On May 30, 1806, one of the most divisive and controversial individuals in American history, the future-president Andrew Jackson, fought a duel with an attorney from his home state of Tennessee. The lawyer, Charles Dickinson, got on Jackson’s bad side by questing the latter’s honor over the results of a wager on a horse race. At the time, Andrew Jackson was a general in the Tennessee state militia and a leading landowner in the growing city of Nashville. Upon hearing that his honor was impugned, Jackson challenged Dickinson to a duel which was quickly accepted. A problem arose since Tennessee had recently banned dueling, so the two men traveled a short distance north into Kentucky to resolve their dispute.
On the morning of the 30th, both men stood apart and prepared to kill. Dickinson shot first. He hit the future president in the chest, breaking several ribs. The bullet lodged just inches from Jackson’s heart. With his shot taken, Dickinson stood honorably as Jackson aimed his weapon and fired at his opponent. Dickinson was struck in the stomach and, slowly, over many hours, succumbed to his wounds and died. Jackson’s actions caused quite a stir in Nashville where people were scandalized by the behavior of one of their leading citizens. Also, the wound he sustained in the duel never properly healed and caused him quite a substantial amount of chronic pain over the rest of Jackson’s life.