An articulate advocate of scientific agriculture, Alexander Jackson completed a medical degree at the University of Pennsylvania in 1824 and came to Tennessee five years later, establishing a medical practice at Paris in Henry County. Jackson soon demonstrated his interests in both medicine and agriculture. In 1833 he spoke to the Medical Society of Tennessee on "The Medical Topography of the Western District of Tennessee," and in May 1839 he became the founding president of the Henry County Agricultural Society, which soon held the first county fair in that area of the state.
In 1840 Jackson moved to Madison County, where he once again established a medical practice and became involved in agriculture. By 1847 he had retired from medicine and focused his energy in new directions; he served as a trustee of West Tennessee College, founded in 1844, and helped to bring railroads to West Tennessee. From 1849 through 1853 he was a member of the Tennessee General Assembly, before serving as mayor of Jackson from 1854-56.
Jackson's interests in agriculture found a new outlet in politics, as his entry into the legislature coincided with a new governmental emphasis on scientific agriculture. An extraordinarily active legislator, first-term representative Jackson sponsored or cosponsored thirty-two bills, petitions, or resolutions. Some of the legislature's concerns in this session involved agricultural issues, including the creation of a Tennessee Agricultural Society. During his second term, the legislature initiated activities that led to the establishment of a State Agricultural Bureau in 1854.
Throughout the 1850s Jackson provided dynamic leadership for agricultural interests in West Tennessee. In February 1854 he helped organize the Madison County Agricultural and Mechanical Society and became the group's first president. The society sponsored county fairs and served as the nucleus for the Western Division Fair, funded by the state legislature. In 1855 Jackson presided over the first Western Division Fair, presenting the principal oration. His commitment to the advancement of agriculture also took him to Washington, D.C., as a Tennessee delegate to the U.S. Agricultural Society.
After the Civil War, Jackson never again played a key role in agriculture or politics. Nevertheless, his work during the antebellum era places Alexander Jackson among the noteworthy pioneers of science and technology in Tennessee.
Published » December 25, 2009 | Last Updated » February 16, 2011