Andrew Jackson is one of my favorite presidents.

I hope I can say a few words about my guy, recently demoted from a place of honor on the $20 bill, without implying criticism of the splendid choice of gun-toting former slave Harriet Tubman, who was quite a gal, to replace him.

In my admiration for Old Hickory, I differ from John Quincy Adams, who absolutely loathed Jackson, and most of the modern  elites. (An exception: liberal-in-good-standing Jon Meacham is sympathetic to Jackson in his beautifully-researched and well-written book American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House, which I highly recommend. )

First off, there is a terrific piece on Old Hickory in the Daily Standard. It is headlined "The Media Have It Wrong: Jackson Was Fighting Crony Capitalism." Daily Signal contributor Jarrett Stepman writes:

 It’s a shame that progressives (and even conservatives) have been quick to ditch Jackson.

While it’s true that Jackson is often remembered for his alleged reputation for violence, the Trail of Tears, or perhaps even the 1959 Johnny Horton song, “Battle of New Orleans,” his true legacy is much more important to America.

His veto of the bank’s charter was one of the most eloquent attacks on crony capitalism in American history. Taking a stand against crony capitalism is of even greater importance today, as the failure of institutions like the Ex-Im Bank, mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and a host of other organizations that violate the principles of free-market capitalism to benefit a select few with influence in Washington, D.C.

Jackson also wanted to limit the power of the federal government to fund what he believed were local projects better left to the states. Jackson vetoed a number of infrastructure projects because under his view of the Constitution it was up to the states to fund them. He stopped the Maysville Road in Kentucky because he believed the “appropriations involve the sanction of a principle that concedes to the General Government an unlimited power over the subject of internal improvements.”

Jackson was a larger-than-life figure emblematic of a young United States: A country fighting for survival in a sea of hostile, powerful European regimes dead set on eradicating this unprecedented experiment of liberty. His life still has many lessons to inspire Americans, and he stood for much more than simple-minded populism.

Jackson's veto message on the Second National Bank charter, quoted by Stepman (and written with the help of the always-fascinating Amos Kendall) was a masterpiece:

It is to be regretted that the rich and powerful too often bend the acts of government to their selfish purposes. Distinctions in society will always exist under every just government. Equality of talents, of education, or of wealth cannot be produced by human institutions.

In the full enjoyment of the gifts of Heaven and the fruits of superior industry, economy, and virtue, every man is equally entitled to protection by law; but when the laws undertake to add to these natural and just advantages artificial distinctions, to grant titles, gratuities, and exclusive privileges, to make the rich richer and the potent more powerful, the humble members of society-the farmers, mechanics, and laborers-who have neither the time nor the means of securing like favors to themselves, have a right to complain of the injustice of their Government.

Stedman comments:

Though Jackson has often been misidentified as economic leveler and a “populist” in the past, he was in fact a strong believer in the free-market as opposed to crony capitalism. In Jackson’s mind, the sordid connections between big business and big government would lead to tyranny.

His stand against crony capitalism and for limited government are worth emulating, and though he had widespread popular appeal, his worldview could not be boiled down to sheer populism without reason.

I cannont let it be left unsaid that Jackson was a gallant when it came to women.

Stung by vicious attacks on his beloved Rachel Donelson Jackson, who died after her husband was elected to the presidency but before he entered the White House, Jackson precipitated a crisis in his Cabinet by becoming a champion of the honor of a besmirched female, Peggy Eaton.

I've read up on "the Petticoat Affair," as it was called, because the unenviable–and vain–task of trying to persuade Washington society ladies to receive Peggy Eaton into their drawing rooms fell to my great-great-great uncle, Dick Johnson (who had image problems of his own).

I don't know if Mrs. Eaton was the paragon of virtue as Jackson persisted in believing her to be,  but I love a guy who will put it on the line to defend the reputation of a woman. Eaton was a distinctly modern woman who would appeal to feminists.

It is all but forgotten that Andrew and Rachel Jackson adopted as their son a Creek Indian orphan named Lincoya, whom Jackson discovered wandering around in the ruin of the Battle of Horseshoe Bend in Alabama."Bring him to Mrs. Jackson," the old Indian fighter ordered. The Jacksons became foster parents for the deeply loved Lincoya Jackson. (He died of tuberculosis in 1828.)

No, the old general's love for his Indian son does not absolve him from the harshness of his Indian policy, but it does absolve him of the charge that the policy was based on racism. The Indian removal is something that does–and should–trouble us, but all of us, whether great or ordinary, have in our lives a mixture of good and ill.

Andrew Jackson was no exception, but his heroism and decency–yes, decency–should not be forgotten.