Andrew Jackson | 7th President | 1829-1837
Birthplace, Andrew Jackson State Park, Lancaster, South Carolina
Andrew Jackson, the seventh president of the United States, was the third child of impoverished immigrants. Two years before his birth, the Jacksons and their first two sons made the crossing from Ireland and settled in the Carolinas. While clearing land one day in 1767, there was an accident, and his father was killed. A few days later on March 15, Andrew was born and named after his father.
Even though the family lived in a log house and scraped by, they managed to get Andrew some schooling. He learned to read-a rarity in 1770s rural America. In 1776, at age nine he took the critical job of reading newspapers aloud to illiterate citizens, and thus learned public speaking skills. By the middle of the decade there was plenty of news to read-from places up north with names like Lexington, Bunker Hill, and Saratoga.
This 360-acre park was set up in 1952 to honor our nation’s seventh president – Andrew Jackson. Within the park you will find a museum with small gift shop, two 1-mile nature trails, a replica 18th century schoolhouse, fishing lake, campground, amphitheater, Meeting House, and two picnic shelters. The museum contains four exhibit rooms that reveal colonial life in South Carolina’s backcountry: a dining room, bedroom, textile room, and early implements. On the museum grounds you will view a bronze sculpture of the young Andrew Jackson by Anna Hyatt Huntington and examine the Daughters of the American Revolution marker recognizing the birthplace of Andrew Jackson.
This marker, placed by the Daughters of the American Revolution at the site of the McKamie Farmhouse, is where the State of North Carolina believes is the true birthplace of Andrew Jackson. The McKamie Farmhouse was owned by his uncle and is a few miles from the other disputed site, the Crawford Cabin, which is located across the state border in the Andrew Jackson State Park in the Waxhaw region of South Carolina. The marker reads “Here was born March 15, 1767, Andrew Jackson, Seventh President of the United States – Erected by the N.C. Daughters of the American Revolution 1910.” Jackson’s father died the week before he was born. His early life, from 1767 to 1781, was spent almost exclusively in the Waxhaw region. In 1781, at the age of 14, his mother died and Andrew left the region to volunteer for the Revolutionary militia.
Home, The First Hermitage, Nashville, Tennessee
In the spring of 1804, Andrew Jackson wrote his wife Rachel from Knoxville declaring that he was growing tired of public life. He wished to retire to some peaceful grove to spend our days in solitude and domestic quiet. With his signature on the deed in August of that year, Andrew Jackson took ownership of a tract of land near Nashville, Tennessee. Although he had many more years before retirement here, for the rest of his life this land would mean more to him than any other place.
Andrew and Rachel Jackson moved into their first residence on the Hermitage property a complex of buildings constructed of tulip poplar log walls with cut limestone chimneys and foundation piers. This would be their home for the next 17 years until the brick mansion was built in 1821. Jackson originally called this scenic farm Rural Retreat but quickly renamed it the Hermitage.
Here, in an area of Tennessee that was hardly more than a frontier, the Jackson’s created an elegant, comfortable home in the center of a growing and prosperous plantation. Andrew and Rachel would occupy the largest of the buildings, a finely crafted, two-story structure that was typical of an aspiring middle-class gentleman farmer in the region. The downstairs held one large room with a fireplace mantel, beaded and grained ceiling beams and an enclosed corner stair. The upstairs was divided into a stairhall with a painted banister, a large bedroom and a small bedroom. A walnut ladder led to a large loft.
Rachel filled the farmhouse with expensive furniture, china and carpets. Jackson purchased a handsome, locally made secretary that he would later use in the Hermitage mansion. He also hired a French-speaking artist to apply hand-painted, yellow-ochre French wallpaper in their bedroom. Surrounding buildings included a log kitchen that also served as quarters for female slaves, barns, smokehouse, distillery, cotton gin and a limestone springhouse that doubled as a dairy. Jackson hired local men who soon cleared fields, built fences and constructed additional buildings. Cotton was the primary cash crop. An orchard was planted, and the fruits were used for making brandy. He raised sheep, cattle and hogs. Jackson also raised thoroughbred horses, which were known throughout the South.
Jackson, already a circuit judge, state supreme court justice, United States senator, congressman and merchant, would achieve national prominence while living at the site known today as the First Hermitage. He returned here as the Hero of the Battle of New Orleans following his defeat of the British army in the final battle of the War of 1812. He corresponded with President Thomas Jefferson and other national leaders from his desk here and entertained leaders of the day including such luminaries as President James Monroe and Vice President Aaron Burr. This was also the home where he and Rachel raised their adopted son, Andrew Jackson Jr., and numerous wards.
Andrew Jackson bought The Hermitage property in 1804. For the remainder of his life, it meant home, family and a place of retreat from the trails and difficulties of a military and political career. Andrew and Rachel Jackson first moved into a complex of log buildings where they made their home for 17 years. In 1819, construction on a brick house started, and the Jacksons moved to the Federal style home in 1821. This was the only Hermitage that Rachel would know, as she died in 1828. Jackson enlarged the house in 1831. Following a devastating fire in 1834, the home was rebuilt and enlarged, becoming an elegant Greek Revival mansion upon its completion in 1836. The home, with its six two-story columns and 14 rooms, was one that befit Jackson’s status as a national leader.
The classical decoration continued on the interior. Much of the furniture was purchased in Philadelphia in the newly popular Classical styles. This furniture remains in the home today, making The Hermitage one of the most originally furnished of the early presidential homes. Six rooms of the house retain the original 1836 wallpaper. The most stunning of these is a scenic wallpaper from France found in the center hall. Scenes on this paper tell the mythological story of Telemachus on the isle of the goddess Calypso searching for his father.
The mansion includes formally furnished double parlors, a bright Prussian blue dining room featuring original family silver, Jackson’s library filled with over 600 books, the farm office, wide hallways used as sitting areas and six bedrooms.
Gravesite, The Hermitage, Nashville, Tennessee
The White House years had sapped what was left of Jackson’s health and fortune. Old wounds and tuberculosis tormented him. On the day of Van Buren’s inauguration, Old Hickory was the main attraction for the crowd. One man said, “For once, the rising was eclipsed by the setting sun.” Three days after the inaugural, Jackson left the White House and thousands of people turned up at the railroad station for a last look at him. With ninety dollars to his name, he arrived at his home, the Hermitage.
His old plantation was in serious disrepair, and his son had run up large debts. Jackson did his best to make amends. He made his opinions on politics known, and advised Van Buren by mail. In 1840 he made an arduous trip to New Orleans to celebrate his great victory’s 25th anniversary, limping about the battlefield with a cane.
Andrew Jackson died on June 8, 1845. Just before the end he heard the grieved moaning of the servants and said, “Please don’t cry. Be good children and we’ll all meet in heaven.” Three thousand people attended the funeral. He was buried at the Hermitage beside Rachel.
Because of Rachel Jackson’s love for the Garden at The Hermitage, Andrew Jackson chose to bury her there after her death in 1828. In 1831, Jackson implored architect David Marison, who was then remodeling the mansion, to design and build a tomb for Rachel and himself. Marison completed the tomb in 1832. Visiting Rachel’s grave each evening was one of Jackson’s daily rituals in his retirement years.
After his death in 1845, his family laid him to rest next to his beloved wife. The tomb has been a favorite spot for many visitors to pose for photographs, including President Theodore Roosevelt, General John J. Pershing, and President Ronald Reagan.
Memorial, Washington, DC
Standing near the White House in Lafayette Park is a bronze equestrian statue of Andrew Jackson, the 7th President of the United States. It is cast from a bronze cannon captured at Pensacola during his last campaign against the Spanish in 1818. This statue is remarkable for its perfect balance with a perfect center of gravity based in the charger’s hind feet. Jackson achieved his greatest military fame at the Battle of New Orleans in 1815. The statue was dedicated on January 8, 1853 and was sculpted by Clark Mills.
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