To the editor:
A follow-up to William Marvel’s column on March 30 regarding the town of Jackson and possibly changing the person for whom it was named.
Andrew Jackson and two brothers volunteered to fight against the British in the Revolutionary War. He and his brothers left their family farm and widowed mother to do so. One of Andrew’s brothers was killed in battle. He and his other brother were taken prisoner by the British and both contracted smallpox. His brother died, he lived. His mother also volunteered to help wounded soldiers and contracted cholera and died. Andrew Jackson was only 14 at the time and was an orphan.
He worked, studied and became an attorney. He was locally influential and elected as an officer in the Tennessee militia. He was assigned to quell the “Creek Indian Massacre” that resulted in 250 settlers and peaceful Indians killed and 100 taken prisoner by “Red Stick” Creeks, who were allies of the British. He was given a general’s status and sent to lead some 4,500 troops into Florida during the War of 1812.
Most people don’t realize the seriousness of this war. If we had lost that conflict, we could again have been subjects of the king of England or at least given up all lands west of the original colonies.
His rag-tag army, made up of locals, slaves and pirates, defended New Orleans by defeating a well-trained and armed British force of 7,500. The battle ended in a victory on Jan. 8, 1815, two weeks after the Treaty of Ghent had been signed in Belgium on Dec 24, 1814, officially ending the war. But the news had not reached the British or American troops before the battle occurred.
After this he gained national notoriety and eventually was elected president. Did he have slaves? Yes, so did Washington and Jefferson and many others of the time. Did he force native Indian tribes off their land to make it safe for settlers during our western expansion? Yes, and in that time frame in history, that was what the expanding population wanted. Was he a “racist”? How can we label someone today for actions that happened 200 years ago? Is it our place to change history to meet today’s “let’s change history to make us feel better about the past” movement?
At the time Andrew Jackson was a man of the people, who served and sacrificed, as needed in his time. Should we now label him by standards being touted by those who would like to tear down our history and replace it what they believe should have been? I don’t believe so. And please remember that in 1829 the citizens of the now town of Jackson chose to have the town named after him with only one dissenting vote to have the town named Adams.