Posted by: Author | July 11, 2014

Friday Facts- July 11, 2014- Hamilton/Burr Duel

On this day in 1804, Alexander Hamilton died at the hands of Aaron Burr in a duel in New Jersey- interestingly on the same field where Hamilton’s son died two years prior in a duel himself defending his father’s honor.

The two men were enemies of long-standing as Hamilton thought Burr was a dangerous person and campaigned actively against him when Burr ran for office. Burr vowed to challenge Hamilton to a duel for his actions in the campaign.

Back in that time, the president and vice-president didn’t run on the same ticket. The winner of the most electoral votes was named president and the one in second with number of votes became vice-president. Burr was the vice president when the duel took place.

Dueling was a common practice in those days as a way to defend honor. Usually, the dueling parties came to some resolution short of a duel to the death but in this case, it was not to be.  There are conflicting stories to the details of the duel (one is that Hamilton shot into the air and the other is he shot at Burr but missed) but however it really went down, Hamilton was shot in the stomach by Burr and died the next day due to his wounds.

Burr was charged with murder in both in New Jersey where the duel took place and in New York where Hamilton died but he returned to Washington D.C. where  he served out his term as vice-president, immune from prosecution.

Eventually Burr was charged with treason for other acts (acquitted on a technicality) he took but was never prosecuted for murder. He did become persona non grata and moved to Europe for a time. He lived until 1836- some 32 years after killing Hamilton.

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Responses

  1. Interesting especially about how the president and vise president were elected. Can you imagine how different it would be if we were still doing that.

    • Yeah. That could make for strange bedfellow. Of course, it did back then as well. Even two different parties at times.

  2. Interesting. You know, I like the most votes = President, second most votes = VP thing. I’ve thought for a long time we should have a split ticket in the white house.

    • Yep. I think we’d sure get more done in congress if that were the way it was- less polarization.


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