« AnteriorContinuar »
public affairs, and represented his native district in Congress. He occupies the position in that body to which his eminent talents and distinguished services fully entitle him. His speeches are marked with the stern and singular independence which has characterized his whole life, and cominand the respect and attention which must always be awarded to a man of fearless and uncompromising integrity. Long may he be spared to the councils of the nation —long enough to witness the demolition of party prejudices, and to enjoy the fruition of that fame, which has been purchased by the devotion of a life to the service of his country !
ANDREw Jackson was born at Waxsaw, about forty-five miles above Camden, South Carolina, on the fifteenth of March, 1767. He was placed at school at the academy in his native town, where he remained until the British made irruptions into that region, and compelled the inhabitants to join either the American or British standard, or to forsake their country. Andrew and his brother Robert hastened to join the American army. The corps to which they belonged was surprised, and eleven of them taken prisoners, while the rest fled into the woods for concealment. Andrew and his brother escaped, by entering the bend of a creek, where they remained through the night But, on the next day, they entered a house at hand, to procure food, where they were taken prisoners by a party of dragoons. The British officers determined to employ them in menial occupations, and thus to quench their bold spirits. An officer ordered our hero to clean his boots, and, on his refusing to do so, struck at him with a sword, by which he was wounded in the left arm. For a refusal to obey a similar command, his brother was severely wounded on the head, and probably his death hastened thereby. His mother died soon after his brother Robert, leaving Andrew the sole remaining member of the family. He soon after entered on the study of the law with Judge McCay and Col. John Stokes, of Salisbury, North Carolina. In 1786, he obtained a license to practise law, and soon
after removed to Nashville, Tennessee, where he entered on an extensive and profitable practice. He was appointed to the office of attorney-general, which he held for several years.
Even at this early period of his life, he manifested the military genius that in after years gave him an elevated rank among the defenders of his country. In the year 1796, he was appointed a member of the Convention for framing a state constitution, and the sanie year elected a member of the House of Representatives in Congress. The next year, he was elected to the Senate; but, finding his situation disagreeable, he resigned his seat, and was chosen to succeed General Conway in the command of the militia of Tennessee.
In 1812, he raised a corps of two thousand five hundred volunteers, joined the United States army, and was ordered to Natchez, Mississippi, a distance of about six hundred miles. After a long and toilsome march through the forest, he reached his destination, encamped his army on an elevated position, and awaited further orders. The danger of invasion having in some degree subsided, he received orders from the secretary of war to disband his trocps, and transfer his stores to General Wilkinson. An order so manifestly unjust he hesitated not to disobey. His army, with tears in their eyes, implored him not to leave them to the alternative of enlisting in the United States army, or of begging their way to their homes in Tennes
General Wilkinson had given orders for his officers to enlist men from Jackson's division : but, the latter haying threatened to punish any man that should dare to enter his camp with such a design, the attempt was abandoned. Having made the necessary preparations, he commenced his march homeward. The roads were almost impassable from the recent rains, and the swamps and streams which they were compelled to cross, were full. But the spirits and fortitude of their general inspired the soldiers with confidence in hinn and in themselves, and his participatien in their severest trials — he haring given up his herses for the transportation of the sick — repressed every inclination to murmur.. His whole division at length arrived at the place of their departure, and were disbanded.
About this time, the bold Tecumseh, and his crafty brother, the prophet, were busily engaged in the execution of a scheme, which would have been worthy of the admiration and respect even of those who were their destined victims, had not the traces of British influence been manifest in all their operations. Their design contemplated the array in deadly hostility of all the Indians on our northern and western frontiers, and the massacre, on a day appointed, of all the frontier inhabitants. To effect their design, it was necessary to arouse all the fierce and vindictive passions of the savages. This was without difficulty effected; but it was impossible to restrain them till the appointed time. Parties of the northern tribes were continually making depredations on the frontiers. At Fort Mimms, Mississippi, about one hundred and fifty men, with a large number of women and children, were assembled. The Indians, to the number of six or seven hundred, carried the fort by assault, and put to death about three hundred persons. When news of this outrage arrived in Tennessee, the whole state was ready to march and avenge its slaughtered, hapless children. An expedition into the heart of the Creek country was immediately planned. Volunteers were called into the field, at whose head General Jackson was placed, though he was laboring under the effects of a broken limb. He promptly assumed the command, issued the necessary camp orders, and proceeded to obtain the requisite supplies. In effecting this purpose, he met with unexpected difficulties: the contractors found themselves unable to fulfil their engagements, and Jackson was compelled to have recourse to other means of supply; but, after all his exertions, he found his army but ill provided with the stores necessary to carry on a vigorous campaign.
Learning from the Indian runners, whom he employed to obtain information, that the enemy were collected in force on the south side of the River Coosa, General Jackson detached General Coffee, with nine hundred men, to attack them. On their arrival in the vicinity of the enemy, two companies were sent forward to draw them from their camp, who, after a few shots, commenced a retreat, followed by the Indians, yelling and fighting as they came on : on reaching the main body of the Americans, they were received with a tremendous discharge of musketry, and, fighting desperately, and contesting the ground inch by inch, were driven back to their encampment, which was taken, the enemy completely routed, and a large number of them were killed or taken prisoners. For several months General Jackson continued to attack the enemy, having to contend with the machinations of jealous rivals, and with the discontents of his soldiers, arising from an almost entire destitution of provisions. Seated one day at the root of a tree, making a repast on acorns, the general saw a soldier approach, who complained that he was nearly starved, and was destitute of the means of procuring any food. “I make it a point,” said the general, “never to turn away a hungry man, when it is in my power to relieve him, and will most cheerfully divide with you whatever I have,” at the same time offering him a handful of acorns. The soldier returned to his company, and reported that the general lived on acorns, and that they ought no more to complain. The militia, however, who had little experience in the sufferings of the soldier's life, were the first to revolt and abandon the camp. The general ordered the volunteers, who still remained faithful, to form in front of the mutineers, and prevent their farther progress. The militia, fearful of the result if they persisted, yielded and returned to their camp. The next day, the general found the volunteers in the condition of the militia the day before. But a short time elapsed before the militia were drawn up in arms to reduce to obedience the very men who had a few hours before conferred on them a similar benefit; the volunteers returned, much mortified, to their duty. But the discontent was not yet arrested. General Jackson had promised to accompany them in their departure, unless relief should arrive in two days. The time having elapsed without the expected arrival, the militia claimed the fulfilment of his pledge; he began, accordingly, to make preparations for their departure. They had marched but a few miles before they met a hundred and fifty beeves, and the general determined to return to the post they had just left; the troops refused obedience, and began to move off in a body. Alone, surrounded by discontented and angry men, deprived of the use of his left arm, he met the crisis with a mind that was never known to quail in the presence of danger; he seized a musket, and, resting it on the neck of his horse, cast himself in front of the column, threatening to shoot the first man that attempted to advance. Here he was found by Major Reid and General Coffee, who awaited the result by his side. The whole column, for several minutes, preserved a sullen silence, while two companies, that had remained faithful, formed behind the general, with orders to fire as soon as he should give the example. The contagion of fear was soon communicated from one to the other, and one by one the whole column turned and marched back. The ensuing campaign began under the same disadvantages that had nearly defeated the former. General Jackson determined no longer to submit to the delay of contractors, sent agents to the nearest settlements to make purchases, at any price, on the credit of the contractors, which immediately brought them to terms, and insured a plentiful supply during the rest of the campaign. After several successive defeats, having even been driven from the Hickory Ground, which, from its sacred character, they believed would never be pressed by the foot of a white man, the Indians sued for and obtained peace. On the resignation of General Harrison, General Jackson received the appointment of major-general in the army of the United St ites. His attention was immediately directed to the conduct of the Spanish authorities of Florida, where he learned that three hundred English soldiers had been suffered to land, and that they were engaged in exciting the Indians to hostilities.
He demanded of the Spanish governor of Pensacola the observance of his neutrality. An acrimonious correspondence ensued between them, which had no other result than to influme still more the indignation of General Jackson. Colonel Nichols, a British officer, now arrived at Pensacolt, with a small squadron, and took his head-quarters with Governor Maurequez. He issued a proclamation to