Andrew Jackson and Gamal Abdul-Nasser: A Behavioral Study in Comparative Political Leadership




Souryal, Safwat Sabit

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University of Utah


The purpose of the present study is twofold: (1) to examine the essential components of leadership in general and charismatic leadership in particular, and (2) to deduce some predictive generalizations pertaining to the emergence, consolidation and termination of charismatic leadership. With these objectives in mind, an attempt has been made to apply the behavioral approach as well as the analytical approach to the leadership of both President Andrew Jackson of the United States of America (1828-1836) and President Gamal Abdul-Nasser of the United Arab Republic (1952-1970)—as case studies. The initial hypotheses which underlie the investigation are the following:

  1. Both Presidents were charismatic leaders.
  2. Both Presidents acted in the best interests of their countries as they saw fit.
  3. Both Presidents, as individuals, matched each other in their socio-psychological settings.
  4. Both Presidents encountered separate socio-political situations which might be labelled similar.
  5. In displaying their charismatic leadership, both Presidents shared many politico-behavioral uniformities under parallel situations.
  6. Some generalizations about charismatic leadership might be deduced from the comparison between the two cases.
  7. These generalizations might be of a predictive nature and as such would be helpful in future cross-cultural leadership studies. In this dissertation, a study of the parallel situations brought into focus the following analogies:
  8. The Jacksonian Democracy and the Nasserite Socialism.
  9. Jackson’s war against the Bank and Nasser's war against Feudalism.
  10. Jackson’s war against the Nullifiers and Nasser’s war against the Syrian secessionists.
  11. Jackson’s Spoils System and Nasser’s Militarized Bureaucracy. This research produced two sets of results: One set supports the first five hypotheses listed above (which postulate possible similarities between the two leaders). This set was reached by a qualitative analysis of the parallel situations and was substantiated by two methods of quantitative analysis (a content analysis and a questionnaire). In light of this set of results, Jackson and Nasser are seen as sharing a considerable degree of similarity with regards to their charismatic leadership. The other set yields the predictive generalizations anticipated by the last two hypotheses. Because these generalizations presuppose the first set of results, they have been considered the main conclusions of this dissertation. These generalizations are the following:
  12. Two independent variables perceived as extremely important in understanding charismatic leadership are personal traits and situational performance.
  13. Charismatic potential develops in a leader by a certain merger of his personal traits and his performance style. This merger produces a state of dormant charisma. Dormant charisma flowers when it receives favorable popular support and becomes activated charisma; dormant charisma dies when such support is denied.
  14. The effectiveness of charismatic leadership depends on the leader's ability to maintain the charismatization bond between himself and the masses.
  15. Charismatic leaders who come from lower social classes tend to be aggressive, violent, and perhaps vindictive. They are Inclined to deploy vociferous ideologies and try to uphold this deployment by repression. In the process of formulating these generalizations, the concept of charisma first initiated by Max Weber has been given a new operational application; namely, the concept of charismatization as presented in this research. The goal of this dissertation has been to make a modest contribution to the study of cross-cultural charismatic leadership. It is hoped that this inquiry will be supplemented by other studies of analogous personalities and that the combined efforts invested in such studies will ultimately transpire in the establishment of an acceptable theory of charismatic leadership.


Dissertation by Sam S. Sourayal for PhD in Political Science from the University of Utah in 1971


leadership, Andrew Jackson, Gamal Abdul-Nasser, charismatic leaders