Profile of the Day: Alexander Hamilton
On this day in 1804, Vice President Aaron Burr mortally wounded Alexander Hamilton in a duel. Burr and Hamilton were long time political enemies. Tensions were high during the 1800 presidential elections when Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr were running mates for the Democratic-Republican party. At the time, presidents and vice presidents were voted for separately by the House of Representatives. Although Burr was always intended to be Jefferson’s vice president, the vote resulted in a tie. Hamilton was instrumental in breaking the deadlock when he persuaded a small number of Federalists to vote in Jefferson’s favor.
When it became clear that Jefferson would not support Burr’s nomination to a second term in 1804, Burr decided to run for governor of New York. However, Hamilton campaigned hard against Burr, causing him to lose the election. Angered by Hamilton’s character attacks during the campaign, Burr challenged him to a duel, or an “affair of honor.”
On July 11, 1804, the rivals met at the dueling grounds, the same grounds Hamilton’s son had died two years before. Hamilton fired and missed, but Burr’s shot hit his target. Hamilton died the next day from his wound.
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