Andrew Jackson was our seventh President and served two consecutive terms from 1829-1837.

Nicknames: Old Hickory

Quote: “The people are the sovereigns, they can alter and amend.”  “I have only two regrets: that I have not shot Henry Clay or hanged John C. Calhoun.”

The book I read was “Old Hickory: A Life of Andrew Jackson” by Burke Davis.

Here’s what I learned:

  • suffered from a drooling problem as a child
  • his older brother, Hugh, was killed during the Revolution
  • his entire family (except his father) died as a result of the Revolution in some way, except him
  • he loved cockfighting and horse racing
  • was captured by the Redcoats in 1781, his mother negotiated he and his brother’s release
  • caught and almost died of smallpox while a prisoner
  • served as Attorney General of Tennessee
  • married Rachel Robards in 1791, thinking she was divorced, unfortunately she wasn’t legally divorced when they married, which haunted them the rest of their lives
  • remarried Rachel legally in 1794
  • was responsible for naming the state of Tennessee
  • owned his own distillery and sold whiskey for 75 cents a gallon
  • served on the Tennessee Superior Court for 6 years
  • killed a man in a duel for insulting his wife, he received a gunshot wound to the chest and the bullet stayed dangerously close to his heart for the rest of his life
  • fought 13 duels to defend his wife’s honor
  • had one officially adopted son, and one half Native American adopted son who died of tuberculosis at age 16
  • built a house on his property entirely out of resources from that same property (stone, brick, wood) he named it the Hermitage
  • seized Florida under dubious circumstances
  • had an in-resident painter for 17 years because his paintings were in such high demand
  • served as governor of Florida
  • his wife, Rachel, smoked cigars and was considered dowdy by city women
  • lost the Presidency to JQA in 1824 in what was considered one of the most dirty Presidential races in American history
  • the 1828 Presidential race was so cruel, and the Jackson’s questionable period of marriage from 1791 – 1794 brought up so much, Rachel went into shock and eventually died from it
  • Jackson made popular the word “ok” – from a Native American word “oke” which means “all is well”
  • Rachel suffered from asthma and died from shock and asthma attacks before Andrew could take office – she was buried on Christmas Eve
  • Jackson had the first outdoor inauguration
  • also had the first inauguration which invited the public, mobs overran the White House
  • wanted to liquidate the national debt – and brought it to it’s lowest since the formation of the national debt itself
  • the White House portico was finished during his Presidency
  • his Secretary of State was Martin Van Buren
  • almost died of dropsy while he was in office
  • bled himself whenever he felt ill
  • he started negotiations for the addition of Texas to the US
  • silenced the idea of nullification (individual states can nullify laws which the Federal Government sets out)
  • five members of his cabinet resigned over the Petticoat Affair – a social disagreement among women whether the vain, beautiful, and morally questionable Peggy Eaton should be accepted in high society
  • he and his first VP (John Calhoun) never got along, they were bitter rivals
  • his first VP resigned his office to become a Senator
  • he was considered to be the first backwoods President, all the others came from wealthy or longstanding American families, Jackson was first generation American from Irish immigrants
  • suffered from neuralgia
  • was the first President to have indoor plumbing at the White House
  • he chose the place for the National Treasury building in a fit of frustration and forever obstructed the view between the Capitol building and the White House
  • was the first President to ride on a train, he complained that it gave him a migraine
  • made the first treaty between the US and an Asiatic nation – the country of Siam
  • was the first President to have a valid assassination attempt, a legally insane man tried to shoot him
  • was given a 1,400 pound round of cheese that was used in the White House kitchen through his and most of Van Buren’s Presidencies
  • favorite foods (via The Awl) – Tenderloin with jezebel sauce, corn cakes, lamb chops and leg of lamb chops with rosemary, hoppin’ John, rabbits, oysters, wild duck and goose, fried ham, fried apple pie, leather britches, “Old Hickory” nut soup, Daniel Webster’s punch, and French wines.
  • was responsible for the Cherokee Trail of Tears, and believed Native Americans were a conquered people and should make way for whites
  • also respected Native American tribes, learning their customs and languages in order to negotiate with them
  • Arkansas and Michigan became states during his terms
  • died in June 1845 from heart failure, dropsy, and/or tuberculosis

<–  John Quincy Adams *****  Martin Van Buren –>

*title taken from Jonathan Coulton’s song lyrics “The Presidents”

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