Friday, June 08, 2007

June 8, 1845:

Andrew Jackson Dies

The Seventh President of the United States lived to be 78, dying perhaps of TB and "dropsy" and other ills, but it's a marvel that he didn't die younger. Such as in 1806, as a young man with a way of getting into duels. That year he fought with Marylander Charles Dickinson, a expert marksman with many dueling kills to his credit. Marquis James, Jackson's famed biographer, describes that incident in harrowing detail:

"A fleck of dust rose from Jackson's coat and his left hand clutched his chest. For an instant he thought himself dying, but, fighting for self-command, slowly he raised his pistol.

"Dickinson recoiled a step horror-stricken. 'My God! Have I missed him?'
"Overton [Jackson's second] presented his pistol. 'Back to the mark, sir!'
"Dickinson folded his arms. Jackson's spare frame straightened. He aimed... and fired. Dickinson swayed to the ground... [the wound proved mortal. Jackson was also wounded, to the point where his left boot had filled with blood, but he survived.]

"Jackson's surgeon found that Dickinson's aim had been perfectly true, but he had judged the position of Jackson's heart by the set of his coat, and Jackson wore his coats loosely on account of the excessive slenderness of his figure."

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