SECTION 3 FROM THE FRONTIER TO THE WHITE HOUSE Andrew Jackson was born in 1767, on the South Carolina frontier. His father died before he was born, leaving the family in poverty. Young Jackson loved sports more than schoolwork. He also had a hot temper. A friend recalled that he would pick a fight at the drop of a hat, and “he’d drop the hat himself.”
The American Revolution ended Jackson’s childhood. When he was just 13, Jackson joined the local militia and was captured by the British. One day, a British officer ordered Jackson to polish his boots. “Sir,” he replied boldly, “I am a prisoner of war, and claim [demand] to be treated as such.” The outraged officer lashed out with his sword, slicing the boy’s head and hand. Jackson carried these scars for the rest of his life.
Frontier LawyerAfter the war, Jackson decided to become a lawyer. He went to work in a law office in North Carolina. He quickly became known as “the most roaring, rollicking, game-cocking, horse-racing, card-playing, mischievous fellow” in town.
In 1788, Jackson headed west to Nashville, Tennessee, to practice law. At that time, Nashville was a tiny frontier settlement of rough cabins and tents. But the town grew quickly, and Jackson’s practice grew with it. He soon earned enough money to buy land and slaves and set himself up as a gentleman farmer.
Despite his success, Jackson never outgrew his hot temper. A slave trader named Charles Dickinson found this out when he called Jackson “a worthless scoundrel.” Enraged, Jackson challenged Dickinson to a duel with pistols. At that time, duels were accepted as a way of settling disputes [dispute: a strong disagreement] between gentlemen. Jackson killed Dickinson with a single shot, even though Dickinson shot first and wounded him.