I, along with several other Cumberland faculty, had the privilege of receiving a university summer research grant. My grant proposal outlined a plan to look at Andrew Jackson’s slave communities in Tennessee and Mississippi, particularly post-presidency. This research plan was intended to help me complete a biography, due next summer, that examines Jackson’s southern identity.
I was able to spend several days at the Hermitage and the Tennessee State Library and Archives (TSLA). Marsha Mullin at the Hermitage was especially helpful in showing me the slave files held there and a genealogical database that contains data for every identifiable slave who worked at the Hermitage. Anyone who has worked on Jackson-related material knows how invaluable Marsha is when it comes to questions about Jackson’s family, slave community, and anything pertaining to the Hermitage.
At TSLA, I was able to look at the Jackson papers, in particular his correspondence with several individuals:
Andrew Jackson, Jr.–The nephew that the Jacksons claimed as their adopted son.
Sarah Yorke Jackson–Junior’s wife.
Maunsel White–Jackson’s cotton factor in New Orleans.
William B. Lewis–Jackson’s one-time presidential advisor and fellow Tennessean.
Charles J. Love–Jackson’s neighbor.
Francis P. Blair–Jackson’s presidential advisor and friend.
Overseers–A number of Jackson’s overseers at the Hermitage and the Halcyon plantation, located in Coahoma County, Mississippi, and co-owned by Jackson and Junior.
My goal was to use these six relatives and friends, as well as the overseers, to ascertain what was going on at the Hermitage and Halcyon plantations, particularly with the slave community, from 1831-1845. There have been small nuggets of information that I’ve uncovered that I don’t think have been addressed before by historians. I’m still processing the research and reconciling it with what I already knew; the final product hopefully will make it into the completed biography. If not, I have ideas for a couple of books that will dovetail nicely with this slave research.
I also used part of the grant to write chapters for the book manuscript. I was able to finish a chapter that I started in the late spring, as well as write two other chapters. My plan was to make it through the 1828 presidential election, but I was only able to get to Jackson’s retirement from the post of Florida’s territorial governor. Still, it was a productive summer.