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Interesting US History
A Website Devoted to Interesting Events in U.S. History





June 1, 2009

Jackson and Benton

During Andrew Jackson’s presidency, one of his goals was to eliminate the Bank of the United States. Jackson believed that the bank had too much power and was using that power to take advantage of the less fortunate and to exercise too much control over members of Congress.

One of Jackson’s supporters in this effort was Thomas Benton. Benton, like Jackson was a strict advocate of “hard money” which in the purest sense means using gold bullion as your currency as opposed to paper money. This strong belief gave Benton the nickname “Old Bullion”.

In 1834, Jackson was censured by the Senate for canceling the charter of the Bank of the United States. Benton (the senatorial leader for the Democratic-Republican Party) supported him and at the end of his presidency, lead a successful campaign to have the censure expunged.

Although the two were political allies during Jackson’s presidency, they weren’t always the best of friends. Nearly 20 years before, during the War of 1812, Benton was an aide to then General Jackson. The two had an argument which stemmed from a previous duel where Jackson took the side against Thomas Benton’s brother Jesse.

On September 4, 1813, Thomas and his brother Jesse were in Nashville on business. As it happens, Jackson was there as well and in the hall of the City Hotel, Jackson confronted Thomas. The argument quickly escalated into pushing, shoving and fist-fighting. When Jackson drew his pistol and advanced on Thomas, the gunfire began. When it was over, Jackson lay on the floor, blood spurting from his left arm. Although doctors recommended amputation, Jackson would have none of it.

Twenty years later, doctors finally removed the bullet from Jackson’s left arm. Jackson supposedly offered it to Benton, saying it was his property but Benton declined saying that having carried it for twenty year, it was Jacksons’ to keep.

Mark Bowman

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