Andrew Jackson

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Take time to deliberate; but when the time for action arrives, stop thinking and go in.

Andrew Jackson (15 March 17678 June 1845), was the seventh President of the United States (1829-1837), hero of the Battle of New Orleans (1815), a founder of the Democratic Party, and the eponym of the era of Jacksonian democracy.

Sourced

  • 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 to the people of Louisiana" from Mobile (1814-09-21)
  • The brave man inattentive to his duty, is worth little more to his country, than the coward who deserts her in the hour of danger.
  • Do they think that I am such a damned fool as to think myself fit for President of the United States? No, sir; I know what I am fit for. I can command a body of men in a rough way, but I am not fit to be President.
    • As told to H.M. Brackenridge, Jackson's secretary, in 1821; quoted by James Parton, The Life of Andrew Jackson (1860), vol. II, ch. XXVI (Houghton Mifflin and Co., 1888), page 354. Parton cites his source as H.M. Brackenridge, Letters, page 8.
  • As long as our government is administered for the good of the people, and is regulated by their will; as long as it secures to us the rights of persons and of property, liberty of conscience, and of the press, it will be worth defending.
  • Our Federal Union! it must be preserved!
    • Toast at a celebration of Thomas Jefferson's birthday (1830-04-13); as quoted in Public Men and Events from the Commencement of Mr. Monroe's Administration, in 1817, to the Close of Mr. Fillmore's Administration, in 1853 (1875) by Nathan Sargent
  • It is to be regretted that the rich and powerful too often bend the acts of government to their selfish purposes. Distinctions in society will always exist under every just government. Equality of talents, of education, or of wealth can not be produced by human institutions. In the full enjoyment of the gifts of Heaven and the fruits of superior industry, economy, and virtue, every man is equally entitled to protection by law; but when the laws undertake to add to these natural and just advantages artificial distinctions, to grant titles, gratuities, and exclusive privileges, to make the rich richer and the potent more powerful, the humble members of society — the farmers, mechanics, and laborers — who have neither the time nor the means of securing like favors to themselves, have a right to complain of the injustice of their government. There are no necessary evils in government. Its evils exist only in its abuses. If it would confine itself to equal protection, and, as Heaven does its rains, shower its favors alike on the high and the low, the rich and the poor, it would be an unqualified blessing.
  • Hemans gallows ought to be the fate of all such ambitious men who would involve their country in civil wars, and all the evils in its train that they might reign & ride on its whirlwinds & direct the Storm-- The free people of these United States have spoken, and consigned these wicked demagogues to their proper doom.
    • Regarding the resolution of the Nullification Crisis. Letter to Andrew I. Crawford. 1 May 1833.
  • It was settled by the Constitution, the laws, and the whole practice of the government that the entire executive power is vested in the President of the United States.
    • Message of Protest to the United States Senate (1834-04-15)
  • But you must remember, my fellow-citizens, that eternal vigilance by the people is the price of liberty, and that you must pay the price if you wish to secure the blessing.
  • Oh, do not cry. Be good children, and we shall all meet in Heaven... I want to meet you all, white and black, in Heaven.
    • Last recorded words, to his grand-children and his servants, as quoted in The National Preacher (1845) by Austin Dickinson, p. 192
  • Heaven will be no heaven to me if I do not meet my wife there.
    • Statement shortly before his death, as quoted in Life of Andrew Jackson (1860) by James Parton, p. 679
  • John Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it!
    • On a Supreme Court decision that a Georgia law prohibiting white men from entering Indian territory after 1 March 1831 was unconstitutional. Quoted in The American Conflict by Horace Greeley (1873), p. 106; also in The Life of Andrew Jackson (2001) by Robert Vincent Remini
  • Every good citizen makes his country's honor his own, and cherishes it not only as precious but as sacred. He is willing to risk his life in its defense and its conscious that he gains protection while he gives it.
    • Excellent Quotations for Home and School Selected for the use of Teachers and Pupils (1890) by Julia B. Hoitt, p.218
  • Peace, above all things, is to be desired, but blood must sometimes be spilled to obtain it on equable and lasting terms.
    • As quoted in Many Thoughts of Many Minds: A Treasury of Quotations from the Literature of Every Land and Every Age (1896) edited by Louis Klopsch, p. 209
  • The bank, Mr. Van Buren, is trying to kill me, but I will kill it.
    • Said to Martin Van Buren (1832-07-08) and quoted in The Autobiography of Martin Van Buren, published in Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1918, vol. II (1920), ed. John Clement Fitzpatrick, ch. XLIII (p. 625)
    • Referring to the Second Bank of the United States
  • It is a damn poor mind indeed which can't think of at least two ways to spell any word.
    • Sometimes reported as having been a retort to statements of his political rival, John Quincy Adams, who had boycotted Harvard Universitiy's awarding of a Doctorate of Laws degree to Jackson in 1833, declaring "I would not be present to witness her [Harvard's] disgrace in conferring her highest literary honors on a barbarian who could not write a sentence of grammar and could hardly spell his own name." Quoted in News Reporting and Writing 4th edition (1987) by M. Mencher.
      Unsourced variant: Never trust a man who has only one way to spell a word.
  • Take time to deliberate; but when the time for action arrives, stop thinking and go in.
    • As quoted in No Ordinary Moments: A Peaceful Warrior's Guide to Daily Life (1992) by Dan Millman
  • I did not hang Calhoun and shoot Clay.
    • Reported as a statement from his deathbed of two great regrets in his life, as quoted in Greenback: The Almighty Dollar and the Invention of America (2003) by Jason Goodwin, p. 171
    • Unsourced variant: My only two regrets in life are that I did not hang Calhoun and shoot Clay.
  • You are uneasy; you never sailed with me before, I see.
    • Remark to an elderly gentleman who was sailing with Jackson down Chesapeake Bay in an old steamboat, and who exhibited a little fear. Life of Jackson (Parton). Vol. iii. p. 493.

Unsourced

  • Corporations have neither bodies to kick nor souls to damn.
    • This is widely attributed to Jackson on the internet, but in research done for Wikiquote, no published source has been found. Similar remarks, "Corporations have neither bodies to be punished, nor souls to be condemned, they therefore do as they like." and "It has no soul to damn and no body to kick." have been attributed to Edward Thurlow, 1st Baron Thurlow (9 December 1731 – 12 September 1806).
  • I will go to South Carolina and hang the first secessionist I see from the first tree I can reach.
    • No source found.
  • If there is a job that a Democrat can't do, then abolish the job.
    • No source found.
  • There is no pleasure in having nothing to do; the fun is having lots to do and not doing it.
    • No source found. This is more often attributed to "Mary Wilson Little"
  • You are a nest of vipers and thieves, and by the grace of the almighty God, I will root you out!
    • Said of the Second Bank of the United States; No source found.

Misattributed

  • 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.
    • General Peyton C. March, as quoted in Crew Resource Management for the Fire Service (2004) by Randy Okray and Thomas Lubnau II, p. 25
  • Never take counsel of your fears.
    • Quoted as "a favorite maxim" of Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson in Memoirs of Stonewall Jackson by His Widow, Mary Anna Jackson, Prentice Press/Courier Journal, 1895; digitized August 10, 2006), ch. XIII (p. 264)
  • No one need think that the world can be ruled without blood. The civil sword shall and must be red and bloody.
    • Martin Luther, Von Kaufhandlung und Wucher, 1524, (Vol. XV, p. 302, of the Weimar edition of Luther's works)
  • One man with courage makes a majority.
    • Attributed to Jackson by Robert F. Kennedy in his "Foreword" to the "Young Readers Memorial Edition" of John F. Kennedy's Profiles in Courage, and by Ronald Reagan in nominating Robert Bork to the US Supreme Court, this has never been found in Jackson's writings, and there is no record of him having declared it. Somewhat similar statements are known to have been made by others:
A man with God is always in the majority. ~ John Knox
Any man more right than his neighbors constitutes a majority of one. ~ Henry David Thoreau
One on God's side is a majority ~ Wendell Phillips

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