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Philip Hamilton’s Death
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[PHILIP HAMILTON DUEL]. Newspaper. The Salem Gazette, December 4, 1801. Salem, Massachusetts: Thomas C. Cushing. 4 pp.

Inventory #24959       Price: $900


Since extracting the account of the duel in which Mr. Hamilton was wounded, from a New York paper, we have received the following affecting and melancholy intelligence.

‘With sorrow I state to you, from the information of a gentleman immediately from New York, that the ill-fated Philip expired on Tuesday morning. He was shot through the body, after attempting in vain to appease his antagonist, and after deporting himself with equal coolness and spirit. Eacker is a flagrant democrat, and the quarrel was a political one.’” (p2/c4)

Poor Philip Hamilton, the amiable and worthy son of General Hamilton, aged about 19, died last night of the wound he received of Mr. Eacker. It is a most melancholy event. He had just completed the best of educations, and bid fair to be an ornament to society.” (p2/c4)

A full-column letter, entitled “The Duellists” and dated November 27, gives details from the Eacker perspective:

The friends of Mr. Eacker consider themselves obliged, in consequence of the gross misstatements, omissions, and unfounded falsehoods which have appeared in a Morning and Evening Paper, to lay before the public the unfortunate causes which produced the truly melancholy catastrophe of Monday. They beg leave to assure the public, and Mr. Hamilton’s friends in particular, that it is with the extremest regret that they are obliged to give publicity to these circumstances; but their duty to Mr. Eacker, and to truth, compels them to undertake the painful task.” (p2/c3)

Historical Background

On July 4, 1801, George Eacker had given a speech at King’s College (now Columbia University), criticizing Federalist policies, many of which were developed by Alexander Hamilton. On November 20, 1801, Philip Hamilton and friend Richard Price went to see a play at Park Theater, and ran into Eacker. A screaming match ensued, and Eacker called them “damned rascals,” a grave insult. Both Philip and Price challenged Eacker to duels. On November 22, Eacker and Price dueled in Weehawken, New Jersey, but neither were injured. The next day at the same location, Eacker faced Hamilton, who reportedly took his father’s advice and refused to raise his pistol. Eacker did not shoot either—at first. After some time, Eacker raised his pistol, and Philip followed. Eacker shot. The bullet struck Hamilton above his right hip, went through his body, and lodged in his left arm. He died on the morning of November 24.

Three years later, Alexander Hamilton would duel in the same spot, with the same tragic results right down to his mortal wound being attended by the same doctor.

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