A Forgotten Spot of the Founding Fathers

 

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Memorial Plaque to the duel

 

There is so much history to be found in Boston, Philadelphia, and New York pertaining to the Revolutionary War and the Founding Fathers. In fact, especially in Boston, you’d be hard pressed to walk around the city and come across a historical marker on at least a few occasions.

These designations are rightly so because the Founding Fathers set the stage in all the cities during the years of the Revolution and formative years of the United States.

There is another important location related to the Founding Fathers that doesn’t get much attention, or any for that matter. While, there may be very little there in the way of tourism, what transpired there is a very important event during America’s early years, the Burr-Hamilton duel that took place on July 11, 1804.

As a student of American history, I’ve always passed over the Burr-Hamilton duel but due to Hamilton: The Musical I recently had my priorities realigned to the importance of Hamilton to America. Yes, I did learn history from a musical and I’m not ashamed of it!

The duel was held between Aaron Burr, the current vice-president to Thomas Jefferson, and Alexander Hamilton, the first treasurer of the United States and a Founding Father. If you don’t know who Aaron Burr is that’s somewhat understandable, but you should definitely know the Alexander Hamilton guy (Hint: Look at a $10 bill).

Essentially, the duel was fought because Hamilton had sided with Jefferson, even though he and Jefferson never got along, against Burr in the Election of 1800. Hamilton’s influence swayed the electors to elect Jefferson president. In short, Burr took offense to Hamilton’s desire to vote for the opposition just to keep him out of office. So Burr challenged Hamilton to a duel out of honor and, in the end, Burr shot and killed Hamilton.

The duel took place is Weehawken, New Jersey as it was a popular dueling ground thanks to the geography of the bluffs that fit so well for the activity. While there isn’t much in the way of historical landmarks, there is a plaque below a bust of Alexander Hamilton in Hamilton Park designating that the duel happened in the vicinity. There is also a boulder there that stories say is where Hamilton laid his head after he was shot.

So next time you’re in New Jersey, a quick trip to this historical spot is worth it and as an added bonus it offers a wonderful view of Manhattan across the Hudson River.

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