This being July Fourth weekend, the country along with the world in the throes of a coronavirus pandemic, controversies over monuments, road, street and town names, in addition to a pandemic of protests, here are some stories pertinent to the times.
Some protesters recently wanted to remove Andrew Jackson’s statue in Lafayette Square across from the White House in the nation’s capital. The statue depicts the seventh president of the country waving his hat astride a rearing horse. The protest apparently is because Jackson was a slave owner and possibly slave trader, in addition to his presiding over the Indian Removal Act that forced Native Americans out of their homelands to territories west of the Mississippi River.
Jackson earned the nickname “Old Hickory” because of his toughness suffering along with troops he led in Indian wars and other battles on behalf of the country. A nickname you don’t hear as often is “Sharp Knife,” which some Native Americans called him because of his rough treatment of them.
Jackson during his presidency also figured in a controversy in the young county of Hall. It happened during the Fourth of July holiday 1834.
A member of Hall County’s celebration committee, Thomas Holland, had his servant hoist an American flag atop the courthouse, which at that time was a two-story brick building in the middle of Gainesville’s square. He apparently was a member of a political party opposed to Jackson’s presidency. While he was away, some Jackson supporters had their slaves climb the courthouse to place some hickory branches atop the flag pole, an obvious tribute to “Old Hickory” Jackson and an affront to his opponents.
This angered Holland, who then ordered his servant to remove both the hickory branches and the flag, which he threw to the ground. Holland picked up the flag, which he owned, and put it in the drawer of a desk in his store.
That apparently ended the controversy, and no flag flew atop the courthouse for the Fourth of July.
Jackson’s name and his nickname are all over the place, especially around Nashville, Tenn., where his Hermitage plantation was located.
In Hall County, a marker commemorates his spending the night near Flowery Branch on his way to fight Native Americans in Florida in 1818. Robert Young, Jackson’s friend, was his host at his tavern. Jackson Trail is named for the route he took through Georgia. A second marker stands between Jefferson and Winder at Ga. 11 and Jackson Trail Road.
Some presume Jackson County was named for Andrew Jackson. Instead it was named for James Jackson, a Revolutionary War soldier, governor and senator.
Jackson County has an important piece of history that isn’t often acknowledged. It was the birthplace of the University of Georgia. Franklin College, which became the university, was founded in Jackson County when the area that is now Clarke County was a part of it. Clarke County later was carved out of Jackson County, Athens sprouted around the college, and Jackson County lost its claim to fame at the time. Jackson County, however, remains a hotbed of University of Georgia supporters, especially the school’s athletic teams.
Lyman Hall, Hall County’s namesake, was among the original founders of UGA.
High school alumni treasure their former teachers, and another Gainesville High School class is honoring them by encouraging present students to go into teaching.
The Class of 1967 is awarding a $1,000 per year scholarship to a student headed to a university that provides a teaching degree. That must be a Georgia college, and the recipient also must teach in Georgia after graduation. An additional $1,000 will be awarded to the scholarship winner as assistance toward a teaching career when he or she completes the four-year degree.
Class of 1967 members Glenda Martin Braswell and Darrel Baumgardner administer the scholarship through the North Georgia Community Foundation. A board of directors is made up of other class members.
Those interested in applying or donating to the fund can find information on the website, www.gainesvilleinvestsinfutureteachers.com. That’s the name of the fund, G.I.F.T.
Johnny Vardeman is retired editor of The Times. He can be reached at 2183 Pine Tree Circle NE, Gainesville, GA 30501; phone, 770-532-2326; email, firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. His column publishes weekly.