North Carolina-Duel-August 8

North Carolina People, Places, and Things-August 8

I am the dad to five adult children. As they were growing up I attempted to remind them they were special and to implore them to learn something new. My goal was to do that daily.

In 2016 my goal is to learn something new daily on the people, places, and things that make North Carolina special. Everyday this year I am doing a post on what I have learned new.

I am not a theater person but I do know that the blockbuster Broadway show of 2015 and 2016 has been Hamilton.


Hamilton is a musical about Alexander Hamilton, with music, lyrics, and book by Lin-Manuel Miranda. The show was inspired by the 2004 biography Alexander Hamilton, by historian Ron Chernow. The cast is all non-white and features hip-hop music.

One of the key point in the play is how Alexander Hamilton died in a duel with Vice President Aaron Burr.

Alexander Hamilton

In a duel held in Weehawken, New Jersey on July 11, 1804, Vice President Aaron Burr fatally shoots his long-time political antagonist Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton, a leading Federalist and the chief architect of America’s political economy, died the following day.

In the antebellum South, gentlemen solved political disagreements and attacks of a personal nature through duels.  It was a matter of honor, in their minds.  Although the practice was outlawed in North Carolina in 1802 after the Stanly Speight Duel the practice did not die completely.

Robert Vance and Samuel Carson entered a duel on November 5, 1827 in Henderson County very close to the South Carolina line. The story is interesting to say the least.

vance carson duel

Robert Vance, much older brother of Governor Zeb Vance was a Congressman and a doctor. Photo below is Governor Zeb Vance on his inauguration day in 1863.


zeb vance

Despite his passion for medicine, Robert Vance switched careers because he suffered from a physical disability. Samuel Carson, a native of Marion, North Carolina, was a farmer who served in the North Carolina Senate from 1822 until 1824. In 1825, Vance and Carson competed for a seat in the 19th Congress.

Photo below of Samuel Carson

samuel carson

Carson won the election of 1825 as Vance hoped one day to return to Congress. Two years later, Vance vied for the 20th Congress in 1827. Once again Carson and Vance fought one another for the congressional seat and the campaign proved harsh especially for Carson. Vance delivered several uncouth remarks regarding not only the Congressman but also Carson’s father.  When he delivered a speech, for instance, in Marion, Carson’s hometown, Vance called Carson a coward.

Although dirtied from the mudslinging, Carson won reelection. He sought satisfaction for the verbal attacks Vance levied against him.  So Carson challenged Vance to a duel.  Vance accepted and then set about to compose a will. It was a good decision because he was going to need it.

On November 5, 1827, the two met close to the South Carolina State line to avoid the NC State law banning dueling. Samuel Carson shot and fatally wounded Robert Vance. Vance died the following day and was later interred at a cemetery in Asheville, NC.

Samuel Carson still attended the 20th Congress. Later in his life Carson helped establish the Republic of Texas, and he became Texas’s Secretary of State. Carson passed away on November 2, 1838, in Arkansas.


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