Missouri State Archives
Crack of the Pistol:
Dueling in 19th Century Missouri
Dueling in the 19th Century
NOTE: This is a bibliography of scholarly studies about the institution of dueling in Missouri and in the United States. The works included may be advanced for some school-age readers. The bibliography, therefore, is intended as a resource for teachers interested in gaining a deeper understanding of these topics.
Christensen, William O., and William E. Foley, Gary R. Kremer, Kenneth H. Winn, eds. Dictionary of Missouri Biography. Columbia [Mo.}: University of Missouri Press, 1999.
Edited by four leading authorities on Missouri history with contributions from over three hundred authors, this book is considered an indispensable reference work on Missouri history. In an easy-to-read style, the volume contains over seven hundred biographies of men and women who have influenced state and national history.
Foley, William E., The Genesis of Missouri: From Wilderness Outpost to Statehood. Columbia [Mo.]: University of Missouri Press, 1989.
This book recounts the interaction of the diverse groups who settled Missouri. Foley tells the story of pioneers, trappers, and traders as well as the St. Louis elite who shaped the politics and economics of early Missouri history.
Goodrich, James W., and Lynn Wolf Gentzler, eds. “’I Well Remember’: David Holmes Conrad’s Recollection of St. Louis, 1819-1823.” Pt.2. Missouri Historical Review. 90, no.2 (January 1996):129-165.
This article is a personal narrative containing detailed descriptions of prominent men in the early history of Missouri. From the perspective of a nineteenth century gentleman, Holmes describes Missouri and St. Louis in the 1820s. Included is an interesting narrative about a challenge to a duel resolved by seconds through reconciliation.
Freeman, Joanne B. Affairs of Honor. New Haven [Ct.]: Yale University Press, 2001.
This book provides an assessment of politics in the early American republic. Insight into the code of honor and its impact on our Founding Fathers’ public and private lives is provided.
Ravenswaay, Charles van. “Bloody Island: Honor and Violence in Early Nineteenth-Century St. Louis.” Missouri Historical Review. 10, no.4 (Spring 1990): 4-21.
Ravenswaay describes the violence that was common in nineteenth century St. Louis and explains the political tension that provided the backdrop for the Benton-Lucas duel. Interesting narratives introduce the reader to key figures in the duel.
Shoemaker, Floyd C. Missouri, Day by Day. Vol.1 Jefferson City [Mo.]: Mid-state Printing Co., 1942.
This book is a highly readable account of people and events in the history of Missouri. It offers concise, informative narratives documenting Missouri’s most important events and notable citizens. Volume one presents a day by day calendar of significant events in Missouri history that occurred during the months of January through June. Short biographies of duelists Benton, Leonard, Gratz Brown, and an account of the Barton- Rector duel are included.
Shoemaker, Floyd C. Missouri, Day by Day. Vol. 2 Jefferson City [Mo.]: Mid-state Printing Co., 1943.
Volume two continues the day by day accounts of significant events and important people in Missouri history. In the same format as volume one, the remaining six months of the year, July through December, have been covered in volume two. Narratives of the Benton-Lucas, Pettis-Biddle, Brown-Reynolds, Fenwick-Crittenden, and the Marmaduke-Walker duels are contained in volume two.
Steward, Dick. Duels and the Roots of Violence in Missouri. Columbia [Mo.]: University of Missouri Press, 2000.
Steward provides an in-depth analysis of the evolution, origins, and rise to popularity of dueling in Missouri. Numerous accounts of well-known and obscure Missourians who participated in duels are provided. Steward also traces the impact of dueling on violence in society today.
Steward, Dick. “The Bitter Sport of Gentlemen: The Leonard-Berry Duel of 1824.” Gateway Heritage. 12, no. 2 (Fall 1991): 48-57.
This article details the 1824 Wolf Island duel between Abiel Leonard and Major Taylor Berry. Steward traces the influence of the code of honor in early Missouri, Leonard’s early frontier struggles, and his subsequent rise to prominence following the duel.