Mark Cheathem


Associate Professor of History


B.A., Cumberland University
M.A., Middle Tennessee State University
Ph.D., Mississippi State University
Phone: 615.547.1341

A Cumberland graduate (B.A. in History), Dr. Cheathem obtained his M.A. in history from Middle Tennessee State University 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.




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

Read an article about Andrew Jackson, Southerner published by Cleveland, Tennessee newspaper - Click here

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

“Though remembered largely by history as Andrew Jackson's nephew, Andrew Jackson Donelson was himself a significant figure in nineteenth-century America: a politician, planter, diplomat, newspaper editor, and vice-presidential candidate. His relationship with his uncle and mentor defined his life, as he struggled to find the political and personal success that he wanted and his uncle thought he deserved. In Old Hickory's Nephew, the first definitive biography of this enigmatic man, Mark R. Cheathem explores both Donelson's political contributions and his complex, tumultuous, and often-overlooked relationship with Andrew Jackson.”

“The life of Andrew Jackson Donelson illuminates the expectations placed upon young southern men of prominent families as well as the complexities and contradictions in their lives. In this biography, Cheathem awakens interest in a nearly forgotten but nonetheless intriguing figure in American history.” (Adapted from the LSU Press website)

Praise for Old Hickory’s Nephew:

“Essential reading for Jacksonian scholars, this book should also be read by anyone interested in the concept of manhood in the antebellum South.” Jon Atkins, Berry College

“This study of an uncertain man in an uncertain time makes a solid contribution to our understanding of antebellum society and politics.” Daniel Feller, Editor, The Papers of Andrew Jackson

“This is a substantial work, based upon an impressive amount of research.” Richard B. Latner, Tulane University

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

Of Times and Race contains eight essays on African American history from the Jacksonian era through the early twentieth century. Taken together, these essays, inspired by noted scholar John F. Marszalek, demonstrate the many nuances of African Americans' struggle to grasp freedom, respect, assimilation, and basic rights of American citizens.” (Adapted from the University of Mississippi Press website)

Praise for Of Times and Race:

“John Marszalek set exacting standards of scholarship for his doctoral students at Mississippi State University, and here they do their mentor proud!" John Dittmer, author of Local People: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi, winner of the Bancroft Prize in History

"Professor John Marszalek has been a versatile and prolific producer of top-flight scholarship and doctoral students. These probing, finely crafted essays by his former students on race in American history from the 19th to the 21st century offer an apt tribute to the work of a distinguished historian." Daniel Feller, Editor/Director of The Papers of Andrew Jackson and author of The Jacksonian Promise: America, 1815-1840


 Jacksonian and Antebellum Age: People and Perspectives (editor)

Jacksonian and Antebellum Age: People and Perspectives spans the ‘age of the common man’ by focusing on the everyday citizens who helped drive the big social changes of the times—or were simply caught up in them. The coverage takes readers into the lives of the frontiersmen, townspeople, women, children, religious groups, abolitionists, slaves, slave traders, and others who effected, and were affected by, the history of those times.” (Adapted from the ABC-CLIO website)

Praise for Jacksonian and Antebellum Age:

“Jacksonian and Antebellum Age is an impressive and recommended addition to school and community library American History reference collections in general.” Midwest Book Review

Publications in Progress

Dr. Cheathem is currently under contract to complete books on the origins of the Jacksonian Democrats and the presidential election of 1840. He is also editing a second edition of the Historical Dictionary of the Jacksonian Era and Manifest Destiny.


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.

Since coming to Cumberland, Dr. Cheathem’s student evaluations have averaged 3.75/4. Some recent sample student comments include the following:

“Dr. Cheathem is a fantastic history teacher and I recommend his classes to any friends interested in history.” (HIS 420, Southern U.S. History, Spring 2013)

“Professor Cheathem was very professional and always graded fairly. He also engaged heavily in class which made the class overall just a better class.” (HIS 202, U.S. History II, Spring 2013)

Very challenging. I was not use[d] to this way of teaching.” (HIS 201, History of the U.S. I, Fall 2012)

“Very difficult grader, but also a very knowledgeable and nice teacher.” (HIS 300, Civil War America, Fall 2012)

“This has probably been one of the best classes that I've had since coming to Cumberland. It was a very fun class, but was still pretty well informative.” (HIS 305 Conspiracy Theories in American History, Spring 2012)

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