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Humpday History Highlight

By Wyatt Earp | January 30, 2008

How many of you know the name Richard Lawrence? I’ll bet that number would be much larger if Lawrence’s assassination attempt had been successful. Read on . . .

Richard Lawrence (1800? – June 13, 1861) is the first known person to attempt to assassinate an American President.

Lawrence blamed Jackson for killing his father in 1832, despite the fact that Lawrence’s father had actually died nine years earlier and had never been to the United States.

Lawrence decided he should kill Jackson. He purchased two pistols and began observing Jackson’s movements. For several weeks before the assassination attempt, he was seen on most days in the same paint shop, repeatedly talking and laughing to himself. On January 30, 1835, Jackson was attending the funeral of South Carolina congressman Warren R. Davis. Lawrence originally planned to shoot Jackson as he entered the service but was unable to get close enough to the President.

However when Jackson left the funeral, Lawrence had found a space near a pillar where Jackson would pass. As Jackson walked, Lawrence stepped out and fired his first pistol at Jackson’s back; it misfired. Lawrence quickly made another attempt with his second pistol but that also misfired. It was later determined that the weapons he had chosen were noted for being vulnerable to moisture and the weather on that date was extremely humid.

Lawrence’s unsuccessful attempts had drawn the attention of the crowd and he was quickly wrestled into submission by those present (including Congressman Davy Crockett). It is reported that Jackson assisted in subduing his attempted assassin, striking him several times with his cane.

Lawrence was brought to trial on April 11, 1835. The prosecuting attorney was Francis Scott Key. After only five minutes of deliberation, the jury found Lawrence not guilty by reason of insanity. (H/TWikipedia)

Knowledge is power, kids!

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