The Age of Jackson from the William Reese Co.
Andrew Jackson's profile graces William Reese's latest catalogue.
By Michael Stillman
The William Reese Company has issued its 275th catalogue - The Age of Jackson. This does not refer to the age that ended last year, and there are no moonwalks or Neverlands in this catalogue. The Jackson here in question is President Andrew Jackson, an unusual man, but not that unusual. The Age of Jackson is herein defined as 1824-1840, which would cover the years of Jackson's political career, rather than his military one. Most books in this catalogue were published during those dates, and if not, pertain to events which occurred within that time period. Jackson himself was a towering figure, the first, and probably last true presidential "man of the people," though many others have attempted to wear that mantel. Jackson is somewhat of a controversial figure today, a man with his good points, and not-so good ones (ask the Cherokees). Nevertheless, he was a dominating figure on the American stage during his time, enormously popular though controversial. However, he was certainly not the only figure on the stage during his era, and as you will see, many of these works have nothing to do with "Old Hickory."
John Quincy Adams faced a tough reelection campaign against Jackson in 1828. He had defeated Jackson in 1824, despite Jackson garnering more of the popular vote, when the election was decided by the House of Representatives. This choice, believed by many to be the result of a "corrupt bargain" with Henry Clay, did little to enhance Adams' popularity. So, Adams' supporters responded by promoting his candidacy with an endorsement from the most popular name in America - Washington. Of course, George was long gone, but Adams did have the support of the First President's favorite nephew (George Washington had no children). In this 1828 broadside To The Voters of Allegany County, Adams' supporters quote a letter from Bushrod Washington, inheritor of Mount Vernon, endorsing Adams. George may have been the "Father of his Country," but evidently being "Nephew of His Country" didn't carry much weight. Jackson won handily. Item 2. $1,500.
Supporters of Jackson had their say that same year in this pamphlet, The Political Character of John Quincy Adams Delineated. Actually, it was the character assassination of John Quincy Adams that was delineated in this publication. The writer charges Adams is not a republican, has made no sacrifices for his country, that the country has gained nothing from his experiences, and, "Your character is neither honorable nor independent. Your integrity is not unsuspected." While it was certainly debatable who was the better candidate for the country in 1828, the charges against Adams, whose many accomplishments included negotiating the treaty which obtained Florida from Spain and writing the Monroe Doctrine, were terribly unfair. Item 3. $600.
Jackson is just a shadow of himself on the cover of this catalogue (click thumbnail above). That's deliberate. Item 14 is William Henry Brown's Portrait Gallery of Distinguished American Citizens, With Biographical Sketches. Its date of 1845 portends who is likely to be included. It does not portray the founding fathers, but leaders from the 1820s to what was then the present. So both Jackson and J.Q. Adams are included, along with Webster, Clay, Calhoun, Van Buren, Marshall, Harrison, Tyler, and others not quite so well remembered. Each is shown in a silhouetted profile. $4,500.
The Age of Jackson from the William Reese Co.
Daniel Webster's profile reveals that the great orator ate well.
Daniel Webster never made it to the presidency, but he was America's greatest orator over a period that ranged from before the Jackson era to long after it ended. However, it was during the heart of this period he gave what was probably his greatest speech on the senate floor, a rebuttal of the nullification arguments of South Carolina Senator Robert Hayne. This Speech of Daniel Webster, in Reply to Mr. Hayne in 1830 technically dealt with the issue of western land sales, but in the process Hayne had espoused the theory of nullification, that states had the right to nullify the application of federal laws within their jurisdiction if they so desired. Webster was a proponent of a strong national identity and the federal power that went with it, a position popular in most parts of the country with some exceptions in the South. Webster predicted that nullification would lead to civil war, and delivered his famous line, "Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable." Abraham Lincoln reportedly described this as the best speech ever delivered. Item 170. $1,250.
Item 137 is a book on agriculture from a man who would make his name for other reasons long after the Jackson era ended. The book is An Essay of Calcareous Manures, published in 1832. This book is undoubtedly as interesting as the title sounds. Author Edmund Ruffin believed that the unproductive soils of the tidewater region could be made profitable for agriculture with the addition of more calcium, either lime or, as the title says, with calcareous manure. Ruffin also talks about the effects of slavery on agriculture in Virginia, and this gets closer to the direction his focus would turn in the 1850s and 1860s. Ruffin became an intense supporter of the southern cause, ardent advocate of slavery, and virulent hater of Yankees. He favored secession so strongly that he moved to South Carolina as Virginia was dragging its feet on the question. For his enthusiasm Ruffin was awarded the right to fire the first cannon on Fort Sumter, the attack which set off the Civil War. Five years later, the South defeated, Ruffin shot himself rather than submit to Northern rule. $750.
The William Reese Company may be reached at 203-789-8081 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Their website is www.reeseco.com.