Home Culture On This Day in History: The Hamilton Duel in Weehawken Heights

On This Day in History: The Hamilton Duel in Weehawken Heights

by Nadine Ahrabi
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When Hamilton first debuted on Broadway in 2015, it took the world by storm. The music and lyrics created by Lin-Manuel Miranda echoed through theaters (and now, homes. Thanks, Disney+!) across the world. Through inventive storytelling, Hamilton captured the attention of critics and audiences and won every theatrical prize there is (including a Pulitzer).  

The rap-style musical combines American history and politics. It tells the story of Alexander Hamilton, one of the nation’s founding fathers. In the musical, he represents immigrant inclusivity and success that can be obtained through hard work and perseverance. Hamilton became the first secretary of the treasury, was George Washington’s right-hand-man, and a firm believer in federal over state government. 

But one of the most interesting things about Hamilton is his infamous connection to Hudson County. On the west side of Weehawken, Hamilton engaged in a duel that would go down in history — and lead to his own death. Read on to discover Alexander Hamilton’s historic connection to Hudson County.

hamilton duel

The History

alexander hamilton weehawken

In the year 1800, Thomas Jefferson, a Democratic-Republican, ran for president against John Adams, a Federalist. Running for the seat of vice president at the time was Aaron Burr, also a Democratic-Republican. At the end of a tight race, the Democratic-Republican duo was selected. 

From the onset of their term, Jefferson showed a lack of trust in Burr and his decision-making. Jefferson often left Burr out of key discussions on party issues and distanced himself from his VP. The divide grew stronger, and when it came time for re-election in 1804, Jefferson removed Burr from his ticket.

Read More: 12 Interesting Weehawken Facts You Probably Didn’t Know

Much to his frustration, Burr was not re-elected as vice president of the United States. To add insult to injury, a news article surfaced in which Hamilton was quoted saying that Burr was “the most unfit and dangerous man of the community.” Burr confronted Hamilton and asked for an explanation of why he had sabotaged the election. Hamilton refused to comply with Burr’s interrogation and was subsequently challenged to a duel.

The Duel

hamilton duel weehawken

On July 11th, 1804, Hamilton and Burr met on a ledge that jutted out of the Palisades about 20 feet above the river in Weehawken, NJ. This spot was hidden from public view — the perfect dueling ground. Both men drew their guns and engaged in a duel. At the end of the battle, Hamilton was severely injured and Burr was left without a scratch. Hamilton was rushed to a home of a friend of his in Greenwich Village in New York City. Unfortunately, he died the next day.

See More: How Hudson County Became the Embroidery Capital of the World

Today, the location at which the duel took place is marked by a plaque. So if you want to learn more about the famous Alexander Hamilton, you could take a stroll along Boulevard East in Weehawken to walk in the footsteps of his final duel.

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