Hardly anyone takes notice anymore of controversial presidents of the past. We have our own CURRENT presidents raking in plenty of controversy. As a result, it can be difficult to concern ourselves with issues of the past; but we must remember, those are the positions that wove together the fabric of our country.
Andrew Jackson was a controversial president just by his very presence. He was a "country" boy and had an abundance of fervor for almost any passion. He didn't necessarily appreciate protocol and laughed in the face of his critics.
On January 30, 1835, President Andrew Jackson became the first President to experience an assassination attempt. Jackson was leaving the Capitol Building following a Congressional funeral when he was approached by a man named Richard Lawrence. Lawrence was a mentally unstable house painter who was thought to have manifested mental issues from exposure to toxic materials in his paint. Lawrence’s mental issues caused him to believe he was owed money by the United States Government and that President Jackson was keeping it from him. In addition, Lawrence also became convinced that he was King Richard III of England.
After spending some time observing Jackson’s movements, Lawrence decided that January 30 was the day he would strike. Approaching Jackson on the steps of the Capitol Building, Lawrence raised a pistol towards the President and pulled the trigger. However, the gun misfired. In a blind fury, Jackson rushed Lawrence and viciously attacked him with his walking cane. In the following tussle, Lawrence pulled out a second pistol, pressed it to Jackson’s chest, and pulled the trigger. However, this pistol also misfired. At this point, Jackson’s aides rushed to his side and ripped Lawrence away.
Following the assassination attempt, Jackson was convinced that his Whig Party political opponents had planned the attack because of his battle to have the Bank of the United States dismantled. Jackson’s suspicions were never proven, but clearly his Vice President Martin Van Buren took them seriously, as he carried two loaded pistols with him whenever he visited the Senate. Lawrence was brought to trial for his crime but declared not guilty by reason of insanity. He died in 1861 in an insane asylum. The Smithsonian would later do a study of the attempted Jackson assassination, and it was concluded that the chances of both of Lawrence’s guns misfiring was 1 in 125,000.
Not many presidents today would charge their assailant; but that was the "stuff" Jackson was made of. His presidency demonstrated the same zeal. While many of his decisions might have been wrong, they were all made with fervor and zeal for the love of his country.
Oh for men of valor like Jackson in 2023 who will fortify allegiance to a cause that is true and patriotic.
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