"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

Thursday, June 17, 2021

President Andrew Jackson’s Conversion to Christ

Andrew Jackson is my favorite President of all United States Presidents.

Jackson eclipses Lincoln, Washington, and Reagan in my opinion, not so much due to his policies, but more for his life. In Jackson’s own words, “I was created for a storm. Calm does not suit me.” 

Americans today only hear the rightful criticisms of Jackson's Indian Removal Act and his lack of opposition to slavery, while never hearing the monumental things this founder of the Democrat Party accomplished on behalf of our nation.

Forgetting to appraise people according to their culture and times will sometimes lead us to mistakenly dismiss the worthy. Caution is in order before condemning ancestors, recognizing the general darkness of former days often tainted one's personal behaviors.

Enid, Oklahoma has some very strong connections to the life story of Andrew Jackson. A 1910 graduate of Enid High School, Marquis James, wrote an award-winning biography of our nation's 7th President. James' two volumes on the life of Andrew Jackson - Volume 1 The Border Captain (1933) and Volume 2 Portrait of a President (1937) - were combined into the 1938 Pulitzer Prize-winning book The Life of Andrew Jackson. To this day, it remains the most colorful and interesting biography of President Jackson.

When President Jackson pushed for the Indian Removal act in 1830, the greatest opponent to the President's ambition of moving all Indians to "Indian Territory" (Oklahoma), was the erudite Cherokee Chief, a man named John Ross. Chief Ross's great-great-granddaughter is an across-the-street neighbor and member of the church I pastor. Her family's story of how the Cherokees (and other tribes) were forcibly moved to Indian Territory is not one of the brighter chapters in American history, but any Oklahoman with a mixture of Indian blood is most likely directly connected with President Jackson through the land you now call home (Oklahoma).

The reason I feel a strong affinity for Andrew Jackson is the dramatic story of his conversion to faith in Jesus Christ during the latter years of his life. Though raised by a mother who desired him to be a Presbyterian minister and married to a woman devout in her Christian faith, both of these women died very early in their lives, leaving Jackson to serve as President of the United States (1829-1837) without their influence. Though known to defend the Christian faith as President, Andrew Jackson had no personal experience with it until he reached the age of 75.

The Scar of Abuse

Born on the Ides of March (March 15), 1767, Andrew Jackson came into this world just three weeks after his father died from injuries sustained attempting to move a log on their land near Waxhaw, North Carolina. Both North Carolina and South Carolina claim Jackson as a native son, but Marquis James says Mrs. Jackson gave birth to Andrew while staying in her brother's home in South Carolina, not far from Waxhaw, North Carolina.

Andrew's devout Christian mother taught him to read at an early age, and when The Declaration of Independence was signed in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776, it was nine-year-old Andrew who stood on a chair and read the Philadelphia newspaper's account as the "town crier" to the inhabitants of Waxhaw. The Declaration of Independence meant war with the British.

An expert horseman,  young Andrew Jackson eventually became a messenger boy for the Revolutionary soldiers.  When Andrew was only 13 years old, he was captured by the British and imprisoned in Camden, South Carolina. While in prison, Andrew contracted smallpox. and he would have died had it not been for his mother coming to Camden to successfully negotiate her son's release. She nursed Andy back to health back, but a year later, Andy's mother would leave for Charles Town to assist in the care of other wounded Revolutionary War soldiers. While ministering to the wounded in Charleston, South Carolina, Andy's mom contracted cholera and died, leaving the future President of the United States orphaned at the age of 14.

But the event that kept Andrew Jackson from "following Christ" occurred on the day he was captured by the British soldiers. It filled his heart with hate.

Marquis James recounts the event:
The British officer in command "in a very imperious tone" directed Andy to clean his boots. 
"This order he very promptly and positively refused, alleging that he expected such treatment as a prisoner of war had a right to look for."
The officer lifted his sword and aimed a violent blow. The boy threw up his left hand. It was cut to the bone, and a gash on his head left a white scar that Andrew Jackson carried through a long life that profited little to England or any Englishman." 
Biographer Marquis James is known as "the unqualified master of understated metaphors."  The phrase "the white scar...profited little to England or any other Englishman" is an understated way of saying Andrew hated the English people and England in general. The scar on his cheek, which turned whiter as the years progressed, served as a visible reminder of this hatred.

Jackson was fueled by this hatred in his amazing defeat of the British in New Orleans to end The War of 1812. He would often skip British protocol with diplomats while President because he despised courtesy to the British. Andrew Jackson's abuse as a boy at the hands of a British officer kept him in a state of perpetual resentment towards all things British.

Until his conversion.

The Conversion of Andrew Jackson

Jackson came to faith in Christ in 1842 at the Hermitage. He had invited  Rev. John Todd Edgar, the renowned pastor of First Presbyterian Nashville to lead a week-long series of meetings on the Hermitage property. Henry Clay, the man Abraham Lincoln once called 'my ideal of a great man,' once said of the Nashville pastor: "If you want to hear eloquence, go hear John T. Edgar preach." 

The Hermitage outside Nashville
During the last of the revival meetings, on a Saturday, the guest preacher noticed the former President was paying particularly close attention to the message. Dr. Edgar, on the spur of the moment, decided to give a very personal illustration of God's providence. 

The preacher sketched the life and career of a Tennessee pioneer who had "escaped the perils of the wilderness, the wiles of the Indian. the dangers of war, the conflicts of politics,  and the attempts of the assassin." This was Andrew Jackson's life.

Then the preacher asked, "How can such a man pass through such scenes as these unharmed and not see in it an Omnipotent Hand?

At the close of the service, the former President asked the preacher for a personal visit. However, Dr. Edgar could not do so until Sunday morning. 

The former President spent the greater part of Saturday night reading the Bible and in prayer. When the preacher came to the Hermitage the next morning, Andrew Jackson announced to the preacher that he had given his life to Christ and would like to "join the church." Dr. Edgar asked Jackson a series of questions about his faith, and the conversation concluded with the following dialogue.
General there is one more question which it is my duty to ask you. 'Can you forgive all your enemies?' 
Jackson was silent for a good while. At length he said, "My political enemies I can freely forgive, but as for those who abused me when I was serving my country in the field, and those who attacked me for serving my country doctor that is a different case.
Dr. Edgar, however, insisted that the forgiveness must be entire and embrace the whole family of man.
After a considerable pause the candidate got so far as to say that he thought he could forgive even the men who had made his defense of his native land a pretext for assailing him.
The scene in the little church that morning was never forgotten by any who witnessed it.
Besides being crowded to the very uttermost the windows were darkened by as many black faces as could get near enough. At length the former President and his daughter stood up to make the usual public profession.
He leaned heavily upon his walking stick with both hands and his face was wet with tears. When finally he was pronounced a member of the church, the feelings of the congregation, which had been restrained during the ceremonial, burst forth in sobs and cries, and the clergyman himself was unable to speak. Some one started a familiar hymn, and in singing this the feelings of the excited company at last found both expression and relief. (General Jackson: Hero of New Orleans by Oliver Dyer, pp. 361-363).
In Andrew Jackson's conversion, I am reminded that the mark of genuine Christianity is the ability to forgive even one's enemies. 

Yes, it may take time. Yes, it isn't always easy. Forgiveness requires the power of God.

But the evidence of God’s presence in your life is the ability to give the same grace to others that God has given to you. (Adapted from my original article on President Jackson's conversion, written in 2016). 

Rachelle and I at Jackson's Hermitage Home (Nashville), June 17, 2021


President Andrew Jackson's bedroom where he died Sunday, June 8, 1845, at 6:00 pm




33 comments:

Robin Foster said...

Wade, it was good to see you and Rachelle today. I am looking forward to your next assignment from our Lord and how He will use you. Blessings!

Wade Burleson said...

Robin,

Great to see you and your lovely wife as well - especially at Andrew Jackson's home! :)

Wade

Walker.tim said...

Several years ago when I was pastoring in Nashville, my parents came for a visit. I was asking them about places they would like to see and I suggested the Hermitage as a possible place of interest. My mother, being of Choctaw descent and from the McCurtain family, firmly said "no!" She wasn't interested in anything connected with Andrew Jackson.
I enjoyed the story of Andrew Jackson's conversion.

Rex Ray said...

Walker.tim

I’m on your mother’s side. Big difference between a scar and death of 3,000 on the Trail of Tears caused by Jackson.

That’ be like people honoring Hitler, or me honoring LBJ.

Christiane said...

Wade writes 'Forgiveness requires the power of God.'

for those of us who have experienced this, there comes instead of bitterness and anger, something of compassion . . . it 'happens', sometimes quite suddenly and is perceived strongly and with wonder


" . . . The Holy Spirit teaches us to love our enemies in such way that we pity their souls as if they were our own children.”

(St. Silouan)

Scott Shaver said...

No in between sentiments with regard to Old Hickory these days. He is either hated or revered. One of my favorite historical figures as well.

CM said...

I wonder if Jackson every repented of his treatment of the Native Americans, some of who were his fellow Christians? Interestingly it was a Christian pastor and missionary who whose SCOTUS case (Worcester v. Georgia) that was one of the first cases regarding tribal sovereignty. It was this case that Wade's hero Andrew Jackson promptly ignored, thereby setting the stage for the Trail of Tears. I wonder if he ever repented and asked for forgiveness to Samuel Worcester (he did live to 1859). I highly doubt it.

I am of the opinion that Jackson's conversion is about as real as many of those criminals who "find Jesus" in prison and play the game to get out earlier. And on par with Trump's so-called conversion (who of course is also a big fan of Andrew Jackson).

Rex Ray said...

CHRISTIANE,

My Grandmother could not forgive a doctor who caused the death of her husband when he was 42; leaving her with eight children. (The oldest was 15; my uncle Rex.)

But God honored her prayer that she’d forget the doctor’s name.

Just now, should I forgive a lady with a foreign accent who called asking for my social security number as there was a mix-up in their records?

I hung up, but I wished I’d asked her if she was a Christian.

Christiane said...

Hello there REX RAY,

might have been nice to have asked her, yes . . . but NEVER give out personal info over the phone YIKES . . . of course, you know this, as you hung up :)

I was trying to think about a 'favorite' President, and I think, character-wise in the sense of the Christian way of life, that Jimmy Carter comes to mind, as a servant of his country, and as a servant of God. No one else comes close to him in my opinion. Something about 'integrity', I suppose.

Rex Ray said...

CHRISTIANE,

Yes, Jimmy Carter was a very moral person. He said he’d never committed adultery but he’d lusted.

I guess there’s a fine line in admiring a good looking person, but it’s like we can’t keep birds from flying over our heads, but we can keep them from building a nest there.

Reminds me of two days ago when I tore down a mocking bird’s nest that was building a nest on top of the slide’s motor that pulls the sled up.

It’s a good location in that it has a tin roof which gives shade and rain proof.

Rex Ray said...

CHRISTIANE,

Two funerals in three days. I talked to a kinsman of the deceased. She was a senior and I was a freshman in high school. She remembered the story of us talking in the school hall when her friend shoved her into me.

I had told her many years later, that was when I found out girls felt different than boys.

She laughed about it today.

Wade Burleson said...

I appreciate all the Native American stories. I have Cherokee blood. Most Oklahomans have some Indian blood. Andrew Jackson was born during the French/Indian wars. The Indians would butcher men, women, and children, sometimes in the most gruesome manner. One such battle which had a direct influence on Andrew Jackson was the following:

"The fifth fort to fall during the Pontiac wars was Fort Michilimackinac (present Mackinaw City, Michigan). This was the largest fort taken by surprise. On June 4, 1763, local Ojibwas staged a lacrosse game with the visiting Sauks. The soldiers watched the game, as they had done on previous occasions. The ball was hit through the open gate of the fort; the teams rushed in and were then handed weapons previously smuggled into the fort by Indian women. Thirty men were brutally killed and scalped within the garrison were killed in the struggle; five more were later executed."

It's easy to judge American and British attitudes toward the Western Frontier Indians during the late 1700's, but I think if you lived at that time, your attitude would be a tad different.

RB Kuter said...

Been listening to Joan Baez sing "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" lately. Quite a ballad that elicits some pity for me for those who died in the Civil War. The entire atmosphere of that society was so much more complicated than the mere issues of slavery, although of course, that was a huge aspect of it all.

Still, many (most?)of those southerner rebs were not slave owners but probably poor farmers with 20 or 40 acres of corn, a cow, some pigs, and a bunch of kids. I don't imagine many were fighting to maintain the institution of slavery but perhaps liberation from a perceived group of elitist bent on dominating their lives and culture. Seems hard to demonize them all.

I imagine Jackson's way of addressing the tribes was influenced greatly by the perception the society held at the time. Can our actions be vindicated at a level due to our being blinded by the blanket of sentiment thrown upon us? I hope so.

GladsomeHeart said...

Andrew Jackson State Park is less than 10 miles from me. In fact, Hubby and I are headed there tomorrow for a picnic and some geocaching.

Christiane said...

Mr. Kuter, I was very moved to read what you wrote, this:

"I imagine Jackson's way of addressing the tribes was influenced greatly by the perception the society held at the time. Can our actions be vindicated at a level due to our being blinded by the blanket of sentiment thrown upon us? I hope so. "



Lissa Roberson said...

"In Andrew Jackson's conversion, I am reminded that the mark of genuine Christianity is the ability to forgive even one's enemies."

It does take time, and it certainly requires the power of God.

Enemies aren't just the bad guys "over there" in the abstract sense. If we take time to reflect and pray, God will reveal our personal enemies that need to be forgiven.

Our enemies might be family members that mistreated us and left emotional scars that follow us for years. There was a time when I had to draw a boundary in my relationship with my mother because the hurt was more than I could deal with. For years I kept very little contact with her...then the Holy Spirit intervened. In the most mysterious way, He gave me the supernatural ability to forgive her for years of hurt, and He freed me to love her unconditionally. From that point on, our relationship began to heal and we enjoy a closeness now that I never experienced with her before. Forgiveness brings healing and freedom.

The enemy might hide in memories brought back from the military battlefield. Maybe my dad needed to forgive his superiors for sending him into the killing fields of Vietnam, and that could have freed him from the inner demons that cost him his life.

The enemy might be somebody that abused you in your younger years. That's a hard one. I'm a victim of multiple perpetrators. I'm still working on that one.

The enemy might be a system of government that kept your ancestors disadvantaged or oppressed for generations. What I'm about to say might be offensive, but it is simply my opinion. Our present cultural turmoil with CRT is only the latest manifestation of a deeper issue: a systemic (and demonic) stronghold of unforgiveness that is keeping the African-American community in spiritual chains, preventing them from healing and moving forward despite the strides our nation has made in civil rights reform.

Asian-Americans were humiliated during WWII by being forcibly removed from their homes and businesses, then placed in internment camps simply because they were Asians and their governments had gone to war against us. Chinese were used more or less as slave labor "coolies" (Ku-Li: Bitter Labor) building our trans-continental railroads in the 19th century. Asians continue to suffer discrimination, violence and degrading insults today because of the COVID-origin controversy. Yet they thrive in academics and business, and we don't see them committing crime in the streets. Why the difference?

I'll repeat: Forgiveness requires God's help, sometimes the Holy Spirit's intervention. But forgiveness brings healing and freedom.

Christiane said...

when enough people have walked away from the fantasy that our amazing country was built by our own labors;

and come to recognize that for this great country to have grown, its powerful engaged in breaking the backs and souls of many innocent victims in the process;

then, the national healing of all concerned may have a chance to begin




Scott Shaver said...

Not so Christianne.

When people quit being pressured and pushed around by the irrational fringes who are into generational guilt and the sour grapes of the fathers is when healing and SANITY can at least partially resume.

My family and forefathers worked honestly for everything they ever had by tbe sweat of their own brows and the labor of their own backs.

Have you done a comparative study on any other world nations and the role slavery played (still plays) in their histories. Checked child and sex traffic slaves here in Texas last month coming across the border in your President Biden's apparent deals with the cartels?

Scott Shaver said...

Lisa:

I find your words both wise and brave. Thank you.

From a theological perspective, I don't see much difference in the rationale of CRT and the old segregationist Curse of Ham THEORY that Dwight Mckissic hates.😎

Rex Ray said...

Lissa Roberson,

How do you ‘forgive’ if you still remember? I believe in heaven we will NOT remember any ‘bad’ things.

Once I asked a fellow deacon to repeat what time our youth was to meet the next day to go on a mission trip. (The youth were standing around with us.)

He said, “I have a sore throat, and because of your poor hearing, you want me to talk louder!”

He walked over and grabbed my ears. It hurt so bad; I yanked my head back, but that made the pain worse because he didn’t let go.

He continued to squeeze my ears while lecturing me. I thought of hitting him in his stomach, but didn’t think that’d be good in front of the youth.

Years later at a deacon’s meeting I brought it up and he asked me to forgive him. I said I would if he really meant it.

But Lissa, I still remember.

Lissa Roberson said...

Rex Ray,

I've heard many descriptions of forgiveness from the pulpit and from excellent books on the subject. There's a popular saying that I think is unrealistic: "forgive and forget". Some actions taken against me are easily forgotten, while others are so traumatic that they are seared in my memory for life. In those instances, forgiveness means I release that person of responsibility for ruining my life by what they did to me. I release them to God for Him to deal with as He so chooses. Afterward I might still remember what took place, but I remember it without reliving the pain and/or shame. Like I said earlier, I've succeeded in some cases, but not all.

Rex Ray said...

Lissa Roberson,

Our new church was under construction. The second-floor youth room needed many 2’x8’ sheetrock. So, the sheetrock was cut downstairs, making it easier to carry up a stairway.

I’ll name the ‘ear person’ “X”. I happened to walk up and saw “X” measuring, making a chalk line in the middle of the sheetrock, then cutting the paper very slowly with a knife. Then while kids were holding it, he would break the sheetrock, and cut the other side of the paper.

I said, “There’s a faster way to do that and you can cut as fast as you can walk.”

I placed a cut piece on top of the pile of sheetrock. Used the uncut edge as a guide and cut the paper.

“X” grabbed my jacket, and shook me like a ragdoll; saying, “You’re always telling people what to do!” (Word went around that two deacons almost had a fight.)

Many years ago, my young cousin spent a week with “X”. I ask what he thought of him. “Most critical man I’ve ever met.”

“X” found his 22-year-old son drunk and passed out in a bathtub with his clothes and shoes on. He told him he couldn’t live with them anymore. For a long time, his son made money playing guitar in a band until “X” gave him a job with a big salary in his company. As far as I know, his son has never become a Christian.

“X” sold his business for millions, made a golf course for his son and put him in charge. His son’s 17-year-old daughter committed suicide. Her note read: “I know God will take care of me.” Now his son has Alzheimer’s so bad that Mayo Clinic advised his affairs should be put in order.

Christiane said...

Hello Lissa,

you have had a very difficult time and suffered much, but you have been enabled to get past 'reliving' the pain inflicted on you and that is a sign of God's grace.

Your shared story reminds me of this from JRR Tolkien:

"“And then her heart changed, or at least she understood it; and the winter passed, and the sun shone upon her.”
(J.R.R. Tolkien)

Christ, in His great mercy to us, brings peace to our hearts. So may it be for you also, dear Lissa. God Bless!

Christiane said...

I remember another time before the 'CRT' which now goes into a more profound level of exposing the roots of present racial problems.

I remember the days of Dr. MLK, Jr. who advocated for non-violent protests and whose followers marched in that spirit, although they were attacked, beaten by clubs, bitten by dogs, and yet they remained peaceful. Yes, I remember that time.

I remember how they silenced Dr. King. They killed him.

Times have changed.

When 'the better way' was too much for those who murdered Dr. King, it set our nation on another sad and bitter course, but not without some hope for justice in the end. The hope is always there for some good to come. That hope cannot be murdered or denied a vote in the end, though some may try to destroy that hope. They will fail. God-given hope is something that is a part of our humanity, as we are made 'in the image of God'.

Rex Ray said...

Our Sunday School has been canceled this morning because of no water.

Deacons concluded the water well needs a new part. It’s the first meeting we’ve had in a couple of years, and without the pastor.

Christiane said...

REX RAY,

how's the heat and drought in your part of Texas?

my son is traveling now and the temp in Las Vegas is well over 100

does your well water come from an aquifer?

It was a sad story you told about that rich man whose family was so troubled. Money is sure not everything, and sometimes makes things worse for people whose values system gets skewed.

Lissa Roberson said...

Rex Ray,

That is a terrible, tragic legacy that "X" passed down to his family.

In a book that Wade recently wrote, he stated that "Hurting people hurt people." I would bet you dollars to donuts that X came from a family that inflicted deep emotional damage to his soul. Without God's help, he didn't know any better except to pattern his relations with others after what had been modeled to him.

It's a curse we suffer as fallen man...but for God. But for the healing that comes with forgiveness, we are left hurting, and we then turn and hurt the people we love most.

Rex Ray said...

CHRISTIANE and Lissa Roberson,

The wife of “X” is my sister, and they live a hundred yards from us. She said he was a middle child raised as a Catholic. Later, as an adult he became a Baptist. He has taught our Sunday School class for about two years. Our class begins by naming people that need prayers. I’ve often wondered why he never asked prayers for his son.

My daughter who has a master’s degree in business has worked for him over 20 years. The first year he ‘chewed her out’ after she told him she’d made a mistake. She told him she wasn’t going to lie to him like everyone else did. That gained his respect and he knows she has ‘saved’ him a lot of money through the years. Now, she ‘runs’ his golf course that his son used to.

Christiane said...

REX RAY and Lissa,

human nature being what it is, there is scarcely any family which is not touched by tragedy and by human failings;

I suspect it's how those times are met and the pain is 'processed' and how the sadness it 'dealt with' that makes a difference.

What Lissa said is so true, this: " But for the healing that comes with forgiveness, we are left hurting, and we then turn and hurt the people we love most."

by His stripes, we are healed


Rex Ray said...

You’ve heard it said, ‘With friends like this, who needs enemies?’

Many years ago, my sister and Jim had an appointment on Monday with lawyers to get a divorce. But the day before our Uncle Hez, told them how great it was for a young couple like them to be an inspiration to the church.

At the time, the church met before Sunday School for a short meeting where Jim was the moderator.

They felt ashamed of themselves and canceled the divorce proceedings.

Rex Ray said...

Our internet went down before I could make this comment:

From our windows, we can watch some of the Lord’s creatures in action.

Jesus said: “…not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it.” (Matthew 10:29 NLT)

We put birdseed on a lawn table, the ground, and a hanging cage. Each one has a different way of eating.

Most birds stay on the table, but not the redheaded woodpecker. He gets a seed, goes up in a tree 3 feet away, and breaks the seed against the tree. He’ll repeat the process five times in two minutes.

Doves are in pairs and stay close together while eating on the ground.

Small birds like the hanging cage.

Squirrels eat on the table, but one likes the hard way. He hangs upside down on the hanging cage.

The latest creature to join is a cotton-tail rabbit. His jaws go like a machine gun.

Rex Ray said...

Wonder if Jackson’s cut was as bad as below

https://wgntv.com/news/colorado-newborns-face-cut-during-emergency-c-section-requires-13-stitches/

Christiane said...

Poor lamb to be so hurt being born.

A song for people who suffer in THIS world that offers hope instead of judgment:
https://youtu.be/ehA_3AgT8HE?list=RDDoYzKRAChRY