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The Duel Between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr.

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The Duel Between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr

Colonel Burr arrived first on the ground, as had been previously agreed. When General Hamilton arrived, the parties exchanged salutations, and the seconds proceeded to make their arrangements. They measured the distance, ten full paces, and cast lots for the choice of position, as also to determine by whom the word should be given, both of which fell to the second of General Hamilton. They then proceeded to load the pistols in each other's presence, after which the parties took their stations...(Van Ness… Pendleton)

The tumultuous relationship between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr was negatively charged by their political disagreements and loathing of each other. The rivalry between these well-known politicians played an important role in our country’s politics. It also directly affected the shaping of our country’s Constitution. Despite their ongoing animosity towards one another, Hamilton and Burr possessed the necessary political skills that influenced the direction of our country. However, the two politicians failed to reach their full potential as a result of their violent disagreement, which ended in the duel. The duel resulted in one’s life lost and the other’s destroyed.

The two politician’s upbringing could not have been more different. Alexander Hamilton was a poor, orphaned, immigrant that traveled to the new American colony, in 1773, from the Caribbean Islands. Aaron Burr was born into a reputable family, in New Jersey, and graduated from the College of New Jersey (today Princeton) at age seventeen. Although both were born into dissimilar environments, they shared some similarities. They both fought in the Revolutionary War, served under General George Washington, were lawyers, shared a law practice, and possessed a fierce passion for politics. Both men were extremely literate and strong in political actions and public speaking. They also shared the history of being orphaned at an early age. Hamilton’s father felt that his wife was unfaithful, and left Alexander and his mother in public shame. Two years later, Hamilton’s mother, Rachel, caught a deadly fever and quickly passed. When Burr was two years old, his father fell ill and died quickly. His mother died a year later. Perhaps it was the loss of their close family members, that created their dedication and strong ties to their political parties. Hamilton being a Federalist and Burr a Republican. An atmosphere of constant disagreement and public shaming of the each other grew.

The political event that ignited the feud between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr occurred during the 1791 election. “Burr successfully captured a United States Senate seat from Philip Schuyler, Hamilton's powerful father-in-law.” (“PBS”) During the election, Alexander Hamilton was serving as the United States Treasurer. Hamilton also was devoted to the approval of the Constitution, as a result of being chosen for the Constitutional Convention. He was eagerly hoping that Philip Schuyler would win the election and be able to promote their shared political ideas. When Aaron Burr was elected to the Senate, Hamilton was furious.

In 1800, their feud burned further when Burr published The Public Conduct and Character of John Adams, Esq., President of the United States. This publication was part of Burr’s run for the presidency, and was very disrespectful to the serving president, John Adams. It criticized his character and was very humiliating to the Federalist party. The publishment of the document caused great embarrassment to Hamilton and his party. The ongoing rivalry continued to gain more tension as Burr was elected the country’s third Vice President. Hamilton’s anger towards Burr deepened.

The final event that propelled both men into the violent decision to duel was during the vice president election in 1804. During the election, Aaron Burr sought re-election and turned away from the Republican Party and ran independently. He lost the election and then sought the governor's position of New York. The thought of Burr leading New York worried Hamilton. He considered Aaron Burr an “unprincipled rogue.” (“Duel At Dawn”) Hamilton then did everything in his power to convince the New York Federalists not to support Burr’s campaign. When Hamilton succeeded in his efforts to ruin Aaron Burr’s election, Burr was outraged. Full of anger, Burr challenged Hamilton to a duel. Hamilton bravely accepted.

The day before the duel, Hamilton and Burr wrote their wills, and headed toward Weehawken, New Jersey. Hamilton was accompanied by his two seconds, Dr. Hosak and Mr. Pendleton. Burr was accompanied by his second W. P. Van Ness. Their seconds then made arrangements for both men and began to record the actions that took place on the dueling field. “They then proceeded to load

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