Thursday, January 5, 2023

a sharp uncertainly...............

 The newly anointed Hero of New Orleans seemed almost eager to endanger his sudden rise in public esteem.  Two days after the battle, with rumors and jittery reports of tall British ships cannonading in the area, Jackson ordered an officer on the west bank to solidify his defenses by demolishing private property—never a popular move among property owners.  "Set fire to and destroy every house," he commanded.  "Altho I feel great pain at the . . . infliction of individual injury, yet when the imperious dictates of public duty require the sacrifice I am not allowed to hesitate."  Governor Claiborne, the state legislators, and a good many living and working in the city grew concerned that Jackson might soon sacrifice all of New Orleans rather than permit enemy troops to pass through its gates.  No doubt the high tensions brought about by weeks of gossip, military preparations, and martial law produced a sharp uncertainty only imperfectly punctured by the recent British defeat.  The city badly needed a cooling-off period, but what it got was Andrew Jackson.

-David S. Brown, The First Populist: The Defiant Life of Andrew Jackson

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