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 Rachel <I>Donelson</I> Jackson

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Rachel Donelson Jackson

  • Birth 15 Jun 1767 Pittsylvania County, Virginia, USA
  • Death 22 Dec 1828 Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee, USA
  • Burial Hermitage, Davidson County, Tennessee, USA
  • Memorial ID 19468

Presidential First Lady. Though never in reality a First Lady, Rachel Jackson's mixup with her divorce and remarriage impacted and had a detrimental effect on her life and her husband, President Jackson until the day of his death. She was born Rachel Donelson in Virginia the fourth daughter from a total of twelve children. Her education was almost nonexistent and what she did receive was akin to what frontier women received: reading the bible and little else. Jackson met Rachael while lodging at her widowed mother's boarding house in Nashville, Tennessee and they were soon wed. However: after two years it came to light her divorce from a first marriage had not been decreed, only placed on the docket to be heard. In the eyes of the law, Rachel Jackson had committed bigamy by marrying. When the final decree of divorce was actually granted Andrew and Rachel remarried. Tales of their adultery and bigamy followed the couple as Jackson's career advanced in both politics and war. Two months prior to assuming the presidency, she was wearing the white dress purchased for her husband's inaugural ceremonies, only it had become her burial shroud. She had been in poor health for a number of years and a heart attack took her life. The president selected her own personal garden at the Hermitage, their estate outside Nashville, for her burial site. She was interred on Christmas Eve. President-elect Jackson was convinced that the strain of the personal attacks on her character was directly responsible for her demise. In his own words, "May god almighty forgive her murderers a I know she forgave them. I never Can." However, she was a heavy smoker and a corncob pipe was her trademark. Ten thousand people turned up for her funeral and those that could packed the large garden as the interment took place on Christmas Eve. Later he build a permanent temple made of limestone resembling a Greek styled gazebo over the grave. After serving two presidential terms, Andrew Jackson returned to the Hermitage. He never recovered from her loss. He carried around a miniature of her and at night placed it on his bedside table. He never remarried. Andrew visited the garden and Rachel's grave every evening. At the age of 78 years, Jackson died in his bedroom and was buried in the garden next to his wife. When the Hermitage was first built it was little more than a small cabin but it became a spacious and prosperous plantation with many slaves. The Jackson's did not have any children but adopted Rachel's nephews and gave him the name of Andrew Jackson, Jr. Upon the Presidents death he became the owner of the plantation. He allowed the property to become run down and was forced by debt and mismanagement to sell the property to the State of Tennessee which has restored the property to its former appearance. It is today open to the public and is an historic site.

Bio by: Donald Greyfield


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"Here lie the remains of Mrs. Rachel Jackson, wife of President Jackson, who died December 22nd 1828, aged 61. Her face was fair, her person pleasing, her temper amiable, and her heart kind. She delighted in relieving the wants of her fellow-creatures,and cultivated that divine pleasure by the most liberal and unpretending methods. To the poor she was a benefactress; to the rich she was an example; to the wretched a comforter; to the prosperous an ornament. Her pity went hand in hand with her benevolence; and she thanked her Creator for being able to do good. A being so gentle and so virtuous, slander might wound but could not dishonor. Even death, when he tore her from the arms of her husband, could but transplant her to the bosom of her God.".


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 11 Jan 2001
  • Find A Grave Memorial 19468
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Rachel Donelson Jackson (15 Jun 1767–22 Dec 1828), Find A Grave Memorial no. 19468, citing Jackson Family Cemetery, Hermitage, Davidson County, Tennessee, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .