An Aaron Burr Chronology

 

Feb. 6, 1756

Aaron Burr is born in Newark, New Jersey. His father, the Rev. Aaron Burr, is the president of the College of New Jersey, later renamed Princeton. Little Aaron nearly died in 1757.

September 24, 1757

Aaron’s father, the Rev. Aaron Burr, dies of exhaustion at age 41. He leaves an estate estimated at £10,000. (Cote, p. 10)

April 17, 1758

Aaron’s mother, Esther Edwards Burr, dies one month after her father, Rev. Jonathan Edwards, died on March 22. Both were felled by smallpox after being inoculated for same. Esther’s mother then succumbs to dysentery on October 2. (Cote, pp. 10-11)

1759

Burr and his older sister Sally are housed in Philadelphia with Dr. and Mrs. William Shippen.

March 22, 1760

Timothy Edwards, Aaron and Sally’s 21 year-old uncle, obtains formal guardianship of the two children. (Cote, p. 15)

1769

At age 13, Burr is accepted for advanced placement as a sophomore at the College of New Jersey.

September 1772

Burr graduates from college. He remains at Princeton for voluntary study until mid-1773. He inherits £10,000 from his father.

July 1775

In Massachusetts, Burr presents himself to General Washington, and asks for a commission in the Continental Army. Washington has no commissions to spare.

September 1775

Burr joins an expedition heading north to participate in an attack on the city of Quebec.

December 31, 1775

Led by General Montgomery, the attack on Quebec fails. Burr unsuccessfully attempts to carry the fallen general from the field. Burr spends the remainder of the winter with Benedict Arnold on the outskirts of Quebec.

June 22, 1776

After a short term on the staff of General Washington in New York City, Burr is assigned to Washington’s second-in-command, General Israel Putnam. (Lomask, Vol, I, p. 44)

August 1776

British General Howe lands troops in Brooklyn, overwhelming the revolutionary forces under Putnam’s (and Burr’s) command.

September 15, 1776

British land in Manhattan, and Burr effectively organizes an escape for troops trapped behind British lines.

June 29, 1777

Burr is promoted to Lt. Colonel and assumes the effective command of William Malcolm’s regiment.

September 1777

Burr and his troops frustrate a British loyalist raid on the local farmers of Bergen County, NJ.

October 1777-May 1778

Burr spends the harsh winter with suffering troops in Valley Forge, PA. He instills discipline among those in his command.

June 28, 1778

Burr participates in the Battle of Monmouth, in New Jersey.

October 24, 1778

In failing health, Burr seeks leave from military duty without pay. General Washington grants leave with pay. Burr moves to West Point.

January 1779

In command of the so-called Westchester Lines, Burr stops random lawlessness among Whigs, Tories, and soldiers. (Cote, p. 36)

March 10, 1779

Burr retires from the military. (Cote, p. 40)

July 1779

Burr rallies local militia and Yale College students as British troops attack New Haven (Cote, p. 40)

April 17, 1782

Burr is admitted to the New York State bar. (Cote, p.46)

July 2, 1782

Burr marries Theodosia Prevost at The Hermitage in a double ceremony that included the marriage of Theodosia’s half-sister, Catherine DeVisme to Dr. Joseph Brown. Ten years older than Burr, Theodosia was a widow in poor health with five children. (Cote, p.48) Both were advocates of women's rights and followers of Mary Wollstonecraft. Burr loved Theodosia for her intellect.

June 21, 1783

Theodosia Bartow Burr was born in Albany, NY. She was sickly for the first few months. (Cote, p. 50)

1784-1785

Burr serves in the New York State Assembly. He supports an unsuccessful resolution to abolish slavery. (Cote, p.58)

June 20, 1785

A second daughter, Sarah, (Sally) is born to Aaron and Theodosia. She died at three years of age in October 1788. Theodosia later experienced stillbirths of boys in February 1787 and July 1788. (Cote, pp. 54-55)

1789-1790

Burr serves as attorney general of New York State, appointed by Governor George Clinton. (Cote, p.59)

October 24, 1791

Burr takes his seat a United States Senator from New York at Philadelphia, after defeating Philip Schuyler with the help of the Livingston family on January 19,1791.

May 28, 1794

Burr’s wife, Theodosia, dies. (Lomask I, p. 197)

1798-1799

Burr serves a second term in the New York State Assembly. (Cote, p.58)

January 2,1801

Electoral College votes a tie at 73 votes each for Burr and Jefferson as President. (Cote, p. 121)

February 2,1801

Rev. Johnson of the Dutch Reformed Church marries Theodosia Burr to Joseph Alston of South Carolina in Albany. (Cote, pp. 120-1)

February 17,1801

After a seven-day impasse and 36 rounds of voting in the House of Representatives, Jefferson is elected President and Burr Vice President. (Cote, p. 122)Jefferson makes a deal with the Delaware delegate who finally changes his vote, while Burr at his daughter's wedding does no behind the scenes deal making.

March 4,1801

Aaron Burr is sworn in as vice-president of the United States.

Mid-May, 1802

Aaron Burr Alston is born (Lomask I, p. 327)

April 24-26, 1804

Burr loses a race for the governorship of New York. (Lomask I, p. 343) Angry over remarks made by Hamilton during the campaign, Burr challenges Hamilton to a duel. Hamilton knows that if he provokes Burr to challenge, that Hamilton can choose the weapons, and he has his brother-in law John Church's trick pistols available.

May 23, 1804

Burr meets with James Wilkinson at Richmond Hill, probably initiating the formal start of plans to invade Mexico.  Everyone thinks War with Spain is inevitable, and Wilkinson is in charge of the US army thanks to Burr's recommendation to Jefferson. Burr does not know Wilkinson is a paid spy for Spain.

July 11, 1804

Burr shoots Alexander Hamilton in a duel in Weehawken, New Jersey.  Burr is not injured.  Hamilton dies the next day.

July 21, 1804

Burr leaves New York City during the night, accompanied by Samuel Swartwout and Peter Yates.

August 6, 1804

Anthony Merry, British minister to the U.S., reports to London Burr’s offer to assist England in any plan to separate the western U.S. from the Atlantic coastal states. Whether Burr agreed to that or not is unknown.

August 14, 1804

New York grand jury indicts Burr, along with William Van Ness and Nathaniel Pendleton, for dueling.

August 25, 1804

Burr arrives at the plantation of Pierce Butler on St. Simon’s Island, Georgia.

Feb. 4- Mar. 1, 1805

As Vice-President, Burr presides over the Senate impeachment trial of Judge Samuel Chase.  Jefferson is furious he cannot control the judicial branch. With the slave votes by the 3/5ths rule, Jefferson's plantation supporters receive a setback from Burr.

March 2, 1805

Burr resigns the Senate after giving a sensation-causing speech. He is penniless and politically powerless.

April 10, 1805

Burr leaves Washington via horseback for Pittsburgh.

April 29, 1805

Burr arrives in Pittsburgh.

April 30, 1805

Burr and a companion, acting as his secretary, set off down the Ohio River on a sixty-foot houseboat.

May 5, 1805

Burr arrives in Marietta, Ohio. Fourteen miles south of Marietta, Burr lands on Blennerhassett Island. He dines and stays with the Blennerhassetts until 11 o'clock, then continues on his voyage.

May 30, 1805

Burr arrives in Nashville, where he is greeted with public balls and dinners. He stays four days as the guest of General Andrew Jackson.

June 1805

Burr meets with General Wilkinson, the new Governor of the Louisiana Territory, at Fort Massac. Wilkinson outfits Burr with “an elegant barge” and gives him letters of introduction to Wilkinson's friends in New Orleans.

June 25, 1805

Burr lands in New Orleans. He meets with wealthy merchant (and friend of Wilkinson), Daniel Clark. He is feasted with banquets and balls. Burr stays three weeks.

July-September, 1805

Burr travels in Tennessee, Kentucky, and Missouri, where he speaks contemptuously of the federal government.

October 27, 1806

President Jefferson issues a proclamation denouncing Burr’s western plans and warning people against them. because Jefferson saw a threat to the Slave States he represented.

November 27, 1804

Wilkinson decides not to attack the trespassing Spanish soldiers, and the anticipated war does not commence (until 30 years later at Alamo)  Jefferson publicly announces that a plan is underway to attack Mexico, and directs that the conspirators, whom he does not name, be arrested.

Oct-Dec. 1805

Burr returns East. He dines in Washington with President Jefferson. Then Burr returns to Philadelphia, where he spends the winter of 1804-05. In December, Burr writes his first letter to Harman Blennerhassett.

Early 1806

Burr contacts prominent people, soliciting their financial support for an expedition to the western states.

July 29, 1806

Burr sends a letter in cipher to General Wilkinson in New Orleans announcing he had “commenced the enterprise” and that “detachments from different points and under different pretences will rendezvous on the Ohio” River on November 1. Burr writes that the troops (pioneer settlers) will be at Natchez in early December to meet Wilkinson. “The gods invite to glory and fortune,” Burr says.  Wilkinson eliminates the beginning portion of the letter when he presents it as evidence later, and is caught doing so by Burr.

August 1806

Burr, his daughter Theodosia, Theodosia's child, and Colonel Dupiester reach Pittsburgh, and began a trip down the Ohio River. Burr and Dupiester occasionally leave the boat to gauge sentiment for their enterprise in the surrounding countryside. On one of these visits, in Washington County, Pennsylvania, Burr discloses plans that shock the patriotism of his host, Colonel Morgan. Morgan's sons join Burr's group heading west, but Morgan does not want them to leave him.  Morgan communicates his concerns to President Jefferson.

September 1806

On Blennerhassett Island, Burr makes plans for a large-scale expedition. He contracts for fifteen boats, capable of carrying 500 men, as well as for provisions. He continues his travels through Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee. In Nashville, he contracts for the building of six boats, and deposits money with Andrew Jackson to pay for them. He also purchases 400,000 acres of land on the Washita River. Blennerhassett writes letters suggesting the western states would be better off without the Atlantic states.  Burr does not necessarily see or agree with this letter.

October 1806

Wilkinson receives Burr's ciphered July letter, as well as one from Senator Jonathan Dayton asking, “Are your numerous associates ready?” Burr's messenger, Samuel Swartwout, tells Wilkinson that Burr will lead 7,000 armed men on an attack against the Mexican provinces. (to help the US army against Spain.) Wilkinson decides to actively oppose Burr's plans. He prepares New Orleans for a possible attack and sends a messenger to inform the President of Burr's plans. He says Burr's troops will sail from New Orleans on February 1 and land in Vera Cruz, to begin a march to Mexico City. Meanwhile, Burr, Alston, and Blennerhassett meet in Lexington, Kentucky. Newspapers in the West begin discussing Burr's schemes. Some denounce him as a traitor, and accuse him of plotting the breakup of the Union.

November 1806

Joe Daviess, a Federalist district attorney in Kentucky, asks for a court order to compel Burr to answer questions before a grand jury about his activities. The motion is denied, but to the surprise of Daviess, Burr voluntarily shows up in court and agrees to answer questions.

Mid-November, 1806

A confidential agent sent by President Jefferson to investigate plots in the western states meets with Blennerhassett. Believing him to be a confederate, Blennerhassett reveals plans.

November 25, 1806

The messenger sent from New Orleans by General Wilkinson on November 12 meets with President Jefferson.

November 27, 1806

Jefferson publicly announces that an illegal military operation, involving a planned attack on the dominions of Spain, is afoot in the western states. He asks that participants in the scheme by apprehended and brought to justice. Burr's name is not mentioned in the proclamation.

December 5, 1806

A Kentucky grand jury signs a written declaration exonerating Burr of any activities inimical to the peace of the country. Burr leaves for Nashville.

December 7, 1806

Four boats and about 30 men from Pennsylvania arrive at Blennerhassett Island.

December 9, 1806

The Ohio militia seizes eleven boats commissioned by Burr. Many recruits who had previously agreed to join the expedition back out. Informed of a militia about to descend on Blennerhasset Island, conspirators hastily depart around midnight in their four boats. The militia raids the wine cellar and vandalizes the mansion.

December 20, 1806

The Secretary of the Navy sends a letter ordering Navy officials in New Orleans to “intercept and if necessary destroy” boats under the command of Burr.

December 22, 1806

Burr leaves Nashville, heading down the Cumberland River.

January 5, 1807

Wilkinson learns that Burr may have several thousand men in Natchez. Martial law is proclaimed in New Orleans.

January 14, 1807

Word of Burr's arrival at Bayou Pierre reaches Natchez. A force of 275 men is dispatched to capture Burr and his recruits.

Late January 1807

Burr surrenders. (with 120+? men and nothing but small hunting guns.) However, a grand jury impaneled in the Mississippi Territory refuses to indict Burr for “any crime or misdemeanor against the United States.”

February 19, 1807

Major Perkins near the Tombigbee River in Alabama arrests Burr. He is taken to Fort Stoddart, where he is imprisoned for two weeks.

March 1807

Burr, under a guard of nine men, is taken to Richmond by horseback. He arrives on the 26th.

March 30, 1807

Burr appears before Chief Justice John Marshall.

April 1, 1807

Marshall finds probable cause to try Burr on charges of conspiring to invade a nation at peace with the United States. Marshall, however, does not find probable cause, based on the evidence submitted, to try Burr for treason against the United States.  Jefferson wanted Burr hanged for Treason.

May 22, 1807

Grand jury proceedings related to the Burr matter open in Richmond, Virginia.

June 12, 1807

President Jefferson responds to the request by Burr that he submit letters that might aid in Burr's defense. 

June 13, 1807

John Marshall issues his opinion concerning the defense motion for a subpoena directed to President Jefferson.

August 3, 1807

The trial of Aaron Burr opens in Richmond, Virginia.

August 15, 1807

Jury selection is completed.

August 17, 1807

District Attorney Hay delivers the opening statement for the prosecution.

August 20-29, 1807

Arguments on the defense motion to exclude further evidence based on the Constitution's definition of treason.

August 31, 1807

John Marshall issues an important ruling excluding evidence of Burr's conduct subsequent to the transaction on Blennerhassett Island.

September 1, 1807

The jury finds Burr “not proved to be guilty under this indictment by any evidence submitted to us.” Burr remains in Richmond until December.

February-March 1808

Burr resides incognito in Baltimore, journeying to New York in April.

June 7, 1808

Using the pseudonym of H.E. Edwards, Burr boards the British mail packet Clarissa Ann in New York, bound for Falmouth, England to avoid his enemies and creditors and to push his plan for conquering Mexico. H e arrives on July 13.

April 14, 1809

Under the name of Mr. Kirby, Burr is arrested by British authorities and offered a passport to any country. He had previously been declared persona non grata by the British government. Burr departed for Sweden, arriving on May 2

October 21, 1809

Burr crosses over from Sweden to Denmark and spend the latter quarter of 1809 in Denmark and Germany.

February 16, 1810

Burr, having arrived in Paris from Germany, spends most of the next 18 months with the American painter John Vanderlyn, whom Burr had discovered and educated.

July 20, 1811

With the help of daughter Theodosia and first lady Dolley Madison, Burr gets a passport from Napoleon's regime and departs Paris for Amsterdam, where he boards the Vigilant for travel to the United States. The ship is captured by the British, forcing Burr back to England.

May 4, 1812

Traveling as Adolphus Arnot, Burr arrives in Boston.

June 8, 1812

Burr returns to New York, where his close friend Samuel Swartwout on Stone Street takes him in.

June 30, 1812

Burr’s grandson, Aaron Burr Alston, dies of summer fever in South Carolina.

December 10, 1812

Joseph Alston, Burr’s son-in-law, is elected governor of South Carolina.

December 31, 1812

Theodosia Alston, in the company of Dr. Timothy Ruggles Greene, a friend of Burr from Boston who had traveled south to escort Theodosia, and one or two of her servants, left Georgetown, SC on the schooner Patriot for New York City. The ship and all those aboard vanished.

Burr goes to the docks each day awaiting his now deceased daughter who never arrives. Burr sinks into depression.

September 10, 1816

Joseph Alston dies at his father’s house on King Street in Charleston.

1830

Burr suffers a slight stroke, but he recovers.

July 1, 1833

Burr marries Madame Eliza Jumel, wealthy widow of French merchant Stephen Jumel, at the Jumel mansion in upper Manhattan, Harlem Heights.

1834

Burr, living in Jersey City, suffers a second stroke, which renders him immobile. He is borne to the old Jay Mansion on the Battery, now a boarding house, where he was cared for by Mrs. Hannah Newton, the housekeeper.

July 12, 1834

Madame Eliza Jumel Burr files for divorce.

September 14, 1836

Burr dies at the Continental Hotel, Port Richmond, Staten Island. On the same day, Madame Jumel’s petition for divorce was granted.