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Old Hickory - 02/24


By Rich Trzupek
  For a very long time, state Democrat organizations used annual “Jefferson Jackson Day” dinners as one of their most important fund-raising tools. The dinners will go on, but it appears that the name will fade away.
  Some state Democrat organizations have already discarded the references to the two Presidents that were once the pride of their party. It’s all about political-correctness of course, but since America in general and Democrats in particular are becoming more and more driven by the PC police, it’s hard to see the trend reversing itself. In about a generation, I doubt that any Democrat will wish to be associated with Jefferson or Jackson in any way.
  The problem with Jefferson, for the Dems, is that he owned slaves and we’re pretty sure that he bedded a few of them. Neither was a particularly unusual occurrence for a wealthy landowner living in the south at the time, but political-correctness depends on judging people by the standards of today, not those of their own time. 
  For me, neither sin comes close to wiping away the brilliance of the man and the good he did during his lifetime, but the last time I voted in a Democrat primary was never, so I don’t have much say in these decisions.
  Jackson is a harder case, mostly because he was himself a hard case. I don’t think America has ever had, or will ever have, as bad-ass a person sitting in the oval office than Jackson. He’s one of the few famous people in history for whom the mythology doesn’t do justice to the reality.
  That a person as proud as Jackson should have fought in as many duels as he did is not surprising. The fact that he managed to live through all of them, is downright amazing. How many times can a person be expected to survive being a stationary target while somebody is shooting at them from a few paces away? Once? Twice? Maybe three times.
  Jackson is said to have survived more than a dozen duels. That we know of anyway. In at least one of them, Jackson purposely gave his opponent the first shot, absorbed the hit that followed, and calmly stood bleeding as he aimed, fired and killed the other guy.
  Did you know that Jackson was the first President to survive an assassination attempt? In 1835 an English house-painter named Richard Lawrence decided it was time for Jackson to go. Not because of anything Jackson actually did, or because he disagreed with his policies, but because Lawrence, who was convinced he was actually King Richard III of England, was sure Jackson was holding up a vast inheritance he was due.
  Accordingly, Lawrence approached Jackson at a funeral pulled out a pistol, pointed it at Jackson and pulled the trigger. It misfired. So Lawrence pulled out a second pistol and tried his luck with it. It too misfired.
  By this time an enraged Jackson, who presumably couldn’t imagine somebody having the gall to point a pistol at him outside of a dueling ground, was beating the crap out of Lawrence with his cane. At this point Jackson was 67 years old and Lawrence was 30. It took several men, including Davy Crockett by the by, to pull Jackson off his would-be assassin before he pummeled the man to death. 
  And what about those guns? Here’s what History.com has to say about them: “A century later, Smithsonian Institute researchers conducted a study of Lawrence’s derringers, during which both guns discharged properly on the test’s first try. It was later determined that the odds of both guns misfiring during the assassination attempt were one in 125,000.”
  That was Jackson all over, he did things his way dammit and they pretty much worked – for him anyway. His economic policies eventually resulted in disaster, but that didn’t happen until his Vice-President, Martin Van Buren, replaced him. His role in the “Trail of Tears” relocation of Native American tribes is somewhat overstated, but not a lot, and ultimately he got away with that too, even though everyone knew, even then, it was an illegal act.
  The last is what landed him in deep doo-doo with the PC crowd today, and that’s a fair bit more understandable then their rejection of TJ. 
  But, to each his own. I can’t imagine circumstances that would ever had resulted in me voting for somebody like Old Hickory, but one can at least respect the guy in a weird way. And while Democrats are understandably distancing themselves from Jackson these days, don’t be surprised if the spirit of the crabby old SOB returns to give the hell for daring to do so.
  E-mail: rich@examinerpublications.com
  www.threedonia.com 

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