Generations Later, One Of President Jackson’s Most Prized Possessions Is Back At The Hermitage
The gold used to make the box is better than 18 karat. Its inscription reads: 'Feb 23d 1819 Presented by the Mayor, Aldermen & Community of the City of New York to Major General Andrew Jackson, with the freedom of the city, as a testimony of respect for his high Military services.' Credit: The Hermitage

Generations Later, One Of President Jackson’s Most Prized Possessions Is Back At The Hermitage

The gold used to make the box is better than 18 karat. Its inscription reads: 'Feb 23d 1819 Presented by the Mayor, Aldermen & Community of the City of New York to Major General Andrew Jackson, with the freedom of the city, as a testimony of respect for his high Military services.' Credit: The Hermitage
The gold used to make the box is better than 18 karat. Its inscription reads: ‘Feb 23d 1819 Presented by the Mayor, Aldermen & Community of the City of New York to Major General Andrew Jackson, with the freedom of the city, as a testimony of respect for his high Military services.’ Credit: The Hermitage

Of all the tokens of appreciation governments sent him after the Battle of New Orleans, a small gold box, about the size of a deck of cards, was one of only five Jackson mentioned in his will. The snuff box was recently returned to Jackson’s home, but for years, it seemed the box might never leave the Hermitage at all.

The engraved box was a high honor bestowed on Jackson by the City of New York. It named him one of the nation’s greatest heroes.

It came with the freedom of the city, which was basically kind of making him a temporary citizen.

Hermitage curator Marsha Mullin says Jackson wanted the box to be returned to New York after his death as an award for another great warrior. And so, in 1857, Jackson’s adopted son set off by train to present it to the man a committee had chosen as the most valiant New York officer in the Mexican-American War.

The New York Times ran a nearly full-page article on the decision not to award the box, as well as the parade and ceremony that happened even without the presentation. Credit: New York Times
The New York Times ran a nearly full-page article on the decision not to award the box, as well as the parade and ceremony that happened even without the presentation. Credit: New York Times

But while he was on the road, a veterans group launched a protest over the choice. The honor was rescinded. Hundreds had gathered for a planned ceremony, but Andrew Jackson, Jr. turned right back to Nashville, box in hand.

Another recipient was eventually chosen, but then another war broke out.

So he didn’t come until after the Civil War to actually pick it up. And Andrew Junior had also by that time passed away.

Once he got it, General Ward Burnett treasured the prize. It was handed down from father to son for several generations of his family. And recently, after that line of descendents died out, the family returned it to The Hermitage. The gold box goes on display January 8.

Nina Cardona

Nina Cardona is WPLN's host for All Things Considered. As a reporter, she covers a wide range of assignments with an emphasis on culture, the arts and local history. A graduate of Converse College, she's lived in Middle Tennessee most of her life.
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