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Should We Bring Dueling Back?

WEEHAWKEN, NJ – JULY 11: Antonio Burr (L), a descendant of Aaron Burr’s cousin, fires with Douglas Hamilton (R), a fiith-great-grandson of Alexander Hamilton, during a reenactment marking the 200th anniversary of the Alexander Hamilton – Aaron Burr duel July 11, 2004 in Weehawken, New Jersey. The historic July 11, 1804 duel left founding father Hamilton mortally wounded and vice president Burr’s reputation ruined. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

In 1804, Vice President Aaron Burr killed Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton in a duel near Weehawken, NJ. I’m trying to picture Joe Biden squaring off against Jacob J. Lew with pistols blazing. I can’t even imagine the TV coverage of such an event in today’s 24/7 feeding frenzy.

MSNBC Duel Coverage?

I guess Wolf Blitzer and Chris Mathews would break down the history of the disagreement along with the pistols used and then move on to gun control and the Supreme Court rulings regarding dueling. We’ve come a long way baby.

Would there be a pre-duel show? Spinning graphics, high-powered music, and interviews with experts on dueling? Records of duels between Democrats and Republicans? Pro and Anti-duelers in Congress? Where would Mayor Bloomberg stand on this issue? Las Vegas odds? Bring back dueling? Absolutely! The ultimate reality show.

Modern Day Dueling

I’m not sure that my description above is far from actuality. Our media seems to be more than willing to turn any event into a public circus. I wonder who today’s possible opponents might be. Barbara Boxer and Rand Paul perhaps? Obama vs. all comers? The combinations are endless.

Famous Duels

There are many historic duels that took place in American History. The Hamilton-Burr obviously being one of the most famous due to the participants notoriety.

On May 30, 1806, Charles Dickinson and President Andrew Jackson squared off; Dickinson was killed, Jackson wounded, becoming the only President to have killed a man in a duel.

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. In 1817 Thomas Hart Benton and Charles Lucas, two attorneys, were arguing different sides of a court case. The result of their duel — Benton shot Lucas in the throat and Benton was shot in the leg. Both survived and Benton released Lucas of any future obligation regarding the duel.

Lucas should have taken the throat wound as a hint and kept his mouth shut. Instead he said the fight was unfair due to the 30-foot distance. He claimed Benton was better shot. As it turned out, Benton was a better shot at nine feet also, killing Lucas and surviving unhurt.

Some Final Thoughts

We currently have all sorts of ways to settle our differences. The court system, arbitration, a handshake, or good, oldfashioned compromise have long since replaced the duel as an argument solver. I’m not sure when the last actual duel in the US took place and it probably wasn’t headline news. Two neighbors probably decided that the only way to settle property lines was to kill each other.

I’m wondering if dueling would work today? Not just among gentlemen and women of public office but of “Joe Six Pack” random Americans. There is “road rage” where people turn to the six-gun to establish lane superiority. Maybe the new electric or economy cars should be equipped with James Bond type machine guns for those times when traffic just isn’t moving fast enough. Perhaps and empty clip will replace the long horn blast. What do you think? Would you tune in to watch John McCain and Nancy Pelosi draw down on each other? Get the popcorn ready.

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