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Title Rachel Donelson Jackson
Collection First Lady Dolls
Catalog Number 2015.017.007
Description Rachel Donelson (Robards) Jackson (1767-1828)
Wife of Andrew Jackson - did not serve as a First Lady

At 18 years old, Rachel Donelson married Lewis Robards. The ultimate divorce of Rachel from Lewis Robards would come to shatter all precedent in presidential history. It was the first time that such a deeply personal event would be used against a presidential candidate in a campaign. Rachel Robards Jackson was the first of three First Ladies whose marriages previous to that of a President, ended in divorce.
Rachel Donelson (Robards) married Andrew Jackson on January 7, 1794, at the age of 26 years old. Rachel and Andrew did not have any children of their own, but did adopted two children; one the son of Rachel's brother Severn Donelson (Andrew Jackson, Jr.) and Lyncoya Jackson (c1811-1828), an American Indian child found by Jackson on a battlefield with his dead mother, was raised by the Jacksons from the age of two.
Early in the 1828 presidential race, the story of Rachel Jackson's former status as an adulterer, bigamist and divorcee was used against her husband by the press supporting his rival for the presidency, John Quincy Adams. Rachel spent much of the campaign crying and depressed, which only further stressed a strained heart condition. A factor that contributed to her severe stress that is often eclipsed by the dramatic impact of the campaign was the sudden death of her sixteen year old son, Lyncoya in June 1828.
Andrew Jackson won the election that fall and Rachel intended to attend the Inauguration and had even purchased a gown and white slippers for the traditional ball. Despite this, her physical and mental health had so drastically deteriorated that by the fall she had a near fatal heart attack. She seemed to recover but died suddenly three days before Christmas, December 22, 1828, at their plantation in Nashville. She was 61 years old.
On a personal level, the President was forever changed by his wife's death. He wore a miniature painting of her in a locket that hung on a wire bent to be near his heart. He fulfilled a promise he had made to her by becoming a practicing Christian and joining the local Presbyterian Church. During his administration he further honor the wishes of Rachel, by asking her niece, Emily Donelson, to serve a the official hostess of the White House.
Event Bicentennial First Lady Doll Exhibit - Community Project
Creator Park, Phyllis Juhlin
Source Uintah County Library