Jan. 30 – Richard Lawrence fails to assassinate President Jackson

GabeAmerican History(BR), Bell Ringers

On Jan. 30, 1835, Andrew Jackson survived an attempted assassination. This was the first time a sitting president was attacked.

Andrew Jackson was born into a poor immigrant family, orphaned at the age of 14, and hardened after fighting in the Revolutionary War. He went on to become president of the United States, and was known for bringing a populist mindset, and the “Spoils System” into American government.

As he was leaving the Capitol, a man named Richard Lawrence, who was probably mentally ill, tried to shoot him not once, but twice.  Although Lawrence had two perfectly functional pistols, both misfired! After the second misfire, Jackson chased the would-be assassin into the arms of a naval officer. Many people around Jackson saw his miraculous survival as a sign that God supported his presidency. Jackson was both popular and controversial. He was skeptical of big government and wary of corruption; he railed against the National Bank, fearing inflation and greed. He was the first president to be elected as an “outsider,” and during his two terms he fought against Washington elites to increase participation in government, including eliminating the property qualification for voting.

  1. What made Andrew Jackson different from other presidents?
  2. Do you believe there is a disconnect between government officials and the needs of ordinary people? Have the problems for which Jackson was elected been solved since his time?
  3. In 1824, Andrew Jackson won the most popular and electoral votes of the competing candidates, but was not selected president in the only election which was determined by the House of Representatives. In 1828, he won outright, and was inaugurated. Do you think this was a failure of our system, or evidence for its success?

Image Citation:
[Drawing depiction of Richard Lawrence’s assassination attempt on President Jackson].  Retrieved from http://www.history101.com/assassinate-andrew-jackson/