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Andrew Jackson: Life After the Presidency

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Throughout his presidency, Jackson yearned for a quiet retirement at The Hermitage. When the time for it came, however, he found that he could not let go of politics. Jackson yearned to see his policies carried through and his reputation vindicated. Martin Van Buren, his handpicked successor as President, had become his closest political confidante. Throughout Van Buren's term, Jackson peppered him with advice, exhortations, and warnings. He summoned all of his failing energies on behalf of Van Buren's Independent Treasury financial plan and his unsuccessful reelection bid in 1840.

William Henry Harrison's defeat of Van Buren staggered Jackson, but he soon found cause for rejoicing in Harrison's sudden death and the reversion of his successor, John Tyler, to Democratic policies on banking and the tariff. To Jackson's great satisfaction, his influence was again enlisted, this time in support of the annexation of Texas. Jackson backed annexation with enthusiasm. When Van Buren declared against it, Jackson helped start the movement to jettison him in favor of Tennessean James K. Polk for the 1844 Democratic nomination. Jackson lived long enough to see his loyal disciple Polk installed in the presidency to carry on his work.

Honors and tributes enriched Jackson's retirement. He was the living symbol of democracy and an endless parade of admirers trekked to The Hermitage to do him homage. Jackson accepted public tributes with an air of diffident humility, but he seemingly never tired of them. In 1840, he dragged himself to New Orleans for a twenty-fifth anniversary celebration of his great triumph. Conscious of his importance and jealous of his reputation, Jackson spent much time arranging his papers and making preparations for Amos Kendall's projected biography.

Gradually the weight of age and illness bore down on Jackson. His health had been precarious for many years, yet he had recovered from the brink so many times that friends half-seriously questioned his mortality. Jackson knew better. He had long anticipated death and faced it without fear. He died at The Hermitage on June 8, 1845, surrounded by family and friends, and was buried in his garden next to Rachel.

Citation Information

Consulting Editor

Daniel Feller

Professor Feller is a history professor and the Editor/Director of The Papers of Andrew Jackson at the University of Tennessee. His writing include:

The Jacksonian Promise: America, 1815–1840 (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995)

The Public Lands in Jacksonian Politics (University of Wisconsin Press, 1984)