10. The Toughest US President
Andrew Jackson was probably the toughest American president, ever. A prickly cuss, he was easily offended, and would just as soon kill a man as look at him. He led men into combat, slaughtered Redcoats by the hundreds, and dueled with anybody who rubbed him wrong. Literal duels, as in ritually face off against somebody with loaded pistols, take aim, and open fire at a given signal. And not once, or twice, but many, many, many times. The total number of Jackson’s duels is unknown, but estimates range from a low of 13, to over 100. His most famous duel occurred in 1806, when he got into a tiff with a man named Charles Dickinson, who was reputed to be America’s best shot. Jackson still called him out.
At the duel, Jackson stood stock still, and allowed Dickinson to fire first. Dickinson took careful aim, and put a bullet in Jackson’s chest. It wounded Jackson, but did not kill him. He recovered, took aim, and pulled the trigger – but the pistol stopped at half cock. By the rules, that did not count as a shot. So as a horrified Dickinson waited, Jackson cleared the pistol, then took deliberate aim once more. Again he pulled the trigger, and again there was a mishap. He checked pistol and powder once more, took aim, and pulled the trigger. Third time was the charm, and Dickinson fell, mortally wounded. Jackson recovered and went on to greater things, but Dickinson’s bullet remained in his chest for another nineteen years.