The Guy on the $10 Bill
Alexander Hamilton was much more.
BY JAMES TARANTO
Wednesday, October 20, 2004 12:01 a.m. EDT
One of the stories that appears there was also covered in the Nov. 24, 1801, issue of the actual New York Post: the death of Hamilton's 20-year-old son, Philip, in a duel with a political rival, George Eacker. Upon Eacker's challenge, the program recounts, Philip "went for advice to his father, who told him dueling is honorable, but killing is immoral. Therefore young Hamilton should waste his shot."
Hamilton himself would die under eerily similar circumstances less than three years later. Vice President Burr was Hamilton's bitterest foe; in the disputed presidential election of 1800, Hamilton had intervened successfully on behalf of Jefferson, whom he regarded as the lesser of evils.
In 1804, when Burr was seeking the New York governorship, a letter appeared in the Albany Register describing Hamilton's "despicable opinion" of Burr. This prompted Burr to demand a duel. Hamilton didn't want to duel, so he "tried to placate Burr with an elaborate discussion about the 'infinite shades' of meaning of the word 'despicable,'" writes historian Joanne Freedman in the New-York Journal of American History. Burr found Hamilton's attempt at nuance "evasive, manipulative, and offensive," and the two men met, with pistols--the same ones that had been used in Philip Hamilton's duel--on July 11.
Hamilton followed the same fatal advice he had given his son, deliberately missing Burr on his first shot. Burr's shot mortally wounded Hamilton.
Does anyone else see a parallel with this year's presidential election? Kerry, being all bluster, and Bush, being all action?
Or is that just *wrong* of me?