Experience Authentic American History at Nashville’s The Hermitage
Ideally located just two miles from the Cumberland and the Stones River in Nashville, The Hermitage is one of America’s most authentically preserved presidential home sites and a National Historic Landmark.
We can learn a lot about Native Americans, westward expansion, slavery, freedom, women’s roles, cotton and industrialization. Jackson left an indelible mark on America, rising from humble beginnings as a penniless orphan to a wealthy planter and lawyer, and serving his country as the seventh U.S. President.
He became a national hero as a major general in the War of 1812 when he soundly defeated the British in the Battle of New Orleans. His motivation to establish America as an independent nation may well have begun when he suffered imprisonment, disease and the loss of his two brothers and mother while just a young lad during the American Revolutionary War.
Nicknamed Old Hickory because of his toughness and aggressive personality, Jackson was known for his quick temper. He often resolved conflicts with duels and provoked considerable controversy when he killed a man.
Since The Hermitage opened as an historic site museum in 1889, over 15 million people have crossed its threshold. April through October you can take a horse-drawn carriage ride around the grounds and see the first log home where Jackson lived from 1804 to 1821, past the slave quarters and sites of the cotton gin and press, and several archaeological sites associated with slavery and farming. Daily walking tours are available year-round, with costumed docents sharing stories of the Jackson’s life on a cotton plantation.
The big Antebellum mansion as we see it today was originally a two-story, eight-room Federal-style brick building built by skilled slave labor and completed in 1821. While in Washington during Andrew Jackson’s second term as President, The Hermitage was severely damaged by fire. In 1837 Jackson had the house rebuilt, adding Greek Revival columns and wings. It was also painted white to conceal the blackened bricks.
It has been meticulously furnished and today is just as it was in 1837 when President Andrew Jackson retired and returned home to Tennessee. The Hermitage narrowly escaped a major disaster when the 1998 Nashville tornados cut a swathe across the property, toppling many trees planted by Jackson himself 200 years earlier.
When you tour The Hermitage you will travel back through time, seeing the original furnishings from the days when the Jacksons entertained many prominent people. Jackson’s love for his wife, Rachel Donelson, can be sensed walking through her garden or stopping to meditate at the ornate tomb he built after her death.
Tragically, only two weeks before his inauguration as President of the United States, Rachel died suddenly of a heart attack, on December 22, 1828. Personal attacks against him during the presidential campaign hit an unforgivable point for Jackson when he was accused of marrying his wife in 1791 before her divorce was final (a fact neither knew until later).
Hands-on history education classes allow school students to explore various aspects of life on the working cotton plantation and learn the stories of the 150 slaves who lived and worked there. House slaves, skilled artisans and field hands all made their contribution.
Jackson was the first President not to come from aristocracy and the first President from a state west of the Appalachian Mountains. He was encouraged into politics by a number of influential supporters and helped found the Democratic Party, believing in small and limited federal government and individual liberty for all U.S. citizens. At the age of 31 he was appointed a judge of the Tennessee Supreme Court, and was the first person to serve as U.S. Representative, Senator and President.
When Andrew Jackson died in 1845 he was buried beside his beloved Rachel.
Have you visited the Hermitage? Tell us about your experience in the comments.