President Andrew Jackson was involved in as many as 100 duels.

  • Andrew Jackson in a duel
Andrew Jackson in a duel
Everett Collection Historical/ Alamy Stock Photo

The seventh President of the United States was known to be as thin-skinned as he was quick-tempered. This dangerous combination resulted in Andrew Jackson challenging many a foe to a duel — as many as 100, by some counts. Most of these confrontations involved little more than the combatants firing their guns into the air as a show of courage for not rejecting the initial challenge, but at least one turned deadly. It began when fellow horse breeder and longtime rival Charles Dickinson leveled a series of insults at Jackson (calling him a “worthless scoundrel” and referring to his wife as a bigamist, among other things), which escalated into a feud that ended with Dickinson’s death on May 30, 1806. Jackson barely escaped with his own life, as Dickinson fired upon him and hit the future President near his heart. The bullet was never removed, and Jackson carried it with him for the rest of his life. 

Though Jackson participated in more duels than most, the practice was fairly commonplace at the time. Aaron Burr famously killed his personal and political rival Alexander Hamilton in one on July 11, 1804, at which time Burr was serving as Thomas Jefferson’s Vice President. Unlike Jackson, however, Burr was vilified for his actions — Hamilton was a founding father, after all — and Burr never held elected office again after his term ended.

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