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The Ten Duel Commandments are a fictionalized list of rules for a duel. They are referenced multiple times during Hamilton. They are based on the Code duello, an overarching name for the rules of dueling, varying place to place

There are 3 duels during Hamilton that use the commandments.

The Commandments

The Commandments are relatively simple and straight-forward, all leading up to the duel before counting to 10 and firing.

They are referenced directly 3 times during the play, Ten Duel Commandments, Blow Us All Away, and The World Was Wide Enough. The ultimate countdown is subtly referenced to in Take A Break.

1. Agree to the duel

 
"The challenge; demand satisfaction"
— 

This rule is vital in starting the duel. Once provoked, the challenger would demand satisfaction from the opponent. If they apologize for their words, they would part ways.

Laurens v. Lee

Charles Lee aggravated Alexander Hamilton and George Washington after The Battle of Monmouth. Unable to act upon it, John Laurens stepped in and challenged Lee.

Hamilton v. Eacker

After George Eacker publicly calling Alexander Hamilton out as a "scoundrel", Philip Hamilton stepped in to defend his father's honour, challenging Eacker in Park Theatre.

Burr v. Hamilton

After Alexander Hamilton publicly calls Aaron Burr unfit for the presidency, Burr reaches the end of his tether with his years of issues with Hamilton and challenges him.

2. Assign a second-in-command

To carry out the rest of the commandments, the opponents need to assign someone they trust to be their Right Hand Man.

In Laurens v. Lee, Hamilton and Burr were appointed respectively. In Hamilton v. Eacker, friends were appointed but never named. In Burr v, Hamilton, William P. Van Ness and Nathaniel Pendelton were appointed respectively.

 
"Grab a friend that's your second. Your lieutenant, when there's reckoning to be reckoned"
— 


3. Have your seconds meet

To ensure there is no misinterpretation on either side, the second in commands meet to make sure that the duel will go ahead.

 
"Have your seconds meet face-to-face. Negotiate a peace, or negotiate a time and place"
— 


4. Organize weapons and medical help.

Once the details of where and when the duel will take place, the next step is to acquire a pistol and to hire a doctor to be on the scene after the duel. Whether to save the loser's life or to pronounce them dead.

They advise that he is paid in advance, for obvious reasons and that he is treated well, as it could easily have an impact on the doctor's efforts to save their life. It also states that he should not witness the duel, in order to have deniability on a technical factor of an unlawful activities.

Whilst there were doctors on site for each duel, Burr was sent away with Lee for medical help, Philip Hamilton was taken to a hospital with life-threatening injuries and Alexander Hamilton was pronounced dead on site.

 
"Time to get some pistols and a doctor on site"
— 


5. Duel before dawn

This rule speaks toward the time-frame of the challenge. It states that the duel must happen in the early morning, giving the opponents ample time to sober up or think it over. It also advises that its out of the way and in a dry area, so as not to affect the impact of the shot, as a wet atmosphere may affect the pistols effectiveness. However, this should have already been decided during the 2nd Commandment.

 
"Duel before the sun is in the sky, pick a place to die where its high and dry"
— 


6. Leave a message

This step is a preemptive step before the likely event of each participants death. Obviously, in the end, only one of them will have needed to do this, if the duel does result in death. It also prepares the dueler for their possible demise

 
"Leave a note for your next of kin. Tell them where you've been, pray that hell or heaven lets you in."
— 


7. Pray.

Due to the time of the commandments being written, the majority of people were religious in some form, and the challengers would likely believe in an afterlife. It is also there to prepare them with a cool head and closure.

 
"Confess your sins, ready for the moment of adrenaline"
— 


8. Have your seconds meet again

A repeat of step 2, after a chance to think it over, the seconds meet again to ensure that both parties still believe in their causes and wish to go ahead with the duel.

No peace talks ever proved fruitful in the Hamilton duels.

 
"Last chance to negotiate. Send in your seconds, see if they can set the record straight."
— 


9. Take your places.

This is the final command before the climactic finale, telling the participants to look them in the eye, as you won't be aiming any higher than that point, for risk of missing.

 
"Look them in the eye aim no higher. Summon all the courage you require."
— 


10. Fire

This is the final and most obvious commandment. They shake hands, walk ten paces away from each other, turn around and fire.

Laurens v. Lee

While Laurens does fire upon Lee, it is not fatal and neither opponent dies.

Hamilton v. Eacker

Alexander advises his son to omit this commandment and no others, reasoning that if he fires in the air that Eacker would follow suit. This results in Philip's death in a hospital bed.

Burr v. Hamilton

Following his own advice, Alexander ignores this commandment and aims for the sky, resulting in his death.

 
"Ten Paces, Fire!"
— 
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