In the XVIII century the duels went into decline. Nevertheless, the duels that noticeably influenced political and economic life still occurred. In the U.S., it has been already vice president, who fired at the person not in the war. In the first years of independence, there were many inveterate duelists among American politicians.
The judges, governors and congressmen were fighting on the swords and pistols. The duels were purposely provoked before the elections to prove to the voters the courage and after the elections the loser yearned for satisfaction. Avoid the duel meant an end of someone political career.
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From time to time duels continued to shake the social life, even where they should not be at all: that is in the USA. In the young transatlantic republic was neither nobility nor the titled aristocracy, however, there were enough gentlemen who regarded themselves as people of honor. The loudest duel in American history is the duel between U.S. Vice President Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton who was one of the architects of American nationhood (he was Minister of Finance in the first U.S. government).
Both statesmen were the heroes of the War of Independence, and Hamilton was one of the closest allies of George Washington. Both had serious ambitions up to the presidential, and, in the addition, Hamilton had his own economic program. He believed that the U.S. should pursue a protectionist policy and strongly support the domestic producer. The relationship between Hamilton and Burr was complicated. As a vice president in the administration of Jefferson, Burr began the campaign for the governorship of New York but Alexander Hamilton prevented to realize his plans. Hamilton wrote some humiliating pamphlets about Burr.
After losing the election, Burr challenged Hamilton to a duel, which was held in July 11, 1804. Alexander Hamilton was fatally wounded but a political fame of Burr has waned as well. The assassination of national hero never brought popularity yet.
Hamilton fired first and missed. Barry’s shot struck Hamilton’s liver and spine. Hamilton lived a day and a half after wounding. After Hamilton’s death, the whole Republican press, which has just badgered Hamilton, raised a war against Barry, as if it was the only duel in the US. Although contemporaries were recognized that no one forced Hamilton fight with Burr, openly almost no one spoke in his defense.
It may be that the death on the duel glorified and immortalized Hamilton, as his political star has already waned and he could be one of the many personalities of the Revolution and early republic. In the contrary … His portrait even got to the bank note of the 1977 issue. The circulation is small but this is also a glory. —————————————————————————–
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