The Real Father of the Modern Presidency

Not George or Abe, but Andy Jackson started today's political culture
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 2, 2008 4:54 PM CST
Alan Greenspan stands beneath a portrait of Andrew Jackson on the new $20 bill. Who knows what the president who fiercely battled the National Bank would think about appearing on money.   (Getty Images)
camera-icon View 2 more images

(Newser) – Most people probably remember Andrew Jackson as an Indian-fighter, if at all, but Abraham Lincoln looked to him for inspiration, and so should we, writes Jon Meacham in Newsweek. Jackson had a hand in making America what it is, for better and for worse—the legacy of this uneducated orphan is vividly visible in today's Washington.

Having weathered personal scandal before his election, Jackson took office in a politically fractured climate and left with a crumbling national financial system in his wake—but having staved off secessionists and preserved the union, all while giving the public its now taken-for-granted role in politics. "He wanted sincerely to look after the little fellow who had no pull," Truman said of Jackson, "and that's what a president is supposed to do."