LETTER: A Washington solution
Let’s bring back the duel. Dueling was a means in which many political differences were settled. We are a nation of guns, and gun deaths do not seem to cause us very much pain or resistance against guns and gun violence. The gun was a ruling factor in our political system up until Feb. 24, 1838, when Kentucky Rep. William Jordan Graves killed Maine Rep. Jonathan Cilley in a pistol duel. Congress then passed a new law making it illegal to issue or accept a duel challenge in Washington, D.C.
There were plenty of disagreements settled by the gun and here are but a few:
May 16, 1777: Button Gwinnett, signer of the Declaration of Independence, dueled his political opponent Lachian McIntosh; both were wounded, Gwinnett died three days later.
July 11, 1804: U.S. Vice President Aaron Burr and former U.S. Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton was killed.
May 30, 1806: Andrew Jackson and Charles Dickinson. Dickinson was killed, Jackson wounded, becoming the only president to have killed a man in a duel.
June 30, 1823: Joshua Barton and Thomas C. Rector. Rector was critical of Barton’s brother, Sen. David Barton’s blocking the appointment of Rector’s brother William Rector to General Surveyor position. Barton was killed.
April 26, 1826: Henry Clay and John Randolph of Roanoke, both unhurt.
Sept. 22, 1826: Rep. Sam Houston of Tennessee severely wounded Gen. William A. White in a pistol duel near Franklin, Ken., over a patronage political appointment of the Nashville Postmaster.
Dec. 12, 1839: Florida Militia Brig. Gen. Leigh Read and Col. Augustus A. Alston, Whig party leader, with rifles at 15 paces. Read had been challenged twice by Col. Alston, an overconfident duelist. Unexpectedly, Read killed Alston.
Sept. 13, 1859; U.S. Sen. David C. Broderick and David S. Terry, formerly Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of California. Broderick was killed.
And you think this bunch in Washington now are crazy. Maybe they’re crazy enough to introduce a bill to strike down the law of 1838 and make it legal to duel again. Then we can really find out who the pansies are. God bless America.
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