Historical Memory & Biography

<em>The Jackson Wreath, or National Souvenir.</em>

Click here for more about The Jacksonian Wreath, an effusively pro-Jacksonian publication filled with engravings and music to celebrate Jackson's inauguration in 1829.

<em>Biographical Sketch of the Life of Andrew Jackson, Major-General of the Armies of the United States, the Hero of New-Orleans</em>

Click here for more about Biographical Sketch of the Life of Andrew Jackson. Only one other copy is known of this 1828 campaign biography reissued in 1830 in bright yellow paper-covered boards.

From the fawning adulation in a commemorative volume published in honor of Andrew Jacksons 1828 election, to the vitriol other contemporaries poured on Jackson, to todays debates over the relative placement of his face and Harriet Tubmans on the new $20 bill, Andrew Jackson conjures strong emotions often tied to Americans sense of their history.  

The William C. Cook Jacksonian Era Collection is an excellent source for studying how a controversial historical figure has been represented in historical memory over centuries. The collection contains Jacksons contemporaries assessments of Jackson and the Jacksonian Era all the way through twenty-first century scholarship, all of which is of great interest to scholars working on the history of memory, commemoration, and historiography. 

The media of Jacksons day included newspaper coverage and political pamphlets, but cheaper printing processes and materials also made possible the new genre of campaign biographies. Often little more than an eight-page pamphlet or an extra from a campaign newspaper, these early campaign biographies are one of the most significant portions of the William C. Cook Jacksonian Era Collection. Jacksons campaign biographies were an important innovation in the biographical genre, so it is valuable to have as complete a picture as possible of their publication history. 

Jackson's Main Biographies


- Major John Reid issued a prospectus to get subscribers in 1815, but died after completing only the first four chapters. John Eaton finished the first edition of the biography, which appeared in 1817, almost a year after taking up the work. The first edition was published for the support for the Reid family. 


- Amos Kendall, issued a prospectus in Feb. 1843 to publish a biography of Jackson in 15 parts, but only the first seven parts are published. After Jackson's death in the summer of 1845, Kendall never returned to the work.


- John Parton started working on a Jackson biography in 1857; volume one was published in 1859, and the remaining two appeared in 1860. The three volume set became the definitive biography for the nineteenth century.


Campaign Biographies


- Robert Walsh anonymously published a short (only 64 pages) pro-Jackson biography in 1828, which was then excerpted, with Walsh's name attached, in the Jacksonian Wreath in 1829 after Jackson's victory and first inauguration. In 1830, Walsh's biography is reissued with a new cover - perhaps an early campaign biography for Jackson's reelection campaign?


- William Joseph Snelling's A Brief and Impartial History of the Life and Actions of Andrew Jackson, President of the United States, which was neither brief (it was over 200 pages) nor impartial (it was decidedly anti-Jackson), was published in 1831 in the run-up to Jackson’s re-election bid in 1832. Snelling positioned his biography against Eaton's throughtout the work arguing that Snelling's focus will not just be on the President’s military career.

Historical Memory & Biography