The First Attempt To Kill A Sitting President Of The United States Occurrs

On January 30, 1835, what is believed to be the first attempt to kill a sitting President of the United States occurred just outside the United States Capitol Building.

When Jackson was leaving the Capitol Building out of the East Portico after the funeral of South Carolina Representative Warren R. Davis, Richard Lawrence, an unemployed and deranged house-painter from England, either burst from a crowd or stepped out from hiding behind a column and aimed a pistol at Jackson which misfired. Lawrence then pulled out a second pistol which also misfired. It has since been postulated that the moisture from the humid weather of the day contributed to the double misfiring. Lawrence was then restrained, with legend saying that Jackson attacked Lawrence with his cane, prompting his aides to restrain him. Others present, including David Crockett, restrained and disarmed Lawrence.

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.