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Andrew Jackson: Our finest (insane) presidential athlete

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Andrew Jackson, our nation's original Brett Favre.

On this President's Day, let us reflect on our greatest sportsman to occupy the Oval Office: Andrew Clawhammer BassProShops Jackson.

Other presidents have athletic résumes, yes. Gerald Ford played offensive line at Michigan. President Obama is known for a fluid hoops game. Richard Nixon was known for his love of bowling, and among many presidents Dwight Eisenhower was the one most fond of the meticulous, frustrating game of golf. Teddy Roosevelt actually invented every American sport we know today, and improved curling by using landmines instead of stones. (Canadians removed these for "safety" in 1934, forever stunting the sport's growth in the United States.)

The stamina of a distance runner (with smallpox). No president, however, displayed the extraordinary athletic gifts of Andrew Jackson. Jackson developed stamina as a youth using the 18th century's most demanding conditioning regimen: smallpox, poverty, starvation and imprisonment by the British. Smallpox endurance work forced on him by the redcoats might have killed family members and made him despise the English for life, but they turned Old Hickory into a distance runner capable of moving a hundred miles in three days over rough terrain fueled by little more than hatred, tree bark and the occasional slow pheasant consumed on the run.

Only Alabama football uses the same brutal regimen in the present day, and their results speak for themselves.

A prodigy at the sports of his time (including smallpox). No other American president excelled as Jackson did in the chosen games of his era. In post-colonial America those sports were summarized in the American Frontier Pentathlon:

  • Shootin' (at people)
  • Combat with the sharpest thing in arm's reach
  • Horsin'
  • Bleeding
  • Smallpox (with walking)

Jackson by historical record excelled in every element of the Frontier Pentathlon. Boldly ignoring the NCAA's age limits, he joined the fight against the British at the age of 13, an age where most American youths were only consuming only two liters of whiskey a day.

Shooting was a specialty. Think of Andrew Jackson as our country's original lumbering pocket QB. In between wars between large groups of people, Jackson stayed fresh by murdering people individually. Rather than cower, stand sideways, or run screaming like a sensible person, Jackson hung tough in the pocket and delivered a fatal shot into the body of Charles Dickinson--after letting Dickinson shoot first, and taking a bullet in the chest. Andrew Jackson would cough up that blood for the rest of his life with a smile, just like Ben Roethlisberger will.

His weakest event came in sharp object combat, but he did take a sword to the face from a British soldier with aplomb, and made up for it in the equestrian events and in his other specialty: bleeding. Jackson, who while awake was either bleeding or in the act of making someone else bleed, once soaked through two mattresses in a long convalescence after a bullet shattered his shoulder. A month later, Jackson was back in combat, because excellence never sleeps and neither did Andrew Jackson.*

*Unless he was passed out from blood loss, which was common.

A gamer who played with injuries. Nor did Jackson's legacy of toughness stop there. The Bob Probert of the Oval Office played through a draft profile of maladies that included the mandatory smallpox, a dose of Floridian malaria, sword wounds, a shoulder shattered by gunfire, bullets lodged throughout his body, chronic dysentery, depression, and even excessive slobbering. This makes Andrew Jackson sound like frontier America's drooling, underfed, moody and homicidal neighborhood stray dog capable of setting off a metal detector from all the nasty, 19th century firearm-grade lead he carried in his body. This is because this is exactly what Andrew Jackson was.

A leader. You might wonder why he didn't die of rabies, then. The answer is simple: like all champions, Andrew Jackson bit rabies before rabies could bite him, and shrugged off the aches of his injuries when his team needed him. You can let the historians debate whether or not he actually did anything but kill people and yell at clouds while he was president. You can let them decide whether he was a psychopathic maniac, or a really psychopathic maniac. What we know is that men followed his orders and loved him, mostly likely because they were terrified of Andrew Jackson killing them.*

*A legitimate concern.

We do not know what women thought of him, perhaps because women were just trying to stay out of the way of whatever horrible things people were doing to each other in 1824.

An athlete. But we know what we know: that Andrew Jackson didn't sit inside a bowling alley sweating what the Kennedys thought of him like Nixon, and that he didn't bore himself to tears trying to hit the greens of Augusta National like other presidents. No, like a Brett Favre of the hillbilly murder era of American life, the original Gunslinger just went out there and played like a kid--a kid who'd lost everything he'd ever loved, and who has also hated the British, Native Americans, foreigners, more British people, still more British people, minorities of any sort., and basically anyone who wasn't one of three horses he declared "acceptable, and not deserving of instant murder."

We know that Jackson excelled at the sports of the frontier, and did them with grit, tenacity, and a bastard case of the dropsy, the 19th century's term for edema or swelling. What was Andrew Jackson swollen with? Sheer athleticism, American pride, and also gallons of bodily fluids, because even Andrew Jackson's body eventually had to surrender to Andrew Jackson.