A recent correspondent sent me a link to a post on a possible African-American descendant of President Andrew Jackson. I have never heard of the enslaved family from which the correspondent is descended, but in their response to his query, Prof. Henry Lous Gates, Jr., and Katrina Fahy do a good job of examining the available evidence and suggesting further avenues of research.
The claim of being descended from Andrew Jackson isn’t unusual. I’ve written previously about Hannah, an enslaved woman at Jackson’s Hermitage plantation. Some of Hannah’s descendants claim that Jackson fathered at least one of her children, as I noted in this article. It’s a disputed topic that deserves further exploration. That historians haven’t done more work on it is disappointing. I’ve previously attributed much of that inattention to John Spencer Bassett’s influence, but as Dan Feller and the editorial team at the Jackson Papers proceed quickly through Old Hickory’s presidency, it becomes less about Bassett and more about the profession’s unwillingness to grapple with Jackson as anything other than a one-dimensional caricature.