Controversy has erupted over the naming of a new Navy ship. The combat ship, the USS Jackson, was named after Jackson, Mississippi. The city was named in honor of President Andrew Jackson. Those opposed to the ship’s name cite the former president’s treatment of Native Americans and African Americans
The United States Navy is being urged to revoke the name of the USS Jackson by civil rights activists who deemed that a combat ship after the seventh president is both “appalling” and a “step backward,” Fox News reports.
— U.S. Navy (@USNavy) December 4, 2015
Andrew Jackson was born in 1767 in a small Scotch-Irish settlement along what is now the border between North and South Carolina. The president never knew his father, who died before he was born. Jackson, his mother, and two brothers were forced to live with relatives in the Crawford area due to a lack of income. He received an elementary education and is believed to have engaged in some type of higher learning during the latter years of his youth, the Miller Center notes.
Jackson’s childhood came to a swift end when the Revolutionary War began. All of the members of his immediate family were killed during the fighting. The future president was too young to join the formal militias who fought the British, so he and his brother Robert joined an outfit of colonial irregulars and took up arms. An older brother was killed when fighting with George Washington’s newly formed army. He and Robert were captured during a battle in 1781. Both caught smallpox while imprisoned, Robert died from the illness. His mother died while attempting to garner the release of several nephews that were being held on a British prison ship.
After the Revolutionary War, the battle-hardened veteran at only 15 drifted around the region for a while. He ultimately began teaching school and then “read law” in North Carolina. He ultimately opened a small legal practice in Nashville. As the business thrived, Jackson got into the growing trading history of the time, which offered him the means to purchase both land and slaves.
The USS Jackson, also known as LCS6, is the third ship named in honor of the former president, according to a CNN report.
— U.S. Navy (@USNavy) December 7, 2015
Connecticut NAACP President Scot X. Esdaile said President Andrew Jackson was a “big-time slavemaster, pro slavery, the whole nine yards.”
“Amazing how we have an African-American president and the U.S. Navy slipped this thing through. I think it should be reconsidered,” Esdaile added.
Chuck Hoskin Jr., the Cherokee Nation secretary, appears to agree with the sentiments of the NAACP chapter president. Hoskin referenced the Indian Removal Act when making a case for why a U.S. Navy ship should not bear the name of the seventh president. The 1830 act removed Native Americans from their lands and initiated the Trail of Tear march where men, women, and children died by the dozens. Hoskin said Jackson caused a “legacy of trauma” when the native people were evicted from their lands in such a brutal manner.
“For our government to hold Andrew Jackson up to some reverence today, given our nation’s better appreciation of American history today than generations ago, is very troubling,” the Cherokee Nation official added. “For the Cherokee people, Andrew Jackson represents the period of Indian removal.”
The Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, is responsible for the naming of ships. He has not yet responded to complaints about the recent naming or commissioning ceremony which was held in Gulfport, Mississippi.
What do you think about the U.S. Navy combat ship being named after President Andrew Jackson?