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Andrew Jackson Considers Loaning His Nephew Money, But Waits to Hear From His Son
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“I find money scarce & times hard here most every body warranted & sued from fifty cents up… they dont give any notice but sue immediately wheather you have the money to pay them or not.” (Donelson to Jackson)

ANDREW JACKSON. Autograph Endorsement Signed with Initials, January 29, 1834. On THOMAS J. DONELSON, Autograph Letter Signed, to Andrew Jackson, January 10, 1834. 4 pp., 7¾ x 10½ in.

Inventory #24588.03       Price: $1,900

Complete Transcript

[Jackson’s Endorsement:]

Thos J. Donelson recd & answered 29th Janry 1834.

I cannot say what if anything I can do until I hear from Andrew Jackson jnr 

A. J.


                                                                        Hermitage January 10th 1834

Dear Uncle

            We arrived at the Hermitage this day week ago all well but since that time their has been a very great change in the weather it turned bitter cold & continued so all the week & now is raining & will raise the river very soon as it was almost too low for boats to run we got to Nashville in very good time just rise enough for boats to pass up was falling gradually every day, untill only the small boats could run. from appearances we shall have a considerable rise their was a lot of your cotton sent off a few days since of about sixty bales of cotton the first lot they are gining every day on the balance & some of the crop of cotton & corn together yet not a great deal of cotton the Winston crop of corn yet to house though I think their will some of it gather this week <2> I have looked at your colts & find them in good order the young stockholder bay colt is of good size, but I think his hips will always injure his looks very much & possibly his runing he favors his sire very much, is gentle & good natured. the two Fillys & brood mares look very well all the brood mares appear to be in foal the rest of the stock are all looking & doing pretty well. I should have writen a few days sooner but was engaged in arranging my accounts. I find money scarce & times hard here most every body warranted & sued from fifty cents up to any amount they dont give any notice but sue immediately wheather you have the money to pay them or not. I have made a calculation of what I owe. I will send you the amount if you wish it I will send you the items of all my accounts. I owe for the building of my house. the amount is Eleven hundred dollars: when I first went on to Philadelphia I borrowed of John Donelson Five hundred dollars it being Alexander Donelson money. I have not payed that yet. my travelling expences have been so great, it has been entirely out of my power to do it. I have been very economical & tryed to make my money go as far as possible. I know very well <3> the world will answer me for what I have done but owing to a particular circumstance & every inducement to beleave I would get assistance I involved myself Now dear Uncle if you can befriend with this money, I shall be ten thousand times obliged to you & will if I am not very much disappointed & deceived return the same at the end of two or three years at farthest our friends all appear to be scarce of money John & Samuel cant raise any without selling property or going to Bank & that they dislike to do. Andrew tells me he has bargained for Baldwins tract of land at Ten thousand Dollars. I think it will be a very Dear whistle[1] the fences & outhouses are all out of order & will require a great deal of Labour & some expense to put it in good order it is not worth the money by two thousand Dollars although it will be a very fine addition to the “Hermitage” tract. I think the money expended in lands elsewhere would be of much greater value. Andrew has a new overseer Mr Williams from the Mouth of Stones river. he is industrious but wants experience. Mr & Mrs Wetherill & children arrived safe at the Hermitage the Familys are all well, except some colds Sarah & Andrew are both well, little Rachael has a cold not much & the rest of children. Your Negroes are all tolerably well not much complaint we all Join our loves to you & remember us to cousins Emily & Andrew[2] accept my best wishes for your Health & happiness. your affectionate Nephew

                                                                        Thomas J Donelson <4>


I am much pressed by the Carpenters who done my house work if you cant raise the money for me I don’t know what I shall do; just before we left Phila Emmas Mother made the baby a present of a silver pap boat[3] she said she would send it us at Washington Marked T.J.D. if marked at all. If you hear of it you will please send it by the first opportunity and oblige T. J. D.

Historical Background

Neither Thomas Jefferson Donelson nor his twin brother Andrew Jackson Jr. were successful managers of money. Despite the efforts of their uncle and adoptive father, President Andrew Jackson, both accumulated debts they could not repay through promissory notes, unnecessary purchases, and investments in failed ventures.

Before pleading for money, Thomas Jefferson Donelson reports on the state of the Hermitage and his brother’s management of the plantation. At that time, the plantation had approximately one hundred enslaved workers, and its major cash crop was cotton.

Thomas Jefferson Donelson (1808-1895) and Andrew Jackson Jr. (1808-1865) were the twin sons of Severn Donelson, Rachel Jackson’s brother. Although the reasons are unclear, Andrew and Rachel Jackson adopted Andrew as an infant, giving him the Jackson name and raising him at the Hermitage as their own son. Thomas remained with his biological parents, but the twins remained close throughout their lives; and Thomas was also close to his uncle. When his adoptive father became President, Andrew Jr. managed the Hermitage farm in his absence. Andrew Jackson Jr. married Sarah Yorke in 1831, and they had five children. When Andrew Jackson Donelson resigned as Jackson’s secretary to care for his ailing wife, the President appointed Andrew Jackson Jr. as his secretary. His wife Sarah assisted her father-in-law as a hostess in the Jackson White House from 1834 to 1837. Thomas J. Donelson married Sarah’s cousin, Emma Yorke Farquhar, in September 1832, at the Hermitage, and they had a son and five daughters.

[1] A “very dear whistle” is a reference to spending a lot of money or effort on something that is ultimately disappointing or unfulfilling. The phrase refers to “The Whistle” by Benjamin Franklin about a boy who wanted a whistle so much that he overpaid for it and soon lost interest in it. “The Whistle.

[2] Andrew Jackson Donelson (1799-1871) and his wife (and cousin) Emily Tennessee Donelson (1807-1836) married in 1824. While he was Andrew Jackson’s secretary, she served as White House hostess in a first lady capacity from 1829 to 1834. When she grew ill, she returned to Poplar Grove, the Donelson farm adjacent to the Hermitage. She died of tuberculosis at age 29 on December 19, 1836.

[3] A “pap boat” was an open or half covered vessel with a lip at one end used to administer “pap” to infants. Pap was usually made of bread, flour, and water, sometimes with butter or sugar added.

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