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Joanne Freeman on
Hamilton's response

Joanne Freeman Q: How does Burr react to Hamilton's response?

A: Hamilton's letter is essentially lecturing Burr. Number one, this is not how you start and affair of honor. Number two, let's talk about the meaning of the word despicable. So, it sort of seems to equivocate. And then, because Hamilton doesn't want to fight, but he doesn't want to seem cowardly, he ends with this sort of a blustering statement that if things don't work out, he's ready to face the consequences. So, he's already said well, if you want a duel, I'm there. So, it's the worst possible letter that he could have written. And Burr is rightfully offended by that letter. And writes back, a more offensive letter to Hamilton, in which he says Hamilton's not delicate, he's not acting like a gentleman, which in itself is a really serious insult. So now Hamilton can't respond to that letter in any way other than saying, okay, if you're calling me that, well then now we no longer are really talking, are we? Now lets get down to specifics. What is it that you want from me? It spirals into something where both men feel that, in a sense, there's no turning back.

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