American history partisans will face off today in the Caribbean island’s reenactment of the 1802 Burr-Hamilton duel between then-Vice President of the United States Aaron Burr and former Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton.
Both men had summer homes on Blacktip Island, and a number of island residents claim descent from one or the other of the men.
“After the original duel, feuding between the factions got so bad, it nearly depopulated the island,” Blacktip’s historian Smithson Altschul said. “To keep the peace, they started choosing one person from each to side fight it out.”
The duel’s loser and his supporters must lead the post-duel parade past the island’s scuba diving resorts wearing only Union Jack Speedos and fuzzy pink bunny ears, singing ‘I’m a Little Teapot.’
Island native Rocky Shore will represent the Burrists. Dermott Bottoms will represent the Hamiltonians.
“Guns are illegal, and last summer’s lionfish spear exchange got messy, so we’re using coconuts this year,” Rocky Shore said.
“Used rubber band pistols once, but that wasn’t dignified,” said Dermott Bottoms. “This’s a serious business, you know.”
“The duel’ll be up on The Bluff, on the Heights of Blacktip,” Bottoms’ second Polly Parrett said. “It’s also Blacktip Haven’s parking lot. They’ve set up grandstands and beer stalls so people can make an afternoon of it.”
Island police have doubled their numbers for the event.
“We’re flying in an extra officer to make sure the duel is confined to the two designated combatants,” Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette said. “We won’t have another all-night, island-wide broom melee of a couple of years back.”
Both sides are confident of victory.
“Dermott’s a big guy, with a hell of an arm,” Burr supporter Gage Hoase said. “But he popped his collarbone last month. He can’t make a full follow-through. He’ll float everything high and right.”
The Hamiltonians aren’t worried.
“Rocky takes that first coconut upside the head, he won’t have a choice about wearing those ears,” Polly Parrett said. “He goes down, I’ll sit on him and put ‘em on him myself.”
“I don’t understand a bit of this,” island visitor Kitty Mitchell said. “But it sounds fun drinking beer and watching people throw coconuts at each other.”
“It’s roots are American, but at its heart it’s all Blacktip,” said island resident Sgt. Major (ret.) Beaugregory Damsil, “Drinking beer and fighting is what Blacktip folks do best.
“It breaks the monotony, as well. And I’ve several US $10 wagers on Hamilton.”