Historic Markers Across Tennessee

Growing Cotton

Marker ID:  
Location: on the left side of The Springhouse Water, 4580 Rachels Lane, Hermitage, TN
County: Davidson
Coordinates: N 36° 12.99    W 086° 36.673
  36.2165    -86.61121666
Waymark: None


Growing Cotton
A risky Venture

Andrew Jackson called it his farm, but in reality, The Hermitage was a large cotton plantation dependent upon enslaved labor. All the agricultural actives on Jackson’s 1000 – acre plantation supported his cotton. On average, Jackson’s slaves planted and tended about 200 acres of cotton each year. Of the remaining acreage, portions were wooded or laid fallow, but much of it produced crops that supported his family, slaves, and livestock. Jackson wanted his plantation to be as self-sufficient as possible to insulate himself in the lean years. The more he produced on his own, the greater his profit, which he invested in more land and slaves, buildings, and luxury goods from wallpaper to coffee.

Jackson’s cotton proved to be a risky venture with the potential of high reward or great loss. Because cotton has a long growing season, a late or early frost can ruin a year’s crop. Nashville’s location as the northernmost point where cotton could be cultivated made it more susceptible to weather variations. Realizing that geography was against him, Jackson often stated his desire to switch to different crops or sell The Hermitage for land further south. In 1836, Andrew Jackson wrote to his son, “We must change our culture in part from cotton and turn to stock, hemp and perhaps tobacco, as I am convinced from the change of seasons we must not depend on the cotton crop entirely for support.”


More information:
The Hermitage, The Home of President Andrew Jackson
Wikipedia: Andrew Jackson
The White House: Andrew Jackson
Wikipedia: Slavery