The Life and Legacy of Andrew Jackson


This module is designed to be used by secondary level students, preferably middle school 7th and 8th grades.  It adheres to many of the New Generation Sunshine State standards that require students to take an objective look at United States history.  Over the course of the five day module, students will assume a variety of different roles and personalities as they continue to form an opinion on Andrew Jackson and his legacy.  Student groups will compile portfolios as they journey through each of the “stations” in the module over the first four days.  There will be time on the first day for an oral introduction of the topic and an explanation of the procedure.  On the final day of the module (day five), the teacher will facilitate a de-briefing, discussion, and debate about the issues presented.  Students will be able to share the answers that they wrote in their portfolios.  Students are also invited to share their own reflections, comments, and feedback about the lesson. The portfolios will be handed in to the teacher for a grade.


SS.8.A.1.6: Compare interpretations of key events and issues throughout American History. 

SS.8.A.1.7: View historic events through the eyes of those who were there as shown in their art, writings, music, and artifacts.

SS.8.A.3.15: Examine this time period (1763-1815) from the perspective of historically under-represented groups (children, indentured servants, Native Americans, slaves, women, working class).

SS.8.A.4.1: Examine the causes, course, and consequences of United States westward expansion and its growing diplomatic assertiveness (War of 1812, Convention of 1818, Adams-Onis Treaty, Missouri Compromise, Monroe Doctrine, Trail of Tears, Texas annexation, Manifest Destiny, Oregon Territory, Mexican American War/Mexican Cession, California Gold Rush, Compromise of 1850, Kansas Nebraska Act, Gadsden Purchase).

SS.8.A.4.3: Examine the experiences and perspectives of significant individuals and groups during this era of American History.

SS.8.A.4.13: Explain the consequences of landmark Supreme Court decisions (McCulloch v. Maryland [1819], Gibbons v. Odgen [1824], Cherokee Nation v. Georgia [1831], and Worcester v. Georgia [1832]) significant to this era of American history.

SS.8.A.4.16: Identify key ideas and influences of Jacksonian democracy.

SS.912.A.2.7: Review the Native American experience. 

Classroom Setup

Before the module, arrange the classroom into the following configuration:

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Detailed Directions

*  On Day One, the teacher will give a short oral introduction of the topic.
*  The classroom of 30 students is broken down into 4 groups of about 7.
*  Each of the 4 groups will go to one of the "stations" placed around the room.
*  The stations are not in any kind of chronological order, no student has an advantage/disadvantage depending on the station they are put into.
*  Students will follow along with the tasks in each station including: Read, Examine, Watch, Investigate, etc..
* There will also be printed out and laminated primary source documents and pictures at each station table.
* The teacher's station will be in the center of the room.  The teacher should be on hand to deal with problems, technical issues, and questions.
*  As there is only one copy of the Niles' Weekly Register 1835, the teacher will take care to bring this to various stations around the room.  The students will read from the PDF file version on their station web site, not from the actual Niles' Weekly Register newspaper itself.
*  When each station's tasks are completed, the students will write answers to questions provided on the Station Questions Sheet.  One person in the group should be in charge of assembling the completed Station Questions Sheets in their portfolio folder.  The same folder will be brought to all stations.
*  Each group of 7 will move to a different station each day.  No particular order is necessary.  For example, the groups can visit Station Three, Station One, Station Four, Station Two..  As long as all 4 stations are visited within the 4 day timeframe.
* On Day Five, the teacher may deconstruct the "stations" to reflect the regular class seating plan.
* The teacher will facilitate a de-briefing on Day Five.  Students will be asked to read from their portfolio folders.  A debate and discussion about the topics presented over the week will be done.
*  Students will hand in their completed Station Question Sheets in their portfolios for a grade.


The life and legacy of American president Andrew Jackson remains one of the most controversial topics in modern U.S. history today.  By studying the viewpoints that surround Jackson, students are better able to think critically about their elected leaders and national heroes.  In the past, U.S. History classes were presented as a collection of stories, often legend, about people ….  The desire of this module is not to introduce students to a negative aspect of American history alone.  One of the most important aspects of how this module is constructed is that it does not use a timeline in a traditional sense.  “Stations” are organized by point-of-view and idea.  They are not chronologic.  The multimedia, primary source documents, and text from used in the “stations” are also from a variety of different sources and decades.  Students are not required to focus solely on dates and places.  The modules are designed to paint four different pictures of Andrew Jackson that students can analyze and process.  By including current thought and research in addition to historical evidence, students can better grasp all aspects of this controversial figure.

The use of various PBS and History Channel documentaries are a key point about the module’s construction.  Pieces of these videos are used to complement the issues presented and to further engage the student using sight and sound.  These documentaries were selected because they use a combination of historical recollection, research, and dramatization.  ESOL students and English Language Learners can surely benefit from a visualization of the content.  

Another objective of the module is to have students compare life today with that of the past.  It is no mistake that some of the content in the module touches on themes of betrayal, sexual scandal, war, love, violence, genocide, power, and corruption.  It also features the quintessential man-of-the-people and rags-to-riches story that is so much a part of American tradition and culture.  The life and legacy of Andrew Jackson can easily be compared to a Hollywood film, graphic novel, game, or viral YouTube video.  It must be noted that in popular culture today there is a trend to portray the hero or protagonist as flawed, troubled, and dark.  Popular recent films such as “The Dark Knight” have shown that there is an audience ready to take a second look at those whom society has placed upon a pedestal.  Andrew Jackson is a perfect figure to demonstrate that research, time, and critical thinking have the power to change perspective.  This module is designed for the Digital Generation in a manner that is accessible to them.  More importantly, the theming and content is designed to engage the Digital Generation with inquiry and interest.  The objective is to use these real life events to make the student feel as if their wants and needs are not so different than those in Jackson’s age.

Content Summary

This module organizes content into four separate stations.  Within each station, appropriate background knowledge of the people, policies, and events discussed are given in the form of readings, analysis of primary sources, and video clips.  The following represents a summary of the content in this module:
* Early Jackson British officer incident
* History and marriage to Rachel Donelson Robards
* Assassination attempt in 1835

* Foreign policy including the conflict with France in the 1830s
* The Peggy Eaton Affair
* Nullification

* Battle of New Orleans, War of 1812
* The Corrupt Bargain
* 1829 Inauguration Party

* Domestic relations with Native Americans
* The Indian Removal Act of 1830
* The "Trail of Tears" and the Native American experience

Station Information and Overview

Each of the stations are designed to showcase a different viewpoint on the Life and Legacy of Andrew Jackson.  Using primary source documents, video, texts, pictures, and lithographs, students will get a sense of how a different historical or cultural group viewed Andrew Jackson.  Each station web page will begin with “Directions.”  A spoken “Audio Description of Directions” will be provided for English Language Learners, ESOL students, Special Needs students, and Exceptional Education.


* Computer
* Copies of the Station One Questions
* Brave boy of the Waxhaws primary source picture (printed out, laminated)
  Retrieved from

* Computer
* Copies of the Station Two Questions
* Primary source: Niles' Weekly Register

* Computer
* Copies of the Station Three Questions
* Andrew Jackson Inauguration Day picture (printed out, laminated)
  Retrieved from
* Computer
* Copies of the Station Four Questions
* Andrew Jackson's Message "On Indian Removal" (printed out, laminated)
  Retrieved from
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* Trail of Tears Picture (printed out, laminated)
  Retrieved from

Multiple Perspectives

Within each of the stations, the topics related to the life and legacy of Andrew Jackson are viewed from multiple perspectives.  Each station is a collection of different types of media including text, video, and pictures.  All of the information comes from noted historical and cultural outlets, as well as from reputable media channels.  Students are able to read from actual primary source documents in order to get a historical sense of the topic.  Recounts and recollections are provided by people who were at many of the events within the module.  Students can identify bias when considering the different historical figures and their comments made about the life and legacy of Andrew Jackson.  Of great importance is the inclusion of current research about the historical events addressed.  Students can hear and read from well-known Jacksonian historians like Robert Remini in order to gain a modern perspective on historical events.  The stations within the modules are organized in a way that ensures that no one opinion or thought takes precedence over another.

Primary and Secondary Sources

The use of primary and secondary sources is at the heart of the stations within this module.  The videos used contain both primary source pictures and lithographs.  The videos also offer dramatized accounts of various parts of Andrew Jackson's life.  This allows students to better imagine the various events reflected upon in this module.  As there are no photographs from this period of history, many of the events of Andrew Jackson's life are presented as lithographs.  Many of these lithographs are featured in this module, as well as in the videos presented.  The most important primary source relevant to this module is the copy of Niles' Weekly Register from 1835.  This actual newspaper allows students to read about the minor events in the time of Jackson.  The issue also contains full reports from Congress and the Treasury.  Andrew Jackson's 1835 message to Congress, included in the Niles' Weekly Register, contains key issues that were surrounding his presidency.  Notably, his remarks on Native Americans can help students get a greater perspective on one of the most controversial aspects of Andrew Jackson's life.  This message in 1835 comes historically between the Indian Removal Act of 1830 and the Forced Relocation of the Cherokee in 1838.  This primary source is in the middle of a critical point in time.  By using the Niles' Weekly Register, greater understanding of Andrew Jackson is enhanced.  


The ideas, concepts, and information provided throughout this module fully support student analysis and inquiry.  Primary sources from various media and modality are used for students to have a personal connection with the material.  Through the use of video, this module provides an opportunity for analysis based on what students can see and hear.  The video represents dramatized accounts of the life of Andrew Jackson, as well as current thought and research.  The concepts of the module are global and relevant to all students.  Ideas of morality, cultural sensitivity, love, violence, power, and popularity are manipulated over the course of this module.  The study of the events of Andrew Jackson's life allows students to interpret the role their elected leaders play.  As students will become contributing members of society, it is extremely important for them to learn how to interpret politics from different angles.  This interpretation is offered in a way that is both relevant and important to students.  They can analyze and answer many of the same questions that historians have about the life of Andrew Jackson.  The goal of this module is for students to interpret Andrew Jackson with evidence from the past and current research from the present.

Multiple Causes/Effects

The life and legacy of Andrew Jackson as represented in this module is filled with opportunities for students and teachers to examine multiple causes/effects.  Throughout Station One, students examine how the violence and controversy that plagued Jackson's early life would continue to affect his decisions and policies in his later years.  During the Peggy Eaton Affair analysis in Station Two, students will see the multiple causes for the scandal. The Nullification issue continued to challenge Jackson's presidency and may have been a contributing factor to the American Civil War.  Multiple factions were involved in The Corrupt Bargain, and students can see how this would have an effect on all American political campaigning to date.  Various causes into the conflict with Native Americans are explored in Station Four.  One of the greatest effects of Andrew Jackson's message On Indian Removal is that it would forever change the morality of the presidency.  It is important for teachers to explore the consequences to race relations and the effects that white settlement had on Native American culture. 

Change and Continuity

In each of the stations of the module, specific issues related to social, economic, political, and cultural changes are addressed.  At every point throughout the module, students are able to reflect on the changes that occurred within Andrew Jackson’s lifetime and in comparison to the present day.

STATION ONE: Students examine how aspects of violence and love changed the character of Andrew Jackson.  Jackson was forever changed by his experience in the Revolutionary War.  The cultural changes surrounding love and marriage are explored in the story of Andrew and Rachel.  Students can reflect on how norms have changed around the idea of divorce.  It will be interesting for students to note the lengths that Andrew and Rachel had to go through for their love.  Students may be surprised to hear of Andrew Jackson's reaction to the attempt on his life.  Considering the security around presidents today, students can also reflect on how the assassination attempt in 1835 changed the White House.

STATION TWO: Students take the role of historians to analyze significant events during Jackson’s presidency.  Beginning with the impasse with France, students are able to read an actual primary source newspaper related to Jackson’s foreign policy.  The Peggy Eaton affair lets students read and reflect on social changes and the role of women within the political arena.  By reading the recollections of Margaret Bayard Smith, students can read vivid descriptions of Eaton herself.  They can compare and contrast how female norms, decency, and independence have changed.  The inclusion of video and primary source documents related to the Nullification Crisis show students of today the priorities and conflicts of the past.  Even within Jackson’s lifetime, the definition of state’s rights were changing and evolving.  The “resolution” of the Nullification Crisis allows students to reflect on how this issue would eventually be linked to the American Civil War.

STATION THREE: Within this station, students are to examine changes within Jackson’s career and popularity.  Students are able to link what happened in Jackson’s time to the politics of the present day.  Knowledge of Jackson as a public figure began to take off after the Battle of New Orleans.  The video related to The Corrupt Bargain, shows how the power of Jackson’s popularity changed Washington politics.  Government that used to be run by and for the elite was directly affected by Andrew Jackson’s entrance into the political area.  Through Jackson’s outreach to the “common man” ideas related to modern campaigning changed forever.  The main idea that students can take from this station is that notions of who could become president, and how they could become president would forever be changed by the story of Andrew Jackson.

STATION FOUR:  Issues related to changes in morality are explored in this station.  Students can imagine how Andrew Jackson's policies On Indian Removal would forever change the moral responsibility of the American President.  Various Native American nations would forever be changed by forced removal.  Students can compare and contrast how elements of "ethnic cleansing" and "genocide" have happened here on American soil. 

Evaluation and Assessment

Students are evaluated based on responses to the various Station Question Sheets.  Copies of these may be found as PDF files in each of the respective stations.  The teacher will also make informal assessments while monitoring the different stations to make sure that students remain on task. Students will also be subject to an assessment based on their participation in de-briefing activities on Day Five of the module.  All students are invited to share their responses to questions.  Beyond the questions, students can respond verbally to any subject that interested them over the course of the module.