America's Greatest 19th Century Presidents

America's Greatest 19th Century Presidents by Charles River Editors

Book: America's Greatest 19th Century Presidents by Charles River Editors Read Free Book Online
Authors: Charles River Editors
who had only recently come to the United States; his parents, Elizabeth Hutchinson and Andrew Jackson, had left Northern Ireland for North America in 1765. 
     
    Despite Jackson’s subsequent fame, he would come to be celebrated as a common American, and it is thus fitting that some of the details of his early childhood are still unclear. For example, it is still unclear where exactly Jackson’s parents first landed in the New World, though historians speculate that they would have landed in Philadelphia. What is known is that the Jacksons, both in their mid-20s, quickly moved South to an area between North and South Carolina that was heavily populated by fellow Presbyterians from Northern Ireland.  This was a critical part of the attraction of the Waxhaw region: other members of the Jackson family already lived in the region, providing an intact group of support from the start.
     
    Two years later, this support would prove critical, because Andrew Jackson's birth came amid enormous tragedy for the Jackson family.  Jackson’s father had died in an accident less than three weeks before his birth, and shortly after his burial, Elizabeth gave birth to her third son in the home of her sister, Jane.  She named the son Andrew in honor of her late husband.
     
    While this is the generally accepted version of the story, it is not the only possible history.  Because the border between North and South Carolina was not surveyed at the time, the exact location of Jackson's birth would determine which state he was born in.  If, indeed, he was born in his Aunt Jane's house, then he was born in South Carolina.  However, another side of the story claims Jackson's mother gave birth in another sister's home, in which case he would have been born in North Carolina. History has generally favored his birthplace to be South Carolina, but certain historians still claim the exact location was in North Carolina.  Jackson himself claimed South Carolina as his birthplace.
     
    Regardless, what is certain is that Andrew Jackson was born into a family facing dire circumstances.  He grew up in his aunt's household, but because his aunt was sickly, Jackson's mother tended to most of the housework.  Thus, Jackson’s mother was constantly working, as did much of the Jackson clan from a young age.  The home was a chaotic one, with Aunt Jane's eight children and Elizabeth’s three. 
     
    Education
     
    Despite the poor circumstances, Elizabeth held out high hopes for her youngest son, who showed enormous piety as a child.  She thought Andrew could one day become a Presbyterian minister, and she managed enough money to provide a modest education for the young Jackson.  As a child, he attended a local academy, headed by a Dr. William Humphries.
     
    Although Jackson’s education took place in fits and starts, when he was in school he received a fairly comprehensive curriculum. In school Jackson learned some Latin and Greek, though the classical languages seem to have had little effect on him. By the time he reached a school age, Jackson’s temper was already growing more aggressive and hostile, and it frequently manifested itself during his education.  Thought he was pious as a young child, Jackson became more and more vicious as he aged, quickly leading his mother to the unfortunate realization that Presbyterian minister was an increasingly unlikely career path for her youngest son.  Instead, as the once devout Jackson grew into young adulthood, he infrequently attended church services and began to casually dismiss organized religion altogether. Jackson may have remained a believer throughout his life, but he was done being a very active one.
     
    Jackson also grew tired of education, no doubt due in large measure to his legendarily short attention span. As a teenager, Jackson preferred being wild and frolicsome to contemplative and studious.  As fate would have it, Jackson was growing up at the perfect time for the athletic and

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