My research began with the interest to learn more about a pair of flintlock dueling pistols in the Luce Center. The Duels and Military Exhibition in the Luce Center contains the pair of flintlock pistols. Pistols which belonged to Rufus King; he was a well-known politician and diplomat as well as a Senator of New York. His flintlock pistols came into the museum’s possession as a gift of Mr. Gheradi Davis and Ellen King. The set of case dueling pistol contains about 57 accessories which are made of wood, brass, iron, silver, and lead. The pistols are similar to the pistols from 1804 duel between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton; a famous duel between New York politicians in Weehawken, New Jersey, which caused Hamilton’s death. The duel took place on July 11, as a result of buildup of a hostile relationship because of politics. Burr was a Republican, while Hamilton was a Federalist, opposing parties, with enmity towards each other.
The violent confrontation was Burr’s attempt to revive his career. He wanted to become governor of New York, but his attempts were interrupted by Hamilton. Hamilton opposed New York Federalists against Burr. Burr was the one who proposed the duel; Hamilton wanted to refuse but it would mean he would lose his honor. Duels were about showing honor; it was a code of honor and of chivalry. Hamilton accepted the duel, and sought advice from his brother-in-law, Colonel John B. Church. Colonel Church is the original owner, of the pistols used by Hamilton and Burr. His pistols were crafted by H.W. Mortimer, an English gunsmith from London, the same gunsmith that crafted the flintlock pistols from the Luce Collection.
The duel went down early in the morning of July 11. The two men both received the Church pistols and each fired a shot from the .56 caliber pistols. Hamilton’s shot hit a tree branch, which left Burr unharmed. In the other hand, Hamilton received Burr’s shot in the abdomen. Because of this fatal wound, Hamilton was transported across the Hudson River to New York, in an effort to save his live. Unfortunately, Hamilton died the following day, in William Bayard’s home. Hamilton’s death changed Burr’s reasons for the duel; Burr proposed the duel to revive his career, but in the end, the duel ended Burr’s political career. He was charged with murder in both New York and New Jersey, but he was not convicted, because those charges did not reach trail.