On Sunday, July 11th there was a strange historical re-enactment in Weehawken, New Jersey. This marked the 200th anniversary of the famous duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. Hamilton and Burr had been friends, but later became bitter political enemies. Hamilton had been a signer of the constitution and was the nation's first Treasury Secretary. Burr was the sitting Vice-President. As a matter of honor they met for a duel in which Hamilton was mortally wounded. The reenactment was performed by Douglas Hamilton fifth great grandson of Alexander Hamilton, and Antonio Burr, a direct descendant of Burr's cousin. According to an Associated Press account, Hamilton said of meeting the relative of Burr, "It wasn't something on my top 100 list, but it was nice to meet Antonio Burr. He seems to be a very nice man, though I'm not sure I'm going to be on his Christmas card list." Hamilton went on to remind listeners his ancestor forgave Burr. "Just being shot 31 hours earlier, if he could forgive Burr, far be it for me not to honor that." There is something noble in forgiveness. As we think of that day in 1804, we can only wish the forgiveness could have happened before the shots were fired.


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J. Michael Shannon is professor of preaching at Cincinnati Bible College in Cincinnati, OH.