Andrew Jackson Donelson
Jacksonian and Unionist
Author(s): Richard Douglas Spence
This richly detailed biography of Andrew Jackson Donelson (1799-1871) sheds new light on the political and personal life of this nephew and namesake of Andrew Jackson. A scion of a pioneering Tennessee family, Donelson was a valued assistant and trusted confidant of the man who defined the Age of Jackson. One of those central but background figures of history, Donelson had a knack for being where important events were happening and knew many of the great figures of the age.
As his uncle's secretary, he weathered Old Hickory's tumultuous presidency, including the notorious "Petticoat War." Building his own political career, he served as US chargé d'affaires to the Republic of Texas, where he struggled against an enigmatic President Sam Houston, British and French intrigues, and the threat of war by Mexico, to achieve annexation. As minister to Prussia, Donelson enjoyed a ringside seat to the revolutions of 1848 and the first attempts at German unification. A firm Unionist in the mold of his uncle, Donelson denounced the secessionists at the Nashville Convention of 1850. He attempted as editor of the Washington Union to reunite the Democratic party, and, when he failed, he was nominated as Millard Fillmore's vice-presidential running mate on the Know-Nothing party ticket in 1856. He lived to see the Civil War wreck the Union he loved, devastate his farms, and take the lives of two of his sons.