Friday, June 29, 2018

The Burr-Hamilton Duel ~ A few thoughts.

We're approaching July 11, the anniversary date of the Burr-Hamilton duel. During the Revolution, these two men were much alike, young, brilliant, ambitious brothers in arms. It didn’t take long after 1792 for them to move to opposite sides of the playing field.
Aaron Burr was born into a leading Connecticut family. He was a descendant of Aaron Burr, Senior, a Presbyterian minister and second president of the College of New Jersey (Princeton). His mother, Esther Edwards, was the daughter of the famous theologian Jonathan Edwards. he like Hamilton was an orphan, but the young Burr was rigorously educated by his stern Connecticut relatives. He did not enter the College of New Jersey when he was 11, but passed the examination at the ripe old age of 13. 

Hamilton had a far more difficult time growing up. This “bastard brat of a Scot’s tinker” as John Adams would have it, was always jealous of his hard-won “honor” and of his status as "gentleman." Thin-skinned doesn’t begin to describe Alexander Hamilton. At eleven--the same age as young Aaron was applying for Princeton--he spent his days in a St. Croix warehouse, perched upon a high stool writing letters and balancing his master's accounts. He earned his daily bread and board in the sweat of his brow. 

About five o'clock Wednesday morning, July 11th, 1804, Hamilton left town, probably from the area which is now Horatio Street in the Village and was rowed to the dueling ground. Weehawken is on the west bank of the Hudson directly across the river from the west end of what is now Forty-Second Street in Manhattan.  The passage across was near 3 miles. With a light breeze, and they arrived about 7. Burr and his second Van Ness were already on the ground and had cleared away some brush and branches to make “a fair opening.”  This was on the extreme southern point of the Palisades, 20 feet above the water, about 22 paces long and only 10 feet wide.

 On the way across the river, Hamilton told his second, Pendleton, that “he had made up his mind not to fire at Colonel Burr the first time, but to receive his fire and then fire into the air.” Pendleton argued with him, but Hamilton said “it is the effect of a religious scruple, and does not admit of reasoning. It is useless to say more on the subject, as my purpose is definitely fixed.”

The accounts of the seconds were at odds as to which man fired first. This is because the seconds had their backs to the duelists, in order to provide a certain level of deniability. Dueling was by this time illegal in both New York and New Jersey. If Hamilton threw away his shot by firing wide--as he'd proposed to do--he may have fired first. Logically, this would show Burr that he meant no harm, but, of course, it would also leave him at Burr's mercy. How Burr reacted would then be up to him. 

If Burr shot first, as Pendleton later declared, his shot would have hit Hamilton and caused him to spin about, clutch at his weapon, and discharge it harmlessly into a tree. The passage of a .54 caliber ball is not easily overlooked. Whoever shot first, we know the outcome.

“General Hamilton was this morning wounded by that wretch Burr, but we have every reason to hope he will recover.” Angelica Schuyler Church wrote to her brother, Phillip, In Albany.  It would be his duty to notify their father, the Old General Philip Schuyler, who was in failing health. Angelica went on to say:  “My sister bears with saintlike fortitude this affliction. The town is in consternation, and there exists only the expression of grief and indignation.”

Angelica Church with her eldest, Phillip

Oliver Wolcott, Jr., a close friend who attended  Hamilton's death bed at Bayard’s Mansion on the Hudson, also wrote to his own wife. "Hamilton suffers great pain – which he endures like a Hero.” He “has, of late years experienced his conviction of the truths of the Christian Religion and has desired to receive the Sacrament—but no one of the Clergy who have yet been consulted with administer it.” 

After the duel, Burr’s barge landed him and his second Van Ness at Canal Street, where, according to some sources, he simply went on to his law office as if nothing had happened. Others say he went instead to his home at Richmond Hill. This might have been wiser, because of the fame of both men, and because of the illegality of the morning's activities.

Richmond Hill

The Church’s dueling pistols—like many of the best in those days, contained hair-trigger mechanisms. Articles on the pistols have called these mechanisms “hidden” and “newly discovered,” although that speaks only to 20th Century lack of understanding of the 18th Century Code Duello and of the specialized weapons involved.   

In fact, Burr may have used these very pistols some years earlier in a duel with John Church, so he was more familiar with them than was Hamilton. On the narrow ledge at Weehawken, it would have been impossible to change a setting—the guns were always set up by the seconds “inspecting, setting triggers and loading”—without anyone noticing. Pendleton, Hamilton’s second, in fact, reports that he had asked whether Hamilton wished to have the hair trigger set. His friend had plainly answered “Not this time.”

The "hidden" hair trigger was made to seem like a big new discovery in a New York Magazine article, whose author insinuated that Hamilton had intended to secretly make use of it.  I will let Robert A. Hendrickson, one of Hamilton’s most passionate biographers (Author of The Rise and Fall of Alexander Hamilton) speak for his hero:
“Disenchanted as he was with himself, never able to rid himself of his sense of public accountability, if Hamilton had wished to survive (the duel) at all—a question ultimately unanswerable—the unlikeliest way he could have found to do so was by a secret trick that four men and all their friends, whatever their other differences, would agree was dishonorable. Worse than dishonorable.  Despicable. (And) "Honor was the subject of the morning’s exercise.”

Some years later, when questioned on the subject, Burr was quoted as saying that had his vision not been impaired by the morning mist, he would have "shot Hamilton in the heart." According to the account of the noted English philosopher Jeremy Bentham, who met with Burr in England in 1808 (four years after the duel) Burr claimed to have been certain of his ability to kill Hamilton. Bentham concluded that Burr was "little better than a murderer."

But Burr had his reasons for rage. His career had been blighted by Hamilton, who had denounced Burr repeatedly, calling him an “embryo-Caesar” and “unprincipled both as a public and private man.”  

In the winter of 1800-01, during the disputed election between Jefferson and Burr, the Electors had deadlocked, throwing the election into the House of Representatives. Thirty House votes would be logged before this impasse was resolved. Hamilton worked tirelessly to block Burr from assuming the presidency by writing to his federalist friends in the House, saying that Burr “is bankrupt beyond redemption, except by the plunder of his country.  His public principles have no other spring or aim than his own aggrandizement.” 
 As we know, Jefferson was finally elected, after a group of Federalists elected to abstain from voting, sending in blank ballots. For Alexander Hamilton and many others, the choice between Jefferson and Burr must have been like choosing between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea.
Thomas Jefferson
Of course, there is always acrimonious rhetoric—the self-interest games that all politicians-- both the principled and the unprincipled—play. Politicians have to do "whatever it takes to stay in the game." But unlike today’s short-sighted hacks-in-office, Hamilton wasn’t just thinking of the here and now. He had always had a vision of a mighty future for his adopted country. A top-notch administrator, he'd seen Burr party jumping and now fanning Secessionist fires in New England which he knew must be doused--by any means possible. "Indivisible" was the keystone of his dream of American greatness, and under no circumstances would he let it go.
Because Hamilton fancied himself a rationalist above all, the letters he left to be read in the event of his death show that he understood all implications of the upcoming duel. In the end, despite the claims on his heart of his wife and of his adored children and despite the creditors to whom he had become obligated while building his new home,  he would risk everything and hazard his life in order to destroy Burr and thus preserve the Union. 

That morning by the river at Weehawken, Alexander Hamilton threw his shot away and left himself at the mercy of his enemy. I'll have to quote Trelane, the super-being in the original Star Trek Squire of Gothos episode and end it here: "...your heroic Alexander Hamilton."

The Grange - and the elegant dining room 

~~Juliet Waldron


 Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow ISBN: 1594200092 Penguin, 2005 
The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, 21 volumes, Harold C. Syrett, Ed., Columbia University, 
Founding Brothers by Joseph L. Ellis, ISBN: 9780375405440, Knopf, 2000 
The Rise & Fall of Alexander Hamilton, Vols. 1&2, by Robert A. Hendrickson, 9780884051398, Mason/Charter 1976 
The Founding Fathers, a biography of Alexander Hamilton in his own words, Vol. 1&2, ed. by Mary Jo Kline, Newsweek Publishers, 1973 
 Aaron Burr, Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson, a Study in Character by Roger G. Kennedy, ISBN: 9780195140552, 2000 
Alexander Hamilton, Writings, ed. Joanne Freeman, ISBN: 9781931082044, Library of America 
The Treason Trial of Aaron Burr, by R. Kent Newmyer, ISBN: 978-1-107-60661-6. Cambridge University Press, 2012 

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Becoming an Unexpected (and Unwilling) Culinary Artist by Connie Vines

It all began with the color purple.

For clarification: The color purple, not the movie.

On and off, through out my life time, I’ve had a love affair with the color purple:  Violet. Lilac, Lavender, Amethyst. 

Never: Grape, Mulberry, Eggplant or Wine.  Those shades are too dark and unwelcoming for me.
This year I’ve been updating my home in the suburbs.  I’ve ventured into a beige world about five years ago and decided it was too, well beige. It was time to update the master bedroom.

Hence, my color swatches and floral designs to locate the perfect draperies, bedding, throw rugs. . . candles, fragrance wax warmers, and a chair and ottoman.  I decided on a dove gray chair and added a purple (with a touch of gray throw).  I didn’t want matchy-matchy, but the shades needed to depict elegance.  I wanted a light airy feeling heightened by the French doors opening onto the patio.

Satisfied, I even located a collar, leash, and walking harness for Chanel in violet.  This is when my husband began to ask me when school was going to be in session again.


Perhaps I was getting a little too fixated on purple.  (I came to this realization after I painted my nails with purple polish).

I always become a bit of a baker when I write. Creativity flows forth resulting in an hour of gardening, listening to music, that sort of thing.  Well, I wanted to try a new specialty tea.
Just when I thought I was ready to get down to a day of blogging and promo on my latest BWL novel, I discovered by tea kettle had scorched and slightly melted bottom.


Knowing my husband operates a gas stove like it’s a Bunsen burner, I knew what had happened.
I was out of gluten-free table crackers and breads, so I’d just drive over to a Walmart and look at tea kettles too.

Sidebar:  I am not a shopper.  I shop like most men:  I have a list. I run in purchase what is n the list and leave.  My husband, on the other hand, examines every item, carries it around, puts it back, etc. Then he wants to go to a second store.  (As you have guessed, we seldom shop together unless it is a big-ticket item.)  I do however, shop online.  Frequently (not excessively).  Usually only during season-end sales or when I’m on summer and winter break.

So, back to the story.  I located a lovely floral tea kettle, tea pot, and a 4-quart floral stove top cooking pot with a lid too.  All on sale, all well made.  All stamped beneath “Pioneer Woman”.

Oh.  This was unexpected.

I watch a few cooking shows but never “Pioneer Woman”.  Apparently, I’m the only one not familiar with the program.

No, I did not binge watch the show.  I looked at an apple dessert receipt and something called Funeral Potatoes and saved both to iPhone for later reference.

Was that the end of it?

Of course not!

Walmart has a website you know.  Walmart also has free, speedy delivery.  (Remember the master bed room re-do? I shopped online at Wayfair and Overstock for all but the chair and ottoman.)
Connie purchased the Spring Bouquet 12-piece dinner set, storage bowls, 2 casserole dishes for the oven, salt and pepper shakers, and a few other misc. items.

This is getting a little out of hand.  I’m adapting recipes (scones and Pioneer Woman’s grits) to be gluten-free.  I’m inviting family over this weekend too.

I was thrilled I located powdered peanut butter in the market when I went shopping.

I hate to shop, remember?

I actually went shopping (of my own free will) twice last week.

I’m becoming a suburban Culinary Artist, I realized.

An unwilling Culinary Artist.

I’m certain this phase will pass—soon.

My husband loved the pot-roast, Funeral potatoes, salad, and gluten-free dessert I served to dinner.
After hand washing my new casserole dishes this evening, it was time for a manicure.

My husband was pleased with my lilac shade of nail polish, too.

Happy Reading!

Connie Vines

Links to my novels:

amazon author central

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Angels against robots? I'm taking bets - by Vijaya Schartz

Find all BWL titles from Vijaya Schartz HERE
As I'm actively writing the second book in the Azura Chronicles sci-fi romance series, I did not abandon research. On the contrary, even after creating an entire world, research is my main focus. Not only it helps me find new elements and threads to explore in the new story, but it opens so many possibilities...

Of course, I do enjoy the research. Who wouldn't like bingeing on the latest sci-fi movies and series (thank goodness for cable), reading great books and watching interviews of scientists on the advances of cybernetics, and the psychological consequences threatening future societies?

I love my job. Especially when the creative juices take me in unexpected directions. Book 2 will also have a big cat of a very different kind. I love researching cats.

Cybernetics, will you ask? Maybe I already said too much. But it's the future, after all, and I can't wait to pit angels against robots. This world of Azura also has a predatory fauna. Which side will the nightcrawlers take? And what role will my new kick-butt heroine and her brave hero take in this new adventure?

But I already said too much. As I work on Book 2, you are welcome to enjoy Book 1, ANGEL MINE. Each book is a standalone, but if you are like me, you'll want to know what happened before in this world of Azura.

ANGEL MINE: 5-stars
find it on amazon

What in the frozen hells of Laxxar prompted Fianna to pursue her quarry to this forbidden blue planet? Well, she needs the credits... badly. But as if crashing in the jungle wasn't bad enough, none of her high-tech weapons work. She'll have to go native, after the most wanted felon in five galaxies. It's not just her job. It's personal.

Acielon has never seen an outworlder like this fascinating female, strangely beautiful, and fierce, like the feline predator loping at her side. He always dreamed of exploring the universe, despite the legends... and the interdiction. Is it truly a hellish place of violence, lies and suffering? If it spawned this intriguing creature, it must also be a place of wonders, adventure and excitement.

Fianna's instincts tell her someone is watching. Sheba, her telepathic feline partner, doesn't seem worried... yet, something on Azura isn't quite right.

"I don’t know how Vijaya continues to write books that both aggravate you to no end and keep you on the edge of your seat. You can’t put it down until you know what happens next. Before you know what happened, you are at the end of the book and wondering how you got there so fast. It is hard not to get caught up in and lost in the imagery created on the pages of the locations. You can even smell what is in the air. Yet another page turner I couldn’t put down! Thank you Vijaya for keeping me entertained."  5-stars - Beverley J. Malloy on amazon

Happy Reading!

Vijaya Schartz
  High Octane sci-fi fantasy romance with a kick
  Amazon - Barnes & NobleSmashwords -


Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Can lovers be reunited across time? Tricia McGill

My Books We Love Author page
Purchase Here:

In my latest book I say, yes they can. For a long time I have firmly believed that I have lived before and hope I will be reunited with a loved one in the future. The only explanation I have for this is that my dreams have me featured in certain circumstances and I know they are set in the past. Often I don’t  recognise the other person and yet know deep down who it is. The logical part of my brain tells me this is probably fanciful thinking, and my overactive imagination concocting stories I would like to be true. In one of my most vivid dreams I was most definitely in Ireland (never been there in this life) with a man I knew well even though he looked different to the one I know in this life. We had a family of children (I have none in this life) and were a struggling family which was obvious by the surroundings. It was so convincing I believed I was reliving a past life.

One of my previous doctors was born in Pakistan and later lived in India (or it might have been the other way around) before coming to Australia. We got to talking one day about my beliefs and certain religions and I was taken aback when he assured me I was a Buddhist, or so aligned with their faith it was obvious I shared their beliefs.

It seems I am not alone in my belief in reincarnation, as the concept has existed for a long time in certain religions. I was surprised, stunned in fact, to learn that there are probably more people alive today who believe in it than those who do not. This surprised me because of this technological age we live in I thought it would be something that wasn’t even considered. The most surprising fact to me was that a large proportion of  people in the USA and Western Europe do hold a belief in reincarnation.
Read more about it here: 

Another fact that surprised me is there is quite a difference in such beliefs in certain cultures. I believed it was something more taught by Buddhists but learnt that it features largely in the Hindu culture also. They believe in Karma and that rather than meeting up with past loves in the future we are more likely to simply be reborn, even as an animal or of the opposite sex. I am a great believer in Karma, or Fate as I like to call it, and know it has played an enormous part in my life.

Something that I found immensely interesting is that in 1961 Ian Stevenson who at the time was chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Virginia was so intrigued by the cases of children claiming to remember past lives that he gave up his position at the University and opted on full-time research of the cases. He found children who spoke quite fluently of other lives and deceased people. Their stories were so convincing that some families made contact with members of this previous person the child mentioned in such detail.

At these meetings, the child would often be said to identify members of the previous family as well as items belonging to the deceased individual. Since he began his research he and others have found many such cases of children claiming to recall past lives. Seem too fanciful? Not to me, as children often have invisible friends, and I doubt if a child could go so far as to imagine and describe someone is such detail that it could be proved later this person lived. And cases have been found in so many different locations there has to be more truth in it than wishful thinking. Most common cases are found in countries such as India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, West Africa, and mostly in cultures with a firm belief in reincarnation. It’s the fact that these are children and not adults who could clearly make stories up to satisfy the researcher that makes it so convincing.

My mother never had in-depth discussions with us on such things as life after death but I can still see her wreath lying on our father’s coffin, with her card that simply said, “Till we meet again.”

Visit my Books We Love Author page

Monday, June 25, 2018

Itching To Get Ahead

Add caption
The word “itch” amuses me. It is almost crying for a consonant or two at the beginning. Which. Witch. Hitch. Much better.
However, we are burdened with this word; a word that brings back memories and initiates thoughts. In my youth it spent much of its time sharing a sentence with the word mosquito. In summer it somehow managed to dampen a trip to a local Alberta lake by conjuring up warnings about “the itch.” Still, there were other lakes that didn’t carry the stigma or the itch. So, we had a splashing good time.
Our move from the west to Ontario introduced us to the idea that a mosquito bite placed second behind the dreaded black fly bite. What? It seems the black flies in the east are far more aggressive. I cannot remember hearing much less experiencing a black fly bit. Especially one that leaves a looonie-sized itchy welt.
These painful option leave me itching. Itching for more time at our favourite places on the planet. Just yesterday we reminisced about the wonderful days we spent walking the miles and miles of footpaths in England. Stopping to watch the sheep or cattle. Yes, occasionally keeping out a wary eye for a bull among the cows.

Tempting indeed. However, the fine Ontario weather is upon us. Best wait until perhaps October to pop across the pond and enjoy the and chips...bitter…peaceful rolling hills of the countryside.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Ghost Stories Now and Then by S. L. Carlson

Ghost Stories Now and Then by S. L. Carlson

Do you believe in ghosts? Should you believe in ghosts? The idea of ghosts has fascinated me my whole life. Ghosts have been around for as long as there have been people.

I’ve never been keen to see one, but I have sensed and heard them. I don’t like to acknowledge them for fear of an introduction. Ignorance-Ignoring is bliss. Still, it’s hard to ignore a mixer turning on and off by itself. So when something like that happens I spin and point my finger to the air, and in my strongest ghost-scolding voice, say, “Stop that! Not funny!”

A house siding contractor went into our basement when we weren’t home. He had no business down there. I only figured it out when we returned and he looked pale, asking if our house was haunted. I laughed and mentioned our doorbell ringing at odd hours with no one there (even when we’re by the door to “catch” anyone). He mentioned a door slammed when he was inside. (Why was he inside, anyway?) Even though there was no breeze, I suggested the wind did it. He said there were no windows opened. Well, yes, there were, but not in the basement! Good, old ghost.

The Great Lakes have thousands of ghost stories, as well they should from the many untimely deaths on them. One told in the Milwaukee Journal, January 24, 1895, is of a man named Bill who died en route to Buffalo. When the ship arrived, the entire crew felt the vessel was now unlucky, so didn’t sign on for the trip over to Cleveland. The mate shanghaied a new crew. As they neared the boat, they pointed to the ship’s mast. The mate recognized the figure as Bill. The new crew, drunk as they were, fled. Finally other crew members came. The ship never made it to Cleveland. It sunk off of Dunkirk with all hands.

One more (of the thousands): On November 28, 1966, the Daniel J. Morrell broke apart in the middle of the night during a storm on Lake Huron. Watchman Dennis Hale was in his bunk when the ship cracked. He grabbed his life jacket and ran on deck in only his shorts. The ship had buckled. He ran back to his bunk for his pea jacket and made it into a lifeboat with three others. As the waves crested the raft, the water turned to ice on them. They lay in the lifeboat. Dennis was in the middle. The other three froze to death in the night. The next day he washed up on rocks, but too far to swim in the freezing water. He started to eat the ice from his pea jacket when a translucent man in white hovered over him and told him not to eat the ice or it would lower his body temperature and he’d die. The following day the same vision occurred. He was rescued, given last rites because he was so near death, but lived. As the sole survivor of the sinking, it took more than twenty years before he told the rest of the survival story with words of ghostly advice.

F.Y.I. There will be ghosts in my book coming out in September with BWL, Escape, War Unicorn Chronicles, Book 2. Find my other books here:

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Getting Through the Rough Times by Victoria Chatham

For writers, writing is usually a compunction, something they have to do, like breathing. Even before I really knew what I was doing, I wrote.

Yes, I’ve joked about my writing with crayons on the wall not being appreciated by my family (for obvious reasons) but making my mark by writing something, somewhere has, for me, always been a tangible expression, like prehistoric handprints on the wall of a cave, of my being here, on this planet, now. The now has shifted considerably over the years from childish drawings and weirdly shaped letters, to short stories about ponies and dogs, to prize-winning essays at school and onwards and upwards.

image courtesy of Shutterstock
Writing, as an art, was something I took up when I learned calligraphy. It came out of an art class where we were encouraged to illuminate the capital letter of our first name or surname. I chose V for Victoria, not H for Hammond as I was then. I liked the look of the letter V, and very early on also liked the fact that Victory and Valor both began with V. They seemed strong words to me then as they do now.

Combining the art of writing with the craft of it was something that came a lot later. Although I loved English classes, both literature and grammar, writing in my family was a serious business. It had to impart knowledge and instruction and, consequently, fiction and fun writing didn’t enter much into my education. However, at age thirteen I read a book whose title now escapes me although I can see the cover clearly. Anyone who remembers Douglas Fairbanks, or maybe Douglas Fairbanks jnr., would recognize the look of the handsome pirate wearing a bandanna, an open-neck shirt and swinging from a rope on some ship or another. If you’ll pardon the nautical pun, it opened up a whole new horizon for me.

I wrote short stories which friends enjoyed and encouraged me to 'send to a publisher.' I showed one short story to a well-respected children's book editor who suggested I submit it to a long defunct UK short story magazine called The Argosy. It was rejected but I persevered. After all, I had many more stories to write. However, my family was far less enthusiastic than my friends so I kept writing mainly for myself. When I started writing novels, erroneously thinking writing chapters would be like writing one short story after another, I very quickly found a whole new world within the writing world. 

But getting stuck in the writing is also part of a writer's life. It happened to me more often than not in the early days but books like Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg helped a great deal. 'How To' books from the Library were replaced with Google searches for ideas to jumpstart my work all over again. Tools like doodling with words and going for walks, listening to music, or washing the floor all got tested.

So, what does keep me going when the words won’t come, or won’t come in the way or order that I want them to? My best tried and true trick is to stop writing. I return to my favorite books, the ones that have left vivid impressions over the years and have had me sobbing my socks off or laughing out loud. My favorite go-to read is Georgette Heyer’s Frederica. I know that when I’m done reading it, I’ll go back to my writing with more energy and enthusiasm and then everything seems to flow again.

Victoria Chatham

Blog Archive