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Warren Commission Report: Page 505« Previous | Next »

(APPENDIX VII - A Brief History of Presidential Protection)

ton itself until 1805 when the mayor appointed a high constable and 40 deputy constables.1


John Quincy Adams received many threatening letters and on one occasion was threatened in person in the White House by a court-martialed Army sergeant. In spite of this incident, the President asked for no protection and continued to indulge his fondness for solitary walks and early morning swims in the Potomac.2


Among pre-Civil War Presidents, Andrew Jackson aroused particularly strong feelings. He received many threatening letters which, with a fine contempt, he would endorse and send to the Washington Globe for publication. On one occasion in May 1833, Jackson was assaulted by a former Navy lieutenant, Robert B. Randolph, but refused to prosecute him. This is not regarded as an attempt at assassination, since Randolph apparently did not intend serious injury. 3


Less than 2 years later, on the morning of January 10, 1835, as Jackson emerged from the east portico of the Capitol, he was costed by a would-be assassin, Richard Lawrence, an English-born house painter. Lawrence fired his two pistols at the President, but they both misfired. Lawrence was quickly overpowered and held for trial. A jury found him not guilty by reason of insanity. He was confined in jails and mental hospitals for the rest of his life.4


The attack on Jackson did not inspire any action to provide protection for the Chief Executive. Jackson's immediate successor, Martin Van Buren, often walked to church alone and rode horseback alone in the woods not far from the White House. In August 1842, after an intoxicated painter had thrown rocks at President John Tyler, who was walking on the grounds to the south of the White House, Congress passed an act to establish an auxiliary watch for the protection of public and private property in Washington. The force was to consist of a captain and 15 men. This act was apparently aimed more at the protection of the White House, which had been defaced on occasion, than of the President. 5

LINCOLN

Even before he took the oath of office, Abraham Lincoln was thought to be the object of plots and conspiracies to kidnap or kill him. Extremist opponents apparently contemplated desperate measures to prevent his inauguration, and there is some evidence that they plotted to attack him while he was passing through Baltimore on his way to Washington.6


For the inauguration, the Army took precautions unprecedented up to that time and perhaps more elaborate than any precautions taken since. Soldiers occupied strategic points throughout the city, along the procession route, and at the Capitol, while armed men in plain clothes mingled with the crowds. Lincoln himself, in a carriage with President Buchanan, was surrounded on all sides by such

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