The Would Be First Lady

By | Jun 15, 2009

The election of 1828 was not a pretty election. It was a rematch between the same candidates of the 1824 contest between John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson. Jackson felt he should have been the incumbent since he had received the most popular votes as well as Electoral votes. However none of the top four candidates received enough Electoral votes to win and for the first and only time in US election history the US House of Representatives who made John Quincy Adams President.

One of the issues that arose against Andrew Jackson, who won by a 56-44 percent margin, dealt with his wife Rachel. Rachel Donelson Jackson was born on June 15, 1762 and through a mistake may have married Andrew Jackson when she was still legally married to another man, Lewis Robards.

The 18 year old Rachel Donelson married 27 year old Captain Lewis Robards on March 1, 1785. Robards appeared to be the perfect economic mate for Rachel. By 1790 things had changed, some of it may have been because she had met and fell in love with Jackson.

What happen between 1785 and Rachel’s marriage to Lew Robards and 1794 when Jackson and Rachel married legally may never be truly determined. Whether Robards deserted his wife or Rachel left him for another man, this was unheard of in the 18th century, is clouded in mystery.

But it was an issue in the 1828 election. The press discovered that the couple may have married without benefit of a divorce to Rachel and accused her of adultery. The attacks were ruthless and provide much strain on the health of an already sick Rachel. She dearly love Jackson and wished to see him as President.

Rachel did see her husband elected President, but she was unable to join him as his First Lady in the White House. A few days before Christmas on December 22, 1828 she died and was buried on Christmas Eve in her white inauguration gown. Andrew Jackson for the rest of his life blamed his political enemies for his wife’s death.


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