What Led to the Duel Between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr?

The events that led to the duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr include Hamilton’s support for Thomas Jefferson as president in 1800 and Hamilton’s public criticism of Burr during the 1804 New York gubernatorial race. Hamilton and Burr had opposing political views and belonged to different parties.

Despite their differences, Burr’s political convictions were not so strong as to prevent him from allying himself where it would benefit him most. Hamilton, hoping to resurrect the Federalists and split the Democrat-Republican ticket, encouraged Burr to run in the 1800 presidential election. However, when the election became deadlocked, Hamilton worked to secure the election for Jefferson. Burr, feeling humiliated and betrayed, launched the first in a regular volley of pubic insults between the two.

Realizing he stood no chance of becoming president in 1804, Burr began campaigning for governor of New York in the 1804 election. Hamilton, by now a publisher, intensified his criticism and laid a particularly libelous charge against Burr to which he responded with the challenge to the infamous duel.