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    Andrew Jackson calls the debate over the Missouri Compromise "useless"

    Andrew Jackson Autograph Letter Signed Twice ("Andrew Jackson" and "A.J.") to "Genl John Coffee". One page, 7.5" x 11.5" (sight), February 23, 1820, "Hermitage", with health advice, commentary on the Missouri Compromise debate, and word on Jackson's Tennessee friend and advisor, Judge John Overton. In full as written:

    "Dr. Genl

    I have recd a letter from Mr James Jackson advising me that you had been very much indisposed but had recovered your health, you must be more carefull than heretofore, your constitution
    . . . [illegible] exposure - we must content ourselves with things as they are, wind up our worldly concerns, & take care of our health.

    I have heard nothing from Congress
    [illegible]. the Misouri question has occupied all their attention, of late, at length is determined in the Senate by a great majority against the instructions. Congress may soon begin to do something for the national benefit, as yet they have done nothing, but spend the public money in useless debate.

    In passing from Franklin court I called at Judge Overtons, when he presented me with the enclosed papers & a warrant to transfer. as these papers may be of use to you I enclose them, that you may either file or destroy them.

    Mrs. J. joins me in good wishes for your health & that of your family. Present us to Polly & the children & believe me to be
    Respectfully your friend,
    Andrew Jackson

    P.S. I have endeavored to see Joe Smith but as yet am disappointed. Mr. Washington has not returned.
    A.J."


    John Coffee (1772-1833) settled near Nashville, Tennessee, in 1798, where he soon met Andrew Jackson (1767-1845), who had arrived there ten years earlier. Coffee quickly became Jackson's business partner, military associate, confidant, adviser, and fearless friend. Their connection was strengthened by Coffee's marriage to Rachel Donelson Jackson's niece, Mary "Polly" Donelson (1793-1871), in 1809. Coffee, Jackson, and James Jackson (an Alabama politician and founder of Florence, Alabama, not related to Andrew) invested in land in the Alabama Territory. Coffee served under Jackson in the Creek War, where he was promoted to brigadier general, and at the Battle of New Orleans. After the war, Coffee served as surveyor general of public lands in Alabama from 1817 until his death in 1833. In 1819, he purchased land near Florence in Lauderdale County, Alabama, and moved his family there.

    Jackson, who suffered with ill health most of his adult life, likely references such concerns when noting that "we must content ourselves with things as they are, wind up our worldly concerns, & take care of our health". On at least one occasion during his presidency, his family wondered if he would survive one of his sick spells. Rumors occasionally circulated about his death, inviting some visitors to the White House simply to see if the president was still alive.

    This Missouri Compromise, which resulted from the "useless debate" over the "Misouri question" Jackson writes about, later passed as an agreement between northern and southern lawmakers over the issue of the expansion of slavery in new states being admitted into the Union. The Compromise, which limited slavery in the Louisiana Territory, was complicated a year earlier by the addition of Alabama (Coffee's new home) as a slave state. The patchwork of agreements and compromises between pro-slavery and anti-slavery states over the next four decades postponed full resolution of the slavery question until the Civil War. Both Coffee and Jackson owned slaves. As president from 1829-1837, Jackson showed no interested in abolishing or reforming the peculiar institution. John Overton (1766-1833) was a Tennessee judge, as well as an early friend who later became an important advisor to Jackson as president.

    Coffee has docketed the document near the address, "The enclosed business has all been settled long since and the parties concerned all satisfied." The letter is framed and matted to an overall size of 20.25" x 17". Though not examined out of the frame, expected tears from the two original seals are visible on the address page. Jackson's heavy pen strokes have resulted in a bit of paper loss due to some ink burn. Cello tape stains are still visible in four places where it has been used to mend separations occurring at the folds. In two such instances, a few words have been lost. Jackson's signature is greatly affected by the use of cello tape resulting in some staining. A clean cut also appears to exist in the bottom right corner, separating the "A" from the "J" in Jackson's initialed signature. Ex. The Papers of John Coffee.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    October, 2009
    16th-17th Friday-Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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