Until the end of the suspense… Democrat Joe Biden obtained this Saturday the 270 grand voters needed to become the 46th president of the United States, at the end of an incredible outcome where America and the world were suspended from counting the final ballots in Pennsylvania or Georgia. But, for the moment, the Trump camp says it wants to file appeals in court. This episode comes to crown an extremely tense campaign between two rivals that everything opposes… remake of the terrible campaign of 1828.
The weather was wet and cold in Washington on Wednesday, March 4, 1829. As often in the federal capital, where the arteries drawn with a line thirty years earlier let squalls rush and freeze the bones. Yet it is a day of celebration on the banks of the Potomac: Andrew Jackson, the seventh President of the United States, will soon be sworn in on the steps of the Capitol, in front of which a procession of carriages, pulled by caparisoned horses, stops. In ceremonial dress, like the man who steps out of the most beautiful car, to the cheers of the crowd massed along Pennsylvania Avenue.
They want to see him, this “champion of the people” who has groomed the establishment. For the first time, the presidency of the young Union escapes the patrician families, these planters of Virginia who hold everything, money and power. With Jackson, it is a new America which triumphs, that of the West… which stops – still very far from the Pacific – on the borders of Tennessee of which he is the senator.
His wife Rachel died of exhaustion and despair
At 61, he is also a famous general, who was only 13 when he joined in 1776 “the Insurgents” fighting for independence. The English, the Spaniards, the Seminole Indians of Florida or the Creeks of Alabama… All of his wars have made him a national hero. He even inherited a nickname: “Old Hickory”, an affectionate allusion to the hardness of walnut wood, which comes from a song written in his honor in 1812 when he was leading the Southern Army against the English red tunics. .
It took three weeks and more than 1,000 km for Andrew Jackson to make the trip from the Hermitage, his property in Nashville, Washington. Thick gray hair covered with a beaver skin headdress, big bow tie and sword hanging from the waist to remind the soldier that he never ceased to be… The new president has undoubtedly presence. An intense face, wrinkled with wrinkles, testifies to the thousand lives this self-made man lived before starting a new one, in a few hours, at the White House.
But there is something else, which is due to the melancholy of his eyes and the black armband he wears on his dark coat, the stigma of his widowhood. His wife Rachel died December 22, just three weeks after her husband won the presidential election over John Quincy Adams, the outgoing president. She died of exhaustion and despair, defeated by an atrocious campaign that tarnished her reputation.
Adams portrayed as a lazy king
Adams’ supporters, Puritans as we are then in the elites of the East Coast, accused her of marrying Andrew when the divorce from her first husband was not pronounced … which she did not know. Andrew is accused of adultery, she of bigamy. Jackson’s enemies will even go so far as to circulate a nasty rumor, making Jackson’s mother a prostitute who came from England with Her Majesty’s troops.
Mudslinging, which would become the sordid folklore of so many American campaigns to come, reached its peak in the year 1828. Jackson is not a lamb. As an experienced soldier, he was the first to fire, releasing diatribes with populist overtones. His clan calls Adams a corrupt president, who pays off his debts with national money, portraying him as a lazy king preferring to play billiards than to work. They imply that then Ambassador to Russia Adams offered the Tsar the sexual services of an American.
The Adams clan responds by mocking the popular phrasing and Jackson’s lack of education. They go so far as to distort his last name into “jackass” (moron), the better to mock his crude manners and his anti-elite speech. “Jackass” can also be translated as donkey, but the Democrat will cleverly succeed in deflecting this insult to his own advantage on his campaign posters. From the stubborn and stupid animal that his opponents laugh at, he turns him into a persevering, loyal and hardworking companion… which will become the emblem of the Democratic Party, created by him in 1828 to conquer power against the nationalist Republicans of Adams.
Jackson, a tough guy
But the liege men of the latter have other weapons. They take out the dirty laundry of his Democratic competitor from the drawers, in particular the multiple duels to which he has lent himself, until killing one of his rivals. He would also have had six soldiers executed under his command in 1812… which became so many black coffins attached to the candidate’s name on slanderous posters distributed throughout the country.
The ambition, the characters, the social origins… Everything opposes these two men. But if they hate each other so much, it’s because they have old scores to settle. They date back to the presidential election of 1824, which Jackson won in terms of votes and voters… before losing it in the House of Representatives, following a maneuver instigated by Adams.
This tough Jackson guy had four years to ruminate, prepare his revenge, then beat his nemesis to the ground, winning 16 out of 24 states and 57% of the vote. The K.-O. is total, but their dirty war has left traces that nothing will appease, not even the transfer of powers. By disembarking in Washington, Jackson will refuse to go to greet the loser, entrenched in the White House in an outraged silence. He will skip the investiture ceremony of his successor on March 4. Despite the popular jubilation, the weather was really freezing in the capital that day.
Original article by : www.leparisien.fr