Andrew Jackson And His Mother

It is a most singular, or at least curious fact, connected with the

histories of most all eminent men, that they were denied--by the decrees

of stern poverty, or an all-wise Providence--those facilities and

indulgences supposed to be so essentially necessary for the future

success and prosperous career of young men, but acted as "whetstones" to

sharpen and develop their true temper! The fact is very vivid in the

istory of Andrew Jackson--a name that, like that of the great,

godlike Washington, must survive the wreck of matter, the crush of

worlds, and, passing down the vista of each successive age, brighter and

more glorious, unto those generations yet to come, when time shall have

obliterated the asperities of partisan feeling, and learned to deal most

gently with the human frailties of the illustrious dead.

Andrew Jackson, senior, emigrated from Ireland in 1765, with his wife

and two boys--Hugh and Robert, both very young; they landed at

Charleston, S. C, where Jackson found employment as a laborer, and

continued to work thus for several years, until, possessed of a few

dollars, he went to the interior of the state and bought a small place

near Waxhaw. About this time, 1767, Andrew Jackson, Jr., was born, and

during the next year--by the time the infant could lisp the name of his

parent--the father fell sick of fever and died. Mrs. Jackson, left with

three small children, in an almost wild country, where nothing but toil

of a severe and arduous kind could provide a subsistence, was indeed in

a most grievous situation. But she appears to have been a woman of no

ordinary temperament, courage, and perseverance, for she continued

cheerfully the work left her--rearing her boys, and preparing them for

the situations in life they might be destined to fill. Mrs. Jackson was

a woman of some information, and a strong advocate for the rights and

liberties of men; as, it is said, she not only gave her boys their first

rudiments of an English education, but often indulged in glowing

lectures to them of the importance of instilling in their hearts and

principles an unrelenting war against pomp, power, and circumstance of

monarchical governments and institutions! She led them to know that they

were born free and equal with the best of earth, and that that position

was to be their heritage--maintained even at the peril of life and

property! and how well he learned these chivalric lessons, the

countrymen of Andrew Jackson need not now be told, as it was exemplified

in every page of his whole history.

Hugh, Robert, and Andrew, were now the widow's hope and treasures; Hugh

and Robert were her main dependence in working their little farm, and

Andrew, never a very robust person, was early sent to the best schools

in the neighborhood, and much care taken by his mother to have him at

least educated for a profession--the ministry. This resolve was more

perhaps decided upon from the naturally stern, contemplative, and fixed

principles of young Jackson; as at the early age of fifteen, he was by

nature well prepared for the scenes being enacted around him, and in

which, even those young as himself, were called upon to take an active

part. This was in the days of the revolution, when the weak in numbers

of this continent were about to try the experiment of living free and

independent, and establish the fact that royalty was an imposition and a

humbug, only maintained by arrogance and pomp at the point of the


The British had begun the war--already had the echoes of "Bunker Hill,"

and the smell of "villainous saltpetre," invaded and aroused the quiet

dwellers in the woods and wilds of South Carolina, and the chivalric

spirit that has ever characterized the men of the Palmetto state, at

once responded to the tocsin of liberty. It was with no slight degree

of sorrow and aching of the mother's heart, that she saw her two sons,

Hugh and Robert, shoulder their muskets and join the Spartan band that

assembled at Waxhaw Court-house. But she blessed her children and gave

up her holy claim of a mother's love, for the common cause of the infant


Cornwallis and his army crossed the Yadkin, Lord Rawden, with a large

force, took the town of Camden, and began a desolation of the adjacent

country. Being apprised of a "rebel force" in arms at Waxhaw, he

immediately dispatched a company of dragoons, with a company of

infantry, to capture or disperse the "rebels." About forty men,

including the two boys Jackson, were attacked by these veterans of the

British army, but aided by their true courage, a good cause, and perfect

knowledge of the country, they gave the invaders a hot reception, and

many of the enemy were killed; and not until having made the most

determinate resistance, and being overwhelmed by the great majority of

the opposing forces, did these patriots retreat, leaving many of their

friends dead upon their soil, and eleven of their number prisoners in

the hands of the British. It was during this fight that Andrew

Jackson--a mere lad--hearing the noise of the conflict, while he sat in

the log-house of his mother, besought her to allow him to take his

father's gun, and fly to join his brothers. And it was vain that the

parent restrained him, knowing the temperament of the boy, from this

dangerous determination; for with one warm embrace and parting kiss upon

the brow of his mother, Andrew Jackson buckled on his powder-horn and

bullet-pouch, and rushed to the scene of battle. But his friends were

already flying, and hotly pursued by the enemy. Andrew met his brother

Robert, who informed him of the death of their elder brother, Hugh; the

two boys now fled together and concealed themselves in the woods, where

they lay until hunger drove them forth--they sought food at a farm

house, the owner of which proved to be a tory, and gave information to

some soldiers in the vicinity--the Jacksons were both captured and led

to prison. In the affray--for they yielded only by force--Robert was cut

on the head by a sword in the hands of a petty officer, and he died in

great agony in prison. It was here and then that the firm and manly

bearing of the boy was exhibited; for he stood his griefs and

imprisonment like a true hero. Not a tear escaped him by which his

enemies might be led to believe he feared their power, or wavered in his

allegiance to the cause of his country.

"Here, boy, clean my boots!" said an officer to him. But the bright

defiant eye of the boy smote the captor with a look, and as he curled

his firm lips in scorn, he answered,

"No, sir, I will not!"

"You won't? I'll tie you, you young saucy rebel, to your post, and skin

your back with a horse whip, if you do not clean my boots."

"Do it," said the lion-hearted boy--"for I'll not stoop to clean the

boots of your master!"

The infuriated ruffian drew his sword, and to defend his head from the

blow, Andrew threw up his little hand and received a gash--the scar of

which went with him to the tomb at the Hermitage. A Captain Walker, of

South Carolina, with a dozen or twenty men, during the imprisonment of

Andrew Jackson, made a desperate charge upon a company of the British,

near Camden, and captured thirteen of them; these prisoners he exchanged

for seven of his countrymen, including the boy Andrew Jackson, prisoners

of the enemy. Andrew hurried home--his poor old mother was upon her

death bed, attended by an old negro nurse of the Jackson family, and

suffering not only from the great multitude of grief consequent upon the

death of her heroic sons, but for want of the common necessaries of

life, the invaders having stripped the widow of her last pound of

provisions. The life-spark rekindled in the eye of the mother, as she

beheld her darling boy safe at her bedside--she grasped his hand with

the firmness of a dying woman, and turning her eyes upon the now weeping

boy, said,

"Andrew, I leave you,--son, you will soon be alone in the world; be

faithful, be true to God and your country--that--when--the--hour of

death approaches you--will have--nothing to--dread--every thing--to hope


* * * * *

Andrew was taken ill after the burial of his mother, and but for the

constant and tender care of the old black nurse--the last of the Jackson

family--would have then passed away; he recovered--he was alone--not a

relative in the world; poor, and in a land ravaged by a foreign foe,

could a boy be more desolate and lonely? With a few "effects" thrown

upon his shoulders, he went to North Carolina, Salisbury, where he

entered the office of a famed lawyer--Spruce M'Cay--was admitted to the

bar in 1778--went to Tennessee--served as a soldier in the Indian wars

of 1783--chosen a Senator 1797--Major General in 1801--whipped the

British in the most conclusive manner at New Orleans in 1815, and

triumphantly elected President of the United States for eight years in

1829. Andrew Jackson followed his mother's advice, and he not only

triumphed over his hard fortune, but died a Christian, full of hope, in