January 30, 2013
ANDREW JACKSON SURVIVED FIRST PRESIDENTIAL ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT 178 YEARS AGO TODAY
Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) On January 30, 1835, Andrew Jackson was the target of the 1st assassination attempt on a president of the United States.
The President was leaving a funeral service at the Capitol when he was approached by an unemployed house painter named Richard Lawrence.
Lawrence, who had a family history of mental illness, was carrying 2 loaded pistols which were primed & ready to fire.
When the President was within 10 feet, Lawrence fired one of the pistols but while the cap exploded, a bullet did not discharge.
A navy lieutenant accompanying Jackson knocked Lawrence down but the would be assassin pulled out his other pistol & fired it at the President.
The second pistol also misfired.
In the meantime, President Jackson proceeded to beat Richard Lawrence over the head with his hickory cane.
Etching of Assassination Attempt
on President Andrew Jackson
A group of people came to help restrain the shooter including Congressman Davy Crockett of Tennessee.
Crockett later wrote, "I wanted to see the damnedest villan in the world & now I have seen him."
As to the reasons why the pistols misfired, Senator Thomas Hart Benton surmised....
"Both weapons later were tested & found to be functional. At least one newspaper chalked this up to a miracle--but the humidity of the gloomy day most likely played as big a role as providence."*
*The odds of both pistols misfiring were reported to be 125,000 to 1.
Richard Lawrence, who claimed that he was King Richard III, was prosecuted by Francis Scott Key, best known for the "Star Spangled Banner."
The jury only took 5 minutes to come back with a "Not Guilty by reason of insanity" verdict. Lawrence spent the rest of his life in an insane asylum.
President Jackson, who carried a bullet in his chest from an 1806 duel, suspected Whig political enemies were behind the attempt on his life.
Vice-President Martin Van Buren, concerned about his own safety, carried loaded pistols when he visited the Senate.
"The Daily: The History Page, Hard Target Andrew Jackson escapes an assassin's point blank pistol shots," by Ruth Graham, January 14, 2012,
The 4 United States presidents who have died at the hands of assassins are, Abraham Lincoln (1865), James A. Garfield (1880), William McKinley (1901), & John F. Kennedy (1963).
The United States Secret Service was created by President Lincoln on the day of his assassination, but its original purpose was only for the suppression of counterfeiting US currency.
After the assassination of McKinley, Congress requested the Secret Service provide protection for the President, a duty it assumed in 1902.
The Secret Service has lost only one president, JFK.