Publication Date


Document Type

Contribution to a Book




Public History | United States History

Publication Title

A Companion to First Ladies


Katherine A. S. Sibley


First Lady Rachel Jackson has become a symbol of America's folksy, pioneer past and her home, the Hermitage, still stands as a stately symbol of southern wealth and hospitality. However, the notoriously dirty presidential campaigns of 1824 and 1828 turned Rachel's marriage to General Jackson, her morality, and her intelligence into fodder for political scandal mongering. Her successor, Emily Donelson, dealt also with the politics of gender and power as White House Hostess during the Petticoat Affair, a scandal that resulted in the almost complete removal of Jackson's cabinet in 1831. As this chapter shows, recent scholarship focusing on these issues and on the life of Rachel Jackson in relation to the American frontier, parenthood, and slavery answers many questions regarding the ladies of the Jackson White House while bringing up many more, which await the study of future historians.


1828 Election, Andrew Jackson, Emily Donelson, Hermitage, Nashville, Tennessee, Peggy Eaton, the Petticoat Affair, Rachel Donelson, Rachel Jackson, the Robards Affair


Reposted under permission from John Wiley & Sons, Inc., all rights reserved.