A 20th century artistic rendering of the July 11, 1804 duel between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton by J. Mund.
|Location||Weehawken, New Jersey|
|Date||July 11, 1804|
|Target||Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr|
|Perpetrators||Aaron Burr, Alexander Hamilton|
The Burr–Hamilton duel was a duel between two prominent American politicians, the former Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton and sitting Vice President Aaron Burr, on July 11, 1804. At Weehawken in New Jersey, Burr shot and mortally wounded Hamilton. Hamilton was carried to the home of William Bayard on the Manhattan shore, where he died at 2:00 p.m. the next day.
One of the most famous personal conflicts in American history, the Burr–Hamilton duel arose from a long-standing political and personal bitterness that had developed between the two men over the course of several years. Tensions reached a bursting point with Hamilton's journalistic defamation of Burr's character during the 1804 New York gubernatorial race in which Burr was a candidate. Fought at a time when the practice was being outlawed in the northern United States, the duel had immense political ramifications. Burr, who survived the duel, was indicted for murder in both New York and New Jersey, though these charges were later either dismissed or resulted in acquittal. The harsh criticism and animosity directed toward him following the duel brought an end to his political career. The Federalist Party, already weakened by the defeat of John Adams in the Presidential Election of 1800, was further weakened by Hamilton's death.
The duel was the final skirmish of a long conflict between Democratic-Republicans and Federalists. The conflict began in 1791 when Burr captured a United States Senate seat from Philip Schuyler, Hamilton's father-in-law, who would have supported Federalist policies. (Hamilton was Secretary of the Treasury at the time.) When the Electoral College deadlocked in the election of 1800, Hamilton's maneuvering in the House of Representatives caused Thomas Jefferson to be named president and Burr vice-president. In 1800, the Philadelphia Aurora printed extracts from a pamphlet Hamilton had earlier published, "Letter from Alexander Hamilton, Concerning the Public Conduct and Character of John Adams, Esq. President of the United States," a document highly critical of Adams, which had actually been written by Hamilton but intended only for private circulation. Some have claimed that Burr leaked the document, but there is no clear evidence for this, nor that Hamilton held him responsible.
Hamilton’s animosity toward Burr was severe and well-documented in personal letters to his friend and compatriot James McHenry. The following quotation from one of these letters on January 4, 1801, exemplifies his bitterness: “Nothing has given me so much chagrin as the Intelligence that the Federal party were thinking seriously of supporting Mr. Burr for president. I should consider the execution of the plan as devoting the country and signing their own death warrant. Mr. Burr will probably make stipulations, but he will laugh in his sleeve while he makes them and will break them the first moment it may serve his purpose."
In a more extensive letter written shortly afterward, Hamilton details the many charges he has against Burr, calling him a "profligate, a voluptuary in the extreme”, that he corruptly served the views of the Holland Land Company while a member of Legislature, criticized Burr’s military commission and accused him of resigning under false pretenses, and many more serious accusations.
When it became clear that Jefferson would drop Burr from his ticket in the 1804 election, the Vice President ran for the governorship of New York instead. Hamilton campaigned vigorously against Burr, who was running as an independent, causing him to lose to Morgan Lewis, a Democratic-Republican endorsed by Hamilton.
Both men had been involved in duels in the past. Hamilton had been a principal in 10 shot-less duels[clarification needed] prior to his fatal encounter with Burr, including duels with William Gordon (1779), Aedanus Burke (1790), John Francis Mercer (1792–1793), James Nicholson (1795), James Monroe (1797), and Ebenezer Purdy/George Clinton (1804). He also served as a second to John Laurens in a 1779 duel with General Charles Lee and legal client John Auldjo in a 1787 duel with William Pierce. In addition, Hamilton claimed to have had one previous honor dispute with Burr; Burr claimed there were two.
Additionally, Hamilton's son, Philip, was killed in a November 23, 1801 duel with George I. Eacker, initiated after Philip and his friend Richard Price engaged in "hooliganish" behavior in Eacker's box at the Park Theatre. This was in response to a speech, critical of Hamilton, that Eacker had made on July 3, 1801. Philip and his friend both challenged Eacker to duels when he called them "damned rascals." After Price's duel (also at Weehawken) resulted in nothing more than four missed shots, Hamilton advised his son to delope (throw away his fire). However, after both Philip and Eacker stood shotless for a minute after the command "present", Philip leveled his pistol, causing Eacker to fire, mortally wounding Philip and sending his shot awry. This duel is often cited as having a tremendous psychological impact on Hamilton in the context of the Hamilton-Burr duel.
Election of 1800
Burr and Hamilton first came into public opposition during the famed United States presidential election of 1800. In the election, Burr ran as Vice-President on the Democratic-Republican ticket, along with Thomas Jefferson, against John Adams (the Federalist incumbent). Electoral College rules at the time gave each elector two votes for president, with the candidate receiving the second most votes becoming vice president. The Democratic-Republican Party therefore planned to have 72 of their 73 electors vote for both Jefferson and Burr, with the remaining elector voting only for Jefferson. However, the electors failed to execute this plan, so Burr and Jefferson tied with 73 votes each. As mandated by the United States Constitution in the event of no candidate winning a majority, the election was moved to the United States House of Representatives, which was controlled by the Federalists, many of whom were loath to vote for Jefferson. Hamilton, however, regarded Burr as far more dangerous than Jefferson and used all his influence to ensure Jefferson's election. On the 36th ballot, the House of Representatives gave Jefferson the presidency, with Burr becoming vice president.
Charles Cooper's letter
|Wikisource has original texts related to:|
On April 24, 1804, a letter originally sent from Dr. Charles D. Cooper to U.S. Sen. Philip Schuyler, Hamilton's father-in-law was published in the Albany Register in the context of opposing Burr's candidacy. Cooper's letter referenced a previous claim by Cooper that "General Hamilton and Judge Kent have declared in substance that they looked upon Mr. Burr to be a dangerous man, and one who ought not be trusted with the reins of government." Cooper went on to emphasize that he could in detail describe "a still more despicable opinion which General Hamilton has expressed of Mr. Burr" at a political dinner.
Pointing particularly to the "more despicable" phrase, in a letter delivered by William P. Van Ness, Burr concisely demanded "a prompt and unqualified acknowledgment or denial of the use of any expression which would warrant the assertion of Dr. Cooper." Hamilton's verbose reply on May 20 indicated that he could not be held responsible for Cooper's interpretation of his words (yet did not fault that interpretation) concluding that should Burr remain unsatisfied, Hamilton would "abide the consequences." A recurring theme in their correspondence is that Burr seeks avowal or disavowal of anything that could justify Cooper's characterization and that Hamilton protests that there are no specifics.
Burr's reply on May 21, also delivered by Van Ness, stated that "political opposition can never absolve gentlemen from the necessity of a rigid adherence to the laws of honor and the rules of decorum". Hamilton replied that he had "no other answer to give than that which has already been given". This letter was delivered to Nathaniel Pendleton on May 22 but did not reach Burr until May 25. The delay was due to negotiation between Pendleton and Van Ness in which Pendleton submitted the following paper:
General Hamilton says he cannot imagine what Dr. Cooper may have alluded, unless it were to a conversation at Mr. Taylor's, in Albany, last winter (at which he and General Hamilton were present). General Hamilton cannot recollect distinctly the particulars of that conversation, so as to undertake to repeat them, without running the risk of varying or omitting what might be deemed important circumstances. The expressions are entirely forgotten, and the specific ideas imperfectly remembered; but to the best of his recollection it consisted of comments on the political principles and views of Colonel Burr, and the results that might be expected from them in the event of his election as Governor, without reference to any particular instance of past conduct or private character.
The delivery of Hamilton's second letter, a second paper submitted by Pendleton further offered "in relation to any other language or conversation or language of General Hamilton which Colonel Burr will specify, a prompt or frank avowal or denial will be given." This offer was not accepted and a challenge was formally offered by Burr and accepted by Hamilton.
Many subsequent historians have considered the causes of the duel to be flimsy and have thus either characterized Hamilton as "suicidal", Burr as "malicious and murderous," or both. Thomas Fleming offers the theory that Burr, in response to the slanderous attacks against his character published during the 1804 gubernatorial campaign, may have been attempting to recover his "honor" by challenging Hamilton, whom he considered the only "gentleman" among his detractors.
In the early morning hours of July 11, 1804, Burr and Hamilton departed by separate boats from Manhattan and rowed across the Hudson River to a spot known as the Heights of Weehawken in New Jersey, a popular dueling ground below the towering cliffs of the Palisades. Hamilton and Burr agreed to take the duel to Weehawken because although dueling had been prohibited in both states, New York more aggressively prosecuted the crime (the same site was used for 18 known duels between 1700 and 1845). In an attempt to prevent the participants from being prosecuted, procedures were implemented to give all witnesses plausible deniability. For example, the pistols were transported to the island in a portmanteau, enabling the rowers (who also stood with their backs to the duelists) to say under oath that they had not seen any pistols.
Burr, William P. Van Ness (his second), Matthew L. Davis, and another (often identified as Samuel Swartwout) plus their rowers reached the site first at half past six, whereupon Burr and Van Ness started to clear the underbrush from the dueling ground. Hamilton, Judge Nathaniel Pendleton (his second), and Dr. David Hosack arrived a few minutes before seven. Lots were cast for the choice of position and which second should start the duel, both of which were won by Hamilton's second who chose the upper edge of the ledge (which faced the city) for Hamilton. However, according to historian and author Joseph Ellis, since Hamilton had been challenged, he had choice of both weapon and position. Under this account, it was Hamilton himself who chose the upstream or north side position.
All first-hand accounts of the duel agree that two shots were fired; however, Hamilton and Burr's seconds disagreed on the intervening time between the shots. It was common for both principals in a duel to fire a shot at the ground to exemplify courage, and then the duel could come to an end. Hamilton apparently fired first, and into the air, though it is not clear whether this was intentional, much less that Burr perceived him to be "throwing away his fire" (as it did not follow the standard protocol). Burr returned fire and hit Hamilton in the lower abdomen above the right hip. The musket ball ricocheted off Hamilton's second or third false rib—fracturing it—and caused considerable damage to his internal organs, particularly his liver and diaphragm before becoming lodged in his first or second lumbar vertebra. According to Pendleton's account, Hamilton collapsed immediately, dropping the pistol involuntarily, and Burr moved toward Hamilton in a speechless manner (which Pendleton deemed to be indicative of regret) before being hustled away behind an umbrella by Van Ness because Hosack and the rowers were already approaching.
It is entirely uncertain which principal fired first, as both seconds' backs were to the duel in accordance with the pre-arranged regulations of the duel (and also so the men could later testify that they "saw no fire"). After much research to determine the actual events of the duel, historian Joseph J. Ellis gives his best guess:
Hamilton did fire his weapon intentionally, and he fired first. But he aimed to miss Burr, sending his ball into the tree above and behind Burr's location. In so doing, he did not withhold his shot, but he did waste it, thereby honoring his pre-duel pledge. Meanwhile, Burr, who did not know about the pledge, did know that a projectile from Hamilton's gun had whizzed past him and crashed into the tree to his rear. According to the principles of the code duello, Burr was perfectly justified in taking deadly aim at Hamilton and firing to kill.
But did he? What is possible, but beyond the reach of the available evidence, is that Burr really missed his target, too, that his own fatal shot, in fact, was accidental.
Dr. David Hosack's account
Dr. David Hosack, the physician, wrote his account on August 17, about one month after the duel had taken place. Hosack testified that he had only seen Hamilton and the two seconds disappear "into the wood", heard two shots, and rushed to find a wounded Hamilton when his name was called. Hosack also testified that he had not seen Burr, who had been hidden behind an umbrella by Van Ness, his second. In a letter to William Coleman, Dr. Hosack gives a very clear picture of the events:
When called to him upon his receiving the fatal wound, I found him half sitting on the ground, supported in the arms of Mr. Pendleton. His countenance of death I shall never forget. He had at that instant just strength to say, 'This is a mortal wound, doctor;' when he sunk away, and became to all appearance lifeless. I immediately stripped up his clothes, and soon, alas I ascertained that the direction of the ball must have been through some vital part. His pulses were not to be felt, his respiration was entirely suspended, and, upon laying my hand on his heart and perceiving no motion there, I considered him as irrecoverably gone. I, however, observed to Mr. Pendleton, that the only chance for his reviving was immediately to get him upon the water. We therefore lifted him up, and carried him out of the wood to the margin of the bank, where the bargemen aided us in conveying him into the boat, which immediately put off. During all this time I could not discover the least symptom of returning life. I now rubbed his face, lips, and temples with spirits of hartshorn, applied it to his neck and breast, and to the wrists and palms of his hands, and endeavoured to pour some into his mouth.
Dr. Hosack goes on to say that in a few minutes Hamilton had revived, either from the hartshorn or fresh air. Hosack finishes his letter:
Soon after recovering his sight, he happened to cast his eye upon the case of pistols, and observing the one that he had had in his hand lying on the outside, he said, "Take care of that pistol; it is undischarged, and still cocked; it may go off and do harm. Pendleton knows" (attempting to turn his head towards him) 'that I did not intend to fire at him.' 'Yes,' said Mr. Pendleton, understanding his wish, 'I have already made Dr. Hosack acquainted with your determination as to that' He then closed his eyes and remained calm, without any disposition to speak; nor did he say much afterward, except in reply to my questions. He asked me once or twice how I found his pulse; and he informed me that his lower extremities had lost all feeling, manifesting to me that he entertained no hopes that he should long survive.
Statement to the press
Pendleton and Van Ness issued a press statement about the events of the duel. The statement printed out the agreed upon dueling rules and events that transpired, that being given the order to present, both participants were free to open fire. After first fire had been given, the opposite's second would count to three and the opponent would fire, or sacrifice his shot. Pendleton and Van Ness disagree as to who fired the first shot, but concur that both men had fired "within a few seconds of each other" (as they must have: neither Pendleton nor Van Ness mention counting down).
In Pendleton's amended version of the statement, he and a friend went to the site of the duel the day after Hamilton's death to discover where Hamilton's shot went. The statement reads:
They [Mr. Pendleton and an accomplice] ascertained that the ball passed through the limb of a cedar tree, at an elevation of about twelve feet and a half, perpendicularly from the ground, between thirteen and fourteen feet from the mark on which General Hamilton stood, and about four feet wide of the direct line between him and Col. Burr, on the right side; he having fallen on the left.
In Statement on Impending Duel with Aaron Burr, a letter that Hamilton wrote the night before the duel, Hamilton stated that he was "strongly opposed to the practice of dueling" for both religious and practical reasons and continued to state:
I have resolved, if our interview is conducted in the usual manner, and it pleases God to give me the opportunity, to reserve and throw away my first fire, and I have thoughts even of reserving my second fire.
When Burr later learned of this, he responded: "Contemptible, if true."
In addition, after being mortally wounded, Hamilton, upon regaining consciousness, told Dr. Hosack that his gun was still loaded and that "Pendleton knows I did not mean to fire at him". This is evidence for the theory that Hamilton intended not to fire, honoring his pre-duel pledge, and only fired accidentally upon being hit.
However, modern historians have debated to what extent Hamilton's statements and letter represent his true beliefs, and how much of this was a deliberate attempt to permanently ruin Burr if Hamilton were to be killed. An example of this may be seen in what a historian has considered to be deliberate attempts to provoke Burr on the dueling ground, specifically Ogden's perspective that:
Hamilton performed a series of deliberately provocative actions to ensure a lethal outcome. As they were taking their places, he asked that the proceedings stop, adjusted his spectacles, and slowly, repeatedly, sighted along his pistol to test his aim.
This, along with Hamilton's conspicuous choice of dueling pistols (the same pair which had once shot a button off Aaron Burr's coat some five years earlier during a duel with Hamilton's brother-in-law), has caused many historians in recent years to re-examine the circumstances of the engagement and Hamilton's true intentions on the morning of the 11th of July. Subsequent examination of the pistols used by Hamilton have revealed that they were fitted with a "hair trigger." This would have brought considerable advantage in aiming accurately. Hamilton may have been unfamiliar with their use, and a mistake in arming them may have caused the gun to fire prematurely. This may have been the cause of Hamilton's errant first shot. If so, such a scenario would belie the account that Hamilton fired into the air intentionally.
Burr had a reputation for being a poor shot, but there is little doubt that he had every intention of seeking full satisfaction from Hamilton by blood. The afternoon after the duel, Burr was quoted as saying that had his vision not been impaired by the morning mist, he would have shot Hamilton in the heart. According to the account of noted English philosopher Jeremy Bentham, who met with Burr in 1808 in England (four years after the fact), Burr claimed to have been certain of his ability to kill Hamilton, and Bentham concluded that Burr was "little better than a murderer."
There is, however, much evidence in Burr's defense. Had Hamilton apologized for his "more despicable opinion of Mr. Burr", all would have been forgotten. However neither principal could avoid the confrontation honorably and thus each was forced into a duel: Burr to regain his honor and Hamilton to sustain his.
Furthermore, Burr was unsure of Hamilton's intentions (as historians still are today). Seeing Hamilton fire into the brush above his head, Burr could not be sure if Hamilton had thrown his shot or simply missed his target. According to the principles of the code duello Burr was entirely justified in taking aim at Hamilton, under this hypothesis that Hamilton shot first. Continuing this line of reasoning, it is not clear that Burr did more than react to hearing Hamilton fire, before he had any time to realize where the shot went.
Burr certainly knew of Hamilton's publicly opposing his ascension to the U.S. Presidency in 1800. Hamilton made confidential statements against him, such as those enumerated in Hamilton's private letter to Supreme Court Justice Rutledge. In the attachment to that letter, Hamilton had argued against Burr's character on repetitive scores, for example "suspected on strong grounds of having corruptly served the views of the Holland Company ... his very friends do not insist on his integrity ... he will court and employ able and daring scoundrels ... his conduct indicates [he seeks] Supreme power in his own person ... will in all likelihood attempt a usurpation."
Others have attributed Hamilton's apparent misfire to the design of the Wogdon duelling pistols (both of which survive today), which incorporated a hair-trigger feature that could be pre-set by the user. According to Louisiana State University history professors Andrew Burstein and Nancy Isenberg, "Hamilton brought the pistols, which had a larger barrel than regular dueling pistols, and a secret hair-trigger, and were therefore much more deadly." They conclude that "Hamilton gave himself an unfair advantage in their duel, and got the worst of it anyway."
Hamilton, familiar with the weapons, would have known about and been able to use the hair-trigger. However, when asked by Pendleton before the duel if he would use the "hair-spring", Hamilton reportedly replied "not this time." The "hair-spring" feature gave an advantage because it reduced the force required to engage the trigger, preventing unintentional hand movement while firing.
The pistols belonged to Hamilton's brother-in-law John Barker Church, who was a business partner of both Hamilton and Burr. Later legend claimed that these pistols were the same ones used in a 1799 duel between Church and Burr, in which neither man was injured. Aaron Burr, however, claimed in his memoirs that he supplied the duelling pistols for his duel with Church, and that they belonged to him. Hamilton biographer Ron Chernow accepts Burr's version of the story.
In 1801, Hamilton's son Philip used the Church weapons in the duel in which he died. The pistols reposed at Church's estate Belvidere until the late 19th century. In 1930 the pistols were sold to the Chase Manhattan Bank, now part of JPMorgan Chase & Co.
The mortally wounded Hamilton died the following day and was buried in the Trinity Churchyard Cemetery in Manhattan (Hamilton was an Episcopalian at his death). Gouverneur Morris, a political ally of Hamilton's, gave the eulogy at his funeral and established a private fund to support his widow and children.
Burr was charged with murder in New York and New Jersey, but neither charge reached trial. In Bergen County, New Jersey, a grand jury indicted Burr for murder in November 1804, but the New Jersey Supreme Court quashed the indictment on a motion from Colonel Ogden. Burr fled to South Carolina, where his daughter lived with her family, but soon returned to Washington, D.C. to complete his term of service as Vice President. He presided over the Samuel Chase impeachment trial "with the dignity and impartiality of an angel and the rigor of a devil." Burr's heartfelt farewell speech in March 1805 moved some of his harshest critics in the Senate to tears.
With his political career apparently over, Burr went west, where he became involved in "filibuster" plans, which some[who?] later claimed were intended to establish a new independent empire carved out of the Louisiana territory. General James Wilkinson, who had worked with Burr, later had a change of heart and betrayed their plans to President Jefferson. Another man Burr allegedly tried to recruit, William Eaton, accused Burr in letters to Jefferson, resulting in Burr's arrest and trial for treason. Although he was acquitted of all charges, Burr's reputation was further damaged and he spent the following years in Europe. He finally returned to New York City in 1812, where he resumed his law practice and spent the remainder of his life in relative obscurity.
The first memorial to the duel was constructed in 1806 by the Saint Andrew Society, of which Hamilton was formerly a member. A 14 foot marble cenotaph, consisting of an obelisk topped by a flaming urn and a plaque with a quote from Horace surrounded by an iron fence, was constructed approximately where Hamilton was believed to have fallen. Duels continued to be fought at the site and the marble was slowly vandalized and removed for souvenirs, leaving nothing remaining by 1820. The memorial's plaque survived, turning up in a junk store and finding its way to the New York Historical Society in Manhattan, where it still resides.
From 1820 to 1857, the site was marked by two stones with the names Hamilton and Burr placed where they were thought to have stood during the duel. When a road from Hoboken to Fort Lee was built through the site in 1858, an inscription on a boulder where a mortally wounded Hamilton was thought to have rested—one of the many pieces of graffiti left by visitors—was all that remained. No primary accounts of the duel confirm the boulder anecdote. In 1870, railroad tracks were built directly through the site, and the boulder was hauled to the top of the Palisades, where it remains today. In 1894, an iron fence was built around the boulder, supplemented by a bust of Hamilton and a plaque. The bust was thrown over the cliff on October 14, 1934 by vandals and the head was never recovered; a new bust was installed on July 12, 1935.
The plaque was stolen by vandals in the 1980s and an abbreviated version of the text was inscribed on the indentation left in the boulder, which remained until the 1990s when a granite pedestal was added in front of the boulder and the bust was moved to the top of the pedestal. New markers were added on July 11, 2004, the 200th anniversary of the duel.
Anti-dueling movement in New York state
In the months and years following the duel, a movement started to end the practice. Eliphalet Nott, the pastor at an Albany church attended by Hamilton's father-in-law, Philip Schuyler, gave a sermon that was soon reprinted, "A Discourse, Delivered in the North Dutch Church, in the City of Albany, Occasioned by the Ever to be Lamented Death of General Alexander Hamilton, July 29, 1804". In 1806, Lyman Beecher delivered an anti-dueling sermon, later reprinted in 1809 by the Anti-Dueling Association of New York. The covers and some pages of both pamphlets:
1804 Anti-dueling sermon by an acquaintance of Alexander Hamilton
In 2004, for its bicentennial anniversary, kins of Burr and Hamilton held re-enactment of the famous duel, near the Hudson River. In the re-enactment, Douglas Hamilton, fifth-great-grandson of Alexander Hamilton, faced Antonio Burr, a descendant of Aaron Burr’s cousin. More than 1,000 people attended the re-enactment, including an estimated 60 descendants of Hamilton and 40 members of the Aaron Burr Association.
In the Star Trek episode, "The Squire of Gothos" (first broadcast by NBC on January 12, 1967), Captain Kirk challenges the character "General Trelane Rtd." to a pistol duel. Trelane responds by opening a case of pistols: "A matched set. Just like the pair that slew your heroic Alexander Hamilton". In the subsequent duel, Trelane wastes his shot, shooting vertically into the air. Kirk then fires into a mirror concealing a machine Trelane was using to hold the crew against their will.
The first television commercial in the "Got Milk?" advertising campaign referred comically to the duel as the subject of a Trivia question: "Who shot Alexander Hamilton in that famous duel?" asked by a DJ on the radio of someone who was working at a museum which contained an extensive display concerning the event, and many items from the duel itself. He answers the question correctly, but because his mouth is full of peanut butter and he has no milk to wash it down, his answer is unintelligible.
In 2005, a viral rap music video "Lazy Sunday" released as an SNL Digital Short contained the line "It's all about the Hamiltons" ($10 bills) as a spoof on the 1998 Puff Daddy hit single "It's All about the Benjamins" ($100 bills). A subsequent line in the song then stated, "You can call us Aaron Burr from the way we're dropping Hamiltons", comically drawing a tie between extravagant spending to the outcome of the historic duel. 
Then in 2008, the story of the duel was again comedically told, this time in an Upright Citizens Brigade video starring Michael Cera as Hamilton, presenting the "delope" version of the story where Hamilton is said to have purposely aimed away from Burr.
The musical playwright and performer Lin Manuel Miranda is producing a rap cycle currently titled "Hamilton Mix-Tape" that chronicles Hamilton's life. The first segment written was performed at the White House for President Obama, and includes the character Aaron Burr who states "I'm the damn genius who shot'm."
- "Today in History: July 11". Library of Congress. Retrieved 2007-04-23.
- Marcus, Maeva, and James R. Perry. The Documentary History of the Supreme Court of the United States, 1789–1800. New York: Columbia University Press, 1985 (Google Books link)
- Bernard C. Steiner and James McHenry, The life and correspondence of James McHenry (Cleveland: Burrows Brothers Co., 1907).
- Freeman, 1996, p. 294-295.
- Nathaniel Pendleton to Van Ness. June 26, 1804. Hamilton Papers, 26:270.
- Burr to Charles Biddle; July 18, 2004. Papers of Aaron Burr, 2: 887.
- Fleming, 1999, p. 7-9.
- Cooper to Philip Schuyler. Hamilton Papers. April 23, 1804. 26: 246.
- Cooper, Charles D. April 24, 1804. Albany Register.
- Winfield, 1874, p. 216.
- Winfield, 1875, p. 216-217.
- Winfield, 1875, p. 217.
- Freeman, 1996, p. 290.
- Fleming, p.281
- Buescher, John. "Burr-Hamilton Duel." Teachinghistory.org. Accessed 11 July 2011.
- Demontreux, 2004, p. 3.
- Chernow, p. 700.
- Winfield, 1874, p. 219.
- Ellis, Joseph. Founding Brothers. p. 24
- Winfield, 1874, p. 219-220.
- Ellis, Joseph. Founding Brothers. p. 30-31
- William P. Van Ness vs. The People. 1805.
- Dr. David Hosack to William Coleman, August 17, 1804
- (Russian) From Revolution to Reconstruction: Biographies: A. Hamilton -document
- Nathaniel Pendleton's Amended Version of His and William P. Ness's Statement of July 11, 1804
- The letter is not dated, but the consensus among Hamilton's contemporaries (including Burr) and historians suggests it was written July 10, 1804, the night before the duel. See: Freeman, 1996, note 1.
- Hamilton, 1804, 26:278.
- Joseph Wheelan, Jefferson's Vendetta: The Pursuit of Aaron Burr and the Judiciary, New York, Carroll & Graf Publishers, 2005, ISBN 0-7867-1437-9, p. 90
- Ogden, 1979, p. 60.
- Smithsonian magazine article: November, 1976, "Pistols shed light on famed duel," Merrill Lindsay, http://www.aaronburrassociation.org/Smithsonian.htm
- Winfield. 1874. p. 220.
- N.Y. Spectator. July 28, 1824.
- Sabine. 1857. p. 212.
- AmericanHeritage.com / The Fateful Encounter
- Steven C. Smith. My Friend Hamilton-Whom I Shot
- Joanne B. Freedman. Dueling as Politics: Reinterpreting the Burr-Hamilton Duel
- Burstein, Andrew and Isenberg, Nancy (2011-01-04) What Michele Bachmann doesn't know about history, Salon.com
- For the United States Bicentennial anniversary in 1976, Chase Manhattan allowed the pistols to be removed and loaned to the U.S. Bicentennial Society of Richmond. A subsequent article in the Smithsonian magazine claimed that close examination of the pistols had revealed a secret hair trigger:"Pistols shed light on famed duel" (from the Smithsonian magazine; November 1976). However, for the preceding twenty years English duelling pistols had been customarily fitted with hair triggers (known as set triggers). Pistols made by Robert Wogdon were no exception. They cannot therefore be said to have had 'secret' hair triggers: "The British Duelling Pistol"; John Atkinson, Arms and Armour Press; 1978.
- Alexander Hamilton, by Ron Chernow
- Memoirs of Aaron Burr, by Matthew L. Davis.
- Alexander Hamilton, by Ron Chernow, p.590
- Robert Bromeley and Mrs. Patrick W. Harrington (August 1971). "National Register of Historic Places Registration: Belvidere". New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Retrieved 2009-06-14. See also: "Unfiled NHL Nomination Form for Villa Belvidere".
- Centinel of Freedom. November 24, 1807, cited in Winfield, 1874, p. 220.
- U.S. Senate: Art & History Home > Historical Minutes > 1801–1850 > Indicted Vice President Bids Senate Farewell
- Demontreux, 2004, p. 3-4.
- Demontreux, 2004, p. 4.
- Demontreux, 2004, p. 5.
- Demontreux, 2004, p. 6.
- Demontreux, 2004, p. 7-9.
- Transcribed script of "The Squire of Gothos"
- Encyclopedia.com: PR Newswire "Classic GOT MILK? TV Spot – 'Aaron Burr' – is back on air
- Aaron Burr Got Milk? at the Inspiration Room
- NY Times: How Do You Say 'Got Milk' En Español?
- Instant Notoriety for a Rap Video From Saturday Night Live – New York Times
- "Lazy Sunday" sketch on SNL
- Code Duello: Hamilton & Burr
- Juno's Michael Cera Re-Enacts Historical Duel Between Alexander Hamilton And Aaron Burr
- "Lin-Manuel Miranda Performs at the White House Poetry Jam: 8 of 8". White House. Retrieved 18 April 2012.
- Berg, Al and Sherman, Lauren. 2004. "Pistols at Weehawken." Weehawken Historical Commission.
- Chernow, Ron. Alexander Hamilton. The Penguin Press, 2004.
- Coleman, William. 1804. A Collection of Facts and Documents, relative to the death of Major-General Alexander Hamilton. New York.
- Cooke, Syrett and Jean G, eds. 1960. Interview in Weehawken: The Burr-Hamilton Duel as Told in the Original Documents. Middletown, Connecticut.
- Cooper to Philip Schuyler. April 23, 1804. 26: 246.
- Cooper, Charles D. April 24, 1804. Albany Register.
- Davis, Matthew L. Memoirs of Aaron Burr (free ebook available from Project Gutenberg).
- Demontreux, Willie. 2004. "The Changing Face of the Hamilton Monument." Weehawken Historical Commission.
- Ellis, Joseph. The Founding Brothers (2000) Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 0-375-40544-5
- Flagg, Thomas R. 2004. "An Investigation into the Location of the Weehawken Dueling Ground." Weehawken Historical Commission.
- Fleming, Thomas. 1999. The Duel: Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, and the Future of America. New York: Perseus Books. ISBN 0-465-01736-3
- Frazier, Ian. February 16, 2004. "Route 3." The New Yorker.
- Freeman, Joanne B. 1996. Dueling as Politics: Reinterpreting the Burr-Hamilton duel, The William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd series, 53 (2): 289–318.
- Hamilton, Alexander. "Statement on Impending Duel with Aaron Burr," [June 28 – July 10], 26: 278.
- Hamilton, Alexander. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. Harold C. Syrett, ed. 27 vols. New York: 1961–1987
- Lindsay, Merrill. 1976. "Pistols Shed Light on Famed Duel." Smithsonian, VI (November): 94–98.
- McGrath, Ben. May 31, 2004. "Reënactment: Burr vs. Hamilton." The New Yorker.
- New-York Evening Post. July 17, 1804. "Funeral Obsequies." From the Collection of the New York Historical Society.
- Ogden, Thomas H. (1979). "On Projective Identifications," in International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 60, 357. Cf. Rogow, A Fatal Friendship, 327, note 29.
- PBS. 1996. American Experience: The Duel. Documentary transcript.
- Reid, John. 1898. "Where Hamilton Fell: The Exact Location of the Famous Duelling Ground." Weehawken Historical Commission.
- Rorabaugh, W.J. (1995). "The Political Duel in the Early Republic: Burr v. Hamilton". Journal of the Early Republic 15 (1): 1–23. doi:10.2307/3124381. JSTOR 3124381.
- Sabine, Lorenzo. Notes on Duels and Duelling. Boston.
- Van Ness, William P. 1804. A Correct Statement of the Late Melancholy Affair of Honor, Between General Hamilton and Col. Burr. New York.
- William P. Ness vs. The People. January 1805. Duel papers, William P. Ness papers, New York Historical Society.
- Wilson, James Grant (1869). "The Weehawken Dueling Ground". Literature, Science, and Art 1 (11): 339–340.
- Winfield, Charles H. 1874. History of the County of Hudson, New Jersey from Its Earliest Settlement to the Present Time. New York: Kennard and Hay. Chapter 8, "Duels." pp. 200–231.
- American Experience – The Duel – Official PBS Hamilton-Burr Duel Documentary site
- Duel 2004 – A site dedicated to the 200th anniversary of the duel.
- Burr–Hamilton duel at Find a Grave Alexander Hamilton
- Burr–Hamilton duel at Find a Grave Aaron Burr