Page images

was jealous of her, but, in the judgment of all acquainted with the facts, without any cause. Before Mr. Jackson's arrival, he had once, from his jealous disposition, separated from her. Andrew Jackson was an exceedingly polite, gallant, fascinating man with ladies. Capt. Robards became jealous of Jackson, and treated Mrs. Robards with great cruelty. Jackson decided, in consequence, to leave the house, but determined first to have a little conversation with Mr. Robards. He found the man abusive and unrelenting; and Mr. Jackson, offering to meet him in a duel if he desired it, retired from the family, and took board in another place. Soon after this, Mr. and Mrs. Robards separated. The affair caused Andrew Jackson great uneasiness; for though he knew that the parties had separated once before, and though conscious of innocence, he found himself to be the unfortunate cause of the present scandal. It was rumored that Capt. Robards, who had gone to Kentucky, was about to return. A friend of Andrew Jackson, subsequently Judge Overton, who was then his intimate companion, writes, that, perceiving Mr. Jackson to be much depressed, he inquired the cause. The reply was,

"I am the most unhappy of men, in having innocently and unintentionally been the cause of the loss of peace and happiness of Mrs. Robards, whom I believe to be a fine woman."

To escape from the persecutions of her husband, she decided to go to Natchez with the family of an elderly gentleman, Col. Stark. As there was great danger from the Indians, Col. Stark entreated Mr. Jackson to accompany them as a guard. He did so, and returned to Nashville. This was in the spring of 1791.

Capt. Robards applied to the Legislature of Virginia for a bill of divorce. It was granted by an act of the Legislature, provided that the Supreme Court should adjudge that there was cause for such divorce. Robards laid aside this act, and did nothing about it for two years. Virginia was far away. The transmission of intelligence was very slow. It was announced in Nashville that Robards had obtained a divorce. This was universally believed. No one doubted it. Mrs. Robards believed it: Andrew Jackson believed it. Influenced by this belief, Andrew Jackson and Rachel Robards were married in the fall of 1791. No one acquainted thoroughly with the parties and the facts doubted of the purity of the connection.

Two years after this, Mr. and Mrs. Jackson learned, to their

great surprise, that Robards had just obtained a divorce in one of the courts of Kentucky, and that the act of the Virginia Legislature was not final, but conditional. Thus Mr. Jackson had, in reality, been married for two years to another man's wife, though neither he nor Mrs. Jackson had been guilty of the slightest intentional wrong. To remedy the irregularity as far as possible, a new license was obtained, and the marriage ceremony was again performed.

It proved to be a marriage of rare felicity. Probably there never was a more affectionate union. However rough Mr. Jackson might have been abroad, he was always gentle and tender at home; and, through all the vicissitudes of their lives, he treated Mrs. Jackson with the most chivalric attentions. He was always very sensitive upon the question of his marriage. No one could breathe a word which reflected a suspicion upon the purity of this affair but at the risk of pistol-shot instantly through his brain.

The country was rapidly prospering. The Indians were quelled, and thousands of emigrants were pouring into the inviting ter ritory. Mr. Jackson, purchasing large tracts of land, and selling lots to settlers, was becoming rich. The following anecdote, which he related when President, sheds light upon his own character and upon the times. A friend in Washington was expecting to be assailed in the streets by a political opponent:

"Now," said the general to him, "if any man attacks you, I know how you'll fight him with that big black stick of yours. You'll aim right for his head. Well, sir, ten chances to one he will ward it off; and, if you do hit him, you won't bring him down. No, sir" (taking the stick into his own hands): "you hold the stick so, and punch him in the stomach, and you'll drop him. I'll tell you how I found that out.

"When I was a young man, practising law in Tennessee, there was a big, bullying fellow that wanted to pick a quarrel with me, and so trod on my toes. Supposing it accidental, I said nothing. Soon after, he did it again; and I began to suspect his object. In a few minutes he came by a third time, pushing against me violently, and evidently meaning fight. He was a man of immense size, one of the very biggest men I ever saw. As quick as a flash, I snatched a small rail from the top of the fence, and gave him the point of it full in the stomach. Sir, it doubled him up. He fell at my feet, and I stamped on him. Soon he got up savage, and

With that I one look, and

was about to fly at me like a tiger. The bystanders made as though they would interfere. Says I, 'Gentlemen, stand back: give me room, that's all I ask, and I'll manage him.' stood ready, with the rail pointed. He gave me turned away a whipped man, and feeling like one. So, sir, I say to you, if any villain assaults you, give him the pint in his belly." In these wild regions, and among these rough frontiersmen, such pluck gave a man an enviable reputation. Jackson was always ready for a fight. An opposing lawyer ridiculed some position he had taken. He tore a blank leaf from a law-book, wrote a peremptory challenge, and handed it to his opponent. They met that evening in a glen, exchanged shots, which did not hit, shook hands, and became friends again.

Jackson loved cock-fighting. He kept chickens for that purpose. When, upon one occasion, one of his chickens, after being struck down, revived, and by a lucky stroke killed his antagonist, Jackson, turning to a companion, exclaimed, delighted, "There is the greatest emblem of bravery on earth! Bonaparte is not braver!"

In January, 1796, the Territory of Tennessee then containing nearly eighty thousand inhabitants, the people met in convention at Knoxville to frame a constitution. Five were sent from each of the eleven counties. Andrew Jackson was one of the delegates from Davidson County. They met in a shabby building in a grove outside of the city. It was fitted up for the occasion at an expense of twelve dollars and sixty-two cents. The members were entitled to two dollars and a half a day. They voted to receive but a dollar and a half, that the other dollar might go to the payment of secretary, printer, door-keeper, &c. A constitution was formed, which was regarded as very democratic; and in June, 1796, Tennessee became the sixteenth State in the Union.

The new State was entitled to but one member in the national House of Representatives. Andrew Jackson was chosen that member. Mounting his horse, he rode to Philadelphia, where Congress then held its sessions, a distance of eight hundred miles. Albert Gallatin thus describes the first appearance of the Hon. Andrew Jackson in the House:

"A tall, lank, uncouth-looking personage, with locks of hair hanging over his face, and a cue down his back, tied with an eelskin, his dress singular, his manners and deportment those of a rough backwoodsman."

Jackson was an earnest advocate of the Democratic party. Jefferson was his idol. He admired Bonaparte, loved France, and hated England. As Mr. Jackson took his seat, Gen. Washington, whose second term of service was then expiring, delivered his last speech to Congress. A committee drew up a complimentary address in reply. Andrew Jackson did not approve of the address, and was one of twelve who voted against it. He was not willing to say that Gen. Washington's administration had been "wise, firm, and patriotic."

Tennessee had fitted out an expedition against the Indians, contrary to the policy of the Government. A resolution was introduced, that the National Government should pay the expenses. Jackson advocated it. It was carried. This rendered Mr. Jackson very popular in Tennessee. A vacancy chanced soon after to occur in the Senate, and Andrew Jackson was chosen UnitedStates senator by the State of Tennessee. John Adams was then President; Thomas Jefferson, Vice-President.

Many years after this, when Mr. Jefferson had retired from the presidential chair, and Andrew Jackson was candidate for the presidency, Daniel Webster spent some days at the romantic home of the sage of Monticello. He represents Mr. Jefferson as saying,

"I feel much alarmed at the prospect of seeing Gen. Jackson President. He is one of the most unfit men I know of for such a place. He has very little respect for law or constitutions; and is, in fact, an able military chief. His passions are terrible. When I was President of the Senate, he was senator; and he could never speak, on account of the rashness of his feelings. I have seen him attempt it repeatedly, and as often choke with rage. His passions are no doubt cooler now. He has been much tried since I knew him; but he is a dangerous man."

In 1798, Mr. Jackson returned to Tennessee, and resigned his seat in the Senate. Soon after, he was chosen Judge of the Supreme Court of that State, with a salary of six hundred dollars. This office he held for six years. It is said that his decisions, though sometimes ungrammatical, were generally right.

When Senator Jackson was one of the judges of the Supreme Court of Tennessee, John Sevier was Governor of the State. There had been some altercation between them; and Jackson had challenged Sevier to a duel, which Sevier had declined. They met one day in the streets of Knoxville in a very unfriendly mood.

In the conversation which ensued, Judge Jackson alluded to the services which he had rendered the State. "Services!" exclaimed the governor: "I know of none, except a trip to Natchez with another man's wife."-" Great God!" cried out Judge Jackson," do you mention her sacred name?" He immediately drew a pistol, and fired. The governor returned the shot. The bullets whistled through the crowded streets of Knoxville. Bystanders separated them. Soon after, Judge Jackson, when travelling with a friend, Dr. Vandyke, met upon the road Gov. Sevier, with his son. The judge immediately drew his pistol, and ordered the governor to defend himself. The governor leaped from his horse, and the frightened animal ran away. Young Sevier drew upon Jackson; Dr. Vandyke drew upon Sevier. Some chance travellers came up, and stopped the fray.

The quarrel between the judge and the governor enlisted partisans on either side; and several scenes of clamor and violence occurred, which we have not space to record. Judge Jackson did not enjoy his seat upon the bench, and renounced the dignity in the summer of 1804. About this time, he was chosen majorgeneral of militia, and lost the title of judge in that of general. When he retired from the Senate Chamber, it seems that he had decided to try his fortune through trade. He purchased a stock of goods in Philadelphia, sent them to Pittsburg by wagon, down the Ohio to Louisville in flat-boats, thence by wagons or packhorses to Nashville, where he opened a store.


He lived about thirteen miles from Nashville, on a tract of land of several thousand acres, mostly uncultivated. He used a small block-house for his store, from a narrow window of which he sold goods to the Indians. As he had an assistant, his office as judge did not materially interfere with this business. The general tended store, sent goods, and, it is said, occasionally negroes, down the Mississippi. As to slavery, born in the midst of it, the idea never seemed to enter his mind that it could be wrong. became eventually an extensive slave-owner; but he was one of the most humane and gentle of masters. At a horse-race, where Gen. Jackson brought forward his favorite horse Truxton, and where the stakes on either side were two thousand dollars, the general became involved in a quarrel with a young man by the name of Swann. He refused to accept the challenge of Swann, who was a young lawyer just from Virginia, upon the ground that

« PreviousContinue »