Rachel Donelson Research Paper

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Rachel Donelson was born in 1767 in Pittsylvania County which was on the western frontier of Virginia. She was the eighth of eleven children born to the Tennessee pioneers, John and Rachel Donelson. When Rachel was 12 years old, her father led her family, along with a large group of others, on a flotilla down the Cumberland River for nearly 1,000 miles in what today is middle Tennessee. They arrived in April 1780 to become some of the first white settlers of Nashville. Due to the sustained threat of attack by Native Americans on the Cumberland, the Donelsons soon moved north to Harrodsburg, Kentucky. It was there in Harrodsburg that Rachel married Lewis Robards at the age of eighteen. By all accounts, it was a most unhappy marriage. By this time, Rachel’s father had died and her mother had returned to Nashville. After separating several…show more content…
It was made even more complicated by the distances involved and the changing governmental authorities. (For example, during the process of Rachel and Robards divorce Kentucky became a state instead of a territory of Virginia and North Carolina turned over management of the territory including Tennessee to the Federal Government). Thus, the unusual circumstances of the Jackson marriage were not greatly discussed in Nashville society. However, during the mudslinging in the presidential campaign of 1828, Rachel’s virtue became a subject of great discussion and political spin by the supporters of Jackson’s opponent, John Quincy Adams. Although Jackson was orphaned as a teenager and fathered no children of his own he did have a family. His marriage to Rachel Donelson brought him into her large family of brothers, sisters, in-laws, nieces and nephews. Several of these children lived at The Hermitage at some point in their lives. In 1808, Jackson and Rachel even adopted one nephew, the son of Rachel’s brother Severn, naming him Andrew Jackson,

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