Andrew Jackson’s magnolia tree, planted sometime between 1829 and 1835, is set to be dramatically cut back this week. After almost 200 years, one of the leaders is apparently so delicate that it’s completely dependent on decades of repairs with steel rods and cables. Luckily, the wood will be preserved and seeds will be kept for a possible replanting – and if anyone reading this has connections to get their hands on one, you know where to send it!

The magnolia tree was planted in memory to Rachel Jackson, who died of a heart attack a couple weeks after the election of 1828. Despite signs of her ailing health long before, Andrew Jackson always blamed the vicious smear campaign of supporters of John Quincy Adams and Henry Clay for her death. In Jackson’s defense (which I don’t give often), the attacks were pretty rough. In 1787, Rachel married a Captain Lewis Robards but separated three years later. Because of the difficult process of getting a divorce in the early 18th century, the court never finalized it. By 1793, when Rachel and Andrew claimed to have eloped in Florida, she was unknowingly married to two men, and the smears of bigamy were used to try and bring Andrew Jackson down.

Interestingly enough, in a rare act of Jackson resembling a modern-day feminist, he supported Peggy Eaton, the wife of the Secretary of War, during the Petticoat Affair. Peggy was the target of smears and innuendo for not being a “proper woman” which led to the other wives of Jackson’s cabinet ostracizing her. Jackson stood by Peggy as he was reminded of the same kinds of attacks against his late wife. The events of the Petticoat Affair would lead directly to the election of Martin Van Buren as the next President.