Aaron Burr In the News in 2008

Aaron Burr In the News in 2008


Dear Sir--

I am a high school student named Andrea Rodgers at Poly High School in Southern California. I'm writing a paper about Aaron Burr for a national history project known as History Day. I found this email address on the ABA Website. I had difficulty finding information about Burr that is not negatively biased, I was hoping you might be able to answer some questions that I would very muclike to hear the other side of. I was also wondering if ordering "The Chronicle" or joining ABA would be useful to me in my research. Also, I was wondering if you had any recommendations for me in obtaining information or other interviews. Any time you can spare me I would greatly appreciate. My ten questions are below.

  1. Some argue Burr's actions in ending Jefferson's attempt to control the judicial branch had a permanent effect, while others note if Burr had not done this, fear of tyrants would have caused others to stop the blending of the branches later on. How do you respond to this?

It was permanent, lasting to this day. Fear of tyrants or dictators does not allow the masses to overturn them. Look at Africa or the Mideast today, run by religious zealots. Iraqis could not dispose of Saddam Hussein until we helped. Jefferson sought more presidential power as soon as he stole the Presidency from Burr by having his agent make a deal with the Delaware representative to change his vote in exchange for certain Port Appointments, etc. (This is similar to Gov. Rod Blagojevich's secret dealings to decide an important political seat.) Jefferson feared Burr, and was only cordial to him when he needed Burr's help to control the Judiciary. Burr of course did the right thing, and thwarted TJ's coup.

  1. It is widely admitted that Burr was among one of the first feminists in the United States. Is it possible that this being not commonly accepted had an effect on Burr being disliked by the society at large?

Yes. Young women were denied education, and treated as inferior. Burr married a woman 10 yrs older for her intellect, and they encouraged their daughter to exceed. Hamilton had an affair with a 23 year old girl, while telling his wife with his 5 children not to travel to Philadelphia without first telling him. Hamilton used the newspapers to attack Burr. Burr was loved by society at large until his political problems with TJ and AH.

  1. Looking objectively at Burr's actions it seems that he spoke openly of his opinions, and persons of the era seemed to have adverse reactions to his personality as a result. Would you agree?

All politicians are supported by some and opposed by others. Reagan and Clinton are good examples. In the early newspaper days, slander was in its written infancy. Burr's legal suit to correct lies was infeasible. Burr's opponents were the plantation owners who propped up Jefferson and then Madison and Monroe. Burr's advocacy for the common man and woman met resistance from slave owners and Hamilton's controlling aristocrats.

  1. What is your opinion of the fact that Burr shot Hamilton while Hamilton claimed to have made previously the decision to waste his round?

Please read on this web site about Hamilton's brother John Church who owned the trick pistols. Hamilton knew that if he survived, he would burn his intent letters. If he died, he knew they would be published. That wasted round a few feet over Burr's head before Burr could fire was a miss, not a gallant gesture from such a despicable figure.

(If I seem to be harsh on AH, please recall that it is his economic system copied from England that has allowed today's fiscal mess by the too powerful Federalists.)

  1. Some argue that it was widely known that Jefferson had truly "won" the election by popular opinion even when he was still technically tied with Burr in the election and that not stepping down makes Burr "conceited" or "selfish." How would you refute this argument?

Please read Yale Professor Joanne Freeman's Affairs of Honor to see how Jefferson bribed James Bayard. Popular opinion backed war hero Burr over TJ who never fought. And Burr's father from Princeton, and grandfather Jonathan Edwards made him wildly popular.

6. George Morgan claimed to be friends with Burr, and they were clearly friendly enough that Burr felt comfortable talking about his plans (even vaguely) that had caused him to be in the west while having dinner there. What, under these circumstances could have caused Morgan to testify against Burr in the case of The U.S. v. Burr if Burr was not guilty in this respect?

At that dinner, it was clear Morgan's own sons wanted to leave Pittsburgh and join Burr out west. Some parents are jealous, and like their offspring to not move away.

  1. Some argue that Jefferson caused the majority of Burr's unpopularity in the U.S., while others argue that Jefferson was receiving copious complaints against Burr even before Jefferson announced that he was a traitor. How would you respond?

Jefferson was for slavery, and slave owners needed to sell slave babies for big profit. The new market was out west. Burr purchased the Bastrop land in Louisiana, and it was known that slaves could live free there because it was set for small farms, not cotton. Plantation owners "freaked out." Instead of an underground railroad having to stretch all the way north, runaway slaves could simply go to Bastrop for freedom. The head of the army Wilkinson betrayed Burr by trying to turn him over to the more powerful TJ. Burr escaped Wilkinson, but was trapped in Alabama. Sensational stories meant to sell newspapers are also to blame. TJ made a fool of himself at the trial where Burr won.

  1. During his time traveling Europe after his major controversies, Burr is known to have remarked: "In the past even I was afraid of my own greatness, therefore I could not stand in front of mirrors." How do you interpret this quote?

I'm not familiar with this quote. Its sounds like something out of the romance novels that portray Burr as David Niven did in Magnificent Doll. In the 1790's he was great, and was reduced to poverty while in Europe. We cannot imagine such contrast today, when even the poorest Americans do not go hungry. Remember that several wealthy Revolutionary War financiers ended up in debtor's prison for failing to pay bills. (Not Burr) Compare this to Mr. Madoff residing in his 7 million dollar apartment this morning.

  1. John Adams was known to have spoken ardently of Burr, especially in terms of his service in the Revolutionary War. However, John Quincy Adams went as far as to say of him: "Burr's life, take it all together, was such as in any country of sound morals his friends would be desirous of burying in quiet oblivion." What do you think of this?

Adams Sr. knew Burr in his prime. Quincy played to the politics after Burr lost popularity. As a widower, Burr did date in the 1820's etc. and was a target for "moral indignation." By Theodosia loosing his letters on the Patriot, Burr legacy was left to Matthew Davis who over edited with the fireplace and his opinions.

Burr's reputation was ruined after the Duel, because no one knew about the hair trigger advantage Hamilton had until 1976.

  1. Some argue that Burr returning from Europe and not attempting to resume his political career was out of guilt and shame, while others argue that was merely out of acceptence that he had become unpopular in the public eye and there was nothing he could do about this. What would you argue?

When Burr lost Theodosia at sea, he was wiped out and severely depressed. While Burr was VP, Jefferson purposely made no Federal appointments for Burrs supporters who felt betrayed for their campaign loyalty. (It was a miracle he even competed for the governorship against Morgan Lewis in 1804.) Being in Europe, and unable to return until Dolly Madison pulled strings caused Burr to be out of touch. He did not want to compete against the ruthless DeWitt Clinton. He needed money and reestablished his good law practice instead.

Happy Holidays, Sincerely, Andy Rodgers

P.S. If you're reading this, I take it you've answered my questions. So, thank you!

Thank you Andy. Please try to read Nancy Isenberg's book for more information, and call Stuart Johnson for more info on the ABA. Pete

Dec 10:

Following is a bit of trivia concerning the Burr-Hamilton duel. It comes from Wikipedia’s description of the history of the Got Milk? advertising campaign

The first Got Milk? advertisement, in October 1993, featured a hapless history buff (played by Sean Whalen) who receives a call to answer a radio station's $10,000 trivia question (voiced by Rob Paulsen), "Who shot Alexander Hamilton in that famous duel?" The man's apartment is shown to be a private museum to the duel, packed with artifacts. He answers the question correctly, but because his mouth is full of peanut butter and he has no milk to wash it down, his answer is unintelligible. The ad, directed by Hollywood director Michael Bay, was at the top of the advertising industry's award circuit in 1994. In 2002, the ad was named one of the ten best commercials of all time by a USA Today poll, and was run again nationwide that same year. It has since been featured in numerous books on advertising and is being used in case studies at top-flight programs around the country.

History News Network 10/20/08

Why Burr's Treason Trial Is Relevant Today

By Peter Charles Hoffer

Mr. Hoffer is Distinguished Research Professor, Department of History, University of Georgia. He is the author of The Treason Trials of Aaron Burr (paperback, 2008).

In the next year, the public opinion will have occasion to revisit President George W. Bush’s attempts to ferret out and punish suspected terrorists. The president made it clear, before any trials at law occurred, that he thought the detainees were guilty. Some of the initiatives taken by his appointees, for example Department of Justice in-house rulings on the use of torture, have already been exposed to the public criticism. The prison camp at Guantanamo may or may not be disbanded, depending on who wins the presidential election this November. While much of the present controversy stems from 9/11, the basic questions of the relationship between the presidency and the High Court, and presidential pre-judgment of suspected threats to national security, has a precedent in the first years of our Republic. Before and during the treason trials of Aaron Burr, President Thomas Jefferson adopted a stance strikingly similar to that of President Bush.....

See entire article here:


Hi, Peter. Can you put a link to The Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale on our ABA website. It is http://edwards.yale.edu. The photos from the meeting were great. Thanks & best regards..




The Senate and the VP [Amy Holmes] Friday, October 03, 2008

Is the VP of the Senate? Well, he has offices right off the Senate floor. Golly, even I got to check out Cheney's not-so-secret lair in the Capitol Building when I worked there for the Senate Majority Leader — and I was a just a lowly staffer. Surely Biden, in his three decades in the Senate, has ducked in once or twice. It's really nice and spacious. The vice president has a staff and offices in the Everett M. Dirksen Senate Office Building, near the Capitol, to assist with legislative matters, as well as a personal office near the Senate lobby. The cornerstone of the first Senate Office Building was laid without fanfare on July 31, 1906, and the building admitted its first occupants on March 5, 1909... The vice president also occupied a small suite of rooms. While tradition dictates that the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court administers the oath of office to the President-elect, a variety of officials have administered the oath to Vice Presidents. The president pro tempore of the Senate administered the oath to the first three Vice Presidents—John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Aaron Burr—and to many Vice Presidents from the mid-nineteenth century to the early twentieth century. Until 1937, most Vice Presidents took the oath of office in the Senate chamber, prior to the President's swearing-in ceremony. This made the Vice President's swearing-in ceremony distinct and separate from the President's.

Not much news fit to upload in September.

We are often asked about Aaron Burr's farewell speech to the Senate.

The best account of it was John Quincy Adams's account as follows:


Reviving New Jersey’s Oldest English-Speaking Church


Published: August 14, 2008

Elizabeth PART of the new steeple for the old church dangled from a tall crane, 21 tons rising slowly above the shady green oasis at the heart of the city, halfway between where it had been and where it was going — a position familiar to the minister who did so much to get it here.

Let’s hope it fits,” said the Rev. Charles Brackbill as he watched the white clock section of the steeple lifted toward the brick bell tower. Old First Presbyterian Church was about to look again the way it did when Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr — who both spent time here — were still around....

When you click on Aaron Burr above, here's how the NYTimes describes him. This should be corrected.


Hello All,

We are pleased to announce that our third grandchild (and third grandson) Sean Campbell Burr was born on Thursday, July 31, coming in at 8 lbs., 13 oz., and 22" in length. Mom Vincie and dad Andy are doing fine. Wife Dale and I are worn out from watching Tyler (4) and Noah (2) for a couple of days.

Take care,

Frank and Dale Burr

Senior-housing application rejected

Board feels plan threatens character of Princeton neighborhood

....While supporters cited a growing need for senior housing in the Princeton area, opponents felt the large building would ruin the character and charm of the small residential neighborhood, where many of the houses were built during the early 20th, and even 19th, centuries. The proposed structure would also sit across the street from the historic Princeton Cemetery, home to the graves of historical figures such as Aaron Burr and Grover Cleveland. ....


Filming Rediscovering Alexander Hamilton

Sheila Hennessey, Michael Pack (who we met in Richmond) and cameraman Tony in Weehawken on site.

Doug Hamilton and Antonio Burr fire pistols loaded by Vern Crofoot who also worked on Glory, Alamo and John Adams.

Richard Brookhiser (center) narrates.

Doug with members of the Society of the Cincinnati at a round table. Defending Burr on film were Frank Price, another Society member, Antonio and Pete Tavino.

Here is the medal George Washington gave Alexander Hamilton.

Doug said it may be the first time since the 4th of July,1804 that the medal heard the rendition of the Hamilton song, sung in Doug's great singing voice.

It was also cut with scissors. Possibly by Dr. Hosack?

It was interesting to note that the Society of the Cincinnati membership is limited to the first son of the first son of the first son... of Revolutionary War Officers.

Watch PBS for the show in a few months. Posted 7/26.

Anniversary of Burr in New Orleans with someone's version of the expedition west:


July 17, 2008 - A beautiful summer evening.

The stone to the far right marks the grave of Aaron Burr's sister Sally Burr Reeve.

The white stone is for her husband Tapping Reeve, who tutored Aaron and Sally at Princeton.

The horizontal tomb to the left contains the remains of Oliver Wolcott Jr. who replaced Hamilton as Washington's Treasury Secretary.

Oliver Jr. was at William Bayard's house July 11/12, 1804 as Hamilton lay mortally wounded.

Next to Oliver Jr's. resting place is the tomb of his father who signed the Declaration of Independence.

A new item of interest concerning Aaron and Sally and Tapping's time in Litchfield is that the Congregational Church's minister was Robert Edwards, grandson of Jonathan Edwards and thus their cousin. Time of his tenure and any family connection is to be reported.

Two Really Special People and a Host of Others Greene County Daily World - Linton,In,USA Oddly, one of these children, William Van Ness, was a close friend of Aaron Burr, and it was William (at a much later date) who carried Burr's challenge of ...


The deliciously sordid history of divorce in N.Y.

Sunday, July 6th 2008, 2:23 AM

APAlexander Hamilton

Aaron Burr

Straus/NewsSara Ellis

The economy is tanking, investment banks are teetering and the cost of everything from gasoline to milk is going up as expectations for the future dim.

At least we have a good divorce trial to distract us. Rather than fret about the state of the nation and the world we can read about Christie Brinkley and her perv husband.

Soon, we may also have Alex Rodriguez and his wife, maybe with Madonna and Lenny Kravitz tossed in.

And the Fourth of July weekend is a propitious time to give thanks for such distractions, for Colonial authorities had refused to grant divorces in New York for nearly a century before the Revolution.