An Aristocracy of Warriorsrnby Roger D. McGrathrnI n liis seminal work. Democracy in America, Alexis de Toct|rnueville noted that the nobilit)’ of medieval Europe reckonedrnmartial valor to be the greatest of all the virtues. The feudal aristocracv,rnhe said, “was born of war and for war; it won its power byrnforce of arms and maintained it thereby. So nothing was morernimportant to it than military courage.” In America, it is the “quietrnirtues,” argued Tocqueville, that became respected, becausernthe}’ favored the development of trade and indirstry. Honesty,rnhard work, and perseverance did more to foster the growth ofrncommerce and the accumulation of wealth than a warlike spiritrnthat could bring glon’ but disrupt society, “hi the United States,”rnconcluded Tocqueville, “martial valor is little esteemed.”rnAlthough Tocc|ueville had the most perspieacioirs insight ofrnan’ foreign obserxer of the American scene, he got this onernwrong. While Americans have embraced the quiet virtuesrnwholeheartedly from colonial times forward, thev have also honoredrnmartial valor—even demanded it—^in their leaders. Perhapsrnit is better for a commercial society when the people exercisernthe quiet virtrres, but it i,s reassuring for the people to knowthatrntheir leaders hae demonstrated great courage on the battlefield.rnIt is especially surprising that Tocqueville did not recognizernthis about Americans since he made his tour of the UnitedrnStates during .AKlrew Jackson’s presidency. If Tocqveville hadrnli ed into the 20th century, he would have seen an aristocracy ofrnwarriors deelop in the United States. For presidential candidates,rnmilitan,- sen. ice became almost a requirement.rnNo one benefited more from Americans’ admiration of martialrnvalor than Andrew Jackson. His parents were Scotch-Irish immigrantsrnfrom Counb,- Antrim to the “Waxhaw settlement on the borderrnof North and South Carolina. His father died before Andrewrnwas born, leaving his mother to rear Andrew and his older broth-rnRoger J). McGrath is the auf/yor of Gunhghters, Highwaymen,rnand Vigilantes.rners, Hugh and Robert. Another brother liad been tortured andrnkilled by Indians. Some years later, a neighbor described Jackson’srnmother as a “fresh-looking, fair-haired, ver)’ conservative, oldrnIrish lad}’, at dreadful enmiK’ with the Indians.” Mrs. Jackson toldrnher sons that men settle their differences on the field of honor.rn”Sustain your manhood always,” she counseled. “Never woundrnthe feelings of others. Never brook wanton outrage upon ourrnown feelings.” Andrew Jackson took his mother’s advice to heart.rnAt 13 years of age, Jackson was already tall and lanky and hadrngreat sinewy strength. Een among the Scotch-Irish, whose furyrnwas legendar}’, Jackson stood out for explosive rages that leftrnhim unable to talk and literally frothing at the mouth. “His passionsrnare terrible,” said Thomas Jefferson ‘ears later. “When Irnwas President of the Senate, he was Senator, and he could neverrnspeak on account of the rashness of his feelings. I have seenrnhim attempt it repeatedh’, and as often choke with rage…. [I I]ernis a dangerous man.” When only a bo, the future dangerousrnman learned to fight Indians, who were armed and encouragedrnby the British to attack colonial settlements once the AmericanrnRevolution erupted. In 1780, his eldest brother, Hugh, just 15rnyears old, died fighting the British. With their mother’s encouragement,rnAndrew and Robert joined the local milifia andrnfought in several engagements before they were captured.rnWhen a British cavalry officer ordered Andrew to clean hisrnboots, die young rebel refused. The officer immediately drewrnhis saber and swung it at the lad. Andrew partialK’ blocked thernblow but was left with a deep gash on his forehead.rnBefore they were released in a prisoner exchange, the Jacksonrnbo}s contracted smallpox. Robert died within Kvo davs ofrntheir release, but Andrew, although he hovered near death for arnweek, was nursed back to health by his mother. She later diedrnfrom cholera, contracted while caring for American prisoners ofrnwar held in British ships at Charlestown. All of 15 vcars old, AndrewrnJackson vas an oqjlian, a sole survivor, and a veteran ofrnOCTOBER 2001/21rnrnrn