Our second day of sightseeing in Nashville, we decided to visit the Hermitage, Andrew Jackson’s home and plantation. Andrew Jackson was a controversial president…he called himself the people’s president, a military hero that led the U.S. to victory against the British at the Battle of New Orleans in the War of 1812. We learned that he was the first president to have a political “campaign.” Previously elected presidents were usually chosen by a group of their peers and American citizens had little role in the election process. Andrew Jackson was also responsible for the displacement of millions of Native Americans and a promoter of slavery. During the visit of the plantation and museums, we learned about the lesser known sides of Jackson, and particularly his wife who was the victim of a personal scandal and died before he took office. We also learned about the lives of the slaves who lived on Jackson’s plantation. Something that has touched me during the trip about American history is that our country has been lead by very strong (and opposing) personalities and today we can still feel the effects of their decisions.
Friday evening, we had tickets to the Grand Ole Opry, the live country music radio show. I remembered going with my parents when I was a kid. It’s a three part show with three musical acts in each part and a different presenter for each act. The whole thing is broadcast live on the radio. The funny thing is that there is advertising between the acts. I’ve never been to a concert before with advertising between the songs. The show was oriented towards an older generation, but we saw a couple of good new acts and had a good time. It was late by the time we got out and we didn’t see many options for dinner so we stopped for a burger and milkshake at Checkers before going back to the hotel. It was truly an “All-American” evening; all we were missing was a baseball game.
We left Nashville on Saturday morning and made a stop on our way south in Lynchburg, Tennessee to visit the Jack Daniels Distillery. All of the Jack Daniels whiskey in the world is produced at this site using the same recipe for “old number 7” that Jack used himself. There is a nice visitor center and a free tour, where we saw where the barrels are made and the whiskey is distilled. The only hang up was at the end of tour when it was time for our “tasting” of Jack Daniels and we got lemonade instead. Yes, Lynchburg is in a dry county- it’s been illegal to buy or consume alcohol there since Prohibition. We had some nice lemonade and got a good whiff of the real stuff. Sometimes we really do have crazy laws in America.