Assassination of Andrew Jackson drawing

The first known attempt to assassinate a president in Washington occurred on January 30, 1835 when Richard Lawrence, an English-born immigrant and unemployed drifter, fired two pistols at Andrew Jackson as the President was leaving the Capitol after a funeral. Both pistols misfired. Lawrence, who expressed a belief that he was the rightful heir to the thrones of England and the United States, and that Jackson was standing in his way, was tried before Chief Judge William Cranch. It took the jury just five minutes to decide he was “under the influence of insanity at the time he committed the act,” and not guilty. Nonetheless, he was remanded to prison because there was no asylum in Washington and Judge Cranch concluded that it would be dangerous “to permit him to be at large while under this mental delusion.”

Return to Timeline