Tag Archives: Andrew Jackson

This Day in History 1/8: The Battle of New Orleans

The minute you saw the title, you must be thinking, “Oh God, not that fucking song.”

Yes, in fact.  Three versions of that fucking song, to be exact.

Today marks the anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans, the final battle in the War of 1812.  It was technically the battle that never should have happened, as it occurred after the signing of the treaty ending hostilities.  Regardless, the decisive win against overwhelming British forces made Andrew Jackson a national hero and inspired a country song that has been redone by too many country artists to count.

Today we present three versions of the classic “Battle of New Orleans.”  The first is the classic 1959 version by Johnny Horton, followed by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.  Lastly, John Rich of Big & Rich performs the song on Marty Stuart’s show.  Hope you enjoy them.

And if you hate the song, fuck off…you commie.

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“History’s Greatest A**hole!” – The Finalists!

Thanks to everyone who sent their submissions!  Based on the quality of the candidates, and space/time issues for a proper poll, here are the five finalists (for sake of fairness, the contestants’ names have been left out):

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1. Henry VIII (1491-1547)

Assholes like to make history-making dick moves, and few moved their member with such ferocity as Henry Tudor, or King Henry VIII of England.  Apart from going through six wives–and countless chambermaids–to secure that elusive male heir, he decided to make himself head of a church, which helped lead to centuries of religious violence.  As we all know, all assholes think they’re God, and fat Harry was no exception. Even his portraits are symbols of douchebaggery.  By Henry’s death in 1547, Hans Holbein the Younger needed double-wide canvasses just to do His Lardness some justice. 

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2. Fidel Castro (1926-       )

If Fidel wins this contest, I’m blaming Miami and Union City, NJ with stuffing the ballots (just kidding).  Fidel Castro is certainly worthy of this list.  His 1959 revolution in Cuba created the first Communist regime in the Western Hemisphere.  Thousands have been killed, tortured and imprisoned for defying him and his brand of Communism.  His programs have driven the country into ruin, while aid continues to enter the country just to make the US look bad.  He makes lefties swoon and right-wingers squirm, and is personally responsible for Miami and Union City, NJ.  Yet the real reason he’s on here?  According to legend (and we can’t really substantiate this) Castro made ice cream cones illegal.  Now that’s an asshole!

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3. Pol Pot (1928-1998)

Here’s a wacko that deserves a well-placed kick in the nuts.  Pol Pot led the Khmer Rouge guerrillas to power in Cambodia in 1975.  For four long years, Pol Pot systematically reduced his country to the Stone Age, literally.  He changed time so that everything started at “Year Zero”, forcing cities to be evacuated for slave labor in the countryside.  Almost 2.5 million people, or 21% of the population, died on his watch from starvation, torture and execution.  The guy hated everybody: foreigners, intellectuals, the disabled, even hated people wearing glasses.  It took the Vietnamese, of all people, to end this nightmare with an invasion in 1979, forcing Pol Pot into the hills as his country still recovers from the lunacy.  They say he was poisoned–let’s hope its by Pearle Vision.

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4. Andrew Jackson (1767-1845)

It is now common knowledge among academics that the father of Jacksonian Democracy was also a bit of a scumbag.  As President of the United States from 1829-1837, he was a steadfast supporter of slavery, killed the Second Bank of the United States as a gesture to create an “agricultural republic” (or “plantation republic”, for those with less taste in bullshit) and supported the forced removal of almost 45,000 Native Americans from the eastern US, resulting in almost 4,000 deaths along the way–in defiance of the Supreme Court.  If this wasn’t bad enough, consider his temper: he fought 13 duels, killed a man in one, had bullets lodged all over his body, and even had to be restrained from killing an assassin who botched an attempt on his life.  No wonder he graces the “yuppie food stamp.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Mobutu Sese Seko (1930-1997)

Only a truly global asshole would change his name.  Joseph-Desire Mobutu took over the Congo in a bloodless military coup in 1965.  He then proceeded to create a totalitarian regime unequalled in Africa.  His personality cult silenced all opposition.  Mobutu personally embezzled $5 billion dollars from his country, forcing it into the economic shitter–which was hard considering it was the mineral breadbasket of Africa.  He renames the country Zaire, and forced the whole country to adopt African names and dress on pain of imprisonment or death.  Finally, in a real classy move, he changes his name to Mobutu Sese Seko Nkuku Ngbendu Wa Za Banga (“The all-powerful warrior who, because of his endurance and inflexible will to win, goes from conquest to conquest, leaving fire in his wake.”).

I will create the poll in a separate post, along with the dates of the poll.  May the worst asshole win!

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This Day in History 6/18: The War of 1812

USS_Constitution_vs_GuerriereIt just figures that the first day of the US Open at Bethpage Black gets rained out.  It shares an anniversary with another unhappy accident.

Today is the 197th anniversary of the War of 1812, one of the strangest wars in American history.  It’s been called many other names, such as the “Second War of Independence” or “Mr. Madison’s War”, after the sitting President James Madison.  My favorite name for it, however, is the “War of Faulty Communication,” since a simple advance in technology would have prevented not only the war even being declared, but would also have stopped its largest battle from even starting.

The young United States was fighting largely for respect.  Both Napoleonic France and Great Britain, in constant warfare since 1793, wanted to use the U.S. as leverage in trade and military gamesmanship.   American trade suffered from British harrassment–especially the “impressment” of sailors–and French meddling.  Furthermore, in defiance of the Treaty of Paris of 1783, the British remained in forts on America’s western frontier, providing arms and supplies for local Native groups to raid on encroaching American settlements.

Yet when Congress passed the war resolution on June 18, 1812, many of the major abuses by the British were being resolved.  A month before, the prime minister died, and Lord Liverpool formed a new government, one which sought a more accomodating stance with the United States.  On June 16, just two days before the declaration of war, Parliament voted to rescind many of the aggressive maritime measures that caused American anger in the first place.  If there was even a telegraph line, let alone a phone or the Internet, this war would’ve never happened.

If you asked the generals on both sides, it shouldn’t have happened–not in their military conditions in 1812.  Britain was in no shape to get into another conflict.  It was busy in the Peninsular War in Spain against Napoleon, as well as leading the alliance against the French via the mainland, aiding their Continental allies as the French armies got stuck in Russia.  Britain controlled the seas with its huge navy, but it was needed to blockade Europe, and few ships could be spared.

The United States was in worse shape.  The standing army was only about 7,000, and recruits were hard to come by outside of the South and West.  The war was extremely unpopular in New England, where they threatened secession if their commerce was further curtailed.  The navy was virtually nonexistent: a whopping 14 ships, with 6 frigates and no heavy-hitting ships of the line, compared to Britain’s 600 vessel monster.

The war was concentrated on the high seas, the Great Lakes, the coastal towns of the Chesapeake Bay, the western frontier and the Gulf coast.  Most battles were small affairs, especially in the west where the British had to use Canadian militia and native allies to buttress their small ranks.  This changed in 1814, when the waning of the Napoleonic Wars allowed Great Britain to allocate more resources to the American front.  This resulted in the burning of Washington, DC and the siege of Baltimore–the very same siege that gave birth to our national anthem.

By December of 1814, the war was tiring on both sides.  Britain wanted to maintain a strong hand in shaping post-Napoleonic Europe, and the war in the Americas weakened its position among its allies Austria and Russia.  The United States, meanwhile, wanted to end a costly conflict that had few clear victories and some disastrous defeats.  Both sides signed the Treaty of Ghent on December 28, 1814, which ended the war.

Or did it?

Somehow, Andrew Jackson did not get the message.  Maybe his DSL connection was down, or the network admin was doing maintenance.  Instead, he decides to give the British the beating of a lifetime.  On January 8, 1815, Jackson’s Americans soundly defeat an invading British force at New Orleans.  It made Jackson a national hero, but it never should’ve happened.  It wasn’t until the next month, when the British invaded Mobile, Alabama, that news reached the South of the peace treaty. 

So what did the War of 1812 teach us, kids? 

(1) Always check your messages.  It’ll avoid unfortunate misunderstandings and prevent escalation of conflict.  Jackson needed a Blackberry.  Lord Liverpool should’ve Twittered his actions.

(2) Never get caught with your pants down.  You’ll end up running like the US Army at the shameful Battle of Bladensburg in 1814.  It was widely considered the worst defeat in US military history.

(3) Always get the “last licks.” The schoolyard prepares us for the battlefields of life.  Jackson ended up with the last punch in 1815.  In 1828, he’d be elected President.

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