Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Andrew Jackson's ancestral home

Andrew Jackson (1767-1845) was the seventh president of the United States of America and the man who shaped the modern Democratic Party.  He is remembered as the protector of popular democracy and individual liberty for American citizens and also for his toughness, which earned him the nickname 'Old Hickory'.  More nearly than any of his predecessors, Andrew Jackson was elected by popular vote and as president he sought to act as the representative of the common man.

He was born in a log cabin in the Waxhaws region, on the border between North Carolina and South Carolina, but his parents were Ulster-Scots and his ancestral home was at Boneybefore, on the outskirts of Carrickfergus.
In 1765, two years before he was born, his parents, Andrew Jackson and Elizabeth Hutchinson, emigrated from Ulster to America.  They probably landed in Pennsylvania and then made their way overland to the Scotch-Irish settlement in the Waxhaws.

The Jackson homestead in Ulster was demolished many years ago, when the nearby railway line was being developed, but an Andrew Jackson Centre has been established in a nearby cottage, which was built around 1750 by another Ulster-Scots family, the Donaldsons.  This single-storey thatched cottage was used as a family home until the mid 1970s and the Jackson home would have been almost identical.

Today the centre has a display gallery depicting the life and career of Andrew Jackson and this is about to be updated.  Perhaps Carrickfergus will also erect signs at the edge of the town stating that Carrickfergus is the ancestral home of President Jackson.

In the grounds of the Andrew Jackson Centre there is an exhibition dedicated to the US Rangers, an elite American army regiment that was formed in Carrickfergus in 1942 and based there throughout World War II.

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