Alexander Hamilton, the first Secretary of the Treasury, is memorialized all throughout New York, from Fraunces Tavern where he attended a meeting of the Society of the Cincinnati a week before his death, to The Grange where he built a house in upper Manhattan. Right across the Hudson River from Manhattan, Hamilton and Aaron Burr had an infamous stand-off in Weehawken, New Jersey on July 11th, 1804. The original fireplace in front of which Hamilton died, currently located in Gracie Mansion, is one of many remnants left in New York City from that fateful duel.
Hamilton, a Federalist, and Burr, a Republican, were political rivals for years. The battle on July 11th was the final fight to end their personal and political battle. The conflict started in 1791 when Burr won a Senate seat from Hamilton’s father-in-law, Philip Schuyler, who would have supported Federalist policies unlike Burr. The election of 1800, in which Burr was elected Vice President and Democratic-Republican candidate Thomas Jefferson was elected President, jeopardized the status of the Federalist party. Burr’s fatal shooting of Hamilton further led to the permanent demise of the Federalist Party.
Because duels were already falling out of favor due to their violent outcomes, especially pistol duels, Burr was charged with murder in New York and New Jersey. Although neither charge reached trial, Burr fled to Georgia and would spend time in the South before moving back to New York to resume his law practice in relative obscurity.
After Burr fatally shot Hamilton in the duel, Hamilton was rushed back to Manhattan and taken to the Bayard House in the West Village. Many of the city’s finest doctors rushed to the Bayard home and tried to save Hamilton but to no avail. From their uptown home, Hamilton’s wife Eliza and their children rushed by stagecoach over seven miles south to witness his final breaths. Hamilton would die one day later at age 49 in front of a fireplace in the Jane Street home.
The fireplace at the Bayard House was eventually moved to Gracie Mansion on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, the current residence of the New York City Mayor. The original owner of Gracie Mansion, Archibald Gracie, was a good friend and business partner of Hamilton. In 1799, Gracie began construction on a two-story wooden mansion along the East River, and the home quickly became a popular social space. In 1801, Gracie hosted a meeting led by Hamilton, which would lead to the founding of the New York Evening Post, today known as just the New York Post.
In 1966, the Gracie Mansion fireplace from the Bayard home was installed in the mansion’s ballroom after a major expansion. Today, the white fireplace sits below an ornate circular mirror and juts out from a light blue wall. In addition to the fireplace, other artifacts from that deadly day still remain in New York City. This includes the pistols that were used by Hamilton and Burr, now part of the permanent collection of JP Morgan Chase Headquarters. They were temporarily on display in Washington D.C.’s Smithsonian Postal Museum in 2018.
This Thursday, May 27, take a behind the scenes virtual tour of the historic rooms of Gracie Mansion and the latest art exhibit on display throughout the home. The tour is hosted by the Gracie Mansion Conservancy and tickets are free but exclusively for Untapped New York Insiders. Become a member today starting at just $10/month!
Virtual Tour of Gracie Mansion
Currently on exhibit in Gracie Mansion, CATALYST: Art & Social Justice is an exhibition featuring 80 works by more than 50 New York artists and activists since 1960, celebrating the power of art to spark change and spur progress. The Gracie Mansion tours of the exhibit, hosted by the Gracie Mansion Conservancy docents live via Zoom, show a presentation that includes detailed information about a selection of the many artworks in the CATALYST exhibit. On the tour, you can see inside the historic rooms of “The People’s House,” including the room that hosts the fireplace, and explore past and current social justice movements through inspiring works of art.
Next, check out the Top 10 Secrets of Gracie Mansion, the Home of NYC’s Mayor!