Midstate Memories: Dueling at Dickinson

On this day, 200 years ago, a Dickinson College student died as a result of wounds he had received the previous day in a duel with a fellow classmate. John Taylor Corbin died on December 8, 1815 after a duel with Dabney Carr Terrell (DCT). Both students were from Virginia. Terrell and several other students involved in the duel fled Carlisle to avoid prosecution, and the college board of trustees expelled them all from the college. Print

DCT was a grandnephew of Thomas Jefferson; he was the grandson of Jefferson’s sister Martha Jefferson Carr, whose daughter Lucy married Richard Terrell. Following the duel, arrangements were made for DCT to go to France and Switzerland, where Albert Gallatin served as a guardian and mentor, likely at the behest of Thomas Jefferson. DCT returned to the U.S. in the early 1820s, and in 1826 Jefferson sought a position for him at the University of Virginia teaching in the law school. DCT did not receive that position, and he moved to New Orleans, where he died shortly thereafter in 1827.

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