Presidency of Andrew Jackson

Students will be looking at documents and cartoons that relate to the presidency of Andrew Jackson. Students will read excerpts from speeches he gave pertaining to the Bank of the US, The Nullification Crisis and the Indian Removal act as well as look at several cartoons that reflect upon the presidency of Jackson and portray him as either a hero or a corrupt political drunk with power.

Historical Background

Drawing on your historical research, write several paragraphs defining the historical context for this lesson. What are the major historical events and themes of the time period being studied? Also, describe the historical thinking skills being used for understanding primary sources that the students will be analyzing.

Students have studied the roles of the president as defined by the Constitution in Unit 3 and in Unit 4 explored the presidency of Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison and Monroe. We have paid careful attention to the differences between strict and loose construction of the Constitution. As we began Unit 5 we looked closely at the contested election of 1824 and the Corrupt Bergin. We discussed the mudslinging that occurred in the next 4 year and the follow up election in 1828. We discussed how Jackson was billed as the Common man and there was the expansion of voter rights. By the time of the Election of 1832 the Common man saw his 1832 election as a mandate. However with the passage of time we are better able to reflect on the events of his presidency and identify events that were abuses of executive power.

At the end of the lesson students will be able to explain how the the Nullification Crisis and the Force Bill, along with the Indian Removal Act, and the Bank war show that Jackson was not the man of the people that he claimed to be. Students will analyze how these event impacted people perception of Jackson and his presidency in the decades following his presidency. He was elected as the Common Man but by 1836 many of his critics saw him as a tyrant who had drastically extended the power of the people.

Lesson Objective

The Students will understand the key events of Jackson Presidency and be able to explain how they contradict or support the idea that Jackson was “The Common Man”. Students will construct and essay explaining how the Bank war, nullification crisis and the trail of tears would come to be perceived as abuses of executive power and how Jackson was a contradiction between his belief in strong national government (Force Bill, Indian Removal Act) and a weaker national in favor of states (Bank War) and how his own personal demon played into his decisions as president.



  1. Students complete a homework assignment to create a campaign poster for Jackson in the 1828 election and to explain the difference between the two and what events would have impacted the poster in 1832.
  2. Students will analyze a series of documents relating to the presidency of Jackson from 1832-1836. Begin with looking at a picture of Jackson painted after the War of 1812 showing him as this great American hero during the Battle of New Orleans.
  3. Students will then read Jackson’s message to Congress on Indian Removal – this is a key topic within the period leading to the trail of tears. It’s key for students to understand the significance of this even but to also understand Jackson’s personal feelings toward Indian nations and how that reflected the majority opinion of that time.
  4. Students will look at Jackson’s Proclamation of Nullification, this is a key event leading toward the Civil War and shows how Jackson expanded the power of the Presidency.
  5. Students will review excerpts from Jackson’s Veto message to Congress regarding the Nullification Crisis.
  6. Students next will look at the “King Andrew the First, born to Command? Lithograph.


Students will answer the following essay question on their test:

Compare and contrast Andrew Jackson as both “a defender of the common man” and “an advocate of federal power.” You must incorporate two examples from each of the political cartoons (included on the assessment handout) to help explain your answer. Historical details must also be included.


Andrew Jackson, “Bank war statement,” Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), (accessed September 28, 2012).

Andrew Jackson, “Message to Congress on the Indian Removal Act,” Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), (accessed September 28, 2012).

Andrew Jackson, “Proclamation on Nullification,” Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), (accessed September 28, 2012).

Edward W. Clay, “Downfall of Mother Bank,” Public Broadcasting Service (PBS),

Edward W. Clay, “King Andrew the First, Born to Command,” Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), (accessed September 29, 2012).

Thomas Nast, Harpers Weekly, April 28, 1877, (accesssed September 29, 2012).

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