Also, if the British
had captured and hanged Jackson, he would not have been around to serve as an
inspiration for the younger Sam Houston. Nor would Old Hickory have been able
in the spring of 1836 to order U.S. troops to the Louisiana-Texas border as Santa
Anna and his army chased independence-minded Texans in that direction following
victory at New Orleans against a numerically superior foe galvanized the young
nation. Recognition of January 8 as a day to celebrate must have begun early on
and gathered momentum after Jackson’s presidency.
“All good Democrats
remembered that yesterday was Andrew Jackson’s Day,” the New York Times told its
readers on Jan. 9, 1896 -- 81 years after the battle.
victory over the British had come a little more than two months before his March
15 birthday. For years, in addition to observing Jackson Day on January
8, Tennessee was the only state that took March 15 off in honor of Jackson’s
somewhere along the way, a day originally intended to honor one of this nation’s
most impressive military triumphs and important presidents morphed into a holiday
for Democrats only.
“Thousands of Texans made ready to join the democrats
of the nation in observance of Jackson day with dinners this evening,” the Austin
American-Statesman reported in a page-one story on Jan. 8, 1936. “The traditional
functions honoring the memory of the great democrat, Andrew Jackson, was planned
in Texas largely by party organizations, and, in line with the rest of the nation,
most of the proceeds will go into the party treasury.”
Eight hundred people
were expected for a roof-top party at Austin’s
Stephen F. Austin Hotel. Other Jackson Day parties were on tap that night in Dallas,
Fort Worth, Lubbock,
and surely other Texas cities. The Amarillo
party had to be cancelled because of a snow storm. The speaker for the Austin
Jackson Day event was Gov. Paul V. McNutt of Indiana. Texas Gov. James V. Allred
would have been the logical choice to address Texas Democrats, but he already
had accepted an invitation to speak at a Jackson Day gathering in Nashville.
the local festivities, celebrants repaired to their radios to listen to President
Franklin Roosevelt deliver a Jackson Day oration that included his formal announcement
that he would be seeking another four years in the White House.
then, just about everyone in the Lone Star State who could drop a ballot in a
box was a Democrat.
most people today have never heard of Jackson Day is easy enough to guess. Since
the day was considered a special day by Democrats, as the strength of the Republican
Party grew, interest in whooping it up on Jackson Day waned. Even www.google.com
is devoid of any straight-forward history of Jackson Day.
The tension between
political elephants and donkeys was evident even in the 1936 Jackson Day newspaper
coverage. When Judge J.R. Sutherland, the Nueces County Democratic chairman, invited
U.S. Dist. Judge T. M. Kennerly of Houston
to speak at the Corpus
Christi Jackson Day event, to Judge Sutherland’s great surprise, the federal
Turned out Kennerly was a Republican and didn’t feel
like participating in a Democratic blow out.
“I didn’t know there were
any Republicans left in Texas,” the Corpus Christi
Democrat told the press.
"Texas Tales" January
21, 2010 column