U.S. President Andrew Jackson Career Before Presidency

About the U.S. President Andrew Jackson, early life and career before the presidency, history and biography, physical description.

FULL PORTRAITS OF SELECTED PRESIDENTS

7th President

ANDREW JACKSON

BEFORE THE PRESIDENCY

Career: In 1765 Jackson's parents sailed from northern Ireland to settle on the Carolina frontier. Two years later his father was injured while attempting to move a heavy log and died shortly thereafter--two weeks before Jackson's birth. At the age of 14 the fatherless boy proved his manhood by fighting in the American Revolution; he was taken prisoner and received a severe saber wound when he refused to shine a British officer's boots. Along with his older brother, Robert, Jackson was taken to a British prison camp, where both boys contracted smallpox. Robert died shortly after their release, and Andrew lay near death for weeks. When he recovered, he learned that his mother had died in faraway Charleston while attending the wounds of other American prisoners. Following his mother's death, Jackson's only interests in life were drinking, gambling, and cockfighting. When his grandfather died in Ireland, Jackson, as the only surviving member of the family, received a sizable legacy, but he managed to gamble it away within a matter of days. At the age of 17, he decided to recoup his losses by entering the legal profession and he began studying law in Salisbury, N.C. Though Jackson was poorly educated--his spelling and grammar remained faulty throughout his life--he was able to memorize enough legal material to be admitted to the bar in 1787. When John McNairy, one of Jackson's young drinking companions, was selected as a local judge for the remote frontier settlement near present-day Nashville, Tenn., Jackson was invited to come along as public prosecutor. Despite his later reputation as a champion of the common man, Prosecutor Jackson invariably favored the Tennessee land barons and was notoriously harsh with local debtors. As a reward for these services, the frontier power structure sent Jackson to Philadelphia in 1796 as the first member of the House of Representatives for the new state of Tennessee. Later Jackson served six months as a U.S. senator and six years as a superior court judge. Meanwhile he was busy amassing a personal fortune through his speculation in land, cotton, racehorses, and slaves.

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