Jackson was a man of oscillating moods. Sometimes personable, charming, considerate. Other times raging, violent, bullying. Sometimes humane and broad minded; other times contemptuous, racist regarding negroes and Indians, and provincially narrow. All of these in a single day on occasion.
He was at time proudly ignorant yet more well read than many of his friends and any of his enemies knew.
Orphaned when first his father died and then his two older brothers and mother died as result of British military action, during the Revolutionary War. He forever thereafter hated England and suspected it of any and all nefarious actions against the United States.
During his military career he took a paternalistic interest in his soldiers, refusing to leave a single one behind on march, even that meant every officer, himself first, had to walk, giving up their horses to pull wagons and litters. On the other hand he was a tyrant about obedience to the point of execution.
He hated indians beyond reason yet he adopted and raised in his own home an orphaned Indian boy found while his men were massacring a tribe. He wanted to clear indians from the south as they had been cleared from the north, freeing the land for plantations and cotton and thus more slaves. He was an advocate of slavery and completely indifferent to blacks, yet 500 free men of color (in the phrase of the day) were instrumental in his great victory in the Battle of New Orleans, along with about 100 Choctaw indians. But a racist is a racist.
He liked to surround himself with young men, as acolytes, but perhaps also substitutes for the younger brothers he did not have.
He identified himself nearly complete with the country as the family he never knew. Insults to it were insults to him. Insults to him were insults to it in his mind, or so it seemed to some observers.
The mediating institutions created by the constitution stifled the people and supported the privileged, he supposed. He won more votes but had fewer electoral votes than John Quincy Adams in the 1824 elections, throwing the decision to the House of Representatives which promptly (s)elected Adams. The mediating institutions included the Electoral College, the elections of senators by state legislatures, the appointed for life of Supreme Court judges, and the Bank of the United States, which separately and together limited government in the interest of the privileged, he thought, who peopled those mediating institutions. In the 1828 election Jackson won in a four-way race.
The Nullification Crises began in the 1820s and continued for a decade when John C. Calhoun, having resigned as Jackson's Vice President, argued that South Carolina would choose which federal laws to obey and nullify others. He ever referred to secession. Jackson feared that the state(s) would destroy the union.
At the time Russia in the Pacific Northwest from Alaska to Washington along with the British from Oregon to Quebec in the north, and the Spanish and French in Mexico and the Caribbean surrounded the United States and in his eyes conspired against the continuation of the union. Predators all. Enemies with and without the gates.
The nullification crises was precipitated by an international agreement signed by the Federal Government that permitted seamen to have the freedom of the city while in port. That meant blacks on English, French, Dutch, Portuguese, Spanish, and other merchant ships could walk the streets of Charleston as free men.
South Carolina objected and then overruled this agreement by jailing any black sailors who set foot ashore while their ship was in port! That action breached an international treaty duly ratified by the Senate and signed by the president of the United States.
The South Carolina justification was that free blacks would by example produce unrest in slaves, might foment slave rebellion, assault white women because they have no civilised control, would be used by the English to destabilise and divide the States..... And the sky would also fall.
Jackson had a constant battle with the Bank of the United States to support local improvements, like roads and bridges. What we call today infrastructure loans to states, counties, towns, etc. The Bank had no interest in bridges over rivers in Tennessee or hard roads in Georgia.
The tariff added, it was claimed, 40% to the price of goods consumed in the south and produced in the north behind tariff walls. The tariff gets tied up with states' rights, along with slavery, as part of the dominance of the union by northern interests. Ergo to a Calhoun, abolition is a smoke screen to dominate the south and keep the tariff, and the Bank.
Then there was the Petticoat War between his niece in-law Emily and the wife of cabinet secretary Talbot. Emily was determined to show Washington DC snobs that she, from the wild frontier of Tennessee, adheres to the highest standards of propriety and so will not receive Mrs. Talbot, who wed Talbot before her divorce from her previous husband was known to her to be concluded. Moreover, Mrs. Talbot came to the Talbot marriage with a dubious reputation. (But nothing worse than had been said about Rachel Jackson.) So Mrs. Talbot was three times over not to be received: bad reputation, divorcee, and bigamist.
Emily was the wife of Andrew Jackson Donelson, who was Jackson confidante and private secretary, and an ersatz son to him. Jackson likewise was a kindly patron to Emily until the Petticoat War became the talk of that small town on the Potomac.
The Little Magician, Martin van Buren, tried several times to broker a peace between the two ladies, but each time Emily either dithered, or agreed and then revoked her agreement.
Meanwhile, Calhoun and Henry Clay are vultures circling, preparing for their own runs for the White House in 1832. John Quincy Adams, who Jackson roundly defeated in 1828 is sulking and very ready to plot Jackson's downfall. He might help Clay but probably not Calhoun, since Adams is pure New Englander.
While Jackson was ready to send the Federal army to the Blackhawk War in Illinois it was over before Winfield Scott could get there. He started the First Seminole War to move indians out of Georgia and Alabama first into the swamps of Florida and then across the Mississippi. That is why there is a Miami in Ohio.
Jackson rejected Henry Clay's proposal for national day of prayer during a widespread cholera epidemic to keep the separation of church and state.
When the Nullifiers got agitated Jackson had the entire Federal army garrison in Charleston replaced by true blue union men, and he managed to do this on the quiet.
He campaigned hard for re-election in 1832. That is, he went on the campaign trail, speaking, shaking hands, etc. The first time a candidate had taken his campaign directly to voters. Martin Van Buren was the de facto campaign manager as the Vice-Presidential nominee. Jackson triumphed comprehensively in 1832 over Henry Clay: 54% to 36%. There were two other candidates who made up the rest.
The Compromise of 1832 in part negotiated by the Great Compromiser, Henry Clay, combined the Tariff reduction act with the Force Bill. The tariff was lowered to placate Southern planters and the Force Bill, though redundant, explicitly empowered the president to collect the tariff by force, if necessary. Martin van Buren did much of the politicking in Congress to count the votes.
When all else failed Jackson withdrew Federal government deposits from Bank of the United States and shifted them to banks in states. By distributing the monies he won over allies, by withdrawing the funds, he killed the Bank of the United States and with it, Nicholas Biddle's own presidential ambitions. He later vetoed the renewal of the charter. The Bank funded Henry Clay's presidential campaign very handsomely, using tax deposits, but Clay still lost.
Jackson's second inaugural address emphasized the Union that won our liberty from England, the Union that secured our freedom, the Union dealt with the Indians. The Union that made us prosperous through industry and trade. Union secured our lands. Union….. These goods were achieved by Union, not by this state or that. Now picture the results of disunion. Each state will guard its borders. Each state will impose its own tariffs and taxes. Each state ill built only internal roads. And so on. A pretty well made argument for a man with little credit as a thinker.
There was a point-blank assassination attempt by a nutter. Jackson was convinced it was a conspiracy of his enemies working through this reprobate.
When William Lloyd Garrison sent thousands of copies of an abolitionist tract through the United States mail to Charleston, Jackson sat idly by when South Carolina firebrands burned the warehouse they were in. He did nothing to protect the U.S. Mail and in fact asked about legislation to stop sending such material through the mail.
Jackson viewed Van Buren as his successor and the vote for Van Buren as a vote for him, Jackson, so Jackson worked hard for Van Buren in 1836.
I listened to this book on Audible in an abridgement during 20-minute episodes dog-walking or pedaling at the gym. That makes it harder for me to assess the research basis of the book. But I can say that it is not one-eyed. More than once Jackson's mistakes and faults are noted. And at the end the author notes how great evil can be the commonly accepted practice of the day, namely slavery.