One of the most famous rivalries in history was between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. It culminated in a duel between the two men, resulting in Hamilton’s death (the rather gory details of which are documented here). What is not as well known is the fact that there was a second round fought between Hamilton and Burr — this time with Hamilton’s son standing in for his father in a completely different setting.
Alexander Hamilton, Jr. was the third child of the elder Hamilton. Born in 1786, the son followed his father’s footsteps by enlisting in the military. He served in the War of 1812 and eventually rose to the rank of colonel. He also pursued his father’s interest in law and developed a successful career as a lawyer in New York. It was as an attorney that Alexander Hamilton, Jr. stepped in to pick up his father’s fight against Aaron Burr.
In 1833 — 29 years after the famous duel — Aaron Burr, now 77 years old, married the wealthy widow Eliza Jumel. Burr wanted financial assistance to maintain the quality of life to which he had grown accustomed, but he harbored little actual affection for his new wife. Eliza soon realized she was not the object of his devotion. She also learned of his infidelity with a much younger woman. She promptly filed for divorce.
Her lawyer of choice was none other than Alexander Hamilton, Jr.
The divorce proceedings wrangled on for two years before Hamilton earned the satisfaction of winning his case for his client. The judge issued the decree of divorce on September 14, 1836.
As fate would have it, Aaron Burr died the same day.
Hamilton vs. Burr: Round 2 — this time it ended with a Hamilton victory and a Burr death.
Categories: History, Laws and Lawyers, US History
Interesting! That’s definitely a new bit of history for me. Thanks.
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Not entirely accurate. Actually Burr and Jumel had agreed the previous year for mutual divorce. This was before the time of recognized dissolution. Therefore the Court of Chancery had to hear the matter and decide for one party. Both Burr and Jumel had filed for divorce.
The judge was both a Federalist and a mentee of Hamilton. Add to that Burr did not attend all the trial sessions due to poor health. It is easy to see how Burr would lose.
However, the decree basically only resulted in the same as it was a mutual dissolution. Neither received any property or monies the other had. The divorce financially hurt Jumel because as Burr’s widow she was entitled to his war pension. As a divorcee, she was not. Also, what little estate he had was left to two minor children, Jumel had no right to claim it.