Sunday, July 31, 2016

Travel Review: The Hermitage

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Interesting look at our seventh President
Cons: None
The Bottom Line:
Well preserved mansion
Chance to learn about Jackson
Great trip back in time

A Trip to Life on the Frontier in the 1800’s

Last month, I made my first trip to Nashville.  I was there mostly for business, but I had a few hours to kill one morning before I came home, so I decided to go to The Hermitage.  I am so very glad I did.

For those like me who haven’t heard of it before, The Hermitage was the home of Andrew Jackson, our seventh President.  While he was born in South Carolina, he spent most of his life in Tennessee, and bought the plantation outside of Nashville as a young man.  It is where he lived before, between, and after his gigs as a general and his two terms as President.

I wasn’t familiar with his life, so I was thankful that we started out with a museum giving us a brief overview of his life and accomplishments.  You can breeze through this section in 30 minutes and get a good idea about his life.  For example, he grew to fame during the war of 1812, winning the important battle of New Orleans, which took place after peace had been declared.  Makes you appreciate the speed news spreads today, doesn’t it?

Speaking of today, what I think struck me most was how little times haven’t changed in our country.  Andrew Jackson was swept to the Presidency in a wave of voters fed up with the corruption of Washington DC.  In fact, he’d won the popular vote but lost the Electoral College 4 years before he won the Presidency.  And during campaign, his wife’s past was a target for the other side.

It’s sad how little has changed, hasn’t it?

Once you are done with the tour (and finish up the museum before stepping outside), you can continue on to see The Hermitage itself.  The house has been loving kept so that we can view it today the way it was actually lived in during the latter part of his life.  It gives you a good appreciate for how life was 200 years ago.  The docents inside the mansion are very interesting and really help us understand what we are seeing.

There is also plenty of see on the grounds.  Part of the admission fee is an electronic guide that narrates for you as you go along.  Just enter the numbers on the signs to get more of a feel for what life was like during that time.

There is plenty of see around the property, so I do recommend you take the time to wander some.  There is the garden where President Jackson and his wife and buried.  There’s the cabin where the longest surviving slave from the plantation lived until his death.  There’s the original house where Jackson lived when he first bought the property.  They even grow a little bit of cotton during the season since this was a cotton plantation.  Plus the property is absolutely beautiful.

Being a plantation in the south before the Civil War, the Hermitage had slaves the entire time that President Jackson lived there.  They do a good job today of showing what life was like for the slaves during that time.  No, they don’t paint a rosy picture, and they shouldn’t.  They also discuss some of his mistreatment of Native Americans, although that isn’t focused on nearly as much as his treatment of his slaves.  As a result, I do feel the museum is balanced.  They show us what President Jackson did that was good while also showing his flaws.  Naturally, they do play up the good, but I would expect that in a museum dedicated to anyone.

I spent about two and a half hours there, and I felt I’d seen what I wanted to see.  However, if I had longer, I would have lingered more and listened to all of the electronic stops along the way.  I’d certainly love to go back if I were ever in the area again.

So if you find yourself in Nashville, make time to visit The Hermitage.  You’ll be very glad you did as you learn about one of our Presidents.

2 comments:

  1. You know I live about 90 minutes away from Nashville and have never been to the Hermitage. We've been talking about fixing that soon and it sounds like a fascinating museum. Andrew Jackson is definitely a complex man and I'm glad the museum reflects that.

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  2. Sad to say I now live here in Nashville and have yet to make it to many things around here. Usually when we move we try to hit everything we can while we live here, we've lived here the longest and have seen very little...go figure. Thanks for the review, it is on my list to see.

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