84. The President’s Lady: A Novel About Rachel and Andrew Jackson by Irving Stone (1951)
Length: 338 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Started: 30 September 2012
Finished: 4 October 2012
Where did it come from? From a Library Book Sale
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 10 October 2007
Why do I have it? I like historical fiction and Irving Stone is a new author for me.
Andrew Jackson was a newly certified attorney when he met Rachel Donelson Robards in 1788 at her mother’s residence in Tennessee. He was traveling through from Salisbury, North Carolina and had stopped there on the advice of friends. At the time, Rachel was married but separated from her first husband, Lewis Robards. The couple had tried to reconcile several times, however, when Rachel was falsely accused by Lewis of having an affair with Andrew Jackson, the marriage was officially over in her mind.
The gallant Andrew confronted Lewis about his treatment of Rachel, in an effort to protect her reputation, and Lewis returned to Kentucky without his wife. When Rachel heard rumours that Lewis was returning to collect her, she fled to Natchez and Andrew accompanied her, giving Lewis just cause to pursue a divorce. In 1791, under the impression that Lewis Robards had obtained the divorce, Andrew asked for Rachel’s hand in marriage.
Almost two years into their marriage, the Jacksons learned that Rachel was still married to Lewis Robards. Her first husband had only obtained permission for the divorce, but had never actually brought the case to court in order to go through a jury trial. Finally, in 1793, Lewis was granted his divorce – only the second in Kentucky’s history – and Rachel and Andrew quietly remarried in Nashville.
The confusion surrounding Andrew’s and Rachel’s courtship and marriage haunted the couple for the rest of their lives. Rachel died only a month after Andrew was elected as the seventh president of the United States in 1829. President Jackson was always convinced that the gossip and malicious rumors spread by his political rivals during the vicious election campaign contributed to Rachel’s death. He mourned his wife’s death for the rest of his life.
The Jacksons’ marriage was definitely a love match for them right from the beginning, however many of Andrew’s financial decisions caused the couple to lose much of their fortune at certain times in history. The couple rebuilt that fortune multiple times, but could never entirely tamp down the scandal of Rachel’s first marriage and divorce.
Andrew Jackson was known to have an incendiary temper, challenging three men to duels by the time he was forty years old. On May 30, 1806, Andrew Jackson fought a duel with Charles Dickinson, a young lawyer who initially had accused Andrew Jackson of reneging on a horse bet, calling him a coward and an equivocator. Charles Dickinson also called Rachel Jackson a bigamist and Andrew Jackson demanded the satisfaction of a duel for that insult. Andrew Jackson killed Charles Dickinson during the duel, after being seriously wounded by a bullet which lodged so close to Andrew Jackson’s heart, it couldn’t be removed.
I really enjoyed this book although I found it somewhat slow in certain parts. I found that Rachel and Andrew Jackson’s marriage was extremely harsh and difficult for them and felt extremely sorry for the couple with what they had to face together. I think that it’s amazing that I read this book during the 2012 presidential election; I certainly didn’t choose this book because of that fact, but it seemed appropriate that I was reading a book about Andrew and Rachel Jackson’s love story.
It was very interesting for me to compare the election of 1828 to the election of 2012. I am not that interested in presidential elections, but it seemed to me that both elections are and were similarly vicious! I give The President’s Lady: A Novel About Rachel and Andrew Jackson by Irving Stone an A+!
A+! – (96-100%)
Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight