Full Synopsis

Full Synopsis

A Wild West tavern. Andrew Jackson — man's man, rock star and America's seventh president —  enters and addresses the audience. He is flanked by the ensemble; they are dressed as nineteenth century cowboys and prostitutes. The ensemble sets the scene in an emo-laced anachronistic rock invocation of the Age of Jackson ("Populism, Yea, Yea!"). The Storyteller, a milquetoast, history-loving narrator in the style of a PBS documentary, enters in her electric wheelchair and enthusiastically begins telling the story of Jackson's upbringing, reenacted by the ensemble.

Young Jackson sees his mother shot in the back with an arrow, and Andrew, Sr., lets out a mighty tirade against the "Injuns." As he finishes, he is also slain by an arrow in the back. Young Jackson rails against all of the obstacles set before him in life: the Indians, the Congress and taxes, lamenting that, in general, life sucks. Someone should do something about it, but not him ("I'm Not That Guy").

Jackson joins the patriot cause to defend Tennessee but is captured by English soldiers. He tries to give a rousing speech about standing for the rights of America as several redcoats inanely flog him. Jackson is released, and a crowd assembles to listen to him tell about meeting George Washington in Philadelphia. A group of Spanish officers from the crowd confronts Jackson, and the scene explodes into a fight. Jackson beats the Spaniards up but is knocked unconscious in the melee. When Jackson wakes, he is being tended by Rachel and he is instantly smitten. Rachel and Jackson bleed themselves for each other ("Illness as Metaphor"). Rachel tells him that she's married to another man, but Jackson wants to marry her nonetheless.

Jackson is begged to lead the frontier people to fight off the Spanish and Tecumseh's Indians. Jackson's destiny is clear. Fueled by his hatred of the English, the Spanish, Washington aristocrats and Indians, he realizes that he needs to take the initiative. He shoots the Storyteller in the neck and goes off to kick some butt ("I'm So That Guy").

After brutally defeating the Creek Indians, Jackson meets Red Eagle and, in direct violation of orders from President Monroe, confiscates Creek lands... just because he wants to do it. A mysterious girl in sunglasses sings with the Band as Jackson gets Chief Keokuk to sign a treaty, giving him their land. Jackson continues to "assimilate" Indians ("Ten Little Indians") violently. The Red Coats return, this time to attack New Orleans. Against overwhelming odds, Jackson defeats them at the Battle of New Orleans. He returns to Rachel, triumphant, drunk and covered in blood. Rachel gives him an ultimatum: he can continue to fight and kill, or he can give it up and continue to be with her. Jackson chooses Rachel.

Meanwhile, back in Washington, President Monroe, John Calhoun, Martin Van Buren and Henry C. Clay are beginning to get concerned by Jackson's popularity. They decide that something must be done to deal with him. Jackson goes off to fight again and, in the aftermath of a battle in the First Seminole War, he is haunted by the voices of his murdered family. He takes in an orphaned Indian child and names him Lyncoya. He sends Lyncoya back to Rachel as an apology for breaking his promise never to fight again.

Martin Van Buren brings Jackson to Washington, where the President and the other senators decide to censure Jackson, who is shocked that they aren't more appreciative of his actions. Jackson decides to take on the Republican Party and run for President ("Vote for Jackson"). Jackson sweeps the vote but does not achieve an overall majority. A tiebreaking vote is sent to Congress, where they name John Quincy Adams the next President. Calhoun, Clay and the ensemble explain how the deal to make Adams president occurred in the back halls of Washington while no one was watching ("The Corrupt Bargain").

Jackson sinks into despair and retreats from public life ("Jackson Is a Loser"), but the presidential race of 1828 brings him out of his funk. Backstage at a rally, Rachel confronts Jackson over deciding to run again. She is worried that his opponents might dredge up the bigamy issue from their past. She gives Jackson another ultimatum... but this time, Jackson says that he wants both her and the Presidency. Rachel leaves, taking Lyncoya with her. Jackson takes the stage at the rally, announcing his triumphant return. He lays out his political grievances, his plan for the future, and the people love it... and him ("Rock Star").

Against the backdrop of Jackson fans and supporters, Rachel laments her lost expectations and lost dreams ("The Great Compromise").

The scene shifts to an exploratory Senate hearing on Jackson. The Congressmen question and confront him about his past of gambling, dueling and his many other questionable "un-American" activities over the years. They hit home over the bigamy issue with Rachel, even calling her to the stand. As the election votes are tallied, Rachel begins to die from grief. Jackson asks her to forgive him, but she dies as it is announced that he has won the election. Jackson sings of the ultimate irony of his private life and public life diverging in this way, vowing to Rachel to give himself to the people ("Public Life").

Jackson is now in the Oval Office, surrounded by young, hip, energetic groupies. Tours of Jackson fans are escorted through to see him in action. Van Buren brings up the issue of Indians killing American settlers, and Jackson struggles with what to do with the Indians who won't assimilate; he doesn't think a President should kill a whole race of people. He decides to move the Indians west of the Mississippi, except for the tribe of his friend and ally, Black Fox. Calhoun tries to confront Jackson about the South seceding, but Jackson puts him off and, instead, nullifies his Cabinet. Jackson demands that the Band play him a song while he puts forth a mix of platitudes and non-specific pledges that make people feel good ("Crisis Averted #1").

Back at the Oval Office, Van Buren has Congress on the line about the National Bank. Jackson decides to dissolve the bank. Van Buren has bad news: The Supreme Court has decided that nullification is legal, allowing Calhoun and the South to secede. Jackson blows them off. Van Buren has even more bad news: the Indian relocation is going terribly. When Jackson looks to his groupies for advice, they don't help and only give him useless, unspecific support. Jackson decides to go it alone, planning a forced relocation of the Indians, and public opinion begins to waffle ("Crisis Averted #2"). Van Buren tells Jackson that The Court won't allow him to relocate the Cherokee. The Indians respond by attacking settlements on the frontier. As another tour is guided through the Oval Office, the stress on Jackson becomes apparent, and he asks them for advice on the Indian issue. They give him more mixed advice, and he turns on them.

Meanwhile, Black Fox gathers the tribes of Tennessee and begins torching settlements. At his lowest, betrayed by his Indian ally and unsure of what to do, Jackson throws himself a pity party ("The Saddest Song"). As things look bleaker and bleaker, Jackson finally sees what he must do. He orders Black Fox's capture... by any means necessary. Black Fox is brought to Jackson, and Jackson berates his former ally. He rationalizes his actions for the relocation and offers Black Fox a treaty that would move the Indians once and for all. Lyncoya enters, excited to see Uncle Black Fox, and goes to him. Black Fox gives the boy a red feather. Lyncoya leaves, and Black Fox declines Jackson's treaty offer.

President Andrew Jackson is truly alone and he sets America on the course of Manifest Destiny. His legacy, a mixed and complicated one, is cemented in time and legend ("Second Nature"). Jackson gives one final speech about his legacy at a Harvard commencement ceremony, where he is given an honorary Doctorate of Law ("The Hunters of Kentucky").