There were a number of famous duels in the 1800s, but the one we all remember happened on this date in 1804: Alexander Hamilton faced Aaron Burr at a dueling ground in New Jersey, across the Hudson River from New York City.
The two famous men faced off, and Hamilton's shot missed. Some say he fired in the air, some say his shot simply went wide of the mark. But Burr, who felt he had been insulted enough by Hamilton, leveled the pistol in his hand and fired a ball into Hamilton's torso.
Alexander Hamilton was carried back to Manhattan, where he died the next day. He was given a grand funeral, and his marble tomb stands today in the yard of Trinity Church in lower Manhattan.
The notorious Aaron Burr fled, yet he was never prosecuted for shooting Hamilton. He would, however, later be charged with treason over some mysterious dealings in the West. He was acquitted, but lived the rest of his life under a shadow.
The killing of Hamilton led to an outcry against dueling, but the violent practice lived on for decades. And public and political discourse may have been elevated, admittedly in a peculiar way, by the knowledge that the hurling of insults would mean you might have to visit the "field of honor" and stare down the barrel of your rival's pistol.
Related: Famous Duels of the 19th Century
Illustration: Alexander Hamilton/Library of Congress
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