JACKSON, ANDREW, JOHN HENRY EATON, EZRA STILES ELY
Title Candid Appeal to the American Public: In Reply to Messrs. Ingram, Branch, and Berrien on the Dissolution of the Late Cabinet. By John H. Eaton. Accompanied by an Original Autograph Letter Signed from Andrew Jackson as President in 1829 to Reverend Ezra Stiles Ely
Publisher Washington Printed at the Globe Office 1831
Seller ID 12510J
First Edition. A rare copy of John Henry Eaton's defense of his wife, Margaret Eaton, against the attacks on her and John Eaton's conduct by members of Andrew Jackson's cabinet. 55 pages in self-wrappers. Reverend Ezra Stiles Ely's copy, one of the key figures in the Eaton Affair, with his autograph signature, “Ezra S. Ely, D.D.” on the title page. Accompanied by an original Autograph Letter Signed from Andrew Jackson to Reverend Ezra Stiles Ely, 1 page, quarto, Washington, June 29,1829, written early in Jackson's first term Fine and boldly signed, this unpublished letter was sent with his son, Andrew Jackson Jr., asking Ely to take charge of Andrew Jr. while in the city of Philadelphia where Ely was a minister. The recipient has docketed the letter at the extreme lower margin: "The foregoing letter is in the usual, running hand of the President. E.S. Ely.” The great irony of this letter is that with Ely's introduction of Jackson's son to Philadelphia society, Andrew Jr., met the lovely Sarah Yorke of the City of Brotherly Love, whom he married, and she became the loving delight of Andrew Jackson's old age, taking care of him and comforting him to the end. Taking place at the beginning of Andrew Jackson's Presidency, the Eaton Affair, or “Petticoat Affair” was the first White House sex scandal in American Presidential history which shocked the entire nation when it broke publicly. Margaret “Peggy” Eaton was married to Jackson's close Tennessee friend and biographer, John Henry Eaton, whom Jackson had appointed Secretary of War in his new administration. Margaret was the beautiful, assertive, and outspoken daughter of a Washington innkeeper whom Jackson had known long before her marriage to Eaton from Jackson's stays at her father's inn. Labeled a “loose woman” by the women of Washington society because of her unconventional ways, Margaret Eaton was snubbed by Vice-President John C. Calhoun's wife, the wives of Jackson's own cabinet members, and even by close members of Jackson's family. The attacks on Margaret Eaton reminded Jackson of the outrageous smears that he felt had led to the early death of his wife, Rachel, and caused Jackson to become obsessed with defending Margaret's honor, to the point of neglecting good government. Jackson felt that the Eaton attacks were part of a conspiracy to bring down his administration. His vigorous defense of Margaret absorbed the first two years of the Jackson Presidency, finally leading to the forced resignation of his cabinet, and Jackson's bitter estrangement with Calhoun which cost Calhoun his chance at the Presidency. The Reverend Ezra Stiles Ely of Philadelphia was a nationally known minister who had heartily pushed for Jackson's election to ensure a “Christian nation.” Shortly after Jackson's inauguration, Ely wrote Jackson and boldly brought to his attention the depth of the Eaton problem by telling Jackson he should fire John Eaton because of he and wife's loose morals, that they had had sex before marriage, and that Margaret had slept with assorted men in her father's boarding house. Jackson was shocked and responded with an impassioned and detailed defense of the Eatons to which Ely quickly backed down. The incident led Jackson summon Ely from Philadelphia to attend a special cabinet meeting (minus John Eaton) whose entire purpose was to prove the virtue of Margaret Eaton and that his cabinet members should impose on their wives to accept the Eatons into Washington society. The effort failed and eventually Jackson asked for the resignations of his cabinet. Margaret Eaton forced her husband to take her to Philadelphia and confront Ely. In a time when women were socially supposed to sit quietly and let their husbands defend them, Margaret Eaton, took charge of their encounter and proceeded to verbally rip Ely to shreds. Ely was devastated and stunned, and despite promises to Jackson, did another turnaround and asserted again she was an unchaste woman. Ely became in Jackson's eyes another of his enemies. The letter present here was written a few months after Jackson took office and before the Eaton Affair deteriorated to the point where Ely was unwelcome. It was by this copy that Ely learned of Eaton's refutation of the charges he helped to launch. This book and letter are remarkable artifacts linking important figures in the Eaton Affair, the first but not last White House sex scandal, which shocked the entire country, and remains one of the strangest and most intriguing episodes in American history.