JACKSON, Andrew. Autograph letter signed ("Andrew Jackson") as President-elect, to Reverend Finis Ewing (1773-1841), the Hermitage, [Nashville, Tenn.], 17 November 1828. 2 pages, folio, integral address leaf, minor repairs, otherwise fine.
PRESIDENT-ELECT JACKSON GLORIES IN HIS ELECTION VICTORY AND DEPLORES ATTACKS ON HIS WIFE RACHEL
Immediately after his victory in the grueling and often vicious presidential campaign of 1828, Jackson celebrates his triumph and rails against those who had traduced the character of his wife, Rachel. "... That I should be sustained by such a large proportion of my fellow citizens in the State of Missouri & elsewhere, under all the abuse, torrents of slander & detraction, forgery and perjury, circulated over the whole Union, by the thousand hired minions, panders, & lackeys of a corrupt coalition to destroy me, is one of the most gratifying circumstances of my life." Jackson proudly proclaims that "truth is mighty & will always prevail...on this, I have always relied, and was my support throughout the late unprecedented assaults upon me & Mrs. J.; truth will always be a shield to the upright."
Jackson claims that "If I had of my own accord declared myself a candidate for office, and been found urging my claims, & pressing them upon the people, the base attempts to destroy my hard earned reputation would not have so much surprised me, but I had retired from public life to my farm, where it was my only ambition to remain & nurse in the shades of domestic care, a broken constitution, worn out in the service of my country." Nevertheless, he contends, he was the popular choice, and his victory was a victory for the Republic: "From this retirement the voice of the people brought my name before the nation without my agency, which made the late canvass a struggle between the virtue of the people, & the corrupting influence of executive patronage, wielded in every way it could be, to corrupt the morals of the country and destroy me. I thank god, the virtue of the people has withstood the temptation & has triumphed. This exercise of their free & independent suffrages, if it extends over the whole union, will be a sure pledge that the republic is safe, and that the people of these United States are competant [sic] to govern themselves, without the aid of designing demagogues to lead them."
Recalling the unrelenting attacks upon his wife, Jackson thanks Ewing for support: "amidst the divisions the late political excitement produced, it has been a great consolation to Mrs. J. & myself that our old acquaintances remained faithful to us...Mrs. J. often heard from your amiable lady & Mrs. George McLain and was gratified on hearing, that they were on all occasions the defender of her fame & reputation when ever assailed. For this act of justice, they both possess our gratitude."
After failing to gain the White House in the controversial election of 1824, due to what he called a "corrupt bargain" between Clay and Adams (see lot 55), Jackson redoubled his efforts in 1828 to ensure his election. Backed by an effective national Democratic Party created by Martin Van Buren, Jackson supporters waged the first modern political campaign, organizing local and regional rallies, parades, speeches and demonstrations. The campaign also featured harsh personal attacks upon the candidates themselves. Adams was labeled an elitist intellectual with aristocratic pretensions, morally unfit for high office. Adams's supporters took up a scurrilous charge that Jackson and Rachel had wed and cohabited before her divorce from her first husband had been finalized: "Branding the General an adulterer and a bigamist, one prolific Adams pamphleteer sneered that 'those indifferent to the chracter of the President's wife and those who conceive that a fallen female may be restored by subsequent good conduct, may conscientiously give General Jackson their support'" (Watson, p. 92). Jackson and his wife were mortified by these attacks, but could do little to stop them.
In early December, not long after this letter, Rachel learned to her anguish and shame of the widespread public questions regarding her virtue. She fell ill, declined rapidly an died on December 22nd. Jackson, devastated by her death, placed the blame squarely at the feet of the "hired minions, panders, and lackeys" he here excoriates.