Dueling – The battle between
Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr
Aaron Burr
• Very good lawyer in New York City in the
1780s
• Master of Politics who looked out for his own
self interests
• Originally would be a Republican and follow
Jefferson’s lead.
Alexander Hamilton
• Washington’s right hand man during the American
Revolution
• Poor and fatherless childhood
• Showed great potential for education and would
come to the U.S. to get an education
• Studied law – defended many loyalists who had lost
land in the Revolution
• Helped to write the Constitution and get it ratified.
• Created our nations monetary policy allowing it to
survive the early years.
The Cause
• Fight over political power
• Hamilton published papers critical of Aaron
Burr’s policies and political position
• Burr feared Hamilton would take his political
power.
– Both men desired to be president
– Neither would be
• Burr would challenge Hamilton because of an
article that gave a “despicable opinion” of
him.
Dueling Rules
• Duels could be fought with swords or pistols
• A duel would happen after an offense – public
slander, false accusations, or physical assault.
• Each person would identify their “second”
– Pick the place for equal advantage to both (during
Burr and Hamilton's time a place where it was
legal)
– Make sure that the weapons were equally
matched
• Duels took place at dawn to take advantage of poor light
• The duel could be fought to a number of conclusions.
– To first blood, in which case the duel would be ended as
soon as one man was wounded, even if the wound was
minor.
– Until one man was so severely wounded as to be
physically unable to continue the duel.
– To the death, in which case there would be no
satisfaction until one party was mortally wounded.
– In the case of pistol duels, each party would fire one
shot. If neither man was hit and if the challenger stated
that he was satisfied, the duel would be declared over.
A pistol duel could continue until one man was
wounded or killed, but to have more than three
exchanges of fire was considered barbaric and, if no
hits were achieved, somewhat ridiculous.
• In a pistol duel the duelers would be put back
to back and then would march away from
each other a set number of paces.
– Based on the offense = more offensive the closer
the duelers would be.
New York City
July 1804
Scene 1: Town Gossip
House of Aaron Burr or House of
Alexander Hamilton
Scene 2: Exchange of Words
Weehawken, NJ
Scene 3: The Duel
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Dueling – The battle between Alexander Hamilton and Arron Burr