What we now call “Washington, D.C.” or “the District of Columbia” was for much of its history known simply as “Washington” or “Washington City.” It was also for many years little more than a swamp, the home of pimps, corrupt cops, thugs, and many ugly buildings. In the following excerpt from Empire of Mud, his new book, J.D. Dickey explains the finer points of old Washington’s dueling culture:
The gentlemen of Washington City did more than just attend balls, feast with abandon, raise funds for charity, and live in their elite cocoons. They had other concerns too—such as trying to kill each other. The code duello, an elaborate honor code, enabled a gentleman whose pride or dignity was impugned to murder his adversary freely, as long as he did so with the proper etiquette and ceremony.