Aaron Burr (1756-1836) Essay, Research Paper
Aaron Burr (1756-1836)Aaron Burr was the third vice-president of the United States (1801-1805), and he was thought to be one of the greatest students ever to graduate from Princeton in the eighteenth century. Woodrow Wilson said he had “genius enough to have made him immortal, and unschooled passion enough to have made him famous. His father was Princeton’s second president; his maternal grandfather, Jonathan Edwards, was Princeton’s third president. The younger Aaron Burr was left an orphan when he was two years old, his mother and father, and both maternal grandparents, died within a year. He did not like the discipline of his uncle, Timothy Edwards. He attempted to run away from home and go to sea several times. He entered the sophomore class at Princeton at the age of thirteen and graduated with distinction at sixteen in 1772, a year after James Madison and Philip Freneau. He was a member of the Cliosophic Society and for his Commencement Oration chose the topic “On Castle Building.” He joined the Continental army in 1775 and rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. In 1779 he retired because of bad health. After the Revolutionary War, in which he served as a field officer, he took up the practice of law in New York City and entered politics, serving as a member of the New York state assembly, attorney general of New York, and United States senator (from 1791 to 1797), and he got the reputation of one of the foremost lawyers in the city. He was the leader of the old Republican party, which later became the Democratic-Republican party. This position brought Burr into conflict with the professional rival, the Federalist leader Alexander Hamilton. In the presidential election of 1800, he received the same number of electoral votes as Thomas Jefferson. The U.S. House of Representatives had to take 36 ballots to choose Jefferson over Burr. Alexander Hamilton used his influence to help determine the final outcome. After this, Jefferson’s supporters never trusted Burr, and they believed that he should have withdrawn his name from consideration by the House of Representatives. In 1804 Burr failed to win renomination as vice president, so he ran for governor of New York in 1804. But Hamilton again successfully opposed him. The angry Burr challenged his enemy to a duel. On July 11, 1804, in the historic duel at Weehawken, New Jersey, Burr mortally wounded his professional rival and political enemy,
Alexander Hamilton. Shortly after the duel, Burr fled to the south. A New York coroner’s inquest “found a verdict of wilful murder by Aaron Burr, Vive President of the United States.” A New Jersey grand jury indicted him for murder. Burr was now a ruined man. After his Vice Presidency, he was involved in a complex web of questionable activities which aroused suspicion. The Commander in New Orleans, James Wilkinsin, arrested Burr. He believed that Burr was assembling a group to invade Mexico, whether he was scheming to detach part of the American Southwest from the United States, or possibly both. Burr was tried for treason in 1807 at a trial presided over by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall. He was acquitted, but his reputation had been damaged. He went to Europe and tried to arouse support for his Mexican scheme. When he returned to the United States in 1812, he used the name Adolphus Arnot. He again prospered as a lawyer in New York City, using his own name. Burr’s daughter, Theodosia (1783-1813) remained loyal to her father throughout his career, died at sea on her way to meet him. In 1833 he married a woman by the name of Eliza Brown Jumel (1775-1865). A year after their marriage she divorced himbecause of his financial demands. Burr’s chief counsel at the trial was Luther Martin 1766, a fellow member and one of the founders of the Cliosophic Society. A few years before his death, the society invited Burr to preside at its commencement meeting, and its members took part in theprocession at Burr’s funeral in Princeton in 1836. President Carnahan preached the funeral sermon in Nassau Hall (in which he decried the evils of dueling). Escorted to the Princeton Cemetery by members of the faculty, students, alumni, a military band,and the Mercer Guards. Burr was buried next to his fathers and grandfathers graves in the Presidents Lot. After doing this report, i have learned a lot about our countries history. Most of all, I learned about Aaron Burr. I learned of all of his great achievements, and also all of his faults. I think that this man taught the American citizens a lot about things that could happen if they weren’t careful.