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Ep. 36 – In Defense of Andrew Jackson: Is Donald Trump the Modern Andrew Jackson? (Interview with Hillsdale’s Dr. Bradley Birzer)

In our interview with Hillsdale College’s Dr. Bradley J. Birzer, we discuss his new book In Defense of Andrew Jackson as he makes the case that Jackson is a misunderstood historical figure. He claims Jackson acted in ways that were consistent with the times in which he lived in.  Using primary sources of news articles and Jackson’s own personal letters, he paints a more sympathizing picture of the man who has been reviled by social justice historians, and serves in many respects as a precursor to the Donald Trump presidency.

SHOW NOTES

  • 3:00 The mainstream media would have us hate Andrew Jackson as an evil slaveowner who loathed Native Americans and was an example of  “toxic masculinity.” Dr. Birzer tells us why that portrait of Jackson is wrong.
  • 5:00 Dr. Birzer tells us how he researched primary sources to understand Jackson himself, reading ten entire volumes of Jackson’s own writings and letters rather than relying on what other scholars said.
  • 8:00 Discover how President Andrew Jackson had a “primitiveness” to his writing, always said what he thought, and was a horrible speller!
  • 13:30 President Jackson campaigned for a smaller government and fought financial bureaucracy; but also sent Native Americans down the infamous Trail of Tears. Was he a demon or was he a saint?Dr. Birzer helps us understand Jackson’s character and his era.
  • 16:15 Dr. Birzer illuminates the connections between President Jackson and President Trump, including their honesty, their confidence, and their populist backing.
  • – “One Last Thing with Dr. Birzer” – Become a VIP Member today to listen to our special bonus podcast episode with Dr. Birzer HERE.
  • 21:00 What can we learn from Jackson’s era today? Hear what Dr. Birzer has to say about honesty and cynicism in politics.
  • 23:35 Some people want to take Jackson off the $20 bill. Discover why Jackson is on the bill in the first place, and why we should fight against the dogmatism of political correctness.

OUR GUEST AUTHOR – Dr. Bradley Birzer

  • Bradley J. Birzer is the co-founder of The Imaginative Conservative and Russell Amos Kirk Chair in History at Hillsdale College, where he has taught since 1999. He is also a Fellow of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.
  • Dr. Birzer is also the author of Russell Kirk: American Conservative (2015, University Press of Kentucky), J.R.R. Tolkien’s Sanctifying Myth: Understanding Middle-earth, co-editor of The American Democrat and Other Political Writings by James Fenimore Cooper, and co-author of The American West.

BOOK OVERVIEW- In Defense of Andrew Jackson

  • The tide of working class anxiety that drove Donald Trump into the White House is not a new, exclusively 21st century American phenomenon. For Professor Bradley J. Birzer, who teaches a class on “Jacksonian America” at Hillsdale College, today’s working class anxieties are all too familiar—as is the combative political climate, and the rise of a controversial president.
  • Using diaries, letters, and newspaper columns from Jackson’s contemporaries—including John Quincy Adams, James Monroe, Henry C. Calhoun, Daniel Webster, and Alexis de Tocqueville—Birzer gives readers a radically new and historically true perspective on Andrew Jackson, while also drawing powerful parallels between the anxieties of Jacksonian America and the anxieties of the “Hillbilly Elegy” voting bloc of today.

RESOURCES

  • Check Dr. Birzer’s book out for yourself, and buy your own copy HERE!
  • Read more about Dr. Birzer!
  • Follow Dr. Birzer on Twitter! @bradleybirzer

ENDORSEMENTS

Steven Hayward, author of The Age of Reagan, says:

Most discussion of Andrew Jackson falls into predictable ruts, defaulting automatically to cliches that reflect more on our own time than his. Whether America’s entering another Jacksonian period depends upon understanding the first one more clearly, and we have Bradley Birzer to thank for taking up the spirited defense of this complicated man and his legacy.

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