The History Book Club discussion

American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House
This topic is about American Lion

Comments Showing 1-10 of 10 (10 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Aug 19, 2009 01:03AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
This is the section to discuss Chapter Two of The American Lion.

The chapter title is FOLLOW ME AND I WILL SAVE YOU YET.

American Lion Andrew Jackson in the White House by Jon Meacham

message 2: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
Andrew Jackson might be viewed by some to have a hot temper or a chip on his shoulder. What accounted for his outbursts; always wanting to fight a duel. Do you think it was honor or maybe a lack of self esteem or self worth because of how hard his mother worked to make sure her family was taken care of?

The fact that he ended up having a duel with his first legal adversary is also puzzling. From all accounts this is not what Jackson intended at all and he pretty much said as much to his second. Thank goodness cooler heads prevailed and both Jackson and Colonel Avery shot their pistols in the air. What was it about Jackson that he could not back down? Do you think in this time period a gentleman could back down and apologize without embarrassment?

Here is the Jackson/Avery account:

message 3: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
Jackson was a rake of sorts. What kind of young man invites prostitutes to a party for the local dancing school? And what were the prostitutes thinking to turn up?

Supposedly, he was studying law and had accepted an internship with a Salisbury, North Carolina attorney Spruce McKay.

One resident wrote: "Andrew Jackson was the most roaring, rollicking, game-cocking, horse- racing, card-playing, mischievous fellow that ever lived in Salisbury."

Do you think his mother would have approved? How do you think Jackson used his sporting interests and charm to get on intimate terms with the Salisbury gentry?

Somehow he became extremely popular with the gentry for the very characteristics that made him known as a rake. But in future years the Salisbury's gentry could not believe that Jackson (the person they remembered as being such a rake) had become president.

Were they right in saying: "that if Jackson could become President, anyone could?"

message 4: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
Do you think that Rachel and Jackson carried on an affair while she was married and do you think that she was a bigamist?

Rachel's father was a great patriot and a surveyor and had been a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses before striking West. Unfortunately, he was murdered either by Indians or by robbers in the Wilderness leaving Rachel's mother and family to fend for itself. However, Rachel's family was very cultured and very well thought of. It seems so unlikely that Rachel and Jackson would have knowingly subjected themselves to any opportunity for future ridicule and Robards had constantly tried to cause trouble for both Rachel and Jackson. Was this just another attempt to embarrass them both for years to come?

What the historians state is "that when Jackson returned to Nashville, he heard that Robards had gotten a divorce in Virginia. Without double-checking this rumor, Jackson hurried back to Natchez and married Rachel in 1791. Adding even more scandal to the incident, Robards did not actually get a divorce until 1793, so Jackson and Rachel were forced to rewed."

From this account it would appear that Jackson is the one who jumped the gun and in the process besmirched Rachel's reputation and she was an innocent participant. It seems that Jackson's impetuosity got in the way of his common sense more than once. Unfortunately Rachel and her family had to pay a steep price in terms of their reputation.

message 5: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
There was a quote in this chapter that the debacle that occurred had a lot to do with the moral climate change between the time that Jackson was wooing Rachel and thirty years later when he was running for President.

How much do you think that had to do with the demeaning political campaign roused by Jackson's opponent John Quincy Adams against Jackson and specifically Jackson's wife Rachel?

message 6: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Aug 30, 2009 07:09PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
What about the story of Russell Bean?

How many judges go after their man or indeed confront the danger themselves to bring an ombre to justice. Andrew Jackson was some piece of work. I think sometimes you need different types of leaders at different times. I think the fact that Jackson would take such risks is amazing.

Here is a bit more on the story in

message 7: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Aug 30, 2009 08:09PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
What did everyone think of the entanglement that Jackson almost got himself embroiled in with Aaron Burr? It was obvious to me that Burr was trying to use Jackson for his own schemes. Luckily Jackson realized that something was "rotten in Denmark" and wrote of his suspicions to others including Jefferson who had Burr arrested. Also surprising that men such as Burr even served as vice president and almost a president if it was not for Hamilton who was of course not just an innocent bystander in this whole sorry affair. Burr actually started the Chase Manhattan Bank and his father had been President of Princeton University. I wonder if the fact that Burr was orphaned at such a young age had anything to do with his temperament?

Burr as everyone knows killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel. It was shocking to me to find out that Burr was deemed innocent of treason in 1807 and that killing a man in a duel had no consequences whatsoever for either party. What a period of history to live through. I have found more than a few write-ups which take Burr's side to a certain extent.

Regarding Aaron Burr:–Ham...
More about the duel:

This is the official duel site and has some interesting media presentations:

message 8: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
Rachel and Andrew Jackson though tremendously devoted to each other were complete opposites. She hated politics, he loved it; she loved pew and plantation while he was a social animal; he loved to gallavant and travel and she hated it.

What about their personalities and dispositions kept them together if they had such dissimilar tastes?

message 9: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Aug 30, 2009 11:40PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
There was an account of a diary that was completed by Juliana Margaret Conner from NC who was visiting with the Jacksons.

This account is catalogued with the First Ladies organization and with its noted documentation and archival info. She described Jackson when she met him as being venerable, polished and with perfect manners. The house was neat and elegant with the latest in furnishings and gadgetry. That Rachel was both kind and hospitable. That there were damask napkins and that she was treated very well. That there were treasured momentos and keepsakes from General Washington which were apparently on display and which one could tell were treasured items. She noted that Jackson was very interested in a game of chess she was playing and loved strategy and the fate of the game itself. She liked both of them very much.

Meacham has stated that what made Jackson great was his ability to harness his impulses and to be able to make amends when he needed to. He had the gift of people liking him.

How do these views of Jackson fit or do they with the images that we have of a man quick to anger and even duel or take matters into his own hands? Do they seem to be able to fit with Jackson's basic nature or was he able to simply play a political game of being able to act the part required at the time?

message 10: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
I am glad you liked it. Some of the links for some reason are not working on some of the Jackson links that I posted for White House History; very strange..they worked when I posted them; sometimes the links are changed. Glad that this one still had its pointers straight.

Regarding the Jackson/Avery account: Maybe they had discussed it with their seconds and decided this was one way out of the predicament...that sounds reasonable. And it was his first maybe he was just warming up (smile) - only kidding. I think he realized that this was a mistake and that both of them thought that this had gone too far.

back to top