It Happened On July 11, 1804

 

This Week In History…
Aaron Burr & Alexander Hamilton Duel

An artist’s rendition of the duel between Aaron Burr & Alexander Hamilton

On July 11, 1804, Vice President Aaron Burr challenged Alexander Hamilton (who served as the first secretary of the U.S. Treasury under President George Washington) to a duel.

The pair had long been political rivals – in fact, when Hamilton launched an attack against Burr during his successful 1803 campaign for vice president alongside presidential candidate Thomas Jefferson, Hamilton went so far as to say “I feel it is a religious duty to oppose his career.”

You may recognize Alexander Hamilton from
the popular $10 Federal Reserve Note

Hamilton campaigned ferociously against Burr during his 1804 bid for governor of New York, and Burr ultimately lost the race. In an attempt to repair his reputation, Burr challenged Hamilton to an “affair of honor” – aka, a duel.

The two Wogdon pistols used in the duel reside at JPMorgan Chase & Co. headquarters in New York City

The pair met in the early morning near Weehawken, New Jersey. Although reports varied as to whether or not Hamilton missed on purpose, one thing was certain – Burr did not. His bullet hit Hamilton in the stomach, and he died from his injury the following day.

Both Thomas Jefferson and
George Washington had strong ties to Alexander Hamilton

Although dueling was commonplace at the time, Vice President Burr was charged with murder. He returned to Washington, D.C. (where he was immune from prosecution), and finished his term. However, the charges damaged Burr’s political career and it never recovered. He was arrested for treason in 1807 following an attempt to seize land in the Louisiana Territory. Even though he was acquitted, Burr never again held public office.

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