Photographer's Note

This sculpture is entitled "Andrew Jackson," by Clark Mills. It's mounted on a white marble base, which is situated in Lafayette Square in President's Park, just north of the White House. Jackson is depicted mounted on his horse Duke, dressed in his military uniform.

Andrew Jackson, the seventh US president (1829-1837) is a controversial figure in US history, for a number of reasons. He was at the time considered a war hero for commanding US forces at the Battle of New Orleans in 1815. He also served in both houses of Congress and later as a justice on the Tennessee Supreme Court (1789-1804). Considered an "expansionist" president, Jackson fought in the war against the British in 1815 and later in the First Seminole War, which resulted in the annexation of Florida. He, along with Thomas Jefferson, is widely credited with founding the Democratic party in response to what he considered corruption perpetrated by then-president Adams. In fact, his memory is still honored, along with Thomas Jefferson, in fundraising dinners held by state Democratic Party organizations.

Jackson's reputation began to be re-evaluated in the 1960s, however, particularly because of his relations with native peoples. In 1830, Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act, which has made him a much-maligned figure to the present-day, although certainly not at the time. He was also a vocal opponent of the abolition movement.

Although ostensibly signed to allow the president to negotiate with the various tribes, there was no real "negotiation." This act instead resulted in the forcible dispossession and relocation of almost all the First Nation people of the Southeast to reservations west of the Mississippi, including the so-called "Five Civilized Tribes," the Chickasaw, Choctaw, Muscogee-Creek, Seminole and Original Cherokee nations. Until the removals, they had been considered autonomous nations within the United States, a policy favored and promoted by the Whig party and Thomas Jefferson. In 1828, however, the US Supreme Court decided that Indigenous persons could occupy lands within the US but could not hold title to those lands, breaking ground for their eventual removal, as the persons who had lived there for millennia were not considered "land owners," as such.

In reality, the Act constituted nothing more than a land grab, intended to move native peoples to areas with less desirable land, allowing European-descent farmers to settle and farm former native lands, which was accelerated after gold was discovered in the territories occupied by native peoples. There was modest opposition, primarily by Christian missionaries, and even by a few members of Congress, but the Act did eventually pass, by a vote of 28 to 19.

Jackson, along with many others, believed that the demise of the tribal nations was inevitable, as they were increasingly being supplanted by an ever-growing population of European-descent settlers, who, under Jackson's expansionist policies, continued to make inroads into the western areas of the US. The act was still enforced during the administration of Martin Van Buren, remaining in effect until about 1850, when all who could be logistically removed had been.

The most notorious of these forced removals was the Trail of Tears, which resulted from the so-called "Treaty" of New Echota, signed in 1835. This treaty stipulated that the Cherokee would cede all their land east of the Mississippi for land in Indian Territory, now the state of Oklahoma, and a $5 million payment from the federal government. About 16,000 Cherokee signed a petition to stop the adoption of this treaty, however, with many more feeling betrayed by their leadership. Approximately 60,000 First Nation peoples of the Five Civilized Tribes endured this journey between 1830 and 1850.

About 2,000 Cherokee had voluntarily relocated from Georgia to now-Oklahoma, but forcible removals began shortly thereafter. The deadline for relocation was May, 1838; any who refused to go were rounded up and placed into camps, to be forced to march the entire distance, sometimes in groups in excess of 700 people, comprised of men, women and children. The final groups were also forced to travel during the hottest and coldest months of the year, which caused many deaths. It is estimated that this forced march, exceeding 1,000 miles, resulted in the deaths of up to one third of the people who endured these "death marches." Only a few hundred, living on private lands throughout the region, were either allowed to stay on their ancestral lands, or who were not subject to removal. Some remained in hiding, still refusing to leave their homes. The Cherokee removal was the last forced removal east of the Mississippi.

In later decades, the US government was forced to accept culpability for the deaths of thousand of native people, including the most vulnerable, the young and the old. The Eastern Cherokee tribe filed a claim against the US government over the removals, and the US Court of Claims approved their claim in 1905, resulting in $1 million in payments to eligible persons.

Many still hold Jackson in high esteem, however. The sculpture here depicted was commissioned by the Jackson monument Committee under John Peter Van Ness, who chose Mills, who was self-taught. Mills opened a bronze foundry to work on the statue, on 15th St. and Pennsylvania Ave. NW, near the Treasury Building. The horse was actually modeled on Mills's own, named Olympus, who Mills trained to stand on his hind legs. Mills reportedly borrowed Jackson's uniform from the US Patent Office, to endure historical accuracy. The statue is a third larger than life and weighs 15 tons. It was installed and shortly after dedicated on Jan. 8, 1853, on the 38th anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans. The event was attended by a crowd of 20,000, including then-president Fillmore and his cabinet. Mills also made two other castings of the statue, which were placed in the former Place d'Armes, in New Orleans, which was later renamed Jackson Square, in 1856. A second was dedicated in 1880 on the Tennessee State Capitol grounds in Nashville, TN to celebrate the city's centennial, in 1880.

Some have called for the statue to be removed, at least from its DC location. There have been increasing incidences of vandalism in recent years. A crowd unsuccessfully attempted to topple it in June, 2020, for which several were charged with destruction of federal property. It was also later vandalized, on Oct. 11, 2021, when protestors spray painted the words "Expect US" on the base, on Columbus Day. Given the present climate, its future, at least in Lafayette Park, is uncertain.

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Photo Information
  • Copyright: Terez Anon (terez93) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 92 W: 78 N: 1269] (2186)
  • Genre: People
  • Medium: Color
  • Date Taken: 2013-10-00
  • Photo Version: Original Version
  • Date Submitted: 2021-10-25 14:19
Viewed: 0
Points: 4
  • None
Additional Photos by Terez Anon (terez93) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 92 W: 78 N: 1269] (2186)
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