The book that I chose was “Andrew Jackson” by Carol H. Behrman. Behrman talks about Andrew Jackson’s life before, during, and after the Revolutionary War. She shows the ups and downs of his life and proves that he was an overall good man.
Andrew’s father, also named Andrew Jackson, came to the American colonies in 1765. He was from Castlereagh in Northern Ireland. Jackson came to America in hopes of finding “exciting opportunities and a better life,” just as most immigrants were. Here, he met his “lively, red-haired wife,” Elizabeth. Their first two sons were named Hugh and Robert. Shortly after Robert was born they headed north-west toward Pennsylvania along the Catawba Traders’ Path. They settled in a region called the Waxhaws, a remote area on the western border of the Carolinas. By the time they got there, however, the land was taken so they moved to an area along Twelve Mile Creek. By 1767, after a lot of hard work, the family managed to clear enough land to build a log house.
It was very difficult for them to create a farm with the little resources they had. They worked lost hours doing back-breaking work to create the farm. Andrew Jackson’s father was just 29 when he died. He injured himself trying to move a heavy log. On the day of his funeral, a “thick blanket of snow covered the Waxhaws.” Elizabeth was 9 months pregnant with their son when his father died. She, along with her two sons, rode in a horse-drawn carriage that carried their husband’s and their dad’s dead body. The grieving mother had a very hard time with the death of her husband through the last month of her pregnancy. When they finally arrived at his burial place they made a horrifying discovery. At some point, through the ride, the coffin had fallen off of the sled that was carrying it. A few kind neighbors went back to the bush that it had gotten caught on, to retrieve it. His body was finally laid to rest in the earth of the Waxhaws.
Andrew Jackson, named after his father, was born on March 15, 1767. He was their third son. Unfortunately, Andrew never got to meet his father. Nobody but the Jacksons and their close relatives noted his birth. To this day, we are still not sure whether Andrew was born in present-day North or South Carolina.
Elizabeth and her three sons moved in with Elizabeth’s sister, Jane Crawford, and her husband and children. They had a “tough and grueling” life. They welcomed any extra hands willing to do work for them. Shortly after moving in with them, Jane died. Elizabeth had to take on most of the household chores alone. She also looked after the Crawfords’ eight young children in addition to her three.
Andrew lived a rough life. He often worked harder than most boys his age and he never had a father to support his family or to guide him in the right direction. “As the years passed, Andy grew into a tall, strong boy. He worked hard at his chores on the Crawford farm and didn’t complain.”
Andrew’s mother hoped that he would become a young minister after school. “Elizabeth Jackson was very religious.” She always taught her children to have high moral and ethical values. They faithfully attended church services and often studied the Bible. Unfortunately, to his mother’s disappointment, Andrew did not like school and often skipped his classes. He learned very little in his subjects in school. He preferred to be playing football or wrestling around with his friends. He also developed a love for horses and he was an excellent rider.
“Despite his dislike for school, Andy was a good reader.” Many people in that part of the country couldn’t read at all. But, but the time he was nine, Andrew was regularly chosen to read publicly from the newspaper when it arrived in town. People in local houses, stores, and farms would come to listen to Andy read. The most exciting article that Andy would ever read was about a meeting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Colonists stood together discussing “bold, revolutionary ideas.” On a summer day in 1776, the entire town, men, women, and children, gathered around Andrew to hear him read the Declaration of Independence written by Thomas Jefferson. Andy never forgot this moment. He knew that this meant war with England.
The Declaration of Independence that Andy read set off the Revolutionary War between the American colonies and Britain. “Andy and the other people living in the Waxhaws were fiercely independent and sided with Washington’s American forces or the Patriots.”
As Andy continued to grow into a tall, lanky teenager, the war continued to rage. Andrew’s uncle, Robert Crawford, was put in charge of a militia to defend Charleston, South Carolina. His sixteen-year-old brother, Hugh, was one of the volunteers under his command. Unfortunately, Charleston fell to the British. On the same day, Hugh died. “The Jackson household was plunged into a mourning.”
The war reached the Waxhaws and the British continued to push through the South. Andrew and his mother helped tend the wounded on the straw-covered floor of Waxhaw Church. Soon, Andy and Robert joined the South Carolina militia. Andrew was eager to fight the men who killed his brother.
Battles began to rage around the Waxhaws again. The Waxhaw Church was set on fire and eleven American militiamen were captured. Andy and Robert managed to escape and hid out all night long in the brush. In the morning, they went looking for a nearby house or shelter. Unfortunately, the house they found was occupied by British soldiers and they were captured. Andy tried to defend himself after refusing to clean a British officer’s shoes. The officer’s sword struck Andrew in the head leaving a deep gash and cut his fingers to the bone. Once a day the 250 prisoners were given a small piece of stale bread and a drink of water. They had no beds and smallpox spread quickly through the jail. Both Andy and Robert were both infected. They suffered horribly and with no treatment available, they thought they would die.
When Elizabeth Jackson learned that her sons were in jail, she immediately rode to Camden where they were being held, prisoner. She convinced the commanding officer to release Andy, Robert, and several other prisoners. Just two days after they returned home, Robert died. “Andy too was deathly ill, and it looked as though he would soon follow his brother.” It was a miracle that Andrew survived. When talking about his smallpox, he said, “When it left me, I was a skeleton-not quite six feet long and a little over six inches thick! It took me all the rest of that year to recover my strength and get flesh enough to hide my bones.”
Andy lived a long life after the war. He continued to live with his mother until she passed. The British eventually surrendered to America in Yorktown, Virginia. He met his wife and they had children. The end of the book tells about some unhealthy decisions Andrew made with drinking and gambling. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to know more about the Revolutionary War. Not only does the author, Carol H. Behrman, give factual evidence about Andrew Jackson’s life during the Revolutionary War but she also gives details about the war to help you further understand what is going on.
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