Today’s guest post is by Janice Hyde, director of the Law Library Global Legal Collection Directorate.
In a previous post prepared by my colleague Robert Brammer, he noted that Kentucky outlawed dueling in 1799. I learned recently that this practice was legal for many more years in the District of Columbia and for even longer in my home state of Maryland. On August 24, 1814, the British burned the Capitol building in Washington, DC. But before the British marched to Washington, they fought American forces in a battle in Bladensburg, MD. On the two hundredth anniversary of this battle, I was following in the footsteps of the British and stumbled upon this marker which sits on a spot in Maryland just over the border from the District of Columbia. Dueling in the District was outlawed in 1839 but continued to be legal in Maryland for some time. Law-abiding gentlemen wishing to settle their differences by way of a duel had no choice but to cross the border, and this plaque marks their preferred site. Two members of Congress were reputedly among the first to duel here.