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Accounts of the Duel

Statement for the Press Prepared Immediately after the Duel
by Nathaniel Pendleton and William P. Van Ness.

Pendleton was Hamilton’s second; Van Ness was Burr’s second.

[July 11, 1804]

Col Burr arrived first on the ground as had been previously agreed. When Genl Hamilton arrived the parties exchanged salutations and the Seconds proceeded to make their arrangements. They measured the distance, ten full paces, and cast lots for the choice of position as also to determine whom the word should be given, both of which fell to the Second of Genl Hamilton. They then proceeded to load the pistols in each others presence, after which the parties took their stations. The Gentleman who was to give the word, then explained to the parties the rules which were to govern them in firing which were as follows:

The parties being placed at their stations – The Second who gives the word shall ask them whether they are ready – being answered in the affirmative, he shall say “present” after which the parties shall present & fire when they pelase. If one fires before the opposite shall say one, two, three, fire, and he shall fire or loose his fire.

And asked if they were prepared, being answered in the affirmative, he gave the word present as had been agreed on. And both of the parties took aim & fired in succession. The intervening time is not expressed as the seconds do not precisely agree on that point. The pistols were discharged within a few seconds of each other and the fire of Col Burr took effect; Genl Hamilton almost instantly fell, Col Burr then advanced toward Genl H—n with a manner and gesture that appeared to Genl Hamilton’s friend to be expressive of regret, but without Speaking turned about & withdrew….

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