President Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson is traditionally reported to
have been born on March 15, 1767 near Waxhaw, SC. His father
was an Irish immigrant, who had died shortly after his birth.
Jacksons mother, however, continued on in the true frontier
fashion of the day and raised Andrew and his three brothers
in the backwoods of early America. At age nine, Andrew and his
family were swept into the passions of the Revolutionary War.
At age 9, Jackson and his brother were captured after the Battle
of Hanging Rock and sent to Prisoner of War camps.
During the time, a British officer ordered Jackson to black
his boots and, when the boy refused, was slashed across the
forearm with a saber leaving a scar he carried for the rest
of his life. Jackson saw his brothers die in British POW Camps
from smallpox and even contracted the disease himself, but survived.
His mother also passed away during the Revolution while traveling
to Charleston to care for wounded American prisoners. Andrew
Jackson emerged from the War older, wiser, and with a loathing
for all things British.
After a stint as a schoolteacher in Charleston, Jackson began
studying law in Salisbury, N.C. and eventually moved to the
city of Jonesborough in frontier Tennessee where he was admitted
to the Bar in November 1787. Jackson had, throughout his life,
been the model frontiersmen and was capable in the rough-and-tumble
world of early America. Jackson considered himself a "man
of the people" and was known to be able to hold his own
when it came to drinking, fighting, and gambling at the cockfights
often held in the frontier communities.
In addition, he often engaged in fights and duels of honor and
once shot a lawyer on the outskirts of Jonesborough in one of
his first public encounters. As an attorney and jurist, however,
he made a name for himself in Tennessee.
In 1789, Jackson moved to the settlement of Nashville where
he established his practice and was appointed Public Prosecutor.
It was this position that allowed Andrew Jackson to begin his
rise towards prominence. The 1790 court records show that, out
of 492 cases on the docket in Nashville, Jackson served as counsel
on 424 of them and the number grew each year. Because of the
high Native American population in the region, Jackson also
soon became a skilled Indian fighter trying to overcome those
Natives who didnt take well to American laws being enforced
During this time, he began courting Miss Rachel Robards of Natchez,
Miss. In 1791, believing that the Virginia legislature had granted
her a divorce from a husband who had deserted her, Andrew Jackson
married her. Her former husband saw an opportunity and brought
suit against Rachel Jackson where he was granted a divorce.
Undaunted, Jackson got another marriage license and remarried
Rachel, however, it would always be a sore spot with him that
antagonists would use to anger him. In fact, he would eventually
kill a Kentucky lawyer in a duel who questioned the validity
of his marriage to Rachel.
In 1796, Jackson helped draft Tennessees first Constitution
and was selected as the states first congressman. Jackson
resigned the post in 1797 to fill a vacancy as Senator. He resigned
that post a year later to take a seat on the Tennessee Supreme
Court. In 1802, Jackson was elected major-general of the West
Tennessee militia. Jackson continued working as a judge and
maintained that post until 1804.
After Jackson stepped down from the court, he worked as a planter,
trader, and merchant headquartered in his beloved Hermitage
Plantation near Nashville. When war was declared in 1812 against
the British, General Jackson offered his services and became
the principal general in the southern front against the British.
At the Battle of Horseshoe Bend, Jackson and his Tennessee/Cherokee
militia distinguished themselves against the "Red Stick"
Creeks. Following the battle, a Native American infant was found
in the rubble of the settlement and brought to General Jackson.
Jackson adopted the infant named "Lincoya" and took
the baby home where he raised him as his own son.
In 1814, Jackson was finally appointed major-general in the
Regular Army and officially appointed to head up the Department
of the South. In December of that year, General Jackson discovered
where the British were planning a major attack. He and his men
went on a forced march to New Orleans and, in a surprising victory,
defeated the British and drove them out of the gulf port city.
It catapulted Jackson to national prominence, but he was ordered
back to Florida to try and quell the uprisings in the territory.
Jacksons actions in the region were controversial and
began earning him some highly placed political enemies, but
his actions eventually resulted in Spains cession of Florida
to the United States. Jackson was appointed Provisional Governor
of the region, but resigned the post in 1822 to return to Tennessee
where he was elected back to the United State Senate.
In 1824, the Tennessean made a run for the Presidency and defeated
his four opponents, but, due to lack of a majority, the race
was forced into the Congress. Although ordered by the State
of Kentucky to throw his support to Jackson, Representative
Henry Clay, who had lost the election to Jackson, thumbed his
nose at the order and threw his votes behind John Quincy Adams
giving him the Presidency and Clay an immediate appointment
to Secretary of State.
Jackson continued to serve as a Senator from Tennessee and,
in the four years that preceded the next Presidential election,
worked with his chief political advisor Martin Van Buren to
change the way Presidents were elected. The foundation he and
Van Buren laid became the groundwork of what would become the
Democratic Party. During this time a new controversy began taking
place in the national arena that would affect American politics
On March 13, 1826, William Morgan of Batavia, N.Y. signed a
book contract for a publication he said would expose the Freemasons
secrets. When word got out, a rogue group of men professing
to be Freemasons burned the printers shop and threatened
Morgan. When the New York author was jailed for non-payment
of debts, a benefactor bailed him out, but Morgan was kidnapped
off of the streets as he left the jail and never seen again.
Five men later confessed that they had taken him to the old
Fort Niagara, but that he had escaped. As the arrests were made
and the men brought to trial, anti Masonic sentiments were enraged
when it was discovered that the local judge, sheriff, and some
jurors belonged to the fraternity. Seeing a political opportunity
to permanently damage Andrew Jackson, who was elected and had
served as Grand Master of the Tennessee Masonic Lodge in 1822
and 23, President John Quincy Adams immediately began a campaign
of written opinions denouncing the organization and calling
on its members to leave the lodges, in spite of the fact that
Adams former colleagues George Washington and other American
colonial leaders were members. Adams was joined in his efforts
by fundamentalist evangelists who tried to persuade the people
that the Masonic fraternity was a diabolical organization. For
two years, the sentiment was pushed across the country by Adams
and eventually led to the formation of the Anti-Masonic Political
In 1828, however, the party had no real power base to support
a candidate, but kept its message alive fueled by Adams
support. Senator Andrew Jacksons reforms had taken effect
and the Tennessean went on to become the Seventh President of
the United States and the first elected by popular vote to the
The Tennessean was dealt a crushing blow after his victory.
On December 22, 1828, his beloved Rachel passed way from what
many believe to be a heart attack. The newly elected President
mourned her loss and laid Rachel Jackson to rest on the grounds
of their Hermitage Plantation. Following the funeral, Jackson
turned his attention to matters of state and began assembling
his team for the White House.
The inauguration party of President Jackson was one of the wildest
D.C. had ever seen. In fact, so wild that nothing like it has
ever been seen again. Cockfights, wild drunken parties and other
like activities were carried on in the White House as he opened
the door to the people who had elected him to office.
As President, Jackson immediately began making reforms in government
that angered many. He ruled with an iron hand and, in military
fashion, delegated power to a select group of men who served
in the traditional secretary posts. Jackson treated them like
clerks and developed a working relationship that evolved into
what was nicknamed the "kitchen cabinet". Their unswerving
loyalty allowed the President to introduce major reforms in
government and accomplish many of his first term goals. His
overriding policy and belief that the will of the American people
should outweigh that of Congress and the Senate continuously
posed problems among those who supported Jacksons policies
in the House.
In the 1832 Presidential election, Democrat and President Andrew
Jackson, Whig candidate Henry Clay, and Anti-Masonic Party candidate
William Wirt squared off in the campaign for President. The
Anti-Masonic flames were fanned again at Jackson through the
writings of Adams and Jacksons record with the fraternity,
but the Tennessean held onto his seat and won by a landslide.
He had weathered losing his home state in the race because of
his heavy-handed techniques, a full assault by his old foe Henry
Clay, and the first third party movement in American history.
Jackson would go on as President to make enemies. He led the
fight to kill the Second Bank of the United States, put down
the nullification crisis in South Carolina, and regularly opposed
internal improvements at national expense. By the time Jackson
stepped down and handed over the reins to Martin Van Buren,
he had accomplished what no other had before him.
The chief results of Jacksons terms was an expansion of
the powers of President, the introduction of the controversial
"spoils system", the removal of the Cherokee from
Southern Appalachia, and the destruction of the national banking
system from a free market economy. When he departed for Nashville,
many Americans had mixed feelings about his administrations.
For many of the power elite of the time, he was seen as an idol
of the masses that they regarded as an illiterate, backwoods,
fool that should have never held the office.
When President Jackson was conferred a Doctorate of Laws by
Harvard University, John Adams wrote:
"As myself an affectionate child of our Alma Mater, I would
not be present to witness her disgrace in conferring her highest
literary honors upon a barbarian who could not write a sentence
of grammar and hardly could spell his own name."
Regardless of the political sentiments, Jackson was regarded
as a national icon and was always treated with the utmost respect.
In fact as the Cherokee made their way near the Hermitage, many
of the old warriors, who had fought with him against the British
and the Creeks, stopped by to visit with him and shake hands.
For eight years, Jackson remained at his beloved Hermitage.
On June 8, 1845, the 78-year-old former President passed away
signaling the end of an era. It is reported that at dusk a stained
horse-drawn carriage galloped into the Hermitage and a tall
commanding figure entered the home amid the confusion and approached
the candle-lit couch where the deceased President lay. Few people
recognized him as Sam Houston. He is said to have dropped to
his knees and sobbed at seeing his friend and former commander
dead. He stood next to his son, whom he had brought with him
to meet the elder statesman who had never deserted him in his
times of crisis.
"My son," Houston stated to the small boy, "try
to remember that you have looked on the face of Andrew Jackson."
The Tennesseans death was mourned throughout the nation.
Headlines across America and Europe carried the news of his
passing. Andrew Jackson was buried with the full ceremonies
and honors due a President of the Untied States. He was laid
to rest next to his wife Rachel on the grounds of the Hermitage.
There is no shortage of books and material on Andrew Jackson
and research on his life continues to this day. While it is
often cited that he was born near Waxhaw, SC, researchers have
recently come to believe that he was actually born on an immigrant
ship from Ireland a few years earlier. While historians and
leaders of the day often point to Jacksons "roguish
vices", one has to remember that Jackson could cultivate
reliable intelligence under the most extreme conditions. Those
vices were often doors into a world of information that Jackson
understood and could work with confidence as both a prosecutor
and military general.
There are many legends and myths about Jackson that were fitting
to man who occupied such celebrity stature in the eyes of the
common Americans. Though often ridiculed for having their support
by governments "upper class", he never felt
that he deserted them. Being robbed of the Presidency in 1826,
led him to tear down a growing parliamentary form of government
that had arisen around the selection process of President of
the United States and he ruled from the office in a dictatorial
fashion. It wasnt without cost and controversy and often
endangered the checks and balances of representative government.
Andrew Jackson was also the last elected President that stood
in violation of the 12th Amendment to the Constitution of not
being native born. His successor, Martin Van Buren, was the
first President of true American birth to take the office. I
have withheld the controversy surrounding the Cherokee removal
because of space limitations and the fact it deserves its own
It is a little known fact that Jackson adopted a Native American
infant following the Battle of Horseshoe Bend and raised him
like a son. Because of Sam Houstons close affiliation
with the President, he and the boy became close friends.
The disappearance of William Morgan was never solved, but his
book was released under the title: "Freemasonry Exposed"
and is still in publication today. The letters of John Adams
condemning the organization were also published later in book
form. The Morgan incident that led to the rise of the Anti-Masonic
Party was the first third party movement in American history.
While they failed and were gone from the national stage quickly,
their method of nominating the President and Vice-President
by convention was adopted by both the Democrats and the Republican
Party and is still the method used today.
The Masonic Lodge in Tennessee has always had strong support.
Among its members were men like John Sevier, James White, Sam
Houston, David Crockett, and virtually every frontier leader
from Tennessee. Numerous artifacts from Tennessee Freemasonry
are on display in the Tennessee State Museumincluding
Jacksons Masonic Apron. The Grand Lodge itself also houses
numerous Masonic relics from the past. In addition, while Grand
Master of Tennessee, Jackson signed the charters of Grainger
Countys Rising Star Lodge in Rutledge and the Jackson
Lodge in Jackson, Tenn.
Until 1945, Andrew Jackson was the only American President who
had also served as Grand Master of a State Lodge. When President
Harry Truman succeeded Franklin Roosevelt, he became the secondhaving
served as Grand Master of the Missouri Lodge.
Andrew Jacksons Hermitage Plantation in Nashville is one
of Tennessees most popular tourist attractions.
Since formal archaeological excavations have begun on the Hermitage
grounds, a new chapter on Jacksons life has been opened
and researchers are learning more about the daily life at the
Hermitage as well as offering numerous opportunities for students.
The facility is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5p.m.
Admission is $9.50 for adults with discounts for seniors and
children under 12.