Portrait of Rachel Donelson Jackson by Ralph Eleaser Whiteside Earl
June 15, 1767|
Halifax County, Virginia
|Died||December 22, 1828(aged 61)|
|Spouse(s)||Lewis Robards (separated in 1790, divorced in 1794)
Andrew Jackson (1791–1794, invalid; 1794–1828, dissolved by her death)
Rachel Donelson was born near the Banister River, about ten miles from Chatham, Virginia in Pittsylvania County on June 15, 1767. Her father was Colonel John Donelson (1718–1785), co-founder of Nashville, Tennessee, and her mother was Rachel Stockley Donelson (1730-1801). Her great-grandfather, Patrick Donelson, was born in Scotland about 1670. She had seven brothers and three sisters: Alexander Donelson (1749-1785); Mary Donelson Caffrey (1751-?); Catherine Donelson Hutchings (1752-1835); Stockley Donelson (1753-1804); Jane Donelson Hay (1757-1834); John Donelson (1755-1830); William Donelson (1756-1820); Samuel Donelson (1758-1804); Severn Donelson (1763 or 1773 -1818); Leven Donelson (1765-?). From about 1770 to 1779, her father operated the Washington Iron Furnace at Rocky Mount, Franklin County, Virginia. With her family, she moved to Tennessee at the age of twelve. Her father led about six hundred people from Fort Patrick Henry to Fort Nashborough, down the Cumberland River. The Donelson family were the first white settlers in Tennessee.
When Andrew Jackson migrated to Nashville, Tennessee in 1788, he boarded with Rachel Stockley Donelson, the mother of Rachel Donelson Robards. Shortly after, they got married in Natchez, Mississippi, believing that her husband had obtained a divorce. As the divorce had never been completed, their marriage was technically bigamous and therefore invalid. Historians found that a friend of Lewis Robards had planted a fake article in his own newspaper, saying that the couple's divorce had been finalized. The Jacksons later found out about Robards' action in planting the article, and that he had never completed the divorce. Later, Rachel ensured the divorce was completed. She and Jackson remarried in 1794. During the presidential election campaign of 1828, supporters of John Quincy Adams, Jackson's opponent, accused his wife of being a bigamist, among other things. Despite the accusations, he won by a comparative landslide; he was a popular military hero after his victory in the Battle of New Orleans during the War of 1812.
|Rachel Jackson, C‑SPAN|
- Brands, H.W. (2005). Andrew Jackson: His Life and Times. Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-50738-0.
- Brinkley, Alan. American History: A Survey. 12th edition. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2007.
- "Rachel and Andrew Jackson's Love Story"
- John Fiske (1914). "John Quincy Adams". In James Grant Wilson. The Presidents of the United States, 1789-1914. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. In Wikisource.
- National First Ladies' Library
- White House History biography
- Anne Carter Lee (September 1972). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory/Nomination: Washington Iron Furnace". Virginia Department of Historic Resources.
- "Rachel Jackson". C‑SPAN. March 25, 2013. Retrieved March 25, 2013.