What was really at stake in the disagreement and duel between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton?

Select one of the following topics based on the book Founding Brothers. This paper must be a minimum of five pages in length excluding the works cited page. You must use/cite a minimum of five sources. It is expected that in addition to responding to the essay as it applies to the book, you will use outside sources to further support your response. Articles selected from my BlackBoard would be a good place to search for supportive material particularly Unit 5 The Republican Experiment and Unit 6 The Early American Republic 1800-1815. The paper must be submitted to your Digication portfolio as well as a Word Document attached email file prior to the beginning  of class on the 12th.

  1. What was really at stake in the disagreement and duel between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton? If Hamilton felt that the disparaging statements he had made about Burr were true, should he have lied in order to save his life? Was this merely a war over words? Include the role that newspapers played in the drama?
  2. How does the character of George Washington come across, as Ellis presents him and in the quoted extracts of the farewell address? How does Washington measure up to the mythology that surrounded him even in his own time? What qualities made Washington so indispensable to the new nation?
  3. What is most surprising about Thomas Jefferson’s character, as presented by Ellis? Which aspects of his personality, or which particular actions or decisions, seem incongruous in the man who wrote the idealistic words of the Declaration of Independence?
  4. What did Hamilton’s debt assumption plan say about his vision of the national economy – about the direction in which he believed the national economy should develop? How does Hamilton’s vision differ from Madison’s and Jefferson’s view? How were the different visions held by Hamilton and Jefferson and Madison concerning the nature of the new federal government played out in the debate about assumption and funding? (P.63, 64).
  5. Did the country miss a realistic opportunity to end slavery and avoid a civil war in 1790 or did the compromise resulting from the 1790 Congressional debate give the nation the breathing room it needed to establish a sense of national self.
  6. Was the failure of the Adam’s Presidency the result of his own character flaws or rather was he overwhelmed by circumstances beyond his control? (p. 185, 187,195).


  1. In the iconography of American history Jefferson has held a cherished place, as the author of the Declaration of Independence. Washington, while revered as the “father of the country” has not been regarded as Jefferson’s intellectual equal. Yet, under Ellis’ analysis, Washington appears to be the wiser and more prescient statesman of the two (particularly in the areas of slavery and international involvements). Assess the validity of this statement.

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