Jackson, 7th, 1829–37
A tall, lean, poorly educated backwoodsman with a crest of hair almost red and a temper in keeping, Andrew Jackson was a reckless horseman, cock fighter, and duelist. He was 6-feet tall and never weighed over 145 pounds. To some he seemed savage, to others heroic, earthy, masculine.
In the name of national security, Jackson signed into law the Indian Removal Act of 1830 and more than 45,000 American Indians were relocated to the West on a Trail of Tears. Ironically, he rescued a ten-month-old Indian boy after the Creek War, raised him as his own son, and grieved deeply when the boy died at age sixteen.
Jackson had a habit of slobbering, which he was unable to control until almost grown. A jest at this circumstance spelled combat. He pronounced development as "devil-ope-ment" and sublime as "soo-blime."
During the 1829 presidential campaign, his wife, Rachel, was called an adulteress. The slander exposed her as a bigamist and revealed the divorce papers from her previous marriage had never been filed. Distressed by the public scandal, she took to her bed and died. Next to his heart, Jackson wore an ivory miniature depicting Rachel when she was fifty-two.
At sixty-two, grief stricken and weary, Andrew Jackson was probably the saddest man who ever entered the White House.
Jackson was called the son of a prostitute and a mulatto. He was also called a "Jackass." He liked the name and used it for a while; later it became the symbol of the Democratic Party.
Jackson was racked by tuberculosis most of the time he was president and treated it by bleeding himself. Hard of hearing, nearly blind in one eye, his face and body swelling with painful dropsy, he spent his last days in a cushioned chair. "I am a blubber of water," he said. His flesh from the waist down had literally to be wrapped to his body to keep it from falling away.
He was the first president born in a log cabin and the first to travel by train. America's first equestrian monument, a bronze statue depicting Jackson seated on a rearing horse, was created by sculptor Clark Mills, and stands in Lafayette Park, across from the White House.
Poll, Jackson's parrot who could speak in Spanish and English, reportedly had to be removed from Jackson's funeral because the bird was cursing in both languages.
d. June 8, 1845 (the Hermitage near Nashville, Tennessee), at 78, of chronic tuberculosis, dropsy, and heart failure.