He smooths the way for his grandson, who later became Fleet-Captain of the Navy's North Pacific Squadron.
In the fall of 1839, Jackson had the Battle of New Orleans on his mind for two reasons. First, he was invited to attend the Silver Jubilee of the battle in December-January. He had been ill and hesitated, thinking it best to avoid such an arduous and lengthy trip. As the year...
In the fall of 1839, Jackson had the Battle of New Orleans on his mind for two reasons. First, he was invited to attend the Silver Jubilee of the battle in December-January. He had been ill and hesitated, thinking it best to avoid such an arduous and lengthy trip. As the year wore on, however, more and more people importuned him to reconsider.
Finally, both public and personal considerations overwhelmed his opposition, and he decided to go. The acclaim he received, it was said, rivaled that showered on Washington as he journied to New York to first assume the presidency. The second reason related to one of Jackson’s comrades at the Battle of New Orleans, fellow Tennessean Col. John H. Gibson, who had also served him as a cavalry officer in 1812-13 on the campaign to Natchez and in 1813 in the Creek War.
The valor of Gibson at New Orleans was such that he was held in great esteem by the rank and file of the American army, as well as by his old commander. Shortly after his demise in 1823, the Tennessee legislature passed an act creating and naming Gibson County in west Tennessee to perpetuate his memory.
Gibson’s wife was from Kentucky, and one of Gibson’s grandsons was Kentuckian Paul Shirley. In 1839 young Shirley was entering a career in the Navy, and this came to Jackson’s attention. Jackson, always an unrelenting enemy to his enemies, was ever the most generous and staunchest friend to his friends. Aging himself, Jackson was acutely aware that the grandfather was unable to be there to use the important connections he had developed in a lifetime of service to aid his grandson. So Jackson determined to honor the grandfather by doing it for him.
Andrew Jackson Autograph Letter Signed, one page 4to, Hermitage, October 23, 1839, to Thomas Easton, navy agent at Pensacola and apparently one of his old soldiers. “This will be handed to you by my young friend, Acting Midshipman Paul Shirley, grandson of my deceased friend, Col. Gibson, whose prowess and military service you must recollect – a better or braver officer never wielded a sword. Mr. Shirley has sustained an excellent character, is esteemed by all who know him, and as such I present him to you. I request that you introduce him to all the Naval officers on the Pensacola station. I would have given a letter to the commander of the West India Squadron, but really I have been so long confined, I have forgotten who is Naval Commissioner there. Please make this known to the Naval gentlemen.”
Shirley (1820-1886) entered the navy in 1839 as a master, carrying this letter of introduction from the revered former President to his first post commander. Jackson’s confidence in the young man was to prove justified, as in time he rose to become fleet-captain of the North Pacific squadron in the 1860’s. While in command of the sloop “Cyane” in the Pacific in 1863, he gathered acclaim by capturing the piratical cruiser “J. M. Chapman”.
The letter is beautifully framed with a picture of Jackson and the envelope in his hand.
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