Monday, October 22, 2007
The first American President to face an assassins gun. There seemed no way for it to fail, yet it did. In a most unusual manner.
In January of 1835 a very old, and very tired Andrew Jackson walked out of the House of Representatives. He had just attended a memorial service for Congressman Warren Davis. Jackson was so weak and infirm that he needed to lean onto the arms of many political officials. They did not mind it and considered it to be an honor.
Jackson had been ill for years. He had trouble sitting down, and had a standing desk. He had been at one time one hell of a man. Now as he slowly walked out of the House of Representatives on that cold damp day, he was but a shell of what he had once been. But the fire was not at all out in the old warrior. He was weak but had great moments of passion and battle.
These qualities had brought him to the White House and they sometimes did show at certain moments.
This day as he walked out of the Capital, he was met by an assassin, Richard Lawrence. Lawrence was a handsome young man who was dressed in a large dark cloak. He also brandished 2 single shot pistols. He lunged in front of the President pointed one pistol at his chest and fired. The gun did not go off. It misfired! The President always the fighter raised his cane and charged the assassin. As Jackson was about on Lawrence, the assassin fired his second pistol at point blank range at the charging President. This gun too, misfired! Soon Lawrence was wrestled to the ground. He was arrested and taken to prison.
Now for the pistols? Why did each misfire? No one really knows for sure, but the odds of such a thing happening are like 125,000 to 1!! Both pistols fired when tested later. Lawrence felt that he pistols did not work because of the dampness. But due to most bizarre circumstances the President of the United States was allowed to finish out his term.
Richard Lawrence was taken to court and prosecuted by none other than Francis Scott Key..Lawrence was suffering from depression and madness...He would be in and out of insane asylums for the rest of his life, dying in 1861.
This last weekend I had the chance to fire a 1770 repro of a early pistol. Is misfired 4 times before it worked. So I can see how such a thing could indeed happen. So by chance Andrew Jackson did not make it into the history books as the first assassinated President. Thirty years later the sad deed was done to another President. Abraham Lincoln.