Advice To Andrew Jackson By His Mother

In 1781 Andrew Jackson, then 14 years of age, enlisted in the American army; was captured and thrown into prison where he had smallpox. His mother, Elizabeth Hutchinson Jackson, through exchange arranged for his release and nursed him back to health. Responding to an urgent appeal, she left him to go to Charleston to nurse some sick neighbors who were confined there on a British hospital ship. This errand of mercy cost her life. She caught yellow fever and died.

Almost her last words to her young son were:

“Andrew if I should not see you again, I wish you to remember and treasure up some things I have already said to you; in this world you will have to make your own way. To do that you must have friends. You can make friends by being honest and you can keep them by being steadfast. You must keep in mind that friends worth having will in the long run expect as much from you as they give to you. To forget an obligation or to be ungrateful for a kindness is a base crime -- not merely a fault or a sin by an actual crime. Men guilty of it sooner or later must suffer the penalty. In personal conduct be always polite but never obsequious. None will respect you more than you respect yourself. Avoid quarrels as long as you can without yielding to imposition. But sustain your manhood always. Never bring a suit in law for assault and battery or for defamation. The law affords no remedy for such outrages that can satisfy the feelings of a true man. Never wound the feelings of others. Never brook wanton outrage upon your own feelings. If ever you have to vindicate your feelings or defend your honor, do it calmly. If angry at first, wait till your wrath cools before you proceed.”

These words were repeated by General Jackson on his birth- day March 15th, 1815 at New Orleans to three members of his military family. Major John H. Estow, Major Wm. B. Lewis and Captain W.O. Butler. “Gentlemen,” said General Jackson, “I wish she could have lived to see this day. There never was a woman like her. She was gentle as a dove and brave as a lioness. Her last words have been the law of my life.”

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