There was a time when chivalry and honor were understood by all; even those who lacked one or both. Those were the days when men would die to protect the honor of their family. Men would come to the aid of a lady in distress under any circumstances.
To challenge a man’s integrity, his wife’s chastity, his father’s courage, or to display arrogant political differences could invite a deadly challenge; a duel.
Unlike European sword duels, the U.S. developed the duel by pistol.
Usually, challenges were delivered in writing by one or more close friends who acted as “seconds”. The challenge, written in formal language, provided the grievances and a demand for satisfaction. The challenged party then had the choice of accepting or refusing the challenge. A refusal would almost always be an act of cowardice.
It was the job of the seconds to make all of the arrangements in advance, including how long the fight would last and what conditions would end the duel.
In pistol duels, the number of shots to be permitted and the range were outlined. The seconds would ensure the ground chosen gave no unfair advantage to either party. A doctor or surgeon was usually arranged to be on hand.
Over the years, duels were outlawed in the U.S. They are obviously illegal today. But, when I hear of all the personal insults, extremely rude and arrogant behavior, and blistering attacks made by politicians (and other people) against one another and third parties, I wonder if some of these folks would behave differently if they lived in the 1800’s.
I do not believe that dueling should be legal today. I do not condone, advocate, or encourage violence in an unlawful manner. But, it is interesting to consider the following questions for academic purposes only.
Would arrogant, reckless, and insulting people involved in political activity find a sense of manners, choose their words more carefully, or show a higher level of respect for those with opposing viewpoints? These are interesting questions to ponder. Regarding the last question, there are probably few men or women today who would utter the words, “Challenge Accepted.”
Jason W. Swindle Sr. is a Senior Partner and Criminal Defense Attorney at Swindle Law Group in Carrollton.