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The story of president Andrew Jackson from his early years, through his meeting with and subsequent marriage to Rachel Donelson Robards. The plot concentrates on the later scandal concerning the legality of their marriage and how they overcame the difficulties. Written by
Col Needham <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Rachel talks about Andrew building her a home "with six columns" and we see the house, named The Hermitage. The house had three main iterations. The first was a simple New England style two-story wood frame home. That was later remodeled with the addition of wings and a wide veranda. The iconic image we have today (and how it still looks) was the third remodeling - but it was done after Rachel's death. Rachel may have involved in the plans for the renovations, but she didn't live to see the finished product. See more »
Rachel Donaldson Robards Jackson:
[to Andrew who is planning to dual with Charles Dickinson the following morning]
Andrew, if I'm to be the cause of all your quarrels for the rest of your life, then you give me no choice. I must leave you! I will not let you be killed because of me, nor will I let you take another man's life. I must leave!
President Andrew Jackson:
You'd leave me now??
Rachel Donaldson Robards Jackson:
No! No! Oh Andrew, please, please don't do this! If Mr. Dickinson's bullet kills you, it kills me too! Let him say what he will about me!
President Andrew Jackson:
No man can say what he will about...
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The figure of Andrew Jackson in American history is one that is constantly being reevaluated by historians. He was the champion of the common man in his day though the qualification should be made, the common white man. He was a slave owner, unapologetic in that regard, and American Indians have no cause to love him as he favored their complete removal to west of the Mississippi in his time.
Yet at the same time he was the spearhead of a movement to grant the franchise to the common Caucasian man. He was the first president who came from west of the Appalachians having moved from South Carolina to Tennessee which served as his base his whole political career. Our first six presidents came from the landed gentry who were the original founding fathers. Jackson worked his way up from poverty and never forget his roots no matter how rich he became.
Jackson was also the ideal of the frontier civilian soldier. Though with no military training so to speak, he distinguished himself in campaigns against the Indians and won an impressive victory at New Orleans beating some of the best of Wellington's Army from the Peninsular War in Europe. That victory is what sealed his reputation and eventually put him in the White House.
Irving Stone's biographical novel on which The President's Lady is based concentrates not on Jackson the historical figure, but on the love affair between Andrew Jackson and Rachel Donelson Robards. Rachel is played by Susan Hayward and she's a frontier woman and was until the day she died. Their love gets off to a rocky start because Rachel is divorced from her first husband Lewis Robards and weds Andrew thinking the divorce is final. In fact it wasn't and technically she was guilty of bigamy. They had to marry again and Jackson always defended his wife's honor by any means necessary as the film shows.
Charlton Heston came over from his home studio of Paramount to play Andrew Jackson in this 20th Century Fox production. He plays the tempestuous Jackson and it became one of the roles he was most identified with even after he was Moses in The Ten Commandments. In fact he played Jackson again in the DeMille supervised remake of The Buccaneer.
What The President's Lady does lack is any development of secondary characters. This film is strictly a star's vehicle. But when you got a pair of stars like Susan Hayward and Charlton Heston maybe it doesn't matter.
The film ends with the presidential campaign of 1828 and it was one of the nastiest in our history. The elite of the east knew it would lose power and fought with everything they could throw. Rachel's two divorces became campaign fodder.
By the way the Jackson camp weren't exactly shrinking violets either in this race. Still it did get down and dirty when it came to her.
The President's Lady holds up very well for today's audience and if Andrew Jackson is no political hero for good reasons to a lot of people, he was in fact a great romantic figure and more than a model husband. In fact it's really what The President's Lady is all about.
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