Bizarre Crimes: The Assassination Attempt on President Andrew Jackson


When it comes to United States presidential assassinations attempts, Richard Lawrence's attempt on the life of Andrew Jackson is the first known and one of the weirdest. Richard Lawrence bore a grudge against the 7th President of the United States based on delusions. The grudge got worse and worse until the deranged man tried to shoot Andrew Jackson outside of the Capitol Building on January 30, 1835.

Richard Lawrence was born sometime in 1800 or 1801 in England. The details of his childhood are unimportant to this story. What is important is that he came to the United States and got sick. He worked as a painter in his adult life, but was so ill by the time he was in his 30s that he stopped working. You see, Richard Lawrence believed that he was King Richard III, a man centuries in his grave by then. He thought that he would be given his rightful place on the throne and that he had no need to work.

It is assumed now that Richard Lawrence suffered from paranoia and delusions, possibly linked to schizophrenia. Even then, it was known that he was not in his right mind. He started dressing differently and talking to himself. He told people that the United States owed him money that would get him back home so he could assume the throne. He believed that Andrew Jackson was withholding the money from him and that the man had killed his father.

Lawrence haunted the steps of the president for weeks before going to the Capitol Building and making his attempt on the life of Andrew Jackson. He brought two pistols with him and fired once with each at the president's back. However, neither pistol would fire. They were both defective when wet. The crowd quickly subdued the would be assassin with the help of Jackson himself, who hit him with his cane. Richard Lawrence was not found guilty, as he was quite insane. He spent the rest of his life in mental institutions.