KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — He was tough as “Old Hickory,” but evidence shows Andrew Jackson was a devoted husband who loved his wife dearly, a University of Tennessee historian said Thursday.
Dr. Harold Moser, who heads UT-Knoxville’s Presidential Papers Project on Andrew Jackson, said Jackson’s volatile persona and public feuds cast him as a “rough-hewn frontiersman.”
However, a newly revealed letter shows a touching, loving side, and perhaps some understanding to his fiery temperament, Moser said.
The 1828 letter from Jackson to Gen. Richard Keith Call recently was acquired by the Ladies’ Hermitage Association near Nashville. Its first public display is ongoing at the association’s Andrew Jackson Center Museum.
In it, Jackson refuses to leave his ailing wife, Rachel, to attend his inauguration.
“He had left her behind to serve in Congress and to go to war, and there are letters from that period also showing an intensity of feeling that is seldom in correspondence of the time,” Moser said. “He was not going to leave her behind again.
“It (the letter) reveals the love, the intensity of feeling Jackson and his wife had for each other.”
Jackson’s political opponents attacked the couple’s morality because the two married before Rachel legally divorced her first husband.
“Their marriage was an issue in the campaign of 1828,” Moser said. “In the letter, however, Jackson says ‘it (the attack) has endeared her more to me, if possible, than ever.’ “
While officially attributed to heart attack, some accounts say Rachel Jackson died of anguish from attacks on her character.
The reports enraged Jackson, and may have contributed to his gruff character, Moser said.
“This letter also reveals the anger that Jackson had for those who persecuted Rachel,” Moser said.
“If you were running for president and someone made untrue charges against your wife whom you loved, it would make you angry, too. I think we can understand Jackson’s anger and frustration.”
Contact: Dr. Harold Moser (423-974-0660)