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American Lion

Andrew Jackson in the White House

By Jon Meacham
19-minute read
Audio available
American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House by Jon Meacham

American Lion (2008) tells the story of Andrew Jackson, America’s seventh president. These blinks describe Jackson’s rise from poverty to the White House, and how he transformed the presidency from a relatively symbolic position into a powerful vehicle for representing the interests of the people.

  • Historians and students of history
  • Anyone interested in American politics
  • Fans of a good biography

Jon Meacham is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of numerous best sellers, including Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power and Franklin and Wilson. In addition to writing, he teaches at Vanderbilt University and the University of the South.

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American Lion

Andrew Jackson in the White House

By Jon Meacham
  • Read in 19 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 12 key ideas
American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House by Jon Meacham
Synopsis

American Lion (2008) tells the story of Andrew Jackson, America’s seventh president. These blinks describe Jackson’s rise from poverty to the White House, and how he transformed the presidency from a relatively symbolic position into a powerful vehicle for representing the interests of the people.

Key idea 1 of 12

Orphaned during the Revolutionary War, Andrew Jackson went on to marry the love of his life and establish himself as a prominent lawyer.

On March 15, 1767, Andrew Jackson was born in the small town of Waxhaw, which straddles the border between North and South Carolina. He grew up with just one parent; not long before his birth, Jackson’s father unexpectedly passed away.

The impoverished childhood that followed was never easy, but Jackson nonetheless spent his youth wrestling with friends and taking classes at a local Presbyterian church. And so life went on until 1779, when the American Revolutionary War reached Waxhaw. The war devastated Jackson’s world. Before the age of 15, his entire family was dead.

First he lost his older brothers. Hugh fell in battle. Both Andrew and his other older brother, Robert, were found by the British and taken as prisoners of war in 1781. Soon after, Robert fell ill with an infection from which he never recovered.

That same year, Jackson’s mother, who was in Charleston taking care of two sick nephews, took ill and passed away. Jackson left Waxhaw and never returned.

Yet by the age of 21, he was rising to fame as a well-known lawyer and courting his soon-to-be wife. He’d acquired his law license in 1787 and quickly built a reputation for himself as a carousing and rowdy, although charismatic, man.

During his first court case, Jackson even challenged the opposing counsel to a duel!

In 1788, he moved to the frontier of the Tennessee territories and became friendly with a well-established family there, the Donelsons. The daughter of the family, Rachel Donelson, was in a difficult marriage at the time and Jackson was happy to protect her from her abusive husband.

Eventually, Rachel petitioned for a divorce and, even before it became official, married Jackson in early 1791. But, despite the romance of the gesture, the choice to wed before the divorce went through would come to haunt the couple later in life.

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