Contents and Arrangement Expanded View

Collection Overview

Creator:
Burr, Aaron, 1756-1836
Title:
C. P. G. Fuller Collection of Aaron Burr
Repository:
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
http://arks.princeton.edu/ark:/88435/sf268510w
Dates:
1771-1851 (mostly 1778-1834)
Size:
3 boxes
Storage Note:
Firestone Library (mss): Box 1-3
Language:
English

Abstract

The collection consists of correspondence and documents collected by C. P. G. Fuller relating to Aaron Burr (1756-1836), vice president of the United States under Jefferson.

Collection Description & Creator Information

Description:

Consists of Burr (Class of 1772) correspondence and documents, collected by C. P. G. Fuller. Included are papers relating to the case of the Bank of the United States vs. Aaron Burr and John Nicholson, other court cases of Burr, and letters from his friends and comrades during the Revolution as well as persons involved in the famous duel between Burr and Hamilton. Among the correspondents are Burr's daughter, Theodosia Burr Alston, Nicholas Biddle, Henry Clay, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Marshall, John Vanderlyn, William Peter Van Ness, George Washington, and James Wilkinson. Specific items include the coroner's report regarding the duel, a letter recommending Burr as a presidential candidate, and General Schuyler's letter to his daughter upon the death of her husband, Alexander Hamilton.

Collection Creator Biography:

Aaron Burr was born in Newark, New Jersey on February 6, 1756, to Aaron Burr, a theologian and second president of the College of New Jersey, and Esther Edwards Burr, daughter of famous revivalist pastor and theologian Jonathan Edwards. The younger Burr's parents died before he was three, and he was raised by his maternal uncle, Timothy Edwards. Burr entered the College of New Jersey at age thirteen, and graduated in 1772 with distinction. After graduation, he studied theology privately before switching his concentration to law.

Burr interrupted his studies when he enlisted in the American army attacking Boston in 1775. He rose quickly through the ranks because of his skills on the battlefield, but did not get along well with George Washington. Although promoted to Washington's secretarial staff, Burr transferred to the staff of Washington's second-in-command, Israel Putnam, to avoid conflicts with the general. Burr was successful under Putnam, valiantly leading troops in combat and securing important camps, such as in Brooklyn Heights and later at the battle of Monmouth Courthouse in New Jersey in 1778.

Burr resigned from the army in 1779 due to poor health, which was aggravated by the high temperatures and humidity at Monmouth. He continued to study law after leaving the army and recovering from illness, and became a member of the bar of New York in 1782. He married Theodosia Prevost in the same year, with whom he had one child, Theodosia Burr. Professionally, Burr entered a rivalry with Alexander Hamilton, another prominent lawyer in New York.

Burr began his political career in 1784 when he was elected to the state assembly. He continued in politics to serve in the United States Senate and ultimately as Vice President of the United States under Jefferson. He was a controversial character in Albany and Washington D.C., not siding clearly with any single faction and repeatedly being accused of self-interested legislation, political conspiracy, and generally unfair and dishonest practices, some of which can be confirmed. Burr's political career was thus tumultuous and he found himself regularly in and out of favor with the ruling powers. He ultimately lost his second candidacy for Vice President when he alienated Republican leadership with sympathies for the Federalists. In the same year, he lost a bid for the governorship of New York.

Burr blamed much of his political downfall on Alexander Hamilton and his compatriots. After failing to force Hamilton to apologize for statements made against Burr in the gubernatorial race, Burr challenged Hamilton to a duel. When Burr killed the prominent politician, popular opinion cast him as a cold-blooded murderer, and warrants were put out for his arrest in New York and New Jersey. Burr fled to Philadelphia and then the South to escape capture.

On these travels, Burr began dreaming of a new nation formed in the Southwest. Burr believed that conflict between Americans and the Spanish could encourage an occupation of Mexico, allowing a new nation to form. One of his allies in these plans, however, revealed the scheme to President Jefferson, and Burr was indicted for treason. He was acquitted by John Marshall, whose narrow interpretation of the Constitution's definition of treason was influenced by the justice's dislike of and disagreements with Jefferson.

In Burr's later life, he lived abroad, attempting to gain support for his plan for a new nation in the Southwest. Upon returning to the United states in 1812, he began again to practice law in New York. He remarried to a wealthy widow, who divorced him for adultery. He died on September 14, 1836, the same day the divorce was granted.


Burr, Aaron, 1756-1836

Aaron Burr was born in Newark, New Jersey on February 6, 1756, to Aaron Burr, a theologian and second president of the College of New Jersey, and Esther Edwards Burr, daughter of famous revivalist pastor and theologian Jonathan Edwards. The younger Burr's parents died before he was three, and he was raised by his maternal uncle, Timothy Edwards. Burr entered the College of New Jersey at age thirteen, and graduated in 1772 with distinction. After graduation, he studied theology privately before switching his concentration to law. Burr interrupted his studies when he enlisted in the American army attacking Boston in 1775. He rose quickly through the ranks because of his skills on the battlefield, but did not get along well with George Washington. Although promoted to Washington's secretarial staff, Burr transferred to the staff of Washington's second-in-command, Israel Putnam, to avoid conflicts with the general. Burr was successful under Putnam, valiantly leading troops in combat and securing important camps, such as in Brooklyn Heights and later at the battle of Monmouth Courthouse in New Jersey in 1778. Burr resigned from the army in 1779 due to poor health, which was aggravated by the high temperatures and humidity at Monmouth. He continued to study law after leaving the army and recovering from illness, and became a member of the bar of New York in 1782. He married Theodosia Prevost in the same year, with whom he had one child, Theodosia Burr. Professionally, Burr entered a rivalry with Alexander Hamilton, another prominent lawyer in New York. Burr began his political career in 1784 when he was elected to the state assembly. He continued in politics to serve in the United States Senate and ultimately as Vice President of the United States under Jefferson. He was a controversial character in Albany and Washington D.C., not siding clearly with any single faction and repeatedly being accused of self-interested legislation, political conspiracy, and generally unfair and dishonest practices, some of which can be confirmed. Burr's political career was thus tumultuous and he found himself regularly in and out of favor with the ruling powers. He ultimately lost his second candidacy for Vice President when he alienated Republican leadership with sympathies for the Federalists. In the same year, he lost a bid for the governorship of New York. Burr blamed much of his political downfall on Alexander Hamilton and his compatriots. After failing to force Hamilton to apologize for statements made against Burr in the gubernatorial race, Burr challenged Hamilton to a duel. When Burr killed the prominent politician, popular opinion cast him as a cold-blooded murderer, and warrants were put out for his arrest in New York and New Jersey. Burr fled to Philadelphia and then the South to escape capture. On these travels, Burr began dreaming of a new nation formed in the Southwest. Burr believed that conflict between Americans and the Spanish could encourage an occupation of Mexico, allowing a new nation to form. One of his allies in these plans, however, revealed the scheme to President Jefferson, and Burr was indicted for treason. He was acquitted by John Marshall, whose narrow interpretation of the Constitution's definition of treason was influenced by the justice's dislike of and disagreements with Jefferson. In Burr's later life, he lived abroad, attempting to gain support for his plan for a new nation in the Southwest. Upon returning to the United states in 1812, he began again to practice law in New York. He remarried to a wealthy widow, who divorced him for adultery. He died on September 14, 1836, the same day the divorce was granted.

Collection History

Acquisition:

Purchased from Nora C. Fuller on December 13, 1956 AM 15744.

Archival Appraisal Information:

No appraisal information is available.

Processing Information:

This collection was processed by Anna Bialek in July 2005. Finding aid written by Anna Bialek in July 2005.

Access & Use

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.

Conditions for Reproduction and Use:

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. No further photoduplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Inquiries regarding publishing material from the collection should be directed to RBSC Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.

Credit this material:

C. P. G. Fuller Collection of Aaron Burr; Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
http://arks.princeton.edu/ark:/88435/sf268510w
Location:
Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
(609) 258-3184

Find More

Related Material:

See also the Aaron Burr (1756-1836) Collection.

Publication Note:

Alexander, Holmes, Aaron Burr, The Proud Pretender (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1937) Beveridge, Albert Jeremiah, The Life of John Marshall (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1916-1919), 4 vols. Jacobs, James Ripley, Tarnished Warrior, Major-General James Wilkinson (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1938) Parton, James, The Life and Times of Aaron Burr (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1882), 2 vols. Roberts, Kenneth Lewis, March to Quebec: Journals of the Members of Arnold's Expedition (New York: Doubleday, Doran & Company, Inc., 1938), compiled and annotated by Roberts, during the writing of Arundel. Schachner, Nathan, Aaron Burr, a Biography (New York: Frederick A. Stokes Company, 1937) Schachner, Nathan, Alexander Hamilton (New York: D. Appleton-Century Co, 1946) Wandell, Samuel H., and Meade Minnigerode, Aaron Burr: A Biography Compiled from Rare, and in Many Cases Unpublished, Sources (New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1925), 2 vols.

Subject Terms:
Burr Conspiracy, 1805-1807
Burr-Hamilton Duel, Weehawken, N.J., 1804
Genre Terms:
Legal correspondence
Legal documents
Names:
Burr, Aaron, 1756-1836
Fuller, C. P. G., collector
Places:
United States -- History -- Revolution, 1775-1783 -- Sources