities clashing over them, the examination left much to be desired. The substance falls victim to a regular temptation among American authors writing American history. Meacham's approach only acknowledges in passing the character flaws of his subject while amplifying the qualities and deeds that would make Jackson a hero to many. For instance, Jackson's unrepentant slave-ownership and his role in devastating While a terrifically thorough listing of the era's political issues and the personalities clashing over them, the examination left much to be desired. The substance falls victim to a regular temptation among American authors writing American history. Meacham's approach only acknowledges in passing the character flaws of his subject while amplifying the qualities and deeds that would make Jackson a hero to many. For instance, Jackson's unrepentant slave-ownership and his role in devastating generations of Native Americans is mentioned, but not explored to the degree these positions deserve. Blind nationalism makes a poor substitute for history, and American Lion is no exception.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    In a further exploration of the lives of those who helped shape early America, I turned back to biographer Jon Meacham and his depiction of Andrew Jackson. I thoroughly enjoying the author's depiction of Thomas Jefferson in a similar piece and hoped to leave with as much knowledge of this lesser known figure. The seventh President of the United States, Jackson broke many early precedents and his two-terms in office opened the door to a new era in presidential politics, bringing the commoner's In a further exploration of the lives of those who helped shape early America, I turned back to biographer Jon Meacham and his depiction of Andrew Jackson. I thoroughly enjoying the author's depiction of Thomas Jefferson in a similar piece and hoped to leave with as much knowledge of this lesser known figure. The seventh President of the United States, Jackson broke many early precedents and his two-terms in office opened the door to a new era in presidential politics, bringing the commoner's views to the forefront. Throughout this biographical piece, Meacham presents Jackson as a man who differed greatly from his predecessors and certainly paved the way for future commanders-in-chief. Jackson is seen as a man from humble beginnings, with little interest in the status quo, and who sought to quell early internal insurrection. While not a typical biography that thoroughly traces the man's life from cradle to grave, Meacham does a wonderful job working through the White House years of Andrew Jackson, peppering the narrative with flashbacks and poignant backstories to better depict those eight years as America's political leader. Not to be missed by those who enjoy succinct biographies as well as the reader who finds learning to be an eternal gift in non-fiction. Andrew Jackson was the first president to come from humble means, which caused quite a stir amongst those who opposed him. Not from an aristocratic background or schooled at the few prestigious schools America had to offer, Jackson grew up in Tennessee and developed a passion for his country. He became well-versed in Bible teachings and used his religious upbringing to guide him throughout his life. Jackson served in the House of Representatives briefly and the Senate for a short time as well, before becoming a judge and serving the people of Tennessee. When he sought the presidency in 1824, Jackson emerged as a man of the people who challenged the elite, locking horns with John Quincy Adams and only losing when the election went to the House of Representatives after the Electoral College could not determine a winner. Over the next four years, Jackson deflected numerous criticisms to his character and communicated his ideas so effectively that he stunned many by toppling Adams in the '28 election. However, nothing proved more ostracizing than the death of his wife Rachel immediately following his victory. Jackson was forced to serve without this most useful rudder, but had extended family to balance things, having no natural offspring. Meacham argues that Jackson adopted the American people as his family, serving them effectively and caring for them as a father. That Jackson broke the preconceptions forged by his six predecessors is by no means the only thing that differentiated Jackson from the 'presidents of the 13 colonies', but it certainly paved the way for some of his other unique attributes that Meacham presents in the book. A lack of interest in simply serving in the footsteps of those who came before him serves as the second key trait Meacham presents related to Jackson's character. Jackson ascended to the White House and began breaking some of the societal norms that had become custom in Washington. As Meacham discusses throughout, Jackson sought not only to be president, but to transform the role and serve the people who elected him, a vow mentioned above. When Jackson reached the White House, universal male suffrage (at least for Caucasians) had been acquired, opening up an electorate with a variety of needs. Rather than catering to the rich, Jackson pushed ideas through Congress and led the country with the entire populace in mind. He was the first president to use the constitutional veto of legislation, much to the chagrin of Congress. Jackson did not apologise, but chose to defend his right as entrenched in the US Constitution, using only the tools at his disposal. Meacham cites that numerous future presidents mentioned Jackson's use of the veto to pave the way for a more active and involved executive branch, allowing the president to play a political role as the sole representative of all the people. Additionally, Meacham discusses Jackson's struggles with Cabinet dissent, to the point that he removed a fair number ahead of his reelection bid, most prominently Vice-President John C. Calhoun. Used effectively in 1828 to secure the South, Calhoun became too outspoken in the latter years of Jackson's first term in office and tried to bring the president to his knees for daring to flex his muscle against South Carolina. Jackson did not stand idly by and chose not act summarily, removing those who would have turned Brutus on him and forged ahead into a reelection campaign to renew his support by the American people. In an effort to act free of outside influence, Jackson made some decisions that drew ire of Congress to the point of being censured in a controversial vote. Meacham shows throughout the text that Jackson used his simple upbringing to challenge the status quo, which tried to shackle the Commander-in-Chief into more of a ceremonial role, at least as it related to the domestic policy agenda. That Jackson would have none of it should be no surprise to the reader. Jackson had not only a domestic and international agenda to complete during his two terms as president, but also tried to quell two major internal issues. During the years of his first term, Jackson tried to address the question of Indian habitation within American states and territories. While Washington and the early administrations had bound themselves to the treaties signed with the Indian population, Jackson did not hold that these documents were sufficient and moved to remove Indian territorial claims while wiping out their settlements west of the Mississippi. Jackson's vehemence would not be deterred and would not permit the free-standing and autonomous rule of the Indian populations. While hindsight offers this as a blatant assimilation technique, Jackson did not stand down when challenged. While Meacham does not speculate how this decision changed modern interaction between the government and Indian population, it is interesting to see how Jackson's actions might have quelled future land clashes. The other major issue Jackson handled was state-control over the slavery issue, with South Carolina as a litmus test. Jackson pushed to keep the state from overstepping its power, going so far as to offer a constitutional interpretation that pitted Jackson against South Carolina. As mentioned above, this became the battleground on which he and John C. Calhoun fought, which extended into the second term and would pave the way for Lincoln's stand. Jackson's ideas sparked the early split within the states that did lead to the Civil War. Southern ideas were not accepted in Jackson's White House, which he made no qualms about stating publicly. In order to preserve the Union, Jackson felt he would do anything to bring the South, read: South Carolina, into line. While he did not bring about the destruction of the Union during his time in office, Jackson's views on these two issues did perforate the bonds Washington and his subsequent five presidents had in place before 1828. Meacham tackles the presidency of Andrew Jackson with such vigour that the reader cannot help but be enthralled with what there is to learn. A man who, as the title suggests, came roaring into office and tried to change the acceptable norms. Jackson challenged Congress and presidential precedent, using the Constitution as his guidebook. Meacham is thorough in his research and weaves a wonderful narrative that follows a wonderful chronology, with poignant flashbacks to fill in gaps the story does not thoroughly discuss. While not a David McCullough biography, from cradle to grave, Meacham uses an eight-year period packed with dramatic occurrences and political fervour that there is no need to spend chapters and sections inculcating the general themes that so clearly emerge from the narrative. Jackson secured victory by being the (first) people's president and would not hand over the reins to anyone who tried to neuter what the people wanted. He utilised his cabinet and surrounded himself with strong men (and even a few women) who shaped the country in the mid-nineteenth century. His legacy, while someone with which I was not aware before discovering this book, is one of forging new ground within the rules laid out by the Founding Fathers. Meacham illustrates that Jackson never shied away from defending his beliefs to the core, but always opened his mind to alternatives, should they be persuasive and well-grounded. Kudos Mr. Meacham for this wonderful biographical piece, which taught as much as it entertained me. I thoroughly enjoyed everything you had to offer and look forward to exploring more of your work, when time permits. Like/hate the review? An ever-growing collection of others appears at: http://pecheyponderings.wordpress.com/

  14. 5 out of 5

    Allison

    I somehow managed to make it to the end of the book. It read like a college paper that needed a minimum word count. The author seemed to speak in circles, and occasionally, speak down to his audience. Some writers can string a story along, and some (like this one) can't. The research was excellent, but the storytelling had me struggling to finish. Loved the pictures.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Celia

    I am on a quest to read at least one book about each of the 45 presidents. (Yes, even Trump). I learned alot about Jackson as I read this. Rather than enumerate what I learned, please read this book to find out for yourself. This book primarily covers the years of Jackson's presidency 1829 - 1837. I was happy to learn about the more personal aspects of Jackson's life. Some of what happened during his presidency was not quite so engaging. (Good, but just a litany of facts of what happened). Suffice it I am on a quest to read at least one book about each of the 45 presidents. (Yes, even Trump). I learned alot about Jackson as I read this. Rather than enumerate what I learned, please read this book to find out for yourself. This book primarily covers the years of Jackson's presidency 1829 - 1837. I was happy to learn about the more personal aspects of Jackson's life. Some of what happened during his presidency was not quite so engaging. (Good, but just a litany of facts of what happened). Suffice it to say, Jon Meacham is an engaging and excellent writer. I hope to read more about Jackson. 3.75 stars

  16. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    STATEMENT: I received a free copy of this book thru the GoodReads site to review. Well, Mr Meacham has done an excellent job researching Andrew Jackson as well as the culture and history surrounding his time in the White House. I cannot fault him in his research... and his book did impress upon me the amount of knowledge that he has acquired on the subject. However, I was not a fan of the book. I had to force myself to persevere thru its reading. I found it dull, but more importantly, I felt that STATEMENT: I received a free copy of this book thru the GoodReads site to review. Well, Mr Meacham has done an excellent job researching Andrew Jackson as well as the culture and history surrounding his time in the White House. I cannot fault him in his research... and his book did impress upon me the amount of knowledge that he has acquired on the subject. However, I was not a fan of the book. I had to force myself to persevere thru its reading. I found it dull, but more importantly, I felt that he tried to include too much information. He tried to include "dirt" as well as personal decisions that Jackson had to face during his presidency, but because he tries to cover such a wide range, we are left with only superficial scratchings on most of it. I think if he had concentrated on just one of the issues, like the issue of a Federal Bank or perhaps on some of the social scandals regarding his "adopted" family, then the book would be far better. Instead, it becomes hard to follow as characters in the book come and go, with only occasional passages to describe them. There is no depth. It reads like a cliff notes version of a book. This book came highly rated, with lauds from the New York Times and other media outlets. I'm thinking it is only because of recent pop histories like 1776 this book received such honors. I was disappointed.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jill Hutchinson

    I am at odds as to how to rate this book. Andrew Jackson is a President who doesn't get a lot of attention in the overall scheme of things. Most people remember him from the Battle of New Orleans in the War of 1812 but don't seem to know much about his Presidency.........and a lot was happening during his eight years as the seventh POTUS. The book concentrates solely on his years in the White House with limited information about his background and what shaped his personality and ideas. The author I am at odds as to how to rate this book. Andrew Jackson is a President who doesn't get a lot of attention in the overall scheme of things. Most people remember him from the Battle of New Orleans in the War of 1812 but don't seem to know much about his Presidency.........and a lot was happening during his eight years as the seventh POTUS. The book concentrates solely on his years in the White House with limited information about his background and what shaped his personality and ideas. The author made it clear by his title that this book was a history of his years in the White House but I felt that the reader needed a little more background on the man himself to understand his political positions and his undying faith to the Union. The American Civil War was boiling in the background, especially in South Carolina and the whole states' rights and Nullification issue were major to his presidency. But the "Petticoat Affair" takes up way too much of the narrative and seems, to the modern day eye, rather ridiculous. The writing runs the gamut from dry as dust to extremely interesting and informative, so it is hard to know where to put this book on a rating scale. I, for the most part, enjoyed it and think it is worth a read by those who are interested in Jackson. For others, I'm not so sure.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Katy

    A mini biography of Jackson's time as president. I have come to admire what good he did accomplish, although his beliefs in Indian removal and slavery will always mark him as an imperfect man.

  19. 5 out of 5

    David

    I like Jon Meacham better than I do Andrew Jackson. Other reviewers here on Goodreads have said all the important things that I would say and more about his book, “American Lion”. Anyway here’s my 2 cents worth: Jackson was not one of the greatest presidents, in my opinion. Even so, he was a stubborn leader with fixed views; and like most absolutists, he would not recant and forged ahead with his determined programs, thereby saving the Presidency and ultimately the nation as the future would I like Jon Meacham better than I do Andrew Jackson. Other reviewers here on Goodreads have said all the important things that I would say and more about his book, “American Lion”. Anyway here’s my 2 cents worth: Jackson was not one of the greatest presidents, in my opinion. Even so, he was a stubborn leader with fixed views; and like most absolutists, he would not recant and forged ahead with his determined programs, thereby saving the Presidency and ultimately the nation as the future would prove. He was dead wrong on Indian removal, which affected my own ancestors in Mississippi and Alabama. Many contemporaries in the affected states even disagreed with his Indian policy. He faced down the Know-Nothings and similar stiff-necks, who for me at least made these decades of American history so boring that it’s a wonder that I’m still interested. Hence, the reason we must read this book, which fills in a gap of our ignorance of what was going on between the Revolution and the Civil War. He stood firm against the Clay and Calhoun factions in Congress, proving to me at least how delinquent South Carolina and their Southern allies were in their traitorous undermining of federal democracy as intended by the geniuses who formed the Constitution. He could have but did not take a stand on slavery in that he had slaves, sometimes punishing them severely for running away, but he really thought they were created equal and should be freed. (You can say a thing but not do it; but Meacham explains with his usual thorough scholarship how Jackson really meant this.) The star that Jackson followed was the Union with the people in charge—and nothing less. If it hadn’t been for Jackson, Meacham suggests, Abraham Lincoln as we know him may never have been able to truly save the union. Fortunately, Lincoln studied Jackson’s presidency closely. Jackson was a brave man and would take no insult from even the very powerful French, who almost got ready to invade the US due to Jackson’s insistence that they had to repay a large debt to this country, which they had refused to do. He was too concerned with his family for a world leader at that time. As Meacham describes it, there was a whole passel of competing females pulling at each other’s bonnet strings that it just became too frustrating for Jackson and consequently for the reader. Yet, this perspective—especially, brings out the real humanity of Andrew Jackson.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Robert Owen

    Okay……soooooo, it won a Pulitzer Prize. While one shouldn't get overwrought about a particular award that a given book may receive, but I’ve been reading lots of history lately and I’ve found that as a rule, books awarded a Pulitzer are awarded them for a reason. When I decided that it was about time that I filled in the gaps in my knowledge of antebellum American history in general and the Jacksonian era, in particular, I was tickled to find the Pulitzer Prize winning “American Lion” there to Okay……soooooo, it won a Pulitzer Prize. While one shouldn't get overwrought about a particular award that a given book may receive, but I’ve been reading lots of history lately and I’ve found that as a rule, books awarded a Pulitzer are awarded them for a reason. When I decided that it was about time that I filled in the gaps in my knowledge of antebellum American history in general and the Jacksonian era, in particular, I was tickled to find the Pulitzer Prize winning “American Lion” there to help launch me on my journey. Only……the book sucked. Admittedly, "American Lion" was intended as an intimate portrait of Jackson and his inner circle, and as such, maybe stuff like historical context and political significance weren’t necessarily the focus, but golly, it was as if the John Meacham went out of his way to avoid context and significance in presenting his sketch the iconic 7th President of the United States. In essence, what you learn from reading this book is that “What Andrew Jackson wanted, Andrew Jackson got.” Go ahead, say it along with me, “What Andrew Jackson wanted, Andrew Jackson got.” Got it? Do you feel me? Well, you’ve just read “American Lion”. You’re welcome. If I sound angry, it’s because I am. I picked up the book wanting to understand the issues that motivated the electorate to send America’s first populist president to the White House and how that president perceived / exploited / addressed those issues. To be sure, Meacham explains that there were controversies surrounding the United States Bank charter, tariffs and infrastructure expenditures, but what those controversies were, what their implications were, who was for them and why, who was against them and why and what, ultimately, was in the best interests of the nation remain mysteries from the first chapter to the last. What the reader learns is that there was an issue surrounding the United States Bank Charter, tariffs and infrastructure expenditures, where Jackson stood on those issues in the sense of “were he fer’ ‘em or again’ ‘em” and that, given this position…..well……what Andrew Jackson wanted, Andrew Jackson got. How, exactly, he got what he wanted is only dimly hinted at, and whether or not getting what he wanted was a good thing or a bad thing is left wholly to the reader’s imagination. To be fair, the book does a fine job of explaining the “Petticoat Affair” and Jackson’s critical relationship with his nephew and aid, Andrew Donaldson and his wife, Emily. But beyond that….well…..I really am no smarter about the evolution of American thought or American history as a result of having read Meacham’s book. Postscript: Look, after having just written this review, I did a quick check on Wikipedia where, I was assured by people who are probably a lot smarter than I am that, “American Lion” was a Jim-Dandy read. All I can tell you is that before I started reading, I knew from other reading that the Jacksonian era marked a sea change in American politics and it's consequences were so utterly profound that they continue to be felt to this day. When I finished “American Lion” I really was no smarter about this than when I cracked the book’s cover. As I was intensely curious about the era and profoundly unsatisfied with the non-answers provided in “American Lion”, I sought out another book, read it, and felt enlightened as a result. I’m not saying that this “other book” (I won’t mention the title) is necessarily the best book out there on the era because I simply have not read enough other books to have a fair basis for comparison, but boy, it was head and shoulders above “American Lion” in terms of the information and insights it imparted. What I’m laboring to say is that in my humble opinion, there are much better books out there for the intrepid amateur scholar who is interested in learning about the forces that have contributed to make America America.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    I was excited to read this book, so it was especially disappointing to discover how poorly written it is. I only got through about 75 pages before giving up. The narration bounces around in time, skips over areas I think are important and goes into too much detail about other things. I know the book is supposed to focus on his presidency but I need to know more about him as a person to appreciate that and this just wasn't doing it for me. Bah.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Bettie

    http://thehill.com/homenews/administr...

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    American Lion is a biography on Andrew Jackson, the seventh president of the United States. There is not much detail on Jackson’s life before his presidency; it mostly focuses on his two terms in office. I learned a lot about this period of American history. There were many firsts and much drama that occurred during Jackson’s presidency: the petticoat affair, the longest Indian war, the first president to be physically attacked, and the list goes on. I didn’t feel like I got to know Jackson as a American Lion is a biography on Andrew Jackson, the seventh president of the United States. There is not much detail on Jackson’s life before his presidency; it mostly focuses on his two terms in office. I learned a lot about this period of American history. There were many firsts and much drama that occurred during Jackson’s presidency: the petticoat affair, the longest Indian war, the first president to be physically attacked, and the list goes on. I didn’t feel like I got to know Jackson as a person, however, because this book mostly focuses on what is happening around him and not so much on Jackson himself. The writing style was dry and verbose, making it difficult for me to stay engaged. Overall this was just an okay read.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Karla

    Not an antithesis to the "Jackson is genocidal war criminal!" narrative, but a rather balanced approach to the guy, focusing mainly on his terms of office and placing him in the context of his time. I thought Meacham did an excellent job of presenting Jackson in a balanced way, both vices and virtues. What amazed me the most was that I had heard about "The Petticoat Affair," but - as Meacham described its evolution and progression - it was really the most encompassing, polarizing and lolzy Not an antithesis to the "Jackson is genocidal war criminal!" narrative, but a rather balanced approach to the guy, focusing mainly on his terms of office and placing him in the context of his time. I thought Meacham did an excellent job of presenting Jackson in a balanced way, both vices and virtues. What amazed me the most was that I had heard about "The Petticoat Affair," but - as Meacham described its evolution and progression - it was really the most encompassing, polarizing and lolzy political scandal I've ever read about. DC society bitches be cray. Since the book mainly focuses on his administration, this scandal really does take up a share of time and attention and it is hilarious. Puts a lot of more recent D.C. shenanigans into perspective. There's a sickness in the malarial federal capital swamp, and it's been there for awhile.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    This is how a presidential biography should be written! Rather than an overly long, tedious account of boring minutiae, just tell the reader the critical events that made the president into the type of leader they became. All I ever really knew about Pres. Jackson was his involvement in the Battle of New Orleans and that he was known as "Old Hickory." This bio helps you come to know what made Andrew Jackson tick and his unique temperament that sometimes helped his ambition yet caused him grief This is how a presidential biography should be written! Rather than an overly long, tedious account of boring minutiae, just tell the reader the critical events that made the president into the type of leader they became. All I ever really knew about Pres. Jackson was his involvement in the Battle of New Orleans and that he was known as "Old Hickory." This bio helps you come to know what made Andrew Jackson tick and his unique temperament that sometimes helped his ambition yet caused him grief as well. Reading of Jackson's time in office will definitely make you think of modern-day parallels in the current news cycle. Great book!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Helga Cohen

    This is a good history of Andrew Jackson and his time in the White House. He was the first president outside the founders of our country as the 7th president and came from the south. This book describes the tumultuous times during his presidency. Meacham does a good job narrating how Andrew Jackson came into his power to become president arising out of poverty and tells the story of his 8 years in the White House. Jackson was elected as president in 1828. He changed the office forever. The This is a good history of Andrew Jackson and his time in the White House. He was the first president outside the founders of our country as the 7th president and came from the south. This book describes the tumultuous times during his presidency. Meacham does a good job narrating how Andrew Jackson came into his power to become president arising out of poverty and tells the story of his 8 years in the White House. Jackson was elected as president in 1828. He changed the office forever. The people and not the elites became the guiding force of politics. It was the birth of democracy as we see it today. Jackson’s presidency was surrounded by controversy. He bended the Executive Power of the nation to his will quite successfully. His presidency was problematic in regards to Native Americans and slavery. The Trail of Tears with the Indian removal was a bleak time in our country and showed Jackson at his worst. Many Cherokee Indians died under him. He could have used his power for fairer Indian removal policy. He was strong in defeating the Nullification Movement lead by John C Calhoun of South Carolina and his bitter fight over the national bank. Meecham showed Jackson as a complicated, narcissistic and driven man. He is often revered by Presidents like Trump who want to appear both populist and strong. However, Jackson acted by an inner guide because he believed our nation needed a stronger executive to protect the country from the bureaucracy and moneyed interests. Jackson was hard in many ways but he loved the Union and the people. Jackson’s stance paved the way for Abraham Lincoln’s in his belief to preserve the nation during the Civil War. American Lion is an interesting read about this controversial president from, 1829-1836. Jackson can be both praised and condemned. Meacham does an excellent job in portraying him with the good and the bad. It won the Pulitzer prize for biography in 2009.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy Perron

    John Meachham's book American Lion covers the years when Andrew Jackson was the President of the United States. In some ways it tries to mimic the traditional biography with a few chapters into his background. This sort of reminds me of the last book I read on John Quincy Adams' post-presidency. Include a small mini-biography in the beginning before getting into the substance of your book. In that view the earlier chapters are a waste of space. Meacham could have just explained Jackson's John Meachham's book American Lion covers the years when Andrew Jackson was the President of the United States. In some ways it tries to mimic the traditional biography with a few chapters into his background. This sort of reminds me of the last book I read on John Quincy Adams' post-presidency. Include a small mini-biography in the beginning before getting into the substance of your book. In that view the earlier chapters are a waste of space. Meacham could have just explained Jackson's back-story in a single page in the beginning. Nevertheless this book is good look at Jackson's years in the White House. From the start it is clear that Jackson is a different sort of president than his six predecessors. Even though all of the previous presidents defended their right to use their constitutionally defended powers, Jackson declared himself to be the sole representative of the people and started using his presidential powers rather creatively. He was the first president to veto bills that he did not like rather than veto on the grounds that a bill was unconstitutional. His administration was one of the keys to the development of presidency as an institution. "Jackson took the Jeffersonian vision of the centrality of the people further, and he took Jefferson's view of the role of the president further still. To Jackson, the idea of the sovereignty of the many was compatible with a powerful executive. He saw that liberty required security, that freedom required order, that the well-being of the parts of the Union required that the whole remain intact. If he felt a temporary resort to autocracy was necessary to preserve democracy, Jackson would not hesitate. He would do what had to be done. In this he set an example on which other presidents would draw in times of struggle. There were moments, Abraham Lincoln argued during the Civil War, when `measures otherwise unconstitutional might become lawful by becoming indispensable to the preservation of the Constitution through the preservation of the nation.' It was a Jacksonian way of looking at the world." (p.48-9) As I said in my review of Remini's book on Jackson: there is a dark side to populism. And the victims of that dark side were the Native American populations of the South. Forced from their homes and made to relocate to far and distant place. These actions will always be a stain on Jackson's legacy. "But the answer was, tragically, yes. Indian removal was possible because enough white Americans had a stake in it, or sympathized with it, and thus the institutions of the country allowed it to go forward. Frelinghuysen and Evarts were not outliers; there was a significant anti-removal campaign across the country. And the few groups of Indians--the Iroquois in New York and Cherokees in North Carolina--who managed to carve out small spheres east of the Mississippi after removal showed that coexistence was possible. But to many, the idea that the tribes might be left alone on enclaves within states did not appear politically feasible once Georgia moved against the Cherokees. There is nothing redemptive about Jackson's Indian policy, no moment, as with Lincoln and slavery, where the moderate on a morally urgent question did the right and brave thing. Not all great presidents were always good, and neither individuals nor nations are without evil." (p.96-7) The area where President Jackson was great was when he stood up to the nullifiers in 1832. Jackson's and Clay's (although neither would acknowledge the other one's role) actions saved the Union from what could have been a civil war. Had Jackson backed down to South Carolina's demand it would have been the death of the Constitution of the United States. "A different, less emotionally nationalistic president in these middle years of the Republic might not have been able to balance the forces of respect for the essential rights of the states with a devotion to the causes of the Union. Jackson was perfectly able to do this, for he believed in both, and he knew that both would be forever in tension and sometimes in conflict. It could be no other way in a democratic republic formed from the elements that had formed America. He wanted the power to act as freely as he could because he believed his judgment would serve the country well, for he made no distinction between himself and a broad idea of `the people.' Egotistical, yes; arrogant, probably. But to some degree politics and statecraft always involved the character of the leader, and the character of Andrew Jackson was, in the end, well suited for the demands of the White House. He was strong and shrewd, patriotic and manipulative, clear-eyed and determined." (p.250) The Jacksonian Era ushered in popular politics. Gone would be the days of statesmen acting above the idea of party. Now parties were going be far more organized and true vehicles to getting people elected. Constituent based politics were here to stay. "If Jackson had been a president of consistent principle, the issue would have been clear. He was the defender of the Union, the conqueror of the nullification, the hero of democracy. An American organization was exercising its constitutional right to free speech and was using public mails--mails that were to be open to all--to do so. But Jackson was not a president of consistent principle. He was a politician, subject to his own passions and predilections, and those passions and predilections pressed him to cast his lot with those whit whom he agreed on the question at hand--slavery--which meant suppressing freedom of speech. He had done the same in the case of the Cherokees and the state of Georgia, allowing a particular issue to trump his more general vision of government, a vision of government, a vision in which people who obeyed the laws were entitled to the protection of the president." (p.304) American Lion is a good look into a transformative presidency. From the politics of the petticoat, to the bank war, to infamous Indian removal, and the heroic stand against the nullifiers of South Carolina. This book is worth a read.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Donna

    As the first southerner and the first president outside the circle of the Founders, Andrew Jackson’s years in the White House marked a turning point in that office. He saw himself as a champion of the people to whom he owed his direct allegiance, unfiltered by Congress or manipulated by the Bank. He used his power of the veto in bold new ways. Meacham portrays Jackson as shrewd, stubborn perhaps to a fault, and fiercely patriotic. Jackson’s first term was overshadowed by the Eaton affair, a As the first southerner and the first president outside the circle of the Founders, Andrew Jackson’s years in the White House marked a turning point in that office. He saw himself as a champion of the people to whom he owed his direct allegiance, unfiltered by Congress or manipulated by the Bank. He used his power of the veto in bold new ways. Meacham portrays Jackson as shrewd, stubborn perhaps to a fault, and fiercely patriotic. Jackson’s first term was overshadowed by the Eaton affair, a scandal involving the wife of his secretary of war, John Eaton, which eventuated the resignation of his entire Cabinet and left Jackson open to criticism of his moral judgment. During his second term, as the winds of war blew and southern succession seemed imminent, Jackson’s deft political maneuvering diffused the crisis and preserved the Union. He took serious political risk to dissolve the National Bank - a controversial and unpopular move. Meacham is less detailed and somewhat circumspect about two areas to which Jackson’s legacy is perhaps most vulnerable - slavery and the Indian question. Clearly Jackson opposed the abolition of slavery and his policies led to the tragic Trail of Tears one year after he left office. Meacham implies that Jackson simply held mainstream views for the times, but the lack of a more thorough assessment of Jackson's policies and beliefs in these areas is a notable shortcoming in an otherwise very worthy book.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Doreen Petersen

    I really liked this book. It gave me a lot of insight into our seventh president. I would recommend this book.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Scott

    Here's my history with this book: - I "acquired" it (I'm pretty sure it was a gift from my mother in law [thanks Mary!], but it's been so long now that I honestly don't remember for sure. So I apologize if it was your gift. At least I'm getting a lot out of it, what with me "reading" it for years now) oh, maybe 6 or 7 years ago. - Started it, and never made it past the first 50 or so pages before stalling (I love history, but I really have to be in the right mood for it. And let's face it - even Here's my history with this book: - I "acquired" it (I'm pretty sure it was a gift from my mother in law [thanks Mary!], but it's been so long now that I honestly don't remember for sure. So I apologize if it was your gift. At least I'm getting a lot out of it, what with me "reading" it for years now) oh, maybe 6 or 7 years ago. - Started it, and never made it past the first 50 or so pages before stalling (I love history, but I really have to be in the right mood for it. And let's face it - even the best books are long stretches of necessary dull with occasional points of brilliance) - Finally picked up it again maybe 8 or 9 months ago, after finally finishing the Henry Clay book (another book I was really happy to own that sat on my shelf for years) and started gamely making my way through it. - Had a baby 3 months ago, which ground my progress to a halt (plus a have an interlibrary loan library book to finish; one which I have renewed an embarrassing amount of times, to the point where my back is against the wall, strictly in a late-book sense). So, even though I'm not finished, here's a comment I made somewhere online (yes, I'm that guy who reads the comments and feels the need to respond) that pretty much sums up my feelings on Jackson, Clay and this book. I fully intent to finish the book, and I do like it, but I don't think my opinion is likely to change much at this point, so: I'm about halfway through American Lion now, and it's a REALLY sympathetic portrayal of Jackson that glosses over a lot of the questionable stuff he did. But before you hit the thumbs down button (because I know many people bristle at the mere hint of criticism when it comes to Washington, Jefferson, Jackson, or Lincoln), I'm not ultimately saying that he was a bad president or that he didn't do a lot of amazing things for the country. It's just worth noting: * He invaded Florida without orders or the proper authority. * Politics were plenty nasty in the early 19th century, but he and his supporters stooped to new, previously unheard-of lows to win elections, including raising and endless repeating changes against other candidates they knew to be false, and practicing voter fraud on a level almost unimaginable today (my favorite was a county in Tennessee or Kentucky where the number of fake votes cast for Jackson actually exceeded the number of people who lived in the county). * He ushered in the system of government patronage we now take for granted and fired good people so he could use federal jobs to reward his supporters (previous tradition dictated that you didn't fire someone who was doing a good job just because they were from a different party. And before you say "but he had to have people from his own party in key positions in order to get his policies to work!," I'm not talking about his cabinet. His administration wasn't going to fail because the Post Master General of New York was a Whig). * He had no problem wasting huge amounts of government time and money when it came to repairing even the slightest of slights against his honor, or the honor of his family or friends. And that's without even going into the whole Indian removal thing. That's America for you, though. We say we want politicians who will work within the law, but what we really want are kick-butt-and-take-names types that do their own thing regardless of collateral damage or legality ;). Also, it shocks me that this book won the Pulitzer Prize (didn't know that before). I mean, it's not THAT good. The biography of Henry Clay, a guy who also did things his own way, and who was a MUCH better politician overall, was a lot better, but he never got to be president, so no one cares.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.