Anniversary Post: Burr–Hamilton Duel

Burr–Hamilton duelOn this day in 1804, the infamous Burr–Hamilton duel took place. I do think that Burr was a jerk. But it is hard not to side with him on this given that Hamilton apparently fiddled with the pistols to give them hair triggers. There is also the evidence that Hamilton wrote a letter the night before with the intention of making Burr look bad if Hamilton lost the duel. I rather think of the duel as being between John Cleese and Terry Jones of Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Jones (Burr) might be difficult and emotional, but he isn’t calculating like Cleese (Hamilton). Clearly the world needs both kinds of men, so they shouldn’t get in duels.

Earlier this year, I wrote about Steve King and his use of this duel:

You see, the founding fathers were men of honor. And his example? “It’s been 210 years since Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr fought a duel over honor.” Ah, yes: that honorable duel. And what was it over? Burr felt insulted by something that Hamilton had said. This was coming off Burr’s devastating loss to the almost unknown Morgan Lewis to become governor of New York in 1804. Burr thought Hamilton had helped Lewis, and he probably did. Regardless, the whole thing seems more like a squabble between mean girls in a suburban high school. Ah yes, honor!

So 211 years ago today, the mean girls had their fight. Hamilton died the following day. And Burr hardly covered himself with glory after the duel. What honorable men!

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