Picture of the Day: December 22 | HistoryNet MENU

Picture of the Day: December 22

6/12/2006 • Picture of the Day

Rachel Jackson Dies
Rachel Jackson, beloved wife of Andrew Jackson, died of heart disease on December 22, 1828, just weeks before her recently elected husband was inaugurated as president of the United States. This portrait of her was painted in 1819 at age 52. Andrew Jackson had been 21 and a promising young lawyer when Rachel Donelson Robards, his landlady’s daughter and the estranged wife of Lewis Robards of Kentucky, caught his eye. Robards had started divorce proceedings, but had dropped them without his wife’s knowledge. Believing she was a free woman, Rachel married Andrew Jackson in 1791. Two years later, the couple discovered that Robards was finally suing for divorce–on the grounds of adultery and desertion. The divorce was granted, and in 1794, the couple quietly remarried. Yet, for the rest of her life, Rachel was unjustly slandered for her irregular marriage. The gossip became particularly painful during the 1828 presidential campaign when the 37-year-old scandal was resurrected as a campaign issue. Andrew Jackson defeated his opponent John Quincy Adams, but when Rachel died soon after the election, Jackson bitterly attributed her death to ‘those vile wretches who…slandered her.’

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