President Jackson biographer marks Hermitage event - WSMV News 4

President Jackson biographer marks Hermitage event

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Tuesday marks 198 years since the Battle of New Orleans, a fight many historians call the single most important in our nation's history.

Folks at The Hermitage, the home of President Andrew Jackson, marked the anniversary with music and a wreath laying.

The battle was the last major event in the War of 1812, during which the British attempted to regain control in North America, but Jackson was successful in heading them off.

Author John Meacham spoke at the event at Jackson's home and said Jackson was critical in the development of our country.

Meacham, who grew up in Chattanooga, on the Pulitzer Prize for his book American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House.

"He's the most important and least understood figure in the middle of our history. He's the pivotal political figure in American life between Jefferson and Lincoln, and I really believe he was a key architect of the modern presidency," Meacham said.

Of course, Jackson, like just about any other prominent figure in American history, had his flaws, and Meacham said those controversial traits often reveal as much about a person as their accomplishments.

"You cannot mindlessly celebrate someone, because if you do, A: it's inaccurate, and B: they lose their capacity to teach. I learn a lot more from sinners than I do from saints," Meacham said.

The author signed copies of American Lion and his new book, Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power.

In honor of the Battle of New Orleans, admission to The Hermitage was free Tuesday, and several visitors took advantage. Attendance was measured at more than 3,200 for the day, which officials said was a big increase over years past.

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