Life of Andrew Jackson by James Parton, Three Volumes, Later Printing, 1876

Parton, James. Life of Andrew Jackson. Boston: James R. Osgood and Company, 1876.  Three volume set, later printing. Rebound in ¼ calf and matching blue cloth boards with gilt titles, stamps, and raised bands to spine. With matching archival blue cloth slip case with ribbon and inlaid portrait of Jackson on the cover.

Presented is an 1876 printing of James Parton’s three volume biography of President Andrew Jackson. First published in 1859-60 by Mason Brothers of New York, this is a later printing by Boston-based James R. Osgood and Company. James Parton's biography of the life of Andrew Jackson is one of the most important and best accounts on the early American president. In fact, Bunn and Williams call this work "the first serious biography of the [Jackson]" (Bunn). 

Parton’s biography appeared in print amid the escalating political crisis of 1860, providing readers and pundits with a historical lens through which to view current events. Born in England and raised primarily in the United States, James Parton (1822-1891) was among the leading biographers of the mid-nineteenth century. His Life of Horace Greeley (1855) and Life and Times of Aaron Burr (1857) garnered widespread acclaim, and he would later publish books on Benjamin Butler, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and Voltaire. He is best known, however, for this significant three volume tome on Andrew Jackson. 

Parton started the project in 1857, researching at libraries for several years before visiting Washington, DC and the South in 1859, to interview Francis Blair, Roger Taney, and others who had been close to the seventh president. Parton finished the first volume in late 1859 and quickly published the second volume the following year, to much acclaim.

“The sprawling study was widely hailed as a masterpiece. ‘Seldom has a biography been able to excite a furore,’ remarked a Tennessee editor, who appreciated the first volume’s appeal to learned and popular audiences alike. Marveling at Parton’s meticulous research and vivid style, many reviewers quoted the New York Home Journal’s appraisal: ‘It is as romantic as a mediaeval romance, and yet has the advantage of being true’” (Woods, 2019).

 The third and final volume appeared in the fall of 1860, during escalating tension in America over secession. The third volume’s content focused on Jackson’s presidency and included three chapters on Nullification and Jackson’s acceptance of the compromise tariff bill which ended the standoff with South Carolina.

Reviewers and advertisers promoted Parton’s last volume by explicitly connecting it to current events. Writing one week before South Carolina seceded, a Washington editor commended Parton’s coverage of “President Jackson’s war upon the nullifiers,” writing that it provided, “much good reading for the present day.” In 1861, an English reviewer for the “Literature” section of The Athenaeum predicted that recent developments would boost Parton’s readership, since “Andrew Jackson is the only President who has ever had to deal with a crisis” comparable to “that which is now straining the powers of President Buchanan.” 

Life of Andrew Jackson is an excellent source on Jackson's correspondences with other politicians and his delivered speeches to public and private audiences. It also provides many quotes from the president himself, going so far as to include a quote on the full title page: “Desperate Courage makes One a Majority.”


In very good condition. In three volumes. Rebound in ¼ calf leather and matching blue cloth boards. Raised bands, gilt stamps, and titles to the spine. Presented with archival matching blue cloth slipcase with ribbon and an inlay portrait of President Jackson on the front.

Interior pages are healthy and in good condition, with no significant flaws or marks. Frontispiece engraving by H.B. Hall, from a painting by Earl. Copyright pages correct.

Book dimensions: 8 1/4" H x 6" W x 2" D; slipcase dimensions: 8 3/4" H x 7" W x 6 1/4" D.

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