The duel: Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, 1804
A Spotlight on a Primary Source by Angelica Schuyler Church
Alexander Hamilton, former secretary of the treasury, and Aaron Burr, sitting vice president of the United States, had feuded publicly for years. Their long-standing enmity came to a head in the spring of 1804. After an exchange of letters and meetings between intermediaries, the duel was set for July 11, 1804. Within hours of the duel, Angelica Schuyler Church, Elizabeth Hamilton’s sister and Hamilton’s close friend and correspondent, wrote this letter to her brother Philip Schuyler to break the news. She wrote that the Hamilton "was this morning woun[d]ed by that wretch Burr." Her handwriting suggests her level of distress. Angelica also wrote, "we have every reason to hope that he will recover," but he did not. Hamilton died the following morning, surrounded by family and friends, after a night of agony.
A full transcript is available.
at Mr. Bayards Grenwich
My dear Brother
I have the painful task to inform you that General Hamilton was this morning woun[d]ed by that wretch Burr but we have every reason to hope that he will recover. May I advice that you repair immediately to my father, as perhaps he may wish to come down – My dear Sister bears with saintlike fortitude this affliction;
The Town is in consternation, and there exists only the expression of Grief & Indignation.
Adieu my dear Brother remember me to Sally, ever yours