BerksBarrister_Fall2021 - 9

w w w . B E R K SB A R .o r g
practiced law for only one year and quickly earned a reputation
as a fierce prosecutor of serious crimes, but also more common
infractions including horse stealing, profane swearing, and
petty larceny. He would later be certified to practice law in
Tennessee and go on to serve as the state's first Representative
in the House and in 1797, Senator. Due to financial hardship,
Jackson resigned his Senate seat after one term and returned
to Nashville to serve as a circuit court judge of the Superior
Court of Tennessee and to resume the private practice of law.
His decisions as a jurist were said to be " short, untechnical,
unlearned, sometimes ungrammatical, and generally right. " It
was also at this time that his interest in land speculation and
farming cotton became profitable.
Jackson purchased land chosen by his wife in 1804, just
outside Nashville, which would become The Hermitage.
Enjoying the life of a gentleman farmer, he lived there in
one of three homes until his death. Originally known as his
Rural Retreat, Jackson would later rename his property The
Hermitage. The house we visited was Jackson's third and last
home on the site. His first, a modest but well-built two-story
log home, remains today but was converted for slave use.
Believing that the small structure was still too grand for slave
housing, Jackson used his slaves to lower the home by removing
its first floor. Jackson's second home on the property was mostly
destroyed by fire in 1834 which led to construction of what
is now the current " mansion " - a large 13-room neoclassical
Greek-style building with six white columns adorning its
entrance. Our tour of the home allowed us to freely explore the
structure and was guided by an interpreter who provided many
interesting facts about the property and day-to-day life in the
Jackson household. Although Jackson and his wife never had
biological children, they adopted a son, Andrew, Jr., and hosted
many nieces and nephews at the property.
The plantation grounds of The Hermitage include a large
garden containing several trees planted in Jackson's time. Both
Jacksons are buried there in a tomb adjacent to the garden. One
of Jackson's slaves, known then as Uncle Alfred, is buried near
him in the garden with a tombstone that reads in part: UNCLE
OF ANDREW JACKSON. Alfred, a free man when he died,
had amassed some savings late in life which he traded for a
promise to be buried on the grounds.
While our tour and the homestead itself certainly pay
tribute to Jackson's professional accomplishments, his
mistreatment of African and Native Americans is not
discounted at The Hermitage. It is believed that at the height
of success of his cotton farming enterprise, Jackson owned
140 slaves who farmed the fields and tended to his homestead.
He may have owned as many as 300 in his lifetime and had a
reputation for being both kind and ruthless toward his enslaved
workers. In a newspaper advertisement for a 30-year-old
runaway slave, Jackson offered " an extra $10 for every 100 lashes
doled out to the escapee. "
Continued on next page
Fall 2021 | 9
Representation, consultation and expert testimony in
disciplinary matters and matters involving ethical issues,
bar admissions and the Rules of Professional Conduct
James C. Schwartzman, Esq.
* Judge, Court of Judicial Discipline
* Former Chairman, Judicial Conduct Board of Pennsylvania
* Former Chairman, Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court
of Pennsylvania
* Former Chairman, Continuing Legal Education Board of the
Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
* Former Chairman, Supreme Court of Pennsylvania Interest on
Lawyers Trust Account Board
* Former Federal Prosecutor
* Selected by his peers as one of the top 100 Super Lawyers in
PA and the top 100 Super Lawyers in Philadelphia
* Named by his peers as Best Lawyers in America 2022 and 2015
Philadelphia " Lawyer of the Year " Ethics and Professional
Responsibility Law and Legal Malpractice Law
111 North Sixth Street * Reading, PA 19601
(215) 751-2863


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