The duels have recently been banned in New York State, but a rivalry such as that of Burr and Hamilton is getting along with the law: thus, the two enemies, the Father Founder and the Vice President, go to Weehawken Heights July 11, 1804. This field along the river is a sinister reputation, because it is there that the duelists will pay their accounts with the gun; tragic irony, Alexander Hamilton's own son, Philip, was killed in a duel at this very spot a few years earlier.
Hero of the War of Independence, former right hand man of George Washington, founder of the federalist party and first Secretary of the Treasury, Hamilton is so wary of Burr that in the election of 1801, he preferred to support Thomas Jefferson, which he is fiercely politically and ideologically opposed, rather than allowing Burr to become president; and Burr, having to content himself with the vice-presidency, seized the first pretext to finally provoke a duel of his infuriating adversary. This pretext: an "infamous" insult, of which we do not know the exact content, that Hamilton would have uttered against him while he was absent.
When the time comes, so that the witnesses and other spectators can benefit from a legal vagueness if lawsuits are committed, all turn their backs to the duellists, so that still today, the enigma remains whole: one knows that each one used his weapon, since two shots sounded, but it is possible that Hamilton, opposed in principle to the idea of dueling (which he had written the day before the fateful day), fired in the air - in which case Burr would have simply committed a murder, since Hamilton, hit in the middle of the abdomen, collapses and dies the next day in atrocious suffering. For this duel, Father Founder had chosen - gesture full of meaning, if he really missed his shot - the unfortunate pistol that his son had in hand at his death.
Burr pays a high price for the duel, as Hamilton's death, which is very popular, annihilates his political career: if he succeeds in completing his mandate even with a double charge of murder on his back (on the part of the State of New York and New Jersey), the general disrepute against him precipitates his disgrace, which becomes definitive after the so-called episode of "conspiracy Burr".
In the September 2003 issue of the Revue des Deux Mondes , Jean-Paul Clément exhumed and commented on a text by the minister and philosopher Charles de Rémusat:
"The character which has struck us in the American people, and in the most memorable event of its history, will find it more remarkable and still more striking in General Washington. In him, the nation and the revolution are personified. His life reflects the history of his homeland. Perhaps, someday, we will have to admire only the masses: while there is still time, let us give ourselves the leisure to admire a great man. »Find the rest of this article in the Journal's archives.