Who fought with Hamilton but became his political enemy?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Alexander Hamilton 's most bitter rival, both personally and politically, was Aaron Burr, Thomas Jefferson's vice president. The two had a history of bad blood, going back to the time when Hamilton's father-in-law, Philip Schuyler, was defeated by Burr in his Senate re-election campaign. Hamilton's hostility was compounded by what...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

Alexander Hamilton's most bitter rival, both personally and politically, was Aaron Burr, Thomas Jefferson's vice president. The two had a history of bad blood, going back to the time when Hamilton's father-in-law, Philip Schuyler, was defeated by Burr in his Senate re-election campaign. Hamilton's hostility was compounded by what he and many others saw as Burr's tendency toward financial corruption.

For his part, Burr deeply resented Hamilton's maneuverings in the House of Representatives to deny him the presidency in the 1800 election. But what really enraged Burr was the publication of a letter from Charles D. Cooper, a Democratic-Republican politician in New York, to Philip Schuyler, in which reference was made to a comment by Hamilton that Burr was a dangerous man who couldn't be trusted with the reins of government.

When the letter was published, an enraged Burr demanded an immediate retraction of what he saw as Hamilton's slanderous remarks. Hamilton replied that Cooper had misinterpreted his critical words, and therefore, he refused to be held accountable for them. Burr was dissatisfied with Hamilton's response, and the deadly war of words continued until, eventually, it was decided that the two political giants should settle their differences in a duel. This was generally held to be the honorable way for a gentleman to receive satisfaction for a perceived slight.

Hamilton had vast experience with duels, as had Burr, and before his final showdown pledged that he would deliberately miss Burr. This was quite a common method in duels at that time for restoring honor without shedding blood. However, Burr was unaware of Hamilton's pledge and shot directly at his opponent with the intention of killing him, which he did. As Hamilton lay dying from serious internal wounds, Burr's political career was already as good as over, and he would live out the rest of his life in relative obscurity.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team