Aaron Burr in the News

April 2006-Dec. 2006

Dec. 26, 2006
BOOK REVIEW: ‘Dangerous Nation’: A Provocative, Revisionist Look at American History – First of Two Volumes
Reviewed By David M. Kinchen
Huntington News Network Book Critic
Hinton, WV (HNN) – At last, a historian has finally gotten it right. Americans were “neoconservatives” from the start of the nation – nay, even before the start. That is, if the word “neoconservative” is used to designate an expansionist, righteous worldview that sees America as different from others. Not only different: Better!
That’s my reading of Robert Kagan’s “Dangerous Nation: America’s Place in the World from its Earliest Days to the Dawn of the 20th Century” (Knopf, $30, 527 pages, index, notes, bibliography), the first of two volumes that take a fresh – often radically provocative – look at American history and foreign policy. I’m eagerly awaiting the second volume which should be published in 2007.
Founding father Ben Franklin saw himself as both a loyal Briton and an American citizen.....

I was surprised to find no mention of Aaron Burr in the book’s index or in the book. There was a reference to James Wilkinson of Kentucky, the corrupt, double-dealing commanding general of the U.S. Army at the time (1805-6) and one of Burr’s most important co-conspirators in his alleged plot – for which Burr was tried (and acquitted by Chief Justice John Marshall – a bitter foe of Jefferson) for treason in 1807 – to separate the western part of the nation from the eastern. Burr was an expansionist in the tradition that Kagan writes about, some would say even celebrates, in “Dangerous Nation.” Burr attempted to do in the early 1800s what the Americans who settled in the Mexican province of Texas finally did in 1836 – carve out an independent country in lands held by the Spanish.


Folks: I received this message from Roger Kennedy. I'm sure he'd
appreciate any and all responses. Regards, Antonio

-----Original Message-----
From: Roger Kennedy [mailto:roger@rkennedy.net]
Sent: Saturday, December 02, 2006 12:30 PM
To: antonioburr@prodigy.net
Subject: hello there ---

I couldn't find an email for Stewart Johnson, so I'm bothering you with
questions --- happily because I wanted in any case to thank you for your
kind words to Frances after my talk in the West Village

Some years ago I wrote the library at Rutgers to ask about Milton
notes on Aaron Burr's Latin American associations after his return from
exile--- to my shame I've lost their response--- and wondered whether or
you or any other Burr Association folk have followed up on that chapter
his life ---  or can redirect me to these leads  ---do you happen to
have an
email address for Mary-Jo Kline?

The Latin American connection bears upon Aaron Columbus Burr's abortive
free-black colony in British Honduras -- there seems to have been an
on it in Civil War History magazine ....Do you have a view as to the
likelihood that Aaron Columbus Burr was a descendent of Aaron? And how
you feel about the black Burr's of Philadelphia? Is there any
useful way of doing DNA tests on that matter?

Finally, on Amazon I noted what appears to be a privately-printed
speculation on the possibility of a code in the Aaron-Theodosia letters
Europe -- apparently it is tied to the considerably less likely
that Burr was a covert Tory (!) and that Trinity Church was a center for
Tory espionage --- that seems to be silly, but the code isn't -- do you
anybody who has thought much about a cipher in those letters?

Roger G. Kennedy, Director Emeritus,National Museum of American History
Former Director, National Park Service
33 Linnaean Street Cambridge, MA  02138-1511
Wildfire and Americans: How to Save Lives, Property and Your Tax Dollars
Hill and Wang, 2006.






This web site links to Tom Burr's photo gallery of the Duel reenactment some 28 months ago.  11/27/06




By Bob Cupp
Friday, November 24, 2006

The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission has recognized more than 2,000 historical sites by erecting distinctive blue and gold metal markers along the state's roads and highways....

THE LARIMER HOUSE: "Larimer's Mansion Farm -- This house, on the 'King's Highway' was built by Wm. & Ann Larimer, Sr., circa 1790. It was the homestead of Gen. Wm. Larimer, Jr., one of the founders of Denver, Colorado. Here Wm. Henry Harrison (Old Tippecanoe) and Aaron Burr were entertained. -- Norwin Rotary Club Sponsor - 1976."...





The Democrats' Economy Wars

By Harold Meyerson

Wednesday, November 22, 2006; Page A21 Wash Post

When voters went to the polls this month, they registered not only a revulsion with the Republican regime but also a profound -- almost un-American -- anxiety about the nation's future. They ousted incumbents who wanted to stay the economic course, choosing instead Democratic challengers who questioned free-trade orthodoxy. In the exit polling, a plurality said they believed that life for the next generation of Americans would be worse than it is today.


For the Democrats who now run Congress, not to mention those planning to run for president, the fact that the party's economic gurus have devised a policy that they themselves believe isn't up to the challenge at hand can't be greatly heartening. Happily, this is not the only project whose work the Democrats will be able to access. This June, in response to the Hamilton Project's creation, a group of some 50 liberal economists loosely affiliated with the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) began work of their own. Their project, yet to be named (its founders have resisted the temptation to call it the Aaron Burr Project), will be unveiled in January....




Princeton's blacks had no easier time than those elsewhere in the North

   The history of slavery in Princeton reflects that of America as a whole.
   In colonial New Jersey, slavery was accepted as a vital component of the economy. Moral objections were futile, and early attempts at abolition were met with strong resistance.
   The abolition of slavery in New Jersey was not complete until the Civil War (1861-1865). There were slaves in the Princeton area as late as 1859.
   Slaves lived in Princeton among the earliest settlers. The borough's first settler was an Englishman named Daniel Brinson. Among the possessions listed in his will was an "Engen Gal," that is, an Indian woman. She may have been a captive from King Philip's War who had been sold into slavery. Named for an Indian chief, King Philip's War was a devastating conflict in New England that proportionately killed more Americans than any other war. Indian slaves were generally sold at half the price of Africans, although Brinson's "Engen Gal" was valued very high at 30 pounds sterling. Brinson arrived in the Colonies in 1677, just as the war ended, and could have bought her at that time.
   Princeton's early settlers were predominantly Quakers. The earliest objections to slavery were raised by Quakers, yet their church was slow to adopt the anti-slavery position. George Fox, the church's founder, morally objected to slavery, as did William Penn. One of the earliest anti-slavery movements in America was led by the Quaker surveyor George Keith. His division line separating East and West Jersey was ratified in a 1687 Princeton meeting — Province Line Road is a relic of this division.
   Many Quakers, including some of Princeton's, owned slaves. Others strongly resisted early attempts to abolish slavery. The early history is ambiguous. By the mid-18th century the Quaker leadership was increasingly opposed to slavery and finally banned their members from owning slaves. Prior to the Revolution, Quakers led the nation in opposing slavery.
   Daniel Brinson's widow, Frances, married a Quaker named John Horner. They lived on property that is now the main campus of Princeton University. In his will, Horner listed four "Negro slaves" and an Indian slave, probably the Indian woman who had once belonged to Brinson. Frances Horner died in 1751 and listed slaves "Kate, Jack and Little Ginny" in her will. Kate went to Horner's son-in-law, Joseph Stout of Hopewell, and was freed after his death in 1764. Another son-in-law of Frances Horner was also a slaveowner — James Leonard, who gave Princeton its name.
   Among Princeton's slaveowners was the Rev. John Witherspoon, who served as president of The College of New Jersey (the future Princeton University) and was a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Witherspoon brought two Africans to the college with the intention of educating them as missionaries. His intention to send them to Africa was interrupted by the Revolutionary War. Several trustees were also slaveowners. Another college president who owned slaves was Aaron Burr the Elder.
   The promise of equality that accompanied the American Revolution gave hope to Africans, many of whom fought as volunteers with the Continental Army or with local militias. ......

Proposed response:

While the Elder owned slaves, it is well known that his son Vice President Aaron Burr was considered the most radical abolitionist of his time. Burr corresponded with Peggy, paying her tuition to school. He boarded boats from Africa, filing legal documents to free prisoners who could survive in America on their own.
Most importantly, Burr purchased the Bastrop tract in Louisiana. Cotton could not be grown here. Escaped slaves were welcomed to farm their own small property. When southern plantation owners realized that the west would not be a market for them to sell their slaves, they were furious. The underground railroad to the north would be short cut for freedom loving blacks who would need only reach Bastrop. So exactly 200 years ago, they had their puppet in office Jefferson seize Burr and put him on trial. Of course Burr resisted the full might of the executive office and was found innocent. Princeton students: Forget what your tenth grade teacher taught you about hating Burr. Visit the AaronBurrAssociation.org





....In Boston, Neil Reynolds ’03 carved a niche for himself in an organization called The Tribe, which has built a healthy fan base. He’s also directing a two-person musical improv show called “Tiny Little Lungs” and acting in “Code Duello: Hamilton & Burr,” wherein, as the show’s Web site advertises, “Each night, Tribe mainstage players Neil Reynolds & Matt Tucker don the wigs and waistcoats of Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton, improvising the lives of our two angriest founding fathers.”  ....Colby.edu


Sunday, November 12, 2006


Hey y'all:

I spent some time tonight to begin AARON BURR'S SOUTHERN PILGRIMAGE 1806-1807.

Of course, most of my information will focus upon Burr's trip north after his arrest on February 19, 1807, however, there are lots of people and places from Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia and South Carolina which figure in the story of Burr's Conspiracy.

Please take time to at least scroll over this stuff and pass it along to anyone who might be interested in this story.

I was very excited tonight about finding the portrait of Nicholas Perkins, the man who had Burr arrested , who delivered him to federal authorities in Richmond and who collected the $2000 reward.

Let me hear from ya!

Robert Register http://atlasofalabama.blogspot.com

posted by roberto at 8:25 PM 0 comments  

"The Aaron Burr Rock, erected in 1938 by the Mary Adair Chapter of the Daughters of the AmericanRevolution, is said to stand on the spot where Aaron Burr, a Vice-President of the United States under Jefferson, on his way to Richmond to face treason charges jumped from a carriage and asked Chester citizens for assistance."

I also found where someone says that the CHESTER COUNTY HISTORICAL MUSEUM claims to have the bench on which Burr slept at the Lewis Inn outside Chester!!!!

Posted in THE CHARLOTTE OBSERVER on Sun, Jun. 19, 2005 http://www.charlotte.com/mld/observer/news/local/states/south_carolina/counties/york/11932048.htm

Burr begged, in vain, for help while in Chester
He was en route to Virginia to stand trial for treason charge

In 1938, the Mary Adair Chapter, D.A.R. placed an inscription on a rough-hewn rock to commemorate a most unusual event in Chester's history. The inscription on the rock that sits on the highest hill in downtown Chester reads: "In 1806, Aaron Burr, when passing through Chester, a prisoner, dismounted on this rock and appealed in vain to the citizens for help."

The date 1806 is wrong. It was March 1807 when Aaron Burr, former vice president of the United States, the youngest colonel of the Revolutionary War, whose blue-blooded ancestors included the first president of Princeton, was marched into town under arrest by the U.S. Army and charged with high treason.

This was the second blot on Aaron Burr's otherwise satisfactory career. While vice president, Burr challenged and killed Alexander Hamilton, former secretary of the Treasury, in a duel. Dueling was legal in New Jersey, but the act ruined any chances that Burr might become President Jefferson's successor.

Burr made a Southern tour to Georgia, where dueling was more acceptable and came up the coast to visit his beloved daughter, Theodosia Alston, and her family at the Alston plantation (now Brookgreen Gardens, located between Georgetown and Charleston). He then returned to Washington and made a farewell speech to the U.S. Senate.

Burr next got involved in speculation in Western land. Spain gave him a grant for 400,000 acres in Texas for $40,000 with $5,000 down. An estimated 500 followers were ready to join Burr in what many thought was a project to establish a new country. President Jefferson had Burr arrested in Kentucky, but he was ably defended by Henry Clay and acquitted.

In February 1807, Burr was arrested in Mississippi Territory and charged with treason. The Army guards wished to avoid the populous coastal areas and especially the S.C. coast, where Burr was popular, so they marched him through the backwoods destined for Richmond, Va., to be tried by the chief justice of the Supreme Court, John Marshall.

On horseback, the group reached the village of Chesterville. According to records, there were two soldiers in front of Burr, two behind him and one on each side.

As they approached a tavern, Burr flung himself from his horse, mounted the rock and shouted to the bystanders: "I'm Aaron Burr, under military arrest, and claim the protection of the civil authorities."

Officers forced Burr to remount and marched on. About dark, the party got to John Lewis' Tavern (the spot on S.C. 74 between Chester and Rock Hill now called Lewis Turnout).

Officer Perkins (we don't know his first name), in charge of Burr, later said that at Lewis' tavern, he found his famous prisoner, and the soldier leading his horse, in a flood of tears. Presumably, Burr's usual great self-assurance had vanished with the cold-shoulder treatment by the people of Chesterville.

That night, Burr reportedly slept on a bench at the tavern.
The next day, the party moved on to Richmond for the trial. His son-in-law, Joseph Alston, and daughter, Theodosia, were there to see 51-year-old Burr tried on the charge of conspiring to make himself emperor of a large part of the Louisiana Purchase land and Texas.

Historians still debate whether Burr, who was originally arrested on a misdemeanor charge, not treason, intended to create an empire for himself or whether he was mounting a filibustering expedition against Spain.

The trial was a sensation. Political passions created a stormy setting. Jefferson was summoned to testify but refused to do so. The law required that there be two witnesses to the overt act of treason, and Marshall construed the law narrowly. Only one creditable witness was found. The jury found Burr "not guilty under the indictment by evidence submitted to us."

After the trial, Burr sailed for England, but he returned to New York in 1812 at the same time that Joseph Alston was elected governor of South Carolina. Theodosia Burr Alston sailed alone for New York to see her father. She never arrived. The ship was lost at sea -- either the victim of Cape Hatteras' treacherous currents or of pirates who were active in the area off the Outer Banks at that time.

Usually, the monuments erected by the Daughters of the American Revolution commemorate the deeds of Revolutionary War heroes.
And although Aaron Burr was a genuine hero of the Revolution, the Aaron Burr rock inscription reminds us of one of the most interesting trials in American history.






Wall  St Journal:

....Politics are in Mr. Cuomo's DNA. His father, Mario, was New York's governor from 1983 to 1995. Mr. Cuomo was married to Robert Kennedy's daughter, Kerry, before getting divorced in 2003.

A graduate of Albany Law School, Mr. Cuomo worked in his father's administration before a brief stint as a Manhattan assistant district attorney. He later started a nonprofit that built housing for the homeless. After serving as housing secretary in the Clinton administration, he ran unsuccessfully for New York governor in 2002.

Some observers expect Mr. Cuomo could eventually run for the U.S. Senate if Hillary Clinton (who was re-elected Tuesday) decides to run for president. Wendy Katz, a spokeswoman for Mr. Cuomo, said: "Andrew has said he is 100% focused on serving New Yorkers as their next attorney general, and those are his plans."

In addition to fighting Medicaid fraud and government corruption, Mr. Cuomo says he plans to pursue civil-rights cases and push the federal government to do more to strengthen environmental regulations.

He plans to focus on more-traditional consumer issues, the mainstay of the office, which traces its roots back to Dutch colonial days in the 1600s. Several early New York attorneys general parlayed the job to national office, including Aaron Burr, who held the office in the late 1700s before eventually becoming Thomas Jefferson's vice president (and, of course, killing Alexander Hamilton in a duel). ....





.....It was said of Abraham Lincoln during his initial bid for the presidency: "The idea that such a man as he should be the president of a country such as this is a very ridiculous joke." The quote is attributed to James Gordon Bennett, editor of the New York Herald. Another writer of note, Henry Watterson, editor of the Louisville Courier Journal, opined Lincoln's election was accidental and that the new president was untutored, homely and awkward. All men in his cabinet regarded themselves intellectually superior to Lincoln, he claimed.

Not even our sainted founding fathers were spared ridicule. In the recently published book, "Infamous Scribblers," one such journalist was said to have suggested the father of our country had drawn $5,000 more than he was due as president. He likened him to Caesar, and Cromwell. Alexander Hamilton, the financial wizard who devised a plan that rescued the new country from bankruptcy was accused of consorting with a prostitute, which was not true.

Later, any disaffection with Hamilton was fatally settled in a dual with Aaron Burr. Hamilton is memorialized with the respect of knowledgeable Americans. Burr has no such honor.

Latter-day political targets have included Presidents Dwight Eisenhower, always golfing; Jimmy Carter, always arranging the pool schedule; Richard Nixon, always trying to convince the public he was honest; Bill Clinton, trying to convince us he did not have sex with that woman; and George Bush, always the butt of television comics who found in him a nightly joke or two.

Our system of government, of course, leaves much to be criticized, but through it all it finally redeems itself when it turns out to be wrong and tries, often successfully, to do good for the people it serves.

Seems a shame we can't learn to discuss issues meaningfully before elections rather than turning this vital function of a democracy into a monstrous manure pile.

Dean Krenz is a former publisher of The Journal.




Saturday Nov 4, - Stuart has reminded us that Roger Kennedy will be giving a speech in NYC Nov 14.

Please call Stuart if you would like to attend.





One of the more frequently visited sites in Princeton Cemetery is the grave of Aaron Burr, whose gravestone was stolen several years ago, and later recovered in Sussex County.



Unidentified sounds disturb the silence of night. The curtains begin to sway as a cold draft breezes across the room. Could it be the work of a spirit from another world?
George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Abraham Lincoln and some of the most recognizable figures of American history may have returned to some of their former haunts.
Only those lucky (or unlucky) enough to encounter their ghostly forms can say for sure. Find out where to encounter the presence of a character from America's past … and we're not talking history books here.

by Rose Edmunds  Weird Travel


7. Ghost of Benjamin Franklin, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

6. Ghost of Robert E. Lee, Alexandria, Virginia

5. Ghost of General P.G.T. Beauregard, New Orleans, Louisiana

4. Ghost of Aaron Burr, New York, New York

  3. Ghost of George Washington, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

2. Ghost of Betsy Ross, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

1. Ghost of Abraham Lincoln, Washington, D.C.




I found the site for that restaurant.  Looks to be a nice one.  They have put some of the history of the place on the Web page.  The owners did some excavations and found some interesting Revolutionary War connections.  Waletta


Bald Head Island

Bald Head Island remains accessible only by watercraft, and travel on the island is limited to electric carts.

The exclusivity of Bald Head Island has long been its attraction. For centuries it was known as a haven for pirates like Stede Bonnet and Blackbeard, who favored its hard-to-navigate nooks and crannies and its lush maritime forests.

The island is also home, some believe, to the mysterious disappearance of Theodosia Burr Alston in 1812. Theodosia was the daughter of Aaron Burr, the third vice president of the United States, and wife of Joseph Alston, South Carolina's governor.

In late December, she boarded a small pilot ship, The Patriot, in South Carolina, bound for New York to visit her father.

But she and The Patriot never made it to New York; the ship was found drifting off Nags Head in the early part of 1813 without passengers or crew.

There are many accounts as to the fate of Theodosia. Both the Outer Banks and Bald Head Island stake claim as her final resting place.

It is believed by some that The

Patriot was pillaged by pirates while off the coast of Nags Head.

Bald Head Island legend contends, however, that the ship foundered on the shoals of the Cape Fear region and pirates raided the distressed ship, killing everyone aboard except Theodosia, who was taken captive for ransom. The tide took the ransacked ship out to sea, to later arrive at Nags Head.

Based on information in Touring the Backroads of North Carolina's Lower Coast, by Daniel W. Barefoot, the latter story has more credibility. Two men executed in Norfolk confessed that they were with a band of Bald Head Island pirates who raided The Patriot, and they witnessed Theodosia's subsequent death.

But the exact details of her demise are not known. Some say she died in captivity or was murdered. Others say she committed suicide, and the three pirates assigned to her watch were beheaded for their incompetence.

Regardless of how she died, her spirit is said to manifest along Bald Head Island's shore, still frantically searching for a way to escape. Alternate reports say the three headless pirates can be seen chasing behind her. In more recent times, the dejected ghost is said to be dressed in a flowing emerald-green gown.

Larry Pace, a historic tour director at Smith Island Museum of History, began the Bald Head Island Haunted Historic Tour three years ago, which includes the tale of Theodosia.

He describes the tour as a "vehicle" to tell the region's ghost stories and legends passed down to him. He also said the tour "got some of the island residents out and involved."

"It's important to keep the history alive, and to keep the interest level, and the truth behind the stories. These stories lead people to a genuine interest in history," Pace said.

Ultimately, he said, the idea of conducting such a tour is to inspire others to research the lore for themselves.

But, he said, "It's more fun than anything else."

Although no sightings of Theodosia's ghost have been reported since development began on the island, she will not be forgotten, thanks to Pace and historians like him.

- Crystal S. Tatum


Renovation of My Old Kentucky Home to be showcased Nov. 1


The home that symbolizes Kentucky is having an open house on Nov. 1 to show off a nearly $1 million renovation project.

Federal Hill, the Georgian-style mansion in Bardstown that legend says inspired Stephen Foster's “My Old Kentucky Home,” has undergone extensive interior renovations that will be celebrated in a ceremony next month.

The goal of the work, the first major renovation since 1977, was to make the home look as it did in the 1850s when Foster wrote his famous song. The work includes new interior finishes, reproduction wallpapers, carpets, drapery treatments and bed hangings.

Paints and colors were analyzed to accurately determine what the home looked like. For example, small core samples of wood were taken and analyzed under a microscope to help recreate the graining technique that was used. Several different kinds of wood were used in the home and the graining made it look all look like the same kind of wood.

“This is an accurate renovation that makes the home appear as it was in the 1850s,” said Alice Heaton, the park manager at My Old Kentucky Home State Park in Bardstown. Federal Hill is featured on the back of the Kentucky quarter that was issued by the U.S. Mint in 2001.

Visitors to the home will notice bright colors and patterns, which were typical of the period, according to Ron Langdon, the home's curator who worked on the renovation. In 1850, only candles and lamps were used for lighting, so bright, reflective colors and patterns would have helped brighten the rooms.

Work on Federal Hill was started by John Rowan in 1795 and was completed in 1818. The state took control of the home in 1922. It has undergone renovations in 1926, 1950 and 1977.

Rowan served in the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives, was a member of the Kentucky General Assembly, the state Court of Appeals and was secretary of state. Federal Hill hosted Aaron Burr, Henry Clay and other important political and social figures. Foster, a family relative, wrote his song in 1852.

The renovation work, made possible by an anonymous donor, began in 2004 and was carried out by a group of expert artisans. They include Matthew J. Mosca, a consultant on historic paint finishes from Baltimore; Jim Yates, a consultant on wallpaper from Johnson City, Tenn., who has installed wallpaper at the White House; Kevin and Marva Hereford, consultants on the draperies and bed hangings from Milton, Ky.; Todd Deetsch, a consultant on grain finishes in Middletown, Ky.; and Langdon, the home's curator.

My Old Kentucky Home will also be holding its annual candlelight tours Nov. 24-25, Dec. 1-2 and Dec. 8-9 this year. This event features tours led by guides dressed in Christmas period correct clothing at Federal Hill mansion. The house is decorated for the holidays as it would have been in the 1800s. Guests are served refreshments after the tour. For information, contact the park at 502-348-3502.

The 285-acre park also has an 18-hole golf course, campground, picnic area and a summertime theatrical production - “The Stephen Foster Story.”



One hundred and ninety years after Martin Van Buren used the position of attorney general to try to topple the governor, candidates Jeanine Pirro and Andrew Cuomo are trying to topple one another. Over and over again during their recent debate -- 16 times by one count -- Republican Pirro hammered her Democratic rival for a lack of experience, saying that as a junior prosecutor for only 14 months 21 years ago he did not understand the criminal justice system or know how to run a legal operation. And for good measure, she accused him of corruption.

For his part, Cuomo charged that Pirro is under investigation not only for seeking to wiretap her husband Albert, whom she suspected was having an affair, but also for failing to pursue corrupt officials in Westchester County. (Two days later, current Attorney General Eliot Spitzer said there is no such corruption probe.)

Such heated contests are nothing new for attorneys general.

The job was a source of friction between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton. Burr defeated the Hamilton faction to win appointment as attorney general in 1789. The animosity between the two men continued for the next 15 years, until 1804, when Burr killed Hamilton in a duel. ...







Theatre review: Fontana resident is one of the stars in Candlelight's great show, 'Anything Goes'



"Anything Goes" is an appropriate title for Candlelight Pavilion Dinner Theater's new production.

That's because this musical comedy offers anything and everything a theatergoer could want -- a fun story, energetic singing, terrific dancing, lots of humor, and splendid costumes. And to top it off -- it has a Fontana resident, Aaron Burr, in one of the starring roles.

In other words, it's all good.

Burr does an outstanding job portraying wealthy Englishman Lord Evelyn Oakleigh, providing many of the funniest moments in this lighthearted show.

Burr also puts his extensive musical background to good use. At the age of 6, he began traveling full-time with his family as a gospel singing troupe; by the age of 12, he had been to 46 states in the United States and more than 20 countries throughout the world. He continued singing throughout high school and has recently been acting for area theater organizations such as Performance Riverside.

In "Anything Goes," he plays one of the many goofy passengers aboard the S.S. American, which is sailing from New York to England.


North Grand Park on the evening of its grand opening. (Photo by Vicki Botta)

New office building opens in Goshen

Goshen — A festive mood prevailed over a dark, rainy downtown Goshen last Friday. Everyone arriving for the party under the tent at Goshen’s newest landmark, North Grand Park, heartily shook the hand of Ray Quattrini, the man who tore down Conklin’s Lumber and put up architecturally upscale buildings suitable for such tenants as J. P. Morgan Chase Bank, Prudential-Rand Realty and the Pucci Investment Group.

Wraps, salads and beverages by Courtesy Caterers and music by “The Gravikord Duo” served as an official welcome to these tenants and a grand opening celebration for North Grand.

The Rev. Virginia Hoch of the United Methodist Church of Goshen called the new office building “a great asset to the community.” She said it was built on the site of the original United Methodist Church before it became a mill and seed store and eventually the family-owned Conklin’s Lumber.

The original building, where the Chase Bank now is, was originally purchased for $2,900, she said. Each of the other businesses occupied one of the subsequent expansions before the church moved to its present location on Main Street.

The Rev. Hoch said Quattrini was keeping history alive by bringing a bank started by Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr to the location.

Town Supervisor Doug Bloomfield said North Grand Park added to Goshen’s beauty.

Village Trustee Lynn Cione fondly referred to Conklin’s as a Goshen landmark from which directions could be given to any location in the village. North Grand Park was not created out of “spur of the moment thoughts,” she said, but “with love and care.” The Quattrinis have touched everything in Goshen in one way or another and have “made Goshen a place where she wants to live,” she said.

Ray Quattrini describes himself as a “bootstrap” kind of person who started working at age 12 for a neighbor who owned a construction business. At that young age he mixed cement and carried materials for his neighbor, he said. Finding that he loved construction, he learned all that he could. He originally studied to be an architect but quickly decided he didn’t like the thought of being behind a desk.

After moving here from Bergen County, N.J., in 1973, he built the home of the wealthy businessman, Larry Meinwald from New York City, who would later become his partner, forming the Goshen Corporation. According to Quattrini, they “spent the next 12 years investing in Goshen.”

Meinwald liked grand-scale projects and had the means to finance the ones that both he and Quattrini were passionate about. Together they purchased and renovated approximately 20 buildings in Goshen. One of their projects was the Flat Iron building, a location that was formerly the old Piggett’s Market near the corner of Main Street and North Church Street. His partner retired in 1997, at the age of 85, and died in 2001.

According to Quattrini, North Grand Park is his biggest project ever. The buildings behind the ones inhabited by Chase, Prudential Rand, and Pucci’s are presently looking for tenants. The building going up next to the police station is designed to accommodate a food market on the first floor and a restaurant on the second floor.

When asked if he considered himself the “Donald Trump of Goshen,” Quattrini laughed and said no. “People think I’m wealthy because of what I do,” he said. “Goshen is a small town.”

He adds that loves what he does, and although he lives outside of Goshen, 95 percent of his work is here.

Quattrini said he is “just someone who’s fortunate enough to do what he likes to do.”





Proposed letter to editor

I read with interest that "Rev. Hoch said Quattrini was keeping history alive by bringing a bank started by Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr to the location." Congratulations to Goshen. But the truth is that Hamilton's Bank of New York would only lend to rich Federalists. Burr created legislation to form the Manhattan Company to bring water to NYC. In it he added a section that the Company could lend excess funds. Hamilton did not understand this clause when he approved it. Fortunately the common person could then get loans, even if not in Hamilton's party. Learn more about the origin of Chase Manhattan Bank at www.AaronBurrAssociation.org



Tufts daily

Journalist McCain: despite '06 edge, corruption also dogs Democrats' past


Pranai Cheroo

Issue date: 9/27/06 Section: News
Conservative journalist Robert Stacy McCain condemned corruption in the Democratic Party and stressed importance of the coming November election in a Tufts Republicans event last night.

"This year is [the Democratic Party's] best chance to take back the House," he said. "If they don't take it back soon, they're not going to take it back."

McCain, an assistant national editor with the Washington Times, said that this election will be "one of the most exciting campaigns."

"You'll go to bed on Nov. 7 and no one will know who's going to control Congress and you'll wake up on Nov. 8 and they still won't know who's going to control Congress," he said.

According to McCain, several issues may tip the election in Democrats' favor, including the war in Iraq. The Republican Party is facing discontent, however, with stalled reforms for social security, education and healthcare, he said.

Still, he feels that the Democrats are "living in the past" because of their obsession with the war.

"The left really wanted to restage the 1968 war protests," he said.

McCain, formerly a Democrat who now votes Republican, voiced other criticisms about the Democratic Party. His main focus: what he claims as extensive corruption that he claims "goes back to the founding of the [party], particularly the involvement of Aaron Burr."

Aaron Burr was tried in 1807 under charges of treason for trying to start a new nation in the Southwest United States, of which he was to be the head. He had previously served as the third Vice President under Thomas Jefferson as a major formative member of the so-called Democratic-Republican Party.

McCain elaborates further on corruption themes in a book "Donkey Cons: Sex, Crime, and Corruption in the Democratic Party," that he co-wrote with Lynn Vincent, a Features editor at World Magazine.

"Donkey Cons," released in April, is a factual catalogue of offenses that contradicts the noble image Democrats try to uphold, McCain said.

Reader Comments:   posted by Pete Tavino

posted 9/27/06 @ 7:36 AM EST

When McCain discusses the corruption of the Treason Trial, he refers to the US government illegally arresting Aaron Burr, and paying their main witness General Eaton $10,000 to testify against him.
Burr led his own defense team to be declared innocent, by Justice John Marshall and the jury.
Who else but Burr could stand up to such a brutal governmental assault?
Learn about this champion of women's education, who kept Jefferson from taking over the Judicial Branch, and opposed his plantation owning constituents.
at www.AaronBurrAssociation.org The details of the Duel are there for the avid history buff too. Thank you.


Regime Change
The left needs to come up with a better case against the Electoral College.


Tuesday, September 26, 2006 12:01 a.m. EDT

It was probably inevitable that eventually an academic would rewrite the history of the American Founding in his own image. Bruce Ackerman, Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science at Yale University, has selected, molded, distorted, and recreated the events of the 1800 election and its aftermath to suit his view of what the Constitution ought to be. It's a pity. Written with a vibrant narrative style, "The Failure of the Founding Fathers" highlights such overlooked or underappreciated facts as the framers' lack of judgment in putting the vice president in charge of counting electoral votes, and the truly heroic efforts of Federalist Congressman James Bayard to break the famous impasse between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr.

Nonetheless, the book fails because it is not a work of history at all, but rather an argument constructed to advance an ideological and political agenda. Ackerman wants to delegitimize the Electoral College and to undermine the founders' authority.  .....

Mr. Forte is a professor of law at Cleveland State University. This article first appeared in the Claremont Institute's Web site.





Story of Margaret Blennerhassett featured this month 9/14/06

By Wayne Towner, Special to The Times   http://www.mariettatimes.com


PARKERSBURG — Several special events are planned in September and October at the Blennerhassett Museum and on Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park.

Living history re-enactor Debra Conner will present one program Tuesday at the museum and another on Sept. 21 on the island.

“An Evening with Margaret Blennerhassett” will be presented by Conner from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Tuesday in the museum at Second and Juliana streets in downtown Parkersburg.

The cost is $8 for members of Friends of Blennerhassett and $10 for non-members. The price includes self-guided tours of the museum, the performance and refreshments.

Conner has titled her program “Exile from Eden” and tells the story of Margaret Blennerhassett’s riches-to-rags story. She also provides glimpses into frontier life and the lives of historical figures, like Aaron Burr, Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton.

Conner will also present “Brunch with Margaret Blennerhassett” on Sept. 21 on Blennerhassett Island. The boat ride to the island will be 10 a.m. and visitors will be greeted by Conner in her role as Margaret. She will provide a glimpse into frontier life in the 18th century and a special tour of the Blennerhassett Mansion.

The cost is $36.95 per person and includes a self-guided tour of the museum, the boat ride, the brunch and the mansion tour.


Presidential Paper
Julie Carlson, Artfact.com 09.06.06, 12:00 AM ET


Click to enlarge
Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)
Signed Autograph Letter
Dated July 20, 1818
James D. Julia, Maine
Aug. 23, 2006
Spectacular Maine Auction
Lot 819
How Much:
Pre-sale estimate: $10,000 to $20,000
Final selling price (including buyer's premium): $34,500


Penned from his renowned estate, Monticello, a letter signed by third U.S. President Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) surfaced at James D. Julia's three-day Spectacular Maine Auction on Aug. 23. Trouncing an estimate of $10,000 to $20,000, the presidential penmanship achieved $34,500.

Jefferson began the 1818 letter, "On my return from Polar Forest …" and continued with comments on the construction of the University of Virginia.

Jefferson's vice president, Aaron Burr, who mortally wounded Alexander Hamilton in a duel, was also represented in the James D. Julia auction. A short letter signed by Burr was bid up to $1,035.

Artfact Analysis

An autographed letter signed by Jefferson sold for $225,750 at Sotheby's (nyse: BID - news - people ) in 2000. The letter's important political content and multiple Jefferson signatures contributed to its value.

Libraries and institutions often compete with wealthy private individuals for presidential memorabilia. Texan real estate developer Harlan Crow is one of the most astute collectors in this field. His enormous, Monticello-style estate includes a comprehensive collection of artifacts and documents relating to U.S. presidents and world leaders, with sculpture busts of communists relegated to a woodsy side garden.



Burr Donation  
PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (AP) -- Blennerhassett Museum has its first item related to Aaron Burr the man accused of pulling the head of the Blennerhassett family into a treasonous plot known as the Burr Conspiracy.

The item is a silhouette of Burr painted by Joseph Wood in 1812, after Burr returned from four years of exile in Europe.

Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park historian Ray Swick says the silhouette is one of the most valuable relics ever acquired by the museum.

The piece was purchased with money donated by DuPont and GE Plastics.

The silhouette is featured in a new exhibit dedicated to the Parkersburg-area island's namesake, Irish aristocrat Harman Blennerhassett.

Burr was vice president of the United States when he shot and killed Alexander Hamilton in an 1804 duel.

While a fugitive from that duel, Burr befriended Blennerhassett.

During a visit to the Ohio River island in 1806, Burr allegedly conspired with Blennerhassett to form a new country.

Both were accused of treason. Blennerhassett spent 53 days in jail but was released after Burr was acquitted.

© 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Updated: September 5, 2006, 2:37 am




When 23rd Street Was the Country

August 25, 2006   www.NYSun.com



The city has few more charming enclaves of old houses than Charlton, King, and Vandam streets between Varick Street and Sixth Avenue. It's an industrial neighborhood, but one in which large printing plants loom picturesquely over diminutive row houses.

In the 18th century, when this was part of the countryside north of the city, Major Abraham Mortier bought land from Trinity Church and erected upon Richmond Hill — one of many hills that were a defining feature of Manhattan topography — a splendid mansion in 1767. It later served as an office for General Washington, where he was attended to by both Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr.

The house became the home of John Adams when he was vice president. After the capital relocated to Philadelphia, the house was purchased by Aaron Burr, who already knew it well. This is where Burr lived when he was elected vice president — and when he shot Hamilton. Later, the ever embattled Burr platted the land of the Richmond Hill estate into the street grid we see today. But he was never able to develop the land as he apparently wanted to, as his finances — also ever embattled — forced him, in 1817, to sell to the "landlord of New York," John Jacob Astor. .....



Tracing history

From Natchez, Miss., to Nashville, Tenn., it's 440 storied miles

By Bob Downing
Beacon Journal staff writer   Posted on Sun, Aug. 20, 2006

Natchez Trace is more than just a parkway for vehicles.

The 440-mile historic pathway stretches from near Nashville, Tenn., southwest through northern Alabama to near Natchez, Miss., along the route of one of America's most famous frontier trails.

The well-groomed Natchez Trace Parkway parallels the historic routes used by buffalo, American Indians, French and Spanish explorers, missionaries, traders, soldiers and on-foot travelers in America's early days.

It is associated with Andrew Jackson, John James Audubon, Aaron Burr, Ulysses S. Grant and Choctaw Chief Pushmataha.

The two-lane road is a pretty, unhurried, winding, low-speed, laid-back route that is becoming increasingly popular with long-distance bicyclists. It is also favored by owners of recreational vehicles and motorcycles.

The rolling terrain has forests, prairies, farms, waterfalls and bottomlands with tupelo and bald cypress. And no billboards.

There are turnoffs for historic sites and interpretive signs, plus 28 hiking and self-guided nature trails along the route.

Along the parkway, there are spots where you can explore and hike on short, still-surviving original sections of the Natchez Trace.

There are also state parks, Indian mounds and Civil War battlefields.

The federal parkway is long on ambience and local flavor and short on amenities, such as lodging, restaurants, service stations and visitor services.

Administered by the National Park Service, the Natchez Trace is a National Scenic Byway, one of 99 in the United States, and an All-American Road, one of 27 in the country.

History of route

The trace began as a series of hunters' trails once trod by buffalo and used by the Chickasaw, Choctaw and Natchez tribes. It ran from the Mississippi River over the low hills into the Tennessee River Valley.

The French were aware of the trace and marked it as a trail on a map in 1733.

Farmers in the Ohio River valley hired often-rowdy rivermen to float their goods to Natchez or New Orleans. They then sold their flatboats for lumber and returned on foot via the Natchez Trace.

That turned the crude trail into a clearly marked path, and by 1810, it had become a wilderness road. It was the most heavily traveled road in the Old Southwest.

That led to the development of inns or stands along the Natchez Trace. Most provided basic food and shelter. By 1820, there were 20.

Thieves preyed on travelers. There were unfriendly Indians, floods, swamps and disease-carrying insects.

In January 1812, that all changed with the arrival of the steamboat New Orleans at Natchez. Soon steamboats were carrying cargo and passengers north on the Mississippi to St. Louis. Travelers liked the speed and safety provided by the steamboats.

Restoring the nearly forgotten Natchez Trace got a major boost in the early 1900s from the Daughters of the American Revolution.

One of the biggest attractions along the Natchez Trace is the grave of and monument to Meriweather Lewis of Lewis and Clark fame. It is at mile marker 385.9 near Hohenwald, Tenn.

Lewis, heading overland from St. Louis to Washington, D.C., died mysteriously of two gunshots at an inn along the trace on Oct. 11, 1809, at the age of 35. It is unclear whether Lewis, the governor of the new Louisiana Territory, was murdered or committed suicide at Grinder's Inn.

The monument features a broken shaft to reflect Lewis' unfinished life.

Near Tupelo is the Brice Cross Roads battlefield from the Civil War.

The June 10, 1864, battle pitted 3,500 Confederate troops under Maj. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest against 8,100 troops under Brig. Gen. Samuel Sturgis. The Confederates defeated the Union troops and forced them to retreat to Memphis.

There are numerous historic and interesting towns along the trace: Leipers Fork in Tennessee is on the National Register of Historic Places; Franklin, Tenn., has old mansions and a Civil War battlefield; Columbia, Tenn., is the home of James K. Polk, the 11th U.S. president, and the mule capital of the world.

The Natchez Trace lies in three states: Tennessee, 98.2 miles; Alabama, 32.9; and Mississippi, 308.8.

The only big towns along the route are Natchez, Jackson and Tupelo in Mississippi and Nashville at the northern end.

Mileage on the Natchez Trace is measured from south to north. That means that Natchez is mile 0 and the northern terminus outside Nashville is mile 440.

The federally owned corridor is typically 400 to 1,000 feet wide, although it is wider around attractions.


There is one gas station on the 440-mile trace. You must exit the parkway to find tourist services in nearby towns.

Three campgrounds on the parkway are at mile markers 385, 193 and 54. Camping is free, and no reservations are accepted. The sites have no hot water, no showers, no electricity and no dumping stations.

There are 16 areas with hiking trails, 16 with historical exhibits, 14 with Indian history, 11 with travelers' information, nine with nature exhibits, 15 with self-guided nature trails and 22 with Old Trace exhibits. There are 34 with picnic areas, 18 with restrooms, and 20 with drinking water, the park service says.

In addition, the park service operates five additional biker-only campgrounds along the trace.

Construction on the parkway began in the late 1930s.

Commercial traffic is prohibited. The speed limit, generally 40 or 50 mph, is strictly enforced.

Options for hiking

There are lots of hiking options along the Natchez Trace.

At present, you can hike 63 miles on the Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail. It is 24 miles at the northern end near Franklin, Tenn., seven miles near Tupelo, 22 miles near Ridgeland, Miss., and 10 miles near Port Gibson, Miss.

Plans call for the trails, being built by volunteers, to grow and link up in the future.

High points along the parkway are 1,020 feet in Tennessee, 800 feet in Alabama and 105 feet in Mississippi.

For more information on the Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail, see www.nps.gov/natt.

For more information, write to the Natchez Trace Parkway, 2680 Natchez Trace Parkway, Tupelo, MS 38804; 662-680-4025 or 800-305-7417; www.nps.gov/natr.

The park service will provide listings of local agencies that maintain tourist accommodations along the trace. It will also provide a list of bicycle shop operators along the route.

For tourist information, call 800-927-6378 in Mississippi; 800-252-2262 in Alabama; and 800-462-8366 in Tennessee.

Dune walks

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources is sponsoring nature walks at the Lake Erie dunes near Mentor on Sept. 16.

Meet at Headlands Dunes State Nature Preserve at the north end of state Route 44 in Fairport Harbor. It is next to the state park.

There will be a bird walk at 7:30 a.m. and dune nature walks at 9 and 11 a.m. Information and reservations: 440-632-3010.

Float, hike

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources will hold a canoe float and hike along Caesar Creek on Sept. 23.

The float through Caesar Creek State Nature Preserve will run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Everyone is invited to walk the 2-mile Caesar Trace Trail after the canoe trip. Information and reservations: 513-934-0751.

Bob Downing can be reached at 330-996-3745 or bdowning@thebeaconjournal.com. 



Have you heard about the Anneke Jans case?
In 1768 Trinity leased to Abraham Mortier, for ninety-nine years at $269 a year, one-third of the famous Anneke Jans farm, good for 456 lots later on. Then it was picturesque hill and swamp country, where Mortier built on a commanding elevation a swagger country place which he named Richmond Hill. In 1791 Burr, a rising politician, initiated a legislative investigation of Trinity's business affairs. In the post-Revolution period Trinity was naturally unpopular, being rich and Episcopal, with the reputation of having been a nest of Tories during the long British occupation of the city during the fighting years. At the moment its income from rents was restricted by law to $12,000 a year. The point of Burr's investigation was how the $12,000 was being spent. Nothing came of the investigation, except that Burr later had an opportunity to take over the Mortier lease. Aaron Burr became a made man financially, by this one deal, if he had been content to ride along with the Mortier lease and his shares in the newly formed Bank of the Manhattan Company, which owed its existence to his legal shrewdness and political power.

When Eunice Burr married Benjamin Wynkoop, she married a descendant of Anneke Jans. 

So many interesting connections!


Waletta  8/10/06




Bridge links the
past with the future

Kris Wise
Daily Mail Capitol reporter

Monday August 07, 2006



PARKERSBURG -- Until recently, Blennerhassett Island was a quiet little sanctuary for deer and a tourist destination for people willing to take a quick boat ride across the Ohio River from Parkersburg.

Now the island known mostly for being the historic home of Harman Blennerhassett, the man who was once a close pal of Aaron Burr, is a key part of the biggest road project to come through Parkersburg in decades.

State highway officials are building a bridge over the island, planting concrete piers on land that until now was untouched by the public roads system. In an attempt to save tens of millions of dollars, transportation planners picked Blennerhassett Island as the place where Appalachian Corridor D will connect West Virginia to Ohio.


Projo 7/23

He said he "absolutely" wants to protect Rhode Island telephone customers' privacy.

In his ruling, Judge Walker traced the legal principle involved, called the "state secrets privilege," all the way back to a ruling in the treason trial of Aaron Burr in 1807. The principle involved is that some secrets are so important to the nation's security that they are completely protected from disclosure.

The current dispute concerns whether that principle really applies to every aspect of the surveillance program.



RE: The Tale of the Two Duels
Date: 7/22 11:12 AM

Folks: I was invited some time ago to participate in a re-enactment sponsored by the Martinsburg Public Library in West Virginia. This library is currently exhibiting part of the “infamous” Hamilton exhibit that was shown by the NY Historical Society in Manhattan. The Peter Burr Farm, an historic organization that preserves the old homestead of Peter Burr (brother of Aaron Sr.) was to co-sponsor the event. I agreed to participate and went down to WV with Diane on the 14th of July. When I got there however, I realized the event sponsored by the Library had already taken place the previous week, and there had been nobody to represent Burr, or our views. The event was quite lopsided in the direction of Hamilton, I was told, as would be expected.  In addition, I was told that all publicity for the Peter Burr Farm event was being coordinated by the Library and therefore, there was no publicity and no press whatsoever. The Peter Burr people were excellent, gracious hosts, and made us feel most welcome. The duel went off without a hitch, and the rest of the activities for the day’s events went well. However, I couldn’t help savor a somewhat bitter taste caused by what I think was the manipulation of the NY Historical society, and the complacency of the Martinsburg people. I’ve made my views known to the Director, Pamela Coyle, who did not have the good manners to come and meet me although I was formally her guest. I expect Burr will be excluded from all future events having to do with this exhibit, as it travels far and wide within the United States. Regards, Antonio Burr   




Op-Ed Contributor NYTimes 7/18/06

Houses Built to Burn

Published: July 18, 2006

Cambridge, Mass.

THIS summer, construction crews are once again in a race with fire crews all over the West. Last year, more than eight million acres burned. So far this season, more than 60,000 wildfires have consumed four million acres. Yet those counties in Colorado and New Mexico afflicted in recent years by the worst wildfires are also among those with the greatest influx of new residents. Half of the nation’s population growth is taking place in the 10 fastest-growing states; seven of those states rank in the top 10 in the percentage of their population at risk from wildfire. ....


Roger G. Kennedy, the director of the National Park Service from 1994 to 1997, is the author of “Wildfire and Americans.” and author of Burr Hamilton and Jefferson, and friend of the ABA.




http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/news/15061010.htm  7/18/06

After all, they’re history

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi won’t take part in an event Wednesday that will include a tribute to former GOP Reps. Tom DeLay and Duke Cunningham. She says they “have dishonored the House.”

Former Connecticut GOP Rep Ron Sarasin, president of the U.S. Capitol Historical Society, said he was willing to skip any mention of Cunningham, a convicted felon, but said DeLay would stay.

Sarasin: “If one were insistent upon erasing from history those individuals who brought disgrace upon themselves and upon the institution in which they served, the busts of (Aaron) Burr, (Spiro) Agnew and (Richard) Nixon would have to be removed from the Capitol and references to the service of (former Reps.) Dan Rostenkowski and Wilbur Mills would be stricken from the records.”

Sen. Clinton as veep?....

Burr never disgraced himself, and still presented the most eloquent speech ever before the congress.

Who else had the senators in tears over a non funeral issue?  Who is Ron Sarasin?


Pueblo Journal

Pike (Who?) Slept Here, a Reawakening City Exults

Published: July 15, 2006

PUEBLO, Colo., July 13 — All over tourist country, there’s an invisible borderline where people stop and shut their wallets, as if halted by a sign: nothing beyond here to see.

Kevin Moloney for The New York Times

Melissa Bechhoefer, registrar of the Colorado Historical Society, with a sword and scabbard that belonged to Zebulon Montgomery Pike.

Kevin Moloney for The New York Times

In spiffying up to attract tourism, Pueblo, Colo., settled on the idea of a River Walk to anchor downtown. Much of the attraction, along the Arkansas River, offers themes related to Pike’s Southwestern expedition.

This tough former railroad and steel town in southeastern Colorado has been anchored to one side of that border for decades, looking across it as places like Colorado Springs and Denver snatch away the camera-toters and ambience-chasers.

Now Pueblo is pinning its hopes for change on a man who suffered much the same outsider’s fate: Zebulon Montgomery Pike.

That’s right, the Pike in Pikes Peak.

Most Americans — even here in Pueblo, where Pike and his fellow soldier-explorers camped in 1806 during their Southwestern expedition — would be hard pressed to associate him with anything other than the mountain. Lewis and Clark, by contrast, who trudged the nation’s northern tier about the time of Pike’s exploration to the south, get the glossy Hollywood treatment most dead explorers can only dream of.

“Pike is the other guy,” said Clive G. Siegle, who teaches history at Southern Methodist University and was here this week to give a lecture on Pike’s life.

The mountain that Pike did get is no small thing. Rising up just 27 miles from here in its 14,110-foot grandeur, Pikes Peak is a resonant symbol of the West. But for purposes of the tourist trade, the story peters out after that. Only seven years after his encampment in Pueblo, Pike died at age 34 in the War of 1812, at the Battle of York in Ontario.

Pueblo became a trading post, then a steel-making city and then, after the steel mill began shutting down in the early 1980’s, a fading Western notch on the Rust Belt.

Pike and Pueblo, many people here say, are perfect together: both tough characters who hung on through hardship, were overlooked by circumstances and fate, and still have a story to tell.

Pike “had something to prove,” said Margo Hatton-Wolf, development director of the HARP Foundation, a nonprofit group raising money for Pueblo’s new $23 million Pike-themed River Walk, envisioned as a downtown centerpiece. The foundation is sponsoring a Pike Commemoration, with music, food and period-costumed actors, this weekend.

Pike’s Western adventure was poorly equipped. He and his men arrived here in November with no winter gear — not even socks — and many suffered severe frostbite. Suspected of being a spy, he was captured by the Spanish army and sent ignominiously home.

And his patron and military commander, Gen. James Wilkinson, was a scoundrel who led the tiny American Army while taking a stipend from Spain, perhaps for plotting with Aaron Burr to carve out a Southwestern empire for themselves that would be allied with the Spanish.

Scholars are still divided as to whether Pike was complicit in Wilkinson’s schemes, and a yearlong exhibit on the explorer at El Pueblo History Museum plays on the ambiguities. Many people here, however, including Deborah Espinosa, the museum’s director, tend to come down on the side of Pike as victim: bad boss, tough road, short life.

“He was naïve, even gullible,” Ms. Espinosa said. “But we can teach positive things to children about Pike: perseverance, leadership, loyalty.”....


Allied with Spain indeed! This is the first report that Burr's expedition out west after the proposed war against Spain would be "allied with Spain"

Shame on the NY Times.

Literary Hook: Prose contest winner announced



By Christine Swanberg, Author and Poet  



The Rock River Times is pleased to present the prose winner of this year’s contest, “Blue-Eyed Grass,” by George Keithley. We are proud to publish this accomplished writer, who says of his work:

“Other work of mine includes the award-winning epic The Donner Party, a Book-of-the-Month Club selection that has been adapted as a stage play and an opera, eight collections of poetry, and an award-winning play about Aaron Burr.



Handle History With Care: Hamilton’s Home Is Moving

Published: July 12, 2006   NYTimes

Peering into spaces that have not seen the light of day for two centuries, architectural archaeologists are dissecting Alexander Hamilton’s country home, the Grange, to figure out how to take it apart and put it back together again.

Ting-Li Wang/The New York Times

Stephen Spaulding of the National Park Service is part of the effort to move Alexander Hamilton's country house, the Grange, to St. Nicholas Park.

The National Park Service plans to move the Hamilton Grange National Memorial from Convent Avenue and 141st Street, where it is so boxed in by neighboring buildings that two of its porches had to be cut off, to St. Nicholas Park, about 300 feet to the southeast.

There, it can be reassembled in a form that Hamilton would have recognized, with porches — and trees — all around.

Designed by John McComb Jr., an architect of City Hall, the Grange was the seat of a 32-acre Manhattan estate that commanded views of both the Hudson and Harlem Rivers. Hamilton had only two years to enjoy it, however. He left the Grange on the morning of July 11, 1804, for a duel with Vice President Aaron Burr from which he did not return.

Many admirers of the Grange have long hoped to extract the wooden house from its cramped berth between St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, which it once served as a chapel and rectory, and a six-story apartment house. Now, financing for the $8.4 million restoration project seems close.

“We’re delighted that the president put it in the budget and the House of Representatives supported it,” said James Pepper, the superintendent of national parks in Manhattan. Action by the full Senate is pending, he said.

Although the three-story house was moved once before, in 1889, it has not left the original boundaries of the Grange. Its intended destination in the park is within what was once the estate’s southeast corner.

“The aim is to reconstruct the house to its original form as much as possible,” said Nazila Shabestari of the architectural firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, which is working on the project with John G. Waite Associates.

The Grange was closed to the public on May 7. That has allowed architects to pry up floorboards and cut into walls to determine which parts of the house are original and which come from subsequent renovations.

The structural analysis has led the architects to recommend that the best way to pull the house out of its constricted site — without harming the elegant curved loggia of St. Luke’s, which partly blocks the way — is to divide the southern section (entry hall and library) from the rest of the structure.

“The south bay is where most of the changes have occurred since 1889,” said the architect, John G. Waite. “We’re going to have to dismantle much of it anyway, in order to restore the building.”

This is preferable to cutting the house in half, which would require the sacrifice of structural fabric in the Grange’s two most distinguished rooms: the parlor and the main dining room, both of them octagonal.

It will be much less expensive than jacking the entire house over St. Luke’s, said Stephen Spaulding, the chief of the architectural preservation division in the park service’s northeast region. And it will be less complicated than trying to disassemble the church loggia.

The entire project might be completed in late 2008 or early 2009, Mr. Pepper said. Meanwhile, the architects are digging away.

Uncovering a thick horizontal timber in the south wall, they found recesses (known as mortises) that corresponded precisely with the projecting posts (or tenons) of the original front doorway, which was switched to the west side of the house after the 1889 move. The doorway will be restored to its original position.

Upstairs, they found traces of an original bedroom door hidden behind a plaster wall. It was possible to tell that the door opening was blocked up after Hamilton’s time because it was filled with wood lath that had straight edges, meaning they were cut by saw. At the turn of the 19th century, lath was split rather than sawed, giving it irregular edges.

Insights have also been gleaned from what the architects did not find, like evidence of a dumbwaiter that was once supposed to have existed. Mr. Waite interpreted this as a sign that much of the Hamiltons’ family life took place downstairs, close to the kitchen.

“This house was built to be operated without slaves,” he said.

Trying to trace the course of the original front staircase, the architects found a priceless bit of information under the floor boards: a pocket hewn out of a horizontal timber that would have received the wooden tongue at the base of a newel post.

The staircase was relocated and reconfigured in 1889. The question was whether this altered staircase bore any traces of the original.

In this case, the evidence was hiding in plain sight. The existing newel post does not appear to date from the late 19th century, when Victorian extravagance was in vogue. Rather, it is a plain cylinder, circled by a few simple moldings.

“What does this look like?” Mr. Waite asked. “A cannon.”

Why is that important? Because Hamilton — though best known as the first Treasury secretary, the principal author of the Federalist Papers and the face on the $10 bill — was also an officer in the Revolutionary War.

“And he was very proud of that,” Mr. Waite said.

Perhaps a cannon-shaped newel post was Hamilton’s way of commemorating his military service.

“We thought, with all the changes, that we had lost the stairway,” Mr. Waite said. “But the stairway is really here. In pieces.”






Dear Peter:
Hope you are doing well. 
Did you happen to notice that Cokie Roberts of ABC News mentioned Aaron Burr as a great hero on This Week with George Stephanopoulos on 7/2/06.  In a discussion about the most recent Supreme Court decision. She stated "[a]nd it's really important to have the tradition of the independent judiciary upheld. I mean going back again to the 2nd of July, Thomas Jefferson was the person who tried to stop that, hated the independent judiciary.  And the great hero of that case turned out to be of all people Aaron Burr."
I thought you might find this interesting.
Brian D.  


Hey Uncle Pete,

Thought you might appreciate this, on my second day of training at
JPMorgan we were in a conference room on the 17th floor of 277 Park
Avenue.  I stepped out into the lobby for a coffee break...a beautiful
room with nice furniture, bookcases, artwork etc.  I was surprised to
see two very old looking pistols, and it immediately occurred to me that
these might be the pistols from the Aaron Burr duel!  It turns out they
were.  It wasn't clear from the caption whether they were originals or
replicas, but I did read online that JPM owns the originals so I think
those were the ones.  I was going to take a picture with my cameraphone
but didn't want to cause a scene...
Anyway you can be proud that your nephew works for a company on the
right side of history. 

See you soon,

Bob, Our entire family is proud of you being inducted into Phi Beta Kappa,

graduating Summa Cum Laude, and now working at what was originally

the Manhattan Company, formed by Aaron Burr to make loans to workers

who were not in Hamilton's Federalist Party.

May you practice your profession with social justice, just as AB did.




How the 'Star-Spangled Banner' was born

By Jim Woodard
July 4, 2006

Francis Scott Key has become as closely linked to our country's history as many of our greatest past presidents. He's the author of our national anthem. He loved to read and write poetry, and was devoted to his small circle of friends.

As a youngster, Francis was soft-spoken and highly intelligent. During the first decade of his life, he lived with his parents in their Maryland plantation. Instead of pursuing sports, music or dramatic ambitions, like most of his friends, he preferred to write poetry.



<A TARGET="_blank" HREF="http://adsremote.scripps.com/event.ng/Type=click&FlightID=2032697&AdID=2039908&TargetID=2020914&Targets=2001053,2003385,2004402,2020914,2005014,2021117&RawValues=&Redirect=http:%2f%2fwww.advertisersite.com"><IMG SRC="http://images.scripps.com/1x1.gif" WIDTH=120 HEIGHT=600 BORDER=0></A>

At age 10, Francis was sent to St. John's Grammar School in Annapolis where he lived with his great-aunt. Later, he attended St. John's College, where he graduated with top honors. He then studied law in Annapolis, at the suggestion of his Uncle Philip, a lawyer.

Uncle Philip had a major impact on Francis, even introducing him to the girl who would become his wife, Mary Taylor Lloyd. Francis nicknamed her Polly. They were married in Maryland in 1802. Soon after, they moved to Washington, D.C., where Francis became a law partner with Uncle Philip.

He quickly gained a reputation as a trial lawyer, winning most of his cases. His most noted case was defending Aaron Burr, the vice president of the United States during Thomas Jefferson's presidency. Burr and two other men had been arrested for treason when they were caught taking men and guns to the Southwest. Some accused them of trying to take over land to found a new nation. Most lawyers refused to defend them. Francis agreed to take the case, and won it.

Francis became a particularly good public  ....


Washington (The Weekly Standard) June 25,2006

Vol. 011, Issue 40 - 7/3/2006 - Revolutionary Characters
What Made the Founders Different
by Gordon S. Wood
Penguin, 336 pp., $25.95

WHEN HISTORIANS WAX NOSTALGIC over golden ages it's often a sign that the present age is leaden. That may account for the attention that distinguished historians have recently lavished on the American founding generation, none more distinguished than the author of this study of "revolutionary characters."

The seven subjects of these gems of compression and fluency might once have been labeled "Founding Fathers." But patriarchal labels are gone with the wind, and Gordon S. Wood has chosen the double-edged term "characters": double-edged because the term connotes both integrity and eccentricity. All eight--Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Adams, Hamilton, Madison, Burr, and Thomas Paine--were uncommon men, although with the exception of Burr, the son (and grandson) of a president of Princeton, all were self-made, an aristocracy of merit, the first of their families to enjoy advanced education and national and international prominence.....







What Would the Founders Do Today?

Suppose they could go on "Meet The Press"...

By Richard Brookhiser


What Would the Founders Do Today?
(Christopher Bing)

Who cares what the founders would do? Who believes that the experiences, opinions, or plans of men who lived 200 years ago could have any relevance to our problems? Who imagines that the Founders could answer our questions?

We do. I have heard it with my own ears. Over the past decade I have given hundreds of talks about the Founding Fathers, on radio and TV, and to live audiences. Every time there is an opportunity for Q-and-A, there is at least one question of the form, “What would Founder X think about current event or living person Y?” No subject is too trivial, no problem too difficult. Audiences want to know what the Founders would do about guns, taxes, race, the war on drugs, the war in Iraq; about Newt Gingrich, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush. A recent talk about Alexander Hamilton, the first Treasury Secretary and the first (and so far only) former Treasury Secretary to be shot, was typical. The host was a financial services firm on Park Avenue. The crowd was young to middle-aged, white collar–white shirtsleeve, on their lunch break. Out of 200 people, a dozen asked questions. Four wanted Hamilton’s opinion about a contemporary issue: the balance of trade, recent decisions of the Supreme Court on federalism, the New York Stock Exchange, and the tone of modern politics (the presidential campaigns of 2000 and 2004 were fresh in everyone’s mind). The man had been dead for two centuries; the duel he died in is still the most familiar thing about him (that, and his rather GQ-ish portrait on the $10 bill). Yet a crowd whose business is to anticipate tomorrow’s business wanted to know what he would think about the stories that were on that day’s Bloomberg.


Guns were a fact of the Founders’ everyday lives. The cerebral Jefferson, in one of those sweetly pompous letters of advice that he loved sending his younger relatives, recommended taking walks with a gun. “While this gives moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise and independence to the mind. Games played with a ball … are too violent for the body, and stamp no character on the mind.” So much for baseball, already being played in early forms. “Let your gun, therefore, be the constant companion of your walks.”

One special type of gun was known to many of the Founders even though its use was illegal: the dueling pistol. Although Hamilton owned a fowling piece, he did not own dueling pistols, so when Vice President Aaron Burr challenged him to a duel for a political insult in the spring of 1804 he had to borrow a set from his brother-in-law. The pistols were made by the London gunsmith Robert Wogdon, the finest practitioner of his art. They were .544 caliber, meaning their bullets had a diameter of just over half an inch. The barrels were unrifled, but their careful balancing made the pistols accurate at the short distances of dueling. Burr’s bullet pierced Hamilton’s abdomen, and he died of spinal shock after 36 hours of agony. Burr was indicted for murder, but the prosecution lapsed, for no jury would convict a gentleman who had defended his honor.

The Founders lived among guns; they would never make them illegal; they would subject them to necessary laws, following Blackstone. And as in the duel that put Hamilton in his grave, they broke their own laws when honor demanded it.

How would the Founders fight the war on drugs? ...


Richard continues his one sided view, presenting only limited facts that back up his argument.

He hates Burr, and will not admit that Hamilton started the Duel incident,

and brought to it his brother in law's trick hair trigger pistols to try to kill Burr.

History is not an editorial with presentation of only the facts that support your conclusion Richard.

You and Ron Chernow should acknowledge the proven truth that your hero Hamilton cheated.



Nathaniel Marston portrays Alexander Hamilton and Melissa Archer portrays Elizabeth "Betsy" Schuyler at an event at the Schuyler-Hamilton House in Morristown. The pair stars on ABC's 'One Life to Live.'

Party celebrates historic couple

Soap opera stars re-enact engagement of Hamilton, Schuyler in Morristown

MORRISTOWN--The Schuyler-Hamilton House on Olyphant Place predates the Revolutionary War, but the historical site hardly receives the same recognition as the far more famed Washington's Headquarters and Ford Mansion, located a quarter mile away.

"It's relatively obscure,"said Lesley Bensley, director of the Morris County Visitors Center. "So many people who drive down the street don't know it's there."

Yet the house was witness to one of the greatest love stories in American history, according to Bensley.

"At the time, this love story was tantamount to Prince Charles and Princess Diana,"she said. "It happened in the middle of wartime, and people couldn't get enough of it. It was that big."

But few people today know the story of Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth "Betsy"Schuyler, and their whirlwind courtship, which began during the Continental Army's brutal winter encampment of 1779-80 in Morristown.

Hamilton, best known in New Jersey lore for his fatal duel with Aaron Burr in Weehawken, wooed and became betrothed within four months to young Betsy in the spring of 1780 at the house.

Their engagement was re-enacted Saturday evening at the 18th-century colonial with a "Betrothal Party" sponsored by the Morristown Chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution, or DAR.

Members of the Morristown DAR rescued the house from demolition in 1923, and now use it as their chapter house, said Mariane Browne, chapter vice-regent.

The event was held as a fundraiser for the house, which needs major restoration, according to Browne.

Approximately 70 people in colonial attire were in attendance to watch Hamilton ask for Betsy's hand in marriage in the garden of the house, which at the time was known as the Campfield House for its owner, Dr. Jabez Campfield.

Schuyler, the daughter of New York General Philip Schuyler, had traveled from her Albany home that winter to Morristown to stay with her aunt and uncle, Gertrude and Dr. John Cochran.

The Cochrans had established a medical facility at the house for Continental troops. It was there Schuyler met Hamilton, one of General George Washington's aide-de-camps.

The besotted couple, portrayed by veteran soap actors Nathaniel Marston and Melissa Archer of ABC's "One Life to Live", read excerpts from two authenticated letters penned by Hamilton to both Schuyler and a close friend. A smitten Hamilton gushed about his love and finding the perfect woman in both letters.

Archer wore a white brocaded gown with gold stitching crisscrossing the bodice. A satin turquoise ribbon was knotted sash-like around her neck, and her auburn locks were swept up into a bun complemented by a sprig of blue and white flowers.

The 30-year old Marston was clad in full military regalia, with a navy regimental jacket, beige waistcoat and trousers, black riding boots and a tri-cornered hat with a feather.

Both stars certainly looked the part of the young couple dressed in colonial finery, but a few people pointed out two discrepancies.

"Alexander was much shorter and had a larger head,"observed Mary Lynn Person, of Madison, who along with her husband, Nils, has created re-enactments of Revolutionary War events from Quebec to Williamsburg, Va. Marston, who is well-over six feet tall, would have towered over the 5-foot-4-inch Hamilton, she said.

"And Betsy was much darker...they called her "brown as a nut," which was not very fashionable then," added Pat Sanftner, a DAR member who portrayed Gertrude Cochran during the re-enactment.

"My very pale actress doesn't quite fit the description,"she chuckled, of the fair-skinned Archer.

Sanftner, who is also a wardrobe staffer for "One Life to Live," recruited both Marston and Archer for the re-enactment.

Archer said she was happy to take part in a lovely story.

"I think it's beautiful -- the old fashioned ways of dating --and they were so in love with each other," she said.

Marston agreed. "I haven't done many revolutionary re-enactments, but I've been reading up on their story," he said.

Bensley called the event extremely successful and hopes the DAR holds the betrothal party as an annual celebration.

"Part of our mission at the Morris County visitor's center is to make the Revolution history of Morris County known to people throughout New Jersey and across the United States,"she said. "I encourage the DAR to continue holding these kinds of events to elevate the importance of Alexander and Betsy."





Remember Early Tennesseans’ Democratic Spirit On 210th Anniversary Of Statehood
by Drew Johnson
posted June 3, 2006

On June 1, 1796 — 210 years ago this month — President George Washington signed into law the bill to admit Tennessee as the 16th of the United States. A generation before Tennessee became a state and 15 years before the adoption of the United States Constitution, it was the birthplace of the first free, independent government in America with a democratically accepted constitution and a republican form of government. That independent spirit led Tennessee through the most unique battle for statehood of any state in American history.


It was the Southwest Territory’s allegiance to Jefferson that made Tennessee’s struggle for statehood the most contentious in American history. Fearful that Tennessee’s admission to the Union—and the new state’s four proposed electoral votes—would push the 1796 election in favor of Jefferson over Federalist John Adams, the Federalists sought to postpone Tennessee’s admission into the Union until after election day.

The Senate, with its Federalist majority, prepared to delay Tennessee statehood when Republican Aaron Burr of New York, in a stroke of political genius, proposed an amendment to allow Tennessee statehood on the condition that the state initially receive only one House member. This reduced Tennessee’s Electoral College votes from four to three, limiting the state’s ability to help Jefferson in the coming election. Both the amendment and the vote for statehood passed and Washington’s signature on June 1, 1796, brought Tennessee into the Union. The man chosen to fill that lone House seat was a 31-year-old attorney named Andrew Jackson.

As we mark 210 years of Tennessee statehood, we should remember the early settlers’ vision of liberty, which led them to create the first independent, democratic community on the American Continent. Over two centuries later, these early Tennesseans’ desire for freedom and their struggle for statehood should still remind us of the value of democracy and the importance of liberty.

Drew Johnson




No internet notice, but the NY Daily News ran a story on May 14 about the discovery of the "well-preserved papers from Aaron Burr's 1834 divorce case."

Burr-"had less luck in marital affairs, where his wife provided racy details of his "habit of committing adultery."  Burr said she'd been adulterous too, but her witnesses told better tales of Colonel Burr ...

The divorce came through the day he died in 1836 - and 170 years later, Burr partisans still doubt the charges.

"There was no Viagra back then, Aaron was almost 80 years old and near death, and it's unlikely a man on his sickbed could have done such things," said Stuart Fisk Johnson, the president of the Aaron Burr Association.

Despite the bad rap, Johnson, an attorney and distant Burr relative offered to help conserve the archives. "Our mission is to preserve the memory of aaron Burr's life, so we'll make financial appeals to our members to preserve his papers" he said.


Secrets of the Founding Fathers



Gordon Wood, one of the preeminent historians of the American Revolution, implies a question with the title of his new book, Revolutionary Characters: What Made the Founders Different (Penguin, $25.95). Different from whom? One another? Their contemporaries? Politicians today? You and me? The answer turns out to be all of the above, but the biggest difference Wood uncovers is the one between the Founders and our anachronistic misconceptions of them....


Wood devotes around 20 pages each to Washington, Franklin, Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, Madison, Adams, Thomas Paine, and Aaron Burr, distilling the qualities that distinguished each man from the hoi polloi, other gentlemen, and his fellow Founders. Revolutionary Characters focuses more on their temperaments and political philosophies than on their life stories....


Would a member please send me a review, after you have read this?




Stuart reports there was an article last week in the NY Daily News about finding Madame Eliza Bowen Jumel's divorce papers in a vault near Chambers Street..

The News interviewed Stuart who noted that at age 79 Burr was not adulterous, but adultery was the only ground for divorce available to women back then.





From Marilyn's to Abe's, a museum just for hair

By Diana Lambdin Meyer
Special to the Tribune
Published May 21, 2006


INDEPENDENCE, Mo. -- Marilyn Monroe's platinum blond locks glisten behind glass with all of the intrigue and allure of the late superstar's life.

Across the room, a strand of hair from Abraham Lincoln is contrastingly stern and dignified, reflecting the complex life of our 16th president.

Aaron Burr, Daniel Webster, abolitionist John Brown and hundreds of lesser-known individuals join the tresses on display at Leila's Hair Museum in this Kansas City suburb that was the home of President Harry Truman.

As the U.S. headquarters for the Victorian Hairwork Society, Leila Cohoon's collection of more than 100 objects woven from human hair and horsehair is considered the largest collection of its kind in the world. Although the history of most items is not known, a brooch from the 1680s is probably the oldest piece in the collection that includes hair wreaths, watch fobs, bracelets and rings.

Hair art became popular and fashionable during the Victorian period when Queen Victoria, mourning the death of Prince Albert, wore a bracelet made of his hair. What started out as a simple way to keep the memory of a loved one nearby developed into an art form and a global industry.

The hair museum here includes a number of Victorian "hair receivers," specially designed glass jars that held hair from combs and hairbrushes until enough was collected to make a piece of jewelry. Women would take their own hair and weave it into gifts for their loved ones.



Uncommon sense

*Revolutionary Characters What Made the Founders Different Gordon S. Wood Penguin: 322 pp., $25.95

LA Times

IN times of real or perceived political crisis, we tend to look toward history, seeking counsel, explanation and assurance. Given the tragedy, partisan rancor and public disgust of the last five years, the spate of books about the Founding Fathers comes as no surprise. Such a return to our ideological roots speaks more to the nation's current disappointment with all levels of political leadership than to any ongoing love affair with all things breeched and white-wigged.

Gordon S. Wood thoroughly understands the intellectual, political and, most important, sociocultural underpinnings of our emerging nation. The author of "The Radicalism of the American Revolution" (which won him a Pulitzer) and "The Creation of the American Republic, 1776-1787," Wood has made the Revolution his bailiwick, providing analysis as studied and deep as his research. Now, he delivers "Revolutionary Characters: What Made the Founders Different," a "greatest hits" of energetically reworked, previously published essays that should be required summer reading for all elected officials.


Wood eases the thread of relevance through the eye of that most pernicious of political needles, character, to tailor his cloak for the Founders. He knows their story well, but he's skeptical of their celebrity, and he strikes a studious balance between the largesse of the hero-worshipful accounts and the titillating exposés of the Founders' foibles. What chiefly distinguishes Wood's scholarship is his composure when addressing such titanic figures and their previous chroniclers. His praise never inflates, nor does his criticism vilify, as he writes of the likes of George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson.


Wood's authorial level-headedness seems particularly apt given his central claim — that the Founders' shared ideal for the novus ordo seclorum was that of enlightened gentlemen leaders rising above mere self-interest to govern a new land. Those with axes to grind or pockets to line need not apply. In making this case, Wood turns down the amplitude of myth and presents the Founders unplugged, in a series of small, pleasant concerts around the theme of character.

As the Founders imbibed 18th century theories of social progress, they envisioned America evolving into a place of civility — even if they often struggled to hold onto their propriety as the country spiraled away from a genteel republic toward a coarser, egalitarian democracy. Wood writes: "Since civilization was something that could be achieved, everything was enlisted in order to push back barbarism and ignorance and spread civility and refinement." Accomplishing such lofty aims took gentlemen studied in "politeness, grace, taste, learning, and character" who were able to act in "a disinterested manner in promoting a public good."

Yet the classic Enlightenment political leader, necessarily hovering above the corrupting influence of commerce, was easier to imagine than to emulate by a first generation of self-created aristocrats in a new land. And there were a few other nettlesome matters that the Founders needed to confront — such as battling the most powerful country on Earth, taming a rough-and-tumble populace, fashioning a republic from scraps and learning how to govern.

The Founders believed they needed to play a role, setting aside their private doubts to exhibit proper behavior; in short, they became "characters, self-fashioned performers in the theater of life." This notion of "character" was manifested not internally but in the Founders' public lives, as they struggled to demonstrate that they were "living up to the values and duties that the best of the culture imposed" on them.

The tensions that arose from this obligatory civil ideal, Wood shows, created public figures who consistently twisted in different directions, such as Washington weighing his earnest if obsessive desire to protect his reputation against the need to promote "patriarchal leadership while creating a new elective republican president." Jefferson loathed the rise of commercial capitalism but recognized its significance to social development; in his old age, he retreated to crankiness, unable to fathom how the country had traded refinement for capitalistic and religious passions.

Alexander Hamilton, whom Wood credits with creating the "fiscal-military" state, continually faced money problems of his own, but he refused countless entreaties to abuse his position by enriching himself, arguing that "there must be some public fools who sacrifice private to public interest at the certainty of ingratitude and obloquy — because my vanity whispers I ought to be one of those fools and ought to keep myself in a situation best calculated to render service."

John Adams believed that the Revolution had to imbue the masses with virtue or it would fail. But he later became convinced that the country was no different from any other, its citizens controlled by avarice and ambition. "What chance," Adams asked, "has humble, modest, obscure and poor merit in such a scramble?" The short and long answer, says Wood, is none.

The most attractive characters in Wood's book are Franklin and Thomas Paine, late arrivers to the revolutionary cause but arguably its most vocal converts. Wood portrays Franklin as a shrewd, Zelig-like figure, always aware of the part he must play, especially as a diplomat in France. Franklin cast himself as a "backwoods philosopher" during his eight years in Paris, milking the homespun simpleton shtick to aid the American cause. Upon his return home, he was all but forgotten, his lone public eulogy given by a sworn enemy.

Paine, who single-handedly brought revolution to the masses with "Common Sense," suffered innumerable slights from those of more polished republican carriage. In their eyes, the failed corset maker was a drunken lout who piped his prose to the worst of the unruly.

As democracy began to flourish in a government of contending parties and splintered interests, the Founders were often rudely hooked from the stage. Wood argues that these men "helped create the changes that led eventually to their own undoing, to the breakup of the kind of political and intellectual coherence they represented. Without intending to, they willingly destroyed the sources of their own greatness." Ultimately, it was their virtuous adherence to their ideals, despite the dispiriting outcome, that made the Founders different.

Early in his damning and very entertaining essay on Aaron Burr, Wood grumbles: "Amid all the literary extravagances and inflated fantasies about Burr there has not been much room for the plodding prosaic historian." The sentence perfectly captures Wood's charm. While the research of an excellent historian certainly contains years of plodding, there's nothing at all commonplace about how Wood conducts it in "Revolutionary Characters." • 


Milestone an afterthought for Burr

Friday, May 12, 2006
By Heather Green


WEST DEPTFORD TWP. -- Earlier this week, West Deptford High School boys tennis coach Aaron Burr was so focused on getting his team prepared for this year's South Jersey Group II playoffs that he never realized he was reaching a milestone.

With a 4-1 non-league victory over Glassboro last Tuesday, Burr captured his 100th career victory. ..




Fact No. 5 -- If it wasn't for nepotism, there would be no honeymooning at Niagara Falls.

Bring up City Hall in today's Niagara Falls and you're sure to hear a lot of carping about nepotism. The history of our city says that nepotism hasn't always been a dirty word. Without the visit by a couple of relatives of famous folks at the dawn of the 19th century, the "Niagara Falls or Bust" craze may never have gotten off of the ground.

In 1801, Theodosia Burr, the daughter of future vice president Aaron Burr, and her new hubby decided to take in Niagara Falls after saying their "I do's." Three years later, Napoleon Bonaparte's younger brother Jerome and his bride followed suit. A national fad was born. Niagara Falls and honeymoons soon became synonymous.

To this day, some 50,000 honeymooners make their way to Niagara Falls. None of it would have happened if not for the proclivities of the relatives of the rich and famous.





JPMorgan adds state history to company's archive center


Russ Wiles
The Arizona Republic
May. 6, 2006 12:00 AM


When utility crews unearthed a 2-century-old water pipe in lower Manhattan a couple of years ago, Jean Elliott rushed to the scene. The archivist for JPMorgan Chase & Co. recognized the wooden artifact as a relic from the company's distant past.

"Our roots date to 1799" as a Manhattan water company, she explained. "We have over 1,000 (company) predecessors in our genealogy."

Elliott visited Phoenix this week to examine some of the documents and other items from Arizona being woven into JPMorgan Chase's long history. They range from old Valley National Bank metal signs to decades of employee newsletters.

Arizona's contribution is a lot shorter, dating to the 1899 founding of Gila Valley Bank, which transformed into Valley National and then Bank One and JPMorgan Chase.

"The merger with Bank One opened up a whole new territory to explore for records," Elliott said.

Among other things, a bronze bust of former Valley National Chairman Walter Bimson will be sent to JPMorgan's archives center in New York, spokeswoman Mary Jane Rogers said.

Various other documents and artifacts from Gila Valley Bank and Valley National Bank were turned over to the Arizona Historical Society Museum in Tempe years ago.

Documents such as minutes from board meetings dating to 1799 dominate JPMorgan's archives, but there are some significant objects, too.

These include a desk used by J.P. Morgan, brass teller cages, mosaics, lamps and intricate bank notes.

"Early banks printed their own money," Elliott explained.

The historical collection also includes rare currency and a slice of that old wooden pipe unearthed in lower Manhattan.

"We also have the very first dollar bill," she said, citing an ancient greenback that carries the first serial number and comes from the first sheet of printed currency.

Perhaps the most famous items are the pistols used in the 1804 duel between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton, which resulted in the death of Hamilton, the nation's first Treasury secretary.

Burr and Hamilton founded the water company that figured prominently in the bank's history but were rivals.

Material from the archives has been used to support research projects ranging from financier David Rockefeller's memoirs to Ken Burns' acclaimed television documentary on the history of New York.

Sometimes historical material even causes embarrassments for corporations. A couple of years ago, JPMorgan Chase admitted that two predecessor banks in Louisiana had accepted slaves as loan collateral before the Civil War. The company apologized and set up a scholarship fund for Black students in Louisiana.

Although the corporation now known as JPMorgan Chase had been accumulating historical documents and objects for years, the archivist position wasn't created until 1975. That's when Rockefeller, then chairman of Chase Manhattan Bank, needed some historical excerpts to enrich a speech he was giving but discovered that no such department existed.

"We have it to advance the legacy of the firm, to enrich presentations and speeches, and to deepen client relationships through tours," Elliott said.

Ironically, though, the JPMorgan Chase archives have nothing from Salmon Chase, a U.S. Treasury secretary under Abraham Lincoln who lent his name to the firm and, by extension, everything from Chase Field, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks, to Chase Tower, Arizona's tallest high-rise.

"Chase never actually worked for the bank," Elliott said, "so we don't have documents from him."



Mixed Signals - NPR


Weekend Highlights and Farewell

April 28, 2006 · As I head home for the weekend and try to live down the shame of giving up seeing the Beatles because of Willie Pastrano's light heavyweight title defense, I got some consoling words from NPR's Lynn Neary. "That's nothing. I am one of the few human beings who actually bought tickets to Woodstock but didn't go -- my mother wouldn't let me. Not only that, I didn't save the ticket. I threw it out."

By the way, I hope no one was upset about my earlier Dan Schorr line about his "interviewing" Francis Scott Key. You know I was just joking. Dan is a national treasure, and he is deeply appreciated by everyone at NPR. Even Ken Rudin loves him, although I confess I was a bit put off when I heard the news that he was on Aaron Burr's enemies list.


Response to NPR:

Why wouldn't Aaron Burr like Francis Scott Key? Burr generally liked everyone.

When Burr's friend Sam Swartwout was arrested by General Wilkinson (a paid spy for Spain), Swartwout was taken from New Orleans to Washington DC. Attorney Key and two others argued that the military cannot arrest a person without charges. Swartwout was immediately freed.

Later, Burr was found Not Guilty of Treason by John Marshall.

Don't Hate- Appreciate



Google Alert for: aaron burr


Fond recollections of a Chester County childhood
Chester News - SC, United States
... It was the only transportation for the family. Mother traded at the old A&P store on the top of the hill near the old Aaron Burr rock. ...

Corrections & Amplifications
Wall Street Journal (subscription) - New York,NY,USA
... A PHOTOGRAPH accompanying the Bids & Offers column April 22 pictured replicas of two pistols used by Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton in a duel. ...





This is an unusual account. Response follows in red:


Never has an American trial produced such an impressive set of key players: 

the defendant-- Aaron Burr, founding father, Vice President, and slayer of Alexander Hamilton in their famous duel three years earlier; 
the trial judge--John Marshall, Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court (and the most important justice in history); 
the force behind the prosecution--Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence and  president of the United States; 
defense attorneys--Edmund Randolph  and Luther Martin, both delegates to the Constitutional Convention and among the most prominent men of the day; prosecutors-- Charles Lee, former Attorney General, and William Wirt, future presidential candidate. 

The high-stakes treason trial of Aaron Burr came at an unstable time, both in Europe and in America.   The American and French revolutions worried traditional European powers, Great Britain and Spain, who were determined to keep the radical new doctrine from undermining the power of their royalty.  Meanwhile, Napoleon's empire-building produced sustained military conflict on the Continent.

The United States seemed on the verge of a war with Spain, even as the Administration struggled to preserve neutrality.  Americans west of the Alleghenies rejoiced in President Jefferson's acquisition of the Louisiana Territory, but boundary disputes and Spanish prohibitions on Louisiana residents' entry into Nueva Espana created resentment and threats of reprisal.  The Viceroy of Mexico, allied generally with western Indians, sent troops to the Sabine River to protect the Spanish frontier from invasion by United States citizens. No, - the intrusion by Spain on US land was an invasion. Most Westerners saw Spain as tyrannical and viewed Texas and Florida as a rightful part of the United States.  Many of these same Westerners expressed a willingness to take Spanish territory by force.  Meanwhile, Spain also worried about the designs of residents of its own dominion (especially Mexico), recognizing that the unprivileged masses had grown resentful of Spanish authority.

The Burr Conspiracy (The Burr Freedom Movement and superb defense against a president who wanted him hung.)

In this troubled time, the end of President Jefferson's first term,  Aaron Burr stepped down from the Vice Presidency, and began preparations for a military expedition that was either-- depending upon whose views one solicited--treasonous or patriotic.  At its core, however, the Burr Conspiracy clearly was about conquest and adventure. and pioneering west.

The Burr Conspiracy had its origins in a series of discussions over the winter of 1804-05 between Burr and his longstanding friend, General James Wilkinson.  The two served together in the Quebec campaign of 1775-76. Over the years they often corresponded in a cipher invented by Wilkinson.  Wilkinson was an intriguer of the first-order who had formerly been the head of a party in the West that favored a separation of the western states from the Atlantic states. 

When Jefferson needed Burr to help him impeach Justice Chase so that the Executive Branch could take over the judicial branch, Jefferson finally asked Burr for appointment advice. Burr suggested that Wilkinson and two others be appointed out west. Wilkinson became head of the US army even though he was a paid spy for Spain. Burr did not know this. It became known during the Spanish American War 90 years later.

Burr left Washington for a tour of the West  in March of 1805.  His first stop was in Philadelphia, where he met with Anthony Merry, the British Minister to the United States.  Merry reported details of his conversation in a letter to London: 

"I am encouraged to report to your Lordship the substance of some secret communications which [Burr] has sought to make to me since he has been out of office...Mr. Burr has mentioned to me that the inhabitants of Louisiana [the lands recently purchased from France] seem determined to render themselves independent of the United States and the execution of their design is only delayed by the difficulty of obtaining previously an assurance of protection and assistance from some foreign power....

Remember that New England had seriously considered seceding because the Southerners with 3 votes for each 5 slaves they owned won all the elections. Hamilton needed New England to be in the US as part of the debt structure he set up.  Burr was open to secession if he were elected governor of NY, but all of Burr's political allies were frozen out of federal jobs by Jefferson who didn't want Burr to be next president. So Burr was not elected governor, and New England did not secede.

There was general consensus - if the west wants to secede, let them, except that they sent $400,000 per year more to Washington than they received.  Whether the west would adopt slavery or not was the issue.  If they seceded and bought slaves from the Virginians, okay.  If they seceded and Burr was their leader, and slaves wouyld be free, no good.


It is clear that Mr. Burr means to endeavor to be the instrument for effecting such a connection....He pointed out the great commercial advantage which his Majesty's dominions in general would derive from furnishing almost exclusively (as they might through Canada and New Orleans) the inhabitants of so extensive a territory....Mr. Burr  observed it would be too dangerous and even premature to disclose to me at present the full extent and detail of the plan he had formed....In regard to military aid, he said, two or three frigates and the same number of smaller vessels to be stationed at the mouth of the Mississippi to prevent its being blockaded by such force as the United States could send, and to keep open the communications with the sea would be the whole that would be wanted; and in respect to money the loan of about one hundred thousand pounds would, he conceived, be sufficient for the immediate purposes of the enterprise."

On April 29, 1805, Burr reached Pittsburgh, where he planned to meet with General Wilkinson, the new Governor of the just-organized Louisiana Territory.  But Wilkinson had been delayed, so Burr left a letter for him and set off down the Ohio River in a specially-prepared boat (called by Burr his "ark"). 

In early May, Burr reached Blennerhassett's Island, a three-hundred acre piece of land in the river.  The island belonged to an Irish gentleman named Harman Blennerhassett.  Blennerhassett invited Burr to dinner.  The conversation that ensued--lasting until eleven o'clock in the evening--would forever link Blennerhassett's Island with the Burr Conspiracy.  The precise nature of the plans discussed over dinner is not known, but some inkling may be gleaned from a letter sent by Blennerhassett later that year to Burr: 

"I should be honored in being associated with you, in any contemplated enterprise you would permit me to participate in....Viewing the probability of a rupture with Spain,...I am disposed, in the confidential spirit of this letter, to offer you and my friends' and my own services in any contemplated measures in which you may embark."   Harman longed to end his retirement with an adventure out west.  Burr saw Harman's potential and energy and encouraged him to be active, not passive.

Continuing down the river, Burr met with others who would later be connected with his conspiracy (settling of the west).  In Cincinnati, Burr visited with his friend, former Ohio Senator Jonathan Dayton,  later indicted with Burr for treason.  Burr left his "ark" in Louisville to travel overland to Nashville, where he received a very enthusiastic welcome of dinners and balls from the local population.  In Nashville, Burr stayed as the guest of General Andrew Jackson. After resuming his river voyage, Burr finally met General Wilkinson at Fort Massac.  (Wilkinson would later describe his conversations with Burr as perfectly legitimate, but there is strong suspicion that this opportunity was used to detail plans for Burr's western aggression (settlement).) Wilkinson provided Burr with "an elegant barge, sails, colors, ten oars, with a sergeant and ten able, faithful hands," as well as a letter of introduction to friends in New Orleans, Burr's ultimate destination.

Burr loved New Orleans enough to want to settle there, he said, "were it not for [his daughter] Theodosia and her boy." He used his time in New Orleans to gauge public opinion concerning Mexico and to discuss possible enterprises with persons sympathetic to a Mexican insurrection.  The Ursuline Nuns at their convent encouraged Burr's anti slavery ways. Burr's principal contact in New Orleans, wealthy merchant and political leader Daniel Clark, promised $50,000 in support of Burr's projects and subsequently traveled to Mexico to gather information on the strength of Spanish fortresses and the attitudes of the people to Spanish control.  Clark told at least one witness that he "might be a duke" in the new empire that would rise after the Burr expedition's conquest . Or if there was a war with Spain, and the US won, the territory would need strong leaders.

Burr left New Orleans in late July of 1805, beginning a four-month tour that included another meeting with General Wilkinson in St. Louis.  It was at this time, according to Wilkinson's later and probably self-serving report, that he said he began to suspect Burr of treasonous intentions.  Wilkinson did not like being second in command.  He quoted Burr as denouncing "the imbecility of the Government" and that "the people of the western country were ready for revolt."  Wilkinson claimed to have responded to Burr's interpretation of western sentiments, "Surely, no person was ever more mistaken! The western people disaffected to the Government? They are bigoted to Jefferson and democracy?"  This is what he told the heretic Jefferson who preached freedom except for people of color.  The westerners were not interested in being the place of expansion for slavery.  They simply wanted the Mississippi River open for trade without taxes and tariffs and disruption of shipping.

Burr's long western sojourn finally ended with his arrival back in Washington in October. Over the winter of 18065-06, Burr met frequently with disaffected military leaders such as Commodore Truxton and General Eaton, urging that he join in his western adventure.  He sent letters to supporters he had identified on his western trip and enlisted the full support of his beloved daughter Theodosia.  Eaton claimed to be owed $10,000 by the US and would wear his hat to the bars and talk with everyone.  Burr may have invited him to go west.

In mid-summer, Burr (and Theodosia and her young child) set off again for western lands.  Burr continued to sound out potential backers for his military expedition.  In western Pennsylvania, hoping to enlist the support of influential Colonel Morgan and his two sons, Burr made the fatal mistake of expressing plans which his host found shocking.  Morgan at Morgania controlled his estate, and forced his two sons to live under "Dad's control".  When Burr visited and told of plans to settle the west, the sons wanted to join Burr and leave their father's house.  This enraged Morgan.  So Morgan wrote to Jefferson to stop Burr and keep his sons under his roof. Morgan wrote a letter to President Jefferson summarizing his conversation with Burr, setting in motion the Administration effort that would eventually put an end to Burr's dreams and lead to his arrest and trial.  Morgan would later provide testimony of his conversation with Burr at his 1807 trial:
After dinner I spoke of our fine country.  I observed that when I first went there, there was not a single family between the Allegheny mountains and the Ohio; and that by and by we should have congress sitting in this neighborhood or at Pittsburg.  We were allowed to sport these things over a glass of wine: "No, never," said Colonel Burr, "for in less than five years you will be totally divided from the Atlantic states." The colonel entered into some arguments to prove why it would and must be so....He said that our taxes were very heavy, and demanded why we should pay them to the Atlantic parts of the country?....I  began to think that all was not right.  He said that with two hundred men he could drive congress, with the president at its head, into the river Potomac, or that it might be done; and he said with five hundred men he could take possession of New York.... 

Burr was disgusted at the lack of security in Washington DC. Jefferson, who fled to the countryside during the Revolutionary War, and never saw battle, was not a defense expert. Burr knew Washington was vulnerable to attack, and simply said the city was vulnerable.  That does not mean that Burr planned to rise to US presidency by Coup d'etat. Burr was a natural politician who could get votes in a fair election.

By the end of August, Burr was back on Blennerhasset's Island making final preparations

for his expedition.  He contracted to purchase fifteen boats capable of carrying 500 men, and a large keel boat for transporting provisions.  He made orders for huge quantities of pork, corn meal, flour, and whiskey.  Later, in Nashville, in contracted for six more boats, giving $4,000 to Andrew Jackson to pay for them.  But Jackson could not get the boats built, and returned part of the money to Burr.

Burr also bought a 300,000-acre tract of land on the Washita River, an area known as the Bastrop land.  In his efforts to recruit volunteers for the expedition, Burr promised them a share of the Washita tract. See info elsewhere on this web site that the Bastrop tract would be a safe haven for free slaves too. Cotton could not be grown there. Many recruits simply wanted to farm the fertile land, not get shot by the Spanish.      

The Conspiracy Defeated

By this time, if not earlier, General Wilkinson had decided to abandon the Conspiracy.  When, in early October, a ciphered letter sent by Burr and borne by his trusted aide Samuel Swarthout Swartwout reached Wilkinson in New Orleans, Wilkinson determined to squash Burr's plans.  Rubbish. First of all the letter was written by Dayton, not Burr.  How about noting that Wilkinson was a paid Spy for Spain, discovered only in the 1890's when we invaded Cuba and saw records.  If he did not want to declare war on Spain for teh Sabine River crossing, etc. just tell Burr he was not needed, and Burr would have settled Bastrop. He rushed troops the Mississippi Valley and ordered troops in New Orleans to be on alert for an attack.  Burr's ciphered letter (decoded by Wilkinson), together with one from co-conspirator Senator Dayton, he sent to President Jefferson.  The letter, which some consider to be the most important evidence of a Burr Conspiracy, read:

Wilkinson eliminated the first sentence that said: I received your last letter, and here is my response: or so Dayton wrote

I have obtained funds, and have actually commenced the enterprise.  Detachments from different points under different pretenses will rendezvous on the Ohio, 1st November-- everything internal and external favors views--protection of England is secured.  T[ruxton] is gone to Jamaica to arrange with the admiral on that station, and will meet at the Mississippi-- England---Navy of the United States are ready to join, and final orders are given to my friends and followers--it will be a host of choice spirits.  Wilkinson shall be second to Burr only--Wilkinson shall dictate the rank and promotion of his officers.  Burr will proceed westward 1st August, never to return: with him go his daughter--the husband will follow in October with a corps of worthies. Send forthwith an intelligent and confidential friend with whom Burr may confer.  He shall return immediately with further interesting details--this is essential to concert and harmony of the movement.... [T]he project is brought to the point so long desired: Burr guarantees the result with his life and honor--the lives, the honor and fortunes of hundreds, the best blood of our country.  Burr's plan of operations is to move rapidly from the falls on the 15th of November, with the first five hundred or one thousand men, in light boats now constructing for that purpose--to be at Natchez between the 5th and 15th of December--then to meet Wilkinson--then to determine whether it will be expedient in the first instance to seize on or pass by Baton Rouge.  On receipt of this send Burr an answer--draw on Burr for all expenses, &c.  The people of the country to which we are going are prepared to receive us--their agents now with Burr say that if we will protect their religion, and will not subject them to a foreign power, that in three weeks all will be settled. 
The gods invite to glory and fortune--it remains to be seen whether we deserve the boon.... --29th July.

Wilkinson shocked Swartwout by placing him in the brig of a ship headed to Washington DC. Once there, 3 attorneys including Francis Scott Key immediately had Swartwout freed.

President Jefferson responded to Wilkinson's letter by signing a proclamation stating that "sundry persons...are conspiring...to...set on foot...a military expedition against the dominions of Spain."  He urged all military and other government officials to devoted their attentions to "searching out and bringing to condign punishment all persons engaged or concerned in such enterprise."

No Burr would have helped and settled lands if the war everyone (especially Jefferson) thought would occur actually did occur, but if Wilkinson as head of the army decided not to wage it, okay.

The president sent west a confidential agent, a State Department clerk named Graham, to investigate the Burr plot.  Graham, deceiving Harman Blennerhassett into believing he was a fellow conspirator, uncovered important details concerning Burr's plans.  As Harmon bragged of them Graham then proceeded to the Ohio capitol of Chillicothe, where he convinced the Governor to order out the militia to seize the boats Burr had ordered for his expedition.  On December 9, 1806, just two days after the first four of the fifteen boats Burr purchased arrived, with two key Burr confederates and thirty men at Blennerhassett Island, the militia seized the remaining eleven boats, still in storage at Marietta, Ohio.  The boats had been scheduled to be delivered to Blennerhassett the next day. 

Word of the boat seizure reached the Burr confederates within hours after it took place. Plans were made for a hasty departure from the island.  About midnight of December 9, four boats pushed off and began heading down the Ohio.  The next morning the militia reached Blennerhassett Island only to find it empty.  Perhaps out of frustration, they destroyed the fine furniture, vases, and art of Blennerhassett's mansion, fired rifle balls through his painted ceilings, and drank the whiskey (wine?) stored in his cellar.

Perhaps out of frustration?  This true account of the military following perceived presidential orders to enter private property, get drunk in the wine cellar, and shoot up the living room ceiling, wreck the furniture and crush the garden plants is outrageous even back then.  These are the presidential tactics as prosecutor of Burr. How sad!


Burr was in Nashville when he learned that federal authorities were out to crush his plans.  On November 22, he beat a hurried retreat down the Cumberland River.  All the Burr detachments met up at the Falls of the Ohio.  Addressing his recruits, Burr told them that he had intended at this point to describe their specific objective, but circumstances had caused him to defer doing so.  Instead, the flotilla would head down the Mississippi, where Burr--still ignorant of Wilkinson's betrayal--expected military backing.  Only upon reaching Bayou Pierre, thirty miles above Natchez, did Burr learn that Wilkinson had turned from co-conspirator into his pursuer.  Burr wrote a public letter declaring the innocence of his intentions: "If the alarm which has been excited should not be appeased by this declaration, I invite my fellow citizens to visit me at this place, and to receive from me, in person, such further explanations as may be necessary to their satisfaction, presuming that when my views are understood, they will receive the countenance of all good men."

What about Burr going to court immediately in Kentucky and being declared innocent for the first of three similar trials there?  Henry Clay helped him.

A militia detachment of thirty men caught up with Burr when he and his expedition of between sixty and hundred men (with squirrel muskets, not exactly a military force) were camped across from Natchez, on the west bank of the Mississippi.  Burr was handed letter from the Governor of Mississippi demanding his surrender.  Burr responded to the letter by denouncing Wilkinson whose "perfidious conduct" had "completely frustrated" his "projects."

The next day Burr met with the Governor who convinced him to surrender and allow himself to be conducted to the nearby town of Washington.  A grand jury, after listening to evidence against Burr, declared Burr "not guilty of any crime or misdemeanor against the United States."  The jury went on to condemn the arrest, suggesting that it had given cause to "the enemies of our glorious Constitution to rejoice."  Burr was innocent from this second  trial too. Burr demanded and received his release. The judge tried to hold him after he was found innocent, and Burr knew Wilkinson was sending armed soldiers under his command to find and possibly kill Burr, so Burr fled. He disguised himself as a boatman and disappeared into the wilderness on the eastern side of the Mississippi. .

Once additional information about Burr's activities became known, a new warrant was issued for his arrest.  There was no additional info. Arrest finally came in mid-February on the Tombigbee River, in present day Alabama.  Burr was taken to Fort Stoddart for two weeks, then conducted by a nine-man military guard on a one-thousand mile horseback trip to Richmond, where he would stand trial for treason.  He was arrested by the military improperly, and at a tavern he asked citizens to free him from the soldiers, but Burr was a small man physically, and a large soldier picked him up and bound him to his horse, and off they went with Burr the perfectly dignified traveler who never complained.

The Trial

On March 26, 1807, Burr arrived in Richmond, Virginia and lodged, under guard, in the Eagle Hotel.  Four days later he was brought to another room in the hotel for an examination before the judge who would conduct his trial.  The judge was none other than the Chief Justice of the United States, John Marshall.

The examination began with District Attorney George Hay (the son-in-law of future President James Monroe)  supporting the government's motion for commitment on charges of treason and "high misdemeanors."  Hay argued that the evidence showed that Burr intended to take New Orleans by force and make it the capitol of his new western empire.  Replying for Burr, Defense Attorney Edmund Randolph (former Attorney General and Secretary of State under President Washington) argued that Burr committed no overt act of treason. Burr also addressed the Court.  He offered an innocent interpretation of his own actions and emphasized his acquittal by a grand jury in the Mississippi Territory.  He complained bitterly about his recent treatment, telling Marshall he had been denied the use of ink and paper--not even permitted to write to his daughter.

On April 1, Chief Justice Marshall delivered his opinion on the government's motion.  Marshall concluded that the prosecution failed to produce sufficient evidence of treason.  He scheduled Burr for trial on the high misdemeanor charge and set bail at $10,000.  Marshall's refusal to insert the treason charge enraged President Jefferson, who suspected that the Chief Justice's judgment was warped in favor of Burr by his own dislike of Jefferson and the course of his Administration. 

Jefferson took it as a personal mission to secure Burr's conviction.  He had printed circulars sent out throughout the western country asking "every good citizen to step forward, and communicate to the government any information he may possess."  Jefferson passed plenty of bribe money around. More on Eaton's $10,000 later.  He dispatched a deputy marshal to take depositions near Blennerhassett Island.  Secretary of State James Madison wrote Andrew Jackson, requesting that he help gather depositions from around Tennessee that might help convict Burr.  Meanwhile in New Orleans, Wilkinson sent out numerous agents to collect whatever evidence they could.

Jefferson's own view of Burr's actions is best revealed in his letters of 1807.  He saw that Burr's "first enterprise was to have been the seizure of New Orleans" which would "place him at the door of Mexico." Or so the newspapers speculated, and Jefferson believed them.  His plan, according to Jefferson, included "separating the western states from us, of adding Mexico to them, and of placing himself at their head."  "Burr's conspiracy" was, Jefferson concluded, "one of the most flagitous of which history will ever furnish an example."  According to Jefferson, Burr abandoned his original plan to separate the western states from the Union only because "he very early saw that the fidelity of the western country was not to be shaken." No, like New England and later the south, if the west needed a leader, Burr could lead, if not needed, he wouldn't.  And Burr certainly was not going to get rich as a politician, considering his years of almost no pay as US VP.  As a result, "he turned himself wholly to Mexico." or so Jefferson writes in his self serving diary.

Shortly after noon on May 22, 1807, the trial of Aaron Burr opened in Richmond.  On the bench sat Chief Justice Marshall and Virginia District Judge Cyrus Griffin.  Surrounding Burr was his team of defense lawyers including Edmund Randolph, John Wickham, Benjamin Botts, Charles Lee, and Luther Martin, a former Maryland delegate to the Constitutional Convention often called the "Thersites of the law."  (In addition, Burr himself would play a major role in the trial, cross-examining most of the prosecution's witnesses himself.) The cast for the prosecution included George Hay, Caesar Rodney, William Wirt, and Alexander McCrae.

While a grand jury awaited the arrival of General Wilkinson from New Orleans, Chief Justice Marshall considered both prosecution and defense motions. 

The prosecution, noting that "the evidence is different now," again moved for commitment of Burr on the charge of treason.  The defense countered, arguing that to establish the crime of treason the prosecution must prove that an overt act of treason had been committed by the defendant in a war and that, under the Constitution, the overt act must be testified to by two witnesses and must have occurred in the district of the trial.  When Marshall sided with the defense's narrow interpretation of treason, the prosecution knew it had its back to the wall. Marshall was super smart and fair. He did not side on a narrow interpretation.  Remember, Burr never did anything wrong.  Thank goodness there was justice in this court instead of letting the president get Burr hung because he was jealous of Burr's true liberty practices against slavery, and Burr's superior social talents.

Marshall also weighed a defense motion for a subpoena duces tecum to be directed to the President, requiring that he turn over certain letters from Wilkinson that might be helpful to the defense.  Luther Martin, arguing for his motion, declared: 

"The President has undertaken to prejudge my client by declaring 'of his guilt there can be no doubt.'   He has assumed the knowledge of the Supreme Being himself, and pretended to search the heart of my highly respected friend.  He has proclaimed him a traitor....He has let slip the dogs of war, the hell-hounds of prosecution, to hunt down my friend.  And would this President of the United States, who has raised all this absurd clamor, pretend to keep back the papers which are wanted for this trial, where life itself is at stake?  It is a sacred principle, that in all such cases, the accused has the right to all the evidence which is necessary for his case."

On June 13, Marshall ruled that a subpoena to the President might issue.  While Marshall recognized that urgent circumstances might prevent the President from complying with the subpoena, the court, he said, had "no choice" but to issue it.

Jefferson never turned over the requested letters.  Because Jefferson was not interested in justice only his own power. Marshall, having no real alternative, quietly let the matter drop.  Jefferson stated his position on the matter in a letter to George Hay:

"The leading feature of our Constitution is the independence of the Legislative, Executive, and Judiciary of each other; and none are more jealous of this than the Judiciary.  But would the Executive be independent of the Judiciary if he were subject to the commands of the latter, and to imprisonment for disobedience; if the smaller courts could bandy him from pillar to post, keep him constantly trudging from north to south and east to west, and withdraw him entirely from his executive duties?"

As if Jefferson had more important work to do.  Remember that Jefferson was so smug that after he retired, he would write only to John Adams who was also in the ex president's club. Everyone else was inferior.

On June 15, General Wilkinson--described by the defense as "the alpha and omega of the present prosecution"--arrived in Richmond to appear before the grand jury.  Author Washington Irving, a trial spectator, watched as Wilkinson "strutted into court" and "stood for a moment swelling like a turkey-cock."  According to Irving, Burr "turned his head, looked him full in the face with one of his piercing regards, swept his eye over the whole person from head to foot, as if to scan his dimensions, and then coolly resume his former position."  The innocent Burr was always cool, calm and collected.

Wilkinson's testimony had its intended effect.  On June 24, the grand jury reported indictments against Burr for treason and high misdemeanor.  Two days later, Burr pleaded not guilty to the charges, and the court adjourned until August 3.

A few days before testimony against him was to begin, Burr wrote to his daughter Theodosia, urging her not to attend the trial:

"I may be immured in dungeons, chained, murdered in legal form, but I cannot be humiliated or disgraced.  If absent you will suffer great solicitude.  In my presence you will feel none, whatever may be the malice or the power of my enemies, and in both they abound."  But she loved him so much that she traveled there to be with him anyway.

The Hall of the Virginia House of Delegates, the site of the trial, was filled to capacity for opening of the prosecution case in the Burr trial.  Prosecutor George Hay told the jury of twelve men that the evidence would show that Burr had a "treasonable design" and that he assembled men for the purpose of furthering his treasonous aim.

The prosecution called its first witness, General William Eaton.  Eaton testified to a conversation that he had in Washington with Burr during the winter of 1805-6:

I listened to Colonel Burr's mode of indemnity; and as I had by this time begun to suspect that the military expedition he had on foot was unlawful, I permitted him to believe myself resigned to his influence that I might understand the extent and motive of his arrangements.  Colonel Burr now laid open his project of revolutionizing the territory west of the Allegheny, establishing an independent empire there; New Orleans to be the capital, and he himself to be the chief; organizing a military force on the waters of the Mississippi, and carrying conquest to Mexico.

Burr got up and asked Eaton if the government just paid him the $10,000 he had been seeking for years. Eaton admitted it. (Jefferson had just cleared it in exchange for his testimony.) Eaton's tainted testimony was worthless after Burr's simple questioning.

From the transcript:

Mr. Martin. What balance did you receive?

Mr. Eaton. That is my concern, sir.

Mr. Burr. What was the balance against you?

Mr. Eaton (to the court) Is that a proper question?

Mr. Burr. My object is manifest; I wish to show the bias which has existed on the mind of the witness.

Chief Justice saw no objections to the question.

Mr. Eaton. I cannot say to a cent or a dollar; but I have received about ten thousand dollars.

Mr. Burr. When was the money received?

Mr. Eaton. About March last.





Other prosecution witnesses testified as to Burr's ambitious plans.  Commodore Truxton said Burr "intended to attack Vera Cruz and Mexico, give liberty to an enslaved world, and establish an independent Government in Mexico."  Harman Blennerhassett's gardener, Peter Taylor, described for the jury a conversation he had with Blennerhassett: 

[H]e made a sudden pause, and said, "I will tell you what, Peter, we are going to take Mexico, one of the  finest and richest places in the whole world." He said that Colonel Burr would be the king of Mexico, and Mrs Alston, daughter of Colonel Burr, was to be the queen of Mexico whenever Colonel Burr died.  He said that Colonel Burr had made fortunes for many in his time, but none for himself; but now he was going to make something for himself.

Taylor also described Blennerhasset's answer to his question of how he might control his recruits:

I then asked him what was to become of the men who were going to settle the lands he talk about.  Were they to stop at the Red river, or to go on? He said, "Oh, by God, I tell you, Peter, every man that will not conform to order and discipline I will stab; you'll see how I'll fix  them;" that when he got them far enough down the river, if they did not conform to order and discipline, he swore by God he'd stab them.  I was astonished.  I told him I was no soldier, and could not fight.  He said it made no odds; he did not want me to fight; he wanted me to go and live with Mrs. Blennerhassett and the children, either at Natchez or some other place, while he went on the expedition.  I talked to him again, and told him the people had got it into their heads that he wanted to divide the Union.  He said Colonel Burr and he could not do it themselves; all they could do was to tell the people the consequence of it. Harmon was a bit of a blowhard to his gardener..

Taylor, as well as several other witnesses, were called to testify concerning events in December of 1806 at Blennerhassett's Island--the prosecution's one overt act of treason on which it pinned its case.  District Attorney Hay questioned William Love about what he saw on the night of December 10:

Mr. Hay-- How many boats were at the island? 
Love-- Four. 
Mr. Hay--How many men? 
Love-- I cannot tell you, but I suppose about betwixt twenty and twenty-five belonging to Colonel Tyler's boats.  When I arrived on the island, Blennerhassett met me. 
Mr. Hay-- Did you see any arms? 
Love-- I saw the men and rifles.  I know that Mr. Blennerhassett took away with him one brace of horse pistols, a brace of pocket pistols, and a dirk.  Some fuses were put in the boat, but not more than three or four, all belonging to him. 
Mr. Hay-- And what arms had Tyler's men?
Love--  Pistols, dirks and rifles, they brought there, but all were not armed with rifles.  I know not whether they were armed with different things.

On August 20, Burr interrupted the prosecution's case to ask the court to arrest further prosecution testimony on the ground that the evidence "utterly failed to prove any overt act of war had been committed" and that he was shown to have been one hundred miles distant from Blennerhassett's Island at the time the overt act charged was shown to have taken place.  Several days of argument on Burr's motion followed.   Chief Justice Marshall offered his praise for the lawyers who participated, saying that they presented their arguments with "a degree of eloquence seldom displayed on any occasion."  It took Marshall three hours to read his lengthy opinion.  When he had finished, he had swept away the prosecution's case.  Marshall ruled that Burr could not be found to have committed treason based on the events at Blennerhassett's Island: "If those who perpetrated the fact be not traitors, he who advised them [Burr] cannot be a traitor."  Marshall stated that we would exclude testimony "relative to the conduct or declarations of the prisoner elsewhere and subsequent to the transaction on Blennerhassett's Island."

Marshall's decision ended the prosecution's case and on September 1, the case was sent to the jury.  They had little choice.  Nonetheless, the jury hinted that they might have decided the case differently, but for the court's instructions: "We of the jury say that Aaron Burr is not proved to be guilty under this indictment by any evidence submitted to us.  We therefore find him not guilty."

But school kids think Burr was guilty unfortunately.

Trial Aftermath

President Jefferson fumed over Marshall's ruling.  He said "It now appears we have no law but the will of the judge."  He contemplated responses ranging from proposing a constitutional amendment limiting the power of the judiciary to asking Congress to impeach the Chief Justice.  In a letter to (the real traitor who got away with it) General Wilkinson, Jefferson wrote:

The scenes which have been acted at Richmond are such as have never been exhibited in any country, where all regard to public character has not yet been thrown off.  They are equivalent to a proclamation of impunity to every traitorous combination which may be formed to destroy the Union."

Burr, despite his acquittal, stood disgraced.  Although he would live another twenty-nine years, he would never again be a significant player in American public life.  In 1808, he sailed for Europe, where he would remain for four years.  The death of his beloved daughter Theodosia, lost at sea while sailing to meet her father in New York upon his return, seemed to end whatever spark remained within him.  Years later, when he heard news of the Texas Revolution, Burr exclaimed to a friend with satisfaction: "There! You see?  I was right!  I was only thirty years too soon.  What was treason in me thirty years ago, is patriotism now."

And eventually the civil war resulted because the Virginian presidential dynasty improperly allowed slavery to flourish while abolitionists like Aaron Burr were beaten down by the plantation owning men in power.






Dr. Judith Reisman Dr. Judith Reisman

WND Exclusive Commentary

Reviewing 'Donkey Cons'

Posted: April 26, 2006
1:00 a.m. Eastern


© 2006 WorldNetDaily.com




Beyond the mob's role in electing groupie legislators, Vincent and McCain document how, although "the entire Democratic Party is caught accepting millions in illegal foreign campaign donations ... Chinagate, the biggest influence-peddling scandal in U.S. history, morphs into a bipartisan referendum on campaign finance reform!"

Remarkably, before Vincent and McCain, no authors connected the dots and organized Democratic Party scandals into a reference book. The authors trace a Democratic "cornucopia of corruption, a direct line of scandal all the way back to the 1700s."

We learn that "the killer and traitor Aaron Burr" founded the Democratic Party.

From this outlaw legacy sprang Tammany Hall gangsters, some actually helping to "elect three of the past six Democratic presidents."

We get the skinny on how big-city Democrats have betrayed the inner-city poor into drugs, disease and squalor.

Although the far-left media has "equalized" Republican and Democratic scandals, "over the past 30 years in Congress, there have been three times as many Democratic crooks as Republican ones." They count and document them.

This informative, important chronicle belongs on public and private reference shelves everywhere. Spread the word! It is a lively, spirited read.

Well done Vincent and McCain!




Well informed historians know that Aaron Burr was neither a killer nor a traitor.
See www.AaronBurrAssociation.org for info.
He was found Not Guilty at his trial, and his duel involved trick pistols provided by Hamilton.





Dear Peter,


As my expertise is not in the arena of revolutionary traitors, I did forward your thoughtful defense of Aaron Burr to Mr. McCain.  This is his response, FYI:



I would refer your correspondent to the most recent biographies of Burr and Hamilton. Our account of Burr's career is drawn chiefly from "Aaron Burr: Conspiracy to Treason," a book by Buckner F. Melton Jr., published in 2002.


"Trick pistols," indeed! The facts of the Burr-Hamilton duel are well-established. Burr was indicted for murder in New Jersey. One might debate whether "affairs of honor" between armed men should be subject to criminal prosecution, but the law is the law.


As to the treason charge, it is known that Burr sought aid in his plot first from the British, then from the French. What cannot be clearly established is whether Burr intended (a) to set up a separate nation in the Western U.S., or (b) invade and conquer Northern Mexico, including Texas. But either course of action would have been illegal.


The most obvious rebuttal: If Burr had no treasonous intentions, why would he have devised a secret code, raised a private "army," and communicated with foreign agents?


In point of fact, lest I be accused of bias, my sentiments in the Federalist-Republican dispute have always favored the Jefferson-Madison faction. Hamilton's notions of a national bank and a scheme of tariff's and "internal improvements" offend my libertarian sensibilities. But while my political views put me on Burr's side of the argument, I have no trouble in concluding that Burr was a profoundly immoral man, untrustworthy and selfish. His habitual womanizing alone should stand as testimony that Burr was not to be trusted. As Ross Perot once said -- explaining why he refused to tolerate sexual misconduct by his company's executives -- "If a man's own wife can't trust him, why should i?"


Robert Stacy


Robert, Burr's wife Theodosia, 11 years his senior totally trusted him until she died of cancer. What does Perot have to do with him?

Burr met with the Spanish not the French, and never made any deal, except what they perceived and wrote about their own interests. When the army didn't invade, neither did Burr's settlers follow. He owned land that his settlers could have farmed, a freedom island for slaves in Louisiana, etc.



SHORT HOPS: The Weems-Botts Museum


Richmond Times-Dispatch
Apr 20, 2006


Where: On the corner of Duke and Cameron streets in Dumfries. From Richmond, take Interstate 95 north to exit 152A. Exit to the right onto Route 234, then take a right onto Route 1. After you pass Dumfries Nursery, turn right onto Duke Street. The museum is two blocks up the hill. Follow the yellow line on the sidewalk to the museum annex where tours begin. Curbside parking is provided for visitors.

Phone: (703) 221-2218

Hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. The last tour begins at 3:15. Closed Sunday, Monday, Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's.

Web site: www.geocities.com/hdvinc

Admission: Adults, $3; seniors and children 6-16, $2; children younger than 6, free.

Overview: Discovering the Weems-Botts Museum in the workaday world of Dumfries is like finding an heirloom in a toolbox. The humble house was built in 1750 and served as the home and bookshop of Mason Locke Weems. The parson, author and bookseller is best known for the cherry tree story included in his biography of George Washington. While there may have been some truth behind the legend, most of the tale, in which a 6-year-old George confesses to chopping down his father's cherry tree, was most likely one of Weems' fabrications. Weems also penned biographies of Francis Marion, Benjamin Franklin and William Penn.

Weems was not the only notable owner of the house. Benjamin Botts, who was a member of the law team that defended Aaron Burr in his treason trial, bought the house in 1802. The 45-minute house tour is filled with anecdotes about the various owners of the house with a generous dose of Dumfries history thrown in.

Dumfries, chartered in 1749, lays claim to the title "Virginia's Oldest Town." Our tour included two young boys, so the guide kept the history lessons light and entertaining. She enlightened us on the Colonial lifestyle, which included bed bugs, lack of indoor plumbing and infrequent bathing....




Dear Peter and Harry, 4/14/06

You probably have already seen this old "Got Milk?" ad, but just in case here is the link for it below. I didn't know about it until yesterday until one of the Jefferson Papers editors told me about it. It was good to see you both at the Supreme Court event!

All Best, Katherine

"Democracy is the process by which people choose the man who'll get the blame." -Bertrand Russell (is this better than the former TJ quote on democracy guys?)








'Take him out of the ballgame'

Nationals fans embarrass a nation by booing VP

Gary McCabe, Staff Writer

April 13, 2006


To say that he was booed would be a gross understatement - he was verbally mauled by the DC crowd. Because I could only hear that game, I began hypothesizing what Cheney could have done to elicit such a response. The only explanation that I could think of was that while walking to the mound, Cheney pulled the hat off of a kid with leukemia and laughed, spit in his face and then kicked a puppy. That's how vile the sentiment was. Sadly, though, Dick Cheney was booed simply because he was Dick Cheney.

Admittedly, I've taken quite a few jabs at the Vice President - I believe at one point I even compared him to Aaron Burr, who murdered the greatest statesman this country has ever seen. But this was too much. Not only was this embarrassing for the greater DC area - it was embarrassing for the country as a whole.

Whether you like Vice President Cheney or not - and I can't reiterate enough that I don't care for the man - to boo him so fervently as he partakes in the pre-game festivities of your local baseball club is classless. If you can't respect the man, at least respect the office.  ....



Donkeys misbehavin'

A review of 'Donkey Cons: Sex, Crime, and Corruption in the Democratic Party'

Apr 13, 2006
Review by Monique Stuart

While politicians on the Left are busy working with the Left-leaning media to sell the idea of what they have branded the Right’s “culture of corruption,” Robert Stacy McCain and Lynn Vincent, in their new book Donkey Cons: Sex, Crime, and Corruption in the Democratic Party, expose the real culture of corruption that has been woven into the fabric of the Democrat Party since it’s inception. This includes everything from the party’s founding father Aaron Burr to the Left’s involvement with Jack Abramoff.

A refreshing book, low in rhetoric and high in historical fact (with over 600 footnotes), Donkey Cons chronicles crime after crime committed by the Left and how its representatives are seemingly immune to judgment, never held accountable, and actually rewarded for their crimes by moving to some of the most powerful positions in the party (eg. Teddy Kennedy, Hill and Bill Clinton).




'Dr. Doolittle' stirs crowd with dancing, singing numbers


DuPont Theatre
Tommy Tune is the title star of "Dr. Dolittle."


Special to the News Journal

WILMINGTON -- Just talking with the animals isn't enough for this "Dr. Dolittle." In this musical version of the altruistic veterinarian, now at the DuPont Theatre, the good doctor sings and dances with the animals, too.

And this is not just any dancer. Starring as Dr. John P. Dolittle is towering Tommy Tune, Broadway's tall, lanky and age-defying duke of dance, who has attained such stature with this show that his name appears above the title in the playbill. The show also has a small romantic subplot and the love interest, Lady Emma Fairfax, is played by the capable and endearing Dee Hoty.

This adaptation of the story, subtitled "Everyone's Musical," has an inventive, fun and theatrical flair to it -- full of flash, color and spectacle -- that, frankly, adults can appreciate more than its youthful target audience.

The setting is Old England where Dolittle introduces us to his animal patients, some of whom we can understand when they talk and some we cannot, and where he argues over his noisy village practice with his neighbor Emma Fairfax.

There's Polynesia the parrot and Jip the dog, animated by puppeteers clad in black, while Toggle the horse and the Pushmi/Pullyu -- a two-headed llama that's a gift from Franistan -- are worked from inside.

The troupe joins a circus to pay for a journey to find the wise old giant pink sea snail and Dolittle is drawn closer to Emma. Aboard a ship, they find they waltz well together. After finding the huge pink snail, the pair separate and he returns the little tap monkey Chee-Chee, played by whiz of a dancer Aaron Burr, home....






































Boston Globe 04/05/06

Tribe Theater’s Theatre’s history nerds extract comedy from the Burr-Hamilton duel  by Karen Campbell

July 11, 1804, marked the most infamous duel in American history, an affair of honor fueled by deep animosity. Vice President Aaron Burr felt so slighted by a few historically unverified comments of Alexander Hamilton, former secretary of the treasury, that he challenged him to a duel. We know the ending. Burr exacted his revenge by mortally wounding Hamilton at the dueling grounds in Weehawken, N.J., and Hamilton died the next day in New York City. Historians still grapple over what exactly caused such bitter hatred between two men once considered friends.

That’s where Neil Reynolds and Matt Tucker of Tribe Theatre come in. In the world premiere of ‘‘Code Duello,’’ the two veteran improvisers and self-described history nerds comically explore just how this tragic episode might have come to pass. They don the wigs, waistcoats, and personalities of ‘‘two of America’s angriest founding fathers’’ and solicit ideas from the audience to help unravel the mystery. I spoke with Reynolds and Tucker about making comedy out of a bloody event that occurred more than 200 years ago.

Q: Whose idea was this?

Tucker: It was kind of a collaborative effort. We wanted to do a two-person show and threw a bunch of ideas around. This idea came up as half of a joke, but the more we thought about it, the more interesting it sounded.

Q: What’s your goal with this show?

Reynolds: We’re trying to present a humorous portrait of two historical figures, but also show how a good friendship can go bad over something very small. We’re using a lot of our knowledge and research to make this production be more theatrical than the usual improv comedy show — we’re trying to set the scene for a kind of historical comedy, which hasn’t been done, to my knowledge.

Tucker: One aspect of the show that may be missing from other improv shows is the element of theatricality. Director David Marino is known for doing big theatrical improv productions. We’re thinking about really acting instead of just being silly and going for the one-liners.

Q: You take an idea from the audience. How does that work?

Reynolds: We ask for a colonial event and use that as inspiration to start. Over the course of the half-hour show we have a narrative arc. You see these two men as friends and as co-founders of America. Then through the magic of improv we stumble upon something that they have differing philosophies about, then exaggerate that until there’s no other course but to challenge each other to defend their honor.

Q: So Neil plays Burr, and Matt is Hamilton. Do you ever change roles?

Tucker: It’s a possibility for the future, but not for this first run.

Q: Is there any resonance with what’s going on in the world today?

Tucker: Burr’s and Hamilton’s partisan conflict turned personal and they decided to shoot at each other to resolve it. If a lot of Republicans and Democrats in Congress [were transported back to] 1804, I’m sure they’d have a long list of people they’d like to challenge to a duel.

Reynolds: Cheney didn’t even need to challenge anyone to a duel. It’s part of the vice presidential power that hasn’t really been exploited over the last 200 years.

Tucker: Except when Burr shot somebody, he had to leave the country as a fugitive. Cheney just brushes it off and goes about his business.

Q: The Burr-Hamilton duel ended very badly. How do you make light of that?

Tucker: The situation depends on the arc of the story on any given night. Following the duel, there’ll be some sort of resolution whereby Burr or Hamilton ends up victorious, or where the duel makes them realize that their friendship was more important than their differences. It depends on how the story plays out.

Reynolds: We use the last scene to reestablish our relationship and evaluate what’s changed. Hamilton will die, but the reasons why will be different every show.

Q: What’s the most rewarding aspect of the show?

Reynolds: The fluidity of being able to create a narrative arc in 30 minutes, from how people are friends to how they despise each other, and to pull that off in a myriad of different ways. There’s always something new to discover in their relationship.


Back to Index