JACKSON, Andrew. Autograph document signed twice ("Andrew Jackson") and initialed once, with his signature appearing three times in the text, the Hermitage, [near Nashville, Tennessee], 1 September 1842. 7½ pages, 4to (9¾ x 7 7/8 in.), browned, expert repairs, minor holes affect some letters of text. [With:] a contemporary secretarial copy of a later will, dated 7 June 1843.
OLD HICKORY'S LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT
A very detailed will which furnishes unexpected insights into the mind of Old Hickory. After retiring to his beloved home, the Hermitage, the former President faced mounting financial difficulties and suffered from failing health. He specifies in the opening paragraph that this will supercedes one drawn up in 1833, and is necessary because "My estate has become greatly involved by my responsibilities, and liabilities for the debts of my well beloved & adopted son Andrew Jackson jnr." After piously adding that he bequeathes "my body to the dust and my soul to god," he stipulates that he be buried beside his beloved wife Rachel (whose death in 1828 had devastated Jackson). Jackson makes careful provision for the repayment of all his outstanding debt and to Andrew Jackson Jr., Jackson leaves the Hermitage and everything associated with its agricultural operation, including a majority of his slaves.
Jackson's will vividly portrays his deeply-held convictions. To his adopted son, Andrew Jackson Donelson, Jackson leaves "the elegant sword" presented to him by the State of Tennessee on the condition that "he fail not to use it, when necessary, in support of our glorious union and the constitutional rights of our beloved country." Referring to his financial difficulties, he notes that he can leave nothing else due to "the great change in my worldly matters." In similar fashion, Jackson bequeathes a presentation sword he received from the Rifle Company of New Orleans to his Grand-nephew, Andrew Jackson Coffee, on the condition that "he wield it in defence of our beloved country against all invading foes, or...traitors, who may arise to destroy our glorious union, and the republican system, secured to us by the blood of our revolutionary fathers and perpetued to us by the federal constitution, the greatest wisdom ever displayed by man." Yet another a presentation sword, this one given to him by the City of Philadelphia, he leaves to grandson Andrew Jackson, enjoining him to use it to protect the nation, "remembering always the motto, 'draw me not without occasion, nor sheath me without honor.'"
Among Jackson's most treasured possessions were the matched set of elegant saddle pistols presented to George Washington by the Marquis de Lafayette and given to Jackson in 1824 by William Robinson. Here, Jackson bequeathes the pistols to Lafayette's son, George Washington Lafayette "as a memento of the illustrious personages thro whose hands they have passed--his father, and the father of his country." (The Lafayette-Washington-Jackson pair of saddle pistols were recently sold at Christie's, 18 January 2001, setting a record for a firearm at $1,800,000.) Jackson sadly records that another precious memento of Washington, his Revolutionary War spyglass given to him by "Ms. Custis" (Nellie Parke Custis?), had been lost in a fire at the Hermitage.
At the time of his death, the inventory of the Jackson's estate recorded that he owned 110 slaves at the Heritage farm and an additional 51 on his Mississippi plantation (see Remini, Andrew Jackson and the Course of American Democracy: 1833-1845, pp.60-602). Here, certain slaves are singled out to be left to particular legatees: To grandson Andrew, Jackson leaves "a negro boy named Ned, son of blacksmith Aaron and Hannah his wife"; to his grandson Samuel, Jackson gives "one negro boy," and to his daughter-in-law, Sarah, "House Hanna, and her two daughters...Charlotte and Mary" as "a memento of my great regard for her great kindness to me on all occasions, and particularly when I have been sick."
In June of 1843, Jackson altered his will once again. At the bottom of the 1842 will, he has written a note to this effect: "The within will revoked & made void by my last will & testament made this 7th day of June 1843." The copy of that will reveals minor changes, while the substance remained the same.
Provenance: Philip D. Sang (sale, Sotheby's 26 April 1978, lot 137).