National Geographic : 1965 Jan
National Geographic, January, 1965 "The Bank," Jackson told Van Buren, "is trying to kill me, but I will kill it!" The Pres ident, in vetoing the bill, raised questions of constitutionality but, more than this, charged the Bank with undue economic privilege. "There are no necessary evils in govern ment," he declared in his Veto Message: "Its evils exist only in its abuses. If it would con fine itself to equal protection, and, as Heaven does its rains, shower its favors alike on the high and the low, the rich and the poor, it would be an unqualified blessing." Jackson's views were in touch with the spirit of the Amer ican electorate; in 1832 he received more than 56 percent of the popular vote and almost five times as many electoral votes as Clay. As a nationalist, Jackson was equally forth right in meeting the challenge of John C. Cal houn. Formerly a nationalist himself, Calhoun had become the spokesman of South Caroli na forces which proposed nullification by the states to rid themselves of a high protective tariff they disliked. They hoped to win Jackson to their views, but at a Jefferson Day banquet Jackson, who had written out some words and underscored several of them, arose, looked sternly at Calhoun and proposed a toast: "Our FederalUnion-It must be preserved." When South Carolina undertook to nullify the tariff, Jackson issued a proclamation de claring: "... our present happy Constitution was formed... in vain if this fatal doctrine prevails." He ordered armed forces to Charles ton and privately threatened to hang Calhoun. For several months violence seemed imminent, but Clay negotiated a compromise which resulted in a lowering of tariffs and a dropping of nullification. Van Buren Becomes Jackson Running Mate In January, 1832, a visitor was waiting in the White House to meet the President, who was dining with friends. "It was not long be fore the doors were thrown open," the man wrote later, "and General Jackson entered at the head of his company, talking and laugh ing with much animation.... Seating himself near the fire, his friends formed a group about him. I was absorbed for some minutes scan ning the face and mien of this remarkable man. In person he was tall, slim, and straight. ... His head was long, but narrow, and cov ered with thick gray hair that stood erect, as though impregnated with his defiant spirit; his brow was deeply furrowed, and his eye, even in his present mood, was one 'to threaten and command.' His nose was prominent and indicated force. His mouth displayed firm ness. The whole conveyed an impression of energy and daring." Before the young man could be introduced, someone came to whisper to the President that the Senate had rejected the nomination of Martin Van Buren as Minister to Great Brit ain. Jackson jumped to his feet and exclaimed, "By the Eternal! I'll smash them!" So Jack son did. Van Buren became Vice President, and gained the Presidency when Old Hickory retired to The Hermitage. There Jackson remained, a hero of legend ary proportions and a force in the Democratic Party, until his death in 1845. Stately portico of The Hermitage near Nashville, Tennessee, a National Historic Landmark, reflects Jackson's success as a cotton planter. Guests ate roast pig and drank fine brandy while a guitarist strummed the General's favorite tunes. He and his wife lie buried in a far corner of this garden. Rachel Jackson smoked a pipe "to fight off the asthma," but she had no cure for scandal: She married Jackson in the mis taken belief that her first husband had di vorced her. Hurt by unjust campaign slurs, Rachel died on December 22, 1828, less than three months before Jackson entered the White House. He wore next to his heart this ivory miniature, painted when she was 48. PAINTING BY ANNA PEALE. LADIES' HERMITAGEASSOCIATION KODACHROME OPPOS EI BY DAVIDS. BOYER, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC STAFF ') N.G.S.