Monday, July 20, 2009






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.

Andrew Jackson, his intimate circle of friends, and his tumultuous times are at the heart of this remarkable book about the man who rose from nothing to create the modern presidency. Beloved and hated, venerated and reviled, Andrew Jackson was an orphan who fought his way to the pinnacle of power, bending the nation to his will in the cause of democracy. Jackson’s election in 1828 ushered in a new and lasting era in which the people, not distant elites, were the guiding force in American politics. Democracy made its stand in the Jackson years, and he gave voice to the hopes and the fears of a restless, changing nation facing challenging times at home and threats abroad. To tell the saga of Jackson’s presidency, acclaimed author Jon Meacham goes inside the Jackson White House. Drawing on newly discovered family letters and papers, he details the human drama–the family, the women, and the inner circle of advisers–that shaped Jackson’s private world through years of storm and victory.

One of our most significant yet dimly recalled presidents, Jackson was a battle-hardened warrior, the founder of the Democratic Party, and the architect of the presidency as we know it. His story is one of violence, sex, courage, and tragedy. With his powerful persona, his evident bravery, and his mystical connection to the people, Jackson moved the White House from the periphery of government to the center of national action, articulating a vision of change that challenged entrenched interests to heed the popular will–or face his formidable wrath. The greatest of the presidents who have followed Jackson in the White House–from Lincoln to Theodore Roosevelt to FDR to Truman–have found inspiration in his example, and virtue in his vision.

Jackson was the most contradictory of men. The architect of the removal of Indians from their native lands, he was warmly sentimental and risked everything to give more power to ordinary citizens. He was, in short, a lot like his country: alternately kind and vicious, brilliant and blind; and a man who fought a lifelong war to keep the republic safe–no matter what it took.

Jon Meacham in American Lion has delivered the definitive human portrait of a pivotal president who forever changed the American presidency–and America itself.

Jon Meacham is the editor of Newsweek and author of American Lion and the New York Times bestsellers Franklin and Winston: An Intimate Portrait of an Epic Friendship and American Gospel: God, the Founding Fathers, and the Making of a Nation. He lives in New York City with his wife and children. You can visit his website at

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.


I have one brand new copy


to giveaway. Here are the rules:

---U.S. Residents only

---No P.O. Boxes please

---Include your email address in your comment


Comment below with your email address!

One comment, one entry per person!

How easy is that?

All comments must be posted by

6 PM, EST, August 3



valerie2350 said...

sounds fab!

sweeps4bloggers at gmail dot com

Beverly said...

I would love to win this book. I love history.


drey said...

I'm first!! Now you have to pick #1. *grin* I'd love this book--hubby likes to read biographies of the founding fathers... =)

Thanks, Bingo!

Debbie said...

That sounds like a good one from our family. fourkidsrgreat(at)gmail(dot)com

Sue said...

I really enjoyed reading this post and now I'm looking forward to the book. Thanks for sharing~

s.mickelson at gmail dot com

Neas Nuttiness said...

This was easy - thanks.
I think that my husband would enjoy this one:-)


Anonymous said...

Don't enter me.. I just wanted to tell you that I LOVE your blog and gave you an award here:

Vera said...

Please enter me -

Amy said...

I want to read more history and this looks like a worthwhile one. Thank you for hosting this giveaway!


Young in TX said...


DarcyO said...

I'd like to read it!


Jemima said...



Sue W. said...

Being an American for just five years, I am fascinated with American history. Count me in please.


Madeleine said...

Please enter me to win this Pulizer price book :D


Sheila DeChantal said...

I was just going to comment on what a great read this looks like... didn't know until I got to the bottom that it was a giveaway.

Always fun stopping by to see what you have going on! Have a wonderful day!

Beth said...

This looks interesting! Please enter me!

BethsBookReviewBlog AT gmail DOT com

Kristi said...

I wanted to do this tour but just didn't have room in my schedule! Please enter me for the giveaway!

kherbrand at comcast dot net

DCMetroreader said...

Please enter me as this looks like a great read!
Thanks for the giveaway!

LoveMyCoffee said...

Thank you for the wonderful giveaways. I can hardly keep up with all of them. Please count me in for this one too. History is always a good read.


Upper West Side Writer said...

Please enter me; I was a history major, and remain a history buff, so I'd really love to read this one. Thank you!


g.g. said...

History is my favorite genre and a Pulitzer Prize as well? PLEASE enter me...thanks!

lag123 said...

Andrew Jackson was a very interesting person it seems.


i've always been fasinated by jackson. my college history prof thought him the worst president ever (lbj's time). i would like to learn more about him. please enter me!

spvaughan yahoo com

Alicia said...

I'd love to read this! Please enter me.

bluebyrd24 at gmail dot com

Bingo said...

Oh, some lucky winner is going to get a great book! Not too many entries so odds are good so far! Thanks folks for your loyal following! (and Drey, sorry I was slow in posting my comments but things at home haven't been too conducive to blogging...or you might have been first but Val and Bev did sneak ahead of you...I don't think it makes too much difference but it is fun sometimes! Take care and good luck all of you loyal followers!

Anonymous said...

I'm a huge Meacham fan. Love his writing style. Keeping my fingers crossed!!


Misusedinnocence said...

I would love to read this. :)

bridget3420 said...

Count me in:)


Alyce said...

I would love to be entered!

akreese (at) hotmail (dot) com

Carol said...

I would love to read this and then pass it on to my grandsons. Thank you for the giveaway!

Carol M
mittens0831 AT

Anonymous said...

I'd love to be entered.


Debs Desk said...

Please include me in your giveaway.

Rebecca N. said...

This sounds like a really good read! I would love to be entered to win this one! Thanks for the great giveaway!

Sara said...

Great contest!

skkmiller (at) live (dot) com