There’s a quote about revenge that goes like this, “don’t waste your time on revenge. Those who hurt you will eventually face their own karma.” That could be true, but sometimes, you just have to be that karma. Alexander Hamilton Jr. proved that to be true when he pulled off an act of 32-year revenge.
How It Started
The date was July 11, 1804. US Vice President Aaron Burr and former Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton decided it’s time to square up and settle their longstanding rivalry once and for all through a duel. Hamilton was shot in the lower abdomen and died the next day. He was then brought to Greenwich Village, where his family bid their final goodbyes. Philip, Alexander’s eldest son, died from dueling just three years ago. He dueled with George Eacker to defend his family’s honor, who was Aaron Burr’s ally. This resulted from Eacker’s malicious speech about Alexander Hamilton during the 4th of July celebration.
A budding lawyer Alexander Hamilton Jr. was left. It was just weeks before his graduation from Columbia College when his father was killed, and it took a toll on him. He didn’t graduate on time. The now-widowed Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton had to sell The Grange, which was their estate in Harlem. The tragedy of Philip’s death also affected his sister, Angelica, who suffered from a mental breakdown upon hearing his death.
Hamilton Jr. did some law apprenticeship before he sailed to Spain and joined the army in 1811. He joined the Duke of Wellington Arthur Wellesley’s army against Napoleon Bonaparte of France. He returned to America with some pretty valuable military and strategic experience. There, he participated in the war of 1812 and became the Captain of the 41st Regiment of Infantry in the United States Army. After that, he became an assistant to his father’s friend General Morgan Lewis. Now, that’s some career progress.
Aaron Burr, on the other hand, fled to Europe after he was charged with treason for planning to raise an army and invade Mexico. He also suffered from a prior stroke, with his deteriorating health the main reason he resigned from the army. By this time, he was penniless and careerless, so he decided that the best course of action was to change his surname and marry the then-richest woman in America, Eliza Jumel, who was 20 years younger than him. There were speculations that “Burr’s motivation may have been Jumel’s wealth, as he was having a difficult time recovering from conspiracy accusations and exile, and was reported to be dependent on friends for financial support.” She filed a divorce just three years after they married, saying Burr squandered her money on Texas land settlements deals and committed adultery. Burr was 78 years old at that time.
Being the wealthy woman that she was, she decided to get the best lawyer in New York who happened to be Alexander Hamilton Jr., who was now a successful real estate tycoon. The son of the man Burr had killed in a duel.
How It Ended
Three years and several strokes later, the divorce was finalized. Burr was stripped of everything— health, honor, and wealth. He died just a few hours after the divorce.