The Quotable Andrew Jackson: 12 of Old Hickory's Best Lines
Andrew Jackson was many things: Stubborn. Brilliant. Ruthless. Romantic. And insanely quotable. From his hatred of the bank to his hatred of proper spelling, Jackson had a lot to say about a lot of topics. Here are some of his greatest hits.
1. and 2. On banking
“The bank, Mr. Van Buren, is trying to kill me. But I will kill it.” Three days later, Jackson announced his veto of the bank charter.
“I have been afraid of banks.” Jackson is often quoted as saying "I have always been afraid of banks," but the actual quote was, "Ever since I read the history of the South Sea Bubble, I have been afraid of banks."
3. On killing Charles Dickinson in a duel
Though Dickinson shot first and hit Jackson squarely in the chest, nearly killing him, Old Hickory calmly took his shot as if he had not been wounded at all. When a friend expressed his astonishment at Jackson's composure, Jackson stated, “If he had shot me through the brain, sir, I should still have killed him.”
4. On running for president
"Do they think that I am such a damned fool to think myself fit for President of the United States? No, sir; I know what I am fit for. I can command a body of men in a rough way, but I am not fit to be President."
5. On his demeanor
"I was born for a storm, and a calm does not suit me."
6. On living
“I try to live my life as if death might come for me at any moment.” Though that may have been true, he was also prepared to fight death tooth and nail. When an assassin tried to kill him in 1835, Jackson beat him in the face with his cane.
7. On spelling
“It’s a damn poor mind that can think of only one way to spell a word.”
8. On regrets
The day after Van Buren was elected president, Jackson took the time to reflect on his own presidency with a friend. When asked if he had any regrets about the last eight years, this was his response: “[That] I didn’t shoot Henry Clay and I didn’t hang John C. Calhoun.”
9. Further thoughts on John C. Calhoun
"John Calhoun, if you secede from my nation, I will secede your head from the rest of your body." As The Week says, this one is unverified, but given Jackson's character and relationship with Calhoun, it's likely.
10. On the privileged
“It is to be regretted that the rich and powerful too often bend the acts of government to their own selfish purposes.”
11. On taxes
"The wisdom of man never yet contrived a system of taxation that would operate with perfect equality."
12. On Kentuckians
Kentucky sent 2300 militiamen to back Jackson up during the Battle of New Orleans in 1815. Astonished that so many of them showed up without weapons, he uttered the now-famous quote that is proudly emblazoned as Kentucky pride on t-shirts: “I never in my life seen a Kentuckian who didn’t have a gun, a pack of cards, and a jug of whiskey.”