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The Scotch-Irish in America
Proceedings of the Third Congress at Louisville
Andrew Jackson.
By Rev. D. C. Kelley, D.D. of Tennessee


Mr. President and Fellow Scotch-Irishmen: At the request of the patriotic women of the Hermitage Association, I bring to you a gavel made from wood grown on the grounds where lived and died Andrew Jackson, the seventh President of these United States.

Whatever doubts may be entertained as to the ancestry of Abraham Lincoln, who is believed to have been of Scotch-Irish ancestry, we know that the father of "Old Hickory" emigrated from Carrickfergus, on the north coast of Ireland, in 1765. In him we have the marked characteristics of our race; and to him both the race and the nation owe a debt of gratitude, a true estimate of which will grow with the years to come. The silence of the Scotch-Irish people has done great injustice to Andrew Jackson as well as to others of their distinguished sons. This is neither the time, nor do the circumstances around us justify the effort, to enter into the work of historical correction now; but as a delegate from an association of high-bred, patriotic women', as a Tennesseean, and Scotch-Irishman—a moment is begged to respond to an opinion which has been recently given on a great national occasion by one too high in all the attributes of manliness and Christian patriotism to intentionally wrong any man, yet an opinion which does both our ancestors and Andrew Jackson great wrong. The charge is that of " vulgarism" on the part of Jackson, mitigated by a representation of the vulgarity of the people among whom he was reared. Andrew Jackson's mother, Elizabeth Hutchinson, died before she had accomplished the training of her boy; but the Christian patriotism which caused her death, nursing sick and wounded revolutionary soldiers, fixed in the boy's mind two great roots never to be eradicated: faith in God, and love for his country. Supported in every emergency by both of these, therefrom came the life so fruitful of blessing to our nation. They are not vulgar roots. The people, both in North Carolina and in Tennessee, who in this early day have been so often spoken of as wild, boorish, and uncivilized, were, in the main, men and women who had been trained in the homes of Scotch-Irish Presbyterians, preached to and taught by Presbyterian preachers, men of culture and deep piety. Many wild and reckless men came from the East to the border. They never typed or controlled the civilization of any community where Scotch-Irishmen were predominant. The title-page of John Donelson's account of his most remarkable and heroic journey with a colony of early settlers of Nashville is a fair indication of the people who predominated in this region at that early day. "Journal of a voyage, intended by God's permission in the good boat 'Adventure,' from Port Patrick Henry on Holston River to the French Salt Spring on Cumberland River, kept by John Donelson." This was the father of the woman whom Andrew Jackson married and who did more to influence his life than all other people beside. Jackson as State's Attorney had much conflict with the ruder classes. But in this position it is well to remember that when any disorder was reported to Gov. Blount he was accustomed to say: ''Just inform Mr. Jackson. He will be sure to do his duty, and the offenders will be punished." If it be vulgar to put duty first, then was Andrew Jackson a vulgarian.

If we turn from principle to conduct, we have his latest biographer declaring: "Throughout life Jackson was noted alike for spotless purity and for a romantic and chivalrous respect for the female sex. In the presence of women his manner was always distinguished for grave and courtly politeness." As yet Jackson has had no worthy biographer. When Jackson visited New York and Boston, the best women of those cities, who looked for a rude warrior from the West, acknowledged the superior grace of his manners, and were profuse in their eulogies. The best cultured classes of New Orleans, with their Old World elegance, pronounced him the most courtly of men. While at his own home in Tennessee, an aged and cultured woman present at the grand ball given to Lafayette when he paid his last visit to America declared to me that the women were so charmed with Jackson's courtliness that they were near forgetting to observe the distinguished guest. Between Jackson and his great antagonist, John Quincy Adams, there was only contrast in manner. I yield to no one in sincere admiration for Mr. Adams. But Jackson would never have gone to the theater the night he was expecting Mrs. Jackson after months of separation, expecting her to arrive in his absence at any moment. I would pluck no laurel from the brow of the typical Puritan, the honored Adams, but I do him no wrong when by contrast I bring out the single virtue in which the Scotch-Irishman surpasses the Puritan: high courtesy to women. Your time must not be trespassed upon. We may not, therefore, reply to the charges against him as given to fighting and personal broils; we only say his temper was no fiercer than that of Caesar, Bonaparte, or Frederick the Great; duelling was a curse of his times, not in rude communities, but in the most refined. The same temper that brought these personal encounters stood us in good stead when he redeemed at New Orleans the shadow which had come over American arms; the same that made Europe for the first time respect America, when he threatened France with capture of her shipping if she did not keep her promise to pay. It brought us more glorious fruit when at a public dinner in commemoration of Jefferson's birthday, in the midst of the nullification excitement, he rose to the voluntary toast: "Our Federal Union: it must be preserved." Shall I, a minister of the gospel, defend him against the crime of gambling? No! That was against his mother's teachings, his wife's religion, and his country's good. But it took the most manly form. It was the outcome, to a great extent, of his admiration for the noblest of our friends, the high-bred horse. The Bishop of New York drew a contrast between Washington and Jackson. Washington, I regret to say, was perhaps as much a gambler as Jackson, and in less manly forms. Why then should our bishop give us only admiration for the one and only condemnation for the other?

Others speak of Jackson as vulgar in his want of legal lore and statesmanship. They forget that before his fame as a warrior he had been a lawyer with a large practice, with a shrewd Scotch-Irish clientage; the first member of Congress from Tennessee, where men of great ability were not scarce, first Judge of our Supreme Court in the midst of many legal lights, and a member of the United States Senate. His Presidency was the most eventful in the history of the nation, save two; the constitutional period with Washington at the helm, and the period of secession with Abraham Lincoln as the center. Yet eventful and difficult as were the questions of statesmanship which came to Jackson, he gave us a government which made no mistakes in dealing with foreign powers, which opened up the way to diplomatic adjustments which time proves to have been of the wisest. If he made a mistake in home government it grew out of the common fault of strong characters, too great attachment to his friends, who claimed reward of office at his hands. "Old Hickory's" heart may have bent his will.

The Scotch-Irish who gave birth to Jackson and trained him for his work are the same sturdy race whose fathers had vanquished Ferguson at King's Mountain, and whose children, later, drove Grant, at Shiloh, to the water's edge in retreat, and came so near ending the career of this great soldier. This was the race that composed the volunteer army of 6,000 at New Orleans which met 12,000 of Wellington's finest
troops, trained in the war of the Spanish Peninsula, commanded by Wellington's brother-in-law, the gallant Sir Edward Pakenham, and vanquished them.

There has been no end to Scotch-Irish deeds of merit and gallantry, but we are just awaking to the fact that we have neither written their history nor preserved mementos. The ladies who bid me present this gavel from "Old Hickory's" home ask that I say to this honorable gathering that after years of delay and neglect they are seeking to make the " Hermitage" again what it was when Jackson left -it. They have secured the home and twenty-five acres of ground; the relics, historic and redolent with patriotic memories, belong to parties who descended from the wife's side of the house. They are now forced by the changes of fortune to part with them. The Association which I represent has secured an option and are struggling to make good the purchase. After heroic efforts they are almost at a point of despair. The State of Tennessee has shown its patriotism and liberality in the purchase of the home of Jackson. These ladies are struggling to make this home and these haunts of a patriot and hero a national Mecca. They turn now to you and offer to this Association, if not in its organic form, then through individuals, the rescue of the historic relics of Andrew Jackson, the great Scotch-Irish President of these United States, from waste and oblivion. They are willing to be your servants and use the money for you to make this home a gathering-point for patriots, the pride of our race, a spot in the Sunny South to which we can invite the people of every part of this nation to touch the pen with which Jackson signed the celebrated veto message, the sword he held aloft at New Orleans, the chair of Lafayette, the tomb where the hero sleeps side by side with the gentle wife for whose honor he was ever ready to die, the church where he reverently worshiped, and where he took his last earthly communion. I have but said what I was bidden. Would they had trusted their message to far more eloquent lips; but the ears and hearts to which I speak belong to Scotch-Irishmen, who when they see a duty do it. Just now these good women have placed in my hands this medallion, one of the Jackson relics. [Here a medallion was exhibited to the audience.] From the silence of the past it speaks volumes in reply to the false history which would degrade Andrew Jackson to the level of a "drunken bully." On the obverse side we have: "Important certificate! Being satisfied from observation and experience, as well as from medical testimony, that ardent spirits as a drink is not only needless and hurtful, but that the entire disuse of it would tend to promote the health, the virtue, and the happiness of the community, we hereby express our conviction that should the citizens of the United States, and especially all young men, discountenance entirely the use of it, they would not only promote their own personal benefit, but the good of our country and the world.

"James Madison,
"Andrew Jackson,
"John Quincy Adams.

"October, 1834."
On the reverse side we have Intemperance, a crouching slave, chained hand and foot; Temperance, erect, in manly pose, in the right hand a shield, in the left a cornucopia with the scriptural motto: "Strong drink is bitter to them that drink it." Isaiah xxiv. 9.

The signature of Andrew Jackson came from his hand as President of the United States. What politician of the present day seeking favor at the hands of the people would dare to give such a certificate to the most advanced opposition to the drink habit? He was ahead of his own times when he dared to speak thus as patriot and philanthropist. He spoke from the President's chair, the highest peak along the highest range of this world's life, merging self into the good of humanity. This is the highest virtue without tinge of vulgarity.

At the conclusion of Dr. Kelley's address he presented the gavel sent by the ladies of the Hermitage Association to President Bonner, who said in reply:

On behalf of our Society I accept this appropriate souvenir sent by the ladies of the Hermitage Association from the home of the Scotch-Irish hero, Andrew Jackson. Please accept for yourself, sir, and convey to the ladies who sent it, our heartiest thanks for the valued gift. We would be unworthy our Scotch-Irish blood if we did not honor our great men, and may my right hand wither if ever I cease to revere the memory of Andrew Jackson!


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