Staten Island


Alexander Hamilton died in Manhattan, and Aaron Burr died on Staten Island at age 80.

            On July 2, 1776, The Howe brothers landed “32,000 fully equipped, highly trained, thoroughly professional British and Hessian soldiers, more than the entire population of Philadelphia, on Staten Island… making it the most costly British overseas deployment ever until that time.” Burr and Hamilton could see this from lower Manhattan where they were both stationed. Who were the Howe brothers? Admiral Richard Lord Howe, commander of all British forces in America and General William Howe, in charge of the ground troops. It was they who sent 15,000 dragoons across the Narrows to attack Brooklyn in August.

On September 11, (911) Benjamin Franklin and John Adams met Admiral Howe at Billop’s Point at the southwestern tip of Staten Island for a peace conference.  At the three-hour meeting, Howe said that if the colonies could not give up “independency” negotiation was impossible, and that the Declaration of Independence had changed everything. Franklin said, “Forces have been sent out and towns have been burnt.” It was too late for any peace that required allegiance to the king.

Ten years earlier, at age ten, Aaron Burr ran away from home. He took the ferry to Staten Island, and became a cabin boy on a ship about to sail. But his Uncle Timothy found him, so Aaron climbed the mast and refused to come down unless he would not be punished. Although Timothy was strict, he and Aaron had a good relationship. 10 years after the war, when Timothy went bankrupt nephew Aaron satisfied his guardian’s creditors at ten shillings on the pound.

When Col. Burr was at Valley Forge in 1777 he planned an expedition against the British posts on Staten Island, because he was familiar with it from his childhood. He asked Washington for 200 men of his own regiment, but Washington gave the expedition to Lord Stirling and the marquis de la Fayette. Lafayette asked Washington if Hamilton could lead a battalion, but Washington refused that too, saying he could not afford to give up Hamilton.

As an attorney in 1801, Hamilton prepared the will for Robert Randall who set up a retirement home for merchant sailors, called Sailor’s Snug Harbor on Staten Island.

At age 78 Aaron Burr suffered a stroke, and was moved from Jersey City to the John Jay mansion at the Battery that had become a boarding house. When that was to be demolished, his relative Judge Ogden Edwards suggested that Burr be moved to the Hotel St. James at Port Richmond on Staten Island, close to the judge’s house. Overlooking this very harbor from his second floor room, he died on September 14,1836, and was buried with his father and grandfather at Princeton, New Jersey.


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