The Hermitage: Refuge in a Time of Trouble

The Hermitage: Refuge in a Time of Trouble
Rachel Jackson: First Ladies' Lives

Skill: Middle School
Time Required: Two to three class periods

Required Documents
The Hermitage Grounds


Rachel Jackson the wife of President Andrew Jackson never lived to become the First Lady. She died in 1828 just prior to Andrew Jackson taking office. He was devastated, and blamed his political opponents for her death because she had been a target of their mudslinging campaign. He had her buried at he favorite place in the world, their home and plantation in Tennessee, which was called The Hermitage. She was buried in the estates gardens and in 1831 Jackson hired architect David Morrison to construct a Grecian style monument for her. After his passing Andrew Jackson was also buried under this tomb. Jackson loved his plantation and spent as much time there as he possibly could. It was there he went following his presidency and there he eventually died and was laid to rest beside his beloved Rachel.


1) The Students will use the Internet to conduct research regarding The Hermitage, the home and plantation of President Andrew Jackson.

2) The students will list five facts they learned from the website and be prepared to discuss them during a class discussion.

3) The students will use an interactive map to list and briefly describe various aspects and locations found on the plantation.

Materials Required:

1) Computers or a computer lab with Internet Access; 2) The Hermitage: Describing the Grounds Worksheet.


1) The teacher will ask the students to describe a southern plantation. The teacher may need to guide this brief discussion by asking questions such as: Who lived on a plantation? What was the function of a plantation? What sorts of crops were grown on a plantation? What type of buildings would you find on a southern plantation?

2) The students will navigate to “The Hermitage” website in order to discover some facts about this plantation on their own. They will list five facts they find in their navigation on The Hermitage: Describing the Grounds Worksheet. This can be accomplished in pairs or small groups or even as a homework assignment if computer access is not available for all students.

3) The students will then navigate the interactive map from “The Hermitage” website in order to complete The Hermitage: Describing the Grounds Worksheet. When these two activities are complete the class may meet to conduct a debriefing of what they have learned.

Extending the Lesson:

“The Hermitage” was a fully functional cotton plantation so an extension of this lesson may be to have the students investigate the production of cotton in the 19th century. This could include the process of cotton production, the role of slaves in cotton production, the increase of cotton production due to the invention of the cotton gin, or even the production of cotton into cloth.

Sources & Resources:


The Hermitage

Cotton and Southern Slavery

Cotton: From the Fields to the Mills

Cotton, History and More


Credits: This lesson was developed by Robert McClelland, Cleveland Metropolitan School District.