Property, Family, Humanity -- The Hermitage, Hermitage TN
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Benchmark Blasterz
N 36° 12.988 W 086° 36.764
16S E 534807 N 4008027
Quick Description: A sign of history located on the walk between the Hermitage mansion and the First Hermitage, converted in the 1820s to slave quarters after the mansion was completed
Location: Tennessee, United States
Date Posted: 4/15/2019 8:10:12 AM
Waymark Code: WM10CRE
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member Alfouine
Views: 0

Long Description:
The sign of history is located north of the mansion down a paved path towards the springhouse and the First Hermitage, a formerly two-story log cabin that general Andrew Jackson and his wife Rachel lived in before their mansion was completed in 1820. At that time, the Jacksons moved into the mansion and there two-story log home was reduced to one story and repurposed for slave quarters.

The sign reads as follows:

"Property, Family, Humanity

(former Jackson family slave) Hannah Jackson circa 1880
"I fear all or servants will leave us. Nancy, Hannah, Martha and her 3 children are all gone. We have nothing but black looks from all of them they are very unwilling to do any work -- it is with difficulty we can get anything out of them. Doctors Joe Smith left a day or 2 ago, he is looking daily for others to go. Affairs are in deplorable situation here . . ."
-- Sarah York Jackson to Samuel Jackson, June 22, 1863

(former Jackson family slave) Maria Baker circa 1921
Andrew Jackson purchased Maria Baker and her family in 1838, when Maria was 4 years old. 5 years later, Jackson sold the family to his friend John Baker to pay Andrew Jackson Jr.'s debts.

[Magazine illustration drawing Death of Andrew Jackson]
as Jackson lay dying on June 8, 1845, his family gathered around his bed and the enslaved stood on the front porch with the large windows open to hear his last words. Jackson talked about God, and then assured the group that ". . . I go but a short time before you, and I want to meet you all in heaven, both white and black." As everyone sobbed, he confirmed his words and his paternalism ". . . Oh do not cry -- be good children& we will all meet in heaven." Notice that the artist re-creating the scene did not include the enslaved.

For the Jackson family, the enslaved were property and the foundation of their wealth. The monetary value of the enslaved far exceeded the combined worth of the Hermitage land, mansion, and other improvements. Andrew Jackson himself had no qualms about owning slaves. Yet, the Jacksons called the enslaved their "black family." Jackson treated everyone in his life paternally -- his family, his soldiers, his political associates, and his slaves. When they behaved as Jackson thought they should, they were in his favor; when they didn't, Jackson's wrath came down. The Jacksons could separate enslaved families through sale or by moving them to other plantations. The threat of physical violence was constant.

The enslaved left few records of their opinions of the treatment they received. But, 20 years after Andrew Jackson's death, these men, women, and children spoke loudly through their actions. Following the capture of Nashville by Union forces in the Civil War, most of Jackson's "black family" still at the Hermitage chose an uncertain future and fled behind union lines. To the enslaved, a life with the potential for freedom was superior to the certainty of perpetual servitude.

Jackson viewed the enslaved is property, and as property, he wanted them as well cared for as his livestock and other possessions.
"But when I say I have concluded to retain you another year, it is on the express conditions that you treat my Negroes with humanity, & attention when sick; & not work them too hard, when well -- that you feed & cloath them well, and that you carefully attend to my stock of all kinds, & particularly to my mares and colts . . ."
-- Andrew Jackson to Graves W. Steele, November 7, 1829"
Group that erected the marker: The Hermitage

Address of where the marker is located. Approximate if necessary:
The Hermitage
Hermitage, TN

URL of a web site with more information about the history mentioned on the sign: Not listed

Visit Instructions:
Take a picture of the marker, preferably including yourself or your GPSr in the photo. A very detailed description of your visit may be substituted for a photo. In any case please provide a description of your visit. A description of only "Visited" or "Saw it while on vacation" by anyone other than the person creating the waymark may be deleted by the waymark owner or the category officers.
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Benchmark Blasterz visited Property, Family, Humanity -- The Hermitage, Hermitage TN 3/11/2019 Benchmark Blasterz visited it