Meanwhile, I just watched a special on the War of 1812 and of course Jackson played a prominent role in that war. Even though a treaty was already in the works, 10,000 British soldiers and sailors were still planning an attack on New Orleans. Though Jackson's men were way outnumbered they succeeded in one of the most lopsided victories in American wars. The battle is widely regarded as the greatest land victory of the 1812 war, and while Jackson lost only 24 men, the British suffered about 300 killed, 1500 wounded and about 500 missing in action.
The thing is these British soldiers and sailors were some of the best England had to offer, having just come from defeating Napoleon and being very battle-hardened. Their defeat by a group of common folks made up of every color and creed and social class you can imagine gave this country the confidence that we could stand on our own as a world power. Jackson became the most popular man in America.
Later, in 1818, he was charged with taking on the Seminole Indian Wars near Florida. Although the previous commander of the campaign had specifically been told not to take the two Spanish towns in Florida, Jackson was only told to do what he had to, to solve the problem. This came directly from President James Monroe, through Jackson's later VP, John C. Calhoun, Secretary of War.
As Jackson chased the Seminole into Florida he realized that it was they who ran the Spanish towns, not the few Spanish authorities there – authorities who were allowing the Indians to use these towns as bases to reorganize and recoup from battle. So Jackson simply took these towns as part of the campaign.
Well, this caused a near all out war with Spain and Monroe had to deal with them and with political enemies calling for his scalp, or at least that of Jackson. A cabinet meeting was held and, when asked his opinion, Calhoun said maybe they should call Jackson in to have him testify as to why he took the towns. Calhoun was not, at the time, anti-Jackson. He just thought this would be proper procedure.
Monroe declined and the vote was to let the situation cool down. Later, a letter came to light from one of Calhoun's political enemies named Crawford. This was at the time that Jackson was President and Calhoun was Vice-President. The letter said that Calhoun had called for Jackson's arrest at that 1818 cabinet meeting, and a copy was made available to Jackson.
Jackson wrote Calhoun a letter asking if this was true. Calhoun took offense that someone he had supported so long would doubt him. Unfortunately, he bagged on forever in the letter trying to prove his innocence. Jackson wrote back that whatever problems he had with his political enemy was between Calhoun and Crawford. But he added he was shocked to learn that Calhoun had even suggested that he testify. A few letters exchanged hands getting uglier every time.
Monroe finally stepped in to suggest that Jackson submit a letter to the War Department outlining why he mistook his instruction for the Seminole War, and Calhoun would submit a letter explaining what Monroe had really meant by his directive, and it would all smooth over.
Well Jackson wrote Monroe saying he would never send such a letter because as he saw it he had every right to do what he did according to the directive Monroe had given him and he would admit to nothing except serving his country.
The letters continued to fly between Jackson, Calhoun and Monroe. Especially those between Jackson and Calhoun got more ridiculous and childish as they went along. Finally, Jackson wrote that the country would be shocked to know that its two top leaders were acting in such a childish way, and he wanted no further letters from Calhoun.
The letter writing was aggravated by Calhoun's stand for State's Rights and Jackson's strong belief in keeping the Union together. Jackson had written much on this that was later used by Abraham Lincoln. In addition, Calhoun's wife and her clique were shunning the wife of one of Jackson's good friends in Washington. His own wife having died from a broken heart because of all the slander thrown at her during Jackson's election campaign, Jackson took personal offense to Mrs. Calhoun's actions.
Bottom line was Calhoun resigned after one term as VP and ran for South Carolina senator. Jackson said, as he left office four years later, that his one regret was that he didn't hang John C. Calhoun. The two had become bitter enemies for the rest of their lives.
As a footnote: There is considerable evidence that John C. Calhoun is the actual father of Abraham Lincoln. This has been discussed at length for over a hundred years. Calhoun, as a young lawyer, used to stop at a tavern run by the father of Nancy Hanks. It is speculated that he got her pregnant and paid a passing pig delivery man named Lincoln to take her away. In the Abbeyville, SC, Courthouse is a document filed where Calhoun promises to pay Hicks so much a year for child support.
Helping substantiate this story is that Lincoln told his law partner and biographer that he was adopted. When that biography came out it was pulled from the shelves and another was printed leaving out the part about the adoption. However, several copies remained in public hands.
As Lincoln was just beginning to make his way in life, one of his mentors was another man named John Calhoun. He made his debut in Springfield, Illinois, which just so happens to have first been named Calhoun after John C. Calhoun. There are other bits of info including eye witnesses that heard or told this tale at or around that time.
As life would have it, Lincoln followed Jackson's lead in keeping the Union together, totally rejecting Calhoun's philosophy, perhaps because he had been rejected by Calhoun as his son.
A quick super imposing of Calhoun's and Jackson's portraits will show the similarities between the men - long face, high forehead, protruding ears, etc. The jury is still out on this controversy, but it just so happens that my wife was related to Calhoun and in their Mormon family history there is at least one other Calhoun and Hanks intermarriage in the Abbeyville area, making the John C. Calhoun and Nancy Hanks story very easily possible.