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 ... See full summary »
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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Based on a novel by Irving Stone (who also wrote LUST FOR LIFE about Vincent Van Gogh), this is the story of one of the most vicious rumor campaigns in American political history. It is the story of how the love of the life of our seventh President was destroyed by these rumors, which were based on half-truths.
Rachel Jackson, before she married Andy Jackson, was Rachel Robarts - the wife of Lewis Robarts. Mr. Robarts was not a good husband, and he and Rachel got a divorce. She turned to Andrew, whom she had fallen in love with. They got married. Then, a few years after their marriage, Robarts contacted them to inform them that there was some legal error about the divorce. He got a second one from Rachel, and she and Andrew (after double checking it) married again.
Now, under the circumstances, this divorce - marriage problem is not horrible to us today. But in the 19th Century it suggested that Rachel had not behaved properly. In fact, to political enemies it suggested she was a slut who lived in sin with Jackson. Fortunately (or unfortunately) Jackson was the type of hot-tempered fellow who would not take this crap from anyone. He defended his beloved wife's honor throughout his life. If one thinks of the Presidents of the U.S. and their wives, Andrew and Rachel rank on the top with Nancy and Ronald Reagan and Harry and Bess Truman and Calvin and Grace Coolidge - the real thing, not the artificial marriage that is a political partnership (Warren and Florence Harding or Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt).
The film follows the Jacksons lives together from their meeting in the 1790s to her death in 1829. It follows Jackson's rise as a frontier lawyer and planter, then as a military leader and hero, then as a political figure (he would be the most important President between Jefferson and Lincoln). But his hot temper would be shown in protecting the honor of Rachel. Most notably when confronting Charles Dickinson, a leading duelist of the day, who (as played by Carl Betz) openly refers to Jackson as a wife stealer. Jackson (marvelously played by Charleton Heston) challenges him to a duel, which we only hear the result of (Dickinson was a better shot, so Jackson wore a loose coat - Dickinson critically wounded him, but Jackson shot and killed the duelist).
It was all part of Jackson's rough and tumble life. We also see him caning a little man after an argument over politics (it was Governor John Sevier of Tennessee). Unseen in this film was a real knock down fight with two brothers in 1813 that had an odd follow up - one of the two brothers, a rough hombre like Jackson named Thomas Hart Benton, found himself (in 1821) Missouri's first senator. Soon he was sitting next to Tennessee's Senator, Jackson. Both were embarrassed at the situation, so they talked things over, and let bygones be bygones. It resulted in a very close political and personal friendship.
The slurs against Rachel always rose when Jackson's political star was rising, and his foes sought ammunition. In 1824 Jackson was the loser in a peculiar Presidential election that ended in the House of Representatives. He had been in the lead, but his chief rival (John Quincy Adams) was elected President when the fourth candidate (Henry Clay - a regional rival of Jackson's) threw Adams his electoral votes. Adams made Clay his Secretary of State. Jackson's supporters screamed of a corrupt bargain (we really don't know if there was one). In 1828 Jackson was nominated to run against Adams again. Adam's supporters mentioned every bloody event in Jackson's career (his duel with Dickinson, the fight with the Bentons, his executing some mutineering soldiers in the War of 1812, his execution of two British agents - he called them spies - in Florida in 1818). Finally they brought up the marriage mess with Rachel and Lewish Robarts again.
It did not help Adams, who was beaten in the 1828 election by an enlarged electorate that liked Jackson. But Rachel was stunned at the viciousness of the attacks. She lived to see Jackson triumph over Adams, but she died within two months. Jackson never forgave Adams, Clay, and the other Whigs for killing her.
The performances in this film are uniformly good, as we watch Susan Hayward and Charleton Heston interrelate so well together. And we share Heston's bemused pain at the conclusion of the film, he having become the leader of his young nation, and looking at the miniature portrait of his dead wife while he mentally talks to her about how they have arrived. It is a first rate retelling of this true love tragedy. It would not be Heston's last performance as Jackson (in 1958 he'd play the General again in THE BUCCANEER with Yul Brynner as Jean Lafitte, at the battle of New Orleans). But that was a cameo role - this film show Heston's strengths as a performer as he and Hayward grow together as an aging, beleaguered married couple.
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