1820s

Filed Under:DC, Virginia

DC Hosts the Civil War of Horse Racing, 1822

Racetrack with horses and spectators. (Photo source: Library of Congress)In the 19th century, the North and South waged an important battle. No, not the Civil War- horse racing! Before the war between the states with military and espionage there was a stirring contest fought with the finest horses that either side could breed, and the first battle took place right in the heart of Washington D.C., at the National Course somewhere around 14th Street, north of Euclid Street and south of Columbia Heights.

Filed Under:DC, Virginia

Guys Trying to Get Themselves Killed: John Randolph and Henry Clay

John Randolph's strong feelings about honor caused him to act very strangely in his 1826 duel with Henry Clay. (Photo source: Wikipedia)A complicated sense of honor can get you killed. That’s why people like John Randolph of Roanoke update their wills before engaging in potentially suicidal duels, like the one Randolph had with Henry Clay in 1826. And, boy was Randolph’s idea of honor super complicated.

Filed Under:DC

Every Second Counts: The Decatur-Barron Duel of 1820

Commondore Stephen Decatur made some enemies during his naval career and was challenged to a duel by James Barron in 1820. (Photo source: Wikipedia)In the early 19th century, taking a life was as easy as taking offense. Just ask Commodore Stephen Decatur. 193 years ago today he was killed in a duel leaving (as some claim) his spirit to wander and perhaps seek retribution from the parties that coldly arranged his death.

Decatur was born in 1779 and had a mostly praise-worthy navy career, earning “the heart of a nation” and the malice of a few whose careers he stepped over to achieve his own greatness. One of these was Commodore James Barron.

Things got ugly between the two men with the help of two others who apparently wanted a piece of Decatur, too.

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