HERMIT_070124_087
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The Hermitage: Frontier Farm to American Landmark:
For visitors today, The Hermitage may mean only Andrew Jackson's house. For Jackson, it meant his whole farm. Today's deceptively park-line Hermitage bears little resemblance to the busy cotton plantation that was Andrew Jackson's Hermitage. The story of The Hermitage -- how these 1000 acres changed from frontier forest to Andrew Jackson's prosperous farm then deteriorated to post-Civil War dilapidation and finally recused to its current state as a public museum and National Historic Landmark -- mirrors many stories in American history. These stories of Indians, white men moving west, slavery and freedom, the changing roles of women, religion and reform, and the fortunes made from cotton are the stories of Jacksonian America.
Eli Whitney's development of a cotton gin to remove the seeds from cotton, made growing cotton in the South profitable. At the same time, the textile industry began to develop in Europe and New England placing cotton in high demand and fueling the cotton boom in the South.
Cotton would not have been valuable without the industrial revolution. Cotton mills in England and the northern United States spurred cotton production. Senator Charles Sumner called it an "unholy union... between the cotton planters and fleshmongers of Louisiana and Mississippi and the cotton spinners and traffickers of New England -- between the lords of the lash and the lords of the loom."
In Jackson's day, this mansion served as the centerpiece of a community made up of the white Jackson family, the African-American slaves, the overseer, the Jackson family's many visitors and all the buildings and workspaces it took to run the farm. Most evidence of this lively society has disappeared from today's landscape.
Enslaved workers provided the year-round labor required to grow and process cotton. When Jackson arrived at The Hermitage in 1804, he owned nine slaves, but by the time of his death he owned at least 150 slaves. Most southern plantations had 20 or fewer slaves so The Hermitage was quite large in comparison.
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