Andrew Jackson’s Courage
Posted by Orrin Woodward on June 30, 2012
Here is part one of a two part series on battle Andrew Jackson faced against the USA Second National Bank. What a powerful example of courageous leadership in action. The Mental Fitness Challenge is a key part of any potential leaders plan to help in developing this type of courage and character. I am proud to say that the LIFE Business is filled with this type of leadership throughout its ranks.
Andrew Jackson, when he was right and when he was wrong, was always a man of strong convictions. He stood by his love of liberty even when it hurt him politically to do so. It takes courage to stand by one’s convictions, especially when a person is offered peace and financial rewards to surrender them. Courage isn’t the absence of fear; rather, it’s the acknowledgement that one’s principles are bigger than one’s fears, regardless of the consequences.
In today’s “situational ethics” society, principles are sold out for pragmatism, making courageous stories like Andrew Jackson’s as rare as gold-backed currency. Consequently, much could be learned by the study of Andrew Jackson’s stand against the “moneyed interest” drive to re-charter the Second National Bank. Indeed, through reading Jackson’s battles against the Bank, one yearns to find leaders with similar backbones to break the Federal Reserve monopoly on America’s money. Let’s examine this historic battle between the President Andrew Jackson of the United States of America versus President Nicholas Biddle of the Second National Bank. Several questions come to mind. First, what are the leadership lessons learned from this historic struggle between the statist and anti-statists philosophies of money? Second, how do the lessons from Jackson’s battle apply in today’s battle for monetary freedom?
Jackson resided in the thriving American West, witnessing first hand the dire effects of inflationary banking policies in the western land prices. Jackson learned the salutary lesson of hard money (gold and silver coins) vs. the prevalent paper based inflationary policies loved by bankers and wealthy merchants. Inflationary methods allowed banks to print paper, pretending the paper had value, even though it wasn’t backed by gold or silver. Without a check on the banks, like requiring banks to submit gold for paper dollars when requested, one can easily see how banks would fall into the trap of printing more paper than could possibly be redeemed on demand. Profits for banks can increase greatly in the short term by interest collected on nothing more than paper, causing more money to flow into the marketplace which raises the prices of consumer goods as more printed dollars are available. The splurge of printed money only corrects itself when consumers become aware of the inflationary policies of banks, quickly requesting gold for their inflated paper dollars before the banks runs out their reserves.
In theory, paper money should be a promissory note, representing gold, but easier to carry on one’s person. The minute the promissory note is not backed by real value (gold, silver etc), it becomes fraudulent with the bank benefitting by printing monopoly money at the expense of all consumers who now own dollars less valuable than before the fraudulent activity. For example, if we doubled the amount of dollars in circulation today, giving everyone twice as much money as they have currently, each dollar would quickly fall to half of its former value, prices would rise as each person’s dollars bid up the prices in an attempt to purchase the means for living. Printing money does not produce wealth, but it can benefit the few at the expense of the many, a temptation too lucrative to be left in the hands of government politicians and their wealthy patrons.
Big Banks Marry Big Business
When Jackson was elected President of the United States, one of his missions was to end the syndicate of control over America’s money supply by three power hungry groups: foreign interests, big business, and big politicians. Jackson believed that banks ought to run like any other businesses, having to sink or swim based upon their own business acumen, needing reserves to secure their loans provided. But when a national bank receives the protection of the federal government to ensure its solvency, this is no longer free enterprise, but a form of fascism where government and business partner, reducing competition amongst banks, and increasing the cost of the entire system.
This would be similar to all automotive companies agreeing to fix prices on cars, certainly improving the profits for manufacturers, while decreasing the downside risk of the manufacturers, all of this, at the expense of the customers. The Second National Bank received the deposits of the American Treasury Department, ensuring its solvency, providing a special deal for the bank and its investors at the expense of other banks and all customers. Nicholas Biddle, the president of the Second National Bank, was not alarmed, at first, with Jacksons rhetoric, having heard many politicians boast of drastic changes when entering office, only to conform into the system when elected. But Jackson character was different, his campaign promises before aligned with his actions after election, necessitating a showdown between the President and the money interest behind the Bank.
Nicholas Biddle versus Andrew Jackson
Biddle and Jackson were opposites in upbringing and temperament. The former, a scion of a high-society Philadelphia family, did not like the rough and tumble behavior of the American political process. Choosing to avoid the masses, he preferred instead to do his work behind the scenes. Jackson, on the other hand, loved the volatile political process and was elected by the populist mass of voters across America. No two people better contrasted the opposing viewpoints in the American political arena. One, a believer in wealth and privilege for the chosen few; the other, an equal opportunity for all to rise based upon merit. Jackson shared his disdain for the Bank in his first Presidential message proclaiming, “Both the constitutionality and the expediency of the law creating this bank are well questioned by a large portion of our fellow citizens, and it must be admitted by all that it has failed in the great end of establishing an uniform and sound currency.” Biddle, however, seemingly unconcerned initially, responded to Jackson’s message with a cool indifference. He wrote of Jackson, “They should be treated as the honest though erroneous notions of one who intends well.” Clearly, Biddle did not believe Jackson had the courage or fortitude to fight against the entrenched money-interest feeding off America’s body politic.
Biddle quickly discovered that Jackson’s courage was even greater than his rhetoric, when he confirmed Jackson’s intentions to end the Bank’s charter. Undaunted, he quickly rallied his political supporters to his cause. Two of the biggest and brightest political stars, Henry Clay and Daniel Webster, were enlisted by the Bank in support of the recharter initiative. With Clay and Webster’s help, the Bank moved for an early renewal of its charter, hoping to force Jackson’s hand before his second term election. Jackson, the moneyed-interest believed, would not risk his re-election on a veto of the Bank’s charter. Once again, the special-interest elites had underestimated Jackson courage. The Bank bill, with Clay and Webster’s support, passed both houses and arrived on Jackson’s desk for approval. Most people would have bowed to the “inevitable” and approved the bill to ensure his re-election; Jackson however, was not like most people. In his historic veto address, Jackson declared war on the wealthy aristocracy attempting to subvert the American Republic. His veto address should be read by everyone concerned with freedom and equality of opportunity. Jackson, in part, stated:
It is to be regretted that the rich and powerful too often bend the acts of government to their selfish purposes. Distinctions in society will always exist under every just government. Equality of talents, of education, or of wealth can not be produced by human institutions. In the full enjoyment of the gifts of Heaven and the fruits of superior industry, economy, and virtue, every man is equally entitled to protection by law; but when the laws undertake to add to these natural and just advantages artificial distinctions, to grant titles, gratuities, and exclusive privileges, to make the rich richer and the potent more powerful, the humble members of society-the farmers, mechanics, and laborers-who have neither the time nor the means of securing like favors to themselves, have a right to complain of the injustice of their Government. There are no necessary evils in government. Its evils exist only in its abuses. If it would confine itself to equal protection, and as Heaven does its rains, shower its favors alike on the high and the low, the rich and the poor, it would be an unqualified blessing.
To be continued in the next blog post.