August 29, 2003

Presidential Fun Fact of the Day

Rachel Jackson

Louisa Adams wasn't the only wife maligned in the presidential election between John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson. Rachel Jackson was the first one subjected to slander and accusations.

When Rachel and Andrew Jackson first met, she was already married to Lewis Robards. The two had a tumultuous marriage, and Robards sent her back to her mother, who ran a boardinghouse. Not long after, Robards wished for a reconciliation and Rachel agreed. About this time Andrew Jackson moved into the boardinghouse, and he and Rachel got along very well.

The Robards' reconciliation didn't last very long and Lewis soon left Rachel once more. In 1790 she heard that her husband was coming to retrieve her and return her home even if he had to forcibly do so. She decided after two tries it would be impossible for them to live together, and fled to Natchez to seek refuge amongst relatives. Colonel Robert Stark planned to accompany her to see that she arrived safely, and Andrew Jackson volunteered to come along as well. This led to Robards's deepening suspicion that his wife and Jackson were involved.

According to Jackson's supporters years later, Jackson heard that Robards had gotten divorced from Rachel. Jackson retrieved Rachel from Natchez and they were married in 1791. Unfortunately, Robards had not gotten a divorce. Rachel and Lewis were not divorced until September, 1793...on the grounds of adultery. Rachel became a convicted adulteress.

Of course, Jackson's political enemies had a field day with this information during the 1828 presidential election. Jackson tried to shield his wife from the fallout as much as possible, but she dreaded moving to the White House. She told friends she would sooner "be a doorkeeper in the house of God than to live in that palace at Washington." Rachel got her wish. She died in December, 1828.

Posted by Jennifer at August 29, 2003 11:04 AM