Like most presidents, Andrew Jackson had speechwriters, and as a result, many of his speeches were elegant, brief, and rather low-key, despite some of the chaos of his presidency.
Andrew Jackson's election to the United States presidency in 1828 was seen as the rise of the common man. According to the election rules of the day, he lost the election of 1824 to John Quincy Adams, although in fact Jackson had won the popular vote, and tied Adams in the electoral college, but lost in the House of Representatives.
Once Jackson became president, he was one of the first to truly utilize the power of the presidency. He was known for following his own strong opinions and vetoing more bills than all presidents before him. His enemies called him "King Andrew."
Many quotations on the internet are attributed to Jackson, but lack citations to give context or meaning to the quotation. The following list includes quotes with the sources where possible--and a handful without.
Verifiable Quotes: Presidential Speeches
Verifiable quotations are those that can be found in specific speeches or publications of President Jackson.
"In a free government, the demand for moral qualities should be made superior to that of talents." (from a rough draft of his Inaugural Address)
"It will be my sincere and constant desire to observe toward the Indian tribes within our limits a just and liberal policy, and to give that humane and considerate attention to their rights and their wants which is consistent with the habits of our Government and the feelings of our people." (from Jackson's First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1829)
"Without union, our independence and liberty would never have been achieved; without union, they never can be maintained." (Second Inaugural Address, March 4, 1833)
"There are no necessary evils in government. Its evils exist only in its abuses." (message to the U.S. Senate regarding his veto of a proposed Bank of the United States, July 10, 1832)
Verifiable Quotes: Proclamations
"The individual who refuses to defend his rights when called by his Government deserves to be a slave, and must be punished as an enemy of his country and friend to her foe." (Proclamation before he became president, declaring martial law in New Orleans during the War of 1812, December 2, 1814)
"The moment we engage in confederations, or alliances with any nation we may from that time date the downfall of our republic." (Warning to John C. Calhoun who had announced to Congress that he was going to be attending a conference in Panama to improve relations and discuss the possibility of Northern intervention in Latin America, in 1828)
"The wisdom of man never yet contrived a system of taxation that would operate with perfect equality." (Proclamation to the People of South Carolina, written by Edward Livingston and issued by Jackson on December 10, 1832, at the height of the Nullification Crisis)
These quotations have some evidence that they may have been used by Jackson, but cannot be verified.
"Any man worth his salt will stick up for what he believes right, but it takes a slightly better man to acknowledge instantly and without reservation that he is in error." (also attributed to General Peyton C. March)
"One man with courage makes a majority." (This is an old adage which was written by the 16th-century Scottish reformer John Knox, that may or may not have also been quoted by Jackson)
This quotation appears on the Internet as attributed to Jackson but without a citation, and it doesn't sound like Jackson's political voice. It could have been something he said in a private letter:
"I can say with truth that mine is a situation of dignified slavery."
- Dirck BR. 2007. The Executive Branch of Federal Government: People, Process, and Politics. Sacramento: ABC-CLIO.
- Farwell B. 2001. The Encyclopedia of Nineteenth-Century Land Warfare: An Illustrated World View. New York: W.W. Norton and Company.
- Keyes R. 2006. The Quote Verifier: Who Said What, Where, and When. New York: St. Martin's Griffin.
- Northrup CC, and Prange Turney EC. 2003. Encyclopedia of Tariffs and Trade in U.S. History. Volume II Debating the Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Publishing Group.issues : selected primary documents.