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Christmas 1835 – Part 1

December 20, 2018

It had not been a particularly good year for President Andrew Jackson.  On March 28, 1834 he was censured by the U.S. Senate.  In April he sent them a formal protest, but more Senators voted not to receive Jackson’s reply than had voted in favor of the censure.  In October his plantation home in Tennessee was destroyed by fire.

It was not all bad.  Exactly one week after the censure his daughter-in-law gave birth to Andrew Jackson III.  Fifteen days later[1] his niece gave birth to Rachel Jackson Donelson.  The aging President must have been very happy to hear all three names of his late wife conferred upon a living person.  Whereas the late Mrs. Jackson never had the opportunity to live in the White House, little Rachel was born there.

Jackson loved children and knew about one hundred by name.  During his first term a conference had to be rescheduled when the Secretary of State found Jackson with a sleeping baby in his arms.  When all else failed, the presence of children was a great boost to the President’s disposition.  Jackson always tried to make Christmas a special time for his young friends, but he really hit his stride in 1835.

On that Christmas Eve Jackson and the children of his household delivered gifts to a local orphanage.  Afterwards they hung their Christmas stockings in the President’s bedroom, and for the first time in his life the former orphan who had grown up to become President hung a stocking for himself.  On Christmas morning each of the children’s stockings contained a silver quarter, fruit, nuts, candy, cake, and a toy.  The President also received gifts: a corncob pipe and a pair of slippers.

 

[1] There is some disagreement as to whether little Rachel was born on April 19, 1834 or April 11 of the following year.

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