An evaluation of aaron burr treason trial

Given that nearly every day in several mainstream news outlets promote reasons why President Donald Trump should be tried for treason, the story of Aaron Burr, himself once a very popular politician, takes on added significance. Aaron Burr, a hero of the War for Independence, former vice president of the United States, and famous killer of Alexander Hamilton, became disaffected with the federal government. It began six years before his arrest when he was denied the presidency by the House of Representatives.

An evaluation of aaron burr treason trial

He is the author of Virginia's American Revolution: From Dominion to Republic, and co-author with Thomas E. Aaron Burr is not by any definition I know of a "founder" of anything.

He did not help to author a state or federal constitution, nor did he help to ratify one. He did not serve in the First Congress, which created the Executive departments, adopted the Judiciary Act ofand referred twelve proposed constitutional amendments to the states. He did not help to ratify any of those.

So why should Burr be called a "founder"? One supposes that, as in the case of other works about non-founding "founders" in recent years, it is a matter of marketing.

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Burr, after all, is an obscure figure, essentially unknown to the book-buying public, and so how else might one sell a magnum opus about his life? The era of what has come to be called "Founders Chic," of mass sales of ponderous, pedestrian doorstops about the likes of John Adams and Alexander Hamilton, as well as of similarly unenlightening works on lesser lights such as John Jay, Gouverneur Morris, and other politicians of the Early Republic, proceeds apace; and so one cannot much blame Nancy Isenberg or Viking for wanting to tap into the market—despite the fact that Burr was not a founder, in any obvious sense, of anything other than the Jeffersonian Republican Party that nearly drove him to his doom.

Why, then, is Nancy Isenberg interested in him?

An evaluation of aaron burr treason trial

What led her to drop a long work on this fellow, long object of nearly universal disdain, into the great pool of American historiography? A hint is provided by the subject of her last work, Sex and Citizenship in Antebellum America: Burr, she says, was grant her her premise for a minute "the only founder to embrace feminism.

Burr is oddly contemporary, almost the model of a liberal American politician or intellectual in, say, Isenberg's book does not solely lionize her subject for his sexual opinions and waywardness, however. To have done so would have played into the hands of Burr's critics in his own day, who pointed to his amorous license as emblematic of his supposed general licentiousness.

Instead, Burr's behavior in this regard is "contextualized" via a series of observations along the line of "Jefferson did it too" or, more often, "So did Hamilton. Burr's life might offer sufficient interest on its own to the reader already interested in the Early Republic and familiar with the general outline of its history.

Having won laurels in the military during the Revolution, Burr ascended to the post of U. He then helped to organize the Jeffersonian Republican victory in New York City, thus New York State, and thereby the country at large, in the presidential election of So significant a figure was Burr that the Republicans pushed him for vice president inthen made him their vice presidential candidate in Burr suffered serious mistreatment at the hands of Virginia Republicans inas they engineered some Republican electors' dropping him from their ballots to ensure that Jefferson obtained more votes than he did.

Burr dutifully soldiered on, as Isenberg shows, in winning the pivotal metropolis for Jefferson in despite Burr's experience.

An evaluation of aaron burr treason trial

Had he and his allies been as selfserving in as Virginians had been inIsenberg hints, Burr might Well, what Burr is remembered for now is the drawn-out process culminating in Jefferson's triumph over Burr in the House of Representatives in Since the federal constitution's authors had not foreseen the advent of political parties, they had not anticipated that running mates would gain the same number of Electoral College votes.

The Constitution provided that the candidate receiving the most votes became president, with the runner-up winning the vice presidency. Since Burr and Jefferson received an equal number of electoral votes inthere was no winner. Sitemap

The House of Representatives, then, was to decide the matter, with each state delegation having one vote. The process dragged on for many ballots over several days in the House, and, as the standard account has it, Burr perfidiously hung back and waited to see whether a coalition of anti-Jefferson Federalists and pro-Burr Republicans might make him president.

The standard account of things says that Burr was cut out of the Jefferson administration from the beginning due to his House of Representatives betrayal. Knowing that he would not be renominated by the Republicans inBurr ran for governor of New York. Frustrated by his defeat in the governor's race, Burr dueled with Alexander Hamilton, his chief New York Federalist tormentor, and shot him to death.

Isenberg says that this is not a valid account. Burr, she says, was the head of one of three major factions of New York Republicans among which Jefferson had to choose. Burr's estrangement from the Jefferson administration grew out of Jefferson's decision to back one of the competing factions.

Why did Jefferson make that decision?

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Isenberg points to Jefferson's intention to maintain Virginian dominance of the Republican Party. If Burr had received what his organizing work entitled him to, the control of federal patronage in New York, he would have been in a position to succeed Jefferson instead of Jefferson's best friend and chief political ally, James Madison.

Isenberg makes clear that she believes that Burr would have been a better president than Madison. Since the militarily inexperienced Madison's tenure as president was marked chiefly by his feckless conduct of the War ofit is more than plausible that warrior Burr would have surpassed Madison in that context.

In fact, since the failed foreign policy of the Jefferson administration was largely of Secretary of State Madison's making, it is interesting to speculate how American history might have been different if Burr, not Madison, had been Jefferson's favorite.Zusammenfassung The Burr trial, one of the greatest criminal trials in American history, pitted President Thomas Jefferson, Chief Justice John Marshall and former Vice President Aaron Burr in a three-way contest that tracked the political and cultural differences of the new republic.

So--Kennedy has a good case, badly made, about the Hamilton-Burr controversy, a plausible case, made with fervor but little real evidence, about the character of Burr, and an important re-evaluation, lost in the thicket of pot-shots and side trips, of the treason trial of is and in to a was not you i of it the be he his but for are this that by on at they with which she or from had we will have an what been one if would who has her.

Irony and Love the Center of Disgrace - Disgrace is a novel by J.M. Coetzee, which tells the story about a fifty-two years old professor, David Lurie, who by committing a series of mistakes falls into a profound state of disgrace. The Treason Trial of Aaron Burr: Law, Politics, and the Character Wars of the New Nation.

By R. Kent Newmyer. Cambridge Studies on the American Constitution. The latest contribution to the recent outpouring of scholarly and popular books about Aaron Burr, the Burr Conspiracy, and the Burr trials, R.

Kent Newmyer's The Treason Trial of Aaron Burr grounds the cele- brated trial squarely in the field of legal history.