Andrew Jackson's Presidential Pistol
Updated: Oct 11, 2020
Today, I thought we'd take a look at a pistol owned by a President who doesn't get a lot of attention (well, positive attention) and his gun which is on loan in a location you might not expect.
Andrew Jackson (1767-1845); 7th President; years in office: 1829-37
Jackson was no stranger to firearms. He served in the military (most notably at the Battle of New Orleans during the War of 1812) and was involved in many near-duels and even one famous duel in 1806.
Charles Dickinson insulted the future POTUS in the press, calling him a scoundrel, a coward (multiple times), and a poltroon, which is an archaic term for coward. All of this led to Jackson challenging him to a duel.
Because Dickinson was known to be a good shot, Jackson had him fire first. Dickinson's shot was true, hitting Jackson square in the chest. As honor dictated, Dickinson then had to stand there and wait for Jackson to fire his shot, which also hit its mark. Unfortunately for Dickinson, the shot proved fatal. Jackson, however, survived the wound and carried the lead shot in his chest for the rest of his life because it was too close to his heart to be removed safely.
Single-shot, percussion made by Phillip Creamer (1774?-1846?) in St. Louis, Missouri.
The pistol features an octagonal barrel with an engraved tang and inlaid gold bands at the muzzle and the breech. The lockplate, which bears "P CREAMER" is tastefully engraved, as is the hammer. On the barrel flat opposite the percussion cone, in between the two gold bands, is a gold oval that features a star and "P CREAMER" worked into the gold.
It is obvious that he took great pride in his work. All of the screws are engraved and the checkering on the pistol's grip is very finely done, with great attention to detail.
Just behind the tang, attached to the pistol's wrist, is an oval plate bearing the inscription "Andrew Jackson" in script lettering.
Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC.
On the surface, it may seem odd to place one of Jackson's pistols in a museum dedicated to a people that he treated so poorly. However, there is a method to the madness. The exhibit which features the pistol is called Nation to Nation: Treaties Between the United States and American Indian Nations. It focuses on historic treaties made between the two nations by a variety of presidents, also including Washington and Jefferson.
The exhibit is open until 2021. If you find yourself in the DC area, I'd highly recommend a visit to check it out!
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