Join Tryon Palace for Exciting Stanly-Spaight Duel Re-enactment

Stanly-Spaight Duel

Saturday, September 4, 2021 at 4 p.m.

Tryon Palace will stage a re-enactment of the infamous Stanly-Spaight duel on the front lawn of the New Bern Academy, 514 New Street, New Bern. The event is free and open to the public.

The event interprets one of North Carolina’s most famous duels. After years of political differences, venomous insults, and name-calling, on September 5, 1802, John Stanly and Richard Dobbs Spaight met behind the Masonic Lodge in New Bern, armed with smoothbore flintlock pistols and ready for the challenge. Spaight, a Jeffersonian Republican, was North Carolina’s first native born governor and helped write the American Constitution. Stanly, a Federalist, was a fiery young and upcoming member of Congress. A crowd of nearly 300 had gathered to watch. They met at the arranged time of 5:30 PM, and shortly thereafter fired upon each other, each missing their target. The rivals fired again, one bullet hitting a tree and the other clipping Stanly’s collar. A third exchange followed, they both missed again. The crowd shouted for the duel to end but Stanly and Spaight were too bitter to stop. On the fourth round, Spaight was hit in the side, and died the next day from his wounds. Stanly fled New Bern to avoid a murder charge but was pardoned a year later by Governor Benjamin Williams.

Join us for this exciting re-enactment of the Stanly-Spaight duel on September 4, at 4 p.m. You can participate just as the crowd did back in 1802, when initially they gathered to cheer on the political rivals and then beseeched them to stop before the fourth and final exchange. Though I doubt it will change the outcome.

For more information,, or call 252-639-3500.

By Nancy Figiel, Public Affairs Director