The Day by Day History of the
Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr Dueled to the Death
July 11, 1804
On the morning of July 11, 1804, Alexander
Hamilton and Aaron Burr raised their dueling pistols and took
aim. Hamilton, the former secretary of the treasury, and Vice
President Burr were longstanding political rivals and personal
enemies. Burr might have been the president instead of vice
president, had it not been for Hamilton's interference. When
Burr's term as vice president was almost over, he ran for
governor of New York. Hamilton, once again, prevented Burr from
winning by opposing his candidacy. Burr retaliated by
challenging Hamilton to a duel.
Standing on the heights
of Weehawken, New Jersey, Hamilton and Burr fired their pistols.
Some people said that Hamilton purposely missed Burr. Burr's
shot, however, fatally wounded Hamilton, leading to his death
the following day. Aaron Burr escaped unharmed.
believe, but settling differences with a duel had been the
custom before the Revolution. In 1804, however, dueling was no
longer legal in the state of New York, where both men were
political leaders. Burr was indicted for murder, but the charges
were later dropped.
Fortunately, politicians today use
debates and the press to settle their differences. Dueling and
other violence have never been an intelligent way to solve a
problem. In a duel, the loser lost more than just an argument;
he lost his life.