Thursday, January 31, 2013

Assassination attempt on Andrew Jackson

Richard Lawrence's attempt on Jackson's life, as depicted in an 1835 etching
On January 30, 1835, what is believed to be the first attempt to kill a sitting President of the United States occurred just outside the United States Capitol. When Jackson was leaving through the East Portico after the funeral of South Carolina Representative Warren R. Davis, Richard Lawrence, an unemployed housepainter from England, aimed a pistol at Jackson, which misfired. Lawrence pulled out a second pistol, which also misfired. Historians believe the humid weather contributed to the double misfiring. Lawrence was restrained, and legend says that Jackson attacked Lawrence with his cane. Others present, including David Crockett, restrained and disarmed Lawrence.
Lawrence told doctors later his reasons for the shooting. He blamed Jackson for the loss of his job. He claimed that with the President dead, "money would be more plenty" (a reference to Jackson's struggle with the Bank of the United States) and that he "could not rise until the President fell". Finally, he told his interrogators that he was a deposed English King—specifically, Richard III, dead since 1485—and that Jackson was his clerk. He was deemed insane and institutionalized.
Afterward, due to public curiosity concerning the double misfires, the pistols were tested and retested. Each time they performed perfectly. Many believed that Jackson had been protected by the same Providence that protected the young nation. This national pride was a large part of the Jacksonian cultural myth fueling American expansion in the 1830s.


“Lettie and I drove out to John Pratts today.  Got home about 7 o’clock this evening.  Cold day and a little squirrelly at times.”

“I drove down in the woods and broke out the road today and brought home a load of wood.  Very pleasant day.”

Leesah

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