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8 politicians who killed someone

By / 01.22.13
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Politicians Who Killed Someone

<a href="http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Andrew_Jackson.jpg" target="_blank">Wikimedia Commons</a>


We love to complain about our political leaders and call them monsters and all that fun stuff, but mostly they are just dweebs in suits hollering back and forth at each other like naughty four year-olds. But every once in a while into that juvenile playpen of madness steps a dude or lady dude with the eyes of a stone cold killer. Indeed, throughout history there have been a handful of politicians who have gone beyond arguing and actually killed a dude. And I’m not talking on the battlefield. I’m talking one-on-one peace time butchery. Some of them were an accident and some of them were on purpose, but regardless of the intent, the outcome was the same and that outcome is that these eight politicians all killed someone.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Adlai Stevenson

Thomas J. O'Halloran, <a href="http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Adlai_Stevenson_1952.jpg" target="_blank">Wikimedia Commons</a>


Former Illinois Governor and perennial foil to Dwight Eisenhower in the realm of Presidential politics, Adlai Stevenson was slightly more than just the timid looking nerd we see in pictures. Indeed, as a young boy of 12 he shot and killed a friend of his, 16 year-old Ruth Merwin at a family party. Okay fine, it was an accident and a loaded gun went off while he was demonstrating a drill technique so it wasn’t quite as sordid as I made it seem. But still, what the hell kind of family party were they having? I don’t recall too much gunplay at my family parties, but I guess the Stevenson family wasn’t afraid to get raw. Did they chase each other around the living room with machetes on Christmas morning too? Whatever the case, I’m thinking that the young miss Merwin should have come strapped down with a bulletproof vest because apparently young Stevenson wasn’t afraid to come strapped with an AK. It’s hard out there on the streets of Bloomington, Illinois.

Photo credit: Thomas J. O'Halloran, Wikimedia Commons

Thomas Hart Benton

<a href="http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Thomas_Hart_Benton_Portrait.jpg" target="_blank">Wikimedia Commons</a>


Thomas Hart Benton was an influential United States Senator from Missouri who served from 1821-1851, but a few years before he was elected he was caught up in a court case gone wild. Way wild. It would seem that Benton, a lawyer, and the opposing council in the case, Charles Lucas, accused each other of lying. That should have been the end of it, but then Benton and Lucas ran into each other and Lucas accused Benton of not paying his taxes because that’s the sort of thing that got rich dudes riled up back then. Naturally, this petty bitching escalated to a duel where Benton shot Lucas through the throat. Somehow, Lucas didn’t die and they considered the matter closed. But then rumors started flying that Benton cheated in the duel and so, in order to restore his honor, he told Lucas to grab his gun because it was dueling time again. And in this second duel, he again shot poor Lucas, this time in the heart and Lucas finally died. Less than five years later, Benton – who had shot a dude on two separate occasions remember – was elected as a Senator from Missouri. As you can see, we have always been completely insane.

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James Hamilton

<a href="http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:4thDukeOfHamilton.jpg" target="_blank">Wikimedia Commons</a>


In 1712, James Hamilton, a British Duke and member of Parliament, found himself in a dispute with another nobleman, Charles Mohun, over an inheritance. And if there’s one thing we all know about rich dudes it’s that when it comes to more money, they will throw down with God himself. And so Hamilton and Mohun called each other out and in the duel that followed, Hamilton shot Mohun in the gut, mortally wounding him. That should have been the end of it but then Mohun’s second, a dude named George MacCartney, picked up a gun and shot Hamilton to death. Oops. MacCartney and Hamilton’s second then both panicked like two gangbangers fleeing the scene of a drive-by and hauled ass across the North Sea and into Continental Europe. They were tried in absentia for murder, but were both later pardoned because really, nobody missed a couple of rich assholes who couldn’t figure out how to divvy up even more money.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Kentucky State Capitol

Sarah Elizabeth Simpson, <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/sarah_elizabeth_simpson/4352606056/sizes/z/in/photostream/" target="_blank">Flickr</a>


William J. Graves is kinda special because he actually killed a dude while he was a Congressman. In 1838, Graves, a Kentucky Representative found himself caught up in an argument between fellow Congressman Jonathan Cilley and a New York journalist named James Webb. Cilley had called Webb corrupt and hey, guess what? They decided to duel because that’s just what everyone used to do apparently. For some reason Graves got involved as Webb’s stand-in after Webb wouldn’t fight. Now this is where the whole thing gets both weird and hilarious. Apparently, Cilley was inexperienced with guns since he was a weinery politician and Graves – again for some inexplicable reason – was allowed to use a high-powered rifle. What kind of messed up duel was this? Anyway, Graves predictably wasted Cilley even though it wasn’t even his fight and went on representing the good people of Kentucky. Then again, blowing a dude away with a rifle for no reason at all is a pretty damn good representation of the average Kentuckian all by itself. I mean, have you seen Justified?

Photo credit: Sarah Elizabeth Simpson, Flickr

Georges dAnthes

<a href="http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Georges_d%27Anth%C3%A8s,_1830_%28bw%29.jpg" target="_blank">Wikimedia Commons</a>


George d’Anthes was a French Senator in the 19th century, but before he took to politics he was most famous for killing the famed Russian poet Alexander Pushkin in a duel. Apparently, d’Anthes somehow wound up living in St. Petersburg, Russia where he met Pushkin and his wife, Natalya. Almost immediately, the two men began feuding after d’Anthes hit on Natalya. Because he’s, you know, French. Eventually, d’Anthes wound up marrying Natalya’s younger sister which only inflamed things, especially since people at the time gossiped that d’Anthes only married her to throw people off the fact that he was actually banging Natalya. It didn’t work and actually exacerbated the situation, as Pushkin received an “anonymous” letter which nominated him “Deputy Grand Master and Historiograph of the Order of the Cuckolds.” Basically, d’Anthes was a dick. Pushkin responded by sending a nasty letter to d’Anthes’ adopted father because, hey, why not? Of course this whole thing ended with a duel. d’Anthes fired first and Pushkin ate it. d’Anthes was arrested and then exonerated because apparently Pushkin’s letter to his dad was that raw and the authorities figured he got was coming to him. Basically he was killed for dropping a monster diss track, sort of like Tupac.

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Andrew Jackson

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Andrew Jackson fought in so many duels – and had been shot up so many times – that it was said that he “rattled like a bag of marbles” whenever he walked. His most famous duel was probably with Charles Dickinson. Dickinson lost it after Jackson beat the hell out of a friend of his with a cane. The two traded insults back and forth before Dickinson went too far, calling the future President “a poltroon and a coward” in the local newspaper. Since dueling was illegal in Tennessee, where the two men lived, they snuck across the border to Kentucky (naturally) where shit really got wild. Dickinson was an expert duelist and Jackson figured he had no chance in a legitimate duel so he decided to just let Dickinson have the first shot, in the hopes that the dude would get nervous and miss. Now that’s a pretty balls-out gamble. Dickinson didn’t get nervous and put a slug right in Jackson’s chest. Incredibly, Jackson didn’t go down and according to the weird rules of this duel, Dickinson was forced to stand perfectly still and let Jackson take his turn. Jackson, with a bullet of his own in his chest, shot Dickinson in the heart and killed him. The bullet in Jackson’s chest was too close to his heart for doctors to operate and he carried it with him the rest of his life even though it caused him constant pain. Now that’s a badass.

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Ted Kennedy

<a href="http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ted_Kennedy,_official_photo_portrait.jpg" target="_blank">Wikimedia Commons</a>


In 1969, Senator Ted Kennedy drove his car off a bridge. His passenger, Mary Jo Kopechne, drowned while Teddy swam to safety. He then waited nine hours to report the incident and when he finally did the next morning after sleeping on it – because hey, a good night’s sleep cures everything - he pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident and was given a slap on the wrist with a two month suspended jail sentence. Still, Kennedy held onto his Senate seat for the rest of his life because, well, he was a Kennedy and she was “just” a Kopechne. I mean, come on, they could have at least forced the dude to take a few driving safety classes, right? Kennedy’s wife later miscarried, blaming the incident, because she was the real victim in all this not the lady who, you know, died. The incident – famously known as Chappaquiddick – hung over Kennedy’s head until the end of his days and was basically the only reason why he never became President.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Aaron Burr

<a href="http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Aaron_Burr-2.jpg" target="_blank">Wikimedia Commons</a>


If you think the political atmosphere is poisonous now, at least the dudes in Washington aren’t running around shooting each other like they were back in the day, and the Aaron Burr/Alexander Hamilton duel is the most famous of them all. Basically, Burr and Hamilton had been political rivals for years, sort of like John Boehner and Nancy Pelosi only not as lame. The reason why this particular duel was so famous was because of the stature of the two men. Hamilton was one of the Founding Fathers, an author of the Federalist Papers, the nation’s first Treasury Secretary, the creator of the National Bank and George Washington’s right hand man. Basically, he was the real deal, on a level with Washington, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. Burr, meanwhile, was the Vice President of the United States under Jefferson. Forget all those other duels because this was the main event.



The duel itself came about after years of political battles and personal attacks and by the time the two drew down on each other in 1804, their relationship had deteriorated to one of absolute hatred. During the duel, Burr shot Hamilton and Hamilton was carried away to a friend’s crib where he died. Burr, meanwhile, was the goddamn Vice President and so nobody knew what in the hell to do. I mean, this would be like Joe Biden capping Mitch McConnell. He was eventually arrested and charged with murder, but none of the charges stuck and Burr fled to South Carolina before creeping back to Washington since he was still the VP and hey, a job’s a job. Incredibly, Burr served out his term like nothing had ever happened and then “retired” when Thomas Jefferson dropped him from his reelection ticket. Burr then went to Europe for a few years because hey, even murderers deserve a vacation now and then before returning to the U.S. in 1812 where he lived out the rest of his life as a lawyer.

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TAGSAaron BurrAdlai StevensonAndrew JacksonArbitrary RankingsfeaturedGeorge d’AnthesJames HamiltonListsmurdererspolitical murderspoliticianspoliticians who killed peoplepolitics and murderTed KennedyThomas Hart BentonWilliam J Graves
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