tv Burr- Hamilton Duel The Society of the Cincinnati CSPAN July 15, 2018 11:00am-12:03pm EDT
ragg discusses how are -- how society members reacted to the duel at the time. the society of the cincinnati in washington, d.c. hosts this 45 minute event. >> good evening, everyone. my name is bill marshall. this organization was made for the member of the american revolution. we welcome all, regardless of whether or not their families have been in america for 300 years or just arrived here to join the american revolution institute as associates. mission is to ensure that
all americans understand that revolution secured our independence, established our created our national identity, and dedicated the country to the ideals of liberty and equality and responsible citizenship. young americans in particular need to understand and appreciate our revolution. we invite you ultimate help make that possible by learning more about the american revolution institute at our website. americanrevolutioninstitute.org and become part of our movement. as i mentioned i'm a member of the south carolina society, and i'm a member of the history committee up here at the general society. and when i learned about chip coming up to speak, i was very happy and quick to volunteer to come up from charleston to introduce him this evening. chip is a practicing anesthesiologist in thomasville, georgia, where he's lived for the past 29 years. and i have the society to thank for chip because otherwise architect in charleston and
anesthesiologist in thomasville really wouldn't have the opportunity to get to know one another. he is chairman of the history committee of the general society. and is also a member of south carolina society where he represents justy cobe, the ancestor i represent is a member of the second regiment and fun they knew one another back then. chip has had a lifelong passion for american history and as a result a publication of four books. distinctly the first, "distinction in every service: brigadier general marcellus a. stovall," in 2001. the acclaimed "never for want of powder, the confederate powder works in augusta, augusta,
georgia," in 2007, of which he is a co-author, and "crescent moon over carolina, william moultrie and american liberty," which he wrote in 2013, and "martyr of the american revolution, the execution of isaac hayne, south carolinian," 2016. in march of last year, chip actually gave a talk here at anderson house about his book, about isaac haynes which you can find i think online. his interest in the subject this evening, 18th and 19th century dueling practices was kindled by his primary source documents that he found while he was writing his biography of general moultrie and he's been fascinated with that subject ever since. chip, welcome. we look forward -- [applause] >> bill, thank you very much for the kind introduction. good evening, ladies and gentlemen. it's always a pleasure to be here among kindred spirits, that is, those of white house love american history. i'd like to express my thanks to
the professional staff of the society of cincinnati for making this evening possible. i'm here tonight to bring you a topic that i've been interested in for a number of years and that is dueling. now, i plan to cover quite a bit of american history, but i won't necessarily dwell on the politics and arguments that led to the hamilton-burr duel. i could spend an hour on hamilton. i could spend an hour on burr. i could spend an hour on the minutiae of their duel. the entire books have been written on those subjects. instead, what i'd like to do is place their duel in the context of the history of dueling and then look at the society of cincinnati's efforts to abolish the practice. now, before i begin, i should remind you as i always do that i'm an anesthesiologist. that being said, i truly hope you won't be anesthetized by the
time we're through. and please show me your hands. who has seen or plans to see "hamilton"? quite a number. you probably know that lin-manuel miranda's highly acclaimed and very popular broadway musical was inspired by "the new york times'" best-selling biography "alexander hamilton" by ron chernow. the musical has been a significant ana factor in the revival of interest in hamilton, the founding fathers, the revolutionary war and early american history. and the grammy winning production, white historical figures are portrayed by black and hispanic actors, they wear period costumes while performing rap music. who would have ever thought? an unexpected but important consequence of "hamilton" is
that teachers are using the musical to stimulate their students' interest in their country's independence and formative years. the show's success even helped prevent the replacement of alexander hamilton's image on the $10 bill. of course, the climax of the musical is the duel. the so-called interview on the field -- the interview on the field of honor at weehawken, new jersey, early on the morning of april 11, 1804, between alexander hamilton and vice president aaron burr. the interview by the way is one of the several euphemisms for duel. as is meeting, encounter, business. affair of honors probably the most apt euphemism because duelists always insisted they were dueling over honor. in the use of these and other you've mixes were just veiled attempts to disguise the illegal acts that duelists were performing.
now, by definition, a duel is an occasion in which two parties of equal social station, one the offender and the other the offended, agree to meet in a private place with a small group of witnesses for the purpose of satisfying the offended person's injured honor. now, honor is a reputation for being virtuous, strong, and brave. it was often perceived as a gentleman's most prized possession and thus had to be defended even at the risk of one's life. now, duel comes from the latin duellum meaning a war between two. now, would anyone care to venture a guess at what may be history's first recorded duel? plus the earliest mention of the duel is in the book of samuel in
the bible's old testament. the contest between david and goliath, supposed to have occurred about 1020 b.c. but dueling really has its roots in the medieval single trial by combat that gradually evolved into a method to settle personal disputes. the practice came to england with the norman conquest in 1066. now, if the duel's mother was trial by combat its father was chivalry. which in turn led to combat in defense of honor.
you see chivalry and honor and nobility were all intimately intertwined. even so, from the 17th century on ward, dueling was illegal everywhere it was practiced. the problem was that the laws just weren't followed. nevertheless, there was always a societal undertone of disapproval. just that nobody could really do anything about it. the first recorded duel on american soil was fought in the massachusetts colony in 1621 and the first fatal duel in america occurred in boston in 1728. now, to summarize, over time, justice gave way to honor, public affairs of honor gave way to private, more secretive affairs, and swords which was
the usual weapon early on, gave way to pistols. swords were badges of nobility. pistols on the other hand were more democratic. anyone could own a pistol. anyone could learn to shoot. and this occurred as dueling spread into the middle classes and then across the ocean into the colonies. fortunately, smooth bore pistols were somewhat inaccurate and the flint lock mechanisms were somewhat unreliable. and both of these factors increased the odds of surviving a duel. so what exactly was meant by honor in the 18th and 19th centuries? earlier said that honor is a reputation for being virtuous, strong and brave. well, the 1799 edition of samuel johnson's dictionary gives 14 different usages for honor. among them, dignity, reputation, and respect. if something on this list is a
noun, it could be disparaged, tainted or injured, thus offending honor. and how was honor injured? by trivial or sometimes not so trivial personal slights or insults, either in public or in private. by physical altercation, such as striking one's adversary. or questioning the virtue of a lady. words such as scoundrel and rascal were especially provocative, having far more serious connotation than they would have in modern usage. offending someone's honor, however, presented a problem for both the offended and the offender. if honor was offended, a gentleman was obligated to seek satisfaction. if challenged, the offender was obliged to respond in a positive manner. failure of either could result in loss of honor. this in turn would be -- bring personal, social, financial, even political disgrace. so you can see that there was a certain amount of circular reasoning involved. i'm a gentleman. my honor has been maligned or questioned. gentlemen duel when their honor has been maligned or questioned. therefore, i must duel in order to affirm to the world that i am indeed a gentleman. and honor was transferable. if the head of a household came under attack and lost honor it was not at all uncommon for a son to fight a duel on behalf of his elderly father to restore their honor. so why not just seek redress in the courts of law? because it was considered
beneath one's dignity to resort to the courts to resolve certain personal matters such as accusations of slander and libel. and besides, the courts were slow. duels provided a more shall we say immediate resolution. ok. then how did gentlemen know how to act, how and when to challenge, and how to accept a challenge?
what should transpire between the time a challenge was issued and a duel was actually fought? well, the rules of dueling were codified in ireland in 1777 by the so-called code duello. now, i can't say who possessed copies of this but the gentlemen of the day certainly seemed familiar enough with the rules at least in a general sense. and there were 25 rules in the code duello. and i certainly won't go through all 25. but there are just a few i would like for you to remember for later.
rule 13, throwing away one's shot was often ignored and became permissible to deliberately miss one's opponent. and please make a mental note of rule 20 about misfires for later. misfires were supposedly counted as your shot. now, the purpose. code duello was two-fold. it provided a framework for civility and a fair fight. but it also provided ways for conflicts to be resolved if possible without violence. hence, rule 21. seconds were trusted friends of the principals who carried correspondence, helped facilitate negotiations, and in the case of an actual duel, ensured that the rules were followed. the importance of the seconds
cannot be overstated. they were duty and honor bound to attempt a reconciliation preferably before the so-called meeting took place or after the principals had fired their first shot. so this is how a duel might play out. an insult or perceived insult occurred. written correspondence over days or perhaps a week or two would take place involving the seconds. there might be clarification, negotiation, even reconciliation. perhaps a misunderstanding was the issue. on occasion, an explanation or apology was offered and accepted. the matter was either resolved or not. and in most cases, negotiations over matters of honor resulted
in a duel not being fought. but if not resolved, a formal challenge occurred, and was accepted, the choice of time, place, and weapons was negotiated again with the seconds helping. the parties arrived at the specified time and place with their seconds and their physicians. the seconds paced out the distance and loaded the pistols. a coin toss often decided who would take what position and which of the two seconds would give the order to fire. now, about the distance. it was generally eight to 12 paces commonly 10 paces, this afternoon, i paced out 10 paces and it's the width of this room.
very, very close. the opponents were asked if they were ready. a handkerchief might be dropped as a signal or the command given present. if one principal fired first, the other had three seconds within which to return fire. and then the physicians and the seconds would attend the wounded. now, the object of the duel was to satisfy honor, not necessarily for the opponents to kill each other. and many duels did not end in death or serious injury. clean misses or even first blood from a minor wound was often considered sufficient to satisfy honor. both combatants might walk away unscathed. but if the argument between them
was really serious, a second shot might be called for. of course, one or both might be wounded, not seriously, or one or both could be killed. in any event, the end result was that honor was satisfied. if a challenge was refused, the challenger was entitled to post the offender, that is, print and post hand bills or place newspaper ads such as what i've shown you on the slide. not infrequently, the challenge would be shame shamed into dueling. on other occasions the challenge might respond with an explanatory post of his own. in the case shown on the screen,
mr. gilliam refused the duel on the grounds that he did not believe mr. noble to be a gentleman. and so it would be beneath his dignity to duel. i don't know about here in d.c., but back home in southwest georgia, we have an expression, not worth shooting. [laughter] that's where that comes from. i can imagine that that sort of response would only fan the flames of animosity. dueling's heyday in america began about the time of the revolutionary war as soldiers and politicians sought to emulate visiting european officers, mostly french. continental officers were considered members of the 18th century gentleman class with its integral concept of honor. the link between honor and leadership made some officers very sensitive to insults, even
prickly about it, because to question a man's honor was to question his command ability. george washington strongly discouraged his continental officers from accepting any challenges, knowing that the war would be hard enough to win without his young officers murdering each other. of course dueling was prohibited by the articles of war but the records of continental court-martials showed very few prosecutions for dueling. i think only about seven, actually. so duels either occurred in secret or else authorities looked the other way. quite a few of our revolutionaries including future members of the society of the
cincinnati took part in this deadly form of conflict resolution. in 1777, lachlan mcintosh from georgia killed button gwinnett, a signer of the declaration of independence, in a duel that could be perhaps considered the second or third most famous duel in american history. mcintosh was wounded but survived. when john laurens, general washington's chief of staff, wounded general charles lee over disparaging remarks lee had made about george washington, colonel alexander hamilton served as laurens' second. the same aforementioned laughlin mcintosh captive of the british after charleston surrender in 1780 complained of frequent dueling among his young officers. and then at the bottom of the slide, we'll come back to charles pinckney in just a few minutes.
a transplanted physician from pennsylvania practicing in charleston, deplored dueling while at the same time he understood that its threat encouraged civility and respectful behavior. leading me to wonder if maybe we need to bring this back. i really didn't say that. he rationalized the southern predilection for dueling as such. duels take place oftener in carolina than in all states north of maryland. warm weather and attendant increase of bile in the stomach, at-bats a physical tendency to produce an irritable temper. hence, it frequently happens,
especially in the summer, that things are said or done thoughtlessly. and with consequences. ramsey pointed out that the problem with dueling besides its illegality and i'm using his words again, each duelist constitutes himself a judge in his own case at a time when pride or passion hide both truth and justice from their minds. you can see from the slide that this episode has been covered extensively but particularly in the last three years coinciding with the popularity of "hamilton" the musical. my own personal favorite, short treatment of the subject, is the first chapter of founding brothers by joseph ellis. for our purpose, suffice it to say that hamilton and burr had been comrades during the revolutionary war. but they were bitter political and personal rivals in peace. and had been for a very long
time. well over a decade. at the time of the duel, aaron burr was thomas jefferson's vice president and had very nearly defeated jefferson in the 1800 election. elections worked a little differently then than they do now. hamilton was practicing law in new york, but he had served as secretary of the treasury in george washington's cabinet and had also served as inspector general of the u.s. army. hamilton was the second president general of the society of cincinnati, serving in the place of george washington who had died in 1797. he and aaron burr were both members of the new york society
of the cincinnati. now, as far as dueling goes, hamilton had been involved in as many as 10 other duels, either as principal or a second, but there had been no fatalities. his second son, phillip, however, died in a duel thee years earlier on the very same ground where hamilton and burr would meet. burr on the other hand had dueled only once before, a bloodless affair, and he actually worked very hard to prevent a duel in 1797 between james monroe and of all people alexander hamilton. hamilton penned a poignant
statement before the duel in which he professed a strong opposition to the practice of dueling on religious and moral grounds. to his wife on the evening before the duel, he wrote, the scruples of a christian have determined me to expose my own life to any extent rather than subject myself to the guilt of taking the life of another. now, i use the word fratricidal in the title of this talk because hamilton and burr were both members of the society of the cincinnati.
which was very much a fraternal organization then as it is now. and sadly ironic for members of the society of cincinnati that what is thought to have been burr and hamilton's final encounter before the duel was an independence day banquet given by their own new york society at ross' hotel in new york, formally known as france tavern, where george washington had said farewell to his officers. at dinner, the adversaries were actually seated side by side with burr to hamilton's left. commodore thomas truxtun was present and he later wrote that
he had not the most distant idea of trouble between hamilton and burr. colonel john trumbull, war veteran and famous painter, reported that there was a sing later or peculiarity to their manner that was observed by all but no one suspected the cause. contrary to his usual nature, burr was silent and gloomy whereas hamilton was gay, convivial and even sang an old war song. trumbull you may know for his paintings of scenes of the revolution. he painted washington. he painted hamilton.
he never painted burr. but he later opined that in response to burr's challenge, hamilton should have answered the following. sir, a duel proves nothing. but that the parties do not shrink from the smell of gun powder or the whistling of a ball. on this subject, you and i have given too many proofs to leave any necessity for another, and therefore, as well as for higher reasons, i decline your proposal. but that's not what happened. the duel took place at weehawken, new jersey, just across the hudson river, from new york. early on the morning of july 11, 1804. hamilton was fatally wounded and died the next day. history has not been kind to aaron burr. of course, killing hamilton ruined him. he became a social pariah and for a time a fugitive from
justice. he was later tried and acquitted of treason in a completely different matter. new jersey, the chosen site for the duel, had a reputation of not prosecuting duelists as aggressively as they did in new york. that's one reason they decided to move it to weehawken. so it's ironic that in new york, burr was indicted only for issuing a challenge while residing in that state.
but in new jersey, he was actually indicted for murder. the measured charge in new jersey was later dismissed because hamilton had actually expired in new york. now, i'm sorry to say that the disagreements that preceded the duel and the duel itself violated one of the immutable principles set forth in the institution of the society of the cincinnati which reads, to render permanent the cordial affections assisting among the officers, this spirit will dictate brotherly kindness in all things. to those of you who are not members of the society of cincinnati, i'd add that we consider the institution every
bit in force today as it was then, not just in old parchment and inscribed in 1784. the new york society of cincinnati took responsibility for planning hamilton's funeral on july 14, 1804, in march the highly orchestrated procession ahead of his casket. hamilton was interred in the grave ward of trinity church and his grave seems to have become a site of pilgrimage for people who have gone and seen the musical in new york. but they want to be close to hamilton and that's the only way to be close to hamilton is to visit his grave. news travels fast.
especially bad news. philadelphia heard within a day or two. charleston published reports two weeks later although it's hard for me to imagine that it really took two weeks for news like that to reach charleston. the public was absolutely shocked. aside from the immediate outcry, the death of hamilton began a renewed shift in attitude away from the practice of dueling. society of the cincinnati vice president charles cotesworth pinkney of south carolina intended to accelerate the abolition of dueling. and in the place of the deceased
hamilton cotesworth pinckney would ascend to the highest office of the society as its present general. charles cotesworth pinckney was one. framers of the constitution, and he had been minister to france during the so-called x.y.z. affair in 1797 and 1798. during the x.y.z. affair in response to demands for bribes and loans, he is attributed with saying no, no, not a six pence. and he's often misattributed with saying millions for defense but not one cent for tribute. that was robert goodlow harper, also from south carolina. now, upon learning of the hamilton-burr duel, pinckney who long harbored an aversion for the practice, wrote a letter on august 18, 1804, to william steven smith who was the president of the new york society of the cincinnati. smith by the way had served as a aide-de-camp to marquis de lafayette and married to the daughter of john and abigail
adams. to smith, pinckney lamented hamilton's death and the deplorable manner in which he died and then he posed a rhetorical question. was there not something they could do to abolish this barbaric comic-con? he said duel something no criterion of bravery. for piaf seen cowards fight duels. and i'm convinced real courage may often be better shown in the refusal than in the acceptance of a challenge. pinckney suggested that the cincinnati disavow the practice on no account should any member send or accept a challenge. with the help of the new york cincinnati, pinckney would submit a plan to the society as a whole or else refer the matter at once to the different state
societies for their consideration. the new york cincinnati unanimously approved pinckney's letter and had it published in all the newspapers. then they formed a committee that proposed resolutions requiring expulsion from the society of the cincinnati, any member who was involved in a duel in any capacity whatsoever. and their actions were lauded as being the first to be put forth by any organization who had come out against the wicked practice
of dueling. this was kind of an odd time for cotesworth pinckney. even before the duel, he had political ties to hamilton and burr. he had run for vice president on the federalist ticket with john adams in 1800, losing to thomas jefferson and burr. now, consider this. in 1804, as all of this was going on, pinckney was the federalist candidate for president of the united states running against thomas jefferson who was seeking a second term. pinckney was perhaps the least publicized major presidential candidate in u.s. history and most americans were likely unaware that he was even
running. and i think that's proven by the results of the electoral college which i show on the screen. pinckney won vermont and delaware. and did not even carry his own home state of south carolina. but he was so engrossed in his anti-dueling campaign that he really didn't care. he was completely unperturbed by the election and was -- but he was also unwilling to wait for the 1805 general meeting of the society of cincinnati in philadelphia during which he would be elected president
general. he wanted to do something right then. so he pressed ahead by forming a joint committee, composed of members of the society of the cincinnati in south carolina, and charleston's american revolution society. the aforementioned dr. ramsey was a member of the american revolution society and served on this committee and so did dr. richard furman of the baptist minister for whom furman university is named for. the committee issued a public letter dated september 12, 1804, addressed to clergymen and other men of standing in south carolina asking them to support an initiative to restrain the practice of dueling. but you can also see that dueling slowed a bit during the year and a half or so following the hamilton-burr duel and then started ticking back up. no discussion of dueling in america would be complete without mentioning the only man elected president of the united
now, i really think that the truth is probably between three and five. not 100. jackson fought a bloodless duel with tennessee governor john sevier in 1803. sevier was a revolutionary war hero and had been one of the patriot militia leaders at the battle of kings mountain 1781. in 1806, jackson dueled 26-year-old charles dickinson who had deliberately insulted his wife, rachel. now, dickinson was an excellent marksman and an accomplished duelist. the two men stood only eight paces apart. jackson deliberately allowed dickinson to fire first. he wanted dickinson to rush his shot so that he could take his time and take careful aim. it's a good thing that dickinson rushed his shot because his shot actually hit jackson in the chest, breaking two ribs, passing an inch or two from his heart. but jackson did not fall. jackson took careful aim and pulled the trigger and his pistol misfired. remember rule 20? but that's not what happened. the seconds conferred. poor dickinson is standing across the way, eight paces from jackson, wondering what was about to happen.
not even in the circles of the society of cincinnati. in 1817, massachusetts member thomas humphrey cushing's life was spared when a pistol ball from his adversary struck his pocket watch. now, it's interesting that while talking about groups that were trying to end dueling, we find that in 1838, former south carolina governor john lyde wilson published an update and expansion to the 1777 irish code duello. this book was even reissued in 1758 and 1873.
so much for diminishing the practice of dueling. here are some more statistics with the fatality rate off to the side. the decrease in the number of duels recorded in the second and third decades of the 19th century has been attributed to the so-called era of good feeling that followed the war of 1812 during which partisan political tensions lessened. in the south especially, the impoverished former aristocracy had to focus their time on more important things such as feeding their families. settling personal scores was not high on their list. but back to the society of the cincinnati for a moment. i came across an interesting story that i'd like to share with you. we have seen that the society of cincinnati was unable to effect the abolition of dueling. but on one occasion, the members of the society settled a dispute
in a court of honor instead of allowing it to be settled on the field of honor. in 1826, south carolina member john legare, quarreled with another member, his friend richard pinckney. this pinckney was not related directly to any other pinckneys that i've mentioned or will mention. that's the way charleston is. lots of pinckneys. legare offended pinckney who in turn called his friend a poltroon. a wretched coward. poltroon was right up there with rascal and scoundrel and the argument further escalated to a reciprocal blow from each man
and a challenge to a duel from pinckney. please take careful note of what the chicken on the left is saying. now, on this slide, and on the next slide, there you go, the chicken on the far left is obviously chosen the wrong word. yet his error should be forgiven because metaphorically speaking, poultry and poltroon are synonyms since a coward can be a chicken. and you can see that both are actually rooted in the latin pilous, and i don't want any latin scholars in the audience to take too close a look at it. the membership caught wind of pinckney's challenge and realized that if action was not taken, the business would likely be brought to a "immediate conclusion." thomas pinckney, who had been president of the south carolina society of cincinnati, younger brother of charles cotesworth pinckney and no relation to richard schubert pimping ney,
convened a court of honor. the gentlemen resolved in their words to use their utmost endeavors to prevent this catastrophe. convince that if we should succeed, we should rescue one of our young friends from a premature death and shield the other from the most protracted horrors of remorse. it was really interesting
looking at the primary data in the form of these letters actually written by these gentlemen, legare readily agreed to mediation, pinckney was skeptical at first and didn't see any way that this conflict could be resolved without resorting to personal combat. but fortunately, he finally relented. the court of honor convened on august 5, 1826, and reviewed the written accounts of the witnesses. they only looked at written accounts. they didn't bring in anybody to testify live because they were trying to keep all the passions down to a minimum. the gentlemen of the court were convinced that the whole quarrel arose from a misunderstanding of what was said and that neither of the parties was at fault. in the end, legare and pinckney were satisfied by the findings of the court and considered the controversy between them as happily terminated. the court noted in its report, and i'm quoting one last time, we think it right to leave upon
the records of the society our opinion that no disgrace ought to be attached for declining to give pour accept a challenge. the reaction of the society of the cincinnati to the hamilton-burr duel and dueling in general during the early 19th century gave first voice to an increasingly negative public judgment of this pernicious custom. it's unfortunate that not much else was accomplished. at the very least, the society of the cincinnati in 1804 and onward was ahead of its time, leaning in to the wind so to speak until cultural mores changed, the legal system finally worked, and then finally, the civil war accelerated dueling's fade into history. as a footnote and this falls under the sometimes truth is stranger than fiction category, after a century of trying to eradicate dueling, it briefly appeared as an olympic sport. details are a little sketchy. but at the 1906 games in athens, male competitors reportedly fired dueling pistols from 20 and 30 meters at human silhouettes or plaster with bull's eyes pinned to their chests. and at the 1908 summer olympics, in stock holm, dueling was a demonstration sport and featured two male competitors firing at each other with dueling pistols loaded with wax bullets and wearing protective equipment.
i hope i've brought you to a greater understanding of the dueling culture that existed during the formative years of the united states. the place of the hamilton-burr duel in the context of that culture and on the historical time line and the unsuccessful efforts of the society of the cincinnati and others to curtail the practice. i invite you to view the ongoing hamilton exhibit presented by the society in the room directly behind me if you haven't already. thank you. [applause] >> thank you. >> and i'm happy to take any questions. >> raise your hand and i'll bring you the microphone so they can hear you. yes, ma'am. >> do you have any idea of the evidence -- [question inaudible] >> not exactly t began with a bet on a horse and went downhill from there. and dickinson knew if he said
something disparaging about jackson's wife that it would lead to a duel. i don't know what you may know about andrew jackson and rachel, but they were married before her previous marriage -- divorce was finally over with. and that caused a scandal. and he was very sensitive to any kind of insult about her at all. so exactly what was said, i don't know. but dickinson knew what he was doing. >> excellent talk, dr. bragg. >> thank you. >> i'm wondering if you know of any dueling grounds in the washington area because i do know the one in arlington right across chain bridge where henry clay and john randall dueled in i think 1826, maybe. >> no, sir. i don't know where they fought. it was 1838 before the district of columbia actually passed a specific law to prohibit dueling here. but - so i can say with relative certainty that dueling was a problem here then. but i don't know exactly where they went. yes, sir. >> my question about honor.
do you know of any examples where a gentleman lost during this era where a gentleman lost honor but somehow regained it? or once lost was it irretrievable? >> i don't know of any instance like that. i'm -- i would imagine that it's possible. >> chip, in your research, did you discover any information about women dueling? >> well, randy, you know as well as i do that women never argue. [laughter] i did, actually. and it was very interesting.
dueling between women was very rare but not unheard of. and if memory serves correct, i don't think i came across but one episode of a duel on this continent. but there were several famous duels on the european continent in the 19th century. and one in particular comes to mind between a countess and princess in lichtenstein. they had an occasion for a duel came up, and they -- everybody involved in the duel was female. and they called it an emancipated duel because no men were involved. the physician present was a female and she -- and she had seen battlefield wounds where swords and pistol balls and musket balls had carried bits of cloth into the wound and a seemingly minor wound would become infected and sometimes fatal.
so she suggested to the combatants that they should actually duel shirtless which they did. this became fodder for a lot of victorian age art work in the form of paintings, postcards, and such, and i wanted to have a slide of this. [laughter] and i thought long and hard about it. and i asked my wife who by the way sends her regards, kim says she's sorry she can't be here tonight. but she said if you put a slide up there, maybe you could blur out the questionable areas. after she saw my work on the slide, she said maybe you should just tell them about it and let them look it up online if they want to. [laughter]
>> chip, that was an excellent discussion. thank you. one comment, and then a question. since we're all history buffs here and seemingly have an interest in the burr-hamilton duel, some of you may not know that the dueling pistols are here in washington for the first time ever at the u.s. postal museum. it's kind of a treat to see it. my question, burr and hamilton were not spring chickens when they fought this duel. they were deep into middle age. ostensibly they were not firing a lot of pistols on the weekends. is there any indication that they practiced before or would that have been considered something that would have been dishonorable to do? >> i have heard of duelists practicing. in some instances, it was considered dishonorable and in other instances it didn't seem to matter.
i don't think that either hamilton or burr fired pistols often. and i don't think that they practiced, either. there's a lot of controversy over whether or not hamilton really intended to throw away his shot. he said he was going to. but at the last moment, he paused to put on his spectacles. the seconds and everybody who was present looked away at the time the shots were fired so nobody really knows. >> could you put up your slide on statistics, your statistical slide? >> that might be 1854.
>> ok. >> that -- ok. >> and vast increase in duels in the decade before the civil war. now, you may not know the states, but you said that duels were becoming common in the south but not nth north and i'm trying to figure out why there would be so many duels in the south in the decade before. and i also see a significant decline in fatalities. and i would think that the quality of pistols would have increased significantly over the earlier period. so there's an incongruity there i don't quite understand. can you have offers of enlightenment on that? >> that's an interesting question.
and let me try to take those separately. you may have to restate one or two of those. like -- i think that -- in the years right before the civil war, there was so much tension with the north and the south arguing about abolition, and like i said earlier, the south had -- the southerners had become really sensitive to matters of honor. and that's why i believe they fought more duels. now, what was the next part of the question?
>> that means the people who were going to succeed were fighting with each other -- >> yes. >> and they -- but the second one has to do with the number of fatalities which clearly dropped and i would think that the quality of pistols would increase. >> that's right. well, for one thing, you have to remember that we're dealing with a relatively small sample size. so any difference, small differences in the actual numbers will have disproportionate effect on the percentages.
now, you're absolutely correct that the firearm technology had advanced quite a bit from the >> any other questions?rr until [laughter] -- [applause] >> thank you very much. >> interested in american history tv? visit our website, c-span.org/history. you can view our tv schedule, preview upcomipreview upcoming d watch lectures, tours, archival films and more. c-span.org/history. ♪ >> c-span's washington journal,
live every day with news and policy issues that impact you. coming up monday morning, booking institution foreign -- discusses president trump's meeting with president clinton, -- which in -- president clinton -- join the discussion. >> next, on lectures in history, professor richard faulkner teaches a class on the vietnam war, focusing on the tet offensive in 1968 through the u.s. withdrawal in the early 1970's. he describes how military objectives, domestic politics, and public opinion changed because of the tet campaign. he talks about richard nixon's victory in the 1960 presidential election and how this resulted in a gradual removal of u.s. troops and a shift in
responsibility to the south vietnamese government for fighting the war. this class is about one hour and 45 minutes. prof. faulker: ok, heroes. hey, last class -- again, this is the second part of our vietnam class. last class, we talked about the escalation and how the u.s. got into the ground war and how both sides escalated the conflict. today we will focus on the tet offensive, political results, the military results after the we get to the nixon administration, extradition, how we try to extradite ourselves from vietnam. let's start out where we left last time. we now have american ground troops in vietnam. william westmoreland is the commander on the scene. what is your p