Becoming Old Hickory


(With Credit and Thanks to NTPA Mid-Miss. Chapter Member Dr. Tom Watts)
2011 Mississippi Social Studies Framework


 Domestic Affairs

2. Understand how technology, geography, and social conflict has impacted the development of the United States.

b. Cite evidence and evaluate the importance of improvements in transportation and communication (e.g., steamboats, railroads, canals, telegraph, etc.) in the development of American society. (DOK 3)

c. Describe the purpose, challenges, and economic incentives associated with westward expansion, including the concept of Manifest Destiny (e.g., the Lewis and Clark expedition, accounts of the removal of Indians, the Cherokees’ Trail of Tears, settlement of the Great Plains and the territorial acquisitions that spanned numerous decades. (DOK 2)

 Global Affairs

 3. Understand how geography and politics have influenced the historical development of the United States in the global community.

 a. Examine the exploration and colonization periods of the United States using social studies tools (e.g., timelines, time zones, maps, globes, graphs, political cartoons, tables, technology, etc.). (DOK 2)

 c. Analyze U.S. foreign policy in the early period prior to reconstruction. (DOK 3)


5. Understand the interaction of individuals, families, communities (microeconomics), businesses, and governments (macroeconomics) and the potential costs and benefits to the United States economy.

 a. Compare and contrast the economic factors that led to the development of America (e.g., exploration, colonization, immigration, sectionalism, industry in the North vs. agriculture in the South, tariffs, etc.). (DOK 2)

b. Analyze and evaluate the causes and effects of the Industrial Revolution, Westward Expansion, and immigration on the United States (e.g., inventions, railroads, canals, roads, gold rush, etc.). (DOK 3)


 6. Understand the purposes and principles embodied in the ideals and values of American society.

 a. Evaluate the value and the challenge of diversity in American life. (DOK 3)

 b. Assess the importance of certain character traits in a democracy, such as civility, nationalism, freedom, authority, justice, equality, responsibility, etc. (DOK 3)

 Learning Objectives:

The students will be able to: 1) Use a variety of readings, including primary sources about Andrew Jackson, the Natchez Expedition and the Natchez Trace to understand the consequence of the Natchez Expedition to the politics and sectionalism during War of 1812; and how Andrew Jackson received his nickname “Old Hickory”. 2) Use Natchez Trace and other maps to compare and contrast the changes of historical sites for the Natchez Expedition in 1812 – 1813 to Today.

Teaching Material:

  1. “Becoming Old Hickory” – General Andrew Jackson’s Natchez Expedition Questions for the Natchez Trace Field Trip in April 2013.
  2. Map of the Territory of Mississippi, 1798 – 1817.
  3. Map of the 1802 Mississippi Territory
  4. Map of State of Mississippi 1822
  5. A portion of Colonel John Coffee’s Personnel Status Report for March 8, 1813 at Washington, Mississippi Territory (outside Natchez). Coffee commanded the Tennessee Volunteer Calvary Regiment of approximately 600 men. This is three (3) weeks prior to the return to Tennessee by General Jackson and his Tennessee Volunteers by way of the Natchez Trace (Also called Columbia Trace).
  6. President James Madison’s Proclamation of War against Great Britain after Congress approved the Declaration of War on June 19, 1812.

 Teacher Overview:

General Andrew Jackson’s Natchez Expedition
(December 1812 – April 1813)

The War of 1812 was a military conflict fought between the forces of the United States and those of the British Empire. The United States declared war in 1812 for several reasons, including trade restrictions brought about by Britain’s ongoing war with France, the impressments (forcing of American merchant sailors into the Royal Navy), British support of American Indian tribes against American expansion, outrage over insults to national honor after humiliations on the high seas, and possible American desire to annex Canada.  The United States’ Congress declared war on Great Britain in June 1812.

Tennessee Governor Willie Blount was asked by the Secretary of War to send 1,500 troops for the defense of the lower Mississippi region and an expedition under the command of Andrew Jackson, Major General of the Tennessee militia, was outfitted in December 1812.

The troops were mustered in at Nashville on December 10, 1812 and departed in early January 1813. The expedition consisted of two volunteer regiments, under Colonels Thomas Benton and William Hall, and one regiment of volunteer mounted gunmen under Colonel John Coffee. Coffee’s men rendezvoused at Columbia, Tennessee and marched overland into the Mississippi Territory (NOTE:  Coffee’s Cavalry moved down the Natchez Trace, or “Columbian Highway” as it was officially known, now the present-day states of Alabama and Mississippi). The rest of the expedition comprised a flotilla that went down the Cumberland, Ohio, and Mississippi Rivers, camping at their final destination near Natchez in mid-February 1813. After lingering there for several weeks, Jackson received orders from the Secretary of War that his services were no longer required and that he was to dismiss his troops. An angry and frustrated Jackson decided to march the army home at his own expense and, by his determined stance, acquired the sobriquet “Old Hickory” along the way (NOTE:  The Army Returned along the Natchez Trace, stopping along the way, using the “Stands” as hospitals, such as Brashear Stand near Ridgeland, MS.  During this return journey, the ailing but defiant Jackson would receive his nickname “Old Hickory”, when he gave up his horse to sick Tennessee volunteers.)  The Many of the men who were part of this expedition were called to join the first campaign of the Creek War in September 1813.

NOTE:  (A journal of the Natchez Expedition can be found in John Spenser Bassett, ed., The Correspondence of Andrew Jackson – Volume I, Washington, DC, 1926).

Student Instruction:

Divide the students into groups and hand them the instruction sheet, copies of the maps and the Natchez Expedition of 1813. Be sure that they understand that the light brown/ lines on the topography map indicate levels of elevation, the roads are in red and black (often dashes), and the red shaded areas are the city boundaries and that the small black squares indicate buildings.

Student Task:

  1. Locate the Natchez Trace on each of your maps. Use a green colored pencil to “trace” the Natchez Trace.
  2. Locate Leflore’s Bluff/Jackson, Mississippi on the 1801, 1820 and Territory of Mississippi 1798 – 1817 maps and using a red colored pencil draw a small circle around the village of Leflore’s Bluff/city of Jackson. Jackson is not on the maps.  Using the maps for comparison, look for the Pearl River and the Big Black River and look for the 32nd parallel. Using your best judgment, draw a circle where you think Leflore’s Bluff/Jackson should be.
  3. Now look at the modern map of the Natchez Trace Parkway and locate Madison, Mississippi on the north side of Jackson. Please be sure you note the compass rose so you know which direction is north.
  4. Read the information handouts on the Natchez Trace, the Natchez Expedition and the Andrew Jackson
  5. During the field trip to the Natchez Trace in April, students will take the General Andrew Jackson’s Natchez Expedition on the worksheet questions and answer the questions.

Teacher Closure: Ask the students to imagine that they were one of the Tennessee Volunteers with General Jackson. How would they feel about being away from home, being lead by General Jackson? Ask the students what they could imagine mapping and maps could be like 200 years from now.

Student Assessment: During the field trip to the Natchez Trace in April, students will take the General Andrew Jackson’s Natchez Expedition on the worksheet questions and answer the questions.

Suggestions for re-teaching: Visit the Natchez Trace Parkway to see a portion of the Trace near the school where Andrew Jackson camped with his men during the return from the Natchez Expedition.

Extension: Have the students write to their local, state or national archives or historic society and find out if they can find additional information about the War of 1812 in the Southeast United States, Andrew Jackson and maps that represent the War of 1812 period of history.

Primary Sources, Readings and Material:

Andrew Jackson Gains His Nickname. Washington, D.C.:  National Park Service.  November 13, 2012.

Bassett, John Spenser, ed.  The Correspondence of Andrew Jackson, Volume I. Washington, DC: Library of Congress. 1926.

Jackson, Andrew. “Tennessee History”Masonic Research. 2012.

Kentucky Volunteer Unit Roll, War of 1812.   Washington, D.C.:  Library of Congress. 1814.

Further Reading and Connections with Andrew Jackson and the War of 1812:

A Guide to the War of 1812.  Washington, D.C.:  Library of Congress. 2012.

Benn, Carl. The War of 1812. New York: Routledge, 2003.

Borneman, Walter R. 1812: The War that Forged a Nation. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2004.

Heidler, David S., and Jeanne T. Heidler, eds. Encyclopedia of the War of 1812. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO, 1997.

Hickey, Donald R. Don’t Give Up the Ship!: Myths of the War of 1812. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2006.

Hickey, Donald R.  The War of 1812: A Forgotten Conflict.  Urbana: University of Illinois Press.  1989.

Meacham, Jon.  American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House.  New York: Random House.  2009.

Langguth, A. J. Union 1812: The Americans Who Fought the Second War of Independence. New York : Simon & Schuster, 2006.

Remini, Robert V.  The Battle of New Orleans. New York: Viking. 1999.

Remini, Robert V. The Life of Andrew Jackson.   New York: Viking.  1988,

Stagg, John C.A. Mr. Madison’s War: Politics, Diplomacy, and Warfare in the Early American Republic, 1783-1830. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1983.

For Younger Readers

Childress, Diana. The War of 1812. Minneapolis: Lerner Publications Co., 2004.

Greenblatt, Miriam. War of 1812. New York: Facts on File, 2003.

Haberle, Susan E. The War of 1812. Mankato, Minn.: Bridgestone Books, 2003.

March 15, 1767 – June 8, 1845

Andrew Jackson’s family moved from Ireland in the 1760′s. His father was killed shortly before Andrew was born, so his widowed mother raised Andrew and his two older brothers in the home of a relative.

 When he was thirteen years old he joined the Continental Army as a courier*. He and his brother were captured by the British. Once when he refused to polish the shoes of a British officer, the officer hit him with a sword and left scars that would remain the rest of his life. There were inward unseen scars also as a result of the war because he lost his older brother, and his mother also died during the war as a result of cholera.

When he was fifteen years old he received an inheritance from his grandfather in Ireland, but being young and inexperienced he was unable to handle the windfall and spent the entire amount in a week’s time.He studied law and became a lawyer at the age of 20. He headed west to Tennessee to seek his fortune. His destination was Nashville and there he met Rachel Robards, a young woman who had married at age seventeen and was estranged from her husband. She thought her husband had obtained a divorce and she and Andrew ran away to Natchez, Mississippi and married. Unfortunately, she was mistaken about the finality of the divorce. They returned home after six months only to find out they were not legally married. Her husband then sued for divorce on the grounds of adultery, the first such case in the state. When the divorce was final she and Jackson were married a second time, this time legally.

In 1796 he served in Congress as a State Representative from the state of Tennessee. 

In 1805 there was a dispute over a bet on a horse he had with a Mr. Erwin. A duel ensued between Jackson and Mr. Erwin’s son-in-law Charles Dickinson. It was agreed that Dickinson would shoot his pistol first. His shot hit Jackson and wounded him, but he didn’t die. Jackson’s first attempt to fire failed, and he took dead aim again and fired a fatal shot at Dickinson. The man survived for a few hours, but subsequently* died. The bullet would remain in Jackson the rest of his life and cause him a lot of pain and trouble.

In 1812 the United States declared war on Great Britain. Andrew Jackson was the commander of the Tennessee militia. Their mission was to defeat the Creek Indian warriors who had sided with the British. At one point Jackson’s soldiers threatened to mutiny*. He said he would kill them if they left. Previous threats had been carried out, so the mutiny did not occur.

In March 1814 he cornered the Creek Indians in Alabama. Not one of the 1,000 Creek Indians surrendered, but all were killed in the Battle of Horseshoe Bend

. The Tallapoosa River ran red with the blood of those who had been slaughtered. Sam Houston who fought alongside Jackson agonized over the events that took place that day.

Andrew Jackson was known as “Old Hickory”. He was as tough as a hickory stick and had an unbending will. Yet there was a soft side to him also. On a march he preferred to walk with the troops and let the wounded soldiers ride on the horses.

The British were threatening New Orleans. It was here that the last major battle of the War of 1812 would take place. Jackson teamed up with the French privateer and pirate, Jean Lafitte and the free blacks of New Orleans. He had about 4,500 men and was outnumbered three-to-one by the British. The British thought it was going to be easy to defeat the American troops there, but they were surprised when Jackson and his troops stood their ground. The British would lose hundreds of men, but Jackson only had 8 soldiers killed and 13 wounded. After 1815 the British left the Americans alone.

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