Jackson’s Farewell

Andrew Jackson.

President Andrew Jackson, with his term coming to an end, commissioned the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Roger Taney, to write his farewell address. This was his imitation of George Washington, who had started the tradition of the farewell address. See Daniel Walker Howe, What Hath God Wrought: Transformation of America, 1815-1848, 500.

In his farewell address, Jackson first “pointed with pride to his accomplishments, notably Indian Removal.” Id. He next pointed out two priorities for future Americans: “the Union of the states and popular sovereignty.” See id. Specifically, he was against sectionalism, as he saw it leading to the breakup of the Union, which would leave the states subject to European intervention. See id.

Interestingly, Jackson stated that both nullification and abolitionism were dangers to the Union. As to nullification, he stated that “nothing but mischief can come from these improper assaults upon the feelings and rights of others.” Id.

Jackson, perhaps in his signature style, also put forth one last populist stance, saying that a protective tariff would only weigh on “the farmer, the mechanic, and the laboring classes.” See id. at 501. Beyond that, Jackson endorsed westward expansion and a strong defense for America, which would “be magnified into imperialism and conquest.” Id.

Even in his farewell, Jackson was keen to leave an impact on future generations of Americans. If nothing else, the Democrats would follow in his footsteps for decades to come, even if it was to their detriment.

Jackson’s farewell address, in some ways, was premature, in that his policies would remain well in place during Martin Van Buren’s one term in office following the election of 1836. Further, the principles that Jackson warned against, such as abolitionism and sectionalism, would come to manifest themselves more than he had imagined. The continuation of these principles would lead to the Civil War, and while Jackson was against them generally speaking, he had allowed them to fester for the years leading up to his presidency and throughout his presidency.

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