Alexander Hamilton in his duel with Aaron Burr didn’t intend to kill Burr as per my opinion. From the history, wherein we find detailed circumstances leading to the duel and the events of the day of duel, I have arrived at this decision. The innumerous evidences which form the foundation of this opinion would be discussed at length in the paper.
The major evidence is the bullet which was fired by Hamilton and was found wedged in tree at the back of Burr. The location of the bullet is explained by the witnesses present at the location including Mr. Pendleton. The bullet was far from Burr which was not acceptable from a skilled and trained soldier like Hamilton who fought several battles of Revolutionary war. The instance of misaiming when his life was at stake and the target was positioned only 10 feet away seems unlikely. This demonstrates clearly that Hamilton was not seeking vengeance in the violent manner. Moreover, the motive of Hamilton to not to shoot Burr was clear when he decided to not to hair the gun’s spring set which demonstrates that he did not wish to aim the first shot at Burr. His letters to Mr. Pendleton also confirms this as he wrote in his letter to Mr. Pendleton that he would not fire at Burr the first time and would only receive his fire. Upon facing resistance from Mr. Pendleton on this decision, he stated that the religious mind can’t commit this sin and hence, he will not have any further discussion and the matter stands same as he has decided. This demonstrates Alexander Hamilton’s resolution to not to kill Burr and to throw the first fire in air.
The arguments that Hamilton missed the shot to Burr and he was willing to kill Burr are being negated by the letters of Hamilton to this wife and Mr. Pendleton as early as 10 days before the duel. He, in every letter expressed the decision to misfire the first shot and the feeling that he didn’t want to kill Burr. All the more, he sought the religious side and stated that being a Christian; he can’t take responsibility of murder of a fellow citizen. Hence, the arguments that Hamilton wished to kill Burr are disregarded. Moreover, if given a rational thought and as discussed above, Hamilton was trained and skilled and this makes hard to believe that he missed the aim.
In the conclusion, I would like to infer that Hamilton never intended to kill Burr and he proved his intention by actually losing his life to the shot fired by Burr since he was of equal caliber of skill with Burr, there arise no possibility that Hamilton could have missed the aim.
By Elliott J. Gorn , Randy J. Roberts & Terry D. Bilhartz. Constructing the American Past: A Source Book of a People’s History, Volume 2 (7th Edition). Pearson, 2010.
Klein, Milton M. The Empire State: A History of New York. Cornell University Press, 2006.