January 2017 – Letter from the CEO
Earlier this month, at Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage we commemorated the 202nd anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans. This is a tradition that began at Jackson’s home in the 1890s. We were honored to have US Representative Phil Roe as the keynote speaker along with Vice Regent Robert McDonald and the Tennessee National Guard as part of the ceremony.
This remarkable battle fought on January 8, 1815, is often considered the concluding punctuation mark of the War of 1812. Its importance is often overlooked – and argued over by historians – today. However, it was a profoundly important battle given how its outcome shaped the course of United States’ history.
Why the battle is important to us at The Hermitage was the commanding general for the rag-tag American forces. Against all odds, Andrew Jackson and his men, who were outmanned, outgunned, and outtrained, defeated the British forces, then considered the premier army in the Western world. There are two major results of the battle:
#1: The victory catapulted General Jackson to a level of such national celebrity that in 1828 he was elected the “chief magistrate” or president of the United States (a status he nearly gained in the election of 1824.) From that position, Jackson became the figurehead for populism in government, the “people’s president,” significantly redefined the role – and power – of the presidency, the role of banks, the sovereignty of the federal government – and staved off disunion, and, regretfully, codified the US policy toward Native Americans that had been informally practiced to that point. The American public placed Jackson on a level of esteem with founder George Washington.
#2: While Jackson’s stunning victory at New Orleans was a major military victory, it also was a moral victory for Americans and a wake-up call to Europeans. Jackson’s defeat of the British rejuvenated America’s sense of pride and confidence that undergirded its march through the 19th century. And, for the second time, having bested the British, the victory roused European powers to a newfound respect for this fledgling nation that was seen as a temporary experiment in self-government. The United States needed to be taken seriously.
Clearly, the victory and its American commander had profound impacts.
The take away from the battle’s outcome is that with a sense of purpose, determination, and relentlessness one can overcome incredible odds. Beyond recounting historic events, the Andrew Jackson Foundation strives to inspire the public through example – and warning – of what is possible.
There is much to be learned from our past – come visit Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage and be inspired.