Andrew Jackson: Patriot Slaveholder

Sometimes, there are articles that get lost in the shuffle. They don’t appear in proprietary databases such as JSTOR or America: History and Life, so no one discovers them until years later.

I don’t want this to happen to Aaron Crawford‘s new article in the Journal of East Tennessee History (Vol. 82–2010) on the symbolic use of Andrew Jackson during the secession crisis. Entitled “Patriot Slaveholder: Andrew Jackson and the Winter of Secession,” Crawford’s article examines how both pro- and anti-secession politicians used Jackson to make their arguments in favor of, or in opposition to, secession in the months between Lincoln’s election and the early months of his presidency. It is smartly done, and if you are interested in Jackson, the Civil War, or public memory, then you should read it.*

Crawford’s article also highlights a research area that still needs work: the memory and memorialization of Andrew Jackson. Much has been made of the image of Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln in U.S. history, but historians have never addressed the image of Jackson, who was a major American and Democratic party symbol for decades. If I recall correctly, Tom Coens at the Jackson Papers is working on something related to Jackson and memory during the Civil War.

*Full disclosure: Crawford is assistant editor at the U.S. Grant Papers, a project directed by my former advisor, John Marszalek, but I would have suggested the article regardless.

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2 Replies to “Andrew Jackson: Patriot Slaveholder”

  1. It is great to see the concept of historical memory utilized in a variety of contexts. Here, as you point out, Jackson is seen as a cultural symbol to be employed by historical actors. The “symbol” when employed, by either faction in this case, has within it connotations which are both a product of popular puplic memory and those characteristics which are emphasized by historical actors themselves. Similar to the way that Harry Watson describes the various usage of the word ‘liberty’ in “Liberty & Power: The Politics of Jacksonian America.” I myself am looking similarly at historical memory in San Francisco in the 1890s @ guildedempire.wordpress.com .

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