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tv   QA with Mark Cheathem  CSPAN  May 14, 2017 8:00pm-9:01pm EDT

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his biography of andrew jackson. then a bbc review of major stories in british politics. after that come a news conference with russian foreign minister sergey lavrov. >> this week on join date, cumberland university history professor mark cheathem. the professor discusses his book and talks about comparisons made between president jackson and president trump. >> mark cheathem, author of andrew jackson, southerner. there are a lot of books on andrew jackson in the south. when you see this picture on the screen, what comes to mind? guest: on the comparisons between trump and jackson, and
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how wrong they are, frankly. i don't see a lot of similarities in terms of depth between donald trump and andrew jackson. host: really, not a thing? guest: i'm not saying there are not some similarities. care,ave both got great of course. a lot of comparisons try to push trump into this box with jackson, and it is not a viable comparison in my opinion. host: that is a picture -- a painting in the oval office he put up. why do you think he did that? guest: steve bannon convinced him to do that, i think. i don't think trump has any clue as to who jackson was before he became president, or maybe he had some clue. there and someone afterwards said that trump studied jackson and new all about him before he became president, modeled his campaign after jackson. i just had to shake my head. i don't think trump has a good idea of who jackson is. host: when did you first get
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interested in and jackson and why? guest: i was an undergraduate at cumberland university. i had a professor, one of the first trained at the hermitage. he pulled me aside and said "you really need to the work that armitage." he did not tell me how to dress in. dress an period costume. he convinced me to go work at the hermitage. that is when i became interested in jackson. i went through my graduate studies and up until today. host: what is the hermitage? guest: andrew jackson's home near nashville, 15 minutes east of national. it is a plantation, like you would expect. not as big as a lot of people think it would be when they first come to it. that is where jackson lived for most of his adult life free presidential and post presidential years. host: what did you do?
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guest: i was a docent, so i gave tours to guests who visited the hermitage. and a home on the plantation property that belongs to andrew jackson donaldson, one of andrew jackson's nephews. host: where is cumberland? how big is it? what do you do there now? guest: cumberland university is located in lebanon, tennessee, 30 miles north of -- barrel wasre cracker founded. cumberland has been around since 1842. we are so awaiting our 175th year. it is a small liberal arts college. i have been a professor there since 2008. host: here is some video of donald trump in march of this year, talking about andrew jackson. clean out theo bureaucracy, jackson removed 10% of the federal workforce.
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he launched a campaign to sweep out government corruption totally. he did not want government corruption. he extended benefits for veterans, he battled decentralized financial power that brought influence at our citizens expense, he imposed tariffs on foreign countries to protect american workers. that sounds very familiar. host: what is your reaction? sees ai think trump comparison between himself and jackson in terms of draining the swamp. jackson came into office and was determined to root out corruption, in terms of government workers who he thought were incompetent, who were not loyal to him. similarity between trump and jackson there. trump sees himself in the same vein of jackson in terms of fighting the powers that be the
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great financial institutions and those types of things, and i think that is where one of those comparison falls apart. jackson was someone who had to work his way up to become wealthy. he was someone who had to fight hard to make it to the presidency, and i think trump, as most people know, had a lot of things handed to him from his ,ather, had a pretty easy life comparing himself to jackson in those regards. host: let us do one more on video, to hear more of what president trump had to say of what president -- about president jackson. pres. trump: during the revolution, jackson first confronted and defined an arrogant elite. does that sound familiar to you? [applause] pres. trump: i wonder why they keep talking about trump and jackson, jackson and trump. [laughter] anchor: i know the feeling, andrew. host: how do they compare?
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both: i think that they came in on a populist wave and they both took advantage of a voting population that wanted change. in jackson case, a lot of people whok of him as someone spurred democracy. he took advantage of it. a lot of state had loosened suffrage restrictions by taking away property requirements, by allowing more white men to vote. that wave to the white house. he was benefiting from it. he benefited from populism. i think trump benefits or benefited from anger at the government. anger at the government. anger at the status quo, anger at lots of different things. i do not necessarily see that with jackson. and that is one of the gaps in historiography that i think the
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study of the jacksonian period was what was it that motivated voters to vote for jackson? was it that they saw him as a democratic hero? that he was a military hero? were they tired of the john quincy adams administration? was it the campaigning innovations that were put together by martin van buren and the rest of the jacksonian democrats? that is one of the things we need to understand to be able to make a better comparison between trump and jackson in terms of their first winning presidential campaigns. host: when was he present and how old was he at that time? guest: andrew jackson was elected in 1828 and took office in march of 1829. at that point, he was about to turn 72. sorry, 62. so he was a relatively older ,an, had a long military career a shorter political career. someone who wanted to retire in the early 1820's, live out his life as a farmer and husband and father, and was coaxed into
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politics by some of his friends in tennessee, and one of becoming president. host: what is the controversy? guest: it is a long story. when jackson came to tennessee, 1788, he was 21 years old, and national was on the edge of the western frontier washat point -- nashville on the edge of the western frontier at that .3 jackson said to rent a room by a woman with the last name of donelson, the widow of one of the cofounders of nashville. her daughter, rachel donaldson robards, was living in the area as well. andrew and young rachel apparently struck up a friendship. rachel was married. so she and andrew strike up this friendship of some sort. her husband is not happy, as you can imagine. there are lots of accounts of him being jealous and perhaps of
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even being abusive toward rachel. in any case, andrew and rachel continued their friendship. lewis abandons her/ andrew and rachel go down to spanish natchez on the mississippi river. a few years later, robards has filed for divorce. andrew and rachel had been living in adultery. legally,s a bigamist, because she was still married to lewis and saying she was married to jackson. the divorce does go through and andrew and rachel do legally 1794.in nearly at the time, it is not that big of a deal outside of lewis robards and a couple of other people. looking ahead 30 years, it is a big deal, when it comes to the presidential election. host: what happened? how did it have an impact on 1828?
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they used the jackson marriage as one of the angle to try to derail jackson's presidential campaign against adams. rapist marched rachel's smirchedr -- they be rachel's character, calling her a bigamist. it is something that enrages jackson and they have to constantly tell him to let it go. it is not important. focus on the big prize of the presidency. there are times when jackson is ready to fight duels, you know, ready to go back to his youth, when he was a little bit more violent, and do something with clay and others. but his friends convinced him to let it go. it is not that important. host: in your research, how much did john quincy adams, who has
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an image that does not sound like you would be flying around clay, whoand henry ran for president how many times? guest: gosh. host: three or four times? what did you find at the core of that? were those men actually responsible for this controversy about rachel? guest: that is what jackson believes. newspaperhere is one editor in cincinnati, ohio, by hammond, whoharles is actually the one doing most of the mudslinging on that regard. he is one of those who spreads rumors about jackson's mother being a prostitute, jackson being the offspring of his mother -- jackson's mother elizabeth, and an african-american slave. person seems to be the who is involved in the mudslinging, but clay and adams don't do a whole lot to stop it. it is kind of interesting.
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even though they are not actively propagating these ideas, they have the power to stop them, and they do not. host: how big did andrew jackson win the in 1828? guest: he won substantially, all the regions of the country except for new england. i don't remember the exact members in terms of electoral vote counts, but he was considered a landslide. he wins a fairly large majority for the times we do have to andmber that between 1824 1828, there is nearly a doubling of the number of voters in the united rates. for jackson to win after having to win 1820 four, and big, solidifies within himself and his coalition this idea that he is the choice of the people. he is the one that the people have given a mandate to affect change in the united states. host: where do you put yourself in the writers of jackson currency alive -- currently alive? i'm going to show a clip in a
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moment of robert, who you quote on us every page. where do you put yourself? what is your philosophy of andrew jackson compared to some of the others still writing about him? guest: i think i am fairly evenhanded on jackson. fne of the criticisms of the other historian is that he was too soft on jackson. he studied jackson for over 50 years. that the more he studied jackson, the more he liked him, so he was not as critical of him. he excused a lot of things jackson did. i think i am fairly evenhanded. i think i'm definitely critical of jackson, which we have a right to be, even living in the 21st century. we have a right to be critical of the stances he took on certain issues during his lifetime. at the same time, we have to be fair and understand that the times he lived in our different than the times we lived in. told myhe things i
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students is to take a two pronged approach to history. look at people in the times, understand them within the context of the times, and in jackson's case, that meant that white supremacy, that racism, that his attitude toward native werecans, all those things really part and parcel of the american character at the time. so we look at people in their we also have to look at them from our perspective. we can be critical of them. when we look back at jackson's racism and his treatment of native americans, we should be critical of him just as people during his lifetime were critical of him. host: robert has passed, but his last job was historian in the house of representatives, and he wrote a number of books on andrew jackson, including a book on him and clay -- on henry clay. here he is. was once jackson considered one of the great in american history.
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as a matter of fact, a lot of presidents still regard him as one of the most important. historians as well, including me. and that his life needs to be known. but the one thing that has diminished him has been the removal of the indian. , how it was done, the awful suffering that resulted from it. host: when was he a great hero, and do you agree with the professor? guest: i think jackson was a great hero at a number of points in his life, certainly during the war of 1812 at the battle of of 1814.ns in december he was able to defeat the greatest army in the western world, the british. he did it against overwhelming odds. i think as president, we could
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consider him a hero. the southp carolina and kept the union together. nullification was the idea that a state, is it considered a federal law unconstitutional, could nullify or void that law. people of that particular state. host: why did south carolina want to nullify a law? guest: congress had passed two iffs, and suck your linear thought those were unconstitutional because they adversely affected southerners as compared to more than her's, because southerners, from their perspective, were going to pay more for imported goods through that southerners would pay more ariffsrms of t
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then northerners. dr. lenny and another southerners were afraid that congress would use the revenue tariffs toy emancipate slaves, to fund colonization, sending in slaves, africans back to africa, so there was a lot going on with nullification, but the tariff was sort of the focal point, so jackson, when south carolina passed a nullification ordinance, saying that these two tariffs are unconstitutional, jackson stepped in and issued his own proclamation that said that this is treason and we cannot allow this because it union, and hehe threatened to send the military into south carolina to keep the union together. host: i want to go back to that photograph in the oval office of president trump. let us just say he calls you up
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and says "come to the oval office." lookings sitting there, at that portrait of andrew jackson, and he says, "what do you think of this comparison? what would you do if you were president of the united states and you know me and you know and jackson? -- you know andrew jackson? would you leave that up on the wall of the oval office?" guest: i would tell him to take it down because i do not think he represents a positive values that jackson are presented. he certainly represents some of the negative values that jackson represented, but i think i would tell president trump that if he wants to be like andrew jackson, he has to put nation in front of his own personhood, has to put nation in front of his own family, in front of his own interests, because that is what jackson did for most of his presidency. how did he get the money to build the hermitage? guest: a number of different
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ways. jackson was a land speculator in middle tennessee, so he would buy and sell land, basically flip it and make a profit from that. he was a lawyer. he practiced law for a number of years before he started his military career. he owned inflamed people, so he people, so he bought canceled african-americans. a lot of wealth was due to the fact that he had a large number of enslaved people he had around 160 african-americans in bondage living up hermitage. over the course of his lifetime, he probably owned close to 300 enslaved people. that was a large part of his elite, because to be an southerner, which jackson was, you had to own slaves, and you had to have them work whatever club it was you were growing. sugar, rice, whatever it was. you had to have them work that in order for you to become
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wealthy and to stay wealthy. host: one time, he had as many as 300 slaves? guest: mm-hmm. host: when a slave ran away, he would offer $20 to get the slave back, and then suggest they ought to get 100 lashes? what is so good about that? guest: well, it is not good. so jackson, as i tell people, jackson is really a typical southern slave owner. if you think of slave ownership as being on a spectrum, you have some slaveowners who were violent, extremely violent, sadomasochistic, raped enslaved women, and so on. and then you have other slaveowners, who would consider them benign in terms of ownership. jackson is in the middle. there are times he dresses concern about slaves, if they are -- expresses concern about
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slaves, and if they are sick, sends a letter asking about their well-being. makes sure they are given gifts. at the same time, in 1804, there are two runaway slaves. are two runaway slaves. one is captured and brought back and one is not. he offers extra money -- wants to keep other slaves from running away. you have to maintain control over your slave population and if that means you have to discipline one slave or even kill a slave, if that is necessary, in order to keep the other 99 in place, then that is what you have to do to protect your property. hermitage, the home of andrew jackson, would not be there without slaves? guest: absolutely not. you see today, it was built in 1819. it partially burned in the 30's when jackson was president and then was rebuilt.
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most of what you see in the hermitage today was built during the peak of jackson's wealth, and that was based on slave ownership. the hermitage was approximately 1200 acres of property that jackson owned in middle tennessee. he owns other plantations in alabama, mississippi, westo tennessee. his landholdings are extensive and they had to have enslaved people, because white people were not going to work that land and make a profit in the same way enslaved people would. was: i president trump, who a wealthy man, he was a wealthy man. guest: he was wealthy, but it was wealth he built up over his lifetime. jackson is not given anything in terms of wealth growing up. his father dies around the time he was born. his mother in two warner bros. die when he was a -- two older brothers died when he was a young teen. hisson has to build up wealth by himself, and slave ownership was one of the ways he
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did that. host: you talk a lot in here about duels, and the violence of duels, and the number of times he was shot. did he ever kill anybody in a dual? guest: he did. in 1806, jackson was involved in a dual with dickinson over a horse race. horses,on loved to race and that was one of the signs of his wealth. as he was growing up, he saw around him people who own horses. that was one of the indications of their wealth. he loves to raise horses as he gets older. so he is involved in a horse race, and he was betting on a horse race. something happened, and the other person had to pull out. there was supposed to be a penalty that are present paid. when a person tried to pay the penalty, jackson did not like the way they paid it. so this child six i -- this child dickerson -- this child
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dickerson person involved himself. they have words and this leads to a dual and jackson shoots and kills him on the dueling rounds. host: how many dual did he participate in? guest: the records show that jackson thought two tools -- fought two tools. if you go on the internet, and the internet is always right, he fought dozens or hundreds of jewels. the evidence only shows two duals. the other is a dual that jackson fought with avery in jonesboro, tennessee in 1788. those are the only ones we have records for. host: how may times was he wounded in a dual? guest: the one time in 18 a six -- in 1806. dickerson fired first. jackson was able to summon the fortitude to fire back and he shot the consent in the stomach. dickinson bled out later
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that day. host: what happened to andrew jackson after he had been hit in the chest? guest: he collapsed and was bedridden for a wild. the bullet was so close to his heart that doctors could not remove it, so he actually carried that bullet with him until he died. it is interesting because that bullet -- bullets were made out of lead. that led probably poisoned him over the years. suffering from lead poisoning was better than risking extracting the bullet and piercing his heart. host: wasn't he hit in a battle or something, wounded at another time? guest: right, in 1813, jackson gets involved in a street brawl in downtown nashville with a couple of brothers by the last name of benton, one of them, by the way, goes on to become senator thomas had been to one of jackson's closest allies. they had a change of heart later in life. jackson again, there is a dual involved. he supports one of his friends in a dual.
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benton does not like it, so thomas does not like it. so he and his brother, jesse benton, are roaming the streets of nashville, looking for jackson. jackson and his friends go down to downtown nashville, bump into each other, there are words exchanged, and a gunfight ensues. jackson is shot,. a set of stairs, and is bedridden. it occurs in the middle of the war of 1812. jackson had already gone to battle one time. he is bedridden from this brawl, but he summons again his fortitude to recover and go and fight the majority of the word of 1812 against the creek indians and the british. host: were they able to take the bullets out of him? guest: the one in 1813 they did eventually extract. jackson gave it to thomas benton as a souvenir of their former
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relationship once they had reconciled. host: so when he ran in 1824 for the presidency, the first time, did the public know about the fact that he was walking around with a bullet near his heart? guest: i'm sure they did because it was well recorded in the newspapers, at least in the nashville area. jackson had a national reputation in 1824, and that is really why his friends wanted him to run, is because he was seen from their perspective as a second george washington. you know, here was a man who could replicate what washington had done as the father of the country. jackson could restore the merntry to its for greatness. they run him as the second george washington during the campaign. 1824, there had been two political parties, and one of
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those parties had essentially disappeared at the national level, so you have the democratic republican party that was left and this was the party that was formed by thomas jefferson in the early 1800s, and what happens when you have one political party in charge is that you do not have this unity. that is what a lot of people even today think. if you can get rid of the opposing party, everything would be great. when you are the only party in power, you have a super majority of power, what happens is you start to divide into factions, and that is what happened during term of the presidency. you have democratic republicans starting to splinter into factions based on personality to your jackson and his supporters look around and think this is no better than what we during the -- we were during the early years of the republic. it great again
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is to elect andrew jackson. host: how much did he campaign? guest: presidents did not campaign at that time. that is a later innovation. presidential candidates were expected to stay at home. they were expected to be reluctant candidates. they were expected to only be available candidates because the people wanted them to be available, so there was this false reluctance you are supposed to propagate to voters. and that made you even more attractive, that you were such a committed person to the union that you were not going to put your personal interest first. and what that meant was that people had to vote you win, the people had to campaign for you. that is what happened in 1824. host: what was the corrupt bargain? guest: it was the culmination of the election of 1824. jackson won the most popular votes. he won the most electoral votes.
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he won the most states. but to become president, you have to win a majority of the electoral votes. he only gets 99, so the election, when to the constitution, the election have to go to the house of representatives atso the top thn terms electoral votes -- and that was jackson, john quincy adams, and william h. crawford -- those three candidates had their names submitted to the house, and then each state delegation in the house would vote, one vote per state, for who would become president. so jackson goes into that house election thinking, i should become president, i won the most states. if you were to tabulate the states and the house, he should win with a majority. but what happens, according to jacksonians -- and there's no smoking gun, but what happens, according to jacksonians, is that henry clay and john quincy adams get together. henry clay had run for the
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presidency in 1824 and had not been one of the top three, but he's the speaker of the house and he has his eye set on the white house. and so he and adams get together and allegedly decide that clay will work the house, will make sure that adams wins the presidency, and in return, adams will appoint clay to be secretary of state. and that was important, because several presidents prior to john quincy adams had been secretaries of state before entering the presidency. john quincy adams in fact had been secretary of state. so secretary of state was really the stepping stone to become president. and so essentially, clay is setting himself up to become john quincy adams' successor once adams decided to leave office. so that's exactly what happens in the house. the house votes for adams to become president, and jacksonians jump on that alleged corrupt bargain, and they use that as their main campaign theme in 1828.
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host: why is it the democratic party for years has had every year something called the jefferson-jackson dinners? guest: this is a way to commemorate what many people -- or who many people consider to be the founders of the democratic party. you have thomas jefferson, who formed that original democratic republican party, and then you have jackson, who many people within the party see as rejuvenating or revitalizing the old democratic party and making in the 1820's and 1830's. -- and making it more modern, in the 1820's and 1830's. host: representative tom cole of oklahoma in an interview had the following to say. collect>> we are chickasawans. my great-great-grandfather was forcibly removed from mississippi, and some of the last chickasaws to come out, so we were raised with a -- i used to tell people when i was five years old, i wasn't sure who andrew jackson was, but i knew he was a very bad man who had
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done evil things. so my grandmother literally wouldn't carry a $20 bill. host: what do you think? guest: that's a common refrain among native americans. several years ago when this book, "andrew jackson, southerner," came out, someone in the nearby city wrote me a letter, and the letter started out, you know, dear dr. cheathem, i see that you've written a book on andrew jackson. i want you to know that i think he was one mean son of a bitch. and he went on for a couple of pages talking about why he had that opinion. it's a common opinion, certainly understandable. host: was he mean? guest: he was. again, going back to what i said before, if you understand jackson within the context of his times, he's not unusual. there are people who oppose the ill treatment of native americans, there are people who oppose the removal of native americans.
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but particularly within the white south, jackson is the norm. his view of native americans , that they were inferior, that they were uncivilized, that they stood in the way of white progress, of american progress, atnd that was white progress the time -- and so they needed to be removed. that is the norm. again, people were critical of him at the time, and certainly that is the major criticism of jackson today, that he removed native americans from their land. host: who were the creeks? guest: the creek indians were located primarily in alabama, the present day state of alabama. some were located also in georgia and then some also in northern florida, the panhandle. they were the group -- or at least one segment of the creek indians was the group that jackson fought against during the war of 1812. a lot of people don't realize,
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because of the battle of new orleans, jackson spends most of that war fighting the creek indians, not the british. he really only has one major encounter with the british and that's in new orleans. the other 18 months or so were spent fighting the creek indians. host: i'm going to read from your book. page 65 -- "he wanted to punish the creek -- all of them -- and take their land. he succeeded. as he told the creek, quote, you have followed the counsel of bad men and made war on part of your own nation and the united states. this war has cost the united states a large sum." didn't the land belong to the creeks? guest: it did, but in jackson's mind, the creek had allied themselves with the british and the british were the enemy of the united states so therefore the creek were the enemy of the united states. the creek indians, or at least a segment of them, had also attacked white settlements in
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tennessee and in other places, and jackson saw that as an abrogation of any kind of treaty or any kind of rights, negotiations, or treatments that the two sides had with each other, the americans and the native americans. and so because of their violence against the united states, because of their alliance with the british, jackson believed that they had to be punished. and the interesting thing is that there were some creek indians who were allied with the united states. and i said, all of the creek had to be punished -- from the segment you read -- all the creek had to be punished because jackson did not differentiate, in most cases, among native americans. so you have cherokee, who are loyal to him during the war of 1812. that does not matter when it comes to taking their land, because that land, from jackson's view, is necessary in
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order for the united states to progress. host: if president trump looked out at his second floor family quarters in the lafayette park, he would see a statue of andrew jackson on a horse. why do you think people thought he was that important? guest: because he was. yes, very famous -- very famous statue representative of jackson's military career. jackson helped save the united states, or at least that's what people thought at the battle of new orleans. and the interesting thing about that battle, of course, is that the treaty negotiations between the united states and britain had already taken place in europe. both sides had agreed to declare the war a draw, to go back to the status quo antebellum, the way things were before the war. so, that news doesn't come to the united states immediately, of course. it takes a while to get here. so, the battle that jackson's most famous for actually occurs after those negotiations are over. but psychologically, i think, most americans hear news about
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jackson's victory first. then they hear news about the war being over. and psychologically, i think they order things in that way. that jackson won this great victory. the treaty was signed. therefore, jackson's victory led to the end of the war. and the mythology of jackson, i think, still reinforces that. that that battle was so crucial to the united states staying together and being able to defeat the british, when in reality, it's important, certainly, but it wasn't as critical as many people then or now think. host: how many native americans was jackson responsible for killing? guest: thousands. not personally, of course, but during the various battles of the war of 1812, thousands of native americans, mostly creek, are killed fighting american forces.
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certainly, if you add removal -- after the war of 1812, during s, if youo-late 1810' add the removal of native american groups during jackson's presidency, and even after as his policy is implemented under martin van buren. certainly thousands, if not maybe ten thousand native americans jackson is responsible for. host: i want to go back to the portrait in the oval office. by the way, you're still sitting there talking to the president. and you've just told him all of this. at what point does he say, this sounds awfully much like i am? guest: well, i don't know if he would be that introspective. host: i take it, by the way, just from listening to you, you don't care for him much. guest: i don't. i don't, no. i think, well, he -- he has some failings, some personal and political failings for sure. i don't know that -- that trump
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would -- would be introspective enough to recognize these things. but even if he were, i'm not sure that it would matter , because it's power, it's enacting your force -- the policy of your force onto people that you see as inferior. and so, i'm not sure president trump would see anything wrong with that. jackson certainly didn't. host: so, when you look back at jackson's life -- 300 slaves, thousands of native americans being killed. where -- what's the good side of him? guest: well, the good side is he expands the united states, even if it is at the cost of tens of thousands of native americans losing their land. host: what territory? guest: primarily the deep south. if you look at the present day states of mississippi, alabama, parts of georgia, most of
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florida, jackson really is responsible for opening that land up foru.s. -- u.s. expansion. you could argue that texas is also partly his responsibility , in the sense that after he leaves the presidency, he wants to see texas become part of the union, and he is instrumental in trying to convince the texas government to join the united states in the mid-1840's. he doesn't personally go to texas and talk to sam houston, one of his old friends, who's president of texas, but he sends one of his nephews out there through a diplomatic appointment , to talk to houston. so jackson's really responsible for a lot of land coming into the united states. he does keep the union together , as we talked about with nullification. and that is what most people look back on as his greatest triumph. if you want to pick the one thing that jackson did that was best for the united states, it
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was keeping the union together instead of having a civil war take place in the early 1830's. host: cumberland university, where you teach, how many years you been there? guest: this is our 175th year. host: no, you. guest: me? i haven't been there 175 years, i have been there since 2008 as a professor. host: and are you head of the history department now? guest: i am, yes. host: you have something in common with andrew jackson. not you personally, but cumberland university. and that is cumberland has two supreme court justices in history, and a former secretary of state, cordell hull. and andrew jackson, as you say in your book, appointed four men to be on the supreme court. guest: yes. host: but if my memory is correct, he put somebody on the supreme court that was very controversial. guest: yes, probably you're thinking of roger b. taney. host: i am. guest: yes, roger b. taney is one of the most controversial supreme court justices. and he's mostly controversial
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for what happens in 1857 with the dred scott decision, which essentially says that enslaved african-americans are property , and gives the supreme court's endorsement of that idea. jackson puts him on the court , really as a reward for taney's help during the bank war of jackson's second term. taney was a strong supporter of jackson's banking policy, and -- host: he had been secretary of treasury? guest: he had. and jackson rewarded him for that loyalty by making him chief justice of the supreme court right before he left office. host: what do you think -- andrew jackson was dead by then. what do you think he would have thought of the dred scott decision? would he have liked it? guest: i think so. it's always difficult to project what would someone have thought if they were alive, but jackson believed that enslaved african-americans were property.
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he, like most southerners, could talk about them as family, but that definition of family is not our definition of family. it's not, you know, kinship in the sense of blood relation or marital relation, it's your part of the household. but you're still property. you can still be bought and sold. you can still have families broken up. you can still be whipped. all those things can happen , because you're really just property. host: the media and the press have spent a lot of time in the last couple of months talking about the family of donald trump that surrounds him. jared kushner, his daughter ivanka, and others. did andrew jackson have any family around him in the white house? guest: he did. he had one nephew, andrew jackson donelson, who was one of rachel donelson jackson's nephews. andrew and rachel jackson never had any natural children.
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so, andrew jackson donelson essentially serves as jackson's private secretary and a little bit like a chief of staff, in some regard. and then andrew donelson's wife, emily, serves as the de facto white house hostess or first lady, because rachel jackson dies right after jackson is elected in 1828. so andrew and emily come to the white house, and essentially serve as a buffer -- or try to serve as a buffer between jackson and washington society. host: did they think there was anything wrong with it back then? guest: no -- no, i think the expectation was you would bring some family with you. donelson -- in his case, he actually doesn't get an official paid position, a salaried position, until jackson's second term. he serves as secretary of the general land office, so he signs off on land office patents. so for a long time, he is not actually even paid by the government.
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but no, they didn't see anything wrong with that. host: so why do you think the media cares so much today about family being around donald trump? guest: well, i think it's the enrichment, the personal enrichment, that can take place. i think the influence is going to be there regardless. and to think that any family member that a president cares about, that that family member's not going to influence them is -- is really naive. certainly that's going to happen. but i think it's the personal enrichment. i think it's also the fact that you want qualified people making big decisions. so in the case of jared kushner, who is essentially serving as almost a secretary of state -- , in many ways -- he's in charge of peace in the middle east, he's in charge of this, he's in charge of that. is he qualified to do that? and can he handle any of those duties, much less all of those duties? i think that's where the real problem is today. host: so, go back -- you know, you're still talking to the president about andrew jackson.
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and he says, you know, you've been telling me all these great things about him in the past, maybe i ought to take him down for the reasons that he was not good. and i would ask you again, if you were going to recommend somebody for him to put up on his wall in the oval office, who would that be? guest: richard nixon would be a good choice. just to remind him of what can happen when you overstep your authority and overstep your power. that would be my recommendation. but, honestly, i think what we have to remember is that whichever president goes up on the wall of the oval office, all of them have flaws. and i think it's easy for us to focus on jackson and all of his deficiencies -- and there were many -- but if thomas jefferson were hanging there, we would have to talk about his deficiencies. he also removes native americans. he has a relationship, that may
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not have been consensual, with one of his enslaved women, sally hemings. george washington owned african-americans. you know, the list goes on and on. every president is flawed because every president is a human being. jackson, i think, just happens to encapsulate a lot of the weaknesses of the early 19th century. host: how popular was he during those eight years? he was a two-termer. guest: he was a two-termer. he lost a little bit of the percentage of popular vote during his second election in 1832. but again, the voting base had expanded, so he had more votes than he has in 1828. he's fairly popular with the people. but he also is not popular with some of the washington politicians. and in fact, that one party system that had helped elect him disintegrates into a two party system during his second term. and you have the whig party emerge as the opposition party. and the whig party was made up of a variety of different factions, but the one thing they
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had in common was they hated jackson. and so he's the force that binds them all together. host: is it fair to call andrew jackson the father of the democratic party? guest: i think so. i think he has to share that moniker with martin van buren. van buren's really the architect. i don't think you can have jackson elected without van buren. but also, i don't think you would have van buren elected president without jackson. so i think you have to see those two as codependent when it comes to the democratic party, but certainly jackson's the figurehead. host: why didn't he like the u.s. bank? guest: jackson saw the u.s. bank as this -- so, the u.s. bank -- the second bank of the united states was formed in 1816, had a 20 year contract -- so 1836 -- and what jackson saw the bank doing was manipulating the american economy and using government money against him. against him personally.
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shortly after the 1828 election, some of jackson's advisors come to him and tell him that president nicholas biddle, president of the u.s. bank, had used bank money to help fund john quincy adams's campaign in new england. and jackson thought that was horrible. that the people's money was being used for political purposes, and that just added to his suspicion about banks. jackson wasn't necessarily fond of banks anyway. and so, based on that, based on the fact that henry clay was a strong supporter of the bank, and that he tried to push the bank's recharter, or new contract, through in 1832 as an election year issue -- all that sort of coalesced jackson's hatred of the bank. and then when nicholas biddle tried to start a recession as a way of getting back at jackson's interjection into the bank's business, that just made clear what jackson had to do.
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he had to destroy the bank. host: what was the eaton affair and when did it happen? guest: the sex scandal. the eaton affair. that occurs between 1829 and 1831. this was a scandal involving jackson's very close friend, senator john eaton, whom jackson appointed secretary of war. and -- host: he was from where, by the way? guest: john eaton was from tennessee, from middle tennessee, near where jackson lived. host: and jackson's buried now in tennessee and lived there at the end of his life. guest: right, absolutely. so john eaton had been good friends with margaret o'neill timberlake and her husband, john timberlake. john timberlake was a navy purser. and what that means is that he would go out and be an accountant for the united states navy. so he would be gone for months on end on ships, keeping track of wages and that sort of thing. so while he was gone, john eaton and margaret o'neill timberlake would go to social functions
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together, and rumors started to spread that they were having an affair. well, then john timberlake committed suicide. and the account was that he had slit his own throat because he found out that his wife and his best friend, john eaton, were having an affair. now, whether that's true or not, -- he did kill himself, but whether it was because of the affair, the alleged affair, we don't know. but -- so, margaret eaton is now -- margaret o'neill timberlake is now a widow. and less than a year after her husband commits suicide, she marries john eaton, the man she was allegedly having an affair with. so all of this happens before jackson becomes president. well, jackson appoints eaton to be secretary of war and washington society is aghast that jackson has appointed this man, who was having an affair with this woman they consider a whore, and they used that word.
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so jackson appoints eaton, sees him as a very close, loyal friend, wants him to be in his cabinet, and he defends eaton and margaret over the next two years, to the point that he will call cabinet meetings to discuss whether or not john and margaret had an affair, and he will provide evidence that shows that they did not. and what historians and biographers of jackson, in particular, see is they see a man -- they see a president who lost his wife in december of 1828, a wife who had been accused of adultery, a wife who had been accused of having an affair, and many of jackson's biographers, including myself, see jackson projecting psychologically onto the eatons what he must have felt about his own marriage. he couldn't defend rachel anymore, she's dead. so he's going to defend one of his best friends and his best friend's wife, in order to sort
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of salve his conscience about rachel. and so this continues for two years, disrupts jackson's cabinet. he spends an inordinate amount of time defending the eatons, defending their marriage, calling witnesses to show that they're innocent. and then it all culminates in martin van buren, who's secretary of state under jackson -- martin van buren and john eaton saying, we will resign in order to end this, and that will allow you as president to call for the resignations of your other cabinet members. you can appoint a new cabinet, start fresh, and we can move on from this entire episode. host: if andrew jackson was sitting here right now, what would be your first question? guest: why did he spend so much time on the eaton affair. you know, i don't know. i guess i would ask him if he was cognizant of what was happening, what would he think of president trump. does he see something of himself in president trump. and i would be curious to hear his answer, because i don't
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think he would. i think he would see lots of things in president trump that he would not find very satisfactory, and i think he would find it offensive. and one example is treatment of women. jackson was a strong defender of women, not just rachel his wife, but margaret eaton and other women that he saw as needing protection. and again, in 2017, this is something that we don't necessarily see as necessary today, that men don't have to protect women, but jackson saw it that way, and he certainly would not have wanted to see a president who was accused of the things that president trump has been accused of, in office. host: but what about going the other way? and if you're donald trump, you know, you say -- or you say to steve bannon, why would you recommend a connection to andrew jackson? he whipped slaves. he killed native americans. he got in duels and killed a man.
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i mean, he'd go down the list the other way around. he'd say, why would you want to be associated with andrew jackson? guest: again, i'm not in the mind of steve bannon, but i think it would be the focus on populism, that jackson was seen and is seen still as a man of the people, as a president of the people, and that is the way that trump wants to see himself. that he is a populist president. host: was jackson a man of the people? guest: in some regards, yes. he's someone who essentially came from nothing, so he understood the plight of common people. he was someone who defended common people, in many ways. not in the way that we would today, because his conception of common people would not include minority groups. host: at the end of his life -- and we're about out of time -- how old was he and what did he die of? guest: he was 78 when he died in june of 1845. he died of a number of different things. lead poisoning, the treatments,
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the medical treatments that were trying to address the lead poisoning. jackson had suffered from dysentery, which is a severe form of diarrhea, during the war of 1812, and that still plagued him. he had a number of issues, health problems over the years. host: and if he came from nothing, though, how much was he worth when he died? guest: he was worth, probably all told, around $100,000. host: in those days. guest: in those days. which is a substantial amount of money -- host: several million. guest: several million, yes. host: so did he get this money from politics, from being in the military? where'd he earn it? guest: no, he mainly earned it from his plantations in tennessee and in mississippi in particular. host: our guest has been mark r. cheathem. he is a professor and head of the history department at cumberland university in lebanon, tennessee. one of his books, "andrew jackson, southerner." what are the others?
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guest: "old hickory's nephew: the political and private struggles of andrew jackson donelson," which is about andrew jackson donelson. andrew jackson: the rise of the democrats, which is really an overview of the democratic party and its origins. those are a couple. host: mark cheathem, thank you very much for joining us. guest: thank you, brian. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2017] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] announcer: four free transcripts or to give us your comments about this program, visit us at q&a.org. "q&a" programs are also available as c-span podcasts. announcer: if you enjoyed this week's "q&a" interview with mark
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cheathem, here are some other programs you might like. professor nancy isenberg on her book "white trash." his book, "the making of donald trump," and historian gordon would talks about his work. you can watch these anytime, or search our entire video library at c-span.org. next, a bbc review of the recent major stories in british politics. that, a news conference with russian foreign minister sergey lavrov and at 11:00 p.m., another chance to see "q&a" with history professor mark cheathem on his biography of andrew jackson. announcer: join "washington journal" on monday, as we visit the offices of ask es to learn about this news organization start up and hear from their reporters on the news of the day.
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joining us will be the cofounder , a national political reporter covering the trump presidency, and republican leadership. caitlin owens, health care reporter. and mike allen, cofounder of axios and executive editor. watch this spotlight on axios monday morning, starting at 7:00 -- 8:00 a.m. eastern on c-span. >> the british parliament is on recess until after the june elections. bbc parliament looks back at the major events that took place during the 2016-2017 legislative session. this is an hour.

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