Awards & Recognitions

Andrew Jackson Presidential Award for Commitment to Economic Fairness, Sound Principles of Governance

April 21, 2010
Senator Jim Webb, Official Press Release

Senator Jim Webb has been awarded the “Andrew Jackson Presidential Award for Citizenship and Leadership.” Presented by the Ladies Hermitage Association, the award honors leaders who have “promoted the history and life of Andrew Jackson” and “who have demonstrated in their civic lives a dedication to the furtherance of our American democracy and to sound governance principles.”

Senator Webb ran for the U.S. Senate in 2006 on a platform of “Jacksonian Democracy”—that we should measure the health of our society not at its apex, but at its base—committing to restore a basic level of economic fairness to the American people. For more than three years, his leadership in the Congress has upheld and embodied that commitment.

“I am struck by the multiple similarities when I think of President Jackson and Senator Webb,” said John Seigenthaler, award-winning reporter, editor, publisher and CEO for The Tennessean and founding editorial director of USA TODAY, when presenting the award. “They both were lawyers as well as warriors… Both of them served in Washington during times of intense partisanship. Neither of them will ever be remembered for giving sufferance to fools. Both were, and Jim Webb still is, committed to making sure that our government is true to those who come home from war in need of assistance.”

Senator Webb clearly articulated these priorities in a Wall Street Journal op-ed (“American workers have a chance to be heard,” November 15, 2006) and in his response to President George Bush’s 2007 State of the Union Address.

His first act in Congress was the introduction on his first day in office of a new GI Bill to provide service members and veterans of the post-9/11 era with comprehensive educational benefits similar to those provided to veterans of WWII. Since the bill became law in 2008, over 480,000 veterans have applied for their benefits to attend college or other post secondary programs. In order to further expand employment opportunities, Webb introduced the Adult Education and Economic Growth Act last year to improve adult education, job training, and other workforce programs. After American taxpayers bailed out the Wall Street firms who created the financial crisis, Senator Webb introduced the Taxpayer Fairness Act to place a one-time 50% tax on excessive bonuses paid by Wall Street banks and other firms that benefited from billions of taxpayer dollars in 2009.

In his acceptance speech, Senator Webb described how Jackson has inspired his approach to leadership today:

“When I think about Andrew Jackson, I am struck by the unique impact that he had on this country. His presidency was the first that did not come out of the landed English aristocracy in the South or the English American elite in New England. He was the first Scots-Irish president, the first “bottom up” president, and he had enormous challenges inside the existing political structure. Thomas Jefferson called him ‘dangerous’ and ‘unfit for office,’ and John Quincy Adams called him a ‘barbarian,’ and refused to attend his inauguration.”

“This was an individual who sincerely and fiercely believed in protecting the working people—the people who carried the load of society. He faced down the forces that threatened the very fabric of our society. Scholars agree that the most important presidential veto in American history occurred when legislation creating the Second National Bank came before President Jackson. This legislation would have allowed a permanent aristocracy in America. Two-thirds of Congress agreed that this legislation should go through. Andrew Jackson knew that if he vetoed this legislation, they were going to try to veto him. But he did.”

“In his 1832 veto message, Jackson said:

‘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 person is equally entitled to protection by law; but when the laws undertake to add to these natural and just advantages artificial distinctions, 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 favors to themselves–have a right to complain of the injustice of their Government. There are no necessary evils in government. Its evils exist only in its abuses.’”

“This to me, is the most important articulation of the responsibilities of government leaders that I’ve ever read. The truth of that statement resounds today in numerous pieces of legislation we face in the United States Congress. The courage that it took to confront the forces of entrenched interests in order to challenge the conscience of all Americans also exists today. That is my duty. I continue in that tradition. That is the reason I so respect this great leader and also the reason I am so grateful to receive this award.”