I've lately had little time for blogging because, among other things, I've had lot of end-of-semester work to slog through. My drives to and from the office have, though, given me lots of time to listen to recorded books. I've polished off Will Durant's Caesar and Christ, and started on H. W. Brand's biography of Andrew Jackson.
To my surprise, the latter work has thus far given me no reason to change my low regard for the seventh president. To the contrary, it has given me new reasons to condemn him. The most amusing one: In 1789, while in the employ of the nascent U.S., Jackson took an oath of allegiance to the Spanish crown!
The full story makes it look less as if Jackson engaged in out-and-out treason than that he simply lied for personal gain. Jackson had traveled to Natchez to trade and, more crucially, to facilitate his adulterous relations with Rachel Robards (whom he later married). The Spanish authorities then controlling the lower Mississippi required those trading in their territory to pledge allegiance to their monarchy. That Jackson willingly took the pledge, and for such opportunistic reasons, casts doubt on the "Man of Honor" pose he so often assumed when challenging his foes to duels.
Regardless of any mitigating context, though, Jackson's oath to Spain merits remembering. It could prove very handy in answering an unusual trivia question: What U.S. president pledged his allegiance to a foreign crown? Perhaps lots of them did. But "Old Hickory" offers a solid and surprising answer.