Milton Lomask: Aaron Burr The Essay, Research Paper
Milton Lomask. Aaron Burr The Years from Princeton to Vice President 1756-1805
Through early American times many men have contributed to our progresses from George Washington to John Adams to Alexander Hamilton. Early Americans came from either a colorful background or worked their way to the top through satisfaction and personal motivation. Aaron Burr followed in the footsteps from what he knew from his father and surpassed ten-fold, even if his father s time was more or less the American religion era rather than the sudden uprising of political issues he faced. Milton Lomask follows the course of Aaron Burr s life in this book from his unexpected birth into the world, to his legendary dual, and unforgettable accomplishments such as his political statures and being Mr. Vice President.
In the whole Burr dynasty Lomask follows, he opens with the introduction of Aaron Burr s mother and her statement about Aaron s birth with his mother saying, he began life as he lived it, unexpectedly. This small insight made is one I find intriguing due to the fact of its accuracy. Aaron Burr ran his life according to his rules and no one would tell him otherwise. Aaron Burr utilized this quality to play the events of his life unfolding by ear. Aaron s mother s documentation follows with his father Esther Edwards Burr, otherwise known as the Reverend Aaron Burr. Departing just days before his son s birth due to his duties as pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Newark, New Jersey, and as president of the College of New Jersey later known as Princeton, was uncontrollably absent. Now it is understood the shoes the infamous Aaron Burr had to follow. Later in the opening paragraphs of Lomask s biography Milton speaks of the trechurous road young Aaron experienced. Within thirteen months Aaron Burr and his sister Sally, lost their father, mother, grandfather, and grandmother, not an easy situation for such young children to understand, Lomask. Can you imagine the grief and horror of the two and a half year old Aaron and almost five-year-old Sally must have felt. As the years passed by, Aaron became a gentleman soldier, began practicing law, got more into political issues, and his pursuit of filling his father s shoes.
Once Aaron Burr s road to supremacy began from courtesy of Alexander Hamilton, he was now, in less than a decade, in the upper rungs of the New York political ladder. Now a part of the United States Senate, Burr had no compunction about excepting honor. During Aaron s first session of his one-year term, he did both his lawyer duties and would walk a short distance from his office to the legislative meetings. Throughout the first twenty-four days of the first session opening on October twelfth, he showed no sign of the colonel, it wasn t until the fifth of the next month Burr stepped up to the responsibilities. During his second session, beginning in January 1785, his presence was more tangible, stated Milton Lomask. He no longer sat back, he began working on a variety of committees, including one charged with revising state laws, and sponsored a few bills. When the situation came about with the freeing of slaves Aaron Burr introduced an amendment under which slaves would have been freed instantaneously, rather than the consideration of the proposal for a gradual abolition of slavery. Burr inveighed frequently against slavery, like Hamilton and many other contemporaries, but as the months progressed Burr became the butt of considerable abuse, right or wrong. The aggrieved mechanics, taking to the press, accused him of pandering to the mighty and powerful ones who prey upon the weak, the poor, the helpless. Accusations did not end there of course, dark rumors flew. Some people spoke of threats of violence to the colonel himself, while others planned to stone his house. When friends offered to stand guard, Burr is reported to have waved them aside saying, gentleman, I will live no longer than I have to protect myself. This statement speaks to me in a million words leaving me with the solution that Aaron Burr is a man of commendable honor, fears nothing, and no one. There is no way to live your life in fear and enjoy it. Aaron Burr spent the next few years kind of in hiding, then beginning his rise again contributing and partaking in many political organizations still on great terms with Alexander Hamilton.
Soon thereafter it would not take much for the course of history to be redirected. As the obscene and infamous publications still on the rise, so was Aaron Burr s blood pressure and temper. Two or three months before the gubernatorial election, Aaron had told his friend, Charles Biddle of Philadelphia, that he was determined to call out the first man of any respectability concerned in the infamous publications concerning him. When Aaron Burr spoke these words, who did he have in mind? DeWitt? Jefferson? Clinton? or Hamilton? The challenge to Jefferson or Clinton, as the main authors of his problems, would have been the most logical. As for Hamilton, Jefferson s report of his talk with Burr at the Executive Mansion in January 1804 quoted the Vice President as saying flatly that Hamilton had written some of the pieces that had been published against him. Whether this was true or not cannot be said. Aaron Burr thought it was, and earlier that month the ineffable Cheetam, in his newspaper, had asked, Is the Vice-
President sunk so low as to submit to be insulated by General Hamilton? Hamiltons s remarks were later found to have been made at a dinner party at the home of Judge John Taylor of Albany. One of the guests was Taylor s son-in-law, Dr. Charles D. Cooper, who in two subsequent letters described the conversation. Burr may or may not have seen the first letter. He definitely saw the published version of the second one, a letter in which Dr. Cooper wrote that General Hamilton and Judge Kent have declared, in substance, that they looked upon Mr. Burr to be a dangerous man, and that I could detail to you a still more despicable opinion which General Hamilton has expressed of Mr. Burr. A few months later, at two o clock in the afternoon, July 12, 1804 Hamilton died in the infamous duel between him and Aaron Burr at Weekawken. It was said after the duel that Burr and Van Ness insisted that Hamilton fired first at his opponent. Pendleton disagreed. He contended that Hamilton s pistol discharged accidentally, probably as a result of an involuntary exertion of the muscles when Burr s bullet struck him. There on that day, not his best day, Aaron Burr s name truly went down in the books as the victor of one of the all-time greatest duels.
Nearing the end of his struggle to arise politically Burr received word that his allie Thomas Jefferson was to be inaugurated as President of the United States on February 14. As soon as Burr received word of the inauguration day he left the town almost at once. Upset about the news he headed back to New York to meet the Secretary of State and with her and her husband made an appearance among some three hundred persons into the chamber of the Senate to witness the first presidential inauguration in the capitol. Soon thereafter Aaron Burr began his vice-presidential title under Thomas Jefferson. Still not thrilled about his position as vice-president he would undergo more Burr bashing and disagreements. Burr would continue to except Aaron Burr. His opinion was always the odd one out. Then the Federalist began their opinionating on Aaron Burr. One Federalist wrote, the Vice President was completely an insulted man in Washington; wholly without personal influence. Never did Burr gain the respect he wanted. All throughout his political career he was never taken serious, as he wanted. The only respect he gained was as a ladies man with his slender body, piercing-eyes, and elegant essence. Local tradition holds that mothers sometimes called him to the attention of their children.
Aaron Burr sadly passed on in 1836 in a small hotel on Staten Island, New York. John Quincy Adams wrote that Burr s Life, take it all together, was such as in any country of sound morals his friends would be desirous of burying in profound oblivion.