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The First Presidential Assassination Attempt

Updated on February 1, 2012
Presidential Assassinations
Presidential Assassinations

Presidential Assassination

Through the course of American History, there have been four confirmed Presidential Assassinations and two more rumored assassinations. There have also been over 90 confirmed Presidential Assassination attempts on sitting presidents.

As with all history, there was a first time. The first assassination attempt in American History of an American President was the attempt to kill Andrew Jackson on May 6, 1833.

Andrew Jackson: 7th President Of The United States
Andrew Jackson: 7th President Of The United States

President Andrew Jackson

Andrew Jackson was elected as the seventh President of the United States in 1829. Before being elected President, Jackson served as the military governor of Florida after commanding American forces at the Battle of New Orleans at the end of the War of 1812. Nicknamed Old Hickory, Jackson is remembered for his rugged toughness and his return of the government to the people. Jackson also has a scarred legacy due to his treatment of Native Americans and his support and use of slavery.

The First Attempt To Assassinate Jackson Was Done By A Man Jackson Fired
The First Attempt To Assassinate Jackson Was Done By A Man Jackson Fired

The First Assassination Attempt

The first attempt to assassinate a sitting American President occurred on May 6, 1833. Jackson had dismissed Robert B. Randolph from the United States Navy for charges for embezzlement. On May 6, Jackson sailed to Fredericksburg, Virginia to pay homage to Mary Ball Washington, George Washington's mother. While Jackson was in Alexandria, Virginia, Randolph appeared and struck the President. Jackson was not seriously injured. Randolph fled the scene and was chased down by Jackson supporters, including the author Washington Irving. Jackson did not press charges.

Legend Has It That After His Would Be Assassin's Gun Failed, Jackson Beat Him With His Cane
Legend Has It That After His Would Be Assassin's Gun Failed, Jackson Beat Him With His Cane

The Second Assassination Attempt

The second attempt on Jackson's life occurred on January 30, 1835.  Jackson was leaving the U.S. Capitol after attending the funeral of U.S. Representative Warren Davis.  While walking out of the East Portico, Richard Lawrence stepped out from the crowd and aimed a pistol at Jackson.  It misfired.  Lawrence then pulled out a second pistol and aimed it at Jackson.  It also misfired.

Legend has it that after the second misfire, Jackson began beating Lawrence with his cane until he was held back by his aides.   Those around Jackson then restrained Lawrence.  Theories state that moisture due to humidity caused the pistols to misfired.

Despite Two Attempts At His Life, Jackson Finished His Presidency
Despite Two Attempts At His Life, Jackson Finished His Presidency

Jackson & Lawrence

Richard Lawrence had no political motives to kill Andrew Jackson.  In fact, Lawrence was an unemployed house painter from England who suffered from mental defects. After being arrested, Lawrence told doctors that he tried to kill Jackson because it was his fault he could not find work as a house painter.  Lawrence claimed that with Jackson dead, "money would be plenty."  Later, Lawrence told detectives that he was the deposed English King Richard III which was amazing since Richard III died in 1485.  Lawrence was deemed mentally insane and spent the remainder of his life institutionalized and was never charged with the crime of trying to kill the President of the United States. 

Andrew Jackson finished his Presidency without further attempts on his life by assassins, although there were many who wanted Jackson dead due to his stance on the Bank of United States and other political policies. 


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    • bgpappa profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Sacramento, California

      Thanks for reading.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      that is very interesting

    • bgpappa profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Sacramento, California

      He was paying homage, for a monument in her honor. Not visiting her.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      George washington's Mother?? He sas born February 22, 1732, his mother would have to be at least 15, therefore, his mother that Jackson visited in 1833 would have been easily 115 years old! How can that be???

      Ol' Trey

    • bgpappa profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Sacramento, California

      Joe, nobody can deny his legacy in regards to the trail of tears, Thanks for stopping by.

      June, interesting.

      Antikatak, thanks for the clarificatin.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Mary Ball Washington was NOT George Washington's wife (that was Martha, remember?) but his mother.

    • profile image

      June Higgins 

      7 years ago

      Interesting article. Thanks. I got the link to your page from The History Channel Club's Daily History email for 1/31/12. They must not have read your piece carefully because they label the attack by Richard Lawrence as the first attack on a sitting president, not the second.

    • profile image

      Joe Blow 

      7 years ago

      Jackson biggest negative thing was the trail of tears. It came through Missouri while they were forcing the eastern Native Americans to the Oklahoma territory. Many died on the trek to Oklahoma. It came through Cape Giraradeau, Missouri and there is a state park called Trail of Tears State Park. I believe this the darkest deed any so called famous American could have done, and according to records I have studied Jackson had no regrets. He is not one of my favorite Americans cause of his inhumanity to Indians,

    • bgpappa profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Sacramento, California

      I thought this was interesting as well. Jackson had a lot of personal enemies.

      Thanks for reading.

    • valeriebelew profile image


      9 years ago from Metro Atlanta, GA, USA

      That was interesting. I wouldn't have known that, but what is strange is that with all his problems, neither attempt was actually political, but personal instead. (: v

    • bgpappa profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Sacramento, California

      Thanks. I thought it was a cool story, specifically how Jackson's aides had to hold him back from beating the second guy with a cane.

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 

      10 years ago from Chicago

      "Jackson did not press charges." That says a lot right there. Thanks for the fine discourse. I enjoyed it very much.


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