Signed Copy | Hardcover
A missing chapter in the biography of President Andrew Jackson based upon unpublished documents. Written in a narrative that is “both original and thrillingly dramatic” (Kirkus), it provides “a fresh take on a familiar figure” (Publisher’s Weekly).
Unpublished documents reveal an Andrew Jackson who committed mutiny and shed tears as he thought his mistakes would lead to the deaths of teenage soldiers under his command. Indians saved him. The backwoods Jackson, who had never commanded a battle, presumed to take on the mantle of General George Washington.
Before Jackson became the next general to drive the British Army from American soil, he first had to defeat the commander of the U.S. Army, General James Wilkinson. Wilkinson embodied a privileged and unproductive establishment. Worse, he had sold his loyalty to work as a spy known as “Agent 13” on the payroll of a European enemy. It was a battle of wits and wills between two American titans. The missing piece of Jackson’s biography is how he was transformed into “Old Hickory” by challenges that would have crushed almost anyone else, an intense will to succeed, and an ability to recover from his own mistakes.
The non-fiction Hardened to Hickory: The Missing Chapter in Andrew Jackson’s Life is set in a seemingly apocalyptic time in American history when both settlers and Indians thought the world was coming to an end. For months, massive earthquakes caused the ground to open like jaws and swallow houses whole. The Mississippi River flowed backward. A comet appeared as a second moon. The northern lights turned blood-red. The plight of a poor young mother taken hostage by Indian rebels seemed to signal a wider and final destruction and mobilized Jackson’s state to go to war.
Political parties had divided themselves into two camps and refused to trust each other. The establishment that had won the Revolution and produced a new nation was no longer producing prosperity. The fledgling country seemed to be tearing itself apart at the same time enemy powers threatened to invade.
Out of the turmoil, strong leaders rose on the frontier: Shawnee Tecumseh, Chickasaw Colbert, Choctaw Pushmataha and Andrew Jackson. Most of them had learned to survive as orphans, without relying upon the privileges of the old establishment that seemed to be crumbling around them.
The narrative follows Jackson’s young Tennessee Volunteers in their expedition down the Natchez Trace and Mississippi River as Jackson attempted to outwit and overpower Wilkinson for control of the Gulf Coast and ultimately the U.S. Army.
The new information describes a human side of a more complex Andrew Jackson than has been presented. It also reveals how the attempt to save young soldiers transformed Jackson into the “Old Hickory” whose contemporaries would compare to General George Washington. “Old Hickory” was the Andrew Jackson who became president and led the United States into the “Age of Jackson.” The transformation began in a cold tent on the Natchez Trace when it seemed that Andrew Jackson had been defeated.