The Events Leading To The Duel Between — страница 2

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disagreement with Washington, primarily attacked Lee and Gates in defense of his commander. For this brief period of weeks, the two ambitious young men opposed each other quite often.[5] During the war Hamilton and Burr developed separate reputations. Hamilton became more associated with the behind-the-scenes desk work than with front-line fighting. Burr preferred to be at the front, and duly transferred out of Washington’s camp into General Israel Putnam’s active command.[6] If Hamilton was better known to Congress, Burr held the admiration of the army.[7] Still, an instinctive ambition to command victorious armies powered both, and doubtless each man felt pangs of envy when the other received military accolades. When the war ended, Hamilton decided to enter the legal

profession. In 1782 the New York Bar admitted him, and the young lawyer began a practice. Meanwhile Burr was following an identical path. He too applied for and attained acceptance to the New York Bar in 1782.[8] In fact, Burr’s office was only a few blocks away from Hamilton’s.[9] They quickly became the local, pre-eminent lawyers and saw each other routinely. It was this proximity which formed the solid base of their future hostility. Being the best lawyers of their area, Hamilton and Burr were employed frequently. Many of their cases pitted one against the other, with Hamilton usually the defense attorney. In these confrontations, Burr often won.[10] Hamilton’s immense ego was dealt severe blows when he faced Burr, particularly in the Trespass Act cases. In these cases,

Burr’s clients prosecuted seemingly without worry of a defeat. In fact, out of the twelve known Trespass Act cases in which Hamilton and Burr opposed one another, the plaintiff was awarded judgment three times, the case was settled out of court three other times, and the decision is unknown on the remaining six. In addition, the six unknown decisions pertained to the family of John Lloyd, with whom Burr was 2-0-2.[11] Since these suits were nearly identical in nature, it is probable that Burr and Lloyd either won or settled the cases out of court. If this is true, then Hamilton must have lost the majority of decisions to Burr. He may even have been shut out. To a man as egotistical and ambitious as Hamilton, these continuous setbacks must have been painful. There is another

case which deserves mentioning, Lewis vs. Burr. Here Burr was not the opposition of Hamilton, but rather was being prosecuted by Hamilton himself. A promissory note for $3,500 was endorsed by Burr to Francis Lewis and never paid. Burr had hoped to escape paying the note by calculating its expiration date to fall on July 4, a national holiday when business was customarily suspended. Lewis contended that Burr was liable for the note despite its due date. In a complicated process, the Supreme Court in bank rendered judgment against Burr. Hamilton, much to the chagrin of Burr, had publicly exposed and defeated his adversary’s duplicitous tactics.[12] In the courts Hamilton and Burr favored different styles. Hamilton was prolix and “delighted in the intricacies of the law.”[13]

He relied on erudition to win his cases, slowly proceeding from one premise to the next until his point was proven. Burr’s method in court was opposite to Hamilton’s. He was more concise and controversial.[14] Burr would see a weak link in his opponent’s argument, and then crush it with a few sentences.[15] Another fundamental difference between the two was the price they charged. Burr demanded exorbitant sums for his services, while Hamilton preferred moderate reimbursements. A perfect example of this occurs in Le Guen vs. Gouverneur and Kemble, in which Hamilton and Burr together prosecuted successfully. Burr insisted upon $4,636.66 in total for his work. In contrast, Hamilton was forced to accept $1,500, much more than he had asked for.[16] It must have angered Hamilton

to see Burr reap large rewards from what Hamilton considered immoral practices. Hamilton and Burr, then, showed hints of being enemies by the last decade of the eighteenth century. Yet surely occupational squabbles are not causes for a duel. Something more was required for ardent feelings of antipathy to surface. The 1790s provided such opportunities. The key year, according to many historians, was 1791. Jerome Mushkat claims the following: “By 1791, Aaron Burr had changed many of his personal goals. Chief among them was his decision to devote himself to politics instead of law. The move caused many far-reaching problems because it rekindled Hamilton’s hostility.”[17] Marshall Smelser concurs: “(Hamilton) had continuously opposed Burr on the grounds of personality and