Andrew Jackson - Legal and Political Career

Legal and Political Career

Jackson began his legal career in Jonesborough, now northeastern Tennessee. Though his legal education was scanty, he knew enough to be a country lawyer on the frontier. Since he was not from a distinguished family, he had to make his career by his own merits; soon he began to prosper in the rough-and-tumble world of frontier law. Most of the actions grew out of disputed land-claims, or from assault and battery. In 1788, he was appointed Solicitor (prosecutor) of the Western District and held the same position in the government of the Territory South of the River Ohio after 1791.

Jackson was elected as a delegate to the Tennessee constitutional convention in 1796. When Tennessee achieved statehood that year, Jackson was elected its U.S. Representative. The following year, he was elected U.S. Senator as a Democratic-Republican, but he resigned within a year. In 1798, he was appointed a judge of the Tennessee Supreme Court, serving until 1804.

In addition to his legal and political career, Jackson prospered as planter, slave owner, and merchant. He built a home and the first general store in Gallatin, Tennessee in 1803. The next year he acquired the Hermitage, a 640-acre (259 ha) plantation in Davidson County, near Nashville. Jackson later added 360 acres (146 ha) to the plantation, which eventually grew to 1,050 acres (425 ha). The primary crop was cotton, grown by enslaved workers. Starting with nine slaves, Jackson held as many as 44 by 1820, and later held up to 150 slaves, making him among the planter elite. Throughout his lifetime Jackson may have owned as many as 300 slaves.

Jackson was a major land speculator in West Tennessee after he had negotiated the sale of the land from the Chickasaw Nation in 1818 (termed the Jackson Purchase). He was one of the three original investors who founded Memphis, Tennessee in 1819 (see History of Memphis, Tennessee).

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