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Andrew Jackson, Our Seventh President

By Ruth Browning

Born on 15 March, 1767, in Waxhaw, South Carolina, Andrew Jackson joined a local regiment in the Revolutionary War at age 13. Jackson was the last U. S. President to serve during the Revolution. At age 20 he moved to Tennessee where he became a young frontier lawyer.

When he first arrived in Nashville in 1788, he became acquainted with Rachel Donelson Robards. At the time she was in an unhappy marriage with Lewis Robards, whom she had married at age 17. After thinking that she had been divorced by Robards, she and Jackson married in 1792. After two happy years, they discovered that Robards had not obtained a divorce. Now Robards brought suit on grounds of adultery. After a divorce was granted, Rachel and Andrew married again in 1794. Theirs had been an honest mistake, but the whispers of adultery and bigamy followed the couple as Andrew's political career advanced. The controversy surrounding their marriage was a sore point to Jackson all during his political career.

Jackson was quick to take offense at any slurs against his wife and engaged in sixteen duels because of this. Charles Dickinson was killed by Jackson in a duel in 1806. Dickinson shot Jackson in the ribs before Jackson returned the fatal shot. The bullet struck Jackson so close to the heart that it could never safely be removed.

He was elected as Tennessee's first Congressman when it became a state in the late 1790s. In 1798 he was appointed judge on the Tennessee Supreme Court. Jackson had prospered sufficiently to buy slaves and build a mansion, the Hermitage, near Nashville.

During the War of 1812 Jackson became a colonel in the Tennessee militia. Although popular with his troops, he was a strict officer and received the name "Old Hickory."  He gained national recognition with the defeat of the British at the Battle of New Orleans.

Jackson dominated American politics in the 1820s and 1830s and from his political ambitions developed the Democratic Party.  He was nominated for President by the Tennessee legislature in 1822. Since there were four candidates and he had not received the majority of the vote, the House of Representatives voted to give the 1824 election to John Quincy Adams.

In 1828 the Tennessee legislature again nominated Jackson and this time he defeated Adams. He was elected again in 1832, pulling more than 56 percent of the popular vote. Jackson had many conflicts with Congress—too involved to discuss here.

Rachel Jackson died on 22 December, 1828, after Andrew's election but before he took office. Jackson retired to the Hermitage where he died on 8 June, 1848, of chronic tuberculosis, dropsy, and heart failure.