Andrew Jackson: Gaming in North Carolina
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Continued from Young Andrew Jackson
As described in Young Andrew Jackson, when the Revolutionary War ended Andrew, at age 15, was an experienced child-soldier, an orphan who had lost his brothers and other close relatives in the fighting. He carried scars from being captured by the British. Yet he was no poor boy. He owned a considerable acreage of land and his uncles were the richest slave owners in the county, despite the conditions brought by the war. He lived for a time with his slaver uncle, Major Crawford.
While an attempt was made to get Andrew a trade as a saddler, and he received more schooling, Jackson's main teenage occupations were "personal encounters, horse-racing, cock-fighting and gambling." Fortunately a relative in Ireland died and left Andrew roughly three hundred fifty pounds sterling, an enormous sum on the frontier in those days. Claiming the fortune at the age of 16, in 1783, Andrew did not use it to work his inherited land holdings. He went to the horse races in Charleston and otherwise lived like a gentleman, lost his money and got into debt. Then he bet his remaining property, his horse, against $200 in a game of dice. He won, paid his debt, then returned to the Waxhaws.
Back near Charlotte, Andrew drifted from job to job, continued gambling, and "courted" women. In Salisbury, North Carolina, in 1785, he began studying the law, but "Andrew Jackson was the most roaring, rollicking, game-cocking, horse-racing, card-playing, mischievous fellow that ever lived in Salisbury." "Mulatto mistresses," were also a reported pastime. A more respectable girl friend reported he "was by no means a Christian young man." Nevertheless, on September 26, 1787, at the age of 20, Andrew Jackson was admitted to the practice of law, having been found (by other lawyers) "a person of unblemished moral character," competent in the knowledge of the law. He then followed the court, on horseback, on its circuit through western North Carolina.
At that time North Carolina territory extended to the Mississippi River. The furthest regular Euro-American settlement to the west was called the Western District, along the Cumberland stream. Intriguing with John McNairy, they got John appointed by the state legislature to be Judge of a newly created Western District Superior Court. McNairy planned to appoint his friend Andrew as attorney-general.
"Andrew Jackson had got what he was after, a pioneering trip de luxe with the prospect of comfortable fees to pad the prickly edges of life in the new land."
With the mind of a criminal and the power of government to back him, Jackson rode west to what would eventually become the State of Tennessee.
Main source: The Life of Andrew Jackson by Marquis James, Bobbs-Merrill company, 1938.
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