Andrew Jackson's Impact on the Civil War

posted on 15 Jun 2015 19:45 by magnificentharb61 Andrew Jackson's fingerprints are all over the Civil War. After all, he has a whole era named after him- the Age of Jackson. So it stands to reason that "Old Hickory" had significant influence on the war, particularly through a presidential successor, the judiciary, and finance.


In January 1861, President-Elect Abraham Lincoln, looking to set the tone of his presidency in his inaugural speech as the nation was unraveling, consulted Jackson's Proclamation to the People of South Carolina. Lincoln had previously said, "The right of a state to secede is not an open question. It was fully discussed in Jackson's time and him..."

In Jackson's time- 1832- South Carolina insisted it could reject (nullify) any Congressional law it deemed unfit- in this case the Tariff Act of 1832. With the state making military preparations and the threat of secession in the air, Jackson responded with his Proclamation: "...the dictates of a high duty oblige me solemnly to announce that you cannot succeed. The laws of the United States must be executed; my duty is emphatically pronounced in the Constitution...Disunion by armed force is treason."

South Carolina did back down, but twenty-eight years later, by Lincoln's first inaugural, the state had led other southern states to secede from the Union mainly over the issue of slavery. In his Inaugural speech, Lincoln reiterated the sentiment in Jackson's Proclamation, declaring that "the Union of these states is perpetual," and that the "central idea of secession is the essence of anarchy."

Chief Justice Roger B. Taney

Swearing in Lincoln on that day was Chief Justice Roger Taney, appointed by Jackson in 1836 after being his Attorney General and Secretary of the Treasury. In 1857, Taney ruled that the slave Dred Scott was not free after his owner had moved to the free state of Illinois and the free territory of Wisconsin, declaring that slavery could not be restricted in the new territories. He also stated that blacks "had no rights which the white man was bound to respect." The decision angered many northerners and many historians believe that it was a cause of the Civil War.

As the Civil War began, Taney tried to obstruct Lincoln's suspension of the writ of habeas corpus, a procedure that allowed the military to imprison suspected secessionists without indictments, hearings, or trials. In the Merryman case, where wealthy landowner John Merryman was seized from his bedroom and imprisoned at Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Taney ruled that only Congress could suspend the writ and the case should be moved to a civilian court. Lincoln ignored the ruling.

Lincoln's indifference to civil liberties, plus the outrage over the Emancipation Proclamation and the poor Union war effort, rallied the Democrats in the mid-term election of 1862. According to New York lawyer David Dudley Field, the dramatic reduction of the Republican majority in Congress should be blamed on the administration's policy of arbitrary arrests. Whatever the cause, the Democratic party- the party essentially created by Jackson- was going to make governing more difficult for Lincoln.

National Bank

Civil War finance would also be difficult. President Jackson's insistence on the separation of banking and government led to the demise of the Bank of the United States in 1836. Reenforced by Jackson's Democratic successors, the era of "free banking" was characterized by a proliferation of vulnerable state banks, each issuing their own paper currency. By the time of the Civil War, over 10,000 different kinds of paper currency circulated. This impeded commercial transactions. The editors of The GreatRepublic described Americans of the1860s as products of the Jacksonian era- they distrusted bank paper and hoarded their savings instead of investing.

Improvement of the financial environment was needed by the indebted U.S. Treasury to raise funds for the war. Lincoln's Secretary of the Treasury, Salmon P. Chase, sponsored several key acts that Congress passed. The National Bank Act established a system of federally chartered banks to create a market for the government's inflation-free, gold-backed bonds. Also, the Legal Tender Act allowed the government to initially circulate $150 million in paper notes (greenbacks) that functioned as a unified national currency, replacing the state bank notes.

One reason these measures passed was the absence of Democratic southern politicians, who now plied their Jacksonian principles in the Confederacy. No national banking system was established to manage the $1 billion in Confederate treasury notes that combined with notes from state banks, local governments, and private businesses. The sea of paper contributed to inflation as high as 9,000% in the CSA. Also, Confederate President Jefferson Davis, Treasurer Christopher Memminger, and the majority of Congress believed the government could not force citizens to accept the treasury notes as legal tender.

These are only a few of the ways Andrew Jackson has impacted the Civil War. Just as America split into two nations, two Jacksons emerge as well. There was the Union-loving Jackson that steeled Lincoln in the face of secession. If you are looking for the best deals on gold visit Merrion Gold website. You'll find out more about their big offer of gold bars

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Then there was the states'-rights, strict constructionist Jackson that guided Taney on slavery and civil liberties, as well as the Confederacy on finance.


Bailyn, Bernard, et al eds, The Great Republic, 3rd ed, vol 1, Lexington MA: DC Heath, 1985.Burton, Orville Vernon, The Age of Lincoln, New York: Hill Wang, 2007.Donald, David Herbert, Lincoln, New York: Simon Schuster, 1995.Egerton, Douglas R., Year of Meteors: Stephen Douglas, Abraham Lincoln, and the ElectionThat Brought on the Civil War, New York: Bloomsbury, 2010.Feller, Daniel, "King Andrew and the Bank," National Endowment of the Humanities website, 2008.McPherson, James M., Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era, Oxford: Oxford U., 1988.Meacham, Jon, American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House, New York: Random House, 2008.Simon, James F., Lincoln and Chief Justice Taney: Slavery, Secession, and the President'sWar Powers, New York: Simon Schuster, 2006.Tarnoff, Ben, "The Man Who Financed the Civil War," Opinionator blog, New York Times, July 16, 2011.

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