Title: Avenging the People
Author: J.M. Opal
Stars: 2 out of 5
This has been a very hard review for me to write as I find myself liking some parts of the overall material presented but filled with disgust with the end conclusion. I expected to have more information about President Jackson but was left with nothing at the end. The author did forewarn the reader early on that this was a revision work for which I was grateful. Approximately 34% of the book was a source listing for the author's references. If the author had written this book during the President's life I have no doubt he would have been challenged to a duel for insulting his honor.
I have rated this book 2 stars and would not recommend it to anyone else.
I obtained an ARC from Netgalley for my unbiased review.
Andrew Jackson towered over American life during the second quarter of the nineteenth century, so much so that the period has been dubbed the Jacksonian era. With the passionate support of most voters and their families, he broke through the protocols of the Founding generation, defying constitutional and international norms in the name of the "sovereign people." And yet Jackson's career was no less about limiting that sovereignty, imposing one kind of law over Americans so that they could inflict his sort of "justice" on non-Americans.
Jackson made his name along the Carolina and Tennessee frontiers by representing merchants and creditors and serving governors and judges. At times that meant ejecting white squatters from native lands and returning blacks slaves to native planters. Jackson performed such duties in the name of federal authority and the "law of nations." Yet he also survived an undeclared war with Cherokee and Creek fighters between 1792 and 1794, raging at the Washington administration's failure to "avenge the blood" of white colonists who sometimes leaned towards the Spanish Empire rather than the United States. Even under the friendlier presidency of Thomas Jefferson, Jackson chafed at the terms of national loyalty. During the long war in the south and west from 1811 to 1818 he repeatedly brushed aside state and federal restraints on organized violence, citing his deeper obligations to the people's safety within a terrifying world of hostile empires, lurking warriors, and rebellious slaves. By 1819 white Americans knew him as their "great avenger."
Drawing from recent literatures on Jackson and the early republic and also from new archival sources, Avenging the Peopleportrays him as a peculiar kind of nationalist for a particular form of nation, a grim and principled man whose grim principles made Americans fearsome in some respects and helpless in others.
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published June 1st 2017 by Oxford University Press, USA
About The Author:
J.M. Opal is Associate Professor of History at McGill University. He is the author of Beyond the Farm: National Ambitions in Rural New England and the editor of Common Sense and Other Writings by Thomas Paine.