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American History
3.3 Boyhood of Andrew Jackson

The greatest battle of our second war with England—the War of 1812—was fought by General Andrew Jackson. He was the son of a poor emigrant who came from the North of Ireland and settled in North Carolina (He settled in Union County, North Carolina, very near the South Carolina line. See map in paragraph 140. Mecklenburg Court House is in the next county west of Union County.) When Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence in 1776, Andrew was nine years old, and his father had long been dead. He was a tall, slender, freckled-faced, barefooted boy, with eyes full of fun; the neighbors called him "Mischievous little Andy." He went to school in a log hut in the pine woods; but he learned more things from what he saw in the woods than from the books he studied in school. He was not a very strong boy, and in wrestling some of his companions could throw him three times out of four; but though they could get him down without much trouble, it was quite another thing to keep him down. No sooner was he laid flat on his back, than he bounded up like a steel spring, and stood ready to try again.

He had a violent temper, and when, as the boys said, "Andy got mad all over," not many cared to face him. Once some of his playmates secretly loaded an old gun almost up to the muzzle, and then dared him to fire it. They wanted to see what he would say when it kicked him over. Andrew fired the gun. It knocked him sprawling; he jumped up with eyes blazing with anger, and shaking his fist, cried out, "If one of you boys laughs, I'll kill him." He looked as though he meant exactly what he said, and the boys thought that perhaps it would be just as well to wait and laugh some other day.

When Andrew was thirteen, he learned what war means. The country was then fighting the battles of the Revolution. A British officer named Tarleton came suddenly upon some American soldiers near the place where young Jackson lived. Tarleton had so many men that the Americans saw that it was useless to try to fight, and they made no attempt to do so. The British should have taken them all prisoners; but, instead of that, they attacked them furiously, and hacked and hewed them with their swords. More than a hundred of our men were left dead, and a still larger number were so horribly wounded that they could not be moved any distance. Such an attack was not war, for war means a fair, stand-up fight; it was murder: and when the people in England heard what Tarleton had done, many cried Shame! There was a little log meeting-house near Andrew's home, and it was turned into a hospital for the wounded men. Mrs. Jackson, with other kind-hearted women, did all she could for the poor fellows who lay there groaning and helpless. Andrew carried food and water to them. He had forgotten most of the lessons he learned at school, but here was something he would never forget.

From that time, when young Jackson went to the blacksmith's shop to get a hoe or a spade mended, he was sure to come back with a rude spear, or with some other weapon, which he had hammered out to fight the "red-coats" with. Tarleton said that no people in America hated the British so much as those who lived where Andrew Jackson did. The reason was that no other British officer was so cruel as "Butcher Tarleton," as he was called. Once, however, his men met their match. They were robbing a farm of its pigs and chickens and corn and hay. When they got through carrying things off, they were going to burn down the farm-house; but one of the "red-coats," in his haste, ran against a big hive of bees and upset it. The bees were mad enough. They swarmed down on the soldiers, got into their ears and eyes, and stung them so terribly that at last the robbers were glad to drop everything and run. If Andrew could have seen that battle, he would have laughed till he cried.

Andrew knew that he and his mother lived in constant danger. Part of the people in his state were in favor of the king, and part were for liberty. Bands of armed men, belonging sometimes to one side, and sometimes to the other, went roving about the country. When they met a farmer, they would stop him and ask, 'Which side are you for?' If he did not answer to suit them, the leader of the party would cry out, Hang him up! In an instant one of the band would cut down a long piece of wild grapevine, twist it into a noose, and throw it over the man's head; the next moment he would be dangling from the limb of a tree. Sometimes the band would let him down again; sometimes they would ride on and leave him hanging there.

Directions: Answer the following multiple choice questions. Also, answer the following questions on a sheet of paper:
  1. Narrate the story of Gun in your own words
  2. Red coats versus bees. Explain.

Q 1: Name the British soldier who attacked the Americans

Q 2: Which was turned into a makeshift hospital
a church
a school
a little log meeting house

Q 3: No sooner was he laid flat on his back, than he bounded up like a steel spring, and stood ready to try again. This reveals Andy's ------------

Q 4: Andrew Jackson was born in the year --------------

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Question 6: This question is available to subscribers only!

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