Saturday, April 29, 2006

Andrew Jackson, President and Traitor

I've lately had little time for blogging because, among other things, I've had lot of end-of-semester work to slog through. My drives to and from the office have, though, given me lots of time to listen to recorded books. I've polished off Will Durant's Caesar and Christ, and started on H. W. Brand's biography of Andrew Jackson.

To my surprise, the latter work has thus far given me no reason to change my low regard for the seventh president. To the contrary, it has given me new reasons to condemn him. The most amusing one: In 1789, while in the employ of the nascent U.S., Jackson took an oath of allegiance to the Spanish crown!

The full story makes it look less as if Jackson engaged in out-and-out treason than that he simply lied for personal gain. Jackson had traveled to Natchez to trade and, more crucially, to facilitate his adulterous relations with Rachel Robards (whom he later married). The Spanish authorities then controlling the lower Mississippi required those trading in their territory to pledge allegiance to their monarchy. That Jackson willingly took the pledge, and for such opportunistic reasons, casts doubt on the "Man of Honor" pose he so often assumed when challenging his foes to duels.

Regardless of any mitigating context, though, Jackson's oath to Spain merits remembering. It could prove very handy in answering an unusual trivia question: What U.S. president pledged his allegiance to a foreign crown? Perhaps lots of them did. But "Old Hickory" offers a solid and surprising answer.


Mike Linksvayer said...

What is dishonorable about pledging allegiance to any government, foreign or domestic, merely so that one may engage in peaceful activities?

Wizard Prang said...

The same thing that is dishonorable about committing perjury.

As a British subject living in the USA (legally), I cannot and will not pledge allegiance to the flag, though I will stand as a mark of respect. This is not always popular, but to do otherwise will be technically an act of treason until and unless I become a U.S. Citizen.

Anonymous said...

JW here.

Mike is right. In addition:

There are no such things as citizens, as Marc Stevens, author of "Adventures in Legal Land" (and of youtube fame) notes. A citizen is "a member of the body politic owing his allegiance to that body in exchange for the service of protection". Yet "Bowers V. DeVito" and numerous other (treasonous and Constitution-shredding in themselves) SCOTUS cases have upheld the notion that the state is under no obligation to provide protection. No protection, no citizens.

Moreover, even if there were citizens, if one could voluntarily withhold consent, one could voluntarily renounce citizenship without punishment, and would simply be without the service of government protection, NOT at increased risk of government predation. This concept is also known as "consent of the governed" and lives, not in the Constitution, but in the Declaration of Independence.

The Constitution is without authority.