January 13, 2015

Andrew Jackson: A Mother's Parting Advise

Elizabeth Jackson, Mother of Andrew Jackson, left her son this parting advise at age 14, as he later recalled:

Andrew, if I should not see you again I wish you to remember and treasure up some things I have already said to you:  In this world you will have to make your own way. To do that you must have friends. You can make friends by being honest, and you can keep them by being steadfast. You must keep in mind that friends worth having will in the long run expect as much from you as they give to you. To forget an obligation or be ungrateful for a kindness is a base crime - not merely a fault or a sin, but an actual crime.  Men guilty of it sooner or later must suffer the penalty.  In personal conduct be polite, but never obsequious. No one will respect you more than you esteem yourself. Avoid quarrels as long as you can without yielding to imposition.  But sustain your manhood always. Never bring a suit at law for assault and battery or for defamation. The law affords no remedy for such outrages that can satisfy the feelings of a true man.  Never wound the feelings of others. Never brook wanton outrage upon your own feelings. If you ever have to vindicate your feelings or defend your honor, do it calmly. If angry at first, wait till your wrath cools before you proceed.

-from Andrew Jackson: His Life and Times, by H.W. Brands, p. 31