Sage of the Hermitage

 
Sage of the Hermitage

Andrew Jackson retired from public office on March 4, 1837. His vice president, Martin Van Buren, succeeded him as president. Lack of an official office did not prevent Jackson from maintaining a lively interest in public affairs. He kept up an active correspondence with many in Washington, offering his insights and advice, and stayed current with subscriptions to over twenty newspapers. One issue that captured his interest was Texas. Texas had won its independence from Mexico in 1836, toward the end of Jackson’s second term as president. Jackson’s old friend Sam Houston, former governor of Tennessee, was the president of the Republic of Texas. Both men desired to bring Texas into the Union. Jackson wielded his considerable influence and in the spring of 1845, Congress authorized the annexation of Texas to the United States. That same spring, Jackson’s protégé, James K. Polk, took office as the 11th President of the United States.

Matters closer to home also kept Jackson busy. Andrew Jackson Jr., his adopted son, had mounting debts, from expensive purchases and co-signing promissory notes for others. Jackson sold property in Alabama and took out loans to pay the debts, but new problems kept arising. He purchased another plantation in Mississippi, hoping that the profits from that farm would improve the family’s financial status. That effort was not successful either. Despite the debts and problems, Jackson was by no means poor since he still owned nearly 1000 acres at The Hermitage and around 150 slaves.

Jackson’s family lived at The Hermitage and was a great source of joy for him. Andrew Jr. and his wife, Sarah Yorke Jackson, had three children, Rachel, Andrew, and Samuel. Their last two children, Thomas and Robert, died as infants. Sarah’s widowed sister, Marion Yorke Adams, and her three sons joined the family in 1837. The artist, Ralph E. W. Earl, also lived with the family until his death in September 1838. Jackson and Sarah joined the Presbyterian Church in July 1838 and the family held evening prayers before retiring every night.

Andrew Jackson’s health, never good, deteriorated badly in his final years. Constant infections, gastro-intestinal problems, pain, eye and ear troubles, and fluid build-up made him miserable. He frequently predicted his own death, but continued to hang on to life. Finally, on June 8, 1845 with his family and slaves surrounding him, he died in his bedroom at The Hermitage. He was buried two days later in the Hermitage garden with nearly three thousand people in attendance.