One of the first laws passed by the Legislature of the infant Republic of Texas was a ban on duels. If a man was killed in a duel, said the law, his opponent was to be charged with murder. That law had little effect, and in fact, no one in Texas was ever prosecuted for dueling. Hotheads from the Old South felt that an insult could only be erased by on the field of honor. By the 1830's the weapons of the duel were single-shot pistols. But if you foolishly issued a challenge to Jim Bowie, hero of the Alamo, he was likely to choose knives as the weapon -- and he was known for his skill with his Bowie knife. He never dueled in Texas, as far as I know.
Friends In the Nineteenth Century duels mostly took place between politicians or army officers. Abraham Lincoln nearly fought a duel in Illinois. Friends talked him out of it. Prior to his election as President, Andrew Jackson fought at least two duels. And, of course, there was that Burr-Hamilton duel between cabinet officers.
In the early years of the Republic of Texas, First President Sam Houston was repeatedly challenged by political enemies. He refused them all. Houston was controversial and his decisions often raised the ire of his critics. Some challenges he simply ignored. Those delivered by currier were returned unopened. Houston's sworn enemy was Mirabeau Lamar. He never offered a challenge to Houston, but their two protégés killed each other. Houston's favorite, Colonel Lysander Welles killed, and was killed by, Captain William Redd, friend of Lamar, in a simultaneous exchange of pistol fire. According to bystanders the duel was fought over a trivial matter, an unimportant dispute.
The practice of dueling began to fade in Texas by the 1850s. With the introduction of the six-shooter, gunfights no longer followed the code duello. The brief era of the gunfighter, so beloved by Hollywood, had its own rules. Remember the Texas Ranger code? "Shoot first and then ask questions."
October 18, 2018
Happy birthday W. P.
"Whatever is begun in anger, ends in shame." -- Benjamin