Truxton for $2,000, with an $800 appearance bond payable to Jackson if Plowboy failed to show. In the first organized race in the state, at Gallatin in 1804, Jackson entered his mare Indian Queen and lost. In the spring of 1832, he discovered that his overseer was running his horses too hard too soon. “I was truly mortified,” he wrote to his son Andrew Jr. He was not deterred. Brands. His racing ability led to his selection as a courier for Patriot forces during the American Revolutionary War. Jackson was not among those southerners who lost their plantations from the result.
Although organized horse racing began in America in the northeastern section, it shifted south towards the end of the 18th century. William Sparks, familiar with young Jackson, called him “a restless and enterprising young man.” He had a small store in nearby Bruinsburgh, which was near a racetrack for quarterhorses.
Nothing upset Jackson more than the mismanagement of his horses, according to historian H.W. The sport also attracted a poor boy from the Carolina Piedmont country by the name of Andrew Jackson.
Jackson fiercely protected this reputation. In 1805, he took up Joseph Erwin’s challenge: Erwin’s Plowboy vs. Despite the injury and the pouring rain, Truxton won the arranged two two-mile heats. Then, as a law apprentice in Salisbury NC, Jackson was described by a resident as “the most roaring, rollicking, game-cocking, horse-racing, card playing, mischievous fellow that ever lived in Salisbury.”
But it was Tennessee that would become the center of horse racing in early 19th century America. But a year later, in the midst of his presidential duties, Jackson felt the pangs of seller’s remorse and bought back Bolivar. During training runs, however, Erwin determined that Plowboy was too slow and paid the November 5th appearance bond rather than risk losing $2,000. Jackson may also have had an owning interest in the racetrack.
Andrew Jackson used his skill and enthusiasm for horse racing to support his country, his finances, and his reputation. He ordered his son to “have the turf closed, plowed up, and permit not a horse to gallop on it,” at his Hermitage plantation.
Upon winning the presidency in 1828, Jackson sold his current favorite racehorse Bolivar, a gray stud colt and a descendent of Truxton. From Washington D.C., Jackson managed Bolivar. The race was rescheduled for April 3, 1806.. From 1789 to 1792, on and off, Jackson lived in the Natchez area attending to business ventures. I have determined to sell out part to enable me to feed the balance better.” Jackson also sold some of his best horses to help pay off his son’s debts. It was the sporting version of the Civil War, pitting the North’s American Eclipse, a grandsire of Diomed, and the South’s Sir Henry. All the while, he helped build Tennessee into the center of horse racing in the early 19th century. To his horse-man in Tennessee he wrote, “knowing the merit of his (Bolivar’s) blood, you see I am determined to keep its credit up until I can get it tested, by his offspring from a thoroughbred mare.”
As a boy, Jackson raced horses against other boys in Waxhaw, SC. Also using Truxton to stud, Jackson, with the help of his slave Dinwiddie, became the top horse breeder in Tennessee.
Billed as “the greatest and most interesting match race ever run in the western country…” by the Nashville Impartial Review, Jackson refused to withdraw from it when Truxton suffered a thigh injury during training. Ads with glowing descriptions of the horses were to entice buyers, but according to Brands, it also showed Jackson’s difficulty in letting them go, like Bolivar.
Brands, H.W., Andrew Jackson: His Life and Times, New York: Doubleday, 2005.
Burstein, Andrew, The Passions of Andrew Jackson, New York: Knopf, 2003.
Eisenberg, John, The Great Match Race: When North Met South in America’s First Sports Spectacle, New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2006.
HorseRacingBusiness.com, Independence Day: Racing in Early America.
Nelson, Stanley, Andrew Jackson Helped Launch Horse Racing in Natchez, Concordia Sentinel, April 1, 2010.
TurkCasinos.com, Gambling: How Andrew Jackson Became Famous.
However, starting in 1811, Jackson experienced repeated defeat in his efforts to beat Haynie’s Maria, a filly owned by Jessie Haynie of Sumner County, TN, and ridden by a talented slave jockey named Simon. After seven failed attempts to beat Maria with various horses, the highly competitive Jackson sold his horses in disgust.
Despite the defeats and the demands of a political career, Jackson continued to engage in horse racing. Jackson also acquired the champion Greyhound and an interest in the Clover Bend racetrack, where he organized races involving Truxton. American Eclipse won in three heats. In 1823, Jackson interrupted his presidential campaign to be among 60,000 people attending the “Great Match Race” at Long Island, NY. Later, bad-mouthing on both sides led Jackson to kill Erwin’s son-in-law Charles Dickinson in a duel.
Jackson’s youthful fervor continued in Natchez, MS while he built a law career in Nashville, TN. Jackson recorded winning a total of $10,000. The region’s mild winters, lusher pastures, and cheap land made it attractive to the sport’s patrons, especially wealthy planters. Sparks claimed that the area was rife with anecdotes of Jackson’s skill at racing quarterhorses. Ironically, Kentucky would eventually take over that role, thanks to Jackson’s most hated political rival and another excellent horse breeder, Henry Clay.
Still, after leaving the presidency, Jackson’s horses were in poor condition, “I find my blooded stock in bad order and too numerous for empty corn cribs and hay lofts. He acquired the renowned Truxton, sired by the English champion Diomed. At age 16, Jackson was also a recognized appraiser of horseflesh, as a 1783 document with his signature appraising a bay horse attested. Jackson preferred that the horses were saved for the fall races. After the war, Jackson gambled an inheritance away partly on horse racing