Today is a gorgeous day - it's sunny, warm, and the sky is a dark blue. We're visiting The Hermitage in Nashville. The Hermitage is the former plantation home of Andrew Jackson, U.S. President number 7. In case you didn't know, his visage appears on the $20 bill. Here's a short history on him and the mansion:
Jackson moved to Tennessee in 1788 and became a prosecuting attorney. He served as the state's first congressman and later as a senator and judge. However, it was during the War of 1812 that he gained his greatest public acclaim as the general who led American troops in the Battle of New Orleans fighting and defeating the British. His role in that battle helped Jackson win the presidency in 1828 and again in 1832. Though The Hermitage now displays a classic Greek Revival facade, this is its third incarnation. Originally built in the Federal style in 1821, it was expanded and remodeled in 1831, and acquired its current appearance in 1836.
Jackson was nicknamed "Old Hickory" because of his toughness and aggressive personality that produced numerous duels, some fatal. His parents - Betty and Andrew - came to America from Ireland in search of new opportunities and a new life, leaving their hometown of Carrickfergus - and everything that was familiar to them - behind in the 1760s.
There is plenty of debate about where Andrew Jackson ranks among the best presidents in our country's history, but it cannot be understated that he was one of the most important presidents. There are two major things I have a problem with: slavery and the Trail of Tears. At the peak of The Hermitage's production, Andrew Jackson owned about 150 slaves. That was normal to him and he didn't have any problems with the concept of keeping slaves. The second terrible thing that happened while he was in office was the Trail of Tears, one of the darkest chapters in the United States' history. In 1830 the Congress of the United States passed the "Indian Removal Act." Although many Americans were against the act, most notably Tennessee Congressman Davy Crockett ("I would sooner be honestly damned than hypocritically immortalized" - Davy Crockett. His political career destroyed because he supported the Cherokee, he left Washington D. C. and headed west to Texas.), it passed anyway. President Jackson quickly signed the bill into law. The Cherokees attempted to fight removal legally by challenging the removal laws in the Supreme Court and by establishing an independent Cherokee Nation. In one of the saddest episodes of U.S. history, men, women, and children were taken from their land, herded into makeshift forts with minimal facilities and food, then forced to march a thousand miles. About 4000 Cherokee died as a result of the removal. - End of history lesson!
We take a guided tour of the stately mansion. We also visit the kitchen, the smokehouse, the garden, Jackson's tomb, an original log cabin, the spring house (a cool storage house built over a spring), and, nearby, the Old Hermitage Church and Tulip Grove mansion. We spend almost four hours there, there's so much to see. My favorite place is the beautiful garden.
After visiting the Hermitage, we drive to the mall and have coffee at Starbucks. We have drinks at the honky tonks downtown and eat dinner at Jack's Bar-B-Que (http://jacksbarbque.com).