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August 2, 2023

STRANGE BEDFELLOWS: Swear You’ve Never Fought a Duel

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Most states have some weird laws on the books, but this one from Kentucky is one of the strangest:

Every elected official in the Bluegrass State must, as part of their oath of office, swear they have never participated in a duel.

That includes U.S. Sen. Rand Paul who, when accused of plagiarizing his speeches, once told ABC News: “If they keep it up, it’d be a duel challenge, but I can’t do that because I can’t hold office in Kentucky then.”

Dueling as a way to settle political differences goes way back. As one historian noted: “Abraham Lincoln once was challenged to a duel and accepted it, but he chose as a weapon cow pies at ten paces.”

Perhaps the most famous pistol duel in American history — certainly political history — was the death of Alexander Hamilton at the hands of the third vice president of the United States, Aaron Burr. Both men had been involved in duels before, Hamilton more than a dozen.

Historians say Kentucky wanted to put a stop to this, although the ban turned out to be ineffective. But it’s still on the books.

About Post Author

J.C. Bruce

J.C. Bruce is a journalist and author of The Strange Files series of mysterious novels.
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