Visiting the Home of Alfred Jackson at the Hermitage
One thing that is hard to get past as you walk around the Hermitage is the fact that the man who was so great that you came to see his home owned slaves. The docents who take you around don’t hide that fact from you. They do try and make it sound great when they say that he considered them family. I just can’t imagine how you could consider anyone family while at the same time considering them property. I think that after the fact they come up with nice things that Andrew may have done for his slaves to show that he was a good owner, but the fact remains that he was still a slave owner. As I looked around at the beautiful house with the expensive wallpaper that was so fantastic that I couldn’t even make a photo of it I kept thinking that it was all bought with the fruits of slave labor.
The Story of Alfred Jackson
Alfred Jackson was a slave that lived on the Jackson grounds his entire life. He lived to be 99 years old which at that time was amazing for anyone let alone a slave. His mother was the Jackson family cook, and he would end up being Andrew Jackson’s personal slave. After he was freed he stayed at the farm in the same room that he did when he was a slave. To me that raised more questions for than it answered. Alfred was buried very near Andrew. How could you be so loyal to someone who thought that they owned you? When I left the grounds of the Jackson home I was actually more interested in the story of Alfred than I was with Andrew. I stopped listening to the biography of Andrew that was accompanying me on my trips. I came away more interesting in the life of Alfred. For now though I just have a couple of stories that they told about him on the tour, and this photo of the place where he lived for 99 years.