Margaret Timberlake Eaton
She also had quite a talent for dance, and was sent to private lessons, becoming a very good dancer. At the age of twelve, she danced for the First Lady Dooley Madison. Visitors of the Franklin House also commented on her piano playing skills.
Margarita’s teenage years, there were many rumors circulating about her romances. The stories Included one of a suitor who swallowed poison after she refused to return his affections, one of her being briefly linked to the son of President Jefferson treasury secretary, and one of her etched elopement to a young aide of General Winfield Scott.As the story goes, she accidentally kicked over a flowerpot during her climb down from a bedroom window, which woke her father, who promptly dragged her back inside. Jackson first met Margaret at the age of 24, he took an immediate liking to her. The tavern had been recommended to him by his close friend John Henry Eaton, who would later marry Miss O’Neal and cause quite a scandal. Jackson’s wife, when meeting Margaret a year later, was equally taken with her. BRB>Margaret married a navy purser named John Bowie Timberline.
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They had three children together, one whom died while still an infant. When John was gone at sea, John Eaton entered the picture again, escorting Margaret on drives and to parties. The rumors flew around town of Margaret and Tenant’s supposed affair, and of her husband’s drunkenness. The people around town were all saying that the reason Timberline kept sailing was to avoid his wife’s obvious philandering. Timberline was soon reassigned to the Mediterranean squadron. The Mediterranean was very hot and contained few friendly ports in those days, making it a less than pleasant assignment.Timberline died while in the Mediterranean, the official cause was pulmonary disease.
It is also reported that he committed suicide, some said because of his wife’s behavior. Eaton married Margaret shortly after Timberland’s death, which caused a bit of a commotion. The real cause for the disapproval was that Margaret and Eaton had been living together before Timberline was killed. There were also rumors that Margaret had miscarried Tenant’s child before hey were married, but it is hard to say if there is any truth in that. BRB>All of the preceding events rose many eyebrows in Washington DC, especially among the elite politician’s wives. Florida Calhoun, wife of Vice President John Calhoun, accepted a social call from the Eaton after their marriage, but refused to pay a return visit. This was viewed in Washington DC as a snub.
Jackson’s advisors encouraged him not to appoint Eaton into his cabinet, saying that his reputation would damage Jackson’s chances for the Presidency. This only angered Jackson, who recalled the earlier mistreatment f his wife, Rachel, during his first run for the presidency.There had been a misunderstanding about her previous divorce, and it turned out that she and Jackson had not been married when they had thought, since her divorce was not yet final. They had in fact, been living quite publicly in sin for over two years. They quickly repeated their vows, but the political and personal repercussions had already taken effect Rachel died of a heart attack less than three months before Jackson’s inauguration, and Jackson always blamed his competing party for her death. As determined to have the Eaton accepted in polite Washington DC society.After dealing with the so called petticoat affair for a few months, Jackson called all of his cabinet, with the exception of John Eaton, to a special meeting.
He produced many witnesses who testified to Margarita’s character, and considered the matter over. He held his overdue cabinet dinner soon afterward. All of the cabinet members and their wives attended, but everyone ate very quickly in order to avoid conversation with the Eaton, whom Jackson had sat in places of honor at the head of the table.Van Burden held another party not much later which all of the cabinet members attended, while all of their wives found excuses not to attend. soon began to believe that it was not only the members of his cabinet that were carrying on this affair, but also his political enemies in an effort to bring him down. It was also no coincidence that the cabinet members most opposed to the Eaton were loyal to Calhoun, whom Jackson was starting to distrust. Calhoun had helped to elect Jackson, assuming that he would become the next president.
Van Burden was gaining Jackson’s approval at the same time that Calhoun was losing it. He had remained supportive and friendly with the Eaton since the beginning of the affair. Jackson began to look to him as his successor in the Presidency. The rumors still flew surrounding the Eaton. The press was merciless. One newspaper even claimed that Eaton had fathered a child with a black servant. events came to a head in April of 1831 when Van Burden offered to resign, and recommended that Eaton do the same.
It was common protocol that if two members of the cabinet resigned, the rest would do so out of routers in order to allow the president to reorganize his cabinet. With some resistance, all of the cabinet members resigned, allowing Jackson to rename the members and hopefully end the affair once and for all. The newspapers attributed the cabinet’s fall the Margaret Eaton, and everyone thought that Jackson had doomed any hope for reelection. Jackson was reelected, with Van Burden as a running mate. He quickly sent Eaton to the Florida territory, where he became governor.