I have just finished reading a biography on the 7th President of the United States, a stately gentleman whose home is just down the road from mine. Andrew Jackson was a genuine American hero, both as a military general and as a president. He was a populist and adored by the people. Many greeted him affectionately during his final trip from Washington back to Hermitage. That he lived to the age of 78 is a testament to an iron will.
His victory over the British in the Battle of New Orleans is said to have preserved the republic. The redcoats had heretofore more or less routed us in the War of 1812.
Andrew Jackson was not well-educated, not well-read, and was not a great writer. (He frequently misspelled words.) However, he possessed an uncanny intuition and an ability to read people.
Old Hickory was tall and slender. His physical presence was imposing and leadership came naturally to him. He was, in modern parlance, an alpha male.
His wife Rachel, who Jackson loved dearly, died shortly before his inauguration as President. Thus, she never lived in the White House and also never lived in the present mansion at Hermitage. The original structure was destroyed by fire while Jackson was in Washington and the current home was built during his absence.
Andrew Jackson was the first president to have an attempt made on his life. The would-be assassin fired twice at close range, but his guns did not discharge owing to damp powder. True to form, Jackson, who was unarmed, lunged at the aggressor in an effort to subdue him.
Old Hickory was shot twice in his life, both before ascending to the presidency. One was in the arm. The ball was later surgically removed. The other lodged near his heart and was never removed. It caused him a great deal of health troubles the remainder of his life. He lived with chronic pain for many years. It is believed he died of kidney failure.
Andrew Jackson’s greatest regret as President was his failure to re-annex Texas. Part of the Louisiana Purchase, Texas was bequeathed to Mexico by John Quincy Adams in the Treaty of Florida, of which Jackson was sharply critical.
Many of his presidential appointments ended up being poor choices.
Old Hickory took it upon himself to have extensive renovations made to the White House during his 8 years there, and also added many furnishings.
The national debt was fully retired during his presidency, for which there was a celebration.
Andrew Jackson was born again at some point in his life. He joined the Presbyterian Church in Hermitage shortly after he left office. He found it most difficult to forgive those whom he believed to have betrayed him during his military service. He became deeply pious during his final years. His dying words to his family were, “We will all meet in heaven.”
Three thousand mourners attended his funeral at Hermitage.