The practice of dueling in the Old South was inseparably bound to the notion of honor, in all its manifestations, that in large part defined the Southern self-image. Though dueling was a very male activity, its influence as far as defining a man’s character, courage and viability as a gentlemen was also a powerful one with women. The practice was anathema to Northern notions of honor and accomplishment but for the Southern men who dueled the practice was inseparable from their identity as gentlemen, members of an elite and noble caste. A CULTURE OF HONOR
It is impossible to understand the importance of the ritual of dueling in the Old South without understanding the traditions of honor as they were celebrated by the men and women of the elite classes of the antebellum period. Honor, or the offence of one’s honor, was the motivation behind the carnage that the practice of dueling left in its wake. Honor, and the importance placed upon it by the Southern aristocracy, flowed from the ideals of hierarchy and entitlement. It was inseparable from the need to defend one’s family, reputation and one’s community (Wyatt-Brown, p. 4).
The sanctions for violating honor were not trivial, given that one’s personal honor could be connected to the honor of one’s family and one’s community as a whole. To be truly honorable in the South required adherence to a particular paradigm: Honor was obviously a very personal matter but it was also a very real public matter that merited enforcement by elite the community. In the South, the community, and one’s reputation within it, were as important as and a vital part of one’s self-image. Everyone had to subordinate personal autonomy to the collective will.
It was the test of leaders to carry out the comminity’s desires, to uphold its sacredness; otherwise they would find that they themselves were the sacrifices offered up to the sanctified ideals. (Wyatt-Brown, p. 12) Elitism was intrinsic to the idea of Southern honor. The North had largely abandoned the idea that honor, distinction and priveledge where things that were earned through family lines or wealth. The South, however, maintained the ideals of aristocracy long into the 19th Century (Wyatt-Brown, p. 19).
Where the North idealized that all were equal before the law, the South still held on to notions of there being different standards for different classes of people. For the Southerner of the elite classes, the Nothern view would represent an affront to their notions of entitlement. The Southern aristocrat was assumed to be a man, or woman, of honor simply because of their station in life. In the North, the situation was quite different. Northern ideals of equality of all men before the law, though imperfect in practice as always, undermnined the privileges of the wealthy and wellborn.
To get ahead required skill at intellectual tasks, not just expertise at manipulating others—or at least so the ideal became (Wyatt-Brown, p. 20). While honor in the North was quite often defined by temperance, intellectual achievement and rising above vice (Wyatt-Brown, p. 21), Sothern honor was inseperably attached to notions of masculinity and an important part of being masculine was the willingness to use violence and face death to settle disputes. The Sothern idea of honor is incoherent without understanding its opposite, shame.
In the South, public chastizement was still embraced as a good and right way to deal with those who had violated community standards, the culture of honor or had shown themselves to be, perhaps, unworthy of the station to which they had been born (Wyatt-Brown, p. 19). In the North, the pentitentiary system, an essentially private affair, and the idea that a deviant was accoutnable before the law instead of being accoutnable to the wrath of the community in such a public sense, represented a remarkable difference.
A crime in the North was a crime against the written letter of the law. A crime in the South, however, could be cast as a violation of an archaic, elitst set of values and accountability was not tied to the private punishment of prison, but to public shame. In fact, Southern honor was such a powderkeg that one who was not familiar with local customs regarding what constituted an insult literally took their life in their hands when travelling to one part of the South from another or to the South from another region (Williams, p. 23).
If one were planning to exhibit a bit of wit at the expense of another, the only way to safely do so was to be certain that one knew the recipient of the jest well enough that the subject mater would not be one that addressed too sensitive an issue or challenged too harshly the gentleman’s honor (Williams, p. 24). Another form of public shame was public goading. Challenges to duels were frequently printing in newspapers or hung up in public places—called “posting” someone— and, of course, many were given verbally in public settings.
Both often consisted of rather eloquent insults directed toward the desired opponent. (Williams, p. 23). Given the contraints of such an exacting culture of honor, it’s easy enough to understand how this would leave a man unable to let go such a public humiliation without seeiming to confirm the allegations of the challenger. Another way to issue a challenge to duel with almost certain success was to call another man a liar (Greenberg, p. 32). For the Southern man, being “given the lie”, which meant to be called out for lying or to simply be accused of being a liar, was one of the highest forms of insult.
Greenburg notes that determining whether or not Southern men were on the whole more or less honest than their contemporaries is essentially impossible but that is not the issue. What was important was that one’s honesty was called into question and that, as much or more than anything else, was cause for deadly retribution. Cherchez la femme Southern women were as bound to the culture of honor as were men. In fact, a great deal of a man’s personal and family honor was vested in the women of his family.
An insult toward a wife, daughter, cousin or mother represented a slight against all that the man held dear, especially his notion of personal and public honor. Possibly the worst insult that could be leveld against a woman was one implying promiscuity. To say as much of anyone’s wife or daughter almost guaranteed that violence would follow quickly. This flowed from the notions of nobility carried on through a family line. A woman’s promiscuity implied the dishonor of the man, unable to protect his home of which his woman was part. Women also presented a threat in that they could present the man with an illigitimate child.
This would cast doubt upon the legitimacy of the entire line. (Wyatt-Brown, p. 54) Of course, in a region where the legitimacy of one’s family claim to aristocracy was essentially one of birthright, and insult such as this implied that the gentleman himself may be unworthy of the privelidges afforded the upper classes. Quite a strong implication: not only was the man, in this case, having his honor challenged but he was also was having his right to even call himself worthy of the title of an honorable man challenged. An insult such as this could not go unanswered.
Wyatt-Brown traces this tradition all the way back to the ancestral lands of many white Sotherners. “Fierce retaliation was therefore mandatory when a daughter, wife, or mother had been dishonored. So it had been in ancient German and Celtic tribes, and so it continued to be in antibelum society (Wyatt-Brown, p. 53). ” To modern minds, this brings up an obvious conflict between the typical freedom to be promiscuous granted to males and its not being granted to females. One must keep in mind that the world of the Old South was, in reality, a collection of many worlds.
The worlds of the elite and the common, the free and slave and the man and woman. … to the traditional mind there was no “double standard” of morality. The sexes differed. They lived separate lives—one in the world, the other in the home, one in exterior cicumstances, the other in the inner sactuary that required vigilant safeguarding. (Wyatt-Brown, p. 54) This does not mean that women were simply the targets of insults over which duels ensued where men defended their honor or that they were not a part of the honor culture that lead to the ritualized violence.
Quite to the contrary, women were often the causes, and sometimes the instigators, of duels. The view that a woman might not care for a man unwilling to duel when challenged had implied support, at least, from the wife of a Clinton, Mississippi man who told him on the eve of a duel that she would ‘rather be the widow of a brave man than the wife of a coward” (Williams, p. 19). This culture of manliness being validated by way of violence was characteristic of Southern honor and seems to have crossed gender-lines without difficulty.
In order for the sort of ritualized killing embodied by dueling to continue, there needed to be a sort of conformity that existed above and beyond independent thought. “Dueling depended strongly on those who gave faithful and somteis mindless adherence to the trappings of social elitism, who paid open homage to controlleed violence as being synonymous wwith both maleness and personal honor (Williams, p. 39)”. As we can see from the examples above, it was not only men who adhered to these notions of what defined them as masculine. Race and Class
White Southerners saw themselves as aristocrats and, like all good aristocrats, one’s position could partially be measured by the amount of land over which one held power. Landownership was important for a great deal more than economic advance. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries landownership provided the necessary key to respected social position and to participation in political life (Cooper & Cooper, p. 6) This, of course, is anathema to the Northern ideal—if not always the practice—that all members of a society are entitled to an equal voice in politics.
It is also indicative of the way in which Southern society was divided along class lines. However deep these divisions between rich and poor may have been, however, there were nowhere near as deep as the divisions between black and white which, in the old South, amounted to a division between human beings and those treated as if they were something less. Southern blacks were excluded from most of the benefits of personhood which, obviously, excluded them from the culture of honor which dominated the South.
In fact, blacks weren’t even able to make a legally-binding statement. Those outside the commuiyt ranks, most especially blacks in the American South, were inelegible for oath-taking. For that reason, among others, slaves and free blacks could not serve as witnesses in trials of whites (Wyatt-Brown, p. 57). Oath-taking, denoting an unwritten, unbreakable code of ethics among men of honor, was an obsession in the South. Taking on debts, particuarly, was an instance where an oath substituted for the stronger bonds of family among Southern whites (Wyatt-Brown, p.
55). This exclusionary idea of whom could give an oath, only a man whose honor was beyond reproach, and who could not, those classes and peoples who honor was suspect because of social rank or racial background, kept the white aristocracy on a pedestal forever above those they considered their lessers. It also presented an obvious route to a duel, should conflicts over loyalty to an oath ever present. To defy an oath was, essentially, to lie and to accuse one of breaking an oath was to call them a liar.
In its exclusionary nature, the cutulre of honor had obvious connections to the perpetuation of the institution of slavery. Slaves were deprived by masters of all the elements necessary for the formal duels of gentlemen of honor. They could not exchange notes because law and custom forbid their literacy. After all, a slave who could write a challenge could also write a pass allowing him his freedom—or could read the abolitionist press. (Greenberg, p. 34) Likewise, a slave would certainly not be give the knife, sword or pistol of the duelist! A weapon of avenging one’s honor could easily be turned upon one’s master.
While a gentleman was encouraged to risk his life in the defense of his honor, the institution of slavery was largely dependent upon the fear of life and limb on the part of the slaves. The last thing a slave owner wanted to encourage in his slaves was a willingness to risk their lives, lest they decide to risk those lives in an attempt to escape (Greenberg, p. 34). Of course, if a slave were encouraged to have a personal sense of honor, it is only obvious where he might find the first offender of that honor and against whom he may well have chose to avenge himself.
Likewise, because a slave was absolutely subject to the will of his master and unable to form any legal contracts on his own (Oakes, p. 4), he was, by default unable to enter into the legal and honorbound world. How could someone less than a man deliver an insult to a man? How could one impugn the honesty of another man if his honesty, by virute of his race, was always assumed to be non-existent? OPPOSITION TO DUELING The impact of dueling was so great on Southern life that officials in some states still have to swear an oath regarding their opposition to and non-involvement in the old practice.
Dueling in Kentucky dueling remains a serious matter. In Section 228 of the state’s constitution there remains a link with Kentucky’s violent past. That link is the famous “dueling clause. ” Since 1891, the commonwealth’s officials have had to swear or affirm that “since the adoption of the present Constitution, I being a citizen of the state, have not fought a duel with deadly weapons within the State or nor out of it, nor have I sent or accepted a challenge to fight a duel with deadly weapons, nor have I acted as a Second in carrying a challenge nor aided or assisted any person thus offending, so help me God.
(Kentucky, 2005) Given the strict culture of honor in the South and the very real damage that could be done to a man’s economic and social status by turning down a challenge, legislators found themselves with a complex legal problem: How does one pass a law that protects a man’s honor and allows him to turn down a challenge to duel? For those men who already were serving as government officials, it was easy enough to make laws such as the Kentucky law quoted above to deal with the problem.
“The problem was that the people who engaged in duels thought of themselves as members of an elite; and if a gentleman said, ‘I can’t duel because I’ll go to jail,’ his challenger would accuse him of being a coward. ” So the states in the early 19th century tried an indirect approach: They passed a series of laws that attempted to break the connection between dueling and honor by prohibiting people who dueled from holding public office (Rosen, 2002).
A curious example of dueling, once a symbol of the status of those who had access to power now becoming a barrier to the legal, governmental power structure that would come to replace the old aristocracy of the South. Ostracism and criminalization were frequently used as means to discourage dueling. Another solution, though it seems to brush up hard against the first amendment, was to pass laws prohibiting “fighting words”. Fighting words being those said with the intention of inciting violence, whether they be true or not.
By 1942, the Supreme Court had “marginally enshrined” the concept of “fighting words” as constitutional (Rosen, 2002). Even though the concept had been accepted, by the time 1942 came along the culture of honor that would have led to personal insults resulting in duels to the death had long since passed away. The Old South was forever gone and, with it, the need for gentlemen to settle their disputes, however petty they may seem by modern standards, with a flintlock pistol or shotgun. Another antidote to the culture of honor was ridicule.
A New York Times Article from May 19. 1886 betrays a bit of Northern condescension toward the honorable society of the sophisticated Southern gentry: What would a few years ago have been a difficulty between two eminent Colonels in North Carolina has now shrunk to the proportions of an affair, and now seems likely to dwindled still further to a mere incident. It is well worth noting as an illustration of how far modern ideas have penetrated the fastness to which chivalry has betaken itself (New York Times, 1886).
With the end of the Confederacy came the end of the antebellum notions of honor and, with it, the feeling, at least in the Northern states, that its demise was no cause for nostalgia but a sign of progress. RULES OF THE GAME Like the vast majority of the men who engaged in then, duels had their roots in Europe. Like many early American customs, dueling was imported. Starting in the Middle Ages, European nobles had defended their honor in man-to-man battles. An early version of dueling was known as “judicial combat,” so called because God allegedly judged the man in the right and let him win (Public Broadcasting Service, 2000).
Above all other things, duels are a highly regulated, ritualized form of violence. They are not a spontaneous brawl nor are they an organized military battle where commanders endeavor to keep their tactics and intentions secret from their opponents. In a duel, both parties know the rules from the start and make their intentions clear. If there is a source document for the accepted rules of dueling, it would have to be the 1777 Code Duello, written by a group of Irishmen (Public Broadcasting Service, 2000).
The code was finalized at Clonmel Summer Assizes and intended to be adopted throughout Ireland. It was followed in adoption in England and in America with some variations in the latter (Public Broadcasting Service, 2000). The rules are quite exacting. The first rule, in fact, specifies that in a case where a man was insulted, it is the obligation of he who insulted him to apologize first, even if the insulted offered a much harsher retort than the original insult.
Much of the document has to do less with the rules of the actual duel and more to do with mending the wounds to the insulted party’s honor, or ego. The Code Duello applies to combat undertaken with sword and gun but does mention the most condescending form of punishment, being beaten or caned, usually reserved for lower classes, in the context of offering oneself to be caned as a way of apologizing and taking responsibility for the instigating insult. Rule 5. As a blow is strictly prohibited under any circumstances among gentlemen, no verbal apology can be received for such an insult.
The alternatives, therefore — the offender handing a cane to the injured party, to be used on his own back, at the same time begging pardon; firing on until one or both are disabled; or exchanging three shots, and then asking pardon without proffer of the cane (Public Broadcasting Service, 2000). The rules are predictably chauvinistic, as well, insults to a lady being regarded as particularly heinous and requiring their own extreme form of apology. Two of the rules are particularly interesting in the way they act to control the violence.
Rule 13 states that there shall be no “dumb shooting” or firing into the air as a means of preventing frivolous disputes from escalating to the level of a duel. Though the rule stipulates that “The challenger ought not to have challenged without receiving offence” and that the challenged should have apologized before he reached the place of the duel. Jackson and Avery, in a duel where they both forewent taking a fatal shot at their opponent, clearly both violated this rule. Depending on one’s perspective, this could be taken to both of their credits or detriments where honor is concerned.
Seconds, through whom the duelists communicated and who were responsible for arranging the terms and rules of the duel, are regulated heavily in behavior and station in the Code Duello. Seconds were to be the duelist’s equal in social rank. The Second’s job, aside from facilitating and arranging the duel, was to try to reach reconciliation between the parties. According to Rule 21 of the Code, “Seconds are bound to attempt a reconciliation before the meeting takes place, or after sufficient firing or hits, as specified. ”
What is particularly telling about The Code Duello is the specificity of the rules. Dueling was clearly a sport, though a deadly one, by which men could redeem whatever honor had been taken from them by an insult, deed or implication. As gentlemen, the strictly-regulated nature of their conflicts separated them from the brawlers of the lower classes. In America, there were conventions not specified in the Code Duello. Duelists, though their Seconds could draw up contracts detailing the specifics of the duel and weapons other than pistols or swords could be used at the duelist’s preference (Williams, p.
50). Particularly deadly as a dueling weapon was the shotgun. Where the high degree of inaccuracy associated with smooth-bore, flintlock weapons may well have saved the lives of more than one duelist (see the Clingman vs. Yancey duel described below) a shotgun requires little skill to ensure a hit. However, even among the elite classes, dueling was not automatically thought of as manly or honorable and was even viewed with scorn by some of America’s most famous men.
George Washington congratulated one of his officers on refusing a challenge to duel (Public Broadcasting Service, 2000), quite different from what would have been expected by a Southern military man who had declined such a challenge. Benjamin Franklin, for his part, failed to see the point of dueling at all. “For him , the duels seemed a pointless activity because it could not determine whether a man had really lied… (Greenberg, p. 14). ” From Franklin’s perspective, all the emphasis on honor was rather silly.
For the Northerner, a duel over a debt failed to get the money back and was, therefore, essentially useless. For the Southern gentleman, the debt itself was pointless, the duel was about honor and tradition (Greenberg, p. 15). It would be difficult to find a modern American equivalent to the honor dueling that took place in the antebellum South. One could argue that sports such as boxing, wrestling and the “cage fighting” events such as the Ultimate Fighting Challenge are similar, but they are typically arranged fights based on factors such as weight class and fighting record, not on personal slights.
While a fist-fight may erupt over an insult to a woman’s honor or a man’s, these are not the regulated, proscribed duels of the past. In short, a duel existed as a means of controlling and regulating violence as much as it was a means of fostering it. Where the modern world is concerned, the heavily-regulated and ritualized world of the Southern gentleman duelist is conspicuously absent. NOTABLE AMERICAN DUELS Burr vs. Hamilton On July 11, 1804, long-standing political and personal tension between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton, two of America’s “founding fathers” came to a head.
Their rivalry was longstanding and Burr believed he may have been the President, instead of the Vice President, if it had not been for Hamilton’s interference (America’s Library, 2008). The Hamilton-Burr duel is an instance where a personal insult was the impetus for the duel. Hamilton voiced his disdain for Burr at a political dinner held for the Federalist party. The exact slur was not printed but Burr twice demanded and failed to receive what he would have considered an adequate apology from Hamilton. After failing the Second time, Burr demanded a duel (Jefferson National Expansion, 2008).
Burr, ultimately, did receive “satisfaction”. He shot and mortally wounded Hamilton, who shot his pistol into the air, and Hamilton died the next day (Jefferson National Expansion, 2008). Burr was indicted for murder, dueling was not legal in New York, but was never prosecuted for the crime (America’s Library, 2008). He went on to serve out his term as Vice President. A question that had plagued historians is why, exactly, these men undertook such a drastic means of settling what amount to a fairly petty matter. For Burr, obviously, the idea of avenging an insult is explanation enough.
But Hamilton was opposed to dueling on moral and religious grounds. He did not even expect to be challenged to a duel but was known for being very protective of his notions of personal honor, possibly because of his insecurities concerning his own illegitimacy (Freeman, 1996). However, Hamilton’s failure to respond was not meant as an insult. Rather, a friend, Rufus king, advised Hamilton that the letter sent to Hamilton by Burr did not merit a response. Hamilton intended to accept a challenge should it have been offered but he hadn’t any intention of shooting Burr (Freeman, 1996).
According to Joanne B. Freeman, Hamilton’s moral reasoning for accepting the duel was thus: He had satisfied the code of honor by accepting Burr’s challenge, violating the civil law only under duress. He had maintained his political integrity by refusing to apologize for heartfelt political convictions. Now he would uphold his moral and religious principles by withholding his fire (Freeman, 1996). It is interesting that Hamilton wanted none of the “satisfaction” of killing or wounding his opponent. As we shall see, this pageant aspect of dueling was not entirely unique, as represented in the Jackson vs.
Avery duel described below. For Hamilton, his honor would be sustained by not killing his opponent. Convoluted reasoning, to be certain, but quite in line with the more Northern ideal that honor could be measured by a man’s ability to withhold from vices, in this case bloodlust. Hamilton saw the honor in dueling not in the death of his opponent, but in having the courage to participate in such an affair, which he felt would benefit him politically as well as personally (Freeman, 1996). Jackson vs. Dickinson
A very characteristically Southern duel between Andrew Jackson and Charles Dickinson. Charles Dickinson, 27 years old and having had a few drinks in him, made some “uncomplimentary remarks about Rachel Jackson, Andrew’s Wife, who was the subject of much gossip (Williams, p. 18). ” The reaction was predictable, the next day Andrew Jackson confronted Dickinson, who attempted to no avail to apologize and found himself facing off against Jackson on “the field of honor” in May of 1806. According to William’s account, Dickinson aimed and did successfully wound Jackson in the chest.
Old Hickory, however, lived up to his name and did not fall when struck. He clutched the wound, took one shot that failed to discharge his weapon and then a Second that killed Dickinson. Clay vs. Randolph On Saturday, April 8, 1825, Henry Clay and John Randolph squared off in Virginia over the latter’s support for John Quincy Adams and Clay’s having insulted Randolph for it. Randolph had a reputation for being a deadly-accurate marksman and it was assumed among most Washington officials that Clay would not survive the encounter.
What followed was as farcical as any duel could have been. Randolph’s pistol discharged before the duel was underway. Clay, not satisfied, insisted that they carry though. The duel was held at thirty-steps distance, apparently beyond the marksmanship skills of either duelist. Clay shot and hit the ground, Randolph managed to hit a tree stump. Still, despite the urging of a Second, they insisted on carrying through. The third attempt was slightly more impressive, Clay managed to penetrate Randolph’s coat. Randolph, according to the Code Duello, now had the right to fire upon Clay.
After stretching out the moment, apparently for maximum dramatic impact, he opted to fire into the air, against the rules of the Code Duello. Clay inquired whether he had injured Mr. Randolph’s to which Randolph replied “No, Mr. Clay. But you owe me a new coat. ” (Kentucky, 2005) NOTABLE NORTH CAROLINA DUELS Carson vs. Vance The Carson vs. Vance duel is representative of most Southern duels in both its impetus and the means in which it was conducted. Samuel P. Carson and Robert Brank Vance would seem, at first blush, to be men who had much in common.
Both were known for their intelligence, their political skill and their charisma. In fact, the pair of them were friends before a political debate and a series of bitter slurs against Carson and his family on the part of Vance would tear the two apart and lead to their meeting on “the field of honor”. Vance and Carson both came from families with prestigious backgrounds, Carson’s noted for his father’s service under Washington. Vance was a physician who, upon winning a lottery, retired early and entered politics. Both served as members of Congress where their skill came to be well-respected among their peers.
Carson, for his part, was popular not only among people of his own class but even among the slaves at his father’s plantation. Vance was noticeably short, having a left leg six inches shorter than his right but his remarkable intelligence came to overshadow his physical form to most who made his acquaintance. Though the two were friends, during the course of a political debate in 1827, Vance would set into motion a series of events that would lead to their eventual duel. During the debate, after both men insinuated that the other wasn’t so honest or trustworthy as they represented, Vance called Carson, in so many words, a coward.
Vance did not believe that Carson would ever resort to a duel as Carson had refused to enter one years before. Things got even worse when Vance began attacking Carson’s father’s military record. Implying that Col. Carson had sought the protection of the British, Vance essentially accused the Colonel, and, thereby his family, of being cowards and unworthy of their social status. Vance, despite his rather vicious efforts to disparage his opponent, lost the election. Colonel Carson wrote Vance an angry letter in regards to the accusations.
Vance replied that he could not have an altercation with so aged a man as Colonel Carson and said that one of the Colonel’s son’s should step up to defend the old man’s honor. Colonel Carson sent a proxy to inquire as to which son Vance meant and Vance replied that Sam knew that Vance was speaking of him. Sam accepted the challenge. The duel took place on Saluda Gap on the North/South Carolina line. The weapons were pistols at ten yards. Vance missed his mark but Carson did not, sending a ball through Vance’s hip where it lodged. Vance died of his wound about 30 hours later at a hotel.
Carson had expressed a desire to speak with Vance following the duel and Vance said that he held no ill-will toward Carson. The two never did speak, however, and the incident is said to have had negative repercussions on Carson for the rest of his life (Arthur, 1914). Clingman vs. Yancey Depending upon one’s view of the custom of dueling, the “duel” between Thomas Clingman and William Yancey was either a noble instance of two men desperately trying to uphold the rigid customs of honor or a revealing example of the ridiculous nature of wanting to avenge insult with murder.
Yancey, an Alabama congressman, had viciously attacked Clingman in a political speech, impugning Clingman’s loyalty to the South. This was in retaliation to Clingman’s attacks upon the Democrats which was a notably fiery piece of rhetoric (Jeffrey, p. 49). Both speeches were characteristic of the fierce partisanship of the time. Clingman was a Whig and Yancey a Democrat. However, a distinction between the remarks given by Clingman and those given by Yancey were that Yancey’s attacked Clingman personally .
Clingman’s remarks were certainly over-the-top but they were not, at least in a personal sense, over-the-line (Jeffrey, p. 49). Yancey had turned the art of parliamentary rhetoric into a personal assault. The North Carolina Standard said that “Never was any man so severely castigated as Mr. Clingman was. (Jeffrey, p. 49). On January 6 or 1845 Clingman told Yancey that he intended to press the matter. He challenged Yancey to meet him in Baltimore where he intended to deliver a formal challenge. Unfortunately, despite Clingman’s enthusiasm for the duel, he was not familiar with the art of shooting