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Burr's Honorable Relations with Women

Chapter 34 "HIS RELATIONS WITH WOMEN" (from pages 637 to 659 of James Parton's 1858 Masterpiece The Life and Times of Aaron Burr) totally explains how Burr admired women, and they admired him. Parton wrote primary source by interviewing people who knew Burr. A Xerox copy of these pages will be mailed to you at your request. Some day they will be scanned to this web site. Here are some important passages: {Remember that Burr was always faithful to his wife Theodosia. As a young and old widower, he dated again, but never found someone he could love as much as Theodosia.}

A woman of wit, vivacity, and grace, whether beautiful or not, whether an inhabitant of a mansion or a cottage, was the creature who alone, and who always, could captivate him.

Witty women were wittiest when talking to him, and they had a flattering consciousness of the fact. He had the art of approaching a lady so, that, whatever gift or grace she most valued herself upon possessing, was called into agreeable exercise; and she felt that she was shining.

A foreign lady of distinction... informs me there were two things Colonel Burr could do better than any man in the world - bow out an obnoxious visitor, and hand a lady to her carriage. "I feel still" said she, "the soft touch of his little hand in mine, as he glided across the pavement."

Tell me colonel of your pretty love adventures. "No no; I never kiss and tell." This was his way, when asked such questions.

His life-long habit of adopting and educating children, also, tended to increase his reputation for criminal gallantry. Seven persons in ten have no notion of the educational instinct which yearns to develop a natural gift or a noble character. "Why" asked the world "does he keep that girl at school, or send that boy to college?" "They are his own children of course" answers Scandal with smiling self-righteousness, nothing doubting. There was a period in the latter part of his life when he contributed to the support of ten women.... not one had ever borne to him the relation which the charitable world would infer from the fact of his giving them money."

He had a great abhorrence of criminal intimacies with honest poor girls. A member of his own household was once seen to take a liberty with the person of a servant girl in his own house. It came to his ears. He expressed the strongest possible disgust. "A man" said he "who will so much as look with lustful eyes upon a servant is no gentleman; and if he does it in the house of a friend, he dishonors that house and insults that friend."

"Seduction is a crime like no other. No woman can lay her ruin at my door. If I had a son, and he were to bring dishonor upon a family by ruining a daughter, I would shoot him like a dog!" This Burr said a few weeks before his death.

"I never had an amour in my life in which I was not met half way. I would be the last man on earth to make such advances where they were not welcome. Nor did I ever do, or say, or write anything which threw a cloud over a woman's name."

Aaron Burr did remarry the wealthy Madame Jumel when he was 77 years old, and stayed married until divorced on the day he died at age 80. When in Paris in his early 50's and mostly penniless and destitute, he lived through their sexual revolution of that age, but longed to return to America. He finally received a passport from Napoleon's regime, after his daughter Theodosia wrote to Dolley Madison, (who was introduced to husband James years earlier by Burr). Dolley secretly used her influence to arrange for his return to the states in 1811.

His reputation was killed by newspapers that falsely printed that he brought a prostitute to his wife's bed as she lay dying of stomach cancer to taunt her. They said they could produce 20 prostitutes who said he was their best customer, etc. Burr later sued James Cheetham of the American Citizen for libel, but the courts were filled with Cheetham and Dewitt Clinton cronies, and Cheetham had an army of attorneys who demanded endless paperwork filings.

Aaron Burr kept with him a portrait of Mary Wollstonecraft, English author of the 1791 A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. She also wrote Thoughts on the Education of Daughters in 1787, and later: A History and Moral View of the Origins and Progress of the French Revolution and the Effect it has Produced in Europe 1794. It was not she, but her daughter Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley who wrote the novel Frankenstein in 1818.

Footnote: During the 200th anniversary Reenactment ceremony of the duel, Weehawken Historical Commission member Al Berg announced on Cspan that Aaron Burr would be pleased that the two high school essay winners were young ladies. A few ignorant audience members chuckled as if to insult Burr for being a womanizer. But Al continued, saying "because Aaron Burr believed in education for women."

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