Sunday, August 30, 2009

Two Andrew Jackson Stories

Andrew Jackson's Jefferson Day 1830 toast and his threat to hang nullifiers are both well known and wouldn't be worth repeating in themselves. But James Parton provides interesting context and background for both.

Here is Parton on Jackson's toast (paragraph breaks added):
It was supposed, at the time, that the toast offered by the President was an impromptu. On the contrary, the toast was prepared with singular deliberation, and was designed to produce the precise effect it did produce.

Major [William B.] Lewis favors the reader with the following interesting reminiscence: "This celebrated toast 'The Federal Union — It must be preserved' was a cool, deliberate act. The United States Telegraph, General Duff Green's paper, published a programme of the proceedings for the celebration the day before, to which the General's attention had been drawn by a friend, with the suggestion that he had better read it. This he did in the course of the evening, and came to the conclusion that the celebration was to be a nullification affair altogether.

"With this impression on his mind he prepared early the next morning (the day of the celebration) three toasts which he brought with him when he came into his office, where he found Major [Andrew Jackson] Donelson and myself reading the morning papers. After taking his seat he handed them to me and asked me to read them, and tell him which I preferred — I ran my eye over them and then handed him the one I liked best. He handed them to Major Donelson also with the same request, who, on reading them, agreed with me. He said he preferred that one himself for the reason that it was shorter and more expressive. He then put that one into his pocket and threw the others into the fire. That is the true history of the toast the General gave on the Jefferson birth-day celebration in 1830, which fell among the nullifiers like an exploded bomb!"

I wonder what the discarded versions said.

And here is Parton on the background to Jackson's exclamation that he would hang the first nullifier he found from the nearest tree. Again, Parton quotes Major Lewis:
"I believe I related to you . . . the anecdote that occurred in the General's office between him and a South Carolina member of Congress, who called to take leave of him. The General received him with great kindness, offering his hand, and begging him to be seated. After a few minutes of conversation, the member rose, and remarked to the General that he was about to return to South Carolina, and desired to know if he had any commands for his friends in that quarter. The General said, 'No, I believe not,' but immediately recalling what he had said, remarked, 'Yes, I have; please give my compliments to my friends in your State, and say to them, that if a single drop of blood shall be shed there in opposition to the laws of the United States, I will hang the first man I can lay my hand on engaged in such treasonable conduct, upon the first tree I can reach.'"

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails