On February 8, 1832, Florida’s Territorial Legislature repealed an anti-dueling law. This measure effectively legalized dueling in the Florida territory. The prevalence of dueling attests to the nature of violence and elite masculinity in the antebellum south.
RC02619 Placard for a duel: Tallahassee, Florida (1839)
In the above placard, William Tradewell challenged rival politician Leigh Read to a duel. Read had previously made a series of inflammatory remarks about his opponent, causing Tradewell to demand an apology. Though the two never squared-off, both men became known for repeatedly resorting to violence as a means of solving disputes.
PR02841 English dueling pistols used in the Senator William White, Abraham Bellamy duel: Monticello, Florida (1836)
In the antebellum period, many elite southern men solved their differences by dueling. Duels usually involved firearms, but sometimes resulted in fierce hand-to-hand combat. By engaging in a duel, both participants hoped to restore honor, compromised by the real or perceived affronts of their opponent.
Tags: Florida laws