The Hermitage, Andrew Jackson
There’s only one reason to visit The Hermitage, and it’s not the architecture (it is basically the 19th century equivalent of a McMansion), it’s because Andrew Jackson was arguably crazy. He participated in anywhere between five and 100 duels, some of them fought while he was in office. He was shot once in the chest, so close to the aorta that the bullet would remain lodged there for his entire life, but still managed to return fire and kill his attacker before succumbing to his wound. After an attempted assassination, he charged the man who attempted it and beat him with his cane until he had to be physically restrained by members of Congress (and later built a statue of himself commemorating the incident, because of course he did). In office, Jackson brandished his veto pen much like that same cane. His wife, for whom he built much of The Hermitage, was the subject of the first presidential sex scandal of the nation, after it came out in his campaign that his wife was accidentally still married to another man when she and Jackson wed (incidentally, her honor was the subject of most of those duels). The man who ordered the infamous Trail of Tears also adopted a Native American child named Lyncoya. Even in death, he would not calm down. His pet parrot, no doubt channeling his former owner, had to be removed from the funeral because it wouldn’t stop swearing.
Without Andrew Jackson, The Hermitage is just another Southern plantation with a dubious racial history. With Andrew Jackson, it’s a Southern plantation with fascinating — albeit terrifying — former occupant, and that makes it worth the visit.
Local tip: Grab brunch at one of Nashville’s many boozy brunch spots (we suggest Mad Donna’s in East Nashville — they have a Bloody Mary bar), get a little buzzed and then hit the Hermitage and wonder why more men who used duels to settle political disputes haven’t been elected highest office in the land.
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