Vpotus fatally shoots antagonist

Discussion in 'History Forum' started by wpe3bql, Jul 11, 2015.

  1. wpe3bql

    wpe3bql
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    "On this day (July 11), in a duel held in Weehawken NJ, VPOTUS Aaron Burr fatally shot his long-time political antagonist Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton, a leading Federalist & chief architect of America's political economy, died the next day.

    "Hamilton, born of the Caribbean island of Nevis, came to the American colonies in 1773 as a poor immigrant. (There is some controversy as to his birth year, but it was either 1755 or 1757.) In 1776, he joined the Continental Army in the American Revolution, & his relentless energy & remarkable intelligence brought him to the attention of Gen. George Washington, who took him on as an aide.

    "Ten years later, Hamilton served as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention, & he led the fight to win ratification of the final document, which created the kind of strong, centralized government that he favored.

    "In 1789, he was appointed the 1st Treasury Secretary by President Washington, & during the next 6 yrs., he crafted a sophisticated monetary policy that save the young US government from collapse. With the emergence of political parties, Hamilton was regarded as a leader of the Federalists.

    "Aaron Burr, born into a prestigious NJ family in1756, was also intellectually gifted, & he graduated from the College of NJ (later Princeton) at age 17. He joined the Continental Army in 1775, & distinguished himself during the Patriot attack on Quebec.

    "A masterful politician, he was elected to the NY State Assembly in 1783, & later served as State Attorney. In 1790, he defeated Hamilton's father-in-law in a race for the US Senate.

    "Hamilton came to detest Burr, whom he regarded as a dangerous opportunist, & he often spoke ill of him. When Burr ran for the vice presidency in 1796 on Thomas Jefferson's Democratic-Republican ticket (the forerunner of the Democratic Party), Hamilton launched a series of public attacks against Burr, stating , 'I feel it is a religious duty to oppose his career.' John Adams won the presidency, & in 1797 Burr left the Senate & returned to the NY Assembly.

    "In 1800, Jefferson chose Burr again as his running mate. Burr aided the Democratic-Republican ticket by publishing a confidential document that Hamilton had written criticizing his fellow Federalist POTUS John Adams. This caused a rift in the Federalists & helped Jefferson & Burr win the election with 73 electoral votes each.

    "Under the electoral procedure then prevailing, the POTUS & VPOTUS were not voted for separately; the candidate who received the most votes was elected POTUS, & the 2d in line, VPOTUS. The vote then went to the House of Representatives.

    "What at 1st seemed but an electoral technicality--handing Jefferson victor over his running mate--developed into a major constitutional crisis when Federalists in the lame-duck Congress threw their support behind Burr. After a remarkable 35 tie votes, a small group of Federalists changed sides & voted in Jefferson's favor. Hamilton, who had supported Jefferson as the lesser of two evils, was instrumental in breaking the deadlock.

    "Burr became VPOTUS, but Jefferson grew apart from him, & he didn't support Burr's re-nomination to a 2d term in 1804. That year, a faction of NY Federalists, who found their fortunes drastically diminished after the ascendance of Jefferson, sought to enlist the disgruntled Burr into their party & elect him governor.

    "Hamilton campaigned against Burr with great fervor, & Burr lost the Federalist nomination & then, running as an independent for governor, the election. In the campaign, Burr's character was savagely attacked by Hamilton & others, & after the election he resolved to restore his reputation by challenging Hamilton to a duel, or an 'affair of honor,' as they were known.

    "Affairs of honor were commonplace in America at the time, & the complex rules governing them usually led to an honorable resolution before any actual firing of weapons. In fact, the outspoken Hamilton had been involved in several affairs of honor in his life, & he resolved most of them peaceably.

    "No such recourse was found with Burr, however, & on July 11, 1804, the enemies met at 7 am at the dueling grounds near Weehawken, NJ. It was the same spot where Hamilton's son died defending his father's honor in 1801.

    "There are conflicting accounts of what happened next. According to Hamilton's "second"--his assistant & witness in the duel--Hamilton decided the duel was morally wrong & deliberately fired into the air. Burr's second claimed that Hamilton fired at Burr & missed. What happened next is agreed upon: Burr shot Hamilton in the stomach, & the bullet lodged next to his spine. Hamilton was taken back to NY, & he died the next afternoon.

    "Few affairs of honor actually resulted in deaths, & the nation was outraged by the killing of a man as eminent as Hamilton. Charged with murder in NY & NJ, Burr, still VPOTUS, returned to Washington DC, where he finished his term immune from prosecution.

    "In 1805, Burr, thoroughly discredited, concocted a plot with James Wilkinson, commander-in-chief of the US Army, to seize the LA Territory & establish an independent empire, which Burr, presumably, would lead. He contacted the British government & unsuccessfully pleaded for assistance in the scheme. Later, when border trouble with Spanish Mexico heated up, Burr & Wilkinson conspired to seize territory in Spanish America for the same purpose.

    "In the fall of 1806, Burr led a group of well-armed colonists toward New Orleans, prompting an immediate US investigation. General Wilkinson, in an effort to save himself, turned against Burr & sent dispatches to Washington accusing Burr of treason.

    "In Feb. 1807, Burr was arrested in LA for treason & sent to VA to be tried in a US court. In Sept., he was acquitted on a technicality. Nevertheless, public opinion condemned his as a traitor, & he fled to Europe. He later returned to private life in NY, the murder charges against him forgotten. He died in 1836."

    SOURCE: http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/burr-slays-hamilton-in-duel
     

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