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A History of the United States by Cecil Chesterton

Most of them were in the event transplanted


After

the triumphant termination of the Bank, Jackson's second term of office was peaceful and comparatively uneventful. There were indeed some important questions of domestic and foreign policy with which it fell to him to deal. One of these was the position of the Cherokee Indians, who had been granted territory in Georgia and the right to live on their own lands there, but whom the expansion of civilization had now made it convenient to displace. It is impossible for an admirer of Jackson to deny that his attitude in such a matter was too much that of a frontiersman. Indeed, it is a curious irony that the only American statesman of that age who showed any disposition to be careful of justice and humanity in dealing with the native race was John C. Calhoun, the uncompromising defender of Negro Slavery. At any rate, the Indians were, in defiance, it must be said, of the plain letter of the treaty, compelled to choose between submission to the laws of Georgia and transplantation beyond the Mississippi. Most of them were in the event transplanted.

Jackson's direction of foreign policy was not only vigorous but sagacious. Under his Presidency long-standing disputes with both France and England were brought to a peaceful termination on terms satisfactory to the Republic. To an Englishman it is pleasant to note that the great President, though he had fought against the English--perhaps because he had fought against them--was notably free from that rooted

antipathy to Great Britain which was conspicuous in most patriotic Americans of that age and indeed down to very recent times. "With Great Britain, alike distinguished in peace and war," he wrote in a message to Congress, "we may look forward to years of peaceful, honourable, and elevated competition. Everything in the condition and history of the two nations is calculated to inspire sentiments of mutual respect and to carry conviction to the minds of both that it is their policy to preserve the most cordial relations." It may also be of some interest to quote the verdict of an English statesman, who, differing from Jackson in all those things in which an aristocratic politician must necessarily differ from the tribune of a democracy, had nevertheless something of the same symbolic and representative national character and something of the same hold upon his fellow-countrymen. A letter from Van Buren, at that time representing the United States at the Court of St. James's, to Jackson reports Palmerston as saying to him that "a very strong impression had been made here of the dangers which this country had to apprehend from your elevation, but that they had experienced better treatment at your hands than they had done from any of your predecessors."

So enormous was Jackson's popularity that, if he had been the ambitious Caesarist that his enemies represented, he could in all probability have safely violated the Washington-Jefferson precedent and successfully sought election a third time. But he showed no desire to do so. He had undergone the labours of a titan for twelve eventful and formative years. He was an old man; he was tired. He may well have been glad to rest for what years were left to him of life in his old frontier State, which he had never ceased to love. He survived his Presidency by nine years. Now and then his voice was heard on a public matter, and, whenever it was heard, it carried everywhere a strange authority as if it were the people speaking. But he never sought public office again.


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