Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Chuck Norris of American Presidents

Andrew Jackson was a bad dude, bad and maybe a little psychotic. He fought in the American Revolution and spent time as a prisoner of war. In the War of 1812, Jackson partnered up with the pirate, Jeanne Lafayette to trounce the British at the Battle of New Orleans. Strangely enough, the battle was fought after the war had officially ended. Jackson was known as Old Hickory because he carried around a hickory stick – and beat people with it.

Andrew Jackson may be the reason we use the term OK. There are a few theories on the genesis of OK. The Jackson theory goes something like this. Jackson was a notoriously bad speller. He once said, “It’s a damned poor mind that can only think of one way to spell a word.” According to the story, when a bill came across President Jackson’s desk, he either labeled it with a V for veto or OK for Oll Korekt. Of course Jackson’s connection with the word, OK has nothing to with his tough guy status but it’s cool.

He fought more than twelve duels and carried two bullets in his torso as reminders. People usually managed to survive duels back in those barbaric days. Jackson did kill one poor slob, a man by the name of Charles Dickinson. Jackson’s adversary fired the first shot; the bullet cracked two of his ribs and lodged itself two inches from his heart. Jackson proceeded to take careful aim. Dickinson folded his arms across his chest to protect his heart. Old Hickory evenly lowered his aim and shot the man in the family jewels. Mr. Dickinson died a slow and painful death.

Maybe Jackson was a lot psychotic.

Jackson was six foot one and never weighed more than a hundred and forty-five pounds. By the time he became president, his skin was said to have a yellow tint. The strange coloration was probably a result of the bullets in his body, bouts with malaria and dysentery. The tough old curmudgeon somehow lived to be seventy-eight years old.

Jackson was the first president to undergo an assassination attempt. The president was approached on the street by an unemployed house painter by the name of Richard Lawrence while his bodyguards were, I don’t know, playing tidily winks. The would-be assassin produced a loaded pistol, aimed at Jackson and pulled the trigger. Nothing. The sixty-eight year-old Jackson proceeded to beat the snot out of his attacker with his hickory stick. Lawrence managed to pull a second gun, which also misfired. The presidential bodyguards had to pull the infuriated president away, quite possibly saving the house painter’s life. Statisticians determined the odds against both guns misfiring were 125,000 to one. The housepainter spent the rest of his life in a mental institution. Lucky, homicidal, and more than anything else, Andrew Jackson was one bad dude.