Thomas Fleming is a prize-winning historian and bestselling author and expert on the American Revolution.
(CNN)Few people understand that Alexander Hamilton, betting that Aaron Burr's first shot would miss, planned to fire in the air. Called a "delope," it was a duelist's way of humiliating an opponent by suggesting he wasn't worth shooting. Hamilton had messed up his attempt to dump sitting president John Adams. He needed a great leap forward to regain his status as the leader of the Federalists, forerunners of today's Republicans.