Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Recycling to a Fault

Photo: Ileana Johnson
Roy, an elderly gentleman in his 80s, is a Democrat from a bygone era, when being an American was a source of pride. He grew up very poor and never forgot the value of a penny. He became the proverbial penny-pincher.

He cracked me up when he told me he cut the top of his socks off because they constricted the circulation around his ankles, a sensitive area stemming from removal of veins in the area. Why spend money on a new pair of short socks when an old cut-off one could do just fine?

On our last visit, he served us birthday cake to honor Tim and me. The plates were elegant square shimmery white with matching forks. Knowing that he would never buy such expensive plastic, I wondered where they came from.

After inquiries, I found out that they were the plates from his granddaughter's wedding the previous year which he had carefully carried home, reused and washed numerous times.

After I ate my slice of cake, I dropped the dirty plate in the trash can in the kitchen. When we were all finished, Ray retrieved my plate and washed it again, along with the rest of the trice-used plates and cutlery.

It is amazing that he has never forgotten what it was like to grow up part of the time in foster care during a time in America when we had not yet become a throw-away society.

I sympathized with him - mom and I used to wash plastic cutlery and even Styrofoam containers from McDonald's and re-used them. I felt that it was such a waste of materials.

Nobody recycled in the late 1970s because it was too expensive to do, I was told, it was cheaper to bury the trash in the city landfill. Our hometown’s junk yard tried recycling aluminum cans and used payment as an incentive.

I drove one day through the mounds of crashed old cars and twisted rusted metal to turn in my three bags of empty soda cans. Loose nails and pieces of jagged metal littered the yard everywhere. I left with $14 and a badly punctured Michelin tire that cost me a bundle to replace. But I had recycled.

While I could not forgive Roy his vote for Obama twice and for Hillary, I respected his penny-pinching and appreciation for reusing, repairing, not replacing, and recycling. A skilled handyman who could repair most things, his garage was filled wall to wall with tools and pieces of junk that might come in handy to fix something for his family or the neighbors.

P.S. Years ago, when my first husband and I got married, we visited an older lady in the country and she took us to a shed she wanted cleaned out for the spring. We found a beautiful china hutch that was discarded on one side, with beautiful carvings. The wood was discolored by time but otherwise undamaged. We asked if she was willing to part with it and she sold it to us for $25. My husband proceeded to refinish it with love as a weekend project. His best friend from high school refinished antique furniture as a hobby and taught him how to do it. When he was done, the cabinet was beautiful! I still have it to this day in my dining room. I would never part with it. They don't make such beautiful things out of wood anymore. And it still has the key and the original glass. I keep my decades old china and crystal from Romania in it and the wine glasses his grandmother received as a wedding gift in the 1920s. She has long since passed away but I remember the joy when we received the never-opened box of china and crystal that she had not unpacked since her wedding - the tissue paper was disintegrating as dust when I opened the box. She gave it to us in 1978 after our wedding. 

Friday, April 26, 2019

What Do Bernie’s Millennials Know About Socialism?

A former communist prison under dictator Ceausescu
Photo: Ileana Johnson 2015
Recently Bernie Sanders was asked the following question during a townhall meeting in Manchester, New Hampshire, by a Harvard student, Samantha Frankel-Popell, whose father had fled the former Soviet Union.

“My father’s family left Soviet Russia in 1979 fleeing from some of the very same socialist policies that you seem eager to implement in this country.” She followed up with the question, “How do you rectify your notion of Democratic socialism with the failures of socialism in nearly every country that has tried it?”

Bernie replied, "Thank you for asking that question,” before continuing with a question himself. “Is it your assumption that I supported or believe in authoritarian communism that existed in the Soviet Union? I don’t. I never have, and I opposed it. I believe in a vigorous democracy." https://www.foxnews.com/politics/bernie-sanders-socialism-harvard-student

He cleverly tried to skirt her question by denying that he promotes soviet style socialism. Yet a video exists of him praising Soviet socialism/communism and its achievements: the public transportation system, the clean and artsy metro stations with crystal chandeliers, cheap tickets to museums and concerts, and the infamous “cultural palaces” of the young pioneers, with total indoctrination by the communist party apparatchiks. https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=youtube+video+bernie+sanders+praising+soviet+accomplishments&view=detail&mid=50A4BDC800730CFFF75F50A4BDC800730CFFF75F&FORM=VIRE

I rode the public transportation system a younger Bernie Sanders is praising. The buses were old, rickety, with holes in the floorboard, allowing for choking fumes to come in. The trams, metro trains, trolleybuses, and rusty railroad trains were smelly and filled-to-capacity.  Riders were squashed like sardines.

Few could afford to purchase or own cars. It wasn’t just coming up with the money to buy an overpriced domestic vehicle and being placed on the long waiting list for years. It also depended on how well you were scored or regarded by the local Communist Party and the local Economic Police which made sure that nobody owned anything in excess of what they needed in order to be more easily controlled.

Schools gave grades for students’ behavior each semester and parents were chastised publicly in front of other parents if their children behaved in any un-socialist/un-communist way that strayed from the communist party’s collectivist rules of brainwashing.

No matter how you try to repackage socialism, Bernie, or how the liberals controlling the web twist the definition of socialism in order to confuse the useful idiots, in Marxist theory socialism is a transition state between the overthrow of capitalism and the implementation of communism. Democrat socialism is the P.C. definition of a system that robs people of initiative, independence, their worth, their wealth, and their creativity.

Using Nordic countries as examples of successful models of socialism is dishonest if not a flat-out lie. The means of production are not owned by the government in these countries, as is the case under socialism, they are owned by private companies. The government is socialistic in nature as it hands out generous welfare to the masses, welfare derived from heavy taxation of private companies and citizens.

Under socialism (see Cuba, North Korea, and Venezuela), the proletariat masses have no choice but to accept the crumbs that trickle down from the benevolent government ruled with an iron fist by the Central Committee of the Communist Party.

Salaries are very small and everything must be subsidized by the government which in turn rations everything, food, toilet paper, electricity, water, and everything else Millennials take for granted in this country, not realizing that their abundant lifestyle is provided by the laws of supply and demand of free market capitalism.

I was a child under socialism and a young pioneer.  Membership was not voluntary; we were forced to be pioneers as part of our school curriculum. We attended plays, puppet shows, and movies that glorified the dear leader and his wife or taught us how to be good little socialists/communists. The cultural palaces for art, music, and theater, were organized places to keep young pioneers on the right track to communism.

The cost of entertainment was free or minimal, as Bernie Sanders said, $1.50. But $1.50 may have been cheap to the mind of an American like Bernie Sanders, but it was a deceptive cost since socialist/communist salaries determined by the government ran on the average $50 per month depending on the occupation. Miners, for example, were paid a little more as their jobs were very dangerous.

Bernie, I can tell you with 100 percent certainty that life under socialism and communism was miserable. There is a good reason why there are so many of us who fled socialism/communism at great risk to our lives, leaving everything dear behind, family and wealth, to escape to the “free” west, specifically to the United States. Nobody in his right mind runs away from a good situation.

People are not free under socialism, Bernie. The government keeps the population imprisoned within its borders with barbed wire and soldiers armed to the teeth and ordered to shoot anyone who tries to escape across the border.

Socialists and communists were not very good environmental conservationists. Towns and nearby rivers were so heavily polluted that it only took a small spark to set a river on fire. The soot fell thick on everything and the laundry drying on the line turned from white to grey in mere hours.

The young pioneer clubs, Bernie, were indoctrination mills that raised compliant citizens and future communists. Schools and universities were places of heavy indoctrination and grooming for conformity. Universities were free but places were limited, and the progeny of the higher placed communist elites were admitted first.

Everyone was paid equally, there was no incentive to excel, and to be the best. There was no middle class at all, only the working class and the communist elites. Theater, puppetry shows, television, and movies were all subsidized by the government and had to meet their standards and criteria for communist indoctrination.

Soviet metro was and still is beautiful, with works of art but was built at the expense of cheap labor and exploitation of the proletariat who was told that they owned everything collectively. Nobody could demand a piece of this ownership ever, lest they be arrested for bourgeois demands and democracy having gone to their heads.

According to PraegerU, Bernie Sanders the socialist won more votes from Millennials during the presidential primary than Donald Trump and Hillary combined.

“The majority of Millennials (those born between 1981 and 1996) identify as socialist.

Nearly 70% of Millennials support a government-funded, “Medicare-for-all” healthcare system. Our kids and grandkids aren’t learning that America is a land of opportunity, a defender of freedom around the world, and a source of pride. Instead, they’re being taught that America is a land built on racism and imperialist oppression.” And more than 50% of Millennials also support the radical “Green New Deal,” which is neither new, nor green, and not a deal for any free society with a thriving economy, it is global communism.

Bernie Marcus, the co-founder of Home Depot, spoke against socialism and explained how the free market system has lifted so many people out of poverty.

He said, “Young people especially have been indoctrinated into believing that free enterprise is immoral because it enriches the greedy and depresses the poor. Even the word ‘capitalism’ is not politically correct to use, but the reality is that the free market system has created the biggest middle class population in the world and, while some may say socialism is well-intentioned, the fact is it robs people of their independence, their dignity, and their finances leading to government dependence, suppression of ideas, and lower standards of living for those under its thumb.https://therightscoop.com/it-pains-me-to-see-people-in-this-country-glorifying-socialism-co-founder-of-home-depot-speaks-out-against-socialism/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TheRightScoop+%28The+Right+Scoop%29

And, should you still heed Bernie Sanders’ praise of socialism and decide to vote for his manufactured Democrat Socialism, be prepared to eat “zebras and peacocks” from the zoo because socialist central planning has not worked very well in all the countries in which it has been tried, most recently in Venezuela.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Notre Dame vs. European Secularism

Photo: Ileana, Christmas 2002
Notre-Dame spire
For centuries the European faithful have sacrificed to build exquisite monuments to their faith that subsequent generations would cherish as much as they did. It is a legacy that unfortunately secular Europe has been busy extinguishing for decades. The transformation has been visible to any visitor who cared to observe the change.

Secular Europeans today value venerable old churches as cash cows, to the extent that they provide millions of visitors annually who spend a lot of tourist money to marvel at and admire their remarkable history, art and architecture, and often climb (for a fee) to the rooftop for a breathtaking view of the surrounding city.  

According to the CIA World Factbook, the population of France in 2014 was approximately 66.3 million. France is mainly Catholic Christian, with 63-66% Christians, 23-28% secular people, and 7-9% Muslims. Some areas of Paris like St. Dennis are 40% populated by African Muslims.

There are pockets left of the fervent faithful who are still attending church on a regular basis while the rest may attend Easter services, Christmas, weddings, baptisms, and burials.

While strolling in during service, I often noticed with regret the small crowd of worshippers and their advanced age. The young Europeans seemed to be missing among the parishioners. They were found outside, enjoying their secular existence devoid of God.

Following an alleged accidental fire, the beautiful Notre Dame Cathedral’s spire has burned completely to ashes. The stone base, the altar crucifix, the interior statuary and artwork, and some of the famous rose stained-glass windows fortunately remained intact.

President Macron and the secular French immediately proclaimed that the spire will be rebuilt better and grander, from modern materials and with a design that would be even more beautiful - a multi-faith monument that reflects France of today. Who will get to decide what alterations improve on the original? The atheists and the non-Christians?

Almost one billion dollars has been donated so far for the rebuilding project that was estimated unrealistically by the former banker now President Macron to be five years. Those of us who appreciate old churches as a place of worship, the soul of western civilization and of its Christian people, know that beautiful, masterful, and enduring construction takes a lifetime to achieve. I am not sure that the master craftsmen and stonemasons of yesteryear still exist today.

Notre Dame cathedral itself did not collapse because medieval builders knew that rib vaulting and flying buttresses were the best ways to support the massive structure to withstand the passage of time. They built for endurance, almost nine centuries of existence.

John Harwood, an architectural historian from Toronto, said, “Any rebuilding should be a reflection not of an old France, or the France that never was – a non-secular, white European France – but a reflection of the France of today, a France that is currently in the making.” He sees Notre Dame as a “reflection of the modern zeitgeist;” cathedrals are “political monuments.”

Rev. Ben Johnson disagrees vehemently – “Christians built cathedrals as earthly embassies of the kingdom of Heaven, … created as an expression of faith. Their beauty and wonder provide a foretaste of the splendor and order of eternity.” He argues that, if Notre Dame reflected who the French are today, it would be a parking lot or a concrete government building because atheism “erects no cathedrals.” What are the European values, one wonders, suicidal tolerance and failed multiculturalism?  https://www.intellectualtakeout.org/article/notre-dame-may-be-rebuilt-secular-monument

Architecture, art, sculpture, poetry, and literature were inspired by Christian faith and created by the West. Notre Dame was and is the symbol of Christian faith and of our collective western civilization, not just of Catholicism. Rev. Johnson argues that “The belfries of all Christendom echo its message of hope, redemption, and peace. Only those ablaze with the fiery flame of divine love can rebuild Notre Dame, or Europe, from the debris.”

The cathedral reconstruction should never be about “what modern French people want” even though it is in the center of Paris. Notre Dame, like all other cathedrals in Europe, is a monument to Christianity and part of the history of Western Civilization and must be restored as it was.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Notre Dame, A Symbol of our Collective Western Civilization

My husband and I visited Paris for ten days around Christmas and New Year seventeen years ago. It was blustery and drizzling the whole time and we eventually got used to the bone-chilling cold. It did not stop our adventurous streak at all and we took the metro everywhere.

I had visited Paris twice before but only for a couple of days each time with my youngest daughter - the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, the Notre Dame cathedral, and Versailles.

With my daughter, March 2001

Photo: Ileana Johnson, Christmas 2002
Notre Dame spire

This time we had more time and we went inside Notre Dame and lit up a candle for my dad. We prayed and walked around in amazement at the beautiful stained glass windows. The paintings, the floor mosaics, and the solid columns gave us a feeling of eternity as if this church has been there forever, almost nine centuries of civilization.

Photo: Ileana, Xmas 2002

We tried to imagine how many millions have stepped on those floors before us in the last nine centuries and how many prayers have been lifted to Heaven and to God.

How many sacrifices poor and rich Christians alike have made to contribute financially through tithes and donations to the construction of so much beauty that generations have admired and enjoyed in silent prayer and people from around the world have visited?

There was a meager nativity scene to one side and I remember commenting that it was rather simple compared to the awe-inspiring beauty sorrounding us. But then there was not much indication around the secular Paris that Christmas was an important holiday to the Parisians. They had partied heavily on New Year's, trashing the famous steps of the Basilica in Montmartre.

Nanook of the North admiring a gorgyle
Photo: My husband David, Christmas 2002

We then stayed in line in blistering rainy winter wind for almost an hour in order to climb to the top to see the famous Notre Dame gargoyles up close and to admire a breathtaking view of Paris.

I was dressed like Nanook of the North and the frigid cold still reached to my bones but it was worth every icycle hanging from my frozen face - I felt the winds of history touching my being.

I never believed that in my lifetime this 860 year-old jewel of Christian art and prayer, a symbol of our collective western civilization will be partially turned to ashes, a victim of “accidental” fire.

Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage

Photo: Wikipedia
America’s seventh president, Andrew Jackson, embodied an “unruly, ambitious, and contentious” leadership style, making him an unconventional and controversial people’s president, not unlike the current President Donald Trump.

“He was loved, loathed, revered, reviled, but never ignored.” He was a giant in his own right, and a physically tall man (6 ft 1), weighing 144 lbs., with a size seven shoes that nobody could fill. His courage was legendary, having joined the Revolutionary battlefield at the age of 13, never shying away from brawls and duels.

His troops admired him for his courage and iron will and thus nicknamed him Old Hickory. Without formal training as a soldier, Jackson was elected general because people liked his strength, charm, and charisma, he was not a “Sunday Soldier.” He never asked tasks of his soldiers that he himself was not willing to do.

When Jackson called for enlistments in the coming war of 1812, he famously said, “… we are the born sons of America; the citizens of the only republic now existing in the world; and the only people on earth who possess rights, liberties, and property which they dare call their own.” (March 12, 1812)

His bold personality seldom considered consequences and he marched forth. He campaigned and appealed to the common man ideals thus transforming American politics.

Most renowned for the Battle of New Orleans, Jackson designed a victory that stunned the British. He was instrumental in the westward expansion at the cost of Indian removal from their lands.

Jackson was a firm Unionist, but his grandsons joined the Confederate Army during the Civil War. When he defeated the Creek Indians in 1814, the U.S. Army rewarded him with a commission as a Major General in the regular army.

Photo: Ileana Johnson, April 2019

Not far from the airport in Nashville, Tennessee, a “four-hour carriage ride from downtown Nashville” of long ago, is the former plantation and mansion called Hermitage as well as the Jacksons original log home in which they lived during the frontier era of America. Two natural springs still provide water today.

Photo: Ileana Johnson, April 2019

Archeologists had found evidence at the Hermitage that Indian cultures thrived here – projectile chiseled rock points were dug from different parts of the property. Two tornadoes and lots of historical changes have altered the Hermitage landscape over time. As the fortunes of the Jacksons declined after the Civil War and slavery ended, a public museum and a hospital for invalid Confederate veterans were created at the farm after 1889. (Museum Archives)

Back side of the mansion
Photo: Ileana Johnson, April 2019

An archived deed shows that Jackson sold his riverfront home, Hunter’s Hill for $10,000 and used the money to buy the neighboring farm and to pay off debts. He invested in 1805 with other business partners into a general store, a tavern, a boatyard, and a horse breeding and racing operation at nearby Clover Bottom. The store sold goods from Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New Orleans such as cloth, buttons, blankets, nails, hoes, and comb cases. After two years of operation, the venture proved unprofitable, so he concentrated his efforts in agricultural production.

Cows at the Hermitage
Photo: Ileana Johnson 2019

The original 425-acre frontier farm which he bought in 1804 from Nathaniel Hays for $3,400 eventually developed into a 1,000-acre cotton plantation where slaves picked cotton, 200-300 lbs. per day each until their hands were bleeding from the rough plant and then ginned it into 500-pound bales. At first, the seeds inside the cotton bowl had to be picked painstakingly by hand as well. Eli Whitney invented the first mechanical cotton gin in 1793 which made the lives of those picking cotton somewhat easier.

Andrew and Rachel Jackson's tomb at the Hermitage
Photo: Ileana Johnson 2019

Andrew Jackson’s love for Rachel Donelson and their subsequent marriage in 1791 was marred by a lifelong scandal as it happened before Rachel’s marriage to her first husband had legally ended. Jackson remarried her in 1794. They are still together in death, buried in the “Greek-inspired garden tomb Andrew built for Rachel in 1831, where he joined her in 1845.” He was so grief-stricken by her sudden death that he refused to believe she was dead and had surgeons bleed her – there is a white nightcap stained post-mortem with her blood.

Jackson was a war hero and quite popular with “farmers, mechanics, and laborers.” They supported his presidency for two terms, upsetting the status quo and the elite Washington establishment. They derided him as having brought “muddy boots and common voices” into the White House.

Jackson was born on March 15, 1767, the same year and month his father died. Although very young, he participated in the Battle of Hanging Rock in 1780. A year later, both he and his brother Robert were prisoners of war and contracted small pox; unfortunately, his brother died. His mother Elizabeth died a year later in the cholera epidemic and Jackson was orphaned at the age of 14.

Jackson’s career included delegate to the Tennessee Constitutional Convention (1796), Tennessee’s first U.S. Representative (1796), U.S. Senate First Term (1797-1798), Judge of Tennessee’s Superior Court (1798-1804), commander of the Tennessee Militia with the rank of Colonel (1801), Major General of the Tennessee Militia (1802).

Andrew Jackson attained the impossible – he fought successfully against the world’s greatest power at the time in order to win New Orleans, the Jewel of the American West and the gateway to control the Mississippi River. New Orleans was a major trade port which connected America to the Gulf of Mexico. The British could potentially bring troops from Canada and split the nation in two parts.

Jackson’s earthworks in New Orleans, “built along a four-foot ditch stretching from swamp to riverside” for the purpose of installing cannon, were attacked at dawn on January 8, 1815. The British troops, 8,392 strong and well trained were overwhelmed by American cannon and sharpshooters with rifles and muskets. Their casualties mounted quickly, 291 killed, 1,262 wounded, and 484 missing. The American troops (5,359) suffered 13 killed, 39 wounded, and 19 missing.

Jackson’s army was a “ragtag of soldiers, sailors, militia, volunteers, Indians, and free blacks.” He had a short period of time to train these Americans to fight in battle as a regimented group.

His victory in New Orleans and the prior Treaty of Ghent (Belgium) that ended the war of 1812 set off a wave of nationalistic pride, celebrations, and parades. Jackson became a national hero, so popular that it carried him all the way to the White House. The wounded pride of America by the burning of Washington, the nation’s dignity, the uncertainty of its existence for three years, had been finally restored by Jackson’s victory.

Composers wrote music to celebrate his unexpected victory and his face adorned coins, medals, plates, pitchers, silk ribbons, handkerchiefs, posters, papers, and other memorabilia. He was the rock star of his day.

His success assured his reputation as an aggressive fighter which allegedly intimidated Indian tribes into ceding millions of acres of land, “setting the stage for the cotton boom in the American South.”  Jackson used bribery and force and pressured Spain to contract their empire.  By 1821 when Jackson resigned his commission, “the United States – for the first time – stretched from Florida to the Pacific Northwest.” (Museum Archives)

View of the working fields and Uncle Alfred's cabin from Jackson's window
Photo: Ileana Johnson, April 2019

The Hermitage is a National Historic Landmark. In addition to the mansion, the slave quarters, the President’s Tomb, the Jackson Family Cemetery, the First Hermitage, the Hermitage Church, and the beautiful acre garden, the mansion grounds and its 1.5-mile nature trail tell the story of the once working plantation.
Back porch at Hermitage
Photo: Ileana, April 2019

The First Hermitage was a log two-story farmhouse in which Rachel and Andrew Jackson lived from 1804-1821. After they built the brick mansion, the log house was converted into a one-story house for the slaves. According to museum curators, 90% of the furnishing in the mansion are original.

The Ladies’ Hermitage Association planted a double line of trees in 1915 as an entryway for visitors coming in cars. Each tree came from a battlefield where Jackson fought - sugar maple, willow oak, black cherry, sweet gum, and cedar. It was called the War Road.

Rachel's English garden
Photo: Ileana, April 2019

Rachel’s beautiful garden design has four squares with center flower beds. This style is the English tradition that dates to the middle ages.

Hermitage Cemetery
Photo: Ileana, April 2019

President Jackson and his beloved Rachel are buried in the Greek revival tomb located in the right-hand corner of the garden. His tombstone reads simply, General Andrew Jackson. Jackson believed that the evil gossip about the circumstances of their marriage, and attacks from his enemies during his bid for the White House, caused Rachel’s stress and eventual death at the age of 61 on December 22, 1828. Witnesses said that he visited her tomb daily after his presidency ended. He was laid to rest next to her on June 8, 1845.

Uncle Alfred's headstone
Photo: Ileana, April 2019

To the right of the President’s tomb, a simple headstone reads “Uncle Alfred.” Alfred Jackson was a former Hermitage enslaved worker who had requested that the Ladies’ Hermitage Association bury him next to Jackson’s tomb. He died in 1901 at the age of 98.

Alfred's slave cabin at Hermitage
Photo: Ileana, April 2019

His cabin still stands as it was when he worked as a caretaker and guide for visitors. He had witnessed the rise and fall of the plantation and its turn into a shrine to Andrew Jackson. He was born at the Hermitage and worked as a wagoner in charge of horses and vehicles. After the Civil War, he rented 24 acres from the Jackson family and raised cotton and made butter for sale. He had moved into the log dwelling that became to be known as Alfred’s cabin. Alfred was well known and was often asked to pose for pictures with visitors.

Hermitage Smokehouse
Photo: Ileana, April 2019

The plantation was successful thanks to the hard sun-up to sun-down labor of more than 150 enslaved black men, women, and children. They tended the rotating crops, took care of animals, picked cotton, worked the fields, the smoke house, and everything else that was needed to run the farm and to care for the mansion’s occupants.

Crops of wheat, millet, oats, sorghum, and hemp provided supplies for the plantation. Cotton fields were planted for the Jackson family profit.

Hermitage Dining Room
Photo: Ileana, April 2019

Three hundred acres of corn and pork provided diet staples for everyone at the Hermitage. Slaves also raised the Jackson family’s kitchen garden with varied vegetables and the fruit orchards. Jackson had encouraged slaves to cultivate their own gardens as well.  

Jackson built a cotton gin and press and made money by ginning his neighbors’ cotton for a fee. A receipt survives that shows cotton received at his gin and press from one John Donelson, Rachel’s brother.

Based on archive lists, it is known that the enslaved lived in family groups, some of three generations. Duties ranged from tending to the smokehouse, the icehouse, butchered animals, plucked chicken, making soap and candles, doing laundry outdoors and cooking. Others cared for he distillery, the carriage house, the stables, the horse training, the cotton gin, the blacksmith shop, the carpenter’s shop, the corncribs, the weaving shop, the bathhouse, the animal pens, the paddocks, and the wood piles.

Alfred posing with visitors as a free man
Photo: Museum archives

Even though Jackson treated his black slaves paternally and called them his “black family,” when Nashville was captured by Union forces in the Civil War, most of Jackson’s “black family” fled behind Union lines to freedom, preferring an uncertain future over perpetual bondage.

Slaves were property and archival documents show that Jackson had sold Maria Baker and her family in order to settle Andrew Jackson Jr.’s debts.

On November 7, 1829, Jackson wrote to Graves W. Steele, “But I say that I have concluded to retain you another year, it is on the express conditions that you treat my negroes with humanity, & attention when sick; & not work them too hard, when well – that you feed & clothe them well, and that you carefully attend to my stock of all kinds, & particularly to my mares & colts …”

The Nashville cemetery houses the tomb of Charles Dickinson. Following a disagreement with Jackson and a subsequent duel thought petty by many locals, Dickinson, a better marksman by all accounts, drew first and wounded Jackson in the chest but Jackson fatally shot Dickinson.  His death established Jackson’s reputation as a violent man which was used amply by his opponents during his presidential run. The incident was printed often on broadsheets.

Love him or hate him, our seventh president, Andrew Jackson, left a significant mark on the history of our country.

Sources: Museum Archives in Nashville, TN