Emily Donelson

Summary of Emily Donelson - First Lady of America
Our summary and fast facts about Emily Donelson provides an interesting and easy way to learn about the life of the First Lady as niece by marriage to President Andrew Jackson. Emily Donelson  married
her first cousin, important Andrew Jackson Donelson and was so politically well connected that President Jackson became godfather to two of their children, and future Presidents Martin Van Buren and James Polk were godfathers for the other two children. The stubborn and outspoken Emily Donelson created an awkward political situation due to her dispute with Peggy Eaton, the wife of the Secretary of War

Facts about Emily Donelson - First Lady
Emily Donelson undertook the role of First Lady as the niece of Andrew Jackson, the 7th President of the United States who served in office from March 4, 1829 to March 4, 1837.  What was the life of Emily Donelson like? The Facts about Emily Donelson covers important information, dates and interesting facts about her birth, her early life, her family, her personality with a biography and the accomplishments of Emily Donelson as the First Lady of the United States of America.

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Facts about Emily Donelson: Fact Sheet of Emily Donelson
Facts and Info: This fast fact sheet provides important information about Emily Donelson, First Lady of the United States of America.

Emily Donelson Fact Sheet - The First Lady of President Andrew Jackson

Relationship to President Andrew Jackson: Niece

Date Emily Donelson entered White House as First Lady: March 4, 1829

Term of Presidency: 1829-1837

When and where was Emily Donelson born?  

She was born on June 1, 1807 in Donelson, Tennessee

What was the name of her father and mother?

The name of her parents: John Donelson and Rachel Stockley Donelson. Her father was the brother of Rachel Donelson Jackson who became the wife of future President Andrew Jackson. She was educated at the Lebanon School Roadhouse and the Nashville Female Academy in Nashville, Tennessee

What was her relationship to President Andrew Jackson?

Emily Donelson was his niece by marriage and only 21 when she entered the White House. Andrew Jackson's wife, Rachel Donelson, had died (ust before her husband became President) on December 22, 1828. The role of First Lady was then assumed by Sarah Yorke Jackson who had married to Andrew Jackson, Jr.

When did she marry?

The seventeen-year-old Emily married A. J. Donelson on September 16, 1824

What are the names of her children?

Emily never had any children

When and where did Emily Donelson die?

Emily Donelson  died on December 19, 1836 in Nashville, Tennessee. She was only aged 29 years old when she died

Emily Donelson Fact Sheet - The First Lady of President Andrew Jackson

Picture of Emily Donelson

Picture of Emily Donelson

Facts about Emily Donelson: Fast Overview of Events in the White House
Facts and Info: Emily Donelson assumed the position of First Lady as the niece of President Andrew Jackson. She witnessed the important events of his presidency that included
the Second Seminole War and the Texas Revolution.

Personality and Character: Emily Donelson Quotes
Facts and Info: An insight into the personal views, character and personality of this First Lady may be obtained from the following Emily Donelson quotes:

"Madam, you dance with the grace of a Parisian. I can hardly realize you were educated in Tennessee"
was a comment made by a foreign diplomat to which Emily replied
"Count, you forget, that grace is a cosmopolite, and like a wild flower, is much oftener found in the woods than in the streets of a city."

Facts about Emily Donelson: First Events
Facts and Info: She was the
first niece of a President to assume the role of First Lady and the first to act as a co-hostess with Sarah Yorke Jackson.

Facts about Emily Donelson, the Niece of Rachel Donelson Jackson
Facts and Info: First Ladies are not elected so have no official role. Their accomplishments are therefore based on their own particular wishes that ranged from political interests, humanitarian and charitable causes or duties relating to their family or social responsibilities. Emily Donelson became First Lady as a result of her support of
her aunt, Rachel Donelson Jackson, the wife of President Andrew Jackson. Due to ill health Rachel Jackson had asked Emily to assist her in some of the forthcoming routine social functions and duties that would be demanded of her when she became the mistress of the White House. Rachel died on 22 December, 1828 before her husband entered the White House on March 4, 1829. President Andrew Jackson followed Rachel’s decision and invited the young Emily Donelson to serve as First Lady in her aunt’s stead.

Facts about the Causes and Accomplishments of Emily Donelson
Facts and Info: First Ladies are not elected so have no official role. Their accomplishments are therefore based on their own particular wishes that ranged from political interests, humanitarian and charitable causes or duties relating to their family or social responsibilities. The causes and accomplishments of Emily Donelson were demonstrated in her support of her uncle and undertaking the social duties of the First Lady. Emily was a supporter of literacy and education which she believed should be available to everyone. She was particularly interested in the education of girls. During her role as First Lady, Emily oversaw the addition of the North Portico of the White House in 1829, part of the White House re-building program following the Burning of Washington DC during the War of 1812.

Facts about Emily Donelson: The Life of Emily Donelson
Facts and Info:
Emily Donelson was one of the few ladies to serve as mistress to the White House without actually being married to the President. Emily Donelson was President Andrew Jackson’s niece by marriage. She was the daughter of Rachel Donelson Jackson’s brother John and his wife Mary on June 1, 1807 at the Clover Bottom Farm in Donelson, Tennessee. She had a wealthy, privileged background and was well educated at Lebanon School Roadhouse and then the Nashville Female Academy. She married her first cousin, important Andrew Jackson Donelson when she was seventeen years old. When young Andrew Jackson Donelson's mother remarried, the lad Andrew moved to The Hermitage, the home of his aunt, Rachel Donelson Jackson and Andrew Jackson, Andrew's namesake. Following their marriage Emily Donelson undertook the social duties associated running the Tulip Grove plantation. The couple would raise 4 children of which three would be born in the White House. Emily was a confident and outspoken young women. She understood the political importance of maintaining valuable political support via informal social events. Aware of her young age Emily Donelson showed great respect and adopted a strict sense of propriety when mixing with the older, wealthy women who were wives of Cabinet members - refer to President Andrew Jackson's Cabinet.

Facts about Emily Donelson: Peggy Eaton and Emily Donelson
Her strict sense of propriety and her outspokenness led to an extremely difficult political situation involving the Secretary’s of War’s wife, Mrs. Peggy Eaton. Peggy Eaton greatly offended Emily Donelson by remarking that Emily’s relationship President Jackson was inappropriate. Emily refused to ever associate with Peggy Eaton again - refer to the Peggy Eaton Affair. The dispute led to Emily and her husband leaving the White House during the summer of 1830. Emily refused point blank to return to the White House if she had to associate with Peggy Eaton. She only relented when Mr. Eaton was appointed the U.S. Minister to Spain  when he and Mrs. Eaton were required to move to Spain to live. Emily returned to the White House as First Lady in September of 1831.

Facts about Emily Donelson and Sarah Yorke Jackson
Facts and Info:
Sarah Yorke Jackson married Andrew Jackson, Jr. (1808-1865, the adopted son of President Andrew Jackson, on November 24, 1831. Sarah Yorke Jackson and Emily Donelson then served as co-hostesses for the President, a unique situation in White House history.

The Death of Emily Donelson:
She continued her social duties   In 1836 Emily Donelson became ill and was diagnosed with tuberculosis. Emily left the White House in June of 1836 to return to her home in Tennessee where she died December 19, 1836. 

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