When the King of England Tried to Kill an American President, Kind of…

President Andrew Jackson was a redhead with a notorious temper.

Born in 1767, the 7th American President Andrew Jackson had some serious anger management issues. His biographer HW Brands noted, “Observers likened him to a volcano, and only the most intrepid or recklessly curious cared to see it erupt.” Jackson had more than his share of enemies.

President Jackson was notorious for settling his differences with his fellows via gunfire.

Estimates hold Jackson as having participated in between five and one hundred duels over his long and craggly life.

Andrew Jackson’s wife Rachel was a divorcee. Dickinson’s referral to her as a bigamist in Jackson’s presence signed his own death warrant.

In 1806 Jackson fell out with a rival Tennessee horse breeder named Charles Dickinson over an unfulfilled wager and a subsequent slight against Jackson’s wife Rachel. In the choreographed conflict that ensued, Jackson took the ball from Dickinson’s pistol squarely in the chest without discharging his own weapon. Placing his left hand over the wound to staunch the blood, Jackson then took his time, carefully aimed, and blew his equestrian rival straight to Hades.

Charles Dickinson had the poor judgment to accept Andrew Jackson’s invitation to a duel.

Observers claimed that Jackson had to cycle his pistol twice to get it to fire and therefore violated decorum. In the end, Dickinson was in no shape to complain.

Dickenson’s pistol ball lodged near Jackson’s heart where it remained, leaving the man persistently agitated.

Jackson carried that ball in his chest until he died at age 78. The presence of this embedded missile caused him unending discomfort. An unsettling tendency to cough up blood persisted for decades as a lasting memento of the event.

By all accounts, Andrew Jackson’s dour visage was an accurate reflection of his soul.

Though an accomplished war hero, Andrew Jackson was a slight, sickly man. He stood six feet one inch tall and weighed about 135 pounds, walking with a stoop from his many martial injuries. While earning a place on the $20 bill, Jackson was a modern political PR guy’s living nightmare.

Jackson was an unrepentant slave owner.

Born in the Carolinas, Jackson moved to Tennessee and acquired the Hermitage, a sprawling southern plantation near Nashville replete with a bevy of slaves. Nine came with the property upon its purchase. Jackson owned 110 at the time of his death.

The Battle of New Orleans was actually fought two weeks after the war ended with the Treaty of Ghent signed in Belgium. A lack of decent communication meant the players failed to get word of the armistice in time to halt the carnage.

Jackson is best remembered for winning the Battle of New Orleans against the British. However, his military exploits also included a victory at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend, an engagement that was part of the larger Creek War.

Andrew Jackson’s exploits took a huge toll on Native Americans.

This one-sided conflict pushed Native Americans out of Alabama and Georgia. He fought in the Seminole War that helped seize Florida from Spain and led to the deaths of another breathtaking heap of indigenous persons. In 1830 as President, Jackson signed the aptly named Indian Removal Act.

Outrage over Jackson’s purportedly stolen Presidential election led to the formation of the Democratic Party.

Jackson lost the Presidency to John Quincy Adams in 1824. While he won a plurality of both the popular and electoral votes he failed to win a majority. The House of Representatives subsequently decided the contest against him. As a result of his outrage, Jackson’s supporters formed the Democratic Party that we all currently know and love.

Today’s left-wing hotbed had its origins in slavery, violence, and imperialism.

That today’s militant ever-offended Leftists could owe their heritage to a slave-owning, gun-wielding, duel fighting, blood-soaked wanton slayer of Native Americans seems somehow poetic. I would add some snarky comment, but, frankly, words fail me.

An Unbalanced Assailant

House painting in the early 19th century was quite a hazardous profession.

Richard Lawrence was born in England around 1800 and immigrated to Virginia with his family at age twelve. By all accounts a temperate youngster with personable qualities, Lawrence took up house painting as a profession. OSHA was not a thing in 19th century America, so some of the toxic chemicals found in house paint were mighty vile indeed. Whether it was excessive lead exposure or simply a genetic predisposition to mental illness has never been definitively established. Regardless of the impetus, by his 30’s Richard Lawrence was crazy as a fruit bat.

Richard Lawrence became obsessed with the notion that the US government was out to get him. This was the beginning of a long and illustrious line of lunatics sharing this common delusion.

In 1832 Lawrence suddenly and inexplicably announced his intent to return to England, changing his mind at the last minute claiming the place was too cold for his tastes. He later stated that “unnamed persons” as well as the entire US Government disapproved of his travel plans. He also announced his intent to purchase a ship of his own and hire a captain to facilitate the voyage.

By the time Richard Lawrence determined he was actually Richard III, the King of England, Richard III had been technically dead for some 340 years.

Around this time Lawrence abruptly stopped painting houses and announced to his family that he no longer needed to work, as he had become independently wealthy. When queried regarding the details, Richard Lawrence told all comers that he was actually Richard III, the late Regent of England. As folks had it on reliable information that Richard III had actually died in 1485, his claim was understandably viewed with skepticism.

Richard Lawrence’s garish outfits and outrageous behavior made him a laughingstock of his local community.

Richard began dressing in flamboyant clothing befitting a demised English monarch and grew some epic facial hair. He would typically change his clothes four or five times a day. Along the way, he threatened to murder a maid whom he perceived as laughing at him and attacked his sister with a paperweight. Lawrence conducted lengthy conversations and engaged in impressive fits of laughter and profanity all by his lonesome.

Soon the paths of a lunatic house painter and the sitting President of the United States would violently cross.

What might the unhinged actions of this lunatic housepainter have had with the slave-owning father of the modern Democratic Party, you ask? Be patient, we’re getting there.

The Nexus

Lawrence’s inability to access the wealth of the British Empire drove him to extreme lengths.

Richard Lawrence found to his consternation that he could not actually access the monetary assets of a long-dead English king and began to establish blame for this obvious affront. President Jackson had been instrumental in the dissolution of the Second Bank of the United States. Lawrence felt that this action was the reason he was not granted control over the vast wealth of the British Empire. He was observed shouting “I’ll be damned if I don’t do it!” before making his way on January 30, 1835, to the funeral of South Carolina Representative Warren R. Davis. Davis’ service was a public gathering known to be attended by Jackson.

The attempted assassination of Andrew Jackson was the first such attempt on an American President’s life.

Lawrence approached President Jackson from behind and produced a single-shot percussion Derringer pistol. He squeezed the trigger at point blank range, but the weapon failed to fire. Lawrence then produced a second Derringer only to find that it, too, remained inert.

Old Hickory was Andrew Jackson’s universally acknowledged nickname. His response to Richard Lawrence’s attempt on his life was both swift and vigorous.

President Jackson then lit into the poor man with his cane, the mental image of which will make you lament the lack of YouTube back in 1835.

Davy Crockett helped subdue Richard Lawrence after he tried to kill President Andrew Jackson.

Members of the crowd, including Tennessee Representative and folk hero Davy Crockett, had Lawrence trussed up in short order.

Francis Scott Key led the prosecution against Lawrence.

Three months later Richard Lawrence was tried for the attempted assassination of a sitting American President, the first of several unfortunate similar undertakings to come. Francis Scott Key, the acclaimed author of The Star Spangled Banner, was the lead prosecutor. The trial simply exposed what was patently obvious, that Lawrence was irretrievably insane. The unbalanced man spent the rest of his days in a series of asylums.

The Guns

Derringer is a term that has been universally applied to small concealable single or double barrel pocket pistols.

Henry Deringer produced the original Philadelphia Deringer percussion pistol in 1852. Over the years somebody added a spare “R,” and the new spelling has become accepted. The eponym has since been applied to any compact concealable handgun that is not a revolver or autoloader.

Henry Deringer’s guns were illicitly produced around the world. In many cases, counterfeiters reproduced Deringer’s identifying information as well.

Henry’s gun was widely copied, sometimes even down to the markings.

This is the Derringer pistol John Wilkes Booth used to kill President Abraham Lincoln.

These guns were notoriously unreliable and were typically sold in pairs as a result. The most famous use of the Derringer was in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln by John Wilkes Booth. Interestingly, the pistol used by Booth sported counterclockwise rifling where most every other version of the gun has been found with the opposite right-hand grooves.

I could not find a reference to the exact make of the guns used by Lawrence in his assassination attempt. The fact that he tried to kill Jackson on a particularly wet dreary day likely saved the President’s life.

A century after the event both guns were removed from storage at the Smithsonian, analyzed, and reprimed. When taken to a range both weapons fired on the first attempt. Researchers have determined that the probability that both weapons would misfire was around one in 125,000. While I’m not sure how they arrived at these numbers I read it on the Internet, so it must be true.


Despite his many ethical and moral warts, Andrew Jackson has been venerated on the American $20 bill.

To say that Jackson’s legacy is conflicted is a profound understatement. Simply reading about the man’s toxic masculinity, overt institutionalized racism, and unfettered misogyny would be adequate to induce the gyrating fantods in today’s generation of Left-wing snowflakes. I personally think it’s hilarious.

I find the ubiquitous use of Jackson’s image in commerce at such left-wing establishments as Starbucks fairly amusing.

That his scowling visage looks up every time one of them drops a $20 on the counter at Starbucks for a cup of overpriced coffee strikes me as manifestly comical. In 1835 Jackson became the only President in American history to fully retire the nation’s debt, so at least that’s something.

Today’s modern Democratic party is a direct descendant of Andrew Jackson’s 19th-century political machine.

With a solitary historical exception, no human is perfect, and anyone who claims otherwise has clearly never actually met one. There is not a person currently treading the planet about which some dirt or other might not be found. However, in the father of the modern Democratic Party, we find enough colorful grime to keep the hosts of The View agitated until the sun burns out.

Andrew Jackson was a deeply flawed but nonetheless heroic American.

President Andrew Jackson will forever be the father of the modern Democratic Party.

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About the author: Will Dabbs A native of the Mississippi Delta, Will is a mechanical engineer who flew UH1H, OH58A/C, CH47D, and AH1S aircraft as an Army Aviator. He has parachuted out of perfectly good airplanes at 3 o’clock in the morning and summited Mount McKinley, Alaska, six times…always at the controls of an Army helicopter, which is the only way sensible folk climb mountains. Major Dabbs eventually resigned his commission in favor of medical school where he delivered 60 babies and occasionally wrung human blood out of his socks. Will works in his own urgent care clinic, shares a business build-ing precision rifles and sound suppressors, and has written for the gun press since 1989. He is married to his high school sweetheart, has three awesome adult children, and teaches Sunday School. Turn-ons include vintage German machineguns, flying his sexy-cool RV6A airplane, Count Chocula cereal, and the movie “Aliens.”

{ 22 comments… add one }
  • Ejharb May 18, 2019, 7:21 pm

    If old hickory was alive today we would have to DeForest a square mile of hickory to keep him in canes and the hospital costs of legions of concused snowflakes would collapse the economy!

  • Old Hawg May 15, 2019, 1:06 pm

    Andrew Jackson had much in common with just about every other member of the landed gentry who lived south of the Mason-Dixon Line of the United States prior to the passage of the 13th-15th Amendments in 1865. He and the others owned slaves to work their plantations, an abominable but perfectly legal and common practice at the time in the South. To excoriate him for being a slave-owner then is patently unfair. For all of his other faults, Jackson did nothing wrong either in holding slaves or participating in duels when he felt that he had suffered insult. That was also common before dueling was outlawed. Looking at past practices and mores with modern eyes and sensibilities does a disservice to history.

  • Terry Rivers, COL, MC,FS,USAR (ret) May 15, 2019, 9:15 am


  • Jay H. Ginsburg May 13, 2019, 7:20 pm

    Dr. Dabbs’ biography was almost as entertaining as his portrayal of Pres. Jackson. Thank you for your service, Major, and thanks for an outstanding account of one of our most remarkable presidents.

    Also, I commend mtman2 on his outstanding follow-up to the article.

  • Mike in a Truck May 13, 2019, 6:19 pm

    A hard man for hard times. If Old Hickory were alive today he would take his stick to the likes of Schumer and Nadler to name just two.Talk about balls.Who would stand there and take a bullet(ball) to the chest?This story shows that the misconception that everybody was a shootist back in those days is false. Not reloading your flint/percussion weapon on a daily basis with a fresh charge was the sure sign of a city slicker with no fighting experience. But what would one expect from a complete loon like Richard.Maybe he would have fared better if he had used his sword. Oh wait another martial skill AJ was adept at.

  • Dave May 13, 2019, 5:35 pm

    Point blank range? Look it up, please…

  • Jeremy J May 13, 2019, 5:23 pm

    Now it makes since why you can easily make Jackson into John Rambo on the $20 bill, because he was a man of war as well lol

  • Sandy Keathley May 13, 2019, 4:00 pm

    You say Lawrence tried to assassinate Jackson in 1835 with a Derringer that was not developed until 1852?

    • Joe May 13, 2019, 6:09 pm

      Reread the story. You are mistaken about what the author said.

  • Gobi Mahler May 13, 2019, 1:34 pm

    Born on the Ides of March, Andrew was the very first Orange Man Bad.

  • Kane May 13, 2019, 10:40 am

    A very enjoyable article. I thought I remembered a report from years ago that some old pistols had been found hidden in the Whitehouse that traced back to Andrew Jackson. Jackson was concerned that a lethal enemy could strike at anytime even using poison to end his life.

  • mtman2 May 13, 2019, 9:44 am

    1) As usual the fact that during the French+Indian War of 7yrs they used Indian tribes to slaughter Ameticans acoss the frontiers. ..

    2) Then the British did the same thing to us in our War for Independence = brutal terrorism on civilians right here in your backyards.
    3) The British did it to us again in the War of 1812 when they tried to get “their Colony’s” back = esp across the South + masscres were done regulatly to helpless farm families- yes men women + children.

    4) General Jackson clean those tribes up as well as taking Florida for America when Spain had sided w/Britain against us + was plotting further slaughter via Native Americans = making Jackson a major American hero just for those things THEN he severely wiped out British invaders in New Orleans + they intended to take the entire Mississippi River north + the River from Canada south to retake America from all sides = then the Treaty of Ghent would be worthless…
    *Terrorism is why there was bad sentiment toward Indians for everyone had family members butchered, enslaved or tortured by them = get the memo- they were dealing with brutal terrorism across America then for 70+yrs….imagine that- then Jackson will get the credit he deserves in your eyes because now you have the rest of the story folks leave out = he was a tough man in tough times + got the job done.
    IE – General Jackson thereby saved America from annihilation from both the British + their allied masscering Indian Tribes.
    and he lost both his mother + brother before his eyes in the 1st War for Independence + was beaten almost to death himself then as a by the British officer who did it.
    He paid big his whole life and yes did most of its sick or wounded…
    Slavery was a way of life then having been imposed on us by the British rule originally…and slavery is far more prevalent today esp child sex slavery – even right here in America as wrll as flooding over our southern border + run by the Mex cartels.
    Lets stop stomping on Jacksons memory by ommissions…do read his Farewell Address upon leaving the White House + see how wise he was + how loved his country- esp in kicking out the European Banksters = who now are running us via the FED thanks to W.Wilson+Dem Congress in 1913 + FDR selling each of us by SocSec no. to the IMF in 1944.

    • Sam Vanderburg May 13, 2019, 11:16 am

      You bring valid points to the table. Especially considering the Creek War was one which they started… The Indians were feared and despised because of their actions during French and Indian Wars, the American Revolution, and then actions on their own. While the Cherokee had started assimilating the European culture of the white settlers, they were a major object of the Indian removal since their lands occupied an area in which precious metal had been discovered. The Supreme Court ruled in their favor, but Jackson ignored their ruling as did most of the nation and the Trail of Tears became a reality. While I have a respect for Jackson, he was a man of his day, and while I do not approve of much of his personal life, he was indeed a patriot and did a great job in supporting his young nation and leading it on.

      • Andrew N. May 13, 2019, 2:39 pm

        Yes, those horrible, horrible Indians! What a bunch of selfish bastards, actually wanting to keep the land they had lived on for centuries! Tecumseh was too early, and Crazy Horse was too late, both wanted to have all Native Americans join forces and push the Whites off of North America. Despite all the treaties and promises of the U.S. Gov’t, they only kept ONE of those countless promises: “We will take your land.” There was more to that statement in treaties, but that’s the only part the Gov’t. enforced. The treatment of Native Americans also provided great insight into how to destroy a people’s honor, pride, and ambition. By removing the Male as the main provider for the family, it destroyed the family unit and eventually any semblance of community / racial cohesion. Using that same model, the Democratic Party has done the same to their “base”. Just look at the inner-city ghettos to see the results. Inner cites are just modern day Reservations, where drug and alcohol problems reign supreme, as well as same race genocide. Bad education opportunities and Gov;t “assistance” to remove any need or desire to work, and keep the people right where the Dems want them; out of sight and out of mind UNTIL Election Day when they are bused to the Polls.

        • Scott May 14, 2019, 4:07 am

          “Yes, those horrible, horrible Indians! What a bunch of selfish bastards, actually wanting to keep the land they had lived on for centuries! ”


          And they took it from someone who came before them. They weren’t tender-hearted peaceniks.


          “The treatment of Native Americans also provided great insight into how to destroy a people’s honor, pride, and ambition. By removing the Male as the main provider for the family, it destroyed the family unit and eventually any semblance of community / racial cohesion. ”


          Sounds like the same thing the Leftists are doing to white people today.

          Well, white conservative heterosexual Christian males, anyway.

  • Mario May 13, 2019, 9:36 am

    Great article. Love how you dig out the details and tie them together. Also enjoy your writing style.

  • Marcelino May 13, 2019, 7:59 am

    I really enjoyed the article and in particular American history. I only got a ‘C’ on the subject in high school. I read a lot but never paid attention to the dates. Now I wish I had paid attention to those dates. Great work Will Dabbs and thanks for history.

  • Wiley Morton May 13, 2019, 7:45 am

    Nice bit of history for the most part. The author points out the roots of the Democratic Party but fails to note that all the bad qualities that President Jackson embodied: hate, racism and xenophobia have been transferred to the GOP, much to the chagrin of former Republicans like myself who hate such things.

    • Jerry S. May 13, 2019, 8:49 am

      Transference much??

    • Wade May 13, 2019, 10:41 am

      “… hate, racism and xenophobia have been transferred to the GOP…”

      I think you missed the correct party line. All those things are still part of the original Jackson party platform on a regular basis.

    • Scott May 14, 2019, 12:17 am

      Careful Wiley, you might throw your shoulder out, virtue-signalling so flagrantly to the PC crowd.

      The RINO-Cuck-Republican Party is a disgrace, with the exception of a very few House members and without any exception I can think of on the Senate side.

      By contrast, there is not a single Devilrat I am aware of who is not wholly corrupt.

      Both parties are a festering wasteland of corruption. The GOP is bought off by the Chamber of Commerce (a.k.a. Tommy Donohue’s Brokerage House of International Corporate Bribery). Both parties have more in common with each other than with the American People, that’s why (in part) they are together called the “Uni-Party”.

      But the claim that ‘hate, racism and xenophobia have been transferred to the GOP’ is only in your mind. It takes spine to hate, and the GOP has none.

      The Devilcrat Party, by contrast, is bursting at the seams with hate. They are openly anti-American, anti-Christian, anti-male and anti-white. And nobody in fakestream news media (the propaganda arm of the Democrat Party) ever calls them out for it.

      I am without a ‘Party’ myself, because there is no party that represents Conservatives. The RINO party certainly doesn’t. But there has been no ‘transfer’ of ‘hate, racism and xenophobia’.

      As Cher revealed with her classic “Not in My Back Yard” tweet, as soon as DJT threatened to release illegal aliens in Sanctuary Cities, the Devilrats are just stark raving hypocrites.

      Democrats exemplify their hate and racism daily. Who constantly threatens and engages in violence? Devilcrats. Who constantly and daily threatens the president and his supporters with violence? The Demonrats.

      And daily, the MSM does their best to project the Leftist’s hate and racism onto their so-called Republican ‘opponents’, following Alinsky’s rule to accuse your enemies of what you yourself are doing.

      So if you’re buying what the MSM is selling, if you believe the Propaganda Arm of the Devilrat Party, then their propaganda has been a complete success on you.

  • Rangemaster11B May 13, 2019, 3:58 am

    Love your stuff, Will! Keep it up.

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