Who killed andrew jackson?

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On January 30, 1835 Andrew Jackson almost became the first president of the United States to be assassinated. A young man named Richard Lawrence attempted to shoot Jackson at point-blank range outside the Capitol building in Washington D.C. Amazingly, both of the single-shot derringer pistols used by Lawrence misfired, and Jackson was unharmed. An investigation into the assassination attempt concluded that Lawrence was insane and that he acted alone.
For this activity, imagine that Lawrence’s guns fired properly and that Jackson was killed that day in 1835. Lawrence was immediately apprehended and his rented rooms in Washington were searched by the police. During the search, the police found evidence that strongly suggests that Lawrence was part of a conspiracy to kill the president; it seems obvious that he was hired by a very important national figure to assassinate Old Hickory. You are the best police detective in the country and have been brought in to solve the case.
The following evidence was uncovered in Lawrence’s rooms:

  • A copy of the book The Spirit of Laws by Montesquieu. On the cover page is the following inscription:

The corrupt King Andrew will get more than he bargained for on January 30. You will ensure that I have been humiliated for the last time. Strike boldly, and save our great nation from his power-hungry grasp!

  • A medal for courage that was awarded to Lawrence by the United States government during the Black Hawk War.

  • A number of documents indicating that Lawrence had invested a significant amount of money in textile mills in Lowell, Massachusetts.

  • A newspaper clipping from 1815, which lists Lawrence’s father as one of the participants in the Hartford Convention.

  • An envelope filled with $5,000 in bank notes from the National Bank of the United States. In the envelope is a note that reads:

You will receive the rest of your payment after Jackson has been “nullified.” Act quickly, or this money will not be worth the paper on which it is printed.

Based on this evidence, you have identified the following people as your prime suspects:

Obviously, this list includes some very important people who cannot be carelessly accused of participating in a murder plot. You must proceed with caution, and your investigation needs to be thorough and accurate. The eyes of a distraught nation are upon you.


You must determine who hired Lawrence to kill the president, and write a report to Captain Hainsley, the Washington D.C. Chief of Police, that explains your reasoning. To do this, you will:

  1. Review the list of suspects, and identify why each one had a reason (or reasons) to want Jackson out of the picture. Write a detailed paragraph for each suspect summarizing his historical connection to Jackson. In these paragraphs, I expect you to demonstrate a thorough understanding of the history of Jackson’s presidency as it relates to each suspect. (60 points)

  1. Now that you know who the suspects are and what their motives might be, take a careful look at the evidence and determine which of your suspects hired Lawrence to kill Jackson. Write a detailed paragraph explaining your reasoning based on the historical and physical evidence. You should be able to connect most, but not necessarily all, of the evidence to your conspirator. (20 points)

  1. Be prepared to defend your decision during a class discussion about this case. In addition to defending your decision about who you believe the conspirator to be, you will also need to be able to explain why you ruled out some of the other suspects. (10 points)

The final 10 points of your grade will be based on the mechanics of your paper (i.e., spelling,

grammar, citation of sources, etc…).
Your finished report should include specific and accurate historical details on (at least) each of the following:

  • the elections of 1824, 1828, and 1832

  • the Maysville Road veto

  • the nullification crisis

  • the battle over the National Bank

  • Indian removal

  • the emergence of the Whig Party

This assignment will be due at the start of class on _____________________________________________.

Your finished report must be double-spaced and typed in 12-point font. Using MLA format, include a list of sources at the end of your report, and use parenthetical citations within the report to let me know where your information came from. Keep in mind that you MUST cite any information and ideas in your report that are not your own, or you are plagiarizing! Papers that do not cite sources will be returned without a grade and considered late thereafter.
This assignment will be graded as a test grade. Late assignments will lose 10 points for every school day that they are late, beginning at the start of class on the due date (So a report turned in at the end of the day on which it is due is one day late.).
This assignment will require a careful reading of chapters 13 and 14 in your text, as well as some additional research into the history of the Jacksonian Era and a bit of creative detective work. Enjoy it!

RUBRIC – US History (P6)


SUSPECT DESCRIPTIONS (10 points/paragraph):

  • Paragraph describes all of the important connections between Jackson and the suspect.

  • Paragraph is thorough and detailed.

  • Historical details in the paragraph are accurate.

  • Student’s understanding of this period in history is evident.

Adams: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Biddle: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Calhoun: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Clay: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Marshall: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Ross: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

GRADE: /60



  • Paragraph clearly identifies an assassin.

  • Reasons are given that make sense based on the historical evidence.

  • Reasons are given that make sense based on the physical evidence found in Lawrence’s rooms (all or most of this evidence is included in this paragraph).


GRADE: /20



  • Paper is free of significant spelling and grammatical errors.

  • Sources are cited according to MLA format.

GRADE: /10


  • Student actively participated in our class discussion by demonstrating a thorough understanding of the important issues and events of Jackson’s presidency.

GRADE: /10


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