Form and Content
Margaret L. Coit’s biography of Andrew Jackson is written in a third-person, narrative form. The story is divided into thirteen chapters, not always in the most logical manner, but the attractive power of the writing tends to weld the parts into an effective whole. The author appropriately stresses Jackson’s presidential years and places unusual emphasis upon his role in retirement as an elder statesman. Although relatively little is known of Jackson’s youth, Coit includes enough material on this crucial period to give life to the adult character.
Chapter 1 describes Jackson’s boyhood in the western sections of North and South Carolina, emphasizing the deprivation of his early years, his lack of formal education, and his revolutionary war service and ending with his legal training. Chapter 2 moves rapidly through Jackson’s early years as a Tennessee settler, discussing his growing financial and political fortunes as a public prosecutor, real estate speculator, and planter. Considerable attention is paid to his love affair and subsequent marriage to Rachel Donelson. In chapter 3, the reader learns about Jackson’s belief in a “code of honor”—that is, dueling as a way to resolve disputes between “gentlemen”—and his health-damaging wound received at the hands of Charles Dickinson. Chapters 4 through 6 cover Jackson’s service in the War of 1812 in abundant detail, concentrating on his seminal victory over the British troops at New...
(The entire section is 446 words.)