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Journal Article


Nakayama DK. Am. Surg. 2018; 84(11): 1717-1722.


(Copyright © 2018, Southeastern Surgical Congress)






The past medical history (PMH) of Andrew Jackson (1767-1845) reflects one of the emblematic nicknames in Americana, "Old Hickory." As a 14-year-old Rebel volunteer in the Revolutionary War, he survived a blow from a British saber and smallpox that he contacted in a prison camp epidemic. In 1806, Jackson challenged a rival who had made the mistake of maligning his beloved wife Rachel. He deliberately allowed his opponent to shoot him in the chest, and then killed him when he took his turn. A gunshot shattered his arm in an 1813 street fight that involved Thomas Hart Benton, who later became his ally in the United States Senate during his presidency. His PMH would not include a duel in 1787, where both parties shot and somehow missed; an escape from a party of Indians in 1791; a shootout in 1796 with the future governor of Tennessee; and in 1833 and 1835, the first two assassination attempts on a United States President. Wracked from a lifetime of maladies and wounds, he sought relief through heavy doses of nostrums laced with heavy metals and self-phlebotomy. He likely hastened his own death. The PMH gives perspective on a patient's present condition. In Jackson's case, it reveals traits that allowed him to survive and thrive in a dangerous age. His belligerence, fiery temper, and intransigence were qualities that led to success in war against the British and the Native American tribes of the southern United States, and in a political career that climaxed as the seventh United States President.

Language: en


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