Today, the Andrew Jackson Presidential One Dollar Coin remembers the failed attempt to assassinate the president 183 years ago.
From the Niles Weekly Register of February 7, 1835, an excerpt from their many articles on the Assault on the President:
Attempt to Assassinate the President.
From the National Intelligencer of January 31.
The funeral of the late lamented Warren R. Davis of South Carolina, took place yesterday from the capitol, according to previous arrangement. The gloom of the day rendered the occasion yet more gloomy. Neither house of congress transacted business afterwards; the senate adjourned over to Monday.
An occurrence took place at the close of the ceremony at the capitol, which produced naturally a great sensation at the time, which can be heard by no one without shuddering, and which, if the consequence had been equal to the apparent purpose, would have signalized the day by a horrible catastrophe.
[We were not witnesses of it, and, in our account of it, speak from information, but from information entirely to be relied on. ]0
As the president of the United States, who was present at the solemn ceremony of the funeral, came into the portico of the capitol from the rotunda, a person stepped forward from the crowd into the space in front of the president, and snapped a pistol at him, the percussion cap of which exploded without igniting the charge!
This person was struck down by a blow from lieutenant Gednev, of the navy, who happened to be near; he also received a blow promptly aimed at him by Mr. Secretary Woodbury; but before receiving either blow, snapped a second pistol at the president.
The cap of that lock also exploded without igniting the charge! The perpetrator of this daring outrage was of course immediately seized and taken in custody by the marshal of the district, by whom he was carried to the city hall, where he underwent an examination before chief justice Crunch.
His name, it appears, is Richard Lawrence, by trade a painter, a resident for two or three years in the first ward of this city, and formerly of Georgetown.
The gentlemen whose testimony was taken before the judge, were Mr. Secretary Woodbury, Mr. Secretary Dickerson, Mr. Bard, representative from Pennsylvania, Mr. Randolph, sergeant at arms of the house, Mr. Kingman, one of the reporters for the National Intelligencer, and lieutenant Gedney.
The pistols, which had been secured by Mr. Bard, were of brass, and, on examination in court, were found to be well loaded with powder and ball, which our readers would suppose, until the fact is stated, could hardly have been possible.
How extraordinary, (and O how fortunate!) the failure of the evident design of this miserable maniac, (for so he must be considered, under all the circumstances), against the life of the president!
We say, the is a maniac, because the act shows him to be insane, and not because any evidence of his insanity was produced on his examination; though we have heard that he has been heretofore confined for acts of violence indicating an unsound mind.
On his examination, the unhappy man declined making any explanation or cross examining the witnesses. We have heard no rational motive even conjectured for his crime.
The offence being a bailable one, and excessive bail being forbidden, bail was demanded to the amount of a thousand dollars, for want of which the prisoner was committed for trial, the judge intimating that if he had been able to give bail, sufficient securities would have been required, in addition, to insure his good behavior. He will be tried, of course, at tile next term of the court.
From the Globe, same date.
While the president was at the capitol yesterday, in attendance on the funeral of the hon. Warren R. Davis, from South Carolina, Richard Lawrence, a painter, resident in this city, attempted to shoot him.
Colonel Lane, of Indiana, informed us, that he saw this individual enter the hall of the house during the delivery of the funeral sermon.
Before its close, however, he had taken his stand on the eastern portico, near one of the columns. The president, with the secretary of the treasury on his left arm, on retiring from the rotunda to reach his carriage at the steps of the portico, advanced towards the spot where Lawrence stood, who had his pistol concealed under his coat, and when he approached within two yards and a half of him, the assassin extended his arm and leveled the pistol at his breast.
The percussion cap exploded with a noise so great that several witnesses supposed the pistol had fired.
On the instant, the assassin dropped the pistol from his right hand, and taking another ready cocked from his left, presented and snapped it at the president, who at the moment had raised his stick and was rushing upon him.
Mr. Woodbury and lieutenant Gedney at the same instant laid hold of the man, who gave way through the crowd and was at last knocked down. The president pressed after him until he saw he was secured.
We attended the examining court immediately after the event. The secretary of the treasury, the secretary of the navy, col. Bard of the house, Mr. Kingman and lieutenant Gedney, all of whom witnessed the act, were examined, and gave a more minute detail of the circumstances above stated.
Mr. Randolph, the sergeant of the house, who attended the marshal to conduct the prisoner to the city hall for examination, gave in testimony that the prisoner, when asked by the marshal what motive he had to make his horrid attempt, stated that the president had killed his father.
His father was an Englishman, who died many years ago in this city. The son himself was apprenticed afterwards to a Mr. Clark, with whom he lived three years.
Mr. Clark, when called upon, said, that he was a young man of excellent habits, sober and industrious; that he had seen him very frequently, and was well acquainted with him since he had left his family, and had heard nothing to his disadvantage, until of late, he was informed that he was quarrelsome among his friends, and had treated one of his sisters badly.
The total absence of any personal motive on the part of the prisoner to commit the deed he attempted, has suggested the idea that he must be insane.
There was, however, no evidence given in the examination to authorize the supposition, although several persons intimately acquainted with him, and one boarding in the same house with him, gave evidence upon the occasion.
The demeanor of the prisoner, when committing the act—when he was seized—and when under examination, bore not the slightest appearance of phrensy, or derangement of any sort.
When asked by the court if he wished to cross examine the witnesses, or to make explanation, he answered in the negative—said that those who had seen the act could state the facts—and at the conclusion, when asked iſ he had anything to offer, said that he could not contradict what had been given in evidence.
The prisoner is a handsome young man, well dressed, and prepossessing in his countenance. He appeared perfectly calm and collected in the midst of the excitement and anxiety which prevailed around him—and the president, in conversing with us, since the event, observed, that his manner, from the moment his eye caught his, was firm and resolved, until the failure of his last pistol, when he seemed to shrink, rather than resist.
We were informed by Mr. Wilson, the keeper of the rotunda, that he had frequently observed this man about the capitol —so frequently that he had become an object of curiosity to him—that he had endeavored to draw him into conversation, but found him taciturn and unwilling to talk.
Whether Lawrence has caught, in his visits to the capitol, the mania which has prevailed during the last two sessions in the senate—whether he has become infatuated with the chimeras which have troubled the brains of the disappointed and ambitious orators who have depicted the president as a Caesar who ought to have a Brutus—as a Cromwell—a Nero—a Tiberius, we know not.
If no secret conspiracy has prompted the perpetration of the horrid deed, we think it not improbable that some delusion of intellect has grown out of his visits to the capitol, and that hearing despotism and every horrible mischief threatened to the republic, and revolution and all its train of calamities imputed as the necessary consequence of the president’s measures, it may be that the infatuated man fancied he had reasons to become his country’s avenger.
If he had heard and believed Mr. Calhoun’s speech the day before yesterday, he would have found in it ample justification for his attempt on one, who was represented as the cause of the most dreadful calamities to the nation—as one who made perfect rottenness and corruption to pervade the vitals of the government—insomuch that it was scarcely worth preserving, if it were possible.
Judge Cranch saw nothing in the conduct of the prisoner, or in the evidence, to suggest the idea that he labored under any mental malady.
He entered up an order that he should be bailed, if he could give security in $1,000. The district attorney said that the atrociousness of the crime attempted, should induce his honor to require bail in a higher penalty.
The judge seemed moved by this, but as the constitution, he said, provided that excessive bail should not be demanded, he could not require a bond for more than $1,500!!
So, if any of our patriots should think fit to furnish this sum to stand the forfeiture, we may have this desperate man with new weapons of destruction at the next levee.
We attended the court—and being asked to examine the load in one of the pistols, drew out with a screw a ball, of which about sixty would make a pound.
It was well patched, and forced down tight on a full charge of excellent glazed powder.
How the caps could have exploded without firing the powder, is miraculous.
Providence has ever guarded the life of the man who has been destined to preserve and raise his country’s glory, and maintain the cause of the people.
In the multitude of instances in which he has hazarded his person for his country, it was never in more imminent danger than on yesterday, when, in a funeral procession, followed by his cabinet—the senate—and the representatives of the people.
The Andrew Jackson Presidential One Dollar Coin shows with an artist’s image of the capture of the man attempting the assassination of the president, January 30, 1835.