@DPAC September 7

Coach4aday blog posts are written by John Rancke and I. We write daily about leadership, food, people, music, our granddaughters, Lumberton NC, and things that pique our curiosity.

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Hamilton and Duels in NC

From November 6 to December 2, 2018 the award winning play Hamilton will be performed at the Durham Performing Arts Center DPAC. The show is going to be a big hit and DPAC even has a Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) page about the show.


HAMILTON is the story of America’s Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, an immigrant from the West Indies who became George Washington’s right-hand man during the Revolutionary War and was the new nation’s first Treasury Secretary. He died in a duel with Aaron Burr.

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.


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.


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


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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