The first half of the 19th century was a period of great changes in America. The influence of the industrial revolution, scientific and technological achievements, the appearance of new social tendencies and movements changed the commonly accepted standards and interests and called for the reorganization of the entire society. Under such conditions, it was quite a challenging task for the government to keep the nation united and protected. Not surprisingly, the presidents of that period encountered great criticism. Additionally, the drastic contrast between the Southern and Northern states as well as radical differences in their interests made it impossible to satisfy the demands of both at once. As a result, American presidents had to demonstrate enormous patience and decisiveness to preserve the state from falling apart. This research aims at the investigation of Andrew Jackson's leadership qualities, analysis of his presidential achievements and failures, and discussion of his impact on the development of American society.
Strong Sides of A. Jackson’s Administration
Andrew Jackson was the seventh President of the United States, who won the elections twice, managing to gain the majority of votes in the extremely diverse environment. Nevertheless, people’s support and trustfulness did not prevent Jackson from significant failures and inaccuracies in his work. Despite the public recognition, he did not manage to promote democracy and peace within the country, since he adopted some damaging laws. In fact, Andrew Jackson is one of the contradictory personalities in the American history.
Commonly, the Jackson era is viewed as a period of democracy and extension of human rights. The administration of Andrew Jackson oriented on the preservation and maintenance of ethical and moral rules of the government. During the period of his presidency, America stepped on the new level of democratic development and public involvement in the politic affairs. Thus, Andrew Jackson’s inauguration ceremony was open to the public and happened to be a festive and solemn event (Remini 45). In other words, the president highly oriented on the support and participation of the citizens in the governing of state. Such an attitude confirms Jackson’s forward-thinking and serious treatment of the presidential post. His attention to the public and expansion of human rights reflected his high moral tenets and values. Therefore, it is possible to say that Andrew Jackson had a solid background for conducting effective administration.
In addition, it is essential to mention about the foreign affairs ministered by Jackson. During 1829-1839, America established productive trade connections with many countries, including Spain, Russia, Turkey and Great Britain (Graff 120). The new trading channels amplified the transportation system and infrastructure of the United States, promoting its industrial and social development. Such actions taken by the president, speak about his pragmatic approach to the issues of national prosperity and well-being. The introduction of new trade destinations and business connections with other countries show that Andrew Jackson was highly concerned with the questions of economy and finances. Therefore, as a leader, he embraced all complex issues of social life and successfully solved them. In other words, Jackson did not lack the succession in his actions and decisions, essential for consistent and distinct advancements.
Similarly, Andrew Jackson during his presidency managed to increase the revenues of the state by increasing the export and setting spoliation claims with a range of European countries (Graff 120). Largely, such political decisions define Jackson’s intelligence and good strategic vision. His presidency influenced not only America, but also the connections with the whole world. Therefore, it is possible to assume that Jackson possesses all necessary qualities for the effective leadership and problem-solving tasks.
Furthermore, Andrew Jackson is well known for his fight against corruption of the official authorities. He accepted the law, which considerably limited the process of appointing officials, and granted the president the capacity to assign the office representatives as he saw fit. Such reform presupposes the reduction of corruption, prevention of father-to-son succession in the offices, and reorganization of power (Remini 56). Such a reform also witnesses about A. Jackson’s independent position and unbiased treatment of governing process. To a great extent, it indicates his capacity to accept new and brave decisions, which have never been implemented before. Moreover, such a democratic approach of Jackson is a bright indicator of his strong leadership qualities, which shaped the entire system of the contemporary society.
Another advantage of Andrew Jackson’s presidency consists in launching scientific expeditions aimed at the discovery of new lands and confirmation of the existing geographical knowledge (Mills 705). In fact, Jackson was not enthusiastic about expeditions at the very beginning of his presidency. Nevertheless, he changed his mind during the second term and agreed on setting the expeditions. Actually, it was a risky and experimental decision since it did not guarantee success and recognition. The acceptance of such a decision confirmed that Andrew Jackson was innovative in his actions and ready to adopt reforms and changes. It is a positive quality for a leader, who shapes the welfare and prosperity of the whole nation. Besides, the idea to organize a new scientific expedition called for enormous decisiveness and reliance as it bore great responsibility before the entire nation. From this standpoint, the presidency of A. Jackson possessed good determinacy and result-orientation.
Overall, Andrew Jackson managed to represent himself as a devoted, moral, self-reliant and experimenting leader. All these qualities helped him to install democracy, extend human rights, increase economic revenues and trading posts, and partially overcome political corruption. Nevertheless, A. Jackson’s carrier also had many failures, which offer the opposite sides of his leadership.
Failures of A. Jackson Leadership
It is impossible to neglect Andrew Jackson’s decisions and actions, which did not contribute to social well-being and justice. Firstly, it is the problem with the Five Civilized Tribes of Indians. The Chief Court Marshal suggested a decision, according to which the Indians should be treated as an independent and respectful community that had every right to live on their territories (Boyer et al. 255). Nevertheless, Andrew Jackson did not adapt this decision and rejected to provide the Indians with suitable living conditions. He claimed that Indians did not possess their lands, but rather temporarily occupied them. He also stated that Indians behaved not like farmers, but rather as hunters (Boyer et al. 255). Thus, Jackson accepted the decision about the removal of Indian tribes from the southern parts of the state.
The removal of Indians was a painful and oppressive occasion, which strongly damaged the American democracy and freethinking (Boyer et al. 256). Moreover, this occasion negatively affected the reputation and image of Andrew Jackson. This problem shows that the leadership model of the president lacked moderation and depended on the interests of influential political and business figures. Without doubts, it was a negative quality for a leader, who is presupposed to guarantee the protection of interests of all social groups. Moreover, it was an obvious failure of Andrew Jackson’s presidency.
Secondly, it is important to have a look at the Nullification Crisis of 1828-1832. After the adoption of the tariff in 1828, South Carolina wanted to get a right to nullify the law, since its economy was severely damaged (Balleck 44). The above-mentioned tariff imposed exceedingly high taxes on its import and export, which nearly ruined the entire economy of Southern States (Boyer et al. 225). Under such conditions, the desire of the South to disconnect from the United States is quite logical and predicted.
Many politicians supposed nullification illegal and unjustified, as it threatened the unity of the entire country. However, there were other alternative versions. For example, Calhoun did not regard the nullification negatively. On the contrary, the right for nullification did not disunite the country but proved the fact that the country valued the interests of all states equally (Boyer et al. 226). Thus, nullification law could become the best method to ensure the stability and strength of the diverse American society.
Nevertheless, Andrew Jackson strongly refused to accept the nullification and lose the Southern states (Remini 187). In the “State Papers on Nullification” (1834), A. Jackson claimed about the rejection of the right of separation and installed his exclusive power to govern the territory of the United States. On one hand, it looked as if the President had tried to protect the country from its separation and division. However, in fact, he did not want to lose the profits, brought by the Southern regions. Additionally, controlling all states guaranteed at least relative stability while the law of nullification could lead to massive displays of dissatisfaction and political individualism. Thus, this occasion marks Jackson’s presidency as subjective and one-sided. Nullification crisis unveiled lack of intelligence and objectivity of Jackson, which were important for exercising effective leadership.
The third major failure of Andrew Jackson is connected with the reorganization of the bank system and the redistribution of national funds. Jackson did not trust the banks and doubted their usefulness to society. The president claimed that banks did not really contribute to the economic development, but made money on the labor of others. Jackson demanded the abolition of bank systems and redistribution of national costs at local banks (Remini 55). Often, the President chose the banks, which belonged to his relatives or followers.
In any case, such a decision did not bring any positive results, leading to the decline of the national economy. Without funds, the Bank of the United States had no power to control the work of the state banks and regulate the financial activities (Graff 120). This situation shows that Andrew Jackson did not lead independently and judiciously. Very often, his decisions are based on personal contradictions and subjective matters. Obviously, such failures demonstrate that the Presidents did not have enough qualities for governing the state and making wise decisions. Therefore, it is possible to grade Andrew Jackson’s presidency as demanding, but inconsistent and unaccomplished. Despite honorable aspirations and moral intentions, the President did not manage to implement all his plans in practice.
To sum up, the leadership model of Andrew Jackson, the seventh President of the United States, possesses both strong and weak features. On one hand, the President reached high results in the sphere of trading, corruption-fighting, and establishing democracy. He considerably contributed to the maintenance and preservation of human rights, in the early American democratic society. The name of A. Jackson is commonly associated with fairness, social justice and advancements. However, on the other side, his presidency lacked essential moderation and succession, which could prevent many social and economic failures. Such qualities were extremely important for the changing and diverse state for the appropriate and relevant adoption of reforms and new laws. Additionally, A. Jackson should have paid more attention to the question of the economic conditions of the country and ways of stabilizing and protecting national manufacturing. Therefore, Andrew Jackson’s leadership cannot be regarded as great and noticeable. At the same time, his presidency has many educative lessons for followers to consider and improve.