People: Age of Jackson

John Quincy Adams was the sixth President of the United States and the first President whose father was also President. A Harvard graduate, Adams was fluent in several languages. At 26, Adams was appointed Minister to the Netherlands and Russia. As a diplomat he helped negotiate the Adams-Onis Treaty of 1819. As a result the U.S. bought Florida from Spain. Prior to his presidency, he served as a U.S. Senator and U.S. Secretary of State, and helped formulate the Monroe Doctrine of 1823. In the 1824 election, he ran against Andrew Jackson who claimed that Adams’ victory represented a “corrupt bargain.” He ran for reelection in the 1828 but lost to Jackson. He is the only President to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives after his presidency. In 1841, he served as counsel to the slaves on board the Amistad and argued their case before of the U.S. Supreme Court, where he defended their right to be free.
Andrew Jackson was born on the border between North and South Carolina but always considered himself to be a South Carolinian. His success as a self-taught lawyer allowed him to build a home in Tennessee and buy slaves. He was that state’s first Congressman and also served in the Senate. Jackson was a general in the War of 1812, and he befriended Sam Houston. His defeat of the British at New Orleans made him a national hero. General Jackson also oversaw the military removal of many Indian Tribes in Georgia, Alabama, and Spanish Florida, and negotiated several treaties securing Indian land for the US. He was elected President in 1828 and two years later proposed the Indian Removal Act. As a result of the legislation, 46,000 American Indians were removed from their homes. Many died on the Trail of Tears heading west, and 25 million acres of land were opened to settlement by the US. Jackson saw himself as a populist—having been elected with a greater portion of the popular vote than any previous candidate—and proposed eliminating the Electoral College in his first address to Congress. Jackson frequently exercised his veto power over Congress’ legislation, which resulted in a split within Jackson’s political party. Those who opposed his policies included John C. Calhoun, Daniel Webster and Henry Clay, who ran against him for president in 1832. Jackson was reelected in 1832 with five times more electoral votes than Clay.