Hamilton and Burr actors discuss the things they had in common at local library function,
with 58 in attendance. Here is the script that was used:
Courtney LePere in Early American Costume:
Good morning everyone.
My name is Theodosia Burr.
My father was Aaron Burr.
I am eleven years old, and my mother just died of cancer.
My dad’s only sister, Aunt Sally married Tapping Reeve.
Uncle Tapping started the first law school in America, and my dad was his first student.
During the Revolutionary War, things got scary for my mom in New Jersey before I was born, so she took my step brothers and sisters to stay with the Reeves. She used to write to my dad from our town before they were married.
After mom died, I became the lady of the house. Dad opened a school for girls like me to be taught like the boys, and I was considered the best educated young lady in the 90’s (the 1790’s that is.)
That’s why South Carolina Governor Joseph Alston married me and took me on a honeymoon to Niagara Falls!
I loved my dad, and he loved me.
Wait. I think he and Mr. Hamilton are here right now.
Courtney sits. Peter & Carl enter from the children’s library door.
Good morning. I am Aaron Burr.
I was born in New Jersey in 1756.
My parents died when I was two.
I graduated from Princeton at 16.
Then I attended the Tapping Reeve Law School for a year.
I was a captain in the Revolutionary War at the winter battle of Quebec.
I was General Washington’s aid-de camp for 6 weeks.
My horse was shot out from under me at the Battle of Monmouth court house.
Washington made me a colonel.
I met my wife Theodosia during the war.
They let me take the bar exam to become a lawyer without 3 years of law school because I fought in the War.
Yes. I moved to 3 Wall Street with my wife and children in 1783.
I was considered one of the two best lawyers in all America in the 1780’s.
I tried to get a bill through the NY Assembly that would have outlawed slavery in 1785.
I went down to the docks and filed suits to free black slaves arriving from Africa.
I was elected Senator from New York.
Yes, but it wasn’t as good as Tapping’s. I wrote the welcome speech Vice Pres. John Adams delivered to President Washington as the senate session opened.
I owned Richmond Hill, one of the finest mansions in New York City.
I believed in women’s education, and was considered by some the first women’s liberation leader.
I started Chase Manhattan Bank.
In 1800 I tied Thomas Jefferson for the presidency with 73 electoral votes each.
I made some bad investments in the early 1800’s and was sort of broke.
I ran for governor of NY, but lost.
You said you had an even more despicable opinion of me than that.
I guess I challenged you to a duel because you would not take it back.
Me? Okay lets settle this once and for all. I’ll meet you at dawn by rowing across the Hudson to Weehawken, NJ.
OK. See you at 10:40. Don’t forget to bring the pistols.
Before we all walk to my old law school, let’s just talk about our friends Oliver Wolcott Senior and Junior.
I knew Oliver Sr. since he lived across the street from me when I lived in this town. Here’s a story that includes him read to you by our Oliver Wolcott Librarian: This exact story was read on board the historic ferry cruise last Friday in New York Harbor as filmed by Fox and CBS TV.
Good morning. I am Alexander Hamilton.
I was born on a Caribbean Island in 1755.
My parents divorced. My mother died when I was 13.
I went to Columbia.
I was a captain in the Revolutionary War in charge of a cannon company in New York.
I was General Washington’s aid-de camp for 6 years.
So was mine.
Me too. And a dozen years later a general.
I met my wife Eliza during the war.
Me too. I passed 6 months after you. Remember my father in law’s library we both used?
I moved to 57 Wall Street with my wife and children in 1783.
I was the other one.
I wrote the charter for the Manumission Society to abolish slavery.
I know. You and I together won 34 of our 36 cases.
You beat my father-in-law. Didn’t you like his library?
I remember hearing Washington discuss it at a cabinet meeting, while I was his Secretary of the Treasury.
About like mine: The Grange in upper Manhattan.
I wrote 22,000 pages of documents, including the Federalist papers used for the Constitution.
I started the Bank of the United States and the Bank of New York.
TJ and I asked the Delaware delegate to switch votes that made him President and you Vice President.
Me too. My debts exceeded my assets. Government work doesn’t pay well does it?
I guess I said you were not fit to be governor.
Yeah, and no one will ever know what I meant!
Why should I take it back? You take it back!
Can we just go to the Tapping Reeve Law School front lawn instead?
How could two brilliant guys like us forget anything? How could we do this?
Ellen: (reads landmark description)
My good friend Oliver Wolcott Jr. became Treasury Secretary after me in 1795. Here’s what author Thomas Fleming says about him on page 328 of his book Duel: (reads one paragraph)
Now let’s proceed to the Tapping Reeve Law School Museum five houses up on this sidewalk. See you there in a few minutes. As we walk, feel free to chat with Peter, I mean Aaron to ask him questions about us.
Outside at the law school, Pete will have his cd player playing traditional music.
He can turn it off when we start, and then turn it on when the program finishes as people leave. The stage area will be cordoned off by flagging or a 3’ high x 100’ long black fabric fence. AH and AB greet each other and AB greets the audience.
Then the pistols are cocked by Peter and left with Herb. When AH and AB face each other at 10 paces they are sideways to minimize body target area.
(Herb Siegel has agreed to participate and he and Peter rehearsed at 10:30 Friday morning. Courtney just watches and has no role at the law school lawn.)
There will be another 9:30 dress rehearsal Sat. morning.
Herb will be in costume as the second and says:
“When I give the word Present, you may fire.’ Colonel Burr Are you Ready? "Yes I am."
General Hamilton, Are you ready? "Wait, I have to adjust my spectacles." (Carl does and puts them on. Pete has glasses) "Ok I am ready."
"PRESENT!" Carl counts to one and fires. Peter counts to 2 and fires. Both fire at each other, but the AH shot goes over AB’s head, from starting positions of the pistols pointing straight up.
Both pans of black powder should ignite for smoke.
If they don't, continue and Pete will explain the misfire later.
AH is hit in the liver and falls down.
He drop the pistol, (but be sure no one runs off with it.)
The second Herb, will comfort AH.
AH says "This is a mortal wound."
AB goes to AH, but is stopped and leaves.
AH gets up, and puts the pistol back in the case. AB returns and reads:
"Alexander Hamilton died 31 hours later in William Bayard's house where Oliver Wolcott Jr. visited.
That was 200 years ago this month.
May we have a moment of silence for him and all who helped found our Great United States. ....
Our town is indeed privileged to have been home to one of the founding fathers, Aaron Burr. Many people do not understand him, but I have read some 20 books about him, and I admire him greatly. If you would like to learn more about him, read through some of the books being donated to the library today, and contact me for some web site references such as Aaron Burr Association. org.
This concludes our program
Thank you to the Oliver Wolcott Library staff and The Local Historical Society for their sponsorship help.
Anyone interested in seeing how the pistols work is welcome to visit with me now.
Please return home safely."
Music cd is put on again.
Program must end at 11:00 am when Law School Museum opens.
At the local duel reenactment, pistols fired off smoke
to the same crowd outside the local museum.
The librarian sent this e-mail the next morning:
Good Morning Peter, I am sure that Ann Marie will extend our thanks to you, Carl and his daughters on behalf of the library, but I just wanted to let you know how well your re creation and adaptation of the Burr-Hamilton Duel was received by those who attended. Every comment I heard was positive. People loved the costumes, the dramatic presentation and learning about an historical figure who is both connected with our town and yet shrouded by the misinformation of history. Many asked when we would be doing something like this in the future and I had several requests for copies of the passage on the statue of King George being converted to ammunition. It was by far the best attended adult program we've had in a long time! Congratulations, Ellen
A front page article in the Sunday newspaper with color photos scanned black and white here:
Another reenactment is scheduled in September.
If your organization would like to host an educational forum such as this,
please call Stuart Johnson at 800 990-2870.