Events in history sometimes seem as if they were written by a novelist, or should I say Novelist. Such was the sad case of Philip Hamilton. Eldest son of Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Hamilton, Hamilton graduated at the age of 19 from Columbia, a brilliant student like his father. It was at a Fourth of July celebration at Columbia that he heard George I. Eacker, a 27 year old lawyer and a political supporter of Aaron Burr, give a speech attacking his father. Hamilton and his friend Richard Price called Eacker out in a Manhattan theater on November 21, 1801. Eacker called them damned rascals and they responded by challenging Eacker to duels. Eacker fought a duel the next day with Richard Price in which neither of the participants was injured, although shots were exchanged.
On November 22, 1801 in Weehawken, New Jersey, the same place where his father would receive his fatal wound from Aaron Burr, Hamilton and Eacker faced each other. Apparently they faced each other about a minute without raising their pistols, and one wishes that reason had prevailed. Eacker finally fired, hitting Hamilton in his right hip and left arm. Hamilton also fired, but this may have been merely an involuntary reaction to the force of the shot that hit him. Some sources say that Alexander Hamilton had counseled his son to fire in the air before his opponent fired, so that the matter could be settled honorably without blood shed. (more…)