Little Bits of History

Founding Traitor

Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 19, 2015
Aaron Burr

Aaron Burr

February 19, 1807: Aaron Burr is arrested. Burr had been Vice President under Thomas Jefferson during his first term (1801-1805). It was the apex of his long political career. He had already been New York State’s Attorney General and their Senator. While serving as VP, he participated in an illegal duel and killed Alexander Hamilton. Although all charges against him were eventually dropped, his political career was ruined. After leaving Washington, D.C., Burr traveled west and sought new opportunities and therein was the problem. His motives and aspirations remain unclear to this day. Jefferson accused him of treason and he was arrested on this date for that charge.

Burr had travelled west of the Allegheny Mountains and down the Ohio River Valley to lands acquired in the Louisiana Purchase.  The Spanish government leased Burr 40,000 acres of land known as the Bastrop Tract. The land was along the Ouachita River in what is today Louisiana. Before leaving the VP office, Burr had met with Anthony Merry, the British Minister to the United States. Burr had suggested to Merry that the British might regain power in the Southwest if they supported him and his endeavors with guns and money. The goal was to detach Louisiana from the Union in exchanged for $500,000 and a British fleet in the Gulf of Mexico.

In November 1805, Burr and Merry met again to discuss the plan. Merry let Burr know of London’s silence to date on the proposed plan. Merry gave Burr $1,500. Their next meeting was the following spring and London still remained silent. Merry returned to England in June. Burr had also hoped to travel to Texas to claim lands in the Territory the Spanish had leased to him. Harman Blennerhassett was helpful in furthering Burr’s plan and gave considerable financial support. By 1806, the Spanish Minister Carlos Martinez de Irujo y Tacon  was told of Burr’s plan. Burr was seeking not just western secession, but the capture of Washington, D.C. Irujo contributed money to venture.

With Burr’s influence, Jefferson made James Wilkinson Governor of the Louisiana Territory in 1805. Wilkinson’s loyalties stayed with Jefferson and when he learned of Burr’s plans, he wrote to the President with concerns. Burr was arrested twice, and the cases were dismissed twice. This was the third arrest and he was taken to Virginia to stand trial. Burr was acquitted due to lack of evidence. The cost of the trial and disappearance of all influential friends left him with nothing in the US. Burr traveled to Europe to seek his fortune. He remained there until 1812 and then returned to New York City where he practiced law. He lived in relative obscurity until his death in 1836 at the age of 80.

Never do today what you can do tomorrow. Something may occur to make you regret your premature action.

The rule of my life is to make business a pleasure, and pleasure my business.

Go West, young man.

Law is whatever is boldly asserted and plausibly maintained. – all from Aaron Burr

Also on this day: Cracker Jack – In 1912, Cracker Jack began to include prizes in every box.
Bollingen Prize – In 1949, the prizes were first given out.
Rockin’ the World – In 1600,  the most powerful volcano in South America erupted.
Soaps – In 1985, the EastEnders was first broadcast.
Mysterious – In 1963, The Feminine Mystique was published.

Tagged with: ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: