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Young Andrew Jackson
February 5, 2011
by William P. Meyers

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Continued from Introduction

Andrew Jackson would grow up to be a President of the United States of America and the founder of the Democratic Party. Along the way he would murder many of his fellow men and live a life of depravity unmatched, so far as we know, by any other American President. What in his youth prepared or inclined him to such a future?

His father, also named Andrew, had a brother Hugh who was in the King's army. Hugh had been sent to the American colonies and fought under General Wolfe at the Battle of Quebec and Amherst at the Battle of Montreal. More importantly, he had fought the Cherokee Nation in the Carolinas. Hugh and Andrew planned to settle in the Carolinas together, but Hugh's wife was determined that they stay in Ireland. Andrew's wife, Elizabeth Hutchinson, however, settled with him in the Waxhaws near what would be the border between north and south Carolina in 1765. The young couple already had two children.

Relations were already there. Elizabeth's sister Jennet had married James Crawford, whose slaves grew cotton. Andrew's goal was to imitate James. But while lifting a log he hurt himself so severely that he died. Our Andrew Jackson was still in his mother's belly. He was born March 15, 1767, at the Crawford home. Mrs. Jackson, widow, recorded two hundred acres of land over to her three sons, Hugh, Rob, and Andrew. After some fighting between partisans of North and South Carolina, the dividing line put the Jacksons and Crawfords in North Carolina.

Andrew Jackson attended a church-run school and picked up reading and writing easily. The countryside prospered during his youth, growing indigo, corn and barley in addition to cotton. Those who could purchased African slaves to work their fields. Andrew's uncles James and Robert were the two richest slavers in the local area. After the Sommersett Decision declared slavery illegal on British soil, like most other slavers Robert Crawford joined the rebellion and was made captain of the Waxhaw militia.

Andrew recorded that he had taken to cock fighting by the age of 11; he was to become an expert in this cruel sport. He was too young to fight at the beginning of the Revolution, but his brother Hugh, only 16 years old, died at Stono Ferry from sickness and exhaustion after the battle. Andrew did hang about the camp of his uncle Major Crawford, and acted as assistant to his mother nursing the wounded after Banastre Tarleton defeated Buford (and Crawford) in May of 1780.

After a retreat to North Carolina, at age 13, Andrew Jackson was admitted into the Revolutionary army, or at least the militia, as a messenger. Andrew mainly witnessed the ongoing defeats of American forces by the British army in the area. When the tide turned, in 1781, he had graduated to militia soldier, and helped repel attacks by Tories (loyalist militia). On April 10, 1781 Andrew was captured by British regulars. An officer ordered the child to clean his boots, which Andrew refused, and as a reward was struck with a sword. Or so the story goes of the scars that he carried on his hand and head for the rest of his life.

Andrew spent some time at the British military prison at Camden, where he caught smallpox, but survived. His mother rescued him; he was exchanged for British prisoners. His mother died shortly afterwards of fever while visiting a cousin in a British prison.

Thus Andrew Jackson was a child-soldier, an Orphan of War, as deformed and depraved in childhood as the child-soldiers of Africa and Afghanistan are today.

Next: Andrew Jackson: Gaming in North Carolina

Main source: The Life of Andrew Jackson by Marquis James, Bobbs-Merrill company, 1938.

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