I find it ironic indeed, among other unnameable emotions I can’t quite place.
But this is only one of the many eerie ironies that characterized each man’s life. I have thought about this before: the fact that each man (for lack of a better term) “made up for what the other lacked.” Every time this subject comes up, I’m tempted to get metaphysical and weird and emotional—but it’s almost unavoidable when you start talking about memories and legacies.
There are the obvious physical “ironies”: the two men, each the same exact size, were oppositely colored and equally as pretty. Then there are the more concrete connections:
“Sometimes I just mull over the obscene amount of coincidences that linked Hamilton and Burr together, from Hamilton’s childhood patron Hugh Knox being taught by the Reverend Aaron Burr, Sr., to Burr being served divorce papers from his second wife on his deathbed by Alexander Hamilton, Jr.” (courtesy of publius-report)
As well as the ironic personality quirks of each man:
“The funny thing is, so many of his opinions are lost/unknown, but we get a fun glimpse into his brain in his journal. and hamilton’s opinions remain and are known, yet he never kept a journal so we have less insight to his mind. it’s sad all around.” (courtesy of humbleegomania)
And even, again, the unexplainable:
“Burr would later die of complications from [a] stroke. But interesting to note another coincidence in that both he and Hamilton had suffered complete lower paralysis from their respective complications. (another bit courtesy of publius-report)
Both men lost people that were close to them (Laurens and Theodosia), possibly changing them forever and closing off a part of their souls for good.
Both men “buried” their first born.
One man ruined his life by speaking too openly; one by not speaking enough.
If one really stops to look at both men—taking out biases and favoritism—their ironic similarities and differences become painfully vibrant. I can’t help but see both men, in their tragedies and triumphs, as two sides of the same coin.
Alexander Hamilton began his life as an utter nothing. In fact, I would argue that besides, maybe, Benjamin Franklin, Hamilton was the only other founder to truly rise from complete poverty to super-stardom. Aaron Burr began his life as the orphaned only son to the most prestigious name (again, besides Franklin) the new nation had yet seen.
Hamilton used his talents, as well as attachment to Washington, to make his way in the world. Burr disregarded Washington and preferred to go down his own path. Neither path is necessarily right or wrong—but merely complementary to the other. Neither, likewise, can be seen as a flawless decision: Hamilton’s reliance on Washington was part of his downfall after he lost Washington’s guidance. Burr’s lack of protection by older, more respected politicians and subsequent isolation was part of his eventual downfall, as well.
In more ways than one, Hamilton began his life staring at the ocean, hoping to see his ship on the horizon; Burr ended his this way.