Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Hermitage; Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville, Tennessee is not just the home of country music. It was also the home of the 7th President of the United States, Andrew Jackson. Yes, his is the face on our $20.00 bill! But until I visited "The Hermitage", I knew nothing about this extraordinary man.

His story proves the old saying that anyone born in the US can grow up to be President. Orphaned at age 14, Andrew Jackson somehow got himself educated and moved to Tennessee from North Carolina. Despite nearly becoming bankrupt at one point, eventually he became a successful owner of a cotton plantation. He married and never had any biological children. He did adopt a nephew and an orphaned Indian boy. When the War of 1812 broke out, Jackson joined the Tennessee militia. Despite no formal military training, he rose through the ranks and became a general. His successful defeat of British forces at New Orleans began his rise to prominence in Tennessee politics, culminating in the presidency of the US. Sadly, his wife died of tuberculosis just three weeks before he took office in Washington DC. When his term was completed, he retired to the Hermitage and lived there for the rest of his life. The house has been meticulously restored to the way it looked in 1837. Most of the wallpapers and furnishings are original. No interior photos are allowed. The grounds are extensive and can be toured by wagon with a costumed interpreter for a small fee.

The Hermitage exhibition is committed to also telling the stories of the African-American slaves, without whom the plantation could not have been successful. The slave cabins are on display. Typically, a family with 10-12 children might share one room, with additional sleeping quarters in the loft. Here are photos of the outside of a "duplex" and interior photos of one side.

President Jackson visited the grave of his wife every evening at sunset. The tomb is set amidst the formal gardens, which his wife had enjoyed tending so much. It must be beautiful in the summer.
I have been to Mt. Vernon, home of George Washington. Ed & I visited Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's home, a few years ago. There must be other president's homes I can add to my list. I wonder if there's a possible travel article in there somewhere that would appeal to RVers as a road trip. Have to give that some thought. Anyone have an idea?

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