Andrew Jackson was a bit of a hothead. How else does one get into over 100 duels (103, by some counts)?
Andrew and Rachel Jackson
Prior to becoming president, Andrew Jackson had quite a career as a soldier and a lawyer. But he was also well-known for his quick temper and desire to defend his wife’s honor (who people took to calling a bigamist).
Jackson’s wife, Rachel, had been married when they met. And by most accounts, he rescued her from an abusive marriage. However, that relationship didn’t end with a legal divorce. Hence the bigamy accusations. (She was officially divorced two years after her wedding to Jackson.)
A fellow plantation owner named Charles Dickinson took a feud over a bet (and related name-calling) public, apparently leaving Jackson with no choice.
The famous pre-presidential duel
Jackson clearly didn’t learn much from the 1804 duel of Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton. He and Dickinson met for their duel in 1806, eighteen years before his presidential election.
Dickinson shot Jackson directly in the chest. He lived, but the bullet could not be removed, and he suffered from health issues for the rest of his life.
According to Dickinson’s men, Jackson shot back, but his pistol jammed. They claimed he shot a second time (which is a major breach of conduct), killing Dickinson.
The aftermath of the duel
What we know for sure is that even after being shot in the chest, he staunched his wound with a handkerchief before gathering his strength to shoot.
While dueling was illegal, it clearly didn’t hurt his chances of being elected. And he wasn’t charged with murder either. It seems his sense of honor was intact along with his reputation (at least at the time).
Source: “The Nine Lives of Andrew Jackson” — Mental Floss