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ABOUT THE WHITE HOUSE * FIRST LADIES



OUR FIRST LADIES:
18th Century
about_first_ladies_marthawashington Martha Washington
about_first_ladies_abigailadams Abigail Adams

19th Century
about_first_ladies_marthajefferson Martha Jefferson
about_first_ladies_dolleymadison Dolley Madison
about_first_ladies_elizabethmonroe Elizabeth Monroe
about_first_ladies_louisaadams Louisa Adams
about_first_ladies_racheljackson Rachel Jackson
about_first_ladies_hannahvanburen Hannah Van Buren
about_first_ladies_annaharrison Anna Harrison
about_first_ladies_letitiatyler Letitia Tyler
about_first_ladies_juliatyler Julia Tyler
about_first_ladies_sarahpolk Sarah Polk
about_first_ladies_margarettaylor Margaret Taylor
about_first_ladies_abigailfillmore Abigail Fillmore
about_first_ladies_janepierce Jane Pierce
about_first_ladies_harrietlane Harriet Lane
about_first_ladies_marylincoln Mary Lincoln
about_first_ladies_elizajohnson Eliza Johnson
about_first_ladies_juliagrant Julia Grant
about_first_ladies_lucyhayes Lucy Hayes
about_first_ladies_lucretiagarfield Lucretia Garfield
about_first_ladies_ellenarthur Ellen Arthur
about_first_ladies_francescleveland Frances Cleveland
about_first_ladies_carolineharrison Caroline Harrison
about_first_ladies_francescleveland Frances Cleveland
about_first_ladies_idamckinley Ida McKinley


20th Century
about_first_ladies_edithroosevelt Edith Roosevelt
about_first_ladies_helentaft Helen Taft
about_first_ladies_ellenwilson Ellen Wilson
about_first_ladies_edithwilson Edith Wilson
about_first_ladies_florenceharding Florence Harding
about_first_ladies_gracecoolidge Grace Coolidge
about_first_ladies_louhoover Lou Hoover
about_first_ladies_eleanorroosevelt Eleanor Roosevelt
about_first_ladies_besstruman Elizabeth Truman
about_first_ladies_mamieeisenhower Mamie Eisenhower
about_first_ladies_jacquelinekennedy Jacqueline Kennedy
about_first_ladies_ladybirdjohnson Claudia Johnson
about_first_ladies_patnixon Patricia Nixon
about_first_ladies_bettyford Elizabeth Ford
about_first_ladies_rosalynncarter Rosalynn Carter
about_first_ladies_nancyreagan Nancy Reagan
about_first_ladies_barbarabush Barbara Bush
about_first_ladies_hillaryclinton Hillary Clinton

21st Century
about_first_ladies_laurabush Laura Bush
administration_michelle_obama Michelle Obama



RACHEL DONELSON JACKSON
b.1767 -- d.1828

Wearing the white dress she had purchased for her husband's inaugural ceremonies in March 1829, Rachel Donelson Jackson was buried in the garden at The Hermitage, her home near Nashville, Tennessee, on Christmas Eve in 1828. Lines from her epitaph--"A being so gentle and so virtuous slander might wound, but could not dishonor"--reflected his bitterness at campaign slurs that seemed to precipitate her death.

Rachel Donelson was a child of the frontier. Born in Virginia, she journeyed to the Tennessee wilderness with her parents when only 12. At 17, while living in Kentucky, she married Lewis Robards, of a prominent Mercer County family. His unreasoning jealousy made it impossible for her to live with him; in 1790 they separated, and she heard that he was filing a petition for divorce.

Andrew Jackson married her in 1791; and after two happy years they learned to their dismay that Robards had not obtained a divorce, only permission to file for one. Now he brought suit on grounds of adultery. After the divorce was granted, the Jacksons quietly remarried in 1794. They had made an honest mistake, as friends well understood, but whispers of adultery and bigamy followed Rachel as Jackson's career advanced in both politics and war. He was quick to take offense at, and ready to avenge, any slight to her.

Scandal aside, Rachel's unpretentious kindness won the respect of all who knew her--including innumerable visitors who found a comfortable welcome at The Hermitage. Although the Jacksons never had children of their own, they gladly opened their home to the children of Rachel's many relatives. In 1809 they adopted a nephew and named him Andrew Jackson, Jr. They also reared other nephews; one, Andrew Jackson Donelson, eventually married his cousin Emily, one of Rachel's favorite nieces.

When Jackson was elected President, he planned to have young Donelson for private secretary, with Emily as company for Rachel. After losing his beloved wife he asked Emily to serve as his hostess.

Though only 21 when she entered the White House, she skillfully cared for her uncle, her husband, four children (three born at the mansion), many visiting relatives, and official guests. Praised by contemporaries for her wonderful tact, she had the courage to differ with the President on issues of principle. Frail throughout her lifetime, Emily died of tuberculosis in 1836.

During the last months of the administration, Sarah Yorke Jackson, wife of Andrew Jackson, Jr., presided at the mansion in her stead.


Click about_presidents_andrewjackson here to read the biography of President Andrew Jackson.

MD5: c30867071ec3065b4a02ddac69aedd9a
Original URL: http://whitehouse.gov/about/first_ladies/racheljackson/

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