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Source of Wealth: land speculation, plantations Although "Old Hickory" was widely regarded as a commoner and backwoodsman, Jackson was in fact one of the richest presidents of the 19th century, says Blessing. Jackson's father died before he was born and he was raised by a well-off uncle before becoming a lawyer and earning a large fortune in real estate. He fell into debt early in his adulthood, but later owned 150 slaves at his primary plantation. He owned a racetrack and was a successful gambler, says Andrew Burstein, author of The Passions of Andrew Jackson. But the bases of his fortune were land deals that came to him in his capacity as a U.S. Army general. He and his army buddies were involved in negotiating the cession of land by Indians. "Then they went about [buying and] developing those lands," Burstein says. Even people close to Jackson raised eyebrows. "But it was part of the political atmosphere back then" and it didn't hurt his political career. Jackson added to his fortunes by marrying the wealthy Rachel Donelson. (Add picture)

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