Aaron Burr and also Alexander Hamilton. Aaron Burr, 1756-1836, bust portrait. Sculpture by G. Parker of painting by john Vanderlyn. (New York, 1836). Library of congress Prints and Photographs Division, //hdl.priziv.org.gov/priziv.org.pnp/cph.3b00529. Alexander Hamilton, 1757-1804, half-length portrait.  Library of congress Prints and also Photographs Division, //hdl.priziv.org.gov/priziv.org.pnp/cph.3b37446.

You are watching: From alexander hamilton to elizabeth hamilton, 4 july 1804

On the morning of July 11, 1804, Aaron Burr and also Alexander Hamilton met in Weehawken, brand-new Jersey for a duel that would certainly prove fatal because that Alexander Hamilton. Burr was outraged over derogatory comments made by Hamilton regarding Burr’s character at a dinner organized by Judge john Tayler in march of 1804. This comments were tape-recorded by a Dr. Charles D. Cooper who sent off an account come his friend, stating the Hamilton defined Burr as a “dangerous man and also one who ought not to be trusted.” these comments were ultimately published in the New-York night Post. Hamilton’s father-in-law, Philip Schuyler, comment by drafting a letter insisting the Hamilton had pledged to stay neutral in the upcoming new York gubernatorial election in i beg your pardon Burr to be a candidate, and also that Hamilton might not have made the comments around Burr the were attributed come him. Dr. Cooper, annoyed by the implication that he had invented the story, responded by affirming his comments, declaring that he had actually been mindful in recounting them, and stating “for really, sir, I could detail to you a still more despicable opinion which general Hamilton has expressed that Mr. Burr.”

Weeks after ~ his defeat in the new York gubernatorial election, Burr channeled his rage into a series of letters with Hamilton, demanding the Hamilton disavow the comment attributed come him that impugned Burr’s character. Hamilton’s legalistic response did tiny to placate Burr, with Hamilton insisting that Burr recount specific, offensive monitorings he had made around Burr’s character, i beg your pardon he would certainly then affirm or deny. The men who would ultimately serve as seconds in the duel, wilhelm Van Ness and also Nathaniel Pendleton, also shuttled earlier and forth between the principals in a vain attempt to negotiate a settlement to the matter.


With efforts to peacefully solve the issue at one impasse, the combatants i ordered it to fulfill on the dueling ground of Weehawken for an to work of honor. Alexander Hamilton believed dueling to be a barbarous practice, however he can not refuse to get involved in the duel without being branded a coward, a stigma that would certainly forfeit his capability to command respect in publicly life. Torn in between his principled opposition come the practice and a (chivalric) code of honor that demanded a gentleman keep his society standing through demonstrating courage in the confront of death, Hamilton fixed to get involved in the duel, yet to throw away his an initial shot. Hamilton connected his intention to Nathaniel Pendleton and also Rufus King and documented it in a letter.  however it does not seem that this intentionally was connected to Aaron Burr.

On the morning of July 11, the principals, seconds, and also Dr. David Hosack to be rowed follow me the Hudson river to the dueling floor in Weehawken, new Jersey, a site preferred due to brand-new Jersey’s more lenient treatment of dueling. True come his convictions, Hamilton fired into the woods. Burr fired his shot and also hit his mark, to mark Hamilton in the abdomen.  immediately realizing the gravity of his injury, Hamilton declared, “I to be a dead man,” before falling to the ground. Pendleton then referred to as for Dr. Hosack, who attended Hamilton as he was rowed ago to brand-new York. Hamilton summary rallied, long sufficient to phone call Hosack, “Let Mrs. Hamilton be instantly sent for. Allow the event be gradually damaged to her, yet give her hopes.” After showing up in new York, Hamilton was taken to a mansion owned by william Bayard, where he died.


Detail indigenous a publish of The Burr and also Hamilton duel, 11 July, 1804, at Weehawken, N.J. Library of congress Prints and also Photographs Division, //hdl.priziv.org.gov/priziv.org.pnp/cph.3b23125.

These 2 letters indigenous Alexander Hamilton come his wife, Elizabeth, to be written throughout the week preceding the duel, with instructions the they have to only be yielded if “I shall first have terminated mine earthly career.” The letters explain Hamilton’s reason for participating in the duel and his decision to maintain his religious convictions by sparing the life of Aaron Burr.

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Sources consulted:Alexander Hamilton, by Ron ChernowThe Alexander Hamilton Papers, Library of congress Manuscripts Division

14 comment

Missy HawesMay 24, 2017 at 8:21 pm

I can not tell what the letters room saying. Do you think the is feasible to update this web page with the letter tykathy clewellFebruary 20, 2018 at 1:40 am

I also have a tough time reading the letters. They room an amazing item of American history. If a translation of the letter might be typed and obtainable to read- it would be appreciated

Kim LebensDecember 9, 2020 in ~ 1:55 pm

We’ve just seen the streaming version of Hamilton and also look front to see it top top stage. Such a breath of fresh air to see these documents easily accessible to the general public even during a pandemic. Give thanks to you priziv.org for making this a user trusted experience. However, ns cannot comment totally on these letter as a whole because the July 10 letter component One connect is similar to component Two. Is over there a transcription of part One? give thanks to you again

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