War of Two: Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, & the Duel that Stunned the Nation

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John Sedgwick’s WAR OF TWO: Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, and the Duel that Stunned the Nation explores one of the most shocking events in American political history, the duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr.  The final confrontation between the political rivals left a Founding Father dead and the sitting Vice President a fugitive from justice.  Each man was willing to risk everything—from his personal reputation to the stability of the young country he helped form.  But—why?­

It’s the question Sedgwick asked himself when he started looking into the Hamilton-Burr rivalry.  While researching an earlier book about his family’s history at MHS, Sedgwick came across a remarkable letter in the society’s collection detailing his personal connection to the infamous dispute.  It was written by Alexander Hamilton, and sent to Theodore Sedgwick, John’s great-great-great-grandfather, the night before he rowed across the Hudson to the dueling ground.  It was the last letter Hamilton ever wrote.  It has been little appreciated by historians, but Sedgwick has come to believe that, more than any other single document, it describes Hamilton’s reasons for risking his own life to end Burr’s.

Sedgwick will discuss the many sources of the antagonism between the two men – all of them stemming from their radical differences in background, temperament, ideology, politics, and even their views of women.  And he will detail how all these differences collided at daybreak on June 11, 1804 in Weehawken, New Jersey.

John Sedgwick is the author of several books, including the memoir In My Blood, and articles for such publications as Atlantic Monthly, GQ, Newsweek, and Esquire. He was nominated for a National Magazine Award for a story on the country's finest nonprofit organizations.