Aaron Burr: Single Stroke

As a colonel during the Revolutionary War, Aaron Burr treated his troops at Valley Forge with considerable kindness (providing, for example, new shoes and camp visits by local prostitutes). Dissent, however, was not treated lightly.

One day in 1777, with things looking bleak for the Continental army, the 21-year-old colonel learned that a mutiny was in the works and ordered a midnight inspection. As Burr marched down the line, a mutineer suddenly shouted, "Now's your time, boys," aimed a gun squarely at the colonel's chest and fired. The gun, however, did not go off; Burr had removed the cartridges from each man's musket during the night. As his men looked up, he stared down his would-be assassin, drew his sword and, with a single stroke, amputated the man's arm with a single stroke.

His authority was never questioned again.

[How many ballots were needed (in the House of Representatives) to break the deadlocked presidential election between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr in February 1801? 36.]

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