Andrew Jackson and His Tennessee Lieutenants: A Study in Political Culture

By Lorman A. Ratner | Go to book overview
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7 William Carroll: The People's Advocate

Those men who came to Tennessee in the period between the two wars with Britain were entrepreneurs, men in search of opportunity to improve their fortunes in life. They bought and sold land and slaves, started businesses, served in the militia when they were needed and served in government to keep it free for opportunity and opportunists. And they valued personal honor over all else. Whether they were lawyers, judges, soldiers, or farmers, neither law with its contracts nor other forms of agreement meant much. One had to rely on the integrity of those with whom one did business. Honor, not institutions, was the glue that held society together. Men's freedom should be, and generally was, encumbered by their sense of honor, not by law or government regulation. Honor and character were the evidence that one had achieved not only wealth but gentry status. William Carroll served as an example of that, but while our group had much in common so too is it correct to note that each man was different. In Carroll's case that difference might be summed up by saying that he was more of a democrat than any of them.

Like Jackson, William Carroll came to Tennessee as a young man with little in his pockets.1 Thanks to family ties, more than average intelligence, and an understanding of the dress, the manner, the code of honor that marked a gentleman, he was to take his place among the new gentry. Carroll's father, Thomas, emigrated to the American colonies from

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