Aaron Burr in the News in 2007

Jan 07-May 07

Dual interpretations


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Special to the Times   nj.com

The most famous duel in American history took place in Weehawken on a hot and humid July morning in 1804.

Both pistol-packing opponents were celebrated Founding Fathers: Aaron Burr, then serving as Thomas Jefferson's vice president, and Revolutionary War hero and former first Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton.


Although both men fired, Burr's shot killed Hamilton, while he walked away unhurt. Almost immediately, a strong campaign, by both Hamilton's supporters and the press, painted Burr as a scoundrel and, in later years, a traitor.

That negative image has been chiseled in granite in the history books ever since, as well as in at least two contemporary best-sellers about Burr.

But now Burr's villainy is being strongly questioned in a new book, "Fallen Founder: The Life of Aaron Burr" (Viking, $29.95). Its author, historian Nancy Isenberg, will discuss and answer queries about her revised look at Burr (as well as in sights into Hamilton and Jefferson) 7 p.m. tomorrow at Barnes & Noble in West Windsor.

Isenberg, a native of North Jersey and a history professor at the University of Tulsa, says the press of the time adopted the harshly negative portrait of Burr put forth by his political opponents.

"It's as if Bill Clinton's historical legacy were written by Kenneth Starr or Karl Rove," she says.

Isenberg came to the project because of her long interest in "scandalous trials."

"I had written a piece about how the press manipulated the trial of Patty Hearst," she relates, referring to the 1976 case of the granddaughter of press magnate William Randolph Hearst. (Kidnapped by a radical political group in 1974, then convicted of aiding them in an armed robbery, Patty Hearst was sentenced to seven years in prison, eventually fully pardoned, and has consistently claimed brain-washing as her defense.)


A Newark beginning

Born in Newark in 1756, Burr attended Princeton University (then called the College of New Jersey), where his father was the second president. Graduating at a preco cious 16, Burr studied theology and law. He served heroically in the Revolutionary War, then married a woman 10 years his senior with five children of her own. (The couple had one child together, a daughter, remarkably well educated for the times because Burr was a fervent believer in women's rights.)


Burr's first major political battle came in 1800 when he ran for president and tied in the electoral college with Thomas Jefferson. By that time, Burr was a respected former New York senator. (His chief rival in New York politics was Hamilton -- a brilliant fellow Revolutionary War patriot, key framer of the Constitution and supporter of the nation's first bank.) It took 36 ballots in the House of Representatives to settle the 1800 presidential election. Jefferson became president and, in the tradition of that era, the No. 2 vote-getter, Burr, be came vice president. This "compromise" was tenuous, and for the next four years, there were many problems between Jefferson and Burr. By 1804, it was clear Jefferson wanted James Madison, not Burr, to eventually succeed him in the White House.

Burr saw the handwriting on the wall and decided to run for governor of New York in 1804. But Hamilton, who loathed Burr and had a strong New York political base, cooperated with a smear campaign against him. Reminiscent of recent political scandals, it was all about sexual escapades. Burr's wife had died, and he had enjoyed several subsequent relationships with women. Rumors painted him as a depraved, possibly bisexual, womanizer. It was in this context that Hamilton publicly insulted Burr again and again, and Burr finally responded with his challenge.

Ironically, Hamilton's adored oldest son had died in a duel, but Hamilton nonetheless agreed to take up pistols against Burr.


A scapegoat?

The controversy over their duel comes from the fact that Hamilton had made an amazing statement after accepting the challenge, Isen berg explains.


"Hamilton said, 'I don't believe in dueling, so I'm going to shoot in the air,' stressing that he would 'throw away' his first shot." But at the scene, Hamilton, who had brought as weapons of choice "hair-trigger pistols" not usually accepted for such occasions because of their instability, Isenberg notes, asked for time to adjust his weapon's aim to the strong sunlight, and then paused to put on glasses. Burr later said that convinced him Hamilton would shoot to kill.

Both men fired, but who shot first has never been settled. Hamilton's colleagues at the scene immediately claimed Burr was a cowardly murderer. Isenberg says she's searched newspaper archives, original correspondence and diaries to make her claim that the conspiracy against Burr's character stemming from the duel was a vengeful plot to blacken his name.

"Part of the problem is that historians accepted Hamilton's statement that he wouldn't shoot," Isenberg says. She insists the facts offer a different picture.

The hubbub led to Burr's being indicted for murder, but he was never tried, since dueling was legal in New Jersey (one reason the duel took place there, instead of New York). Burr completed his term as Jefferson's first vice president under a cloud of gossip.

Three years later, however, Burr was tried in court, this time for treason, on a claim of attempting to form a republic of his own in the Southwest. It's a charge Isenberg also strongly disputes, in a detailed defense and explanation of Burr's motives. She says her arguments "have never before been written about by a historian."

No less a figure than Chief Justice John Marshall presided at the treason trial. To Jefferson's disappointment, Burr was acquitted. (The results were doubly madden ing to Jefferson because he and Marshall had long been at odds.) Burr lived in Europe for a while, then took up a law practice in New York State. But his reputation never recovered. In 1836, still a figure of disgrace, he died and was buried in Princeton Cemetery.

Ultimately, Isenberg states, her book is about more than Burr. It is about how history is written and passed on.

"Historians have to trace the origins of events, have to separate the long-held myths from the reality," she says. "These were complicated people with contradictions in their lives. Politics were very personal, and people were jockeying for power."


Founders did founder

Burr's ruin, Isenberg says, shows "the role of the media in shaping history. He's become a mythologized figure, a Judas, a scapegoat of the complicated times in which he lived and its issues.


"People want to assume it was a golden age of heroes, but the Founders must be seen in the context of their political world. It's unhealthy to put them on a pedestal and glorify them. You don't learn anything about human beings and the past that way."

Indeed, in recent years, new investigations of the Founders have unmasked gross imperfections long ignored in the history books. Al most all were slaveholders, and Jefferson almost surely fathered children with a slave mistress. Isen berg says her book is in effort to move away from simplistic history and uncover the truth. With its strong reverberations in today's political world, Isenberg stresses, there is much to be learned from Burr's story.



Reach Sharon Schlegel at Slschle gel@aol.com



Students will compete nationally with a project that recalls forgotten heroes.

Published May 20, 2007   Tampa Bay


It was supposed to be a history fair project on Rosa Parks, the iconic civil rights leader best known for her refusal in 1955 to give up her bus seat to a white man.

But the Montgomery, Ala., bus boycott that helped change the nation's segregationist course and launched Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to the forefront of the civil rights movement took on a life of its own for four Gibbs High students this year.

Through extensive research, the teens identified other women who also made a profound impact on the bus boycott but never received the same recognition as Parks.

"We decided, 'Let's bring out more about someone who hasn't been shown the same kind of glory, ' " said Actavia Cardona, 17.

The result is an emotional one-act play called We Shall Overcome about three women who took a stand against segregation during a tumultuous time in American history. The Gibbs students - Cardona, Angelique Allen, 17, Siobhan Roland, 17, and Ashley Donald, 16 - will go to the National History Day competition in June after winning first place in the state for their group performance.

In researching the bus boycott, the young women learned about JoAnn Robinson, who helped propel the bus boycott after she was verbally humiliated by a bus driver in 1949. But it was the story of Claudette Colvin that fascinated them.

Colvin was just a teenager in March 1955, when she also refused to move for a white passenger - nine months before the incident that vaulted Parks to prominence.

Using genealogy resources, the students found out Colvin was still alive. With their teacher, Michelle Hoffman, they flew to New York to talk to Colvin in person.

"I think she was actually waiting for someone to tell her story, " said Allen.

Once back in St. Petersburg, their project began a metamorphosis. Instead of focusing solely on Parks, the teens decided to broaden their historical performance to include Colvin and Robinson.

Donald said she learned that some of the most influential people are overlooked in history books. "It is possible for people to be involved and be completely forgotten."

The Gibbs quartet will see some familiar faces at the national competition. Students from East Lake High in Tarpon Springs and Shorecrest Preparatory School in St. Petersburg also will compete.

"We had more winners than any other county other than Escambia, (which) has every student and teacher participate in the entire county, " said Alan Kay, Pinellas fair coordinator. Kay, a history teacher at East Lake High, will send juniors Stephanie Reisberg and Alexa Wood, who came in second place in the senior group exhibit category at the state history fair for their project on Agent Orange, the herbicide used by U.S. military forces for nearly a decade during the Vietnam War. The chemical was used to clear foliage that provided cover for enemy forces.

"I think this project has opened up history for me, " said Reisberg, 17.

Reisberg and Wood, 17, said they picked the topic because it was something that neither they nor many of their classmates had heard about.

Shorecrest students Gabe Neustadt, 16, and Brett Davidson, 13, qualified for the nationals with individual projects.

Neustadt placed second in the state for his historical paper on the Gracchi brothers, a plebeian family of ancient Rome credited as martyrs for social reform.

Davidson won first place in the state competition in the junior individual exhibit category for his project on the infamous duel between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton in 1804. Davidson interviewed Thomas Fleming, a historian and the author of Duel: Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, and the Future of America.

All of the students applied this year's theme of "Triumph and Tragedy" to their projects.

For the Gibbs students, they found tragedy in the discrimination the women faced, as well as the fact that Colvin and Robinson aren't properly recognized alongside Parks. But the students found triumph in each of the women's lives and the way they helped shape the future of the civil rights movement.

This will be the first year that Gibbs students compete at nationals, Hoffman said. "It's been an inspiring year ... which is, for me, better than a year's paycheck, " she said.

Fast Facts:

National History Day

The 2006-2007 National History Day competition will be June 10-14 at the University of Maryland in College Park. For information, visit the Web site at www.nationalhistoryday.org


 5/12/07              Review of
                                                         Fallen Founder 
                                                                          for the Aaron Burr Association                           
                                                                                                                                                          Ray Swick     Historian, West Virginia State Parks 


   Recently, the syndicated columnist, Walter Williams, wrote, "So many Americans graduate high school and college having learned what to think as opposed to acquiring the tools of critical, independent thinking. Likewise, they have learned little about our nation's history...."
     Nowhere has the Great American Public more glaringly demonstrated this shortcoming than in its attitude toward the third vice president of the United States, Aaron Burr. For two centuries, he has functioned as the Founding Fathers' black sheep.
     Lemming-like, generations of Americans ---- general readers, history buffs, students, and scholars alike ---- have trod the well-worn path first blazed by Burr's initial detractors, Jefferson and Hamilton, in labeling Burr the antithesis of American values, politically and morally.
    Thus, for many, if not for all, the popular image of Aaron Burr has descended to the 21st century as that of the traitor, one of our history's greatest villains along with Benedict Arnold, James Wilkinson, and Simon Girty.
     But now we stand very close to a momentous event in the interpretation of Burr's career. On 10 May, New York's Viking Press is scheduled to release a 544-page book entitled Fallen Founder The Life of Aaron Burr [a copy of which ABA member, Judge Brian D. Hardison, kindly supplied to the reviewer]. The author, Dr. Nancy G. Isenberg, is Co-holder of the Mary Frances Barnard Chair in 19th Century American History at the University of Tulsa. Professor Isenberg is the author of several other published books including Sex and Citizenship in Antebellum America (1998) and Mortal Remains:  Death in Early America (2002), along with a number of scholarly monographs. While these are distinguished, well-received works, it is Fallen Founder, I predict, that will set the academic community on its ear and, in the process, set its author on the path to a more celebrated fame than she hitherto has enjoyed. In the erratic course of American historiography, there occasionally arises a book that forever will remain a landmark by the very stature of its scholarly achievement. This is just such a work. In her clear, succinct, and always interesting style, Professor Isenberg brings to Burr's career a degree of justice as no researcher ever has done before.
     It is important to emphasize that all of Burr's previous biographers have been popular writers. Dr. Isenberg, evidencing on every page her formidable knowledge of the period's labyrinthine politics, is the first scholar to tackle Burr's controversial life, and she does so with zest and incomparable insight.
     In Fallen Founder, you will not find a number of the stories standard with past biographers, e.g., little boy Burr, hidden in a tree, pelting one of Uncle Timothy's visitors with cherries; there is sparse treatment of the Blennerhassetts and their exotic wilderness estate; and Theodosia's 1813 disappearance at sea occupies all of two paragraphs in the text.
     But that is okay. The omission, or minimizing, of such favorite aspects of Burr's scenario (often presented ad infinitum by past biographers) strengthens rather than weakens Professor Isenberg's book. This primarily is a political, not social, study. And here in the political sphere lies the true battlefield where Burr's detractors, both past and present, must be confronted and their accusations refuted. Here is found the core of Burr's life and the significance of his career contribution to the Early Republic.
     Dr. Isenberg explores this realm deftly. She peels back the 200-year-old layers of falsehoods, half-truths, and innuendos, sometimes coated with Victorian varnish, with the precision of a surgeon's scalpel. In doing so, she extends to our nation's third vice president an objectivity that no other scholar of the New Nation has attained.
     The intriguing question remains, will Fallen Founder be able to turn things around to foster even a partial fairer public perception of the late Colonel Burr? Perhaps, but it is a lot to ask of any single historian, even one with the brilliance of a Nancy Isenberg. There is a proverb that runs, "if you give a lie twenty-four hours start it will always keep ahead of the truth." And not only have European and American writers and their readers traditionally cherished their history myths, the fictions leveled at Burr's head have been soldered in place for two hundred years.
     Today, Thomas Jefferson's image looms majestic and awe-inspiring over our national memory:  robed in the Declaration of Independence, with the laurels of the University of Virginia perched upon his brow like a nimbus, his feet are planted firmly on his great gift to Manifest Destiny, the Louisiana Purchase. And clutched firmly in his hand is the sword  that struck down the terrible, hydra-headed plot of Aaron Burr. Like the rest of this package, the president's conspiracy-fighting image may be fated to endure inviolate in the minds of the Great American Public. With Fallen Founder, however, a new milestone has been reached. It is a triumph of the historian's art and, because of it, the history of the Early Republic can never be viewed quite the same way again.
                                                     Ray Swick
                                                     Historian, West Virginia State Parks



New Book Takes Sympathetic Look At Burr
By: James Pritchard, Associated Press

Americans these days are always learning something surprising or seemingly out of character about important figures in the early history of their country.
Like that George Washington owned slaves, hundreds of them even. Or that Benjamin Franklin may not have been much of a womanizer after all. Or that Aaron Burr was an honorable and principled man, a progressive thinker and a true patriot who fell from grace after killing a man in a duel who for years tried to sabotage his political career by maliciously spreading lies and rumors of sexual perversions about him.
With this fascinating and long-overdue portrait of the misunderstood Burr, Nancy Isenberg, a history professor at the University of Tulsa, joins the ranks of David McCullough, Joseph J. Ellis and other great modern-day biographers of our Founding Fathers. Her well-documented account of Burr's life, Fallen Founder: The Life of Aaron Burr (Viking, 544 pages, $29.95) - which contains more than 100 pages of footnotes - could have read more like a college textbook if not for her storytelling gift that humanizes Burr and effortlessly carries readers back into his world.
Isenberg captures the essence of U.S. politics in the nation's formative years, explaining how Burr nearly became president in the controversial election of 1800 but instead ended up becoming Thomas Jefferson's first vice president. It was late in his term when Burr challenged political rival Alexander Hamilton to a pistol duel after the publication of a series of insults that Hamilton, who was the nation's first treasury secretary under Washington, directed at him.
Hamilton died a day after being shot in their duel, which took place on July 11, 1804, in Weehawken, N.J. Burr was acquitted of murder charges and later of treason charges after being accused of trying to steal Louisiana Purchase lands from the U.S. government.
Many Americans know some version of Burr's downfall, and Isenberg explains that tragedy in great detail. But, just as thoroughly, she also describes his development into a flawed but compassionate and intelligent soldier, attorney and politician. Burr was ahead of his time as a supporter of the empowerment of women and a champion of the downtrodden.
Isenberg not only captures the essence of U.S. politics in the nation's critical formative years but also restores a fallen founder. AP



Attention ABA Members:  

Fallen Founder is now available for sale. Please read at your earliest convenience.  Pete






The New Aaron Burr


May 9, 2007

"It is time to start over," contends Nancy Isenberg in her iconoclastic "Fallen Founder: The Life of Aaron Burr" (Viking, 544 pages, $29.95). Burr is, of course, infamous for killing Alexander Hamilton in a duel. But historians have also branded Burr a Machiavellian villain who schemed to deny Thomas Jefferson the presidency and most likely committed treason, even though he escaped conviction.

Ms. Isenberg faults historians and biographers for not examining Burr's papers — although many were lost, thus obscuring the man, she acknowledges. In popular fiction, as well, she notes, Burr has been portrayed as a Gothic villain, highly sexed and unscrupulous, a depiction that derives from the notion expressed, for example, in the "Federalist No. 6," that "sexual corruption (i.e., seductive women) could be equated with disunion." Yet, she adds: "It should be clear that Hamilton was not one degree less libidinous than Burr:"

If one reads the newspapers, rather than simply relying on the papers of prominent founders ( Hamilton, Jefferson, Adams), it soon becomes clear that sexual satire pervaded politics. The sexualization of Aaron Burr was a means for his opponents to increase their political capital, because the vocabulary to do so was already part of the political scene — not because of Burr's particular shortcomings.

Gore Vidal made the same point in " Burr" (1973), which Ms. Isenberg briefly mentions, but she does not acknowledge that her book validates Mr. Vidal's view of a man abiding by important principles the shifty Thomas Jefferson never respected, and living by a code of honor that the scandalmongering Alexander Hamilton could not fathom. Surprisingly, Ms. Isenberg spares not a word for William Carlos Williams's essay on Burr in "In The American Grain" (1925), which portrays the fallen founder as the very feminist Ms. Isenberg lauds, a man who believed in equal rights for women and practiced his principles in regard to his wife and daughter.

A man with an excellent war record as a staff officer under Washington, attorney general of New York, then a senator, Burr received 30 electoral votes for the presidency in 1796, and tied Jefferson in 1800. Indeed, many electors favored Burr over Jefferson because Burr was a man of both action and principle. He had an admirable reputation in New York —arguing for lower and fairer taxes and various public improvements — that aroused the envy of his rival, Hamilton.


There is no evidence that Burr tried to undermine Jefferson's election — Burr was quite amenable to serving as Jefferson's vice president. But Burr did resent Hamilton's swinging his support to Jefferson in the 1800 election, and the tension between them increased when Hamilton bruited about charges that Burr was a "despicable" man and public servant. Burr demanded that Hamilton explain what he meant, and Hamilton waffled, giving his version of "it depends what you mean by sex."

Hamilton accepted Burr's challenge to a duel in New Jersey (where such affairs of honor were legal), even though Hamilton claimed he opposed dueling. Hamilton left word that he would not aim to wound his opponent. Yet, as Ms. Isenberg notes, Hamilton carefully examined the dueling ground, took up various positions to check the sun's angle, and then put on his spectacles — not exactly the behavior of a man who did not intend to shoot straight. Afterward, Gouverneur Morris, a man who was an excellent "bullshit detector" (to use Hemingway's term) doubted the veracity of Hamilton's pre-duel pacifist declaration.

While many condemned Burr — even alleging that he had somehow got the drop on Hamilton (it is not clear who shot first) — many believed he behaved like a gentleman, and his popularity soared in the South. Jefferson had no qualms about dining several times with Burr after the duel, and all charges against Burr were eventually dropped. He returned to Washington, D.C., and presided with dignity and acumen over the impeachment trial of Justice Salmon Chase, drawing praise even from his political enemies.

But Burr's political career in New York was over. As many Americans did then and since, he went west, hoping to recoup his political power, and earned the admiration of men like Andrew Jackson. Burr's enemies said he was forming an army to occupy the West and overthrow Jefferson's administration. Jefferson himself, besotted with suspicion after reading Republican newspapers and relying on doubtful intelligence, rigged a treason prosecution. Already acquitted by three grand juries, Burr faced trial in Richmond, emerging triumphant both in the jury's verdict and in Chief Justice John Marshall's judgment. At worst, Burr was guilty of a misdemeanor, for organizing a "filibuster," a private army intent on liberating Mexico from the Spanish — although no proof was ever produced that such an army actually existed.

As in Mr. Vidal's novel, Thomas Jefferson emerges in Ms. Isenberg's biography as a chief executive who never seems to have understood the crucial importance of an independent judiciary or of the rule of law. It was sufficient for him to believe the "will of the people" had turned against Burr and therefore he should be punished. Burr, for his part, submitted himself to the legal process again and again, trusting in the courts. He was a brilliant lawyer, of course, but his exoneration was no mere "technicality."

I haven't done justice to Ms. Isenberg's scrupulous handling of evidence. Her work is profoundly original, and if American historians do not "start over again," they will be doing their own profession — not to mention the history of their country — an injustice.


Reader comment on: The New Aaron Burr

Submitted by Pete Tavino, May 9, 2007 08:15


Thank you Carl Rollyson for a balanced review of this new book.

Let us recall that it was exactly two centuries ago that Burr was improperly arrested and taken to Richmond, where he had to defend himself against treason charges in the summer of 1807. To save himself from being hung, while the president's office bribed witness William Eaton with $10,000., Burr directed a spectacular defense to prove he was innocent.

The Aaron Burr Association, founded in 1946 to inform the public about the real Aaron Burr, appreciates the dissemination of all true information about The Fallen Founder. Don't hate, appreciate!






5/7/07  IVY LEAGUE
Female Ivy League presidents convene in Cambridge

By Doug Eshleman
Princetonian Staff Writer

    While half the schools in the Ivy League will soon be helmed by women, there is no single "female leadership style" for them to model their presidencies after, President Tilghman and four other future, current or former female Ivy presidents agreed during a panel discussion in Boston last Thursday.

    Convened to discuss the changing role of women in higher education, the panel brought together Tilghman, Harvard president-elect Drew Gilpin Faust, Brown president and former Princeton associate provost Ruth Simmons, Penn president and former Princeton provost Amy Gutmann and former Penn president Judith Rodin. ....

    During the discussion, the women recalled challenges they faced before rising to become Ivy League presidents, noting incidents of gender bias that they experiencedFaust's connections to Old Nassau come in her bloodline rather than her administrative experience: She counts among her ancestors the University's second and third presidents, Aaron Burr and Jonathan Edwards. Moreover, the paternal side of her family — the Gilpins — has five Princeton graduates, while her mother's side, the Slacks, has even more.




USA today  Airs on PBS, American Experience, May 14, 9-11 p.m. ET (check local listings)

Hamilton was the outsider among the Founding Fathers: born in Nevis in the Caribbean, illegitimate, orphaned early, poor, brilliant and good-looking all at once. He was a passionate abolitionist. The show uses original letters, diaries and documents.

Hamilton, the first secretary of the Treasury, set the foundation for the country's financial system. He died July 11, 1804, in a pistol duel with Vice President Aaron Burr.




A step back in time: Thomas Jefferson, Aaron Burr debate at Poplar Forest



Annie McCallum
May 6, 2007


Treason. Conspiracy. Time travel?

That’s what patrons of Poplar Forest’s eighth annual “Evening of Conversation with Mr. Jefferson” enjoyed Saturday.

It was a virtual trip back in time when Colonial Williamsburg Foundation Thomas Jefferson interpreter Bill Barker and Aaron Burr interpreter John R. Hamant squared off in a debate.

“Debate is such a harsh word,” Burr said before the event started. “We’ll simply convey our differences.”

And that they did.

President Jefferson and his former Vice President Burr discussed everything from Burr’s accusations of treason to westward expansion.

The audience was all laughs when the two discussed George Washington. Burr described him as a “Virginia bumpkin” and “a dull-witted man.” Jefferson denied Burr’s musings, especially when Burr said Washington “occasionally rose to the heights of competence.”

Jefferson responded sternly.

“I would proceed with caution Burr,” he said.

Both men also spoke frequently of Alexander Hamilton, who Burr shot fatally in a duel in 1804.

“I shall to my dying day regret the outcome, but there’s nothing I can do to change it,” Burr said.

He also made a point of saying at one time the two were friends, colleagues.

“I will not be shy in telling you at that time there were considered only two great attorneys in New York,” Burr said, citing himself and Hamilton.

Any accusations of treason during the conversation Burr shot down. It was nearly 200 years ago when Burr was about to face trial for conspiracy to break away from the United States. He maintained his innocence and showed exasperation with Jefferson for such allegations.

“Mr. President is there no end to your attacks of me,” he asked.

When the conversation yielded to audience questions, one sparked Jefferson’s attention. The question referencing Queen Elizabeth’s visit to Richmond caused Jefferson to lean forward, intently focused. The audience member asked the two men if it was a possibility for members of Great Britain’s monarchy to visit Virginia and be warmly received by Americans.

“Only if federalists have their day,” Jefferson said.

When Burr responded he said it was sad Jefferson felt that way.

“My hope is one day that a monarchy of Great Britain be received by all citizens, Federalist and Republican,” he said, later adding “Look at what Great Britain gave us.”

Burr cited laws, language and religion as the many things contributed by Great Britain.

The verbal wrangling between the two men, which lasted for about an hour and half, ended in a hand shake, smiles and ferocious applause from the audience.

The conversation was sold out, said Octavia Starbuck, director of interpretation for Poplar Forest. She said the annual event continues to be popular. At last year’s evening patrons watched Jefferson and Napoleon Bonaparte debate.




4/12/07 Announcement letter to members from President Stuart Johnson:

                        those desiring a hot full breakfast, there is a very good restaurant, Perly's, a block away.






Some very good news about Aaron Burr. This week I have had the pleasure of reading Dr. Nancy Isenburg's new book titled the Fallen Founder, The Life of Aaron Burr. As she promised me it is a very favorable book about Burr. A week ago today I was able to obtain an advance uncorrected proof of her book. The publication date is May 14, 2007. I have also sent a second copy to Dr. Ray Swick to get his professional opinion. The text is 412 pages, with more than 100 pages of well documented footnotes. She proudly claims in her preface that this is the first book written by a professional historian about Burr. She further tells the reader that everything generally known about Burr is untrue. She says that it is time to start over. In the acknowledgement of her book she recognizes both Dr. Swick and I for our minor research contributions to the book. She doesn't duck any punches and is critical of previous authors such as Ron Chernow. I highly recommend the book. If Dr. Swick and others agree with my opinion of the book I would suggest to Stuart that she be given a special invitation to attend the ABA meeting in October.
Brian D. Hardison 



3/19 hnn.us

Did Jefferson Abuse His Authority to Count Himself into the Presidency?

By Bruce Ackerman

Mr. Ackerman is Sterling professor of law and political science at Yale. He is happy to thank David Fontana, his collaborator in the discovery of the original Georgia ballot, and who was a co-author in the extensive work necessary for its full documentation and interpretation. See Bruce Ackerman & David Fontana, Thomas Jefferson Counts Himself Into the Presidency, University of Virginia Law Review, vol. 90, pp. 551-643 (2004); Bruce Ackerman & David Fontana, How Jefferson Counted Himself In, Atlantic Monthly, pp. 84-95 (March, 2004).



As sitting Vice-President, Thomas Jefferson was President of the Senate in 1801, and the Constitution assigned him the job of presiding over the final stages of the bitter presidential election of 1800. When the electoral votes came in from the states, it was up to him to open the envelopes and announce the results. There was only one problem – Jefferson himself was running for president against John Adams, and his rulings from the chair could determine whether he or Adams would be president.

Despite its potential importance, no modern scholar has studied how Jefferson exercised his powers. The Failure of the Founding Fathers provides indisputable evidence that he used his authority to count himself into the presidency.

The problem involved Georgia’s electoral vote. The original document in the National Archives violates the express terms of the Constitution. Nevertheless, Jefferson ignored these blatant constitutional defects, and counted all four of Georgia’s electoral votes into his own column. If he had excluded the ballot, he might have lost the presidency to John Adams. It’s also quite possible that Adams’s running-mate, Charles Coatesworth Pinckney, might have become the third President of the United States!

The Founders thought they needed a backstop for the Chief Executive, but they didn’t know what to do with the vice-president while the President was alive. For want of anything better, they assigned him the largely ceremonial presidency of the Senate. But this job occasionally wields real power, and the Framers failed to deal with this problem adequately. Here is all they said about the vice-president’s role in counting the electoral votes: “The President of the Senate shall, in the Presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the Certificates, and the Votes shall then be counted.”

These instructions sufficed if the vice-president did not find any problems with the electoral votes. But if he “open[ed] all the Certificates,” and discovered a serious legal difficulty, the Founders managed to have put the fox in charge of the chicken coop. The sitting vice-president is predictably a leading presidential candidate the next time around. Yet the Constitution makes him a central player in deciding whether he has beaten his rivals.

The Founders’ blunder had potentially explosive consequences in 1801, when the time came for Jefferson to open the electoral votes. In those days before the enactment of the Twelfth Amendment, electors did not cast a separate ballot for the vice-presidency. Each elector named his two top choices for the presidency, and the candidate who received the second largest vote count got the vice-presidency as a consolation prize. These rules, however, failed to anticipate the rise of the party system during the course of the 1790’s. When all the Republican electors cast their ballots for Jefferson and running-mate Aaron Burr, the two candidates found themselves tied with one another -- and in this circumstance, the Constitution forced both of them into a run-off in the House of Representatives, which would make the final choice.

Now comes the tricky part. If Jefferson and Burr won the support of a majority of the electors, they would be the only two candidates in the run-off. But if they fell short, the Constitution provided that the top five candidates enter the House run-off. Since there were 138 electors in 1800, the magic number was 70. If Jefferson and Burr fell below this threshold, they faced a House challenge from their Federalist rivals.

We can now appreciate the key role of Georgia’s four electoral votes. If Jefferson and Burr could count Georgia’s ballots in their column, they would both receive 73 electoral votes, and their Federalist competitors would be barred from the House run-off. But if Georgia were excluded, their total dropped to 69, and the two Republicans would be joined by the Federalists John Adams, Charles Coatesworth Pinckney and John Jay.

Wednesday, February 11 marked the constitutional moment of truth. Jefferson presided over the vote counting ritual in the midst of a snowstorm so severe that congressmen could barely make their way to the half-built Capitol to hear the result. As each state was called, Jefferson opened the envelope, and passed it to the Senator and two Representatives who served as tellers. Here is what Jefferson saw when Georgia’s turn came:

From the National Archives

Although the Constitution is a famously short document, it devotes an entire sentence to defining a legally valid presidential ballot, requiring electors to “make a List of all the Persons voted for, and of the Number of Votes for each; which List they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the Seat of the Government.” Although the Georgians prepared a “list,” nothing identifies Jefferson and Burr as “the Persons voted for.” Indeed, it isn’t even clear that the Georgia document is an electoral vote at all, let alone one that has been “signed” and “certified” as such.

Nevertheless, Jefferson counted it, without giving Congress a chance to consider or overrule his decision. Before condemning him, consider the consequences if he had allowed Congress to intervene. Since there were Federalist majorities in


    This is an automated e-mail from heraldsun.com. Lyman Coddington has asked us to send you the following article, which can also be found online at: http://www.heraldsun.com/durham/4-825898.cfm.

Lyman Coddington also added these comments:
In case you don't get this via Google


Another Burr in Washington after 200 years
March 4, 2007

By Rebecca U. Cho, The Herald-Sun
Brilliant politician. Murderer. Traitor. Misunderstood hero.    

The name of Aaron Burr has sparked different reactions since the Revolutionary Era vice president infamously killed his political rival, Alexander Hamilton, in a duel.    

But to Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., the name holds special significance. As a distant cousin of Aaron Burr, who also served as a U.S. senator, Richard Burr is the first Burr since his predecessor to enter national politics.   

"It might have taken 200 years for another one to do it, but it's happened," the senator said in an interview last week.   

This year marks the bicentennial of Aaron Burr's arrest and trial for treason in 1807.   

While vice president under President Thomas Jefferson, Aaron Burr fatally wounded Hamilton in 1804 and was indicted for murder. After resigning as vice president, he journeyed west, where his activities led to the suspicion that Burr was building his own empire.    

The trial began on May 22, 1807, and Burr eventually was acquitted of the charge of treason.    

Stuart Johnson, a Washington public defender and president of the Aaron Burr Association, said the Revolutionary War figure was a hard-working patriot who often has been misunderstood.   

"Everyone knows why he had to challenge Hamilton -- Hamilton spent 15 years trying to ruin his career," Johnson said.    

Johnson also said the association believes Aaron Burr was trying to establish a slave-free territory during his western adventures.   

Before the duel that ruined his political career, Aaron Burr was considered a national hero for his actions during the Revolutionary War and eventually became a powerful New York legislator who became instrumental in Jefferson's election to the presidency.    

Richard Burr's interest in national politics may have been inherited from their ancestor, said the senator's father, David Burr, who once served as president of the Aaron Burr Association.   

Both were "interested in the building up of our nation," David Burr said.   

But while growing up, Richard Burr said, he never aspired to follow in Aaron Burr's footsteps.   

"[I had] no dream, no desire, to run for public office," he said.   

After changing his mind and after winning a Senate seat in 2004, Burr mistakenly told the National Review magazine that he was the direct descendant of Aaron Burr's brother.    

"I grew up believing [this] only to find out that Aaron Burr had no brother," he said.   

He said his staff discovered soon after he became senator in 2005 that he is a distant cousin of Aaron Burr. The controversial ancestor has no direct descendants.   

Richard Burr isn't the only U.S. legislator to have forebears from the American Revolution.    

Rep. Howard Coble, R-N.C., and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., among others, can claim ancestors involved in fighting for U.S. independence from Great Britain, said Bill Allerton of the Sons of the American Revolution, a Washington-based nonprofit that seeks to educate the public about the era.   

But none of them can claim ancestry from any figure of Aaron Burr's prominence.    

"Our independence was won in many ways," Allerton said. "Not everyone fought the revolution with quill pens and eloquence. Most fought with muskets."   

Richard Burr said he feels a responsibility to continue his ancestor's example of patriotism and dedication to the nation.   

"I look at this opportunity as a continuation of service of a family not dissimilar to those who have large uninterrupted periods like the Kennedys," he said.   

As for how much desire he has for following his predecessor's example by vying for the vice presidency, Richard Burr answered with a laugh and an immediate, "None."

    COPYRIGHT 2007 by The Durham Herald Company. All rights reserved.


Now on hand 100 more copies of "Conspiracy" with revised cover piece and bibliography added in case you know of members who were not able to obtain copies at our Phila. meeting. As before, let me know how many you want and please send check for $25 payable Aaron Burr Association mailable to Stuart F Johnson.

   Also glad to inform that close to final draft of total revision of the Morely Thompson play "Trial for Treason" that was acted in the State House in Richmond at the ABA meeting 5+ years ago. Lyman Coddington has been working on this with me; it is more dramatic and introduces new material and players. Hope it can be staged at meeting in Oct., although there are problems with lodgings in Richmond that Stuart is working on.





The Mosaic Whispers are: Aaron Burr, Emma Cardeli, Tudor Foote, Jennifer Gross, Jon Kleiman, Aaron Lewis, Julia Mancini, Matt Nelson, Nick Pizzoferrato, John Michael Rotello, Ilana Schwartz, Katie Sullivan, Ariel Wentworth, and Reynolds Whalen    wustl.edu



Background actors are sought for the HBO mini-series "John Adams". HBO and Playtone, Tom Hanks’ production company,
are producing the mini-series, based on the biography of John Adams by David McCullough. Kirk Ellis adapted the book for
the seven episode series. Paul Giamatti will star as the second President of the United States, and Laura Linney will play Adams’
wife, Abigail. The story, which spans 5 decades, focuses on Adams’ personal life as well as his political career.

The Casting Director is seeking men, women and children of all ages and ethnicities. Emphasis is being placed on finding people
with long hair, clean-shaven faces, women with natural eyebrows and hair color, very thin men, women and boys, and faces with
character. Also being sought are men and boys with military reenactment skills from the Revolutionary War era. Those with special
skills from the time period are also encouraged to attend. All performers will be paid. Shooting begins in mid-February, and is scheduled
to end in May in the Richmond area.

You can submit a headshot and resume to:
Braintree Productions
Background Casting, John Adams
8080 AMF Drive
Mechanicsville, VA 23111

Do not submit to the Production Office in person or call the Production Office.


Thanks Waletta for alerting us to this!  2/22/07



Bicentennial of Aaron Burr's capture near McIntosh approaching
By Ellen Williams SA Correspondent

Oil painting of Aaron Burr

Two hundred years ago, Washington County was one of the few places with a cluster of white settlers in the giant wilderness the federal government called the Mississippi Territory. Two men, Nicholas Perkins, a federal land agent, and Thomas Malone, were playing backgammon by the light of the fire in a cabin in a town called Wakefield. Wakefield was approximately 15 miles south of St. Stephens in the Sunflower Bend of the Tombigbee River, near the present day town of McIntosh. It was midnight, Feb. 18, 1807.


The backgammon play was interrupted by two men on horseback, one of whom rode on by; the other stopped to ask directions to Colonel John Hinson's home. Perkins became suspicious of the two riders and awoke Sheriff Theodore Brightwell and the two of them followed the riders to the Hinson place. Though one of the men kept avoiding looking Perkins in the face, Perkins finally got a look at his eyes. Those famous black eyes, "sparkled like diamonds. I became very confident that this man was Colonel Burr," Perkins later wrote.

Thus, events were set into motion which would lead to the arrest of Aaron Burr, right here in Washington County. Burr was the third vice president of the United States under Thomas Jefferson. Burr is most remembered for what he might have done. He might have conspired to cut the country in two. Burr also killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel. And for these two accomplishments, one a fact, the other a conjecture, Burr's legacy is riddled with never-to-be-answered questions.


This old tin sign that marks the spot of the Burr capture is so old the tree it is nailed to has grown around it.

Though Burr has been the subject of many books and much research, and appears as a character in 44 novels and short stories, as well as 33 plays, the truth about our third vice-president, a colonel in George Washington's Colonial Army, a U.S. Senator, and the attorney general of New York; the man who killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel, remains obscure down to this day. Few figures in American history have been as vilified, or romanticized by modern writers.


Aaron Burr made his debut on the political scene in 1789 when Gov. George Clinton appointed him New York's attorney general. He later won a seat to the U.S. senate by defeating Philip Schuyler. Alexander Hamilton was the son-in-law of Philip Schuyler and henceforward held a grudge against Burr for his defeating his father-in-law.


This monument was erected in 1995 at the spot of the Burr's capture.

In the senate, Burr sided with forces who opposed Hamilton's financial system. Bad blood was further aroused between Burr and Hamilton when Burr made public a document authored by Hamilton which was highly critical of the conduct and character of John Adams, president of the United States. Hamilton intended the document only for private circulation and its publication proved highly embarrassing to Hamilton, thereby increasing the rancor between the two men.


When Aaron Burr ran for governor of New York in 1804, Alexander Hamilton strongly opposed him, attempting to galvanize the Federalist vote against Burr. And then there was the matter of an exclusive dinner party for the politically and socially elite of New York. Aaron Burr was not present. Alexander Hamilton rose and spoke forcefully and eloquently against Burr. Burr felt that Hamilton had "insulted" him. Burr demanded an apology; Hamilton refused. Therefore, Burr demanded satisfaction on the "field of honor," a duel.

On the Dueling Grounds at Weehawken, N.J. on July 11, 1804, the two antagonists met to settle their long-festering contempt for one another. When their seconds could not settle the rift by negotiation, Burr and Hamilton stepped off their paces. Each held a .56 caliber dueling pistol. After each got off his one shot, Burr walked away unscathed; Alexander Hamilton, whose photograph appears on the $10 bill, died the next day from his wounds.

After his arrest at Wakefield, present day Washington County, Burr was taken to Fort Stoddard (near Mt. Vernon) and then to Richmond where he was tried for treason and high misdemeanor before the eminent jurist, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Jay. According to the government, Burr's treason consisted of an attempt to separate the western half of the United States from the eastern half. Burr's defense council was none other than Henry Clay.

The misdemeanor was that Burr had supposedly violated a federal statute forbidding military action against nations with whom the United States was at peace. He had raised an army supposedly for the purpose of attacking an area under the control of Spain in the Western Hemisphere. Because the government could pro- in the Western Hemisphere. Because the government could produce no witnesses who could testify to Burr's use of "actual force or violence" waged against the government, he was acquitted. However, the press of the time believed him guilty and never stopped saying that.

Burr himself said, "I have no wish to attempt a separation of the Union, and I have no connection with any foreign power or government." To his counsel, Henry Clay, Burr wrote, "I have no design, nor have I taken any measures to promote a dissolution of the Union."

Burr lived to see the beginning of the Texas Revolution, a revolution which he might have led 30 years earlier, had events unfolded differently. "There! You see? I was right," he exclaimed to a friend in 1836. "What was treason to me 30 years ago is patriotism today!"

On Nov. 13, 1987, Sen. Robert Byrd making an address on the life and career of the controversial vice president, said, "There is much that we will never know about the man." Much of Burr's early correspondence, entrusted to his daughter for safekeeping, was lost in 1812 when the ship carrying Theodosius Burr Alston from South Carolina to New York disappeared off the North Carolina coast.

Though found innocent, Burr's capture and subsequent trial for treason ended his influence in American politics. He lived a long life, dying on Sept. 14, 1836. In one of those ironic twists of history, the beginning of the end of Aaron Burr's national influence occurred here in Washington County near a place called Wakefield and today called McIntosh.

Down an old road constructed many years ago by CCC workers, the "marshy spot" where Aaron Burr was arrested on Feb. 19, 1807, is marked by an illegible tin sign, so old that the tree that holds it, is growing around it; and a granite marker, placed by the Slade Family in 1995.

(Sources: Alabama Heritage; Winter, 2007. Aaron Burr, by Milton Lomask. Vice-Presidents of the United States ^1789-1993, by Mark O. Hatfield)







In 1473, Nicolaus Copernicus, the father of modern astronomy, was born in Torun, a city in north-central Poland. In 1807, Aaron Burr, a former U.S. vice president, was arrested in Alabama on charges of plotting to annex Spanish territory in Louisiana and Mexico to be used toward the establishment of an independent republic.


Not February 19?


Harvard's head, a child of Princeton

By Kate Benner
Princetonian Staff Writer  2/13/07

    Drew Gilpin Faust, who was confirmed as Harvard's new leader on Sunday, has another presidential connection in the Ivy League: she's descended from two past presidents of Princeton.

    Among her ancestors, Faust counts the University's second president, Aaron Burr, Sr., and Jonathan Edwards, the University's third president.

    They are far from the only Tigers in Faust's family tree. More recent Princetonian family members include her father, M. Tyson Gilpin '42, and two brothers, M. Tyson Gilpin Jr. '65 and Donald Gilpin '73. Her uncle, Kenneth Gilpin Jr. '44, and cousin, Thomas Gilpin '75, also graduated from the University.

    And that's just on her father's side. Her mother's family, the Slacks, includes several other Princeton alumni.

    Faust applied to college in the mid-1960s, before Princeton accepted its first female undergraduates.

    "She grew up in such a Princeton tradition that I think she was glad to get away from it," her brother Tyson said in an interview. She graduated from the all-female Bryn Mawr College in 1968 and earned her doctorate in American civilization at Penn in 1975.

    Afterwards, Faust taught at Penn for more than two decades, until being hired as dean of Harvard's Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.

Response by email:

Regarding 'Harvard's head, a child of Princeton' (Tuesday, February 13, 2007):

Aaron Burr Sr. had no surviving descendents.
Aaron Jr. and Sally's children, and Aaron's grandson all deceased at an early age.

A Historic Moment if Cheney Testifies Live, as Expected                NYTimes

WASHINGTON, Feb. 11 — If he testifies as expected, Dick Cheney would be the first sitting vice president, at least in modern times, to appear as a witness in a criminal trial. And if he testifies in court, he may also be the first to give live testimony in defense of a subordinate’s actions on his behalf, legal historians said.


Even so, presidents and vice presidents have found themselves caught up in politically volatile inquiries. A few vice presidents were themselves the subjects of criminal proceedings, like Aaron Burr, who was tried for treason and acquitted in 1807 after he left office, and Spiro Agnew, who resigned in 1973 and pleaded no contest to tax and money laundering charges.

In more recent times, presidents and vice presidents have more frequently been questioned as witnesses, usually in private. But even an interview behind closed doors can prove embarrassing, as when a Congressional committee released President Bill Clinton’s videotaped deposition in 1998 to an independent prosecutor in the investigation of his involvement with Monica Lewinsky, a White House intern.

Vice President Al Gore was questioned in 2000 by Justice Department prosecutors in a campaign finance investigation, and when he was vice president in 1988, George H. W. Bush was interviewed by an independent prosecutor in the Iran-contra investigation. Those interviews were not made public and never forced either Mr. Gore or Mr. Bush to appear in court.

But no sitting vice president has testified in a criminal trial in recent times, said Joel K. Goldstein, a professor at the St. Louis University law school who has studied the vice presidency. Mr. Reagan was the last president to appear as a witness....





(Burr Gymnasium at Delaware College)




So long, truthiness: Middlebury bans Wikipedia in the classroom


Matt Skibinksi

Issue date: 2/9/07 Section: Features


It is 1804, and Secretary of Treasury Alexander Hamilton is lying on the ground near a riverbank, wounded and helpless. Towering above Hamilton with a pistol in his hand is Vice President Aaron Burr, his index finger resting on the gun's metallic trigger. From somewhere to the side, a man named Benjamin Franklin says the only two words of encouragement Burr needs to hear: "Finish him."

That's the story Wikipedia.org told when Assistant Professor of History Benjamin Carp looked up the famous duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr last week.

"It helps to know that Franklin was dead by that time, so it would have been an impossible situation," Carp said.

The entry, which has since been changed, is just one of many inaccuracies that recently spurred the history department at Middlebury College to institute a ban on the citation of Wikipedia entries in academic papers, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education. Though professors at Middlebury say the ban is necessary to hold students accountable for the accuracy of their information, reactions in the Tufts history department are mixed.

According to Carp, while he personally doesn't allow students to use Wikipedia, he doesn't support banning it completely.

"A blanket ban doesn't really make sense, because students are going to look at it anyway," Carp said. "In accordance with plagiarism rules, you have to say....





Historic resort's renovation could be boon to Bedford County

By Robin Acton
Sunday, February 4, 2007 


BEDFORD -- For years, Bill Defibaugh has been squirreling away the best of Bedford Springs Resort.

At auctions and sales, he bought guest ledgers, photographs and corner cupboards. He gathered wooden chests, grandfather clocks, stoves and glass bottles until he filled his homes with treasures from Bedford County's aging grande dame.

Some pieces were valuable 18th-century antiques; others were basic tools of the hotel trade. But it all has historic significance to Defibaugh, whose family has been involved in the resort since Dr. John Anderson bought the land in 1796.

"I was nuts for Bedford Springs," said Defibaugh, an architect and historian. "I was able to acquire a lot of history. It's all going back in."

Sleeping beauty

Shuttered for more than two decades, Bedford Springs Resort will reopen this summer -- refreshed and restored to its former grandeur and beyond -- upon completion of a $108 million historic renovation and expansion.

The 216-room ......


Glory days

Attention to historic detail is critical to the renovation, according to Todd Gillespie, director of sales and marketing for the resort.

"Six months ago, this place was dilapidated. When it is finished, it will be a total historic renovation," Gillespie said.

Defibaugh, founder of the Bedford Springs Historical Society, is the resort's historian.

His great-great-grandfather hauled stones when the hotel was built, and other ancestors worked there as blacksmiths and woodchoppers. And now, he's working with the interior designers on placement of furniture and artifacts, including pieces from his private collection that he sold back to the resort at cost.

Photos and ledgers will be used for research, Defibaugh said, adding that the historical society will have an office on the property.

"If you look at the ledgers, you see the names of presidents. And when you walk into the place, it gives you a sense of history," he said.

In 1804, eight years after he bought the property, Anderson opened the 24-room Bedford Springs Hotel, where Aaron Burr and his grandson were among the first guests. Anderson used the therapeutic waters of the mineral springs to market the hotel to the social elite, and, by 1842, the hotel had achieved luxury-resort status.

Bedford Springs was used as the summer residence for Pennsylvania's only president, James Buchanan, .....





February 1, 2007 -- Meet Maureen and George - and if their saga of sex and politics reminds you of the Jeanine-and-Al soap opera, remember it's only fiction.

Next Tuesday's episode of "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" features the "Pagolises" - doppelgangers of the ex-Westchester DA Pirro and her wayward hubby in all their ripped-from-the-headlines glory.

The show is a real doozy, featuring wiretaps, adultery and bald political ambition.

The episode is titled "Albatross" - a nod to The Post headline used to describe Al Pirro's drag on Jeanine's career.

Of course, the TV version jazzes up the story even more - it includes the murder of a distinguished judge and a mystery left to Detectives Eames (Kathryn Erbe) and Goren (Vincent D'Onofrio) to unravel.

Veteran Broadway actress Donna Murphy plays Maureen Pagolis, an elegant, well-coiffed politico gunning to become the first female mayor of New York City.

Her plans are derailed when her adulterous contractor-husband George (played with oily smarm by Xander Berkeley) is involved in a fatal shooting during a historical re-enactment of the Alexander Hamilton-Aaron Burr duel.

Maureen, of course, stands by her man, even though it's yet another in a long line of humiliations George has inflicted on his loyal wife.

Maureen, it turns out, has been spying on George - bugging their house, his office, his car and even his pens.

In real life, Jeanine admitted to being investigated for discussions she had about the possibility of bugging Al's boat when she suspected him of having an affair.



In shadow of Wall Street, descendants mark Alexander Hamilton's birthday

NEW YORK: If there is such a thing as immortality, it may be having people gather to celebrate your 250th birthday.

Alexander Hamilton met that standard Thursday, as a group of descendants and admirers marked the anniversary of his birth in 1757.

Hamilton played what historians recognize as perhaps the most varied — yet vital — role of any of the founders of American democracy. He set up the financial system for trading securities and, as the first U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, created the banking system, customs and the Coast Guard to protect commerce.

He also helped lead the fight for ratification of the U.S. Constitution, and wrote most of the "Federalist papers" — tracts later published in New York newspapers to win public support for the Bill of Rights.

But historians believe his most important contributions were with the treasury, issuing national currency, establishing credit in domestic and foreign financial circles and spurring a functioning economy in the struggling new nation.

"In today's world where things change real fast, people love to go back and say, 'What would the forefathers do?' and the one they go to most is Alexander Hamilton," said Douglas Hamilton, one of a dozen or so seventh-generation direct descendants attending the ceremony.

The setting for the birthday event was the New York churchyard where Hamilton was buried after being killed in a duel with Vice President Aaron Burr in 1804, in the shadow of Wall Street towers that symbolize Hamilton's role as the Founding Father who best understood high finance.

Wreaths were laid and the Rev. Anne Mallonee, the vicar of historic Trinity Church, offered a prayer in memory of the Caribbean immigrant who, among other achievements, is featured on the $10 (€7.7) bill — an honor briefly imperiled a few years ago by a lobbying campaign to replace him with Ronald Reagan.

"For a long time he never got any credit for doing anything, but I think in the last couple of years his popularity has increased significantly," Douglas Hamilton said. "He wrote more than the other founders, so they are not referenced as much. He had an opinion and was not afraid to state it — on almost anything."

Alexander Hamilton was born in the Caribbean island of Nevis, which ruled out his ever becoming President of the United States.

In the early days of the American Revolution, he became Gen. George Washington's most trusted personal aide. He served in the Continental Congress after the war.

Hamilton had sharp differences with several Founding Fathers, including Burr.

Their mutual hostility led to a duel with pistols on July 11, 1804, in which Burr fatally wounded Hamilton. Hamilton died the next day, saying he forgave Burr for "all that happened."

The Hamilton history revival got a boost of sorts with a 2004 reenactment of the duel.


Alexander Hamilton To Be Celebrated on His 250th Birthday

Special to the Sun
January 10, 2007

Heuichul Kim

Descendants of Alexander Hamilton, as well as an ambassador, historians, and grateful Wall Street executives, will gather around his grave in the Trinity Churchyard tomorrow, to begin a series of events to commemorate the 250th birthday.


Before the Long-Term Capital Management collapse nearly paralyzed the world's capital markets, and before the stock market crashes of 1987 and 1929, there was America's first widespread financial crisis: the Panic of 1792.

Today it's a little-known footnote to American financial history. But if it weren't for the quick thinking of a New Yorker named Alexander Hamilton, and his actions as America's first central banker, the events surrounding Wall Street's first bona fide crash could have meant doom for the struggling, cash-strapped republic.

Descendants of Hamilton, as well as an ambassador, historians, and grateful Wall Street executives, will gather around his grave in the Trinity Churchyard at Broadway and Wall Street tomorrow at 3 p.m. to begin a series of events to commemorate the 250th birthday of the most financially savvy of the Founding Fathers.

"His was a rare financial mind," the Henry Kaufman professor of financial institutions and markets at New York University's Stern School of Business, Richard Sylla, said. "In the early 1790s, five securities were listed in the newspapers as the main items traded: three U.S. Treasury bonds, the stock of the Bank of New York, and the stock of the Bank of the United States. All five were creations of Hamilton."

Although Americans say they think like Jeffersonians, they live like Hamiltonians, pundits say. It was this immigrant, from the Caribbean island of St. Kitts and Nevis, who was prescient enough to establish a strong monetary system, which funded American growth and expansion throughout the 19th century and beyond.

"We like Jefferson for saying ‘all men are created equal,'" Mr. Sylla said. "But he owned 200 slaves and did a lot to perpetuate slavery as a strong proponent of states' rights over federal authority. Hamilton detested slavery and even argued — as no other great American leader did for a century or more — that blacks were every bit as talented as whites, but had been ground down by slavery."

Hamilton undoubtedly would be pleased with this week's observances, which include a post-cemetery symposium with Mr. Sylla at the new, permanent exhibition on the Hamilton's life and legacy at the Museum of American Finance at 48 Wall St., the same address where he founded the Bank of New York in 1784.

In July 2004, history buffs were concentrating on the re-enactments of the fatal duel 200 years before between Hamilton and Aaron Burr, then vice president. (Burr was a better shot, apparently, than the current vice president.) And just a month earlier, some lawmakers were proposing that Hamilton's image on the $10 bill be replaced with President Reagan's.

"There was such an uproar in the country that I don't think that issue will ever be raised again," the founder of the Friends of Alexander Hamilton & Descendants Committee, Ron Gross, said.

Mr. Gross, a native of Paterson, N.J. (a town — you guessed it — founded by Hamilton in 1792), formed his association during 2004 re-enactment festivities in New Jersey and related events at Hamilton's Harlem Heights home.

This time around, Mr. Gross credits the scale of the 250th birthday celebration with a note he received from the ambassador of St. Kitts and Nevis to America, Izben Williams, which questioned to what extent New Yorkers were going to acknowledge the big day of the island's native son.

Mr. Gross is a member of Trinity Church, the Episcopal church at the head of Wall Street to which Hamilton also belonged — and in whose churchyard he was buried following the duel with Burr.

When Mr. Gross and church officials began discussing plans for a ceremony at Hamilton's grave, they learned that the nearby Museum of American Finance would be holding a series of events later tomorrow evening that cast more attention on Hamilton's role as a sophisticated financier, and less on the duel that ended his life at age 47.

The Stern School's Mr. Sylla chose to concentrate his presentation at tomorrow evening's festivities on Hamilton's role as a central banker and "crisis manager," especially as it relates to the 1792 crash.

" America is the wealthiest society in world history, with a strong central government, but one kept under control by numerous checks and balances, and with a strong military, and the largest and most innovative financial system in the world," Mr. Sylla said. "You would have to say that we live in a country more Hamiltonian than any other label we might put on it."



Arts and Letters

The Man Who Gave New York Its (K)nicknames


January 8, 2007 NY Sun



The 20th century was not especially kind to Washington Irving, whose satirical humor once earned him worldwide acclaim. The darker visions of Melville, Hawthorne and Poe now loom larger in the American literary pantheon. Although Governor Spitzer referred to Rip Van Winkle in his inaugural speech last week, only about a third of the university-educated born after the 1960s can identify the character who slept 20 years on a hill overlooking the Hudson.

In "The Original Knickerbocker" (Basic Books, 346 pages, $26.95), Andrew Burstein has awakened Irving's legacy from slumber to reach a new generation of readers. How great was Irving's contribution? A creator of a particular national literature is .....




[Continued from page 1 of 2]

The author of previous biographies of Andrew Jackson and Thomas Jefferson, Mr. Burstein combines masterful descriptions of Irving's political background (he was a supporter of Aaron Burr), lucid analyses of literary characters (Rip and Huck Finn are industrious America's "innocent mischief makers, lost souls"), and discussions of publishing history.




Aaron Burr Link from NY Sun article above leads to this 1990 article:

American Heritage Magazine December 1990    Volume 41, Issue 8
Cover Story



The question we asked this year of the members of the Society of American Historians, and several other scholars, was simple: What is the one mystery in United States history you would like to see resolved? And what do you imagine is a plausible solution?

To encourage their responses, we added that the missing minutes of the Nixon tapes was an obvious example of what we had in mind. And what Aaron Burr was up to was another. But we were sure there were many other mysteries from all eras of our past—ones that involved people, events, and social and economic patterns. Finally, to forestall any objections that considerations of this kind might be seen as trivial, we quoted the words of that wonderful seventeenth-century philosopher Thomas Browne: “What song the sirens sang, or what name Achilles assumed when he hid himself among women, though puzzling questions, are not beyond all conjecture.…”



Posted on Sun, Jan. 07, 2007


Historic island keeps its distance from the mainland

St. Simons, the biggest of Georgia's Golden Isles, has a storied history.

OFFSHORE ENCLAVE: Popular Coast Guard Beach and other beaches on St. Simon help to make Georgia's barrier islands among the Atlantic coast's most popular vacation spots.
OFFSHORE ENCLAVE: Popular Coast Guard Beach and other beaches on St. Simon help to make Georgia's barrier islands among the Atlantic coast's most popular vacation spots.

This is an island, and those who live here like that separation.

''People here want to divorce themselves from the mainland,'' says Tom Clavin, a retiree who volunteers at the Lighthouse Museum.

Not that islanders are snooty. It's more like the mainland city of Brunswick is big and ordinary, while St. Simons is small and selective.

Indeed, St. Simons is a world unto itself.

It sits amid what Georgia calls its Golden Isles -- the barrier islands of St. Simons, Little St. Simons, Jekyll and Sea Island. They are among the Atlantic coast's most popular vacation sites.

St. Simons, the biggest of the islands, has several miles of public beach, a compact downtown and more than 1,200 guest rooms in resorts, motels, cottages and bed-and- breakfast inns. Million-dollar mansions look out on the marshes of Glynn, the vast fen immortalized by poet Sidney Lanier, and the island's storied history fascinates both islanders and their guests.

The ruins of Fort Frederica, established by British Gen. James Oglethorpe in 1736 and now a national monument, stand beside the Frederica River. John Wesley, founder of the Methodist church, preached at Christ Church in the 18th century. Vice President Aaron Burr hid at Hampton Plantation here in 1804 after he killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel. Planks milled from the island's live oaks were used to build America's famed Revolutionary War ship Old Ironsides...



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