Abraham Lincoln, duelist? Hamilton and Burr were not the only prominent duelists in US history. In the early morning hours of September 22, 1842, a young Abraham Lincoln crossed the Mississippi River at Alton, IL on his way to a small island where he would engage in mortal combat with a political adversary. Lincoln had used his sarcastic wit to write anonymous letters to the editor lampooning a political rival, James Shields. Some of his friends joined in and perhaps went a little too far, including suggestions of Shields' inadequacies with the ladies. One of these friends included Lincoln's future wife, Mary Todd. Shields demanded a duel and Lincoln defined the parameters of the duel - broadswords in a pit.