Monday, July 9, 2012

The Duel that Led to Alexander Hamilton's Death

You might remember the great “Got Milk” commercial from the 90’s that featured a historical museum’s curator eating a peanut butter sandwich. His local radio station calls and offers him $10,000 if he can tell them who shot Alexander Hamilton in the July 11, 1804, duel that led to his death.

The answer, which the curator couldn’t get out because he didn’t have milk, was Aaron Burr, the sitting Vice President of the United States at the time of the shooting. In the duel, Burr shot and fatally wounded Alexander Hamilton. Once he was injured, Hamilton was transferred from Weehawken, New Jersey, where the duel had taken place, to Manhattan, where he died at a house on Jane Street in Greenwich Village the next day.

Hamilton’s funeral was held two days later on July 14 at Trinity Church in the Wall Street area. He was buried in the adjacent Trinity Churchyard where his son Philip, also the victim of a duel, had been buried three years prior. Because dueling had recently been outlawed in New York and New Jersey before the Burr-Hamilton duel, the incident created a huge political uproar and Burr was indicted for murder, though he was never convicted.