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By Grace Hansen

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Four days later, the great assault on Vera Cruz commenced and Jackson finally got his thirst for action satisfied. He was part of the third wave of troops that landed unopposed on the beaches just south of Vera Cruz. Once ashore, Scott almost immediately commenced siege operations against the town itself. In these, Jackson found himself under fire for the first time as, despite not having formal command authority, he helped manage the guns of Taylor’s command. ” By March 25, the defenders of Vera Cruz had had enough and opened surrender negotiations.

At the end of the 1853–54 academic year, Jackson and his wife decided to pay a visit to western Virginia. Although a physically rigorous trek, especially for Ellie, who was six months pregnant, the Jacksons managed to reach his sister’s home in Beverly, where they had an immensely satisfying visit. Jackson’s sister and wife got along very well, while Jackson was pleased to find his popularity with his sister’s children was still strong and that they also took quite a shine to Ellie. Although the rigor of the travel to and from western Virginia left her exhausted when they returned to Lexington, it was with much optimism that Ellie and her husband anticipated the birth of their first child that fall.

Ellie was receptive enough to Jackson’s efforts enough to accept his proposal of marriage in early 1853. Unfortunately, her older sister Margaret (Maggie) did not approve of the match, and it was no doubt at her instigation that Ellie soon thereafter broke off the engagement. Jackson was devastated. “I don’t think I ever saw anyone,” his friend Hill later recalled, “ suffer as much as he did during the two or three months of estrangement. ’” As was his wont, Jackson sought comfort in his faith and, no doubt welcoming a diversion that would take his mind off the situation, decided to make a concerted effort to improve his skill at public speaking, which led to his joining a local literary society in March 1853.

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Abraham Lincoln by Grace Hansen

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