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American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House
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message 1: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Aug 24, 2009 06:48PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bentley | 44167 comments Mod
This is the thread to discuss Chapter Six of The American Lion.


American Lion Andrew Jackson in the White House by Jon Meacham

message 2: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Sep 03, 2009 01:03PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bentley | 44167 comments Mod
The personage of the "busybody Presbyterian clergyman" was no other than:

Reverend Ezra Stiles Ely


I felt when reading this chapter about Reverend Ely; that he was well intentioned from the Evangelical point of view; but very misguided about what was good for our country.

From his viewpoint, only staunch Presbyterians should or could be President.

That would have left out Washington, Jefferson and Quincy Adams for starters (all Deists or Unitarians). He had in fact staunchly supported Jackson over Adams with his congregation; and had even liked Eaton and supported his marriage to the Timberlake widow; but that was before the ugly unsupported gossip started (not that I do not think that Margaret's demeanor did not contribute in part to the fuel which kept the flame going).

Ely was a faithful supporter of Rachel Jackson; which had gone a long way with Jackson and he was only trying to point out what others were saying behind Jackson's back (not excusing the fact that he also spread the rumors himself to others maybe not maliciously but it had the same ultimate effect).

You have to hand it to Jackson for standing up to him and to others. He supposedly had heard other rumors from Reverend John N. Campbell (another Presbyterian minister)

A book of Ely's Letters:

message 3: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Sep 03, 2009 01:34PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bentley | 44167 comments Mod
Regarding Reverend John N. Campbell:

Reverend John N. Campbell was the other busybody Presbyterian clergyman who was also spreading gossip about Eaton's wife (whether the rumors were true or untrue - gossip should probably be beneath a clergyman especially in the capital).

Be that as it may; the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church came out with an official version of what took place and about the fact that Reverend John N. Campbell was forced to resign as a result of this "tempest in the teapot".

Here is the url:

It seems that Jackson was delighted with the forced replacement or resignation. According to the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, Andrew Jackson replied as follows:

"Not long thereafter Reverend Campbell resigned as Pastor of Second Church, whereupon President Jackson wrote the Clerk of Session, "I take pleasure in acknowledging the receipt of your letter of yesterday as it affords me an opportunity of expressing my concurrence with the results of the election in the Second Presbyterian Church to supply the place of Mr. Campbell."

Presidential Wives An Anecdotal History by Paul F. Boller, Jr.

Presidential Campaigns From George Washington to George W. Bush by Paul F. Boller, Jr.

A More Perfect Union Documents in U.S. History to 1877 by Paul F. Boller, Jr.

Presidential Campaigns From George Washington to George W. Bush by Paul F. Boller, Jr.

message 4: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Sep 03, 2009 01:44PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bentley | 44167 comments Mod
Andrew Jackson thought that the letter he received from Reverend Ezra Stiles Ely was both sanctimonious and salacious. So much so that this letter propelled him into a fury and into action.

He was greatly disturbed that the insinuation was that he could not do anything about the situation because of his dead wife Rachel. To Jackson this insinuation was spurious and I think that he went into action as much to prove that he was forthright in his convictions and would do whatever was best for the country as it was to help out his friend Eaton who he felt was being damaged in the process.

According to the New York Avenue Presbyterian historical explanation, the only folks who even visited the Eatons were the British and Russian ministers and Martin Van Buren (two bachelors and one widower). Aside from the above; the Eatons were being shunned.

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

Bentley | 44167 comments Mod
Andrew Jackson tried to handle Reverend Ezra Stiles Ely deftly at first. He explained to him: "One of the country's greatest strengths was freedom of religion - a freedom which also gave the skeptical the right to be unmolested and unevangelized."

Jackson acknowledged the centrality of the separation of church and state. He stated: "Amongst the greatest blessings secured to us under the Constitution, is the Liberty of worshipping God as our conscience dictates or not." Source - Meacham

Andrew Jackson also tried to give religion its due in moderate terms but also felt that true Christians should be able to get along in harmony in friendship with each other.

Ely's viewpoint was that every church should be a disciplined army. He and others went so far as to request that the mail not be delivered on the Sabbath because it desecrated it; he even went so far as to ask Jackson not to travel to Washington on a Sunday.

Other ministers petitioned that the mail not be delivered on the Lord's Day either.

I guess we can see that the Evangelical force was very strong even in the day of Andrew Jackson. Not that there is anything wrong with that or strong religious views; but I think we are all thankful that there is a strong separation of church from state for the benefit of the many (for all faiths and for those who do not believe either)

I am not sure what others think but I was impressed with the religious Jackson who also realized that the Constitution was paramount.

message 6: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Sep 03, 2009 04:10PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bentley | 44167 comments Mod
Was anybody else impressed with the response that President Jackson gave Ely and his letter?

I know I was. I especially liked his quote from the 101st psalm:

"A liar's tongue we ever hate and banish from our sight."

I believe that Meachum mentioned that this was called The Magistrate's Psalm and that another part which may have pertained to how Jackson should handle the affair was: Behave wisely in a perfect way.

I have looked up the 101st psalm:

I found this version but it did not have that line quoted above: (possibly the translation is different)

I found the line quoted above in the following: (A Psalm for the Master of a Family)

Psalm 101:2. C. M.
A psalm for a master of a family.

1 Of justice and of grace I sing,
And pay my God my vows;
Thy grace and justice, heavenly King,
Teach me to rule my house.

2 Now to my tent, O God, repair,
And make thy servant wise;
I'll suffer nothing near me there
That shall offend thine eyes.

3 The man that doth his neighbour wrong,
By falsehood or by force;
The scornful eye, the slanderous tongue,
I'll thrust them from my doors.

4 I'll seek the faithful and the just
And will their help enjoy;
These are the friends that I shall trust,
The servants I'll employ.

5 The wretch that deals in sly deceit,
I'll not endure a night;
The liar's tongue I ever hate,
And banish from my sight.

6 I'll purge my family around,
And make the wicked flee;
So shall my house be ever found
A dwelling fit for thee.

Here is the Magistrate's Psalm:

Psalm 101:1. L. M. (different versions I suspect)
The Magistrate's psalm.

1 Mercy and judgment are my song;
And since they both to thee belong,
My gracious God, my righteous King,
To thee my songs and vows I bring.

2 If I am rais'd to bear the sword,
I'll take my counsels from thy word;
Thy justice and thy heavenly grace
Shall be the pattern of my ways.

3 Let wisdom all my actions guide,
And let my God with me reside;
No wicked thing shall dwell with me,
Which may provoke thy jealousy.

4 No sons of slander, rage and strife
Shall be companions of my life;
The haughty look, the heart of pride
Within my doors shall ne'er abide.

5 [I'll search the land, and raise the just
To posts of honour, wealth and trust:
The men that work thy holy will,
Shall be my friends and favourites still.]

6 In vain shall sinners hope to rise
By flattering or malicious lies;
And while the innocent I guard,
The bold offender shan't be spar'd.

7 The impious crew (that factious band)
Shall hide their heads, or quit the land;
And all that break the public rest,
Where I have power shall be supprest.

message 7: by Sarah (new)

Sarah | 67 comments I was impressed with Jackson's response. The comments made by Ely were completely inappropriate ..especially as they relate to Jackson's deceased wife. I certainloy can't blame him for being angry.

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

Bentley | 44167 comments Mod
Yes Sarah, I can see why he saw red. By all accounts, Rachel had been a lovely woman.

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