Andrew Jackson

Andrew Jackson
PAINTING: Thomas Sully


Andrew Jackson, the seventh president of the United States, changed Tennessee and the United States in many ways.

You will find information about Jackson throughout the Tennessee History for Kids website and booklets.

Here, we will show you where some of this information can be found. We will also take you some of the places where he made history, such as The Hermitage, Horseshoe Bend and New Orleans.

The graves of Andrew Jackson’s two brothers

The best place to start our search for Andrew Jackson is a small cemetery in a part of South Carolina known as the Waxhaws.

In this cemetery is the grave of Andrew Jackson’s father, who died before Andrew was born. You will find the graves of his two brothers, both of whom died when Andrew was still a boy, during the American Revolution. In between their tombstones is a monument to his mother, who also died during the revolution.

A marker in North Carolina that claims to prove that Jackson was born in that state

About five miles from here is the Andrew Jackson State Park in South Carolina, which may have been where Jackson was born. But we aren’t sure. Jackson’s family was poor. He was born in a small log cabin, and we aren’t exactly certain where it was.

The Waxhaws are very close to the border between North and South Carolina.

In fact, some people believe Jackson was actually born on the North Carolina side of the line, where this marker (shown here) is located.

In any case, Jackson was not only poor, but he was orphaned and alone from the time he was 13.

One of the stories they relate at the Andrew Jackson State Park is illustrated in this sketch. Jackson and the other people who lived in the Waxhaws already had reason to hate the British by 1780, which is when Andrew Jackson was accused of being a spy and taken prisoner.

At some point, a British officer ordered Jackson to shine his boots. Jackson refused, and the British officer struck him with his sword as punishment.

A marker in Jonesborough

Jackson then moved across the mountains.

People didn’t go to law school back then. But Jackson learned to be a lawyer when he was living in Salisbury, North Carolina. He then moved over the mountains to Jonesborough, Tennessee, which is where he first practiced law.

By the way, when Jackson was a young man, he was not always well behaved. The people of Salisbury in particular were apparently quite glad to see him go. This is one of many things that you will find in “Ten things that make Andrew Jackson a fascinating person,” a column you can read.

In 1788, Tennessee was not yet a state, just part of an area we now call the Southwest Territory. Andrew Jackson, then a young lawyer, was appointed to be a prosecutor in the Southwest Territory’s “Mero District” (now known as Middle Tennessee).

The Fort Blount Road crossed the Cumberland River here
PHOTO: Brian Stansberry

Jackson came west to Nashville on the “Fort Blount Road,” past Fort Southwest Point (present-day Kingston), across the Cumberland Plateau, and past Fort Blount (present-day Gainesboro).

When Jackson got to Nashville, he found it to be a pretty rough place. As a legal prosecutor, he had to help settle land disputes and deal with criminal matters such as murder and assault.

Rachel Jackson
PAINTING: Ralph Earl

Before he could afford to buy his own house, Jackson lived in a room in the home of Colonel John Donelson, one of the leaders in the settlement of Nashville.

Colonel Donelson had a daughter named Rachel. Andrew and Rachel married in 1790.

Congress Hall in Philadelphia, which is where the
U.S. House of Representatives met when Jackson
was a member of that body

In 1796, Andrew Jackson was chosen to be Tennessee’s first-ever member of the U.S. House of Representatives (which met in Philadelphia at that time).

Of course, no one knew then that this young House member from Tennessee would one day be president. So during Jackson’s short term in the House, he was probably little-noticed by his fellow representatives.

Andrew and Rachel Jackson lived in these cabins when they first settled at The Hermitage. They later built a larger house, which also still stands today.

In 1804, back in Nashville, Andrew Jackson purchased a farm that he would eventually make his home. He called it The Hermitage.

Much of the land that surrounded The Hermitage and most of the buildings built by Andrew Jackson are still there today.

That same year, the governor of Tennessee chose Jackson to be head of the Tennessee militia–a big turning point in his career.

The Tallapoosa River ran red with blood during
the Battle of Horseshoe Bend.

During the War of 1812, General Jackson and the Tennessee militia were ordered to go south to fight a warlike branch of the Creek Indians called the Red Sticks. On March 27, 1814, the Tennessee militia (fighting with several Cherokee warriors) slaughtered the Red Sticks at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend.

It was during this Creek campaign that Jackson’s soldiers began calling him “Old Hickory.”

This scene from the video shown at the visitor center in New Orleans shows what it might have looked like when Jackson was inspecting the battlefield after the fighting ended.
VIDEO: History Channel

A few months later, some of the same Tennesseans who had been at Horseshoe Bend fought the British at the Battle of New Orleans.

There are many things about this battle that are interesting. Jackson defeated the British with what should best be described as a small, not well organized force consisting of (among others) Tennessee and Louisiana militia, free African-American men, Choctaw Indians and bavatarian pirates.

A statue of Jackson in New Orleans

The main battle was not close, with the Americans losing about 20 men and the British losing 2,000!

With the victory, Jackson became a national hero.

In 1824 he ran for president against John Quincy Adams and Henry Clay. Jackson received more votes than any other candidate. But he did not win the election because he did not receive the most votes from the electoral college.

In 1828, Jackson ran again and won this time.

IMAGE: Library of Congress

Jackson was the first president from a state that was not one of the original 13 colonies. A huge crowd came to see his inauguration. It was so large that Jackson had to sneak out of the back window of the White House.

As president, Jackson is remembered for many things:

* He is the first president to have ever fully paid off the national debt (the only president to have ever done so).

This political cartoon shows President Jackson fighting
the national bank.
IMAGE: The Granger Collection

* He shut down the national bank, since he believed it put too much power in a single institution.

* Under his presidency, the state of South Carolina threatened to leave the union, or secede. Jackson threatened to invade the state with a national army. South Carolina backed down, and fighting was averted.

Jackson also fought for the removal of all Native American people from the eastern United States to areas west of the Mississippi River.

This process (which is described in the New Echota and Red Clay virtual tours) concluded when Martin Van Buren was president in 1838, with what we now refer to as the Trail of Tears.

A photo of Jackson taken shortly before his death

After Jackson left office, he moved back to Nashville and The Hermitage.

The tomb of Andrew and Rachel Jackson
at The Hermitage

Andrew Jackson died on June 8, 1845. He is buried at The Hermitage in Nashville, alongside his wife Rachel Jackson.