Andrew Jackson was almost the first assassinated president–but luck was on his side. What happened?
The first president to ever have his life threatened by an assassination (that we know of) was Andrew Jackson in 1835.
The story of how it happened reads like one of the strangest historical Mad Libs ever made.It includes a crazy unemployed guy, defective pistols, and the infamous Davy Crockett!
While attending a funeral, Richard Lawrence, an unemployed house painter, approached Andrew Jackson in the House chamber of the Capitol. He took a gun out and shot at him, but luckily, it misfired.
Lawrence believed he was owed money which would allow him to take his rightful place as King Richard III of England, and Jackson was keeping it from him. Sure, sounds reasonable.
The 67-year-old president quickly raised his cane and struck Lawrence again and again. Lawrence presented a second pistol—which also misfired. The crowds got in on the fun, fighting Lawrence and taking his guns. And who else was in that crowd but bystander Rep. Davy Crockett of Tennessee!
Lawrence was found not guilty because of insanity and spent the rest of his days in mental institutions. Jackson believed the rival Whig Party hired the assassin, which led to Vice President Martin Van Buren carrying two pistols any time he visited the Senate.
The Smithsonian Institution tested Lawrence's pistols in 1930. Believe it or not, both fired normally on the first try!