Andrew Jackson’s exact birthplace is unknown. He was born while his mother was traveling through the Waxhaws border region between North and South Carolina and this is where he grew up. Jackson died in 1845 in his home outside of Nashville, Tennessee of unknown causes.
Jackson was raised a strict Presbyterian. Biographers assert that he was not very religious as a young man, but became progressively more so with age. He did speak of his religious upbringing on occasion, saying once:
I was brought up a rigid Presbyterian, to which I have always adhered.
And his final words, uttered on his deathbed were:
What is the matter with my dear children, have I alarmed you? Oh, do not cry — be good children and we will all meet in heaven.
Despite his religiosity, Jackson was a staunch defender of the separation of church and state and had no problems lambasting his fellow politicians whose religion dictated their political actions. Jackson preached religious tolerance, (as long as they were some form of Christian, at least) and said:
Our excellent constitution guarantees to every one freedom of religion… All who profess Christianity, believe in a Savior and that by and through Him we must be saved. We ought therefor to consider all good Christians… be him Presbyterian, Episcopalian, Baptist, Methodist or Roman Catholic. Let it be remembered… that no established religion can exist under our glorious constitution.
Some of Jackson’s political stances would most certainly be judged by today’s society to be on the wrong side of history. For example, Jackson strongly supported and endorsed the institution of slavery. This might not have been an issue had it not been for the fact that during Jackson’s presidency, vocal factions of American society, particularly in the north, were banding together to rail against slavery, a trend that would eventually lead to the civil war.
Beyond that, Jackson was, shall we say, not very nice to the Native Americans. Jackson waged multiple wars on various Native American tribes, acquiring tens of millions of acres of land from them and forcing their migration ever-further west. Jackson likened Native Americans to “children, who required guidance.” He was certainly not a friend to those without white skin.
Jackson did, however, have his redeeming presidential policies. He advocated a kind of democracy, later known as Jacksonian Democracy, where popular participation was paramount. Jackson was strongly opposed to a rule by an elite class–religious, financial, or otherwise–and made his views known that every citizen, regardless of wealth, status, religion, etc. should participate in the governance of their society.
Jackson’s disdain for the financial elite was part of the reason for his war against America’s central bank. Jackson resented the power held by the bank and its unwillingness to fund projects in the western frontier as opposed to helping to line the pockets of industrial cronies in the Northeast. Jackson signed an executive order completely shutting down the bank and removing all federal funds.
In the end, we could view Jackson as a man of the people and a man of his time. Clearly, his views on race relations wouldn’t fly today, but his disdain for financial elites and support of popular democracy might.