Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Book Excerpt - American Lion: Andrew Jackson... (and Giveaway!)

*** Edited to Add - Giveaway. Scroll down! ***

American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House (New York Times Notable Books) by Jon Meacham (512p,Random House)

About the Book: New York Times Bestseller and 2009 Pulitzer Prizewinner for Biography, AMERICAN LION by Jon Meacham is a deeply insightful and eminently readable narrative biography of Andrew Jackson (often called "America's second founding father") and his pivotal years in the White House that shaped the modern presidency.

Excerpt:

Andy Will Fight His Way in the World

Christmas 1828 should have been the happiest of seasons at the Hermitage, Jackson’s plantation twelve miles outside Nashville. It was a week before the holiday, and Jackson had won the presidency of the United States the month before. “How triumphant!” Andrew Donelson said of the victory. “How flattering to the cause of the people!” Now the president- elect’s family and friends were to be on hand for a holiday of good food, liquor, and wine–Jackson was known to serve guests whiskey, champagne, claret, Madeira, port, and gin–and, in this special year, a pageant of horses, guns, and martial glory.

On Wednesday, December 17, 1828, Jackson was sitting inside the house, answering congratulatory messages. As he worked, friends in town were planning a ball to honor their favorite son before he left for Washington. Led by a marshal, there would be a guard of soldiers on horseback to take Jackson into Nashville, fire a twenty- four- gun artillery salute, and escort him to a dinner followed by dancing. Rachel would be by his side.

In the last moments before the celebrations, and his duties, began, Jackson drafted a letter. Writing in his hurried hand across the foolscap, he accepted an old friend’s good wishes: “To the people, for the confidence reposed in me, my gratitude and best services are due; and are pledged to their service.” Before he finished the note, Jackson went outside to his Tennessee fields.

He knew his election was inspiring both reverence and loathing. The 1828 presidential campaign between Jackson and Adams had been vicious. Jackson’s forces had charged that Adams, as minister to Russia, had procured a woman for Czar Alexander I. As president, Adams was alleged to have spent too much public money decorating the White House, buying fancy china and a billiard table. The anti- Jackson assaults were more colorful. Jackson’s foes called his wife a bigamist and his mother a whore, attacking him for a history of dueling, for alleged atrocities in battles against the British, the Spanish, and the Indians–and for being a wife stealer who had married Rachel before she was divorced from her first husband. “Even Mrs. J. is not spared, and my pious Mother, nearly fifty years in the tomb, and who, from her cradle to her death had not a speck upon her character, has been dragged forth . . . and held to public scorn as a prostitute who intermarried with a Negro, and my eldest brother sold as a slave in Carolina,” Jackson said to a friend.

Jackson’s advisers marveled at the ferocity of the Adams attacks. “The floodgates of falsehood, slander, and abuse have been hoisted and the most nauseating filth is poured, in torrents, on the head, of not only Genl Jackson but all his prominent supporters,” William B. Lewis told John Coffee, an old friend of Jackson’s from Tennessee.

Some Americans thought of the president-elect as a second Father of His Country. Others wanted him dead. One Revolutionary War veteran, David Coons of Harpers Ferry, Virginia, was hearing rumors of ambush and assassination plots against Jackson. To Coons, Jackson was coming to rule as a tribune of the people, but to others Jackson seemed dangerous–so dangerous, in fact, that he was worth killing. “There are a portion of malicious and unprincipled men who have made hard threats with regard to you, men whose baseness would (in my opinion) prompt them to do anything,” Coons wrote Jackson.

That was the turbulent world awaiting beyond the Hermitage. In the draft of a speech he was to deliver to the celebration in town, Jackson was torn between anxiety and nostalgia. “The consciousness of a steady adherence to my duty has not been disturbed by the unsparing attacks of which I have been the subject during the election,” the speech read. Still, Jackson admitted he felt “apprehension” about the years ahead. His chief fear? That, in Jackson’s words, “I shall fail” to secure “the future prosperity of our beloved country.” Perhaps the procession to Nashville and the ball at the hotel would lift his spirits; perhaps Christmas with his family would.

While Jackson was outside, word came that his wife had collapsed in her sitting room, screaming in pain. It had been a wretched time for Rachel. She was, Jackson’s political foes cried, “a black wench,” a “profligate woman,” unfit to be the wife of the president of the United States. Shaken by the at- tacks, Rachel–also sixty-one and, in contrast to her husband, short and somewhat heavy–had been melancholy and anxious. “The enemies of the General have dipped their arrows in wormwood and gall and sped them at me,” Rachel lamented during the campaign. “Almighty God, was there ever any thing equal to it?” On the way home from a trip to Nashville after the balloting, Rachel was devastated to overhear a conversation about the lurid charges against her. Her niece, the twenty-one- year- old Emily Donelson, tried to reassure her aunt but failed. “No, Emily,” Mrs. Jackson replied, “I’ll never forget it!”

When news of her husband’s election arrived, she said: “Well, for Mr. Jackson’s sake I am glad; for my own part I never wished it.” Now the cumulative toll of the campaign and the coming administration exacted its price as Rachel was put to bed, the sound of her cries still echoing in her slave Hannah’s ears.

This Book Excerpt is part of the book's virtual tour, courtesy Pump Up Your Book Promotion.

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GIVEAWAY

The Prize

A copy of this book will go to one lucky winner.

To Enter
  • Just leave a comment with your email address in the body of the comment itself telling me :
  • Please list your email address within your comment so that you can be notified should you be chosen as a winner.
For Extra Entries

Please leave a NEW comment for each extra entry you do.

Deadline   Midnight CST of August 7, 2009.

Eligibility  US only.

Please read the Disclaimer

Good luck!
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74 comments :

  1. I'm loosely related to Jackson on my maternal grandmother's side, but I've not had much of an opportunity to read about him. This sounds like a great book to do just that!

    reading_frenzy@yahoo.com

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  2. I would love to read this and then pass it on to my grandsons!
    Carol M
    mittens0831 AT aol.com

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  3. I subscribe to A Book Blogger's Diary feed.
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    Carol M
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  5. What am I supposed to tell you? Nothing comes after the ":" :)
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  9. I would love to read this book.

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  14. tweeted - http://twitter.com/phxbne/status/2572899283
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  15. Once a year, our book group tackles a book about American History - this book looks like it might be a good choice for us.

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  16. I subscribe via Google Reader

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  18. I want to know more about Andrew Jackson!
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  21. This looks like a wonderful book, as I always love to read presidential biographies! Andrew Jackson from what I understand was definitely "the people's president" and it will be interesting to see if this book believes the same.

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  23. I follow on twitter & tweeted! http://twitter.com/amweeks/status/2632392139

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  24. i would love to read this book.i am a big fan of presidential biographies.

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  25. I know so little about Andrew Jackson that I would treasure this book! I am looking forward to reading it, the Presidents and their lives fascinate me, as well as the times in which they lived!

    pumpkinlady430@yahoo.com

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  26. I love reading about historical characters,
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  27. I'm a Fan on Facebook
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  29. please count me in - this sounds so interesting. have been wanting to read it for a while.

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  31. i follow on twitter now

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  32. i'm still learning about twitter, when i put the link to your contest URL, it goes over the allotted number of characters - not sure how to fix that.

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  34. I adore Jon Meacham, and I would love to read this book!

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  35. Looks good! Thanks for the giveaway~

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  36. Would love to read this! janemaritz at yahoo dot com

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  37. I would love to read this. :)

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  38. i love reading about him...it seems people are so divided about him

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  39. Subscribe to A Book Blogger's Diary feed
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  40. Subscribe to A Book Blogger's Diary Email Updates

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  41. http://twitter.com/spvaughan/status/2823956335

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  42. I love history - thanks for the chance to win this!
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  44. I would love to read this! Please include me in the giveaway. heatherzilla(at)care2(dot)com

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  45. Not something I would normally read, but I'm trying to read new things, so this works perfectly. Sounds quite interesting. My email is vampamber@yahoo.com

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  46. As a former history major, I would LOVE this book. Thank you!

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  47. I'm already subscribed to your feed via Google Reader; thanks!

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  48. I'm also subscribed to your e-mail updates; thank you so much!

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  49. Your blog is already one of my Technorati favorites (my username is uwsreader). Thanks!

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  50. I'm a follower--thank so much!

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  51. I already follow you on Twitter (username: uwsreader), and I Tweeted about the giveaway:

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  52. I would love to be included in the giveaway!

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  53. I would love to to read this book!
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  54. I would like to win this, there is a lot of the weight of history with this man and would be interesting to see how this author portrays him. starryann2000@yahoo.com

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  55. I'd love a chance at winning this books. Looks like a great book to have in your library!

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  56. Sent a friend request on facebook!

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  57. It's always interesting delving into history and learning more about the man behind the myth or legend. Please count me in. Thank you!

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  58. I subscribe via feed

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  60. I have you on my blogroll

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  62. I would love to win this book!! Jackson is a fascinating subject!!

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