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Published: January 7th 2007
We drove the Natchez Trace from Jackson Mississippi to Springfield Plantation. It is 24 miles from Natchez. Springfield Plantation was built in 1790 and is the oldest grand plantation house in this area.
Here, in 1791, Andrew Jackson was married to Rachel Robards, an event, which made Springfield the setting for one of early America’s most famous and later tragic stories of love, and devotion.
Built in 1786-1791 during the Spanish Domination of West Florida (Mississippi, by Thomas Marston Green Jr. Mr. Green was a wealthy planter from Virginia.
Springfield remains almost original, including magnificent Georgian-Adam-Federal woodwork and mantels hand carved in Virginia in the 18th century. From the upstairs balcony Linda and I had a few of the remaining 1000 acres that has not changed for the past few centuries.
Our guide for this was a Mr. Arthur E. La Salle. I don’t know if he is a descendent of the great explorer Rene La Salle but for all I know he could have been. He appeared to be a royalist. He had photos of about every King and Queen I have heard of including Princess Diana’s boys. He seemed proud of crossing the ocean twice on
the HMS Queen Elisabeth II. He was something right out of the history books and as a matter of fact he has written a lot of them.
When Springfield was first settled it was a Spanish Colony. Later it was in Spanish West Florida. That according to Mr. La Salle was the fourteenth and fifteenth colony. He explained they remained loyal to the crown during the American Revolution as well 1/3 of the population of the 13 colonies. Many of these people moved to this area of Mississippi after the war, which to this day the English influence in the area is noticeable.
The historical event of Jackson marrying Robards in this house is significant by itself. The fact that she actually was not fully divorced at the time made it a major event that dogged Jackson his entire career in the Presidency. Actually, according to Mr. La Salle, there is good evidence that Mrs. Robards thought she was divorced. CNN would have had a field day with this story. In those days, it was a big story too.
The house is not as refined as other plantation houses that I have seen. When you consider what
they were up against it is easy to understand why.
Several years were required in order to prepare the building materials for the construction of such large structure. You couldn’t go down to “Home Depot.” The local loess soil, a fine loam supposedly blown in by great dust storms from the west eons ago and covering the original clay, had to be dug away near the plantation’s brick kilns so the proper clay could be exposed to make the bricks. Plenty of these were needed, because Thomas Greene had chosen to build a massive brick house. Every brick was formed by his slaves in wooden moulds and then baked in the wood-fired kilns.
Huge timbers for the great roof and floor beams had to be cut by axe and whipsaw and other timber had to be cut into lumber and formed into tongue-and-groove planking for flooring and ceiling. All the hinges for doors and window shutters were manufactured in the blacksmith shop on the plantation.
Mr. Greene wanted a clear massive entry room so he did away with the huge stairways common to many such houses. The enclosed stairway then opened up in the only guest bedroom
upstairs. This is where Jackson and his wife stayed for one week after they were married. With the Greens, their five children and servants all using this stairway, the Jackson’s didn’t have much of a bridal suit. I imagine they were glad to be leaving.
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