Welcome to the MAKING OF A NATION – American history
in VOA Special English.
won its independence from Mexico during the administration of President Andrew
Jackson. Leaders of the territory then wanted to become part of the United
wanted to make Texas a state in the Union. But more important to him was the Union
itself. Jackson felt that to give statehood to Texas would deepen the split
between the northern and southern states. Texas would be a state where slavery
was permitted. For this reason, the anti-slavery leaders in the North strongly
opposed Texas statehood.
told Texas minister William Wharton that there was a way that statehood for
Texas would bring the North and South together, instead of splitting them
week in our series, Doug Johnson and Gwen Outen continue our story.
said Texas should claim California. The fishing interests of the North and East,
said Jackson, wanted a port on the Pacific coast. Offer it to them, the
president said, and they will soon forget the spreading of slavery through
and Wharton held this discussion just three weeks before the end of the
president's term. Wharton spent much time at the White House.
worked with congressmen, urging the lawmakers to recognize Texas. He was able
to get Congress to include in a bill a statement permitting the United States
to send a minister to Texas. Such a minister was to be sent whenever the
president received satisfactory evidence that Texas was an independent power.
This bill was approved four days before the end of Jackson's term.
went back to the White House. Again and again he gave Jackson arguments for
afternoon of March third, eighteen thirty-seven, Jackson agreed to recognize
the new republic led by his old friend, Sam Houston. He sent to Congress his
nomination for minister to Texas.
the last acts of that Congress was to approve the nomination. The United States
recognized Texas as an independent republic. But nine years would pass before
Texas became a state.
fourth of March, eighteen thirty-seven, was a bright, beautiful day. The sun
warmed the thousands who watched the power of government pass from one man to another.
Jackson left the White House with the man who would take his place, Martin Van
Buren. They sat next to each other as the presidential carriage moved down
Pennsylvania Avenue toward the Capitol building.
stopped in the throats of the thousands who stood along the street. In silence,
they removed their hats to show how much they loved this old man who was
once," wrote Senator Thomas Hart Benton, "the rising sun was eclipsed
by the setting sun."
crowd on the east side of the Capitol grew quiet when Jackson and Van Buren
walked out onto the front steps of the building. After Chief Justice Taney
swore in President Van Buren, the new president gave his inaugural speech.
Andrew Jackson started slowly down the steps. A mighty cheer burst from the
was a cry," wrote Senator Benton, "such as power never commanded, nor
man in power received. It was love, gratitude and admiration. I felt a feeling
that had never passed through me before."
this, men have asked? Why did the people love Jackson so?
Daniel Webster gave this reason: "General Jackson is an honest and upright
man. He does what he thinks is right. And he does it with all his might."
senator put it this way: "He called himself 'the people's friend.' And he
gave proofs of his sincerity. General Jackson understood the people of the
United States better, perhaps, than any president before him."
was always willing to let the people judge his actions. He was ready to risk
his political life for what he believed in. Jackson's opposition could not
understand why the people did not destroy him. They said he was lucky.
"Jackson's luck" the opposition called it.
seemed always to win whatever struggle he began. And the men he fought against
were not weak opponents. They were political giants: Henry Clay, John C.
Calhoun, Nicholas Biddle. The old general fought these men separately and, at
times, all together.
after Van Buren became president, Jackson met with a few of his friends. Frank
Blair, the editor of Jackson's newspaper, was one of them. Senator Benton was
another. It was a warm, friendly meeting. They thought back over Jackson's
years in the White House and talked about what had been done.
said he thought his best piece of work was getting rid of the Bank of the
United States. He said he had saved the people from a monopoly of a few rich
asked about Texas. Jackson said he was not worried about Texas. That problem
would solve itself, he said.
general have any regrets about anything? "Only two," said Jackson.
"I regret I was unable to shoot Henry Clay or to hang John C.
next morning, March sixth, Jackson left Washington to return to his home in
Tennessee. President Van Buren protested that Jackson was not well enough to
man had been sick for the last few months of his presidency. He suffered from
tuberculosis, and at times lost great amounts of blood from his lungs.
Jackson refused to listen to Van Buren's protests, the president sent the
army's top doctor, Surgeon General Thomas Lawson, to travel with Jackson.
Jackson was to leave the capital by train. Thousands of people lined the
streets to the train station, waiting for a last look at their president.
Jackson stood in the open air on the rear platform of the train. His hat was
off, and the wind blew through his long white hair.
sound came from the people who crowded around the back of the train. A bell
rang. There was a hiss of steam. And the train began to move. General Jackson
bowed. The crowd stood still.
train moved around a curve and could no longer be seen. The crowd began to
break up. One man who was there said it was as if a bright star had gone out of
lived for eight more years. He died as he had lived, with dignity and honor.
hours after his death, a tall man and a small child arrived at the Jackson home.
They had traveled a long way -- all the way from Texas. The big man was Sam
Houston, the president of Texas. He had heard that his friend was dying.
was too late to say goodbye. He stood before Jackson's body, tears in his eyes.
Then Houston dropped to his knees and buried his face on the chest of his
friend and chief. He pulled the small boy close to him.
son," he said, "try to remember that you have looked on the face of
Jackson stepped down from the presidency in March, eighteen thirty-seven. His
presidential powers were passed to his most trusted political assistant, Martin
Van Buren of New York.
Buren was elected president after campaign promises to continue the policies of
Jackson. He was opposed by several candidates, all of the new Whig Party. Van
Buren won easily with the help of Andrew Jackson.
before, Van Buren had done much himself to elect Jackson to the White House.
After the election of eighteen twenty-four had divided the opponents of John
Quincy Adams, Van Buren began to put together a political alliance for the
continue our story on Van Buren next week.
Our program was written by Frank Beardsley. The narrators were Doug
Johnson and Gwen Outen. Transcripts,
MP3s and podcasts of our programs are online, along with historical images, at
voaspecialenglish.com. Join us again next week for THE MAKING OF A NATION - an
American history series in VOA Special English.
This is program #64 of THE
MAKING OF A NATION