You can learn all about the story of the seventh president of the United States at Andrew Jackson State Park in Lancaster, South Carolina.
Jackson is the only South Carolina native elected president of the United States. Though there is some debate between the two Carolinas about which side of the line he was actually born on, Jackson himself claimed to be born in South Carolina.
Jackson was just 9 years old when the Declaration of Independence was signed. During the later years of the Revolutionary War, Jackson served as a courier for the local militia. That was how he and his brother were captured by British forces in the Waxhaw area of the state. It is here, the story goes, that Jackson was struck in the head with a saber after he refused to shine the boots of a British officer.
Jackson and his brother were later released, but his brother died soon after. Another brother was killed in the Battle of Stono Ferry, and Jackson’s mother died near the end of the war. (Jackson’s father had passed away just weeks before Jackson was born in March 1767.)
He lived with his uncle, on whose property he had been born and raised, and by 20 years old was a lawyer and moved to what would become Tennessee, winning the new state’s first seat in Congress.
Jackson gained national fame during the War of 1812, when he took on the British again as a major general and led his troops to victory at the Battle of New Orleans. He rode that popularity to the White House, becoming the seventh president of the U.S. in 1829.
Jackson was considered a man of the people and a defender of the little guy, breaking up the Second Bank of the United States. But he also took on his home state and threatened to send troops to enforce federal law when his former vice president and fellow South Carolinian John C. Calhoun supported a nullification battle to protest high tariffs. South Carolina backed down, and Jackson preserved the Union (for the time being).
He served two terms as president before retiring to Tennessee, where he died in 1845.
Andrew Jackson State Park includes a museum detailing the young Jackson’s life in the Carolina backcountry. Though the original buildings are long gone, a replica of an 18th-century schoolhouse shows what life would have been like in this primitive area around the time of the American Revolution.
Living history events are held throughout the year to depict life during the Revolution, and the park celebrates Jackson’s birthday each March. Artist Anna Hyatt Huntington’s statue immortalizing the young Jackson on horseback is at the park, which offers many of the typical recreational opportunities – camping, fishing, boating (non-motorized boats only) and nature trails for hiking as well as prime bird watching spots around the lake. In autumn, the endangered Schweinitz's sunflower can be seen in full bloom.
Other facilities include a playground, picnic shelters, horseshoe pits and volleyball equipment.
Andrew Jackson State Park, 196 Andrew Jackson Park Road, Lancaster, (803) 285-3344.
Open 8 a.m.-6 p.m. seven days a week Nov. 1-March 31; 9 a.m.-9 p.m. April 1-Oct. 31. The museum is open 1-5 p.m. Saturday-Sunday or during the week by appointment. The schoolhouse is open 1-5 p.m. Saturday and 2-5 p.m. Sunday from mid-March to November. $2 adults; $1.25 South Carolina seniors; free for children 15 and younger.