"Alexander Hamilton Survives
Duel" by Jeff Provine
says: we're very pleased to present the twenty-second story from Jeff
Provine's excellent blog
This Day in
Alternate History Please note that the opinions expressed in this post
do not necessarily reflect the views of the author(s).
On July 12th 1804,
on this day Alexander Hamilton survived the duel at Weehawken.
On July 11, General Alexander Hamilton (former Secretary of the Treasury)
and Colonel Aaron Burr (current Vice-President) met for a duel to settle
their long-standing and ever-growing hatred for one another. Hamilton was
leader of the Federalist Party and mastermind of politics and had recently
given support to the opposing Morgan Lewis specifically to make Burr lose
his bid for Governor of New York. Burr had been dropped from Jefferson's
ticket in the 1804 election and had planned to secure more local political
action, but now he only had rage against Hamilton.
In the duel (which took place secretly on the Heights of Weehawken across
the Hudson River from Manhattan as dueling was illegal), Hamilton shot to
miss, wasting his powder to show courage but not malice in taking an aimed
shot. Burr, however, shot and wounded Hamilton, nearly fatally. While
Hamilton healed from a shattered rib (the bullet had struck along the side
of his torso), Burr would flee for South Carolina to avoid charges of
attempted murder. Though Burr would fulfill his year as Vice-President,
his career in politics was over. His only further political actions would
be rumored treasonous as he began illegal settlements in Mexican Texas,
perhaps in hope of starting a war. While the actions were decried at the
time, American expansionism in the West would eventually prove Burr a man
ahead of his time.
Hamilton continued working to wrest power from the "dangerous"
Democratic-Republicans he feared would turn the United States into a mob
of rabble. Jefferson won his second term in 1804, and his protege and
Father of the Constitution James Madison would take the election of 1808.
In 1812, the political climate would changed. Europe was embroiled in the
Napoleonic Wars, which threatened to drag in the US as well with English
as well as French naval ships plundering American vessels and "impressing"
sailors into service.
War Hawks called for a campaign against Britain and even an invasion of
Canada in the spirit of expansionism (which many thought would be easily
done with local support; Jefferson said it was a "mere matter of
marching"). President Madison set an ultimatum that both France and
Britain recognize their neutrality or face war. France sent communications
(eventually proven misleading) that they would, and Congress very nearly
declared war on Britain but for the political finagling of Hamilton.
Without his war and the growing political discontent, Madison would lose
the 1812 election to DeWitt Clinton of New York, the first Federalist
president in twelve years.
Clinton called for a strengthening of America's infrastructure, building
roads that would lead to and aid in the later Indian Wars. As a member of
the Erie Canal Commission, which others would see through with his
assistance. Further, and perhaps most importantly, Clinton set to solve
the problems of international quarrels by improving the navy of the United
States beyond Jefferson's pocket-boat defense. Now a force to be reckoned
with, Britain and France would recognize American neutrality, and after
the defeat of Napoleon, a war-beleaguered Britain would sign the Treaty of
Ghent with America, solving the issues that could have started a war only
two years before.
The Federalist Party would continue to challenge the
Democratic-Republicans, though both would agree on the Monroe Bill (named
after Senator Monroe of Virginia) that the US would not abide European
interference in the Western Hemisphere. As the Spanish Empire collapsed to
the south, Americans welcomed the growing Republicanism and used its fleet
to dissuade Europe from further colonization. America itself would assure
dominance with the Mexican War in 1846, but be true to Monroe's word in
1861 by aiding Mexico in overcoming the French and Spanish invasion by
Maximilian (which also relieved growing tension on the question of
slavery, later to be solved by the 1867 Emancipation Proclamation,
promising ample government compensation to any owner willing to free his
Pushing West and now south, American expansionism turned to annexing
turbulent Latin American nations in the latter half of the nineteenth
century. While accusations of "empire" were made and perhaps deserved,
America grew powerful in the Western Hemisphere and increasingly Hispanic
in background, creating a vivid diversity that would supply ample raw
materials and labor for an Industrial Age. As the Cold War raged with the
Soviet Union in the next century, America would see many of its states and
territories fighting for their own independence fueled by Communist
insurgents, igniting a Civil War over the question of states' rights.
says in reality, Hamilton would die of his wounds, which were tremendous
as Burr's shot has ricocheted within the man's torso. Without a strong
leader, the Federalist Party would fall behind the Democratic-Republicans,
eventually leading to the Era of Good Feelings, an age downplaying
partisanship under President Monroe where the Federalists would all but
cease to exist.
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Jeff Provine, Guest Historian of
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