In the spring of 1955, in the early years of the Cold War, a fully-armed, supersonic Nike-guided missile was accidentally fired over the Washington DC area from a base 14 miles outside the city.
Battery C of the 36th antiaircraft battalion, stationed at Fort Meade Maryland was raising a rocket launcher at midday as part of a routine training exercise. The launcher was not fully upright when the booster rocket fired, sending the missile zooming into the air in the general direction of Southeast Washington DC. However, the booster separated and fell on a trailer park and fuel tank fragments tumbled onto the Baltimore-Washington Parkway. The missile's nose section was found 500 yards from the launcher with the guidance assembly still attached. Within minutes of the firing hundreds of soldiers clad in hazardous-material moon suits descended on the new Baltimore-Washington Parkway to collect and take away fragments of the rocket housing.
Military historian Merle T. Cole wrote "Because no launch was intended, the pin of the launcher's forward yoke support had not been removed. As the pin had not been removed, the yoke remained in place when the Ajax took off, tearing out the No. 3 Tunnel or fairing strip covering essential wiring on the missile's side. This damage rendered the missile warheads inoperative and prevented an explosion."
An enormous federal investigation by a dozen different agencies found the cause of the launch was a short circuit caused by rain getting into an electrical junction box.
On January 30, 1835, as President Andrew Jackson walked out of the Capitol building’s east portico after attending the funeral of U.S. Representative Warren Davis. At that same moment a man named Richard Lawrence, an unemployed house painter from England who suffered from mental defects, calmly walked up to the President, pulled out a pistol, aimed and fired at Jackson. The gun misfired and Lawrence pulled out another pistol and fired, but that too, misfired, probably due to the heavy humidity.
Lawrence was then severely beaten by the notoriously ill-tempered Jackson who whipped the man repeatedly with his thick walking stick until he was pulled away by his aides. The man was then taken away by three members of Congress that included Davy Crockett.
Under arrest, Lawrence told doctors that he tried to kill Jackson because it was his fault he could not find work as a house painter and with Jackson dead, the economy would improve. He also said that he was the deposed English King Richard III (Who had died two almost four hundred years before) He was diagnosed as insane and committed to an insane asylum for the rest of his life.
In an early attempt on Jackson’s life, the first attempt to assassinate a sitting US President, happened on May 6, 1833 by a man named Robert B. Randolph, whom Jackson had tossed out of the US Navy for embezzling pay role monies.
On May 6, Jackson arrived to the port at Alexandria to take a ship to Fredericksburg to pay homage to Mary Ball Washington. However, Randolph rushed from a crowd and punched Jackson and ran. He was chased down bystanders (Including Washington Irving) captured and arrested but Jackson dropped the charges.
In August of 1864, President Abe Lincoln was riding in his carriage through downtown Washington, when someone, it isn’t known who, fired a shot that put a bullet hole through the President stove-hat but missed him. Had Lincoln been killed, the government would have fallen into the hands of the wildly inept Vice President Hannibal Hamlin.
A spend thrift of the people’s money for his own comforts and noted for his political cronyism, Hamlin had been picked by the Republican Party because the Lincoln ticket needed an East Coast politician to balance the Midwestern Lincoln. Before his nomination, Hamlin had never met Lincoln.
During most of his time in office as Vice President, Hamlin spent most of his time with his family in his native Maine, yet he had the nerve to complain to his wife that he was "the most unimportant man in Washington, ignored by the President, the cabinet, and Congress." Lincoln dropped Hamlin from his ticket when he ran for a second term.