Marriage: Rachel Donelson Robards Jackson
Rachel Donelson was born in 1767 and grew up on the frontier. She began life in Virginia but moved with her parents to Tennessee and then Kentucky. At the age of seventeen, she married Lewis Robards of Mercer County. However, they separated by 1790, and she heard that he was filing a petition for divorce.
In 1791, Rachel married Andrew Jackson. They were very much in love. Once married, however, they were horrified to discover that while Robards did in fact file a petition for divorce, he did not actually proceed with the divorce. Robards brought a suit against Rachel for adultery. Jackson and Rachel were not able to remarry legally until 1794. This would later be used against Jackson during the campaign of 1828. While Jackson and Rachel did not have any natural children, they did adopt one son who they named Andrew Jr.
Rachel Jackson died two months before her husband took office in 1829. The cause of her death is unknown but Jackson blamed John Quincy Adams and other political enemies because of the personal attacks made against her character over questions of adultery and bigotry from their marriage. Rachel's niece Emily Donelson acted as Jackson's unofficial first lady until his daughter-in-law, Sarah Yorke Jackson, joined Emily in acting as a hostess for the White House.