War Hero

Treaty of Fort Jackson

After Jackson’s successes in the Creek War, the U.S. War Department rewarded him with a commission as Major General in the U.S. Army over the 7th Military District. This included Tennessee, Louisiana and the Mississippi Territory.

Jackson’s immediate orders were to negotiate a peace treaty with the Creek Nation. In August of 1814, Jackson met with their chiefs. There he forced the Treaty of Fort Jackson that forced the Creeks to give up nearly 23 million acres and remove their settlements to a smaller area of land that American forces could more easily patrol.

Rounding Up Jackson's Motley Troops

Britain’s war with France ended in early 1814 and the British turned their attention to the United States. Fresh troops were sent to invade the U.S. and secure Canada. In August 1814, the British burned Washington, but were repelled at Baltimore.

Meanwhile, Jackson learned of a rumored invasion of the South through either New Orleans or Mobile. He acted quickly to repair the defenses at Mobile. He then, with the questionable authority to do so, invaded portions of Spanish Florida in order to eliminate threats from British forces and Native Americans hostile to the United States.

On December 1, 1814, Jackson entered New Orleans to strengthen its defenses and amass a truly unique American Army. Regular U.S. troops, volunteer militia from Tennessee, Kentucky, Louisiana and the Mississippi Territory, free blacks, Creoles, Native Americans and even a band of pirates comprised Jackson’s new force; however, Jackson’s army was greatly outnumbered and inexperienced compared to the superior British troops that threatened New Orleans.

Passion Defeats Experience

The British invasion of Louisiana began on December 14 with light resistance from Jackson’s army. On December 23, Jackson attacked the advancing British troops and halted their advance. For the next two weeks, the two armies squared off as the British probed for a way through Jackson’s defenses to New Orleans.

Finally, on January 8, 1815, the British conducted a full-scale attack on Jackson and the defenders of New Orleans. To the amazement of the world, Jackson’s army handed the British attackers a crushing defeat that forced them to withdraw from Louisiana.

The General Becomes a Hero

Word of Jackson’s victory ignited a wave of celebration and national pride in the young United States and a newly earned respect from European powers. On December 24, 1814 American and British negotiators in Belgium agreed to a peace treaty between the two nations. However, by January 8, 1815 word of the treaty had not reached American shores, so neither of the armies nor the President or Congress were aware of it. In fact, the Treaty of Ghent was not ratified by Congress and President Madison until February 16, 1815 thus officially ending the War of 1812.

Jackson’s string of military success, despite the obstacles he faced, the poor results of other military leaders during the War of 1812, and his stunning victory at New Orleans made him a celebrated national hero, revered above all others except George Washington.

Fight for Florida

In the peacetime army that followed, U.S. forces were divided into northern and southern divisions with Major General Jackson in command of the latter. Jackson would use this post to secure the southern borders of the United States. In his eyes, the southern United States suffered from two security problems, the Native Americans and Spanish Florida.

Jackson used his reputation as a fierce fighter and the threat of force to get the Creeks, Chickasaws, Cherokees and Choctaws to sign treaties ceding huge tracts of land to the U.S. and confining their tribes to much smaller territories. For the Native Americans these accords proved disastrous and were the first step in their eventual removal to the west.

For Jackson, Spanish Florida was a threat to American security due to America’s lack of military might in the region. The British saw it as a possible route of invasion and the Seminole tribe carried out raids in the United States then fled to the refuge of Spanish Florida.

Jackson Decides to Invade

In 1818, Jackson, once again acting with questionable authority, invaded Spanish Florida to attack the Seminoles. After three months, Jackson declared the Seminole threat over and withdrew.

The Spanish realized that Jackson and the United States were determined to take Spanish Florida. In 1819, Spain and the U.S. agreed to the Adams-Onís Treaty, giving Florida to the United States and advantageously settling the boundaries between the respective governments’ holdings in North America in favor of the United States.

In June 1821, Jackson hesitantly resigned his commission in the U.S. Army to become the Military Governor of the Florida Territory.

Talk of Presidency Begins

From 1812 to 1821, Jackson’s military career made him a national hero and brought to him increased wealth and opportunities. For the United States, Jackson’s actions secured its southern lands, acquired millions of acres for settlement that ultimately fueled the cotton boom, and gave Americans a newfound confidence or “go ahead” spirit that began an unbridled expansion in agriculture and manufacturing. Soon, Jackson’s countrymen would introduce him as a candidate for President of the United States.

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