On this day in 1804, US Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton dies of wounds sustained in a pistol duel with Vice President Aaron Burr the day before.
Here, what follows are the two final letters he wrote to his wife on July 4th, one week before the day of the duel. Their message is clear and profound; please read them both, below:
“Earthly career” and “a better world”
This letter, my very dear Eliza, will not be delivered to you, unless I shall first have terminated my earthly career; to begin, as I humbly hope from redeeming grace and divine mercy, a happy immortality.
If it had been possible for me to have avoided the interview, my love for you and my precious children would have been alone a decisive motive. But it was not possible, without sacrifices which would have rendered me unworthy of your esteem. I need not tell you of the pangs I feel, from the idea of quitting you and exposing you to the anguish which I know you would feel. Nor could I dwell on the topic lest it should unman me.
The consolations of Religion, my beloved, can alone support you; and these you have a right to enjoy. Fly to the bosom of your God and be comforted. With my last idea; I shall cherish the sweet hope of meeting you in a better world.
Adieu best of wives and best of Women. Embrace all my darling Children for me.
July 4. 1804
God’s will be done!
My Beloved Eliza:
Mrs. Mitchel is the person in the world to whom as a friend I am under the greatest obligation. I have not hitherto done my duty to her. But resolved to repair my omission to her as much as possible, I have encouraged her to come to this country, and intended, if it shall be in my power to render the Evening of her days comfortable. But if it shall please God to put this out of my power, and to inable you hereafter to be of service to her, I entreat you to do it and to treat her with the tenderness of a sister. This is my second letter. The scruples of a Christian have determined me to expose my own life to any extent rather than subject myself to the guilt of taking the life of another. This must increase my hazards and redoubles my pangs for you. But you had rather I should die innocent than live guilty. Heaven can preserve me and I humbly hope will; but, in the contrary event, I charge you to remember that you are a Christian. God’s will be done! The will of a merciful God must be good. Once more,
Adieu, my darling, darling wife
Tuesday Even’g 10 ocl