Is or was a duel to the death legal in the US?

Suppose that you’ve been challenged to a duel. You participate, and as fate would have it, emerge the victor.

Are you now to be charged with murder?

There are famous duels in American history, such as Burr-Hamilton.

If duelling was legal at some point, is it still today? Was it illegal, but perhaps the law would look the other way?

These things keep us concerned citizens up at night.

According to the bastion of knowledge that is Wikipedia:

“Some U.S. states do not have any statute or constitutional provision prohibiting duelling, though the party causing injury in a duel may be prosecuted under the applicable laws relating to bodily harm or manslaughter.”

Apparently in Jackson Hole WY., there was a infamous event that happened in the last 40 years or so, which many locals actually witnessed.

A wealthy guy (as I understand it, REALLY rich, at least in those days) was sleeping with another man’s wife, and the man somehow found out about it.

There was a challenge issued, and the two men squared off with 6-shooters in the main square of town, were the elk-horn arch is. There were many locals who were on hand to watch, and someone was killed. (problem is, I don’t remember for sure if the rich playboy got it or if it was the cuckolded husband who bit the dust)

Because of the laws in Wyoming at the time, the man who survived was never charged, as the local prosecutor felt it was a self-defense shooting.

The story was told to me by a friend who lived in Jackson for several years, (not during the time of the incident though, many years later) who said it is common knowledge among old-timers up there.
ETA—It seems to me now that the rich philanderer killed his lover’s husband, because I remember that my friend talked like the rich ol’ bastard is still living and now owns 1/2 of the entire Jackson Valley…

Kentucky’s oath of office for governors includes a statement that they have never participated in a duel http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Governor_of_Kentucky

Aaron Burr, an American Vice President was charged with murder in his duel with Alexander Hamilton. He was charged charged in NY and NJ but neither charge was ever brough to trail

Basically dueling was illegal but there were areas where it was tolerated and people knew the laws wouldn’t be enforced.

Which one? There are four in Jackson Square.

Not likely since most of Jackson Hole is owned by the federal government.

No idea, this supposedly happened several years before I was born.

As for the “owns 1/2 of Jackson Valley” thing, it was merely a little bit of hyperbole, which I suppose was easy to miss for someone intent on picking nits.

Finally, I have probably visited the Jackson/Grand Teton National Park area at least 20 different times over the years, (skiing, various music festivals, floating the Snake River, general Alpine debauch) and I am fully aware that the town square has elk-horn arches over each corner entrance…

Nits are important when trying to track down the story. I think you’ve been whooshed because Jackson in the late 1960s and early 1970s was just beginning to fall into nouveau riche money. The Rockefeller family was the principal landowner in the Valley at the beginning of the last century. John D. created a series of pseudo cattle companies to buy up most of the valley that was later donated to preserve the land as part of (later) Grand Teton National Park and the National Elk Refuge. The last major land donation occurred in 2001 when the Rockefeller family donated the final part of their original ranch.

I guess that I need to clarify.

This story supposedly did indeed actually take place, sometime within the past 40 or 50 years.

Two guys shot it out, openly in the streets of Jackson, in front of multiple witnesses, and one of the two men was killed by the other. The killer was never charged, (or if actually charged, he was found Not Guilty) as it was found to be a self-defense situation. This story is common knowledge in the area.

The bit about the surviving duelist owning 1/2 of Jackson was simply my stupid way of saying that my friend (the friend who told me this story, a guy who has actually met the ol’ bastard) claimed that the killer was a VERY wealthy and very well-known member of the Jackson community. I have no idea how the rich old gunslinger (with a taste for married pussy) really made his money.

I hope that’s clear enough.

I haven’t talked to my buddy who told me this story for a couple of months (he is currently living back here in SLC) but I will try and call him tonight and have him tell me what actually happened again.

ISTR reading about two well-known historical figures who chose to duel on some spit of land in the Mississippi river that was, at the time, legally neither in Illinois or Missouri. They did this to avoid being charged with a crime in either state. Damned if I can remember who it was, though.

This site says that deuling was legal in New Orleans until 1890.

Another famous American duelist was Andrew Jackson, who supposedly fought 13 duels, mostly over what he considered insults to his wife. He killed one man and was wounded many times.

Here (PDF) is a law review article tracing the history of anti-dueling laws, and the changing social norms that drove dueling out of favor.

You have to admit, though, that it does sound exactly like an urban legend.

Let us know if you get any more details which will point to something other than this tread in google.

I can see why he would have to defend her honor. Wow.

I think it was more about the legitimacy of their marriage and her “loose morals” prior to marriage that were the topics of discussion. Jackson was very sensitive about the subject.

Part of his sensitivity was undoubtedly due to the knowledge that the accusations (at least on the bigamy issue) were correct. Rachel was undeniably still legally married to her first husband, Lewis Robards, when she married Jackson. Robards had abandoned Rachel and left the area several years before and Andrew and Rachel would later claim that they had evidence that he had filed for and been granted a divorce in absentia. But the reality was that Robards never bothered following through on the divorce proceedings and the Jacksons had no real reason to think he had.