Time for some more early American history….Part 4
The only thing most Americans know about Aaron Burr is that he shot and killed Hamilton in a duel in New Jersey (today they know this because of some musical)…..
A new century begins, 1800 and there is trouble in the White House that eventually lead to accusations and an arrest of Burr……
Aaron Burr, a former U.S. vice president, is arrested in Alabama on charges of plotting to annex Spanish territory in Louisiana and Mexico to be used toward the establishment of an independent republic.
In November 1800, in an election conducted before presidential and vice-presidential candidates shared a single ticket, Thomas Jefferson and his running mate, Aaron Burr, defeated Federalist incumbent John Adams with 73 electoral votes each. The tie vote then went to the House to be decided, and Federalist Alexander Hamilton was instrumental in breaking the deadlock in Jefferson’s favor. Burr, because he finished second, became vice president.
During the next few years, President Jefferson grew apart from his vice president and did not support Burr’s renomination to a second term in 1804. A faction of the Federalists, who had found their fortunes drastically diminished after the ascendance of Jefferson, sought to enlist the disgruntled Burr into their party. However, Alexander Hamilton opposed such a move and was quoted by a New York newspaper saying that he “looked upon Mr. Burr to be a dangerous man, and one who ought not to be trusted with the reins of government.” The article also referred to occasions when Hamilton had expressed an even “more despicable opinion of Burr.” Burr demanded an apology, Hamilton refused, so Burr challenged his old political antagonist to a duel.
On July 11, 1804, the pair met at a remote spot in Weehawken, New Jersey. Hamilton, whose son was killed in a duel in 1801, deliberately fired into the air, but Burr fired with intent to kill. Hamilton, fatally wounded, died in New York City the next day. The questionable circumstances of Hamilton’s death effectively brought Burr’s political career to an end.
Fleeing to Virginia, he traveled to New Orleans after finishing his term as vice president and met with U.S. General James Wilkinson, who was an agent for the Spanish. The exact nature of what the two plotted is unknown, but speculation ranges from the establishment of an independent republic in the American Southwest to the seizure of territory in Spanish America for the same purpose.
In the fall of 1806, Burr led a group of well-armed colonists toward New Orleans, prompting an immediate investigation by U.S. authorities. General Wilkinson, in an effort to save himself, turned against Burr and sent dispatches to Washington accusing Burr of treason. On February 19, 1807, Burr was arrested in Alabama for alleged treason and sent to Richmond, Virginia, to be tried in a U.S. circuit court.
On September 1, 1807, he was acquitted on the grounds that, although he had conspired against the United States, he was not guilty of treason because he had not engaged in an “overt act,” a requirement of treason as specified by the U.S. Constitution. Nevertheless, public opinion condemned him as a traitor, and he spent several years in Europe before returning to New York and resuming his law practice.
Read more on this alleged treasonous act…..
More about Aaron Burr the man…..
More on the man….
Things you do not know about Aaron Burr…..
Burr, taking advantage of a recent yellow fever epidemic, asked the Federalist-controlled state legislature to give him a charter for what he called the Manhattan Company, a private organization that would provide New Yorkers with clean water. One of the most passionate supporters of Burr’s plan was Mr. Federalist himself, Alexander Hamilton—though he would soon regret coming to his rival’s aid. In 1799, the legislature gave Burr that charter, which included a clause that allowed the Manhattan Company to employ “surplus capital” in any “monied transactions or operations not inconsistent with the constitution and laws of this state or of the United States.” Using this major loophole, Burr turned the Manhattan Company into a Democratic-Republican bank. It barely delivered water at all (although to keep the charter, a bank employee would ceremoniously pump water until 1923). Hamilton, along with the entire New York legislature, had been duped into helping Burr break the Federalist monopoly on banking in the city.
The Manhattan Company has since evolved into JPMorgan Chase & Co., one of the largest banking institutions in the world. It now owns the pistols that were used in the Burr-Hamilton duel.
To this day there is still some debate on whether Burr was treasonous or not.
I Read, I Write, You Know
“lego ergo scribo”