Yale professor visits UWG, speaks about Hamilton duel

The University of West Georgia Monday, Sept. 30, welcomed Dr. Joanne Freeman, professor of history and American studies at Yale University, and author of Affairs of Honor: National Politics in the New Republic, presented a program on “Dueling as Politics: The Burr-Hamilton Duel” at Ingram Library.

The University of West Georgia’s Ingram Library has been hosting the national traveling exhibition Alexander Hamilton. The exhibit will be presented from September 16 through October 14.  This exhibit, produced by the Gilder Lehman Institute of American History, the New York Historical Society, and the American Library Association, examines Hamilton’s legacy and his vision for the nation through the documents he wrote and published, the institutions he shaped, and the conflicts that made him notorious in his time.

According to the “Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr’s Duel ‘ from PBS;”It was the New York governor’s race of 1804, that pushed the two men to violence. In that election, Burr changed his political status from Republican to an independent candidate. In Burr mind, if he won, he would regain power. The thought of Burr becoming the leader of New York made Hamilton boil. In early 1804, Hamilton tried to convince New York Federalists not to support Burr. Although Hamilton’s campaign did nothing to the campaign, Burr still lost.”

“In February, 1804, a New York Republican, Dr. Charles D. Cooper, attended a dinner party at which Alexander Hamilton spoke negatively against Burr. Cooper later wrote a letter to Philip Schuyler in which he made reference to a particularly “despicable opinion” Hamilton expressed about Burr. The letter was published in a New York newspaper the Albany Register.”

Burr, in his last efforts to regain strength and power challenges Hamilton to a duel. Hamilton did not want to do duel, but by his words on and against Burr he was forced to. Hamilton, after downing the political values of Burr, Hamilton was more than obliged to stand his ground and defend his honor. The two political enemies met on the dueling grounds at Weehawken, New Jersey on the morning of July 11. Each fired a shot from a .56 caliber dueling pistol. Burr was not hit by any of Hamilton’s fire but, Hamilton fell to the ground mortally wounded. He died the next day.

Instead of reviving Burr’s political career, the duel helped to end it. Burr was charged with two counts of murder. After his term as vice president ended, he would never held elective office again.

“At that point when the two men are standing there, the duel thought comes across that I am willing to die for what I stand for.” said Dr. Freeman to sum up the meaning of why the duel is so important.



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