Let’s take a look at the bright side

Spiro Kass, Editor-in-chief

We live in a country where past presidents are often denounced for erroneous policy and decision making, and Andrew Jackson has made his way onto the list over the years. Yes, he was not a perfect commander-in-chief. He was hostile to abolitionism, he inhumanely relocated thousands of Native Americans (many of whom died) with the Indian Removal Act of 1830, and was a hot-headed general who was quick to violence and known to step over legal bounds.

Although his reputation may seem flawed, there was more to his presidential philosophy. In fact, this president who is now made out as a villain of American History is the reason behind early unification of the universal democracy that we live and breathe in today.

Before diving in, it’s important to clarify a common misconception. Today, people often link Jackson to the strengthening of slavery, yet little do they know that he advocated for the Missouri Compromise, which aimed to keep slavery out of politics. It is true that he owned slaves, but most other presidents of this era were slave owners as well. According to the History Channel, Jackson owned about two dozen slaves to his name, roughly equivalent to his two predecessors James Madison and James Monroe. Although quite a significant number, it doesn’t even compare to the 300 slaves George Washington owned while in office. Yet, there seems to be no argument waging against his presence on the one dollar bill.

Unfortunately, the positive elements which Jackson brought forth to our country are often drowned out by his infamous perception. Through his presidency, the United States saw the first signs of unification among all classes, finally expanding representation to the farmer and frontier worker. He was the very first president of this country to not be born from an affluent family and made an effort throughout his political career to bring the underrepresented West into the life of the nation. In doing so, Jackson casted a stern eye on laws that seemed to favor rich or the elite insiders while in congress. More importantly, all white males were granted suffrage under his administration, disavowing the property requirements and higher class status previously needed to cast a vote for office. But why should he remain on the $20 bill? Well, he accomplished a task most presidents were never able to achieve: eradicating national debt, ultimately creating economic strength–in addition to the expansion of politics–that should be remembered and represented on our currency today.

In the end, Jackson helped open national politics to men of all classes, not just the wealthy elite. His expansion of the right to vote set a precedent for future equality and suffrage, propelling the eventual spread of political representation that now reaches all members of our nation, no matter gender or race.