Andrew Jackson was born in 1767, and grew up in the border of North and South Carolina. He attended frontier schools and acquired the reputation of being fiery-tempered and willing to fight all comers. He also learned to read, and he was often called on by the community to read aloud the news from the Philadelphia papers.
In 1775, with the beginning of the American Revolution, Andrew Jackson, then only 13 years old became an orderly and messenger. He took part in the Battle of Hanging Rock against the British and in a few small skirmishes with British sympathizers known as Loyalists or Tories. His brother Hugh was killed, and when the British raided Waxhaw, both he and Robert were captured. Because Jackson refused to polish the boots of a British officer, he was struck across the arm and face with a saber.
The boys were put in a British prison in Camden, South Carolina, where an epidemic of smallpox broke out. Mrs. Jackson gained her boys’ release, but Robert soon died. Mrs. Jackson then volunteered to nurse other American prisoners, and she too caught smallpox and died. Andrew was now 14 years old and without any immediate family. With the war over, he took up saddle making and school teaching. With a $300 inheritance from his grandfather, he went to Charleston, South Carolina, then the biggest city in the South.
There he cut a dashing figure in society until his money ran out. In 1787, Andrew Jackson became a lawyer and he set his office up in McLeanville, North Carolina. He quickly became successful lawyer and engaged himself in land speculation. He soon moved his office to Nashville where he met and fell in love with Mrs. Rachel Donelson Robard. Believing that Mr. Robards had obtained a divorce, they were married in 1791.
Two years later they found that this was not so and the divorce had just then become final. A second marriage ceremony was performed. However, this failed to prevent gossips and political opponents from attempting to make a scandal out of the Jacksons’ happy marriage. Mrs. Jackson endured in silence the many slanders that followed. Jackson, however, preferred to use dueling pistols to avenge his wife’s honor. In 1796, Andrew Jackson was elected into the House of Representatives, representing Tennessee.
He soon allied with the Jeffersonian Party, criticizing Washington and his administration. He claimed that Washington’s program dealing with the Indians were not strong enough and that Jay’s Treaty dealing with foreign affairs with France was not in America’s interest. After one year in the, Jackson moved to the Senate, the other chamber of the Congress of the United States. He served from September 1797 to April 1798 and then retired to private life.
During the years of 1804 to 1812, Jackson settled, with his wife in his home – retiring indefinately. Although Jackson was active in local politics, he took little interest in national affairs. The one exception was his brief involvement with the so-called Burr conspiracy. Former Vice President Aaron Burr, determined to restore his personal fortunes, convinced Jackson that he had government backing to lead a filibustering expedition into Mexico. Jackson agreed to build him some boats, but when he realized that Burr and his group were acting entirely on their own, he immediately dropped his connection with the scheme. Jackson’s hot temper involved him in a number of feuds and duels.
Many of them were caused by remarks made about his marriage. The duel with Charles Dickinson in 1806 stands out as an example of Jackson’s characteristic refusal even to acknowledge the possibility of defeat. Jackson let his opponent fire first, because Dickinson was a faster and better shot. Allowing himself time to take deliberate aim, Jackson planned to kill his man with a single bullet, even “if he had shot me through the brain.” Thus, Jackson took a bullet in the chest and, without flinching, calmly killed his man. Jackson was also involved in a brawl with politician Thomas Hart Benton and his brother Jesse Benton.
Jackson was shot twice in the shoulder and arm by Jesse and was seriously wounded. However, in later years, Jackson and Thomas Hart Benton became