(ABOVE: Statues on the Weehawken Waterfront depict the duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. Ceremonies will take place up the cliff, at Hamilton Park.)
In Weehawken, there’s an Alexander Hamilton Monument on Hamilton Avenue, just adjacent to the sprawling and scenic skyline views of beautiful Hamilton Park.
Two blocks away, there’s a dead-end street called Burr Place. So much for, “to the victor go the spoils…”
On July 11, 1804, Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr squared off in perhaps the most infamous duel in American history. Long before our “leadership” fired volleys back-and-forth on twitter, acrimonious debates—be they political or of another nature—were sometimes settled in what were referred to as “Affairs of Honor.” Opposing individuals would stand a determined distance and fire single shots at each other until satisfaction was achieved—typically resulting in the death of one of the combatants.
Weehawken was the site of at least 18 known duels, until a ban was enforced in 1845. Hamilton’s own son, Philip, was shot and killed in Weehawken. On that fateful July day, Alexander Hamilton sustained a shot to the abdomen, which took his life days later.
Historical accounts are foggy as to what actually transpired that day. Some claim Hamilton intentionally fired above Burr out of gallantry, while others maintain that he simply missed. Burr, did not, and the rest is history… or Tony award-winning musical theater.
This year, marking the 215th anniversary of the event, the annual commemoration of the Hamilton-Burr duel will take place at the Hamilton Memorial, overlooking the Weehawken Dueling Grounds on Thursday, July 11 at 6 p.m. Richard Porter, of the St. Andrews Society of the State of New York, will talk about the first monument erected on the site of the dueling grounds in 1806.
Following the commemoration, noted author and historian Victoria Johnson will be on hand at the Weehawken Elks Lodge from 7:30 to 9 p.m. to discuss Dr. David Hosack, who treated Hamilton’s wound directly after the duel. Her talk will focus on Dr. Hosack’s relationship with both the Hamilton and Burr families, accompanying his two friends across the Hudson from New York to Weehawken on that day 215 years ago.
Of course locals know all of these unpleasantries could have been avoided, if they had just found a quiet bar and a Sweet Talkin’ Weehawken Woman—”she likes to set ’em up, to knock ’em down.”
Tell ’em, Jim…
(That’s Bill Hamilton on guitar… see what we did there?)