The 200-Year Duel
Two centuries after their famous forebears met on the banks of the Hudson, the Hamiltons and the Burrs are still at it.
by Matthew Continetti
12/13/2004, Volume 010, Issue 13
"LOOK AT THIS," said Antonio Burr. "Look at what they're selling." Standing in the gift shop of the New-York Historical Society on Manhattan's Upper West Side, Burr held a magnet to the light. On it were portraits of his ancestor Aaron Burr, the third vice president of the United States, and Alexander Hamilton, the first secretary of the treasury, whom Vice President Burr killed in a duel 200 years ago. Each man's portrait stared coldly at the other's.
It was a dull gray day in late October, and Burr had just spent an hour walking through "Alexander Hamilton: The Man Who Made Modern America," the blockbuster, $5 million bicentennial exhibition that opened in early September and will close on February 28. The show portrays Hamilton as a giant--a leading champion of the Constitution, the Founding Father of America's financial institutions, the visionary who saw that the United States would one day become an economic and military superpower. To Hamilton's many admirers, all this is beyond dispute. Not to Antonio Burr.
He is a small man, compact and bespectacled, with a graying goatee and pale blue eyes. He is 51 years old. Also, he is Chilean. He often ends sentences with "man." Sometimes he flails his arms wildly to make a point.
"This is what I don't understand," he continued, examining the magnet. "This whole exhibition, it criticizes Burr, it calls Burr a man without principle, it blames Burr for Hamilton's death. But when you get to the gift shop, what do you have?
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Matthew, Thank you for your article on the Duel. In case you are asked to follow up, please spend some time at www.AaronBurr.org You will see from our Association that Burr is superior to St. Hamilton in every way. Burr was a democratic republican, not a democrat. He hated Jefferson's love of slavery. Hamilton had the affair with the 23 year old, not Burr, but readers think Burr is like Clinton.
Thanks for mentioning the trick pistols. Thanks for putting my picture in the article as I played VanNess in the boat. Most ABA members seem to be conservative republicans, and not as you depict us. That McGreevy saw the light was the one decent thing he did last year. Thanks for educating yourself even more by spending an hour at our web site.