Author’s Note: The postings of Presidents who owned slaves is not created to invoke comments of anger, it is done to make aware of those we may have honored, had their “DARK” side. The post are intended to make aware the wrongful act of slavery, and of those who talked for or against slavery, participated in slavery. If I have offended anyone, or made them angry I apologize this was not my intent. Awareness and logical words speak far louder than the violence and destruction of our current times in America. EAJM
The Seventh President of the United States of America
Series on Presidential Slavery
In all reality, slavery was the source of Andrew Jackson’s wealth. The Hermitage was a 1,000 acre, self-sustaining plantation relying completely on the labor of slaves, African American men, women and children. They performed the hard labor that produced the cash crop, cotton. The more land Andrew Jackson accrued, the more slaves he procured to work it. Thus, the Jackson family’s survival was made possible by the profit garnered from the crops worked by the enslaved on a daily basis.
Jackson was born in the Carolina he became a frontier lawyer and served briefly in the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate, representing Tennessee. After resigning, he served as a justice on the Tennessee Supreme Court from 1798 until 1804. Jackson purchased a property later known as The Hermitage, and became a wealthy, a slave owning planter. In 1801, he was appointed colonel of the Tennessee militia and was elected its commander the following year. He led troops during the Creek War of 1813–1814, winning the Battle of Horseshoe Bend. The subsequent Treaty of Fort Jackson required the Creek surrender of vast lands in present-day Alabama and Georgia. Also, the Chickasaw’s in Alabama and they were my people, my great-great-grandparents were on the Trail of Tears.
Jackson prospered as planter, slave owner, and merchant. He built a home and the first general store in Gallatin, Tennessee, in 1803. The next year, he acquired the Hermitage, a 640-acre plantation in Davidson County, near Nashville. He later added 360 acres to the plantation, which eventually totaled 1,050 acres. The primary crop was cotton, grown by slaves—Jackson began with nine, owned as many as 44 by 1820, and later up to 150, placing him among the planter elite. Jackson also co-owned with his son Andrew Jackson Jr. the Halcyon plantation in Coahoma County, Mississippi, which housed 51 slaves at the time of his death. Throughout his lifetime, Jackson may have owned as many as 300 slaves.
Men, women, and child slaves were owned by Jackson on three sections of the Hermitage plantation. Slaves lived in extended family units of between five and ten persons and were quartered in 400 square feet cabins made either of brick or logs. The size and quality of the Hermitage slave quarters exceeded the standards of his times. To help slaves acquire food, Jackson supplied them with guns, knives, and fishing equipment. At times he paid his slaves with monies and coins to trade in local markets. The Hermitage plantation was a profit-making enterprise. Jackson permitted slaves to be whipped to increase productivity or if he believed his slaves’ offenses were severe enough. At various times he posted advertisements for fugitive slaves who had escaped from his plantation. In one advertisement placed in the Tennessee Gazette in October 1804, Jackson offered “ten dollars extra, for every hundred lashes any person will give him, to the amount of three hundred.”
Throughout his eight years in office, Jackson made about 70 treaties with Native American tribes both in the South and in the Northwest. Jackson’s presidency marked a new era in Indian-Anglo American relations initiating a policy of Indian removal. Jackson himself sometimes participated in the treaty negotiating process with various Indian tribes, though other times he left the negotiations to his subordinates. The southern tribes included the Choctaw, Creek, Chickasaw, Seminole and the Cherokee. The northwest tribes include the Chippewa, Ottawa, and the Potawatomi.
He fiercely disliked the abolitionists, whom he believed were, by instituting sectional jealousies, attempting to destroy the Union. Jackson called on Congress to prohibit the circulation through the South of “incendiary publications intended to instigate the slaves to insurrection.”
In his retirement, Jackson remained active in Democratic Party politics, supporting the presidencies of Martin Van Buren and James K. Polk. Though fearful of its effects on the slavery debate, Jackson advocated the annexation of Texas, which was accomplished shortly before his death. Jackson has been widely revered in the United States as an advocate for democracy and the common man. But was he, he owned slaves, this should not be revered anywhere.
Many of his actions proved divisive, garnering both fervent support and strong opposition from many in the country. His reputation suffered, largely due to his role in Native American removal. However, slavery should be added to this list.
Books by Author