Colonel Aaron Burr

COLONEL AARON BURR was born on the 6th of February 1756, at Newark, in New Jersey. His father, the Rev. Aaron Burr, was the first president of the College of New Jersey, which was Jersey, at Newark, but was subsequently removed to Princeton; his mother was the daughter of the Rev. Jonathan Edwards, so distinguished as a metaphysician and divine, and who succeeded his son-in-law in the presidency of the College. The former died in 1757, and the latter in the following year, leaving only two children, Aaron and a daughter, afterwards the wife of Judge Tappan Reeve, of Conneticut. Colonel Burr inherited from his father a considerable property. He was graduated at Princeton when only 16 years old. When in his 20th year he joined the American army, after the battle of Bunker's Hill, in the neighborhood of Boston. Here he volunteered to accompany General Arnold in the expedition against Quebec. This officer led the detachment under his command into Canada, by way of the Kennebec, and through the wilderness between the St. Lawrence and the settlements in the regions now constituting the state of Maine. On his arrival at Chaudière pond, Burr was sent with a communication to General Montgomery, who was advancing from the state of New York with the forces under his immediate orders; and who was so much pleased with the young messenger as to appoint him to be one of his aids-de-camp. In this capacity Burr was present at the battle of Quebec, and near the person of the General when he was killed. On his return from Canada, in May, 1776, he proceeded to the city of New York, on being 'notified verbally, that it would be agreeable to the commander-in-chief ' that he should do so. But it would seem that Colonel (then already Major) Burr, for some reason or other, failed to make a favorable impression personally on General Washington. He, in consequence, became, in his turn, dissatisfied, and even inclined to quit the service; when through the instrumentality of Governor Hancock, he obtained the appointment of aid-de-camp to General Putnam, - an appointment which he gladly accepted.

In July 1777, he was promoted to the rank of a Lieutenant Colonel; hut was obliged, in March 1779, to resign his commission in the army, on account of the impaired state of his health. He had, on various occasions, during the war, highly distinguished himself by his bravery, vigilance, and skill, and had been repeatedly selected by Washington to execute his commands on important emergencies, although that great man and admirable judge of character, had formed but a low estimate of his principles and morals. On retiring from the army, and after an interval of repose required for the restoration of his health, Colonel Burr applied himself to the study of the law, as well to provide himself with an adequate field for distinction among his countrymen in his future life, as to repair the pecuniary losses which he had incurred, during the period of his military service, by the liberality and extravagance of his expenditure. He commenced the practice of his profession at Albany, in the month of April, 1782, and married in July following. As soon as the British troops had evacuated the city of New York, at the conclusion of the war, in November, 1783, he removed thither, where he speedily acquired an extensive and lucrative practice. He was a member of the Legislature during the sessions of 1784 and 1785; but as that body met in the city where he resided, and as he took part in its deliberations only on a few of the most important questions which came before it for its decision, his professional avocations suffered scarcely any interruption; and it was only after the existing constitution of the Union went into operation that he became prominent as a party politician. In 1789, he was appointed attorney general of the state. In January, 1791, he was elected a senator of the United States; and he took his seat in that body in the autumn of that year. He was appointed, in October, 1792, to be a judge of the supreme court of the state of New York, but declined the appointment; preferring to hold his position in the United States Senate, as one of the most prominent leaders of the party (the democratic) to which he belonged. At the presidential election which took place in the autumn of 1800, an equal. number of votes were found to have been given for the two highest candidates on the list, Mr. Jefferson and Colonel Burr; and it, in consequence, devolved on the members of the House of Representatives, voting by states, to decide which of these gentlemen should hold the office of president, and which of them that of vice-president. Notwithstanding that, prior to the choice of electors, Mr. Jefferson was alone intended, by the party that nominated him, as their candidate for the presidency, it was not until after 36 ballotings that the contest was decided in his favor. From this time forth, as from the circumstances of the case might naturally have been expected, Colonel Burr lost the confidence of the majority of his former political friends; and the attempts which he made to ingratiate himself with those to whom he had been heretofore opposed were only partially successful. In 1804, he was a candidate for the office of governor of New York, but failed of being elected. He was supported by a portion of both the political parties by a minority of the democrats, and a majority of the federalists. Of the latter party, General Hamilton had been one of those who most earnestly opposed him; and a duel took place, on the 11th of July, between these distinguished men, growing out of their rivalship and adverse relation to each other. Burr was the challenger, conceiving himself to have been injuriously spoken of at the period of the preceding election by Hamilton, who was mortally wounded in the encounter. Colonel Burr continued at his post in the Senate of the United States till within two days of the expiration of his term of service as vicepresident; the last public duty of any importance performed by him having been to preside at the trial of Judge Chase, who was impeached by the House of Representatives for high crimes and misdemeanors.' It was not very long afterwards that he formed the scheme of his singular, and even yet not satisfactorily explained, western expedition, which led to his arrest, and trials at Richmond, in Virginia, in August and September, 1807, for treason first, and then for a misdemeanor. He was acquitted or both these charges. In June, 1808, he embarked from New York for England; induced to take this step, in a certain degree, by the personal and political prejudices that had been excited against him, by the death of Hamilton, and by the equivocal course he had pursued in the western country, but, in a degree also, by an expectation of being able to obtain encouragement and assistance from some of the European governments, for attempting the emancipation of the Spanish American colonies from the oppressive domination of the mother country, - a project which he had long contemplated. His efforts in this respect were, however, entirely unsuccessful; and he returned to the United States in June, 1812, after an absence abroad of 4 years. He opened an office in the city of New York, and practiced the law there, but without attracting the attention of the public to any considerable extent. In 1816, General Toledo, then in the city of New York, and whose object in visiting the United States was not only to obtain the means of continuing the war (of Mexico against Spain), but to seek the person best capable of employing them,' invited him to assume the management' of the political and military affairs' of the Mexican republic. Colonel Burr declined this invitation. But again, in 1819, he received a commission from the government of Venezuela, authorizing him to raise troops for the sea and land service of that republic, and pledging itself to pay all debts of his contracting in the exercise of the authority granted him. Colonel Burr died on the 14th of September, 1836, in the 81st year of his age, on Staten Island, where he had passed the summer for the benefit of the pure air. Agreeably to his own request, his body was conveyed to Princeton, to be there buried.