Talk:Andrew Jackson

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Latest comment: 4 years ago by The Devil's Advocate in topic Den of Vipers
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This is the talk page for discussing improvements to the Andrew Jackson page.

You include in your quotes from Andrew Jackson the following: "Corporations have neither bodies to kick or souls to damn" (as do other selections of Jackson quotes). However, I have never seen anywhere the context in which this statement was made, and it has also been attributed to an 18th century English politician. Of course the fact that somebody else may have used it first would not have prevented Jackson from doing so, but in view of the uncertainty raised by the alternative attribution I would appreciate knowqing where and when Jackson is supposed to have said it.

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Den of Vipers


Andrew Jackson and the Bank of the United States: An interesting bit of history concerning “Old Hickory” is very small booklet (only six pages of text) by Stan V. Henkels, privately printed in an edition of 310 books by his son, Stan V. Henkels, Jr. in 1928. According to this book, around the year 1883, Henkels found the original minutes of the committee of Philadelphia citizens that was sent to Washington in 1834, signed by the members of the committee. A few years later, a reporter from the Evening Telegraph asked him if he had anything new and interesting. Henkels told him about this story and it was printed in the paper under the title “A Relic of St. Andrew”. After seeing the story in the newspaper, Caleb Cope, one of the members of the committee, came by to take a look at the paper. He said, “Stanislaus, I thought those minutes had been destroyed many, many years ago. Yes, that is my signature—and that is Comly's—and Struthers', and all the rest. My, but those were exciting times. Many others beside myself looked upon Andrew Jackson as a tyrant, but Stanislaus, I lived to see the day when I could bend my knee and say ‘God bless Andrew Jackson! It is to his great foresight and wisdom that we owe the admirable banking system that we have today.’”

The paper was sold at auction a few weeks after this incident. It was purchased by a son of the William Struthers who signed the minutes.

The report of the Philadelphia Committee—which does not contain Jackson's colorful language—can be read in Niles' Weekly Register, Vol. XLVI, pp. 8-10, March 1, 1834. An excerpt of the report can also be found—along with reports from the New York and Baltimore committees—in Gales and Seaton's Register of Debates in Congress, Vol. X, Part III, pp. 3074-5.

KHirsch 00:59, 9 March 2009 (UTC)Reply

Where does that recount of the story of the original minutes and Henkels' book come from? Is there some published text that tells that story? Are those your words? --JohnDoe0007 02:32, 28 April 2010 (UTC)Reply
There's a scan of the booklet here at the Internet Archive. It's also available at a few dozen libraries. I don't think it's been published in any books since then. The story had previously appeared in Publishers Weekly in 1912, but that's not widely available.
I don't know if the original document (the committee minutes) still survives. I've searched ArchiveGrid and WorldCat for "Struthers family papers", etc. but haven't found anything promising. It might be worthwhile to contact The Historical Society of Pennsylvania or The Library Company of Philadelphia, who both have collections related to the Bank. —KHirsch 04:51, 28 April 2010 (UTC)Reply

For a more skeptical take on this quote, see this article from John Carney at Business Insider, noting Henkel's involvement in the publication of the dubious “Washington's Prayer Book”. One error in that article is that the Smithsonian had not rejected the manuscript as inauthentic. The Prayer Book was one of many items in a box that the Smithsonian had rejected for exhibition, but they had not made any judgment on its authenticity. As Rubert Hughes said in his 1926 book, George Washington (Vol 1., p. 557), “Rejection of the manuscript neither implies nor excuses any suggestion of fraud in their connection. Sincerity is granted to believers in it. Forgery is not to be considered since a forger would have given at least an imitation of Washington's penmanship. And of this there is no trace.”

I don't find it all surprising that the President's more colorful language would be left out of the final report. In fact, the report says, “In some emphatic expressions his language is accurately preserved, while his numerous repetitions of the same idea in different words, which served unnecessarily to prolong the interview, have been avoided.” I still think it highly likely that the quote is genuine.

I have recently come across a lead on the Struthers Family papers—at least where they were 21 years ago. So perhaps the original document can be found and verified.

KHirsch 04:27, 20 September 2010 (UTC)Reply

Publisher's Weekly version


The edition of Publisher's Weekly containing an earlier version of this quote and story from 1912 is now publicly available online and its version of the quote differs in many respects as do certain details of the story. Broad elements of the story and quote are consistent, but the fact the quotes differ significantly and there are doubts about authenticity mean this should be treated as disputed. Here is the version provided in PW:

Gentlemen, are you through? Well, I too have been looking this matter up. I have been watching you, and I have discovered that you are a den of vipers and thieves; that you have been speculating with the bank's money in the breadstuffs of the country, and when you made a profit you pocketed it, and when you lost you charged it to the bank. You tell me that if I take the charter from the bank I will ruin ten thousand families. That may be true, but that is your sin; but should I let you go on for five years longer you would ruin forty thousand families, and that would be my sin, and by the Eternal Hyman, I am determined to root you out limb and branch, and if possible put you in jail.

Given concerns about Henkels noted by Business Insider, the fact the quote was inconsistently relayed in the two documented instances of it being described, and the fact this all came nearly a century after the comments were allegedly made, I think we should not treat this as a verified quote absent more contemporary accounts or the original alleged document surfacing if it exists. Worth noting there is a political context to its publication in late January 1912, the earliest documentation of the quote known. A Commission had earlier the same month suggested what would become the Federal Reserve, reviving the central banking system Jackson had fought against.--The Devil's Advocate (talk) 05:59, 18 February 2020 (UTC)Reply

Desperate courage makes One a majority


There is no evidence that Jackson himself said "Desperate courage makes One a majority." If you follow the link to the source you will see that the author James Parton calls the phrase "our motto" (i.e., Parton's motto, not Jackson's). For more information, see the piece by Daniel Feller, Director of the Papers of Andrew Jackson at He says "In 1860, author James Parton published a three-volume "Life of Andrew Jackson." Thoroughly researched and vividly written, Parton's book became the standard biography for his generation. Historians consult it to this day. On the title page of each volume, Parton placed the epigraph "Desperate Courage Makes One a Majority." He framed it within quotation marks but not in any way to suggest that Jackson himself had said it. In fact, Parton did not mean it as a compliment, and Jackson, were he alive to see it, certainly would not have taken it as such. Parton did not admire Jackson. He thought him a headstrong ignoramus whose desperate courage overrode other men's good sense."

New quote making the rounds


"If the people only understood the rank injustice of our money and banking systems, there would be a revolution before morning" - Andrew Jackson

Bible is the rock on which the republic rests


"That book [the Bible], Sir, is the Rock upon which our republic rests." I have seen this attributed to Jackson, but haven't seen a citation of a primary source. I will wait a decent time before including this among the "Disputed". TomS TDotO (talk) 15:38, 17 December 2012 (UTC)Reply

Could someone give me some directions about including a disputed quotation. It would be easy to produce a ton of results from Google which repeat this quotation without citation. Is that all that is wanted? TomS TDotO (talk) 16:58, 22 December 2012 (UTC)Reply
It would be helpful to cite a source of attribution that is notable or that might reasonably be considered a reliable source. ~ Ningauble (talk) 18:08, 22 December 2012 (UTC)Reply
This is quoted in part without citation in [Public Law 97-280]. TomS TDotO (talk) 18:36, 22 December 2012 (UTC)Reply
We can't rely on Congress to do research. They often just submit for vote what was submitted to them, particularly on resolutions which technically have no legal effect. They are simply repeating what they heard, it's not a primary source.