Copyright © 2012 Katherine Cooch Rau, www.katecooch.com
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Can you imagine the secretary of state and a powerful, longtime senator arguing at a Senate hearing? Definitely, right? Now imagine that confrontation escalating when one of the two claims the other has hurt his reputation and that the disagreement must be dealt with through a duel. While this scenario might seem ridiculous, arguments were resolved in this manner in the United States for hundreds of years. The practice of dueling occurred throughout the US, including in Virginia, and more specifically, in Fairfax County. This particular scenario, of the secretary of state and a senator fighting to the death over politics, took place in Fairfax County’s most famous duel—the one between Secretary of State Henry Clay and Senator John Randolph.