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Mark Cheathem

Professor of History, Coordinator of Presidential Papers Project

Mark Cheathem

Professor of History, Coordinator of Presidential Papers Project


B.A., Cumberland University

M.A., Middle Tennessee State University

Ph.D., Mississippi State University



A Cumberland graduate, Dr. Cheathem obtained his M.A. in history from Middle Tennessee State University in and his Ph.D. in history from Mississippi State University. He served as an assistant professor of history at Southern New Hampshire University from 2004 to 2008 before returning to his undergraduate alma mater as an associate professor of history. Now a professor of history, Cheathem also serves as history program chair.

Dr. Cheathem teaches a variety of courses, including courses on Jacksonian America, the Civil War, the Old South, African-American history, presidential history, the history of American conspiracy theories, and historical methods.


A graduate of Cumberland University’s undergraduate history program, Mark R. Cheathem received his M.A. in history from Middle Tennessee State University and his Ph.D. in history from Mississippi State University. After serving as an assistant professor of history at Southern New Hampshire University for four years, he returned to his alma mater and is now a professor of history. Cheathem’s main teaching and research interests focus on Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren, nineteenth-century politics, southern history, and documentary editing.

Dr. Cheathem is the author or editor of six books, including the award-winning Andrew Jackson, Southerner. His current book projects are The Coming of Democracy: Presidential Campaigning in the Age of Jackson (Johns Hopkins University Press) and The Dark-Horse Campaign of 1844: Slavery, Westward Expansion, and Presidential Politics (University Press of Kansas). His long-term research agenda includes projects that examine the development of the Jackson-Donelson family during the Civil War era, the evolution of Andrew Jackson as a democratic (and Democratic) symbol, and the life of Confederate general George Washington Gordon, who was one of the earliest members of the Ku Klux Klan

Since 2015, Dr. Cheathem had been the project director and co-editor of the Papers of Martin Van Buren. Housed in Cumberland University’s Vise Library, this project is producing digital and print editions of the eighth president’s papers.

Dr. Cheathem has been interviewed by a variety of media outlets, including C-SPANNBC News, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Nashville Tennessean, the Associated Press, and Ben Franklin’s World. His writings have also appeared in a number of media outlets, including the Nashville Tennessean and the History News Network.

Along with his research, Dr. Cheathem teaches a variety of courses at Cumberland, including Jacksonian America, American Presidency, Civil War America, Conspiracy Theories in American History, Introduction to Digital History, and Documentary Editing.

Dr. Cheathem’s personal website Jacksonian America: Society, Personality, and Politics is also home to his blog. Most of the blog entries center on Andrew Jackson and Jacksonian-era politics, but they also address other topics, including teaching, writing, the connection between history and current events, the Civil War, southern history, and the history of conspiracy theories.


 Andrew Jackson, Southerner

“Many Americans view Andrew Jackson as a frontiersman who fought duels, killed Indians, and stole another man’s wife. Historians have traditionally presented Jackson as a man who struggled to overcome obstacles and helped create a more democratic United States. In his compelling new biography of Jackson, Mark R. Cheathem argues for a reassessment of these long-held views, suggesting that in fact ‘Old Hickory’ lived as an elite southern gentleman.”

“By emphasizing Jackson’s southern identity, characterized by violence, honor, kinship, slavery, and Manifest Destiny, Cheathem’s narrative offers a bold new perspective on one of the nineteenth century’s most renowned and controversial presidents.” (Adapted from the LSU Press website)

Praise for Andrew Jackson, Southerner:

“Andrew Jackson was a protean figure in American history. He occupied multiple personas as a frontier westerner, a self-made man, a symbol of democracy, and more. This lively new biography by Mark R. Cheathem focuses on the identity Jackson himself savored most, that of a southern gentleman planter. Cheathem explores how this identity shaped Jackson’s ambitions, his family relations, his business dealings, his slaveholding, his conceptions of honor and manliness, and not least his politics. Thoroughly researched and engagingly written, this book deserves the attention of all students of Andrew Jackson and Jacksonian America.”—Daniel Feller, editor of The Papers of Andrew Jackson

“In this deftly written, carefully documented biography, Mark R. Cheathem comes closer than any other historian has to answering the question: ‘Who was Andrew Jackson?’ The question is important because Old Hickory dominated American politics between the War of 1812 and the Mexican War, a time when Americans were trying to determine what sort of a nation they should become. Cheathem portrays Jackson not as a frontiersman or a democratic reformer, but as a poor boy using the tools of violence and honor, friendship and kinship, to make himself a slave-owning southern planter. The biography is especially valuable because it is so solidly backed by historical detail.”—Donald B. Cole, author of The Presidency of Andrew Jackson

“Over the course of his long life, Andrew Jackson played many parts, but Mark R. Cheathem, author of the admired Old Hickory’s Nephew, builds a strong case that Jackson is best understood as a slaveholder and man of the Old South. Meticulously researched and elegantly written, this absorbing biography will long remain the standard one-volume life of the seventh president.”—Douglas R. Egerton, author of Year of Meteors: Stephen Douglas, Abraham Lincoln, and the Election that Brought on the Civil War​  

Andrew Jackson and the Rise of the Democrats

 Old Hickory’s Nephew: The Political and Private Struggles of Andrew Jackson Donelson

Of Times and Race: Essays Inspired by John F. Marszalek (co-editor with Michael B. Ballard)

Jacksonian and Antebellum Age: People and Perspectives (editor)


Publications in Progress

Dr. Cheathem is currently under contract to complete books on the presidential election of 1840 and 1844 and to edit a second edition of the Historical Dictionary of the Jacksonian Era and Manifest Destiny. He and James Bradley and are also co-editing the new Papers of Martin Van Buren project.

Blog and Social Media

Dr. Cheathem writes regularly about his research, teaching, and general historical and academic topics at his Jacksonian America: Society, Personality, and Politics blog. He also is active on Twitter and Facebook.

Speaking Engagements

If you are interested in having Dr. Cheathem speak to your group or organization on any of his research or teaching areas of expertise, please contact him at