A: When Alexander Hamilton met his rival, Aaron Burr, for an “interview” (so called because dueling was illegal) on July 11, 1804, things didn’t go quite like he planned. Burr had challenged Hamilton to the duel as a result of years of squabbling and alleged libels that Hamilton could’ve defused many times previously but didn’t because of his own pride and stubbornness. Both parties intended for it to be a relatively bloodless affair, planning to simply go through the motions to “satisfy honor.”
But on the day of, poor Hamilton simply didn’t have luck on his side. First, he chose the north side of the ledge, which meant the rising sun and glare off the water would be in his eyes. Second, he chose two ornate smoothbore pistols — fancy, but highly inaccurate. To kick off the duel, Hamilton supposedly fired his shot high above Burr, intentionally missing him. Burr, not realizing this, fired back, but probably only to wound Hamilton in the leg. Unfortunately, the inaccuracy of the pistol (which Hamilton supplied) turned a flesh wound into a kill shot. The huge .54-caliber ball entered above Hamilton’s hip (leaving a 2-inch hole), shattered a rib, ricocheted through his liver and diaphragm, and lodged in the second lumbar vertebra. He died at 2:00 the next afternoon.
As for Burr, although he was alive and physically well, his own future didn’t look so bright. His “murder” of the popular Hamilton made him a villain in the eyes of the public and ruined his political career. The lesson to be learned here is that duels don’t pay. The two political opponents should’ve settled their dispute like real men — in a boxing ring!