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Today Marks The 212th Anniversary of the Hamilton-Burr Duel

Whether you believe Hamilton really threw away his shot is up to you.


While we’re still in the midst of mourning the departure of several members of the Hamilton cast from the show on Saturdayincluding Lin-Manuel Miranda, Phillipa Soo, Leslie Odom, Jr. and Ariana DeBosetoday marks an equally auspicious date, not just in Hamilton history but the history of the founding fathers it portrays. Today, 212 years ago, Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr met in Weehauken, New Jersey for the fateful duel that would lead to Hamilton’s death and the essential ruination of Burr’s political reputation.

It’s especially interesting to consider the anniversary in light of former Hamilton company member DeBose’s departureas she was the embodiment of the bullet which fatally wounds Hamilton in the show’s reenactment of those events.

There have been many conflicting accounts of what led to the real Hamilton’s deathmany say that Hamilton deliberately fired into the air, which was taken by many to believe that he was throwing away his shot. However, other reports by Burr’s second at the duel insist that Hamilton merely fired at Burr and missed. One consensus among historians seems to be that Burr was merely reacting to Hamilton firing first when he fired his own pistol in turn, regardless of whether Hamilton’s shot was an intentional miss or otherwise.

Either way, we know the outcome: Hamilton was taken back to New York where he later died of his injuries, and while Burr initially faced charges for Hamilton’s murder in both New York and New Jersey he was never officially brought to trial. He completed his term as Vice President, but his reputation never fully recovered.

(image via Shutterstock)

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