Jackson was prepared to believe the worst of any Spaniard, and his relations with Callava grew steadily more strained until finally, with a view to obtaining possession of certain deeds and other legal papers, he had the irate dignitary shut up overnight in the calaboose. Then he fell upon the judge of the Western District of Florida for issuing a writ of habeas corpus in the Spaniard’s behalf; and all parties—Jackson, Callava, and the judge—swamped the wearied officials at Washington with “statements” and “exhibitions” setting forth in lurid phraseology their respective views upon the questions involved. Callava finally carried his complaints to the capital in person and stirred the Spanish Minister to a fresh bombardment of the White House. Monroe’s Cabinet spent three days discussing the subject, without coming to a decision. Many were in honest doubt as to the principles of law involved; some were fearful of the political effects of any stand they might take; all were inexpressibly relieved when, late in the year, word came that “Don Andrew Jackson” had resigned the governorship and was proposing to retire to private life at the Hermitage.
THE DEATH OF “KING CAUCUS”
On a bracing November afternoon in 1821 Jackson rode up with his family to the Hermitage free for the first time in thirty-two years from all responsibility of civil and military office. He was now fifty-four years old and much broken by exposure and disease; the prospect of spending the remainder of his days among his hospitable neighbors on the banks of the Cumberland yielded deep satisfaction. The home-loving Mrs. Jackson, too, earnestly desired that he should not again be drawn into the swirl of public life. “I do hope,” she wrote plaintively to a niece soon after her return to the Hermitage, “they will leave Mr. Jackson alone. He is not a well man and never will be unless they allow him to rest. He has done his share for the country. How little time has he had to himself or for his own interests in the thirty years of our wedded life in all that time he has not spent one-fourth of his days under his own roof. The rest of the time away, traveling, holding court, or at the capital of the country, or in camp, or fighting its battles, or treating with the Indians; mercy knows what not.”
The intent to retire was honest enough but not so easy to carry out. The conqueror of the Creeks and Seminoles belonged not merely to Tennessee but to the entire Southwest; the victor of New Orleans belonged to the Nation. Already there was talk—“talk everlastingly,” Mrs. Jackson tells us in the letter just quoted—of making the hero President. Jackson, furthermore, was not the type of man to sit idly by while great scenes were enacted on the political stage. When he returned from Florida, he faced the future with the weary vision of a sick man. Rest and reviving strength, however, put the old vim into his words and acts. In two years he was a second time taking a seat in the United States Senate, in three he was contesting for the presidency, and in seven he was moving into the White House.