The mother of her country

In 1765, she came with her family to the Waxhaw region on the border of the Carolinas.  They were poor Scotch-Irish and couldn't afford good land, and her husband worked himself to death within two years, trying to scratch out a living.  She was carrying his third son, whom she named for him.  She moved in with her cousin Jane Crawford, who had eight children of her own.  Jane was unwell, and she did the work of two women, taking care of the whole family.

When the Revolutionary War came to the Carolinas, her oldest boy, Hugh, rode with William Richardson Davie at the Battle of Stono Ferry.  He died from exhaustion right after the fight.  He was 16.  Her remaining sons rode with Davie at the Battle of Hanging Rock, then became guerrillas, and were captured and imprisoned at Camden with 250 other men.  They were dying of starvation and disease when she rode the 45 miles to see them.  She pleaded with the British to let her boys go, and they were finally released in a prisoner exchange.  When she got them home, they were in desperate condition, and after two days, her middle boy, Robert, died.  He was 15.  She nursed her youngest, 13, to a semblance of health, and then rode with two other ladies to Charleston to nurse and comfort the Americans being held on prison ships there.  Some of them were her kin.  She contracted cholera and, shortly after the great victory at Yorktown, died and was buried in an unmarked grave.

Her surviving son became a truly ferocious man, a lion.  He was his mother's son.  She gave birth to him on March 15, 1767, and in one year we will celebrate the 250th anniversary of that day.  If she's not the mother of this country, I don't know who is.  Let's all honor the life of Elizabeth Jackson on that day.

And, what’s more, let’s put Elizabeth Jackson on the $20 bill.  I’m sure her boy Andrew wouldn’t mind.

Fritz Pettyjohn was the chairman of Reagan for President, Alaska in 1979-80 and is national field director of the National Tax Limitation Committee.  He blogs daily at

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