Today is the anniversary of the day the sitting Vice President of the United States shot and fatally wounded in a duel the former Secretary of the Treasury. Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton met on a “field of honor” in New Jersey to satisfy Burr’s resentment at Hamilton’s statements as to Burr’s trustworthiness and fitness for the office of governor of New York.
Although Burr “won” the duel, Hamilton dying from his wounds, Burr’s political goose was well-cooked. He would eventually be tried and acquitted for treason against the United States, allegedly by trying to get the western states to join with him and Spain and take over New Orleans. Historians are still arguing his guilt or innocence on that one.
When the sitting vice president, Chaney shot his friend during the hunting incident, I thought about Burr.
Hamilton so disliked Burr that when the House of Representatives had to decide the election of 1800 between Jefferson and Burr, Hamilton, Jefferson’s political antagonist, persuaded his coFederalists to elect Jefferson.
Political enmity is nothing new to this country. We have survived assassinations, smears, scandals, eras in which big money bought governments, wars, depressions.
Are we still strong enough?