Jul 11 2010

On This Day in History: July 11

Aaron Burr slays Alexander Hamilton in a Duel

On this day in 1804, Aaron Burr, Vice President of the United States slays Alexander Hamilton, former Secretary of the Treasury, in a duel in Weehauken, NJ. There are accounts that Hamilton, who had been involved in several other duels that had been settled without shots, decided at the last minute that the duel was immoral and fired his weapon in the air. Burr, whose seconds said that Hamilton did indeed fire at Burr and missed, shot Hamilton in the abdomen. The bullet lodged near Hamilton’s spine, and he was taken back to New York City where he died the next day.

The irony is that this was the same place that Hamilton’s son, Philip, had died two and a half years prior defending his father’s honor.

Few affairs of honor actually resulted in deaths, and the nation was outraged by the killing of a man as eminent as Alexander Hamilton. Charged with murder in New York and New Jersey, Burr, still vice president, returned to Washington, D.C., where he finished his term immune from prosecution.

In 1805, Burr, thoroughly discredited, concocted a plot with James Wilkinson, commander-in-chief of the U.S. Army, to seize the Louisiana Territory and establish an independent empire, which Burr, presumably, would lead. He contacted the British government and unsuccessfully pleaded for assistance in the scheme. Later, when border trouble with Spanish Mexico heated up, Burr and Wilkinson conspired to seize territory in Spanish America for the same purpose.

In the fall of 1806, Burr led a group of well-armed colonists toward New Orleans, prompting an immediate U.S. investigation. General Wilkinson, in an effort to save himself, turned against Burr and sent dispatches to Washington accusing Burr of treason. In February 1807, Burr was arrested in Louisiana for treason and sent to Virginia to be tried in a U.S. court. In September, he was acquitted on a technicality. Nevertheless, public opinion condemned him as a traitor, and he fled to Europe. He later returned to private life in New York, the murder charges against him forgotten. He died in 1836.

 472 – After being besieged in Rome by his own generals, Western Roman Emperor Anthemius  is captured in the Old St. Peter’s Basilica and put to death.

911 – Signing of the Treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte between Charles the Simple and Rollo of Normandy.

1302 – Battle of the Golden Spurs (Guldensporenslag in Dutch) – a coalition around the Flemish cities defeats the king of France’s royal army.

1346 – Charles IV of Luxembourg is elected emperor of the Holy Roman Empire.

1405 – Ming admiral Zheng He sets sail to explore the world for the first time.

1576 – Martin Frobisher sights Greenland.

1616 – Samuel de Champlain returns to Quebec.

1735 – Mathematical calculations suggest that it is on this day that dwarf planet Pluto moved inside the orbit of Neptune for the last time before 1979.

1740 – Pogrom: Jews are expelled from Little Russia.

1750 – Halifax, Nova Scotia is almost completely destroyed by fire.

1776 – Captain James Cook begins his third voyage.

1789 – Jacques Necker is dismissed as France’s Finance Minister sparking the Storming of the Bastille.

1796 – The United States takes possession of Detroit from Great Britain under terms of the Jay Treaty.

1798 – The United States Marine Corps is re-established; they had been disbanded after the American Revolutionary War.

1801 – French astronomer Jean-Louis Pons made his first comet discovery. In the next 27 years he discovered another 36 comets, more than any other person in history.

1804 – Vice President of the United States Aaron Burr mortally wounds former Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton in a duel.

1833 – Noongar Australian aboriginal warrior Yagan, wanted for uniting his people and leading attacks on white colonists in Western Australia, is killed.

1848 – Waterloo railway station in London opens.

1859 – A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens is published.

1864 – American Civil War: Battle of Fort Stevens; Confederate forces attempt to invade Washington, D.C..

1882 – The British Mediterranean fleet begins the Bombardment of Alexandria in Egypt as part of the 1882 Anglo-Egyptian War.

1889 – Tijuana, Mexico, is founded.

1893 – The first cultured pearl is obtained by Kokichi Mikimoto.

1893 – A revolution led by the liberal general and politician, Jose Santos Zelaya, takes over state power in Nicaragua.

1895 – The Lumière brothers demonstrate film technology to scientists.

1897 – Salomon August Andree leaves Spitsbergen to attempt to reach the North pole by balloon. He later crashes and dies.

1906 – The Gillette-Brown murder inspires Theodore Dreiser’s An American Tragedy.

1914 – Babe Ruth makes his debut in Major league baseball.

1919 – The eight-hour working day and free Sunday become law in the Netherlands.

1920 – In the East Prussian plebiscite the local populace decides to remain with Weimar Germany

1921 – A truce is called in the Irish War of Independence; see Irish calendar.

1921 – Former U.S. President William Howard Taft is sworn in as 10th Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, becoming the only person to ever be both President and Chief Justice.

1921 – The Red Army captures Mongolia from the White Army and establishes the Mongolian People’s Republic.

1922 – The Hollywood Bowl opens.

1936 – The Triborough Bridge in New York City is opened to traffic.

1940 – World War II: Vichy France regime is formally established. Henri Philippe Pétain becomes Prime Minister of France.

1943 – Massacres of Poles in Volhynia.

1943 – World War II: Allied invasion of Sicily – German and Italian troops launch a counter-attack on Allied forces in Sicily.

1944 – Franklin D. Roosevelt announces that he will run for a fourth term as President of the United States.

1947 – The Exodus 1947 heads to Palestine from France.

1950 – Pakistan joins the International Monetary Fund and the International Bank.

1957 – Prince Karim Husseini Aga Khan IV inherits the office of Imamat as the 49th Imam of Shia Imami Ismaili worldwide, after the death of Sir Sultan Mahommed Shah Aga Khan III.

1960 – Independence of Benin, Burkina Faso and Niger.

1960 – To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is first published.

1962 – First transatlantic satellite television transmission.

1971 – Copper mines in Chile are nationalized.

1972 – The World Chess Championship 1972 first game starts.

1977 – Martin Luther King Jr. is posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

1979 – America’s first space station, Skylab, is destroyed as it re-enters the Earth’s atmosphere over the Indian Ocean.

1987 – According to the United Nations, the world population crosses the 5,000,000,000 (5 billion) mark.

1990 – Oka Crisis: First Nations land dispute in Quebec, Canada begins.

1995 – Full diplomatic relations are established between the United States and Vietnam.

1995 – Over 8000 Bosnian men and children (mostly Bosniaks) are killed by Serbian troops commanded by Ratko Mladic in Potocari near Srebrenica Bosnia and Herzegovina.

2006 – 209 people are killed in a series of bomb attacks in Mumbai, India.


  1. TMC

    not repeating itself.

    Rachel Maddow is on Meat the Press with David “Lurch” Gregory. She’ll be the only intelligent person on the Round Table. Good luck. Rachel

  2. davidseth

    Tale of Two Cities and To Kill A Mockingbird published on the same day. Amazing.

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