Aaron Burr

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Aaron Burr (1756 - 1836) was born in Neubik, New Jersey to Reverend Aaron Burr Sr. who was a Presbyterian minister and the second President of the College of New Jersey which is now Princeton University. His mother, Esther Edwards, was the daughter of Johnathon Edwards, the famous Calvinist theologian. Aaron and his sister, Sally, were left orphans when Aaron was 2 years old and Sally was 4 years old, following the deaths of their parents and both maternal grandparents who died of Yellow Fever. Aaron did not respond well to his austere uncle, Timothy Edwards, several times running away from home and attempting to go to sea. Aaron applied for admission into Princeton University at age 11, but was rejected (PBS online). He applied again and entered the Sophomore class at Princeton at the age of 13 and graduated with distinction at 16 in 1772. He received AB in theology but changed his career path two years later and began study of law in the celebrated law school conducted by his brother-in-law, Tapping Reeve, at Litchfield, Conn. Aaron's studies were put on hold while he served during the Revolutionary war, under Gens. Benedict Arnold, George Washington and Israel Putnam.

Burr served as the vice president of Thomas Jefferson from 1801 to 1805. In the election, Burr received the same number of votes as did Jefferson. It was due to Alexander Hamilton's opposition that Jefferson became president and Burr vice-president. Later on, he lost the 1804 election for Governor of New York again due to Hamilton. [1] Although still quite common, dueling had been outlawed in New York and also New Jersey, but Hamilton and Burr were not citizens of New Jersey, so on July 11, 1804, the enemies met outside of Weehawken, New Jersey, and Hamilton was fatally shot. There has been some controversy as to the claims of Burr's and Hamilton's seconds; while one party indicated Hamilton never fired, the other claims a 3 to 4 second interval between the first shot and the second shot. (http://www.thedailystar.com/opinion/columns/2004/07/10/ham.html) Hamilton's shot missed Burr, but Burr's shot was fatal. The bullet entered Hamilton's abdomen above his right hip, piercing Hamilton's liver and spine. Burr was later charged with multiple crimes, including murder, in New York and New Jersey, but was never tried in either jurisdiction. He fled to South Carolina, where his daughter lived with her family, but soon returned to Washington to complete his term as Vice President. As leader of the Senate he presided over the impeachment(trial) of Samuel Chase. It was written by one Senator that Burr had Conducted the proceedings with the "impartiality of an angel and the rigor of a devil" Burrs heartfelt farewell in March 1805 moved some of his harshest critics in the Senate to tears. (Milton Lomask's two-volume biography, "Burr" 1979, Farrar, Straus, Giroux).Burr later attempted to steal the Louisiana Purchase from the United States and use it to satisfy his ambitions for power. [2] He was eventually tried for treason, but the jury acquitted him of all charges.

See also


  • Jefferson and the Gun-Men: How the West Was Almost Lost by M.R. Montgomery


  1. Fandex, Workman Publishing, 2002.
  2. "Aaron Burr, former vice-president and senator from New York (and a failed candidate for the New York governorship), was plotting to take over the Louisiana Territory. While the exact details of Burr's vision have long been a matter of historical debate, the gist is that he envisioned a separate country, with New Orleans as capital and himself as impresario. With a few important backers, from Andrew Jackson to the Catholic bishop of New Orleans and chief of America's armed forces General James Wilkinson." (Publishers Weekly)