July 11, 1804: Alexander Hamilton lost his life in a duel against life-long rival, Aaron Burr
Anyone who loves the hit musical “Hamilton” knows about the epic rivalry between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. These fierce political rivals were extremely involved in the politics of their time, serving alongside and influencing the decision of famed individuals such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. However, for the most part, Burr’s achievements in politics are overshadowed by the fact that he brought an end to Hamilton’s life.
The wide-eyed Alexander Hamilton
These days, Alexander Hamilton is a household name. However, the Federalist leader wasn’t always the celebrated historical figure that he is today. When Hamilton first immigrated to the United States from the Carribean, he was poor, unknown, and driven only by his own motivations. Still, he was eager to immerse himself in the country. After joining the Continental army and earning respect from George Washington, Hamilton began to ascend the social and political ladder in the U.S. After a decade, he had developed the structure for the political economy, leaving a lasting imprint on the country’s finances. However, not everyone was a fan of Alexander’s politics…and Hamilton could be a fierce and belligerent rival.
Aaron Burr’s annoyances with Hamilton
Aaron Burr, unlike Hamilton, was born into status. Between his upper-class family and supreme educational opportunities, Burr grew into a witty, intelligent, and political-savvy member of society. After serving in the army like Hamilton, he took the world of politics by storm, serving as a state attorney, a senator, and eventually vice president to Thomas Jefferson. However, Hamilton despised Burr. He decided that it was his God-given duty to oppose his career. He was very vocal and public about his distaste for Burr. In fact, when Jefferson and Burr tied for the presidency in the electoral congress, Hamilton broke the vote by tipping the scales in Jefferson’s favor. After many more deliberate political and social attacks on Burr’s reputation and honor (including beating him out for New York governor), you think he’d get sick of Hamilton, right?
The duo’s devastating duel
After Hamilton beat Burr for governor, Burr was finally fed-up with Hamilton’s trash-talk and his interferences in his political career. He challenged Hamilton to a good old-fashioned, gun-slinging duel. While Hamilton often liked to resolve conflict peacefully, Burr couldn’t be swayed to talk the conflict out. On July 11, 1804, Hamilton and Burr met up at 7 a.m. in a location near New Jersey…the exact spot where Hamilton’s son had died in a duel just years before. Yikes, right? Sadly, Hamilton would follow in his son’s footsteps. At the start of the duel, Hamilton either diplomatically fired into the air or missed a shot at Burr. Burr’s bullet, however, went through Hamilton’s stomach and lodged into his spine. The next afternoon, Hamilton died, and Burr became one of the most hated men in America.