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Why we Admire Aaron Burr

Why we Admire Aaron Burr:

1. He recognized over 200 years ago that women should be educated as men are educated. He set up a school, with Madame de Senat, for young ladies in New York City in 1793. In the assembly, he worked for political rights for women. As disciples of Mary Wollstonecraft, Mr. and Mrs. Aaron and Theodosia Burr were considered the first feminists in America.

2. As Vice President, he fought off President Thomas Jefferson’s plan to impeach Judge Samuel Chase. Burr is why there is separation between the judicial and executive branches.

3. He supported the education of talented youth, such as his daughter Theodosia, considered the best educated young lady of the 1790's, painter John Vanderlyn, Washington Irving and Martin Van Buren. Dolley Madison appointed Burr guardian of her son.

4. Colonel Burr was a Revolutionary War hero who at 19 survived a winter crossing of Maine, (600 of 1100 starved to death) saved General Knox’s brigade, stopped a mutiny at Valley Forge and defended a bridge so New Haven residents could escape the British.

5. He was the senator who the other senators chose to write the welcoming speech to President Washington for the opening of the October, 1791 Senate session. Vice President John Adams read the speech Senator Burr wrote. (Adams later nominated Burr to be a general.) Burr tried in vain to persuade the other Senators to permit the public to attend debates. Burr's farewell speech in 1805 was the greatest oration ever delivered in the Senate.

6. He adored and was always faithful to his wife who was ten years older, and devoted to his 11 year old daughter when his wife died of cancer. He wrote his daughter: "I am indebted to you, my dearest Theodosia, for a very great portion of the happiness which I have enjoyed in this life. You have completely satisfied all that my heart and affections had hoped or ever wished."

7. He stood up to the aristocrats by figuring a way for the common man to vote by having a group of them buy property together.

8. He started the Chase Manhattan Bank to lend money to democratic republicans when the only bank in town, the Bank of New York would only lend to the opposing aristocrats in Hamilton's Federalist party.

9. When the New York Assembly voted to gradually abolish slavery, he proposed that they immediately abolish slavery in 1785. As a lawyer, he would petition that slaves arriving on boats from Africa be freed, thus making him the “most radical antislavery force “ of early America.

10. He led a group of pioneers to settle a tract he bought in Louisiana, and defended himself successfully to be declared not guilty in three court trials against false treason charges, launched by political enemy President Jefferson. The prosecution offered bribes to witnesses who would testify against Burr, but none could against the team of lawyers directed by Burr. The Burr Conspiracy was a myth.

Dear Sir:

I have reviewed your page, "why we admire Aaron Burr" with interest. I had a recent discussion with a friend of mine, Peter Buzaid, who is copied on this e-mail. Pete's father was a Judge and political leader in Connecticut. During a conversation Pete told me that his Dad admonished him as a child for not knowing what Judge Buzaid considered the most important contribution of Aaron Burr: Burr's role in making Tammany Hall a major political force. I am no historian, but wasn't it Burr who built the Tammany society into a political machine for his election of 1800, in which he was elected Vice President?

By the 1830s and 1840s the Society expanded its political power much further by earning the loyalty of the city's ever-growing immigrant community, a task that was accomplished by helping newly-arrived foreigners obtain jobs, a place to live, and even citizenship so that they could vote for Tammany candidates in city and state elections. The mass immigrant constituency primarily functioned as a base of political capital.Tammany is forever linked with the rise of the Irish in American politics. This, it seems, is a major accomplishment and worthy of a mention in "why we admire Aaron Burr," no? It's a major factor in why Pete and I admire Aaron Burr, anyway.

--Jim Diamond

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