Aaron Burr fatally shot Alexander Hamilton 219 years ago today

The Burr–Hamilton duel took place in Weehawken, New Jersey, between Aaron Burr, the third Vice President of the United States, and Alexander Hamilton, the first and former Secretary of the Treasury, at dawn on July 11, 1804.

The duel was the culmination of a bitter rivalry that had developed between both men, who had become high-profile politicians in post-colonial America.

In the duel, Burr fatally shot Hamilton in the abdomen, while Hamilton fired into a tree branch above and behind Burr’s head.

Hamilton was taken back across the Hudson River, and he died the following day in New York.

Hamilton’s death permanently weakened the Federalist Party, already diminished by the defeat of John Adams in the presidential election of 1800, resulting in the political organization’s demise.

The shooting also ended the political career of Burr, who was vilified for killing Hamilton; he never held another high office after his tenure of vice president ended in 1805.

The pistol duel arose from long-standing personal bitterness that developed between the two men over the course of several years.

Tension peaked with Hamilton’s journalistic defamation of Burr’s character during the 1804 New York gubernatorial race, in which the Vice President was a candidate.

Jefferson intended to drop Burr from his ticket in the 1804 presidential election, so the Vice President chose to run for the governorship of New York instead.

He was backed by members of the Federalist Party and was under patronage of Tammany Hall in the 1804 New York gubernatorial election.

The duel was the final skirmish of a long conflict between Democratic-Republicans and Federalists.

Hamilton’s animosity toward Burr was severe and well-documented.

The conflict began in 1791 when Burr won a United States Senate seat from Philip Schuyler, Hamilton’s father-in-law, who would have supported Federalist policies.

Hamilton was the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury at the time.

The Electoral College then deadlocked in the 1800 presidential election, during which Hamilton’s maneuvering in the U.S. House of Representatives caused Thomas Jefferson to be named president and Burr vice president.

At the time, the candidate who received the most votes was elected president while the candidate with the second most votes became vice president.

There were only proto-political parties at the time, as was disdainfully noted in President George Washington’s Farewell Address in 1796, and no shared tickets as exists currently.

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