Alexander Hamilton’s dueling pistols, when on display at the Postal Museum in Washington D.C.
Alexander Hamilton has become so trendy, he’s made it to the Grammy’s, as demonstrated in last night’s performance of the Broadway musical’s opening song “Alexander Hamilton.” The climactic moment of this song, when Aaron Burr sings “And me? I’m the damn fool that shot him,” as Hamilton’s story is irrevocably connected to his death in a duel with Burr.
Most people know that Hamilton is buried in the Trinity Church graveyard, that the duel took place on the coast of Weehawken, New Jersey, and that he was taken to the home of William Bayard who lived on present day 82 Jane Street in Greenwich Village. He died in front of a fireplace that is now in the Gracie Mansion ballroom. But did you know that the dueling pistols are located in the headquarters of J.P. Morgan Chase, on 277 Park Avenue?
The Wogdon duelling pistols were the property of Hamilton’s brother in law, John Barker Church, who was a business associate of both men. The pistols, commissioned by Church in London, figure prominently in several duels – one between Church and Burr in 1799 in which neither man was injured, and one involving Hamilton’s son Phillip who died in an 1801 duel. They were almost used in a duel that would have taken place between James Monroe and Hamilton, in which Monroe shouts to Church, “I am ready, get your pistols!” but later Burr himself intervenes describing the two men as “childish.”
After the infamous Hamilton-Burr duel, the pistols were used in the Civil War, and then in 1930 are purchased by Chase Bank, now JP Morgan Chase Bank, the descendent of Burr’s company, the Manhattan Company, founded as a water service delivery company with exclusive rights to serve New York City.
Robert Wogdon, the creator of the pistols, is buried in St. Bartholmew’s Church in Layston, Hertfordshire, a site currently being renovated and preserved by a husband and wife. Wogdon specialized in dueling pistols which ended a countless number of lives, but his own burial site remained virtually unknown until this preservation project began.
Photos by Peter Wonnacott
Untapped Cities reader Peter Wonnacott, who was born close to St. Bartholomew’s recently shared with us some images of Wogdon’s vault at St. Bartholomew’s and tells us that the place “quickly became a derelict structure in danger of eventual collapse until a recent couple of enthusiasts purchased the church and grounds and are lovingly refurbishing and modifying it to include a residence where they intend to reside when completed.”
Next, check out the presidential haunts of United States presidents in New York City.