Future US President, Andrew Jackson kills Charles Dickinson in a duel (May 30, 1806) - History Key

Future US President, Andrew Jackson kills Charles Dickinson in a duel (May 30, 1806)

Andrew Jackson was the seventh President of the United States from 1829 to 1837 and he is known as the founder of the Democratic Party. He is remembered with a fierce and savage temper which made him one of the most controversial figures in American history. Most of the stories regarded to Andrew Jackson reveal his “anger management” issues.

His character got him in several altercations with people and one of the most extreme one is the duel between him and Charles Dickinson. We have to point out that Andrew Jackson didn’t start a duel unless he felt a personal reason to. However, his entire life was an altercation with the others. In the next few rows we will talk about the duel with Charles Dickinson.

Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson © Image Source: Wikipedia

Asking of it

Charles Dickinson was a lawyer at the beginning of his career at that time. Their altercation developed over a longer period of time. Probably it began after a controversy surrounding Jackson’s marriage to Rachel when Dickinson accused him of bigamy. However, this time Dickinson accused him of cheating on a horse race bet and insulted his wife. It looks like Dickinson was asking for a dispute with Jackson. Therefore Dickinson published a statement in the Nashville Review in May 1806 calling Jackson a “worthless scoundrel, a coward.”

Because of his volcanic temper, Jackson couldn’t resist of being silent. Short time after the public statement, Jackson challenged Dickinson to a duel. It was a “thing” back then. Duels were very common and perfectly legal.

The duel was set: they met on the Red River, Logan, Kentucky on May 30, 1806. The odds were in Dickinson’s favor because he was known as one of the best marksmen in Tennessee. It was said he could shoot four bullets within the space of a dollar coin at 20 m. Jackson knowing that Dickinson was very good in duels, he prepared for the event by wearing extra-large coat to disguise his body shape. Especially to “hide” his heart location.

Jackson vs. Dickinson
Jackson vs. Dickinson © Image Source: wasabiroll.com


At the first signal, Dickinson fired. He shot Jackson in the chest missing his heart by only an inch. It was Jackson’s turn. He aimed Dickinson in the abdomen and pulled the trigger. He fatally injured Dickinson who died few hours later. However, some historians sustain that Jackson made a cold-blood killing. According to the witnesses, Jackson fired two times and Dickinson never got the chance to shot again. The rules of engagement were for each man to fire at the same time, upon hearing the signal, which Jackson didn’t.

The Duel, Andrew Jackson killing Charles Dickenson
The Duel, Andrew Jackson killing Charles Dickenson © Image Source: amazon.com

However, Jackson was injured after the duel, ending up carrying a part of the bullet his entire life. The bullet caused him heart problems and sometimes he coughed blood, as a reminder to the duel with Dickinson.

As for his presidential career, Jackson wasn’t affected by the murder. He was never prosecuted and the duel barely affected his successful campaign in 1829. Even on the contrary, many Americans viewed the duel as an honorable tradition. The strange fact is that the divorce between Jackson and his wife Rachel raised more scandal in the press.

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