What: The most famous duel in American history saw Aaron Burr 1772 shoot Alexander Hamilton on the banks of the Hudson River across from Manhattan. “I am a dead man!” Hamilton cried as the bullet struck his side that July morning 207 years ago. David Hosack 1789, a physician, ran over: “His countenance of death I shall never forget.”
The coroner’s inquest, shown here, survives, charging Vice President Burr with murder: He was “moved and seduced by the Instigation of the devil” to kill his rival.
Burr had lived on campus in the president’s house as an infant when his father briefly ran the College. Young Hamilton had wanted to attend Princeton, but after an interview with John Witherspoon in that same house, he was turned down. During the Battle of Princeton, Hamilton’s battery lobbed cannonballs into Old North, or Nassau Hall, then occupied by British soldiers.
In summoning a jury, the New York City coroner hoped to see Burr jailed for murder. Burr got off, but his political career was ruined. His 1836 funeral took place in the College chapel prior to his burial in Princeton Cemetery. Tourists flocked to see his dorm room, 46 Second Entry North, Nassau Hall.
Where: Fuller Collection of Aaron Burr, Manuscripts Division, Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Princeton University Library