Months before the election, congratulatory messages began to pour into the Hermitage. Some came from old friends and disinterested well-wishers, many from prospective seekers of office or of other favors. Influential people in the East, and especially at the capital, hastened to express their desire to be of service to the Jacksons in the new life to which they were about to be called. In the list one notes with interest the names of General Thomas Cadwalader of Philadelphia, salaried lobbyist for the United States Bank, and Senator Robert Y. Hayne, the future South Carolina nullifier.
Returns sufficiently complete to leave no doubt of Jackson’s election reached the Hermitage on the 9th of December. That afternoon, Lewis, Carroll, and a few other members of the “general headquarters staff” gathered at the Jackson home to review the situation and look over the bulky correspondence that had come in. “General Jackson,” reports Lewis, “showed no elation. In fact, he had for some time considered his election certain, the only question in his mind being the extent of the majority. When he finished looking over the summary by States, his only remark was that Isaac Hill, considering the odds against him, had done wonders in New Hampshire!”
When, two weeks later, the final returns were received, leading Tenneseeans decided to give a reception, banquet, and ball which would outshine any social occasion in the annals of the Southwest. Just as arrangements were completed, however, Mrs. Jackson, who had long been in failing health, suffered an attack of heart trouble; and at the very hour when the General was to have been received, amid all the trappings of civil and military splendor, with the huzzas of his neighbors, friends, and admirers, he was sitting tearless, speechless, and almost expressionless by the corpse of his life companion. Long after the beloved one had been laid to rest in the Hermitage garden amid the rosebushes she had planted, the President-elect continued as one benumbed. He never gave up the idea that his wife had been killed by worry over the attacks made upon him and upon her by the Adams newspapers—that, as he expressed it, she was “murdered by slanders that pierced her heart.” Only under continued prodding from Lewis and other friends did he recall himself to his great task and set about preparing for the arduous winter journey to Washington, composing his inaugural address, selecting his Cabinet, and laying plans for the reorganization of the federal Civil Service on lines already definitely in his mind.
THE “REIGN” BEGINS