Some of you may remember that a couple of weeks ago Donald Trump said this:
Many interpreted his remarks about “Second Amendment people” to mean that he was calling gun owners to take matters into their own hands if Hillary Clinton becomes POTUS.
Historians have been wondering whether Trump’s remark is tame in comparison to the time Andrew Jackson said “My only regrets are that I never shot Henry Clay or hanged John C. Calhoun.”
But did Jackson really say this about his political rivals? J.L. Bell of Boston 1775 fame is on the case. Here is a taste of his post:
The anecdote about Jackson’s regrets is quite widespread. Robert V. Remini, the leading Jackson biographer of our time, cites the story in his biography of Henry Clay. Harry Truman told it multiple times, including at a public dinner in 1951.
On the other hand, I found that authors split on when Jackson made that remark. Some say he said it on leaving the White House in 1837. Others date the statement to Jackson’s final illness in 1845. So that’s a red flag.
The earliest recounting of the remark that I could find through Google Books is an address titled “Precedents of Ex-Presidents,” delivered to the Nebraska Bar Association by George Whitelock in 1911. He said, “Old Hickory had had his drastic way, except, as he sadly lamented when departing for the Hermitage near Nashville, old, ill and in debt, that he had never got a chance to shoot Henry Clay, or to hang John C. Calhoun.” It’s notable that that’s not a direct quotation, just an expression of sentiment.
So did Jackson say it? Read Bell’s entire post here and find out.