During 2006, William C. Cook of Nashville donated to the University of Tennessee Libraries, Special Collections his collection of nearly 1,000 rare books and imprints related to the life and presidency of Andrew Jackson (1767–1845). Among the materials are numerous first editions and autographed texts, as well as biographies of Jackson, children’s literature from the period, and many pamphlets that reflect both the pro- and anti-Jackson political rhetoric of the day. Controversial aspects of Jackson’s presidency, including his opposition to a national bank, tariff legislation, and the Indian Removal Act of 1830, appear frequently within these rare texts.
Numerous copies of James Parton’s multivolume work Life of Andrew Jackson, one of the most famous biographies of the seventh President, are contained in the Cook Collection. Additionally, one of two extant printings of Parton’s abridged Life, which was never commercially issued, is included. Other biographies, including F. J. Dreer’s unique edition of W. J. Snellings’s A Brief and Impartial History of the Life and Actions of Andrew Jackson (1831), constitute a valuable resource for scholars interested in the life and career of Jackson.
The Cook Collection also contains over 30 children’s biographies of Andrew and Rachel Jackson, representing the works of several of America’s leading children’s authors. Published in 1845, John Frost’s The Life of Andrew Jackson is the oldest children’s title in the collection. Also of interest are Andrew Jackson, The Fighting President (1929) by Helen Nicolay, Rachel Jackson: Tennessee Girl (1955) by Christine Noble Govan, and A Cannon for General Marion: A Story of Young Andrew Jackson (1975) by Alfred Leland Crabb. These volumes, intended to foster patriotism and establish character models for young Americans, provide an excellent resource for understanding Jackson as a source for the “great American hero” myth.
In documenting the dynamism of Jacksonian politics, the collection contains abundant texts and pamphlets relating both pro-Jackson polemics and anti-Jackson invectives. Included in the pro-Jackson pieces are several campaign biographies written by Robert Walsh, as well as a New England biography of Jackson, which was printed for Isaac Hill, a New Hampshire Jacksonian Democrat and editor of the New England Patriot. An interesting anti-Jackson piece found in the collection is “The Wise Sayings of the Honorable Isaac Hill,” compiled out of context and printed by the Patriot’s competitor, the New Hampshire Journal. Personal attacks against Jackson are recorded in a complete bound collection of Truth’s Advocate and Monthly Anti-Jackson Expositor.
The Cook Collection builds upon the University of Tennessee Libraries, Special Collections’ impressive holdings of materials related to the three United States presidents from Tennessee: Andrew Jackson, James K. Polk, and Andrew Johnson. During the fall 2006 semester, an exhibit of some of the most significant pieces from the Cook Collection was displayed in the library. Additionally, in October 2006, the library teamed with the Center for Jacksonian America to present a lecture by renowned Jackson scholar Harry L. Watson on “Freedom and Majority Rule: Andrew Jackson’s Complex Legacy.” As the premier location for research on Jackson and the Jacksonian period, the library looks forward to making this important collection and others like it available to scholars.
In 2011, William C. Cook added to this collection with an additional gift of five rare books and 15 prints, including a portrait of Rachel Jackson and a print displaying an excerpt from Andrew Jackson’s inaugural address.
Collection profile adapted by Jennie Mezick from an article by Erin Lawrimore. (Lawrimore, Erin. Celebrating Research: Library Overviews & Collection Profiles. Association of Research Libraries, 2007. http://www.celebratingresearch.org/libraries/tennessee/jackson.shtml.)