Historic Monument - Hamilton-Burr Duel, Weehawken

The monument erected to Alexander Hamilton, located in Weehawken, New Jersey, has had many faces over the years. Due to protesters and vandalism, the monument was replaced several times. Over two hundred years ago, Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr fought a duel over a remark that Burr accused Hamilton of making. Burr challenged Hamilton, and as a matter of honor, Hamilton accepted.(1)

Hamilton was born into poverty on the Caribbean Island of Nevis.(2) He managed to become one of the most important figures in the government of the United States. Aaron Burr was born in Newark, New Jersey, to an aristocratic family.(3) He too rose in the government and went on to become the Vice President of the United States. They had many things in common, yet they had different political views.

On July 11, 1804, Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr crossed the Hudson River from New York, and met on a plateau under the Palisades in Weehawken, New Jersey.(4) The site is just about even with 42nd Street in New York.(5) Many duels had been fought at this popular dueling ground. The exact location of the duel was destroyed in the late 1800’s when a railroad was built there. The property was owned by Captain James Deas, who lived at the top of the cliff.(6) Hamilton was shot, and died the next day. He was 47 years old.

(Jenna Taylor)

Additional information courtesy Jacqueline Fesq, Summer 2008.

Monument to Alexander Hamilton

Monument to the Hamilton-Burr Duel with bust of Hamilton and the rock upon which Hamilton leaned after he was shot.

Historic marker,

The rock upon which Hamilton leaned after the duel. All photographs by Jenna Taylor.

Shortly after Hamilton’s death in 1804, the St. Andrews Society of New York erected the first monument in his honor. Hamilton himself had been the first president of the Society. In 1821, there was a demonstration against dueling, and the monument with the inscribed plaque was destroyed. In 1832, the property was owned by James Gore King. Years later, Mr. King found the original plaque, and it is now in the King Museum in Long Island, New York.(7)

According to legend, after Hamilton was shot, he rested his head against a large boulder. This boulder is commonly known as the “Brown Stone Boulder.” Gracie King, son of James King, had his employees, Daniel Wallace and William Mitchel, tow this boulder up the cliff from the dueling ground below.(8) The King family erected a stone bust of Hamilton in 1894, and that monument stood until 1934, when it was destroyed by vandals.

A new bust was commissioned in 1935. The bronze bust sits on a five foot pedestal of stone. The sculptor was Giovanni Reppetti, a resident of Weehawken. The bust is a duplicate of a bronze bust that he had created for the Hamilton National Bank of Weehawken.(9)

The bust that Giovanni Reppetti created, and the “Brown Stone Boulder” that Hamilton rested his head upon, are still there at the present time.(10)

(1,2,3) Berg, Al & Sherman, Lauren, Pistols at Weehawken: The Hamilton – Burr Duel (July 11, 1804).

(4) Reid, John, Where Hamilton Fell: The Exact Location of the Famous Dueling Ground, The Hoboken Evening News, (June 10, 1898).

(5) In Honor of Alexander Hamilton, Times (July 14, 1935).

(6,7,8) Kirk, Edward J., Document from Weehawken Police Department, (July 19, 1960).

(9,10) Hutchens, John K., Weehawken Plans Hamilton Honor, (January 14, 1957).

Additional references: (see link below) (see link below)

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