As election day approaches in the United States, the inevitable barrage of negative ads and unfavorable spin may have some Americans questioning whether politics can possibly grow any nastier. The truth is, political disagreements are pretty tame these days--at least, when compared to those of the nineteenth century.
Less than five years before the start of our Civil War, for example, Senator Charles Sumner, an antislavery Republican from Massachusetts, was nearly clubbed to death by South Carolina Representative Preston Brooks after Sumner insulted Brooks’s relative, South Carolina Senator Andrew Butler, in a particularly inflammatory speech. And our first Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, was famously killed in an 1804 duel with former Vice President Aaron Burr, eventually giving rise to the first and funniest "Got Milk?" commercial.
When Dickinson fired, smoke snaked its way out of Jackson’s coat, and Jackson touched a hand to his chest—but he didn’t waver. Baffled, Dickinson cried out, “My God, have I missed him?” Dickinson’s shot had in fact hit Jackson, breaking his ribs and narrowly missing his heart, but Jackson stood his ground. Then Dickinson had to remain still while Jackson fired. Jackson aimed, drew back the hammer of his pistol, squeezed the trigger—and the pistol stuck in the half-cocked position. The rules of the duel required Dickinson to wait while Jackson coolly drew back the hammer and aimed again. Jackson's shot hit Dickinson, who soon bled to death. When a doctor marveled that Jackson was able to remain on his feet despite his chest wound, Jackson replied, “I should have hit him if he had shot me through the brain.”
Let’s hope all this year’s political disputes end as civilly.
Alyssa Everett's debut regency romance, Ruined by Rumor, is currently available from Carina Press, and her second regency will be out in March of 2013. She hopes you'll visit her website and follow her on Twitter and Facebook, where she promises not to spam you relentlessly.