Rachel Donelson: The Three Marriages
When Rachel Donelson (1767-1828) was seventeen, she married Lewis Robards, a prosperous Kentucky planter ten years her senior. She was said to be attractive, with dark, flashing eyes and an outgoing, lively personality. Her family considered Robards a fine match and Rachel went willingly. It did not take long for her to discover that Robards was a jealous and abusive man, who perhaps confused her outgoing nature with flirtation. He, on the other hand, was known to have a violent temper, and a disposition toward infidelity. Rachel was unhappy. So was Robards.
The basic story goes that one of her brothers came, supposedly at the urging of Robards himself, to bring Rachel back to her mother’s house in Nashville. While there, she met one of her mother’s…
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