Date of Graduation
Bachelor of Arts
On September 27, 1817, Thomas Hart Benton, a young St. Louis attorney and an aspiring politician, killed a fellow gentleman lawyer in their second duel together, prompting a significant amount of controversy within the community. While much of the St. Louis press attacked Benton for his part in the bloody feud, threatening his political career, three years later the Missouri General Assembly elected him as one of the stateâ€™s first two U.S. Senators. He would go on to become one of the most prominent figures in the national Democratic Party and antebellum politics. This essay will explore his political ascendency after killing a man in a duel â€“ during a time when dueling in many ways seemed to be in disrepute. Bentonâ€™s duel and subsequent election to the Senate will serve as a case study of duelingâ€™s role in politics in the trans-Mississippi region. But this new look at Bentonâ€™s political ascendency also contributes to the scholarship concerning Missouriâ€™s transition from territory to state. Through a geographic analysis of the Missouri General Assembly vote for U.S. Senators in 1820, this essay will shed light on an election that is largely ignored or oversimplified by historians.
Cox, Kaleb, "A History of Violence: Thomas Hart Benton and the Impact of Dueling in the Politics of the Old Southwest" (2012). History Undergraduate Honors Theses. 1.