America has never seen a presidential candidate like this before. Detractors point to his lack of political experience, his poor grasp of policy, his alleged autocratic leanings and his shady past. They believe this man without much of a political platform (but with interesting hair) has neither the qualifications nor the temperament to be president. Yet in defiance of conventional wisdom, he is leading his three main rivals in the race for the White House, and party bigwigs are at a loss how to respond. No, it’s not Donald Trump. His name is Andrew Jackson, and the year is 1824.
Andrew Jackson was one of America’s first political outsiders. Born to impoverished immigrants in the backwoods of the South, he was tough, thin-skinned and fiercely confrontational—a brawling Jackson once took a musket ball in the chest before killing a rival in a duel. Resolute and strategically brilliant, Jackson rose through the ranks to become the greatest war hero of his generation. Known by his supporters as Old Hickory, Jackson stirred passions in the American people that his presidential rivals John Quincy Adams, William Crawford and Henry Clay could only dream of. Tens of thousands flocked to the charismatic outsider who positioned himself as a steadfast defender of the Republic. Jackson’s rallies dwarfed those of his rivals. Yet he had little politicalexperience and plenty of baggage. Jackson was, his rivals believed, more of a celebrity than a serious candidate.