The inheritance of the famous Irish temperament along with his fiery red hair may have contributed to the outbreak in passions of anger that Jackson was famous for. The likely cause was from the lack of a father figure who died before he was born and the losses of his mother and brother to illness during the Revolutionary War. However, one individual wrote, “No man, knew better than Andrew Jackson when to get into a passion and when not to. “2 Jackson found peace and solitude in horses and would often go the stables as a child to get away from the world.
While in Wash, Jackson became an authorized appraiser of horseflesh at the age of sixteen, his perception with horses and his skill in racing against other boys in the district caused Jackson to be noticed and selected s a courier in the American Revolution where he was captured and was a prisoner of war until his mother obtained his and his brother’s release in 1781. Jackson lived in Wash floating between family members and eventually ended up as an apprentice to a distant relative in the community; a John White who was a saddle maker.
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The man who set Jackson up there; John Crawford, knew that Andrew loved horses and knew that this apprenticeship would be the best way to keep Jackson out of trouble with the neighbors and town. Jackson thoroughly enjoyed his Job as he was able to interact daily with the animal he loved. Jackson went on to study law in Salisbury, North Carolina under Spruce McCoy and John Stokes and became a licensed attorney in September of 1787. 3 It was here in Salisbury that Jackson started gambling heavily in horse-racing.
Jackson moved out to Nashville, Tennessee after obtaining his law license and bought a plantation called Hunter’s Hill. During his time in Nashville, Jackson sold his plantation and bought the property now known as the Hermitage. Jackson built a substantial racetrack called Clover Bottom, now present day Gallatin, TN only a few miles from the Hermitage plantation. During the eighteenth and nineteenth century, horsing-racing was the sport of the country. People from the highest social class to the lowest came out to the races to watch the famous horses compete against each other.
Tennessee at this time became the center of horse-racing and thoroughbred breeding farms. The Hermitage and Belle Made plantations were the best known in Middle Tennessee. The founding fathers were ardent horse racers as well, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson especially bred horses and raced in the New England area against other gentry. Horse-racing came over to the colonies by a British officer who had a passion for the sport and commissioned a racetrack to be built on Long Island, New York in the seventeenth century.
He named the track after one of the most famous tracks in England, the Marketed course. This area of the country became the center of horse- racing for the time being. The sport over time shifted down towards Maryland and Virginia to a warmer climate for the horses. The Revolutionary War destroyed the part of the country that most supported the sport and thus after the war the sport ritually moved the more westward territories to even better climates and geography where wealthier settlers had carried on the tradition of the sport of horse- racing. By the time Jackson had settled down in his estate, horse-racing was becoming the rage. As Jackson had been a fervent supporter and lover of horses and races he at once committed himself to the sport. The first recorded race in the Nashville area of Jackson’s involvement is the race of his horse Indian Queen; he didn’t win the race but nonetheless was not discouraged. He would in that same year make the purchase of his most famous horse Trenton. The story goes that Jackson was at a race between thoroughbreds; Trenton and Greyhound at a racetrack in Nashville.
Trenton was outdated but papers snow that Jackson thought Trenton was better than now en performed. Jackson was able to buy Trenton with relatively little trouble; Triton’s owner John Verbal, had a court order imposed on him for an old debt that he failed to pay and was not allowed to leave the state until the matter was settled. Jackson saw his opportunity and offered to take on Verbal’s debt in exchange for Trenton. Trenton was taken back to the Hermitage and properly trained under close scrutiny from Andrew Jackson and, in the next race he was enter in, Trenton won handsomely; Jackson’s prophecy was fulfilled. Trenton became the pride of the Hermitage horse farm and sired many a notable thoroughbred that would go on to win fame. Trenton himself would win over $20,000 in prize money and Jackson had a stud fee of $30 in ginned cotton, which was an expensive fee for the time, but well worth it for a chance to breed with Trenton. 7 A short thereafter, Jackson also acquired Greyhound, the horse that had originally beaten Trenton. With this team, Jackson gained a reputation s one of the best horse racers and breeders in Tennessee and establishing Tennessee as the epicenter of horse-racing.
In one of the most famous races Trenton raced in, resulted with a man being shot and killed by Jackson. It started with a race between Trenton at six years old, and Playboy [or Plough], owned by Joseph Erwin at eight years old. The race was set but Playboy had sprained a leg in training and Erwin paid the forfeit fee of $800 split between himself and his son-in-law Charles Dickinson. Charles Dickinson at this time had a reputation as a socialite, a courteous gentlemen, a wealthy man, and a crack Arkansan with a pistol.
However, Jackson disliked him for an event that occurred before the race of Dickinson insulting Rachel Jackson, Andrews wife, and calling her names hinting to the divorce between her and her former husband James Arroba. After the forfeit was announced the payment was handled to satisfaction between Jackson and Erwin, but Dickinson and his friend Thomas Swan spread rumors that the payments were faulty. Jackson swore this was not true but the damage was done and Jackson had no choice but to call out Dickinson for insulting his honor as a gentleman, and for insulting his wife on a side note.
Meanwhile, the race was set to take place April 3, 1805. People from all around Middle Tennessee flocked to see the race of the year. It was reportedly the largest civilian crowd Jackson had ever seen in one setting. The race would consist of the common standard of the time of best two out of three runs. By the time the race started, it was evident Trenton had hurt his hind leg in the intense training sessions Jackson had ordered. Trenton nonetheless won the first race and afterwards limped back to the starting post for the second race.
Jackson once again had confidence in Triton’s indomitable fighting spirit endowed by Jackson himself to win the second round, and Jackson faith was well- founded, for Trenton again beat Plough handsomely. 8 This race was not to be the end of the matter though. When Dickinson arrived back in Nashville, the letters flew fast and furious between him and Jackson and the arrangements were at last set to Journey across the border to Kentucky where the laws regarding dueling were less strict. Friday May 30, 1806, the opponents faced off in a clearing near Harridan’s Mills in Logan County, Kentucky.
The second to Jackson was General Thomas Overtone and to Dickinson, Hanson Cattle. The seconds drew draws for position and Cattle won, however the sun was not in a position to offer an advantage to either side. The men stepped eight paces away from each other, twenty-four feet, and turned and faced each other. Now Jackson on his way to the duel had determined that since Dickinson was a faster shot and a better marksmen, he would let Dickinson shoot first and try to survive the shot and then to take careful aim on his turn to fire. As Overtone yelled, “Fire! ,” Dickinson quickly let off his round downrange and struck Jackson full in the chest.
The Seconds later reported that a puff of dust blew off Jackson’s cloak as the bullet entered. Jackson took the shot and stood stiff, the bullet had broken two ribs, shattered his collarbone, and lodged so close to Jackson’s heart that doctors refused to try and operate for fear of killing Jackson in the process. As luck would have it, Jackson always wore coats and cloaks a little too big for him, to disguise the fact that he was a thin angular man, thus the position of the cloak was offset and may have spoiled Dickinson perception as to where Jackson’s heart was.
As Jackson stood there, he took his time and pulled the trigger, but, it did not fire. Jackson examined the pistol and determined that the emmer was in the half-coco position; he carefully re-cocked and fired the I-ounce, 70-caliber lead ball through Dickinson abdomen, lacerating the intestines and causing him to bleed out by the end of the day. Overtone escorted the severely wounded Jackson back to the tavern they had stayed at and allowed Jackson’s surgeon to bandage the wound and the party returned to Nashville, honored satisfied but in social disgrace. Jackson eventually was accepted into society again and rose to fame and popularity for winning the Battle of New Orleans against the British in the War of 1812 for which he State of Tennessee awarded Jackson a golden ceremonial sword, this would become Jackson’s most prized possession. During the two terms as President, Andrew Jackson revamped the face of Washington D. C. ‘s horse-racing sensibilities. Jackson remodeled the White House’s stables declaring that they were not worthy of his horses being kept in.
Some accounts suggest Jackson took Trenton and his war horse Sam Patch with him to Washington D. C. Along with some others, to race against in moments of pleasure and time-off. Belie Peyote, an early supporter of Jackson, later political rival, wrote in his Journal about his time in Washington D. C. Visiting President Jackson, where he would often visit the racehorse stables. President Jackson gave him the honor of recording the practice times for all the horses in the stable.
One of Jackson’s horses that has not received much attention, is that of his beloved travel and war horse, Sam Patch. Sam Patch was named after an early nineteenth stunt man and daredevil. Sam Patch would Jump off of waterfalls and continued to do so until his last Jump off the one of the highest waterfalls in New England ended in the death and tragedy of Sam Patch’s last Jump. Jackson was an admirer of Sam Patch and went to name his horse the same name. Sam Patch served Andrew Jackson through many battles and Jackson’s two terms as President, living even past Jackson himself!
Legend has it, that when Sam Patch died during the course of the Civil War, the Union torches who were in control to Nashville by this time, gave Sam Patch a dull military funeral with the twenty-one gun salute. Unfortunately, the soldiers never wrote down the location of the burial site of Sam Patch and his resting place lays somewhere under the green fields of the Hermitage Plantation that today operates as a living history museum to preserve the legacy of Andrew Jackson. Regrettably the