Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Those Girls from Tennessee

Be careful what you say, as you may live to eat your words.

 In 1824, Lucius Junius Polk, a young man of 22 years, served as a groomsman at the wedding of his cousin, James Knox Polk.  He could not have known then that his cousin would one day become President of the United States.

After the wedding, Lucius wrote relatives that "Tennessee girls are not of the first order either in accomplishments or beauty."

I wonder if he included James' bride, Sarah Childress,  in that statement.  Sarah couldn't be faulted for her accomplishments, as she was unusually well educated for a woman of her day.  She was also praised for her "noble beauty" or her "handsome beauty", and her exotic dark looks had earned her the nickname of Sahara Sarah. Her front teeth were a little prominent, however, and she hid them by tightening her lips across them. Some did not realize that this was from self-consciousness and thought she looked disapproving.   All in all, she was a remarkable woman, as time would prove.

Wouldn't you know it?  After putting down Tennessee girls, Lucious soon fell in love with one.  Her name was Mary Eastin, and she was the great niece of the late Mrs. Andrew Jackson.  Her great uncle, Andrew Jackson, was President at the time, and she was a favorite relative of his.  She lived in the White House while her uncle was President. 

Unfortunately for Lucius, she was already engaged to a man from Washington, D. D.  His name was Bolton Finch of the U. S. Navy.  Mr. Finch had previously been engaged to a string of girls, but this time, things seemed serious.   The day for the wedding had been set, and, according to one account of the story, the guests had been invited.

Lucius took off to Washington in a coach and four to make one last appeal for her hand.  Miss Eastin changed her mind and heart and decided to marry Lucius instead.   Tradition says that she did this at least partly because of some advice from President Andrew Jackson urging her to marry for love.

Lucious and Mary were married in the White House in April 1832.  They returned to Tennessee to live and had eight to twelve children, depending on which account you read.  Sadly, Mary died in childbirth or shortly after delivering her last two children, which were twins.  Lucous married again, and, naturally, his second wife was a woman from Tennessee.



  1. Thank you so much for your beautiful book Tennessee Moments!! It is an incredible book and we all love it in our home. I have been reading and reading it. God bless, Rose

  2. You are so welcome, Rose! I am so glad that you are enjoying it. If you would like to, please give me some feedback on or on Goodreads. Thanks!