Saturday afternoon, February 11, 2017.
Word is Our Mr President Trump has adopted Andrew Jackson as his new hero and role-model. Has Jackson’s portrait hanging in the Oval Office. I’m not sure what of Jackson Trump sees in himself. Actually, given his general ignorance on everything but especially history, I’m surprised he even knows who Jackson was. If he does, I’d be inclined to think it’s from seeing Jackson's face on the twenty, but since Trump is known for not paying for anything if he can get someone else to foot the bill, I doubt he’s handled much actual cash in his life. Probably somebody told him about Jackson’s being the first People’s President and that fits with Trump’s branding himself as the People’s Tribune, the People being the white folks who voted for him, and that Jackson was despised by the Washington political and social elites as Trump professes he’s proud of being. Possibly he’s learned about Jackson’s rejection of the notion that the Courts have the last word on what is Constitutional, and Jackson’s attitude toward Indians must seem familiar to Trump as he demagogues against Muslims. Jackson defended the removal of the Cherokee as being for their own good, and I’m expecting Trump to try a similar gambit, if he hasn’t already, and claim the travel ban is meant to protect Muslims and refugees. Probably he’ll tell us that the mass deportations that have begun are for the good of all immigrants and their families.
At any rate, there are points of similarity between the two, as long as you focus only on Jackson’s worst qualities and ignore his virtues, of which he had many. It has yet to be demonstrated, that I’ve seen, that Trump has even one single virtue. But one way they’re alike is that they were both rakehells as young men. Of course, Jackson grew up, but still, when he was not quite twenty and reading law as an apprentice attorney in Salisbury, North Carolina, he was as wild as you’d expect of any young single man with few responsibilities, a little money to burn to be and his nights free, and he ran with a crowd of other wild young men, gambling, drinking, getting into fights, and seeking the company of women, some of whose company was relatively easy to obtain, as they rented it out. Jackson got himself in hot water one time by inviting a mother and daughter pair of prostitutes to a Christmas ball put on by a local dancing school.
From Andrew Jackson: His Life and Times by H.W. Brands:
Around Salisbury Jackson acquired a reputation as a wild thing going quickly wrong. Years after he left, the townsfolk remember an evening when Jackson and his friend toasted their mutual health and then, lest the glasses be used for less noble purposes, hurled them into the fire. With the logic of apprentice lawyers, they reasoned that the same argument compelled them to hurl the chairs they sat on into the fire. And the table. And then the drapes, and everything else that wasn’t nailed down.
The conventions of political journalism haven’t changed. When Jackson was running for President---Brands doesn’t say whether this was 1824 or 1828---reporters dutifully tackled the local angle and found that back in the day...
...the people of Salisbury [had been] fairly certain that Andrew Jackson would come to no good in life. “None of them believed he would ever settle down. Most of them thought he would get himself killed before he was many years older.” An elderly matron of the village, upon hearing Jackson was running for president, demanded, “What? Jackson for president? Jackson?Andrew Jackson? The Jackson that used to live in Salisbury? Why, when he was here he was such a rake that my husband would not bring him into the house...If Andrew Jackson can be president, anybody can!”
Fun article by Peter Grier at the Christian Science Monitor: The (semi) secret history of Trump's Andrew Jackson portrait.
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