10 Books That Influenced Andrew Jackson, Southerner

Joe Stoltz, who has a new book out on Jackson and the Battle of New Orleans that you should rightly assume is better than Brian Kilmeade’s, inspired me to write about the books that played an integral role in the writing of Andrew Jackson, Southerner.  (Yes, I’m four years late to the game.)

In alphabetical particular order, those books were:

  1. Carolyn Earle Billingsley, Communities of Kinship: Antebellum Planters and the Settlement of the Cotton Frontier. Kinship unexpectedly became an important theme in AJS, and Billingsley’s work helped me understand the different ways in which kinship worked in southern society.
  2. Hendrik Booraem, Young Hickory: The Making of Andrew Jackson. While I don’t agree with the way Booraem interpreted every part of Jackson’s early life, he did yeoman’s work in uncovering and evaluating obscure sources. And he also took down Augustus Buell, which I appreciated.
  3. Andrew Burstein, The Passions of Andrew Jackson. Andy was editor of the Southern Biography Series for LSU Press when AJS was going through production. Since I take issue with some of his arguments about Jackson’s motivations, I thought Andy would be more critical of my argument. Instead, he was very supportive and helped strengthen some of my main arguments.
  4. Lorri Glover, Southern Sons: Becoming Men in the New Nation. Much of Jackson’s adult life was spent managing his nephews and adopted son. Lorri’s book helped me make sense of what the younger men expected from Jackson.
  5. Walter Johnson, Soul By Soul: Life Inside the Antebellum Slave Market. One of my ideas for a second book, a study of slavery in Tennessee, stemmed from reading Soul By Soul. I didn’t pursue that book idea, but Johnson’s work influenced my desire to present a realistic portrayal of Jackson as an enslaver, a topic that remains understudied.
  6. John Marszalek, The Petticoat Affair: Manners, Mutiny, and Sex in Andrew Jackson’s White House. This book was the reason I entered Mississippi State University’s Ph.D. program and continued my biographical study of Andrew Jackson Donelson. Marszalek’s book remained influential as I wrote about kinship and Jackson’s interactions with women in AJS.
  7. Lorman Ratner, Andrew Jackson and His Tennessee Lieutenants: A Study in Political Culture. I read this book in my master’s program and came away with a lot of questions about Jackson’s relationship with the men who surrounded him. Many of those questions drove my interest in addressing kinship in AJS.
  8. Robert Remini, Andrew Jackson. Remini’s work has its issues, but this three-volume biography was my first scholarly introduction to Jackson. Anyone who studies Jackson has to read it.
  9. Steven M. Stowe, Intimacy and Power in the Old South: Ritual in the Lives of the Planters. Prior to reading Stowe’s book, I was puzzled by the contradictions in Jackson’s personal interactions with family members, both male and female. Intimacy and Power didn’t solve all of those puzzles, but it helped me make better sense of Jackson’s personal life.
  10. Bertram Wyatt-Brown, Southern Honor: Ethics and Behavior in the Old South. Bert’s book offers a wide-ranging look at southern honor, which was another central theme of AJS.

Other scholars, such as Joanne B. Freeman, Anita S. Goodstein, Robert P. Hay, Michael P. Johnson, Michael Tadman, and Arda Walker, played important roles in shaping AJS. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention The Papers of Andrew Jackson and the stellar work of its editors past and present.

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