1st Assassination Attempt of a US President

Today in History, January 30: 1835 – The first assassination attempt on an American President occurs when an insane out of work English painter approaches President Andrew Jackson as he walks out of the East Portico of the US Capitol, and attempts to fire two pistol in succession at the President. Both pistols misfired, “Old Hickory” clobbered the would be assassin with his cane, and nearby legislators including Davy Crockett subdued the man. The attempted assassin initially said he was angry about President Jackson’s efforts to dismantle the corrupt Second Bank of the United States, which he felt caused his unemployment. Soon he was claiming that he was a deceased King of England, however and was deemed insane. He was tried for the crime (the prosecutor was Francis Scott Key) and found not guilty by reason of insanity. He would spend the rest of his life institutionalized. Conspiracy theories abounded…Jackson suspected Senator John C. Calhoun of sponsoring the attack, which Calhoun denied on the Senate floor. Others suspected Mississippi Senator George Poindexter, who’s house the man had recently painted…so much so that Poindexter was voted out of office. In his inaugural address President Jackson stated, in part, “I feel in the depths of my soul that it is the highest, most sacred, and most irreversible part of my obligation to preserve the union of these states, although it may cost me my life.” It very nearly did.

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