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Table of Contents

Notes on the Fallen Founder by Nancy Isenberg - (part 1 - Burr’s first 35 years)
Fallen Founder .... by Nancy Isenberg (part 2 -Burr's next 14 years)
The nation’s political leadership has to stop destroying each other.
Fallen Founder ...... by Nancy Isenberg (Burr's last years - part 3 )
Small Package Shipping Coats from China need Review
E J Donne’s book Our Divided Political Heart: The Battle for the American Idea in an Age of Discontent speaks eloquently about America’s Collectivist History
No, These Investigations Must Stop!

The Next Page
.. The Prior Page
....The Home Page











Notes on the Fallen Founder by Nancy Isenberg - (part 1 - Burr’s first 35 years)

Chap 1 - A Man of Promising Parts -

Here Burr’s birth and education are covered. He was born in 1756 twenty years before the Declaration of Independence.

Burr was the grandson of Jonathan Edwards and the son of Aaron Burr Sr and Ester Edwards. Aaron Burr, Sr. was the President of Princeton. His parents died when he was about two so he was raised by relatives in Philadelphia. He attended a Presbyterian school in Elizabeth Town NJ where he was a good student; he entered Princeton in 1769 at the age of 13, a couple of years younger than most of his classmates. (In those days, people generally entered college a year or two younger than they do today.)

At Princeton, Burr was generally noted for his small stature, his youth, his writing skills, his speaking skills, and his friendliness. He met several people there who became participants in the Revolutionary War and/or at the Constitutional Convention in Phila. There were two political clubs on campus the Whigs and the Clios, the former favored local government, the latter had a more globalist, centralist, monarchist idea of government. Burr was one of few students who at different times was a member of both clubs. During his time at college, he addressed an assembly of his schoolmates with a talk entitled On Honor. In this talk he addressed, among other things, the practice of dueling (which at the time was being discouraged). At graduation, he was one of the students selected to address the audience. His talk on Building Castles in the Air counseled prudence when making future plans. It was well received. Surprisingly both these talks were remembered by his classmates long after they left school.

Chap 2 - To Concert with my Brother Officers -

After Princeton, Burr traveled to New England where discord with England was heating up. He did not get involved in Bunker Hill but joined Col. Arnold who was taking 1000 men cross country from the Maine coast to Quebec where the British had a garrison. A second group under Gen Montgomery was coming north from New York. The idea was to hurt the British in Canada and hopefully get the Canadians to join the 13 Colonies in their dispute with England.

At Quebec, Montgomery’s force was un-expectantly attacked as it advanced to surprise the British garrison on New Year’s Eve 1775. Unfortunately Gen Montgomery was killed in this skirmish. This event proved Burr’s courage. He was near Montgomery when he was hit and tried to drag the General back to safety or at least recover his body. However, Montgomery was a large man, Burr the opposite, so he was unable. However, became of his behavior in the face of the enemy, Burr became one of the early heroes of the American Revolution just as Montgomery was unfortunately its first general officer lost.

Burr was transferred to Washington’s staff then organizing the defense of NYC. There Burr watched Washington get outflanked by the British. He realized then that Washington was an inspiring figure but lacked real battlefield experience. Burr was then transferred to Gen. Putnam, the hero of Bunker Hill, who was able to devise a plan to get the bulk of Washington’s troops, without most of their heavy guns, over to New Jersey.

The experience of being near Gen. Washington taught Burr a lot as he saw young officers denigrate each other and fawn over higher officers trying to gain preferred appointments and promotions. Burr disliked this behavior and decided to accept a lesser place with no promotion on Gen Putnam’s staff.

Burr next went to the Valley Forge area. There he met Theodosia Prevost the wife of a British officer stationed in Georgia and later Jamaica. Theodosia was American and well off. Her husband was also well off , for instance, his family owned large tracts of western lands in places like Mississippi. Burr actually met Theodosia at an an officer’s ball hosted by Martha Washington. Theodosia liked to entertain American officers at her large home in rural New Jersey where she was raising her children. She and Burr hit it off immediately because both were skilled writers, loved poetry, were good conversationalists, and generally liked people.

Burr was then assigned to the Hudson Valley. This was a secondary area of operation under the command of Gen Putnam. Burr led a night time sneak attack on a larger British force that was asleep in northern New Jersey. They captured the entire enemy unit with few casualties. Burr’s commander was not so lucky. Putnam lost two Hudson river forts to the British and Washington pushed him into semi-retirement. This even though Washington himself had been ordering Putnam to continually send troops to replenish Washington losses in the Valley Forge area of operation. Burr felt Putnam’s force was under strength. Burr’s opinion of Washington was further reduced by what happened to Putnam.

Burr was returned to the main army at Valley Forge in early 1778. The British decided to relocate their main force from NYC to Phila. They were marching across New Jersey when they decided to pause at Monmouth. Washington, after a council with his staff, ordered an attack. Burr participated in the major Battle on Monmouth Court House (June 28, 1778) which ended in a draw. It was fought on blistering hot day. Burr suffered heat stroke which was eventually the stated cause for him resigning his commission.

This battle also caused Gen. Charles Lee, Washington’s number two, to be court martial’ed for basically failing to say “yes sir” when Washington proposed an attack at Monmouth. Burr in his private correspondence admitted Lee had a cutting wit and blunt way of speaking, but he felt the punishment was not proportionate to any infraction that might have been committed. One of Burr’s friends said of Lee - “he has been Putnam-ized”.

Before leaving the army, Burr was reassigned to the Hudson Valley under a General McDougall where he had direct command of many troops. He was a Lt Col by now and charged with maintaining order in Westchester County where farmers grew a variety of crops and raised animals for sale in NYC. The difficulty here was that many American troops were in the habit of stealing these good food items from the farmers and that the British were in the habit of raiding into the area to obtain the same items. Burr became adapt at meeting out justice to wayward Americans and attacking raiding parties of Britishers coming out of the city for fresh food. It is likely that Burr learned his marksmanship while policing this “rough stuff” in Westchester County.

In meeting out justice to wayward Americans, Burr would often deviate from the Army’s code of punishments saying that mercy was warranted because the theft was small or the guilty soldier was a first time offender. Burr also insisted that offenders ask the forgiveness of the people they stole from. Burr was never known to order corporal punishment (e.g. flogging).

Burr was a very orderly person and insisted his troops be orderly. There was grumbling but over time the men liked the system. Burr felt the entire war effort would go better if it was conducted in a more systematic, well ordered way. One soldier under his command noted “everyday offered some new lesson of instruction”. Not surprising, after all, his father and grandfather had been ministers and teachers.

Chap 3 - Such are the letters I Love -

This chapter deals with Burr’s marriage to Theodosia and his admittance to the bar in NY (1780 to 1788). Burr prepared for the bar exam but studying at his brother-in-law’s office. He also had short periods of study at two other law offices.

Burr and Theodosia stayed in close touch. Some say they were having an affair. In any event when word came that Theodosia’s husband had succumbed to an infectious disease in Jamaica, it was natural that Theodosia and Burr would marry. Theodosia was sickly and ten years Burr’s senior in age. They had one child that survived; she was named after her mother. Unfortunetly Theodosia Burr died in 1794 just 12 years after she married Aaron Burr in 1782.

The Burr’s were well suited to each other. They both believed in woman’s rights They both like to write poetry, Burr himself loved to describe situations and people using words. Burr was always keeping a journal and he like to write the entries as though he was writing to a close female relative. For years he wrote to his sister Sally ...”S” for short, then it was Theodosia. Near the end of his life, it was his daughter. It is clear from the dates in his journal entries that Theodosia Prevost was the object of his attention before her husband’s death; he referred to her as his new sister “T”.

Burr’s courtship of Theodosia and his admission to the bar occurred within a few days of each other in 1782.

Chap 4 - An Unprejudiced Mind

This chapter explores Burr’s introduction to the practice if law in NYC.

The British had vacated the city and NY passed a law forcing Tories out of the practice of law which meant the few lawyers, who were supporters of the revolution, had a lot of business. The turnover of real estate was steady as pro British Tories sold out to patriots looking for bargains. Burr benefitted from all this buying and selling. The rest of Burr’s practice was the usual mix of divorces, breach of contract, etc. He had a reputation for representing Patriots of modest means. Hamilton who was also practicing law in NYC had a practice focused on the wealthy.

Burr was very busy and he began to do a little real estate speculation to augment his income. The Burrs were able to afford large homes in good neighbors. Theodosia’s natural facility for entertaining also helped her husband’s law practice.

Burr, like all lawyers, had some interest in politics. He was a political moderate who leaned to the left, so he aligned himself with the Anti-Federalists. In NY the Anti Federalists were divided into two large groups. One was led by Gov. George Clinton another was led by Robert Livingston, the head of the NY Chancery Court. The Clinton group was most strongly opposed to a strong central government. The Livingston group was more moderate in their position but they too were suspicious of central control. When the Constitution was proposed in 1787, George Clinton was adamantly oppose whereas Livingston was willing to discuss revisions.

The opposing Federalist group, that strongly favored central control, was led by Alexander Hamilton and his father-in-law, Phillip Schuyler, a wealthy businessman.

Initially, Burr was only mildly interested in politics, but over time he was identified by anti-federalist leaders as the kind of person they wanted in office. He was recruited to run for the NY State legislature on a local ticket organized by his old army friend Gen Alexander McDougall. Burr was elected in 1784. He began to travel back and forth to Albany. He took his cases files along to study. In Albany his personality and wide knowledge and education won him a wide friendship. In Albany he served on a Special Committee created to review all of NY laws in light of the separation that had occurred from England. Burr proposed that slaves be freed in NY. He also wanted some way to compensate patriots who had suffered a loss because of the war.

When the Constitution came to NY in 1787 for ratification, it encountered tremendous opposition. However as time passed: 1) word came that more and more states had ratified and 2) assurances came via the Federalist essays that were being published in the newspapers; these articles managed to gave the Constitution’s many provisions a “benign” meaning. 3) there was much talk of a Bill of Rights which was to be attached to the Constitution shortly after its ratification.

The pressure built to have NY ratify. The NY delegates to the State ratifying convention finally gave in and ratified (30 to 27). NY was the 11th state to ratify.

The Inauguration of Washington occurred in NYC and it was a pro-Federalist affair. Burr and his friends had profound reservations. After the Inauguration, a committee was set up to make suggestion to President Washington for appointments to Federal positions in NY. The committee was stacked against the Anti-Federalists; Burr was the only Anti-Federalists appointed.

After George Clinton almost lost his re-election campaign in 1787 to a Phillip Schuyler man, he decided to use his appointment power to build a stronger political organization. He selected Aaron Burr to be Attorney General. Over two years, Burr handled 158 cases for the State of New York, this effort took him all across the state where he made many more friends.

Phillip Schuyler had been elected by the state legislature to be the first Senator from NY, but his term was for only one session of Congress. He had to run for re-election again in 1790 to begin his first full 6 year term in 1791. The Anti-Federalists decided to run Burr against Phillip Schuyler. Of course, Burr was a popular Attorney General and had many friends in the legislature from his time of service there. Burr defeated Hamilton’s father-in-law 32 to 27 in the lower chamber and 14 to 4 in the upper chamber.

Although Hamilton and Burr had sparred a bit in the army and later a little in the courtrooms of NYC, this election marks the official outbreak of open hostility directed by the Hamilton faction toward Burr and his supporters.

Theodosia was to die two years into Burr’s Senate term. After her death his political judgements seem to become less nuanced, but that’s for the next installment. .... (prepared by Hugh Murray on 4/2/18 )

Fallen Founder, .... by Nancy Isenberg (part 2 of 3)

Chap 5 - A Certain Little Senator

Burr took office in the US Senate during the Spring of 1791. He entered a capital city controlled by Federalists, and they felt the arrival of Anti Federalists was a threat to their power and more broadly a threat to the country. There was a lot happening that alarmed the Federalists.

There was the Genet affair where a French ambassador had come to US and attempted to build support among Americans to help France fight Britain, This upset Washington because America was officially neutral. It all ended when the French revolution got ugly and everyone agreed that if Genet returned to Paris he would likely be killed; so he was allowed to stay in the US .

The Gallatin matter involved an elected Anti-Federalist Senator from Pa that had not been a citizen the required 9 years to be elected. He had only been a citizen 8 years and 363 days when he was elected. Burr defended him in the Senate procedure to see if he could be seated. Burr’s arguement was “he was an honorable patriot and a well educated immigrant from Switzerland, who acted like a citizen for years before he applied for citizenship and should be welcomed as a Senator”. Burr’s argument did not carry the day, As a side note Gallatin later was appointed by Jefferson to his cabinet and became the longest serving Treasury Sec’y in history (13 years).

There was the Jay affair were an appointed emmissary had gone to negotiate with Britain a treaty to regulate relations between American ships and British ships. The resulting treaty was terribly one sided. It even sanctioned impressment of American sailors taken off American ships.

Most important was the Whiskey Rebellion in western Pennsylvania where producers of corn whiskey refused to pay Federal excise tax on their production. The whiskey producers argued that whiskey was easier to transport to Phila than the corn that had been used to make it and that the tax simply inhibited their efficiency in getting their crop to market. This event triggered the mobilization of 15,000 troops lead by Hamilton himself that marched to western Pa to suppress the activity, collect taxes, and imprison the leaders.

All the foregoing simply describers the atmosphere that pervaded Washington in 1791 and the Federalists who had been riding high following the ratification of the Constitution.

In 1799 there was a pistol duel between John Church (a Hamilton sidekick) over defamations aimed at Burr’s character. Church apologized after he missed with his first shot. There was also a sword duel between Samuel Bradhurst (another Hamilton henchman) and Burr.

There was almost a duel between James Monroe and Hamilton over Hamiton’s accusation that Monroe had disclosed damning information (about Hamilton’s “irregular” business dealings with a certain Mr. Reynolds and Hamilton’s affair with Reynold’s wife) to a hack scandal writer named Callender. Monroe denied making these revelations so Hamilton went further and accused Monroe of lying. Monroe was ready to duel over the accusations. Hamilton extracted himself from the situation by writing a long explanation that exonerate Monroe and put the best possible face on the huge scandal.

This time also saw Burr and Hamilton cooperating on a Committee to prepare defenses for NYC’s harbor. Federalists thought France would attack, Anti Federalist thought Britain would be our next enemy. Pres Adams wanted to appoint Burr quartermaster general, Washington was against it saying Burr “is a man of intrigues”. Washington hardly knew Burr so this must have come from Hamilton.

After Burr’s service in the US Senate, he was elected to to the NY General Assembly in Albany in 1797.

Burr had several troubled investments in this period. He made a very bad investment in upstate NY where the organizer had secretly placed large loans on the assets before Burr and others invested. When the project went broke, a large debt fell partly back on Burr’s shoulders. Additionally, he offered to help a long time friend who was the port customs collector in NYC, this friend was honest but an underling stole over $100,000 in customs receipts. Burr’s friend had to be make it up. Burr sold his Richmond Hill Estate to John Astor, who later subdivided it to create Greenwich Village, and Burr’s 17 yr old daughter married a rich slave-owning South Carolinian planter, Joseph Alston, who also helped Burr out of his difficulties.

In this period Burr’s defended an immigrant, NYC newspaper publisher who was prosecuted under the Alien and Sedition acts because he published negative views of the Adams administration foreign policy.

The author here devotes several paragraphs to Burr’s and Hamilton’s different ideas about honorable behavior. Hamilton believed it was “ok” to spread false and damning rumors and lies about opponents, whereas Burr had a more traditional idea of honorable behavior. The difference shows in Hamilton’s 11 duels verus Burr’s 3 duels all against Hamilton himself or Hamilton allies.

Chap 6 - The Statesman and the Soldier

Hamilton attempted to help a western NY company (Holland Land Co.) extend its life to 2023. The company’s charter was coming to an end because it was a foreign company in NY that owned land. He failed because he required a $250,000 payoff to his father-in-law’s canal lock company.

Then Burr took on the project and got it through the Assembly, but he had to instruct Holland to spread around about $10,000 to key politician. Burr himself took a $5,500 loan from Holland. This became big issue later.

There was a NY group that tried to acquire undeveloped Canadian land with a possible future eye to taking the land away from Canada and eventually bringing it to the US. (Sam Houston did something like this later with Texas.) Anyway Burr, while not directly involved, knew these people fairly well.

Burr helped found a water company (Manhattan Water) in NY to get good water to citizens. He had the stock offering price and min purchase amount lowered so that middle class people could buy shares. Also he folded a small depositor bank into this water company so middle class people could get loans and low cost services. This small “water company’s bank” eventually grew into the Chase Manhattan Bank There were two lawsuits on which Hamilton and Burr collaborated with other lawyers representing high profile clients: 1) They helped defend the owner of a large amount of cotton and indigo that had been held for 5 years in a NYC warehouse. The warehouse owners wanted an excessive payment for the storage. 2) They also defended a construction worker who was accused of killing a young woman he had been dating.

In both cases, Hamilton did a lot of grandstanding but trained observes said it was Burr’s careful, reasoned statements during trial/appeal that carried the day.

Burr’s personal papers were lost in a shipwreck near the time of his death, but a NYC paper happened to publish a verbatim account of Burr’s closing argument in the worker’s trial. It reads like a well written work of literature and was no doubt persuasive . The jury acquitted after a 5 minute deliberation.

Burr had run unsuccessfully in 1796 for VP with Jefferson who ran for President. The Federalist John Adams was elected with 71 electoral votes to 68 for Jefferson while Burr ran far behind Jefferson getting only 30 electoral votes. Burr recalled that all of Virginia’s and North Carolina’s electors who voted for Jefferson refused to cast their second vote for Burr.

At that time, most electors were selected by legislative enactment. So control of a state legislature generally determined who that state’s electors would be and by extension which candidate(s) would get that state’s electoral votes.

In NY, Burr realizing the composition of the new legislature elected in Ap 1800 would be critical in determining who NY’s electors would be in Nov 1800. Accordingly he carefully and secretly assembled a slate for the Anti-Federalists (now called the Democratic-Republicans or Republicans for short). His slate included a retired Revolutionary War General and a mix of “well liked” people from both working class and mercantile groups. Burr’s slate won and everyone in the nation suddenly realized NY’s electors would be supporting the Jefferson faction in the fall Presidential election.

Jefferson’s allies felt they needed to get a running mate for Jefferson from the North or North East, preferably from NY to provide regional balance.

Hamilton was worried, he realized the sweep organized by Burr spelled trouble for the Federalists. He wrote Gov. Jay suggesting the “lame duck” Federalist legislature in Albany pass a bill changing the date on which the legislature selects electors to a date while the “lame duck” legislature was still in session thus allowing Federalist rather than Republican electors to be selected. Even the Federalist Gov. Jay would not go along with such a blatant power grab.

All this was in both Jefferson’s and Burr’s minds when they explored the idea of Burr becoming Jefferson’s running mate again. Burr agreed to run with Jefferson again, but he wanted electors instructed to remain faithful to both candidates, he didn’t want to be embarrassed again.

The 1800 election was the last election run under the original rules set out in the Constitution. Under those provision the person with the most electoral votes became President with the runner up becoming the vice president. In 1796 John Adams had become President and his principle opponent Thomas Jefferson became Vice Pres.

In Nov. 1800, Thomas Jefferson and Burr each got 73 electoral votes, Adams got 65, and Chas Pinckney got 64. The Federalists had the foresight to have an elector in Rhode Island throw his second vote to Gov. Jay from NY. The Democratic - Republicans had not thought ahead so the election process immediately moved to the House of Representatives.

The House in the 1799 to 1801 period had a 60 to 46 Federalist majority. The new House elected in 1800 had a 68 to 38 Democratic - Republican majority but they had not yet taken office. The country had experienced a landslide against the Federalists. However, the members of the old house with a Federalist majority were now required to select the new President. However, they were required to vote by states with each state getting only one vote.

Kentucky, Vermont and Tennessee had been added to the original 13 states by this time so there were 16 states, 9 were needed to elect a President. There were 36 ballots before the Federalists decided Jefferson should be President, the vote was 10 states Jefferson to 4 states Burr with 2 states where the delegation tied. The Federalist generally had a distaste for Jefferson who had been the leader in the opposition to Federalist policies during Adams’ administration so they were originally inclined to Burr. They even approached Burr about a deal whereby Burr would become a Federalist in exchange for Federalist support in the House voting. Burr rejected the deal and restated his commitment to Jefferson. .

All along, Hamilton strongly opposed Burr and kept saying things like “Jefferson was an honorable opponent, but Burr is nothing but a scoundrel”. Hamilton was a prominent New York Federalist and had many personal dealings with Burr, so his persistent denigration of Burr was believed and eventually paid off.

Chapter 7 - The Ruin of the Vice President

Jefferson and Burr were sworn in Mar 4, 1801. During the ceremony in the Senate Chamber, Burr gave up his elevated Vice President’s chair for Jefferson. During the first several months, Jefferson and Burr were on close terms. However, when Burr submitted his suggestions for Federal patronage appointments in New York, they were often shelved or rejected. It seemed two younger party men from NY, DeWitt Clinton, the nephew of the older George Clinton, and John Armstrong, seemed to have Jefferson’s ear. Burr particularly wanted Matthew Livingston Davis appointed Naval Officer for the Port of New York. Jefferson shelved Burr’s man and in 1803 finally appointed a different man.

NY Republicans quickly realized Burr lacked any ability to influence patronage for New York and that the Clinton/Armstrong group had Jefferson’s attention. Burr ability to shape the course of the Republican Party on NY was handicapped.

This set back was compounded by a one page broad- sheet against Burr which the Federalists distributed in NY and forwarded to other states. This broadsheet accused Burr of being a sexual depraved person. Implied he was a bi-sexual, that he had worked aggressively to deprive Jefferson of the Presidency, and had been involved in shady business deals.. The sheet compared him to Cataline, a Roman traitor who organized an army to overthrow Rome.

The Clinton/Armstrong group organized a newspaper to be their mouthpiece. The paper, called the American Citizen, was run by a great wordsmith, an emigre’ named James Cheetham. This paper continually attached Burr in the same way the Federalist board sheet had.

Burr’s good friend, Albert Galatin, who was now Treasury Sec’y., tried to divine what Jefferson was “up to” frustrating Burr’s attempts to keep the Republicans organized in NY. Galatin finally came to the conclusion that the Virginia Republicans feared Burr because of his intelligence, organizational ability, and ability to make and keep friends. Jefferson had determined that Madison should follow him into the Presidency and he saw Burr as the only man who was more attractive than Madison.

Burr was a widower at this point and had some short term and some longer term relationships with woman. Burr confided all this in letters to his married daughter in So Carolina. But he clearly preferred longer term involvements and sought well read women with whom he could exchange poetry and letters on both light and serious subjects. Burr was an early feminist and always preferred the company of women who were his intellectual equal. He insisted his daughter be raised to be his intellectual equal, a couple of his friends remarked “he raised her like you’d raise a young man”. Rumors circulated the Burr had illegitamate children from this period.

Hamilton had been spreading false stories about Burr ever since 1792. Hamilton had even used surrogates to do the same. Burr had fought two duels with Hamilton surrogates earlier. One he wounded with a sword, the second had ended when the opponent apologized. However, Hamilton remained unrepentant.

Then a letter to the editor appeared which recounted a long conversation the author had about Burr with Hamilton at some event. In the letter, Hamilton was said to have used the word “despicable” to describe Burr. (At that time, the word “despicable” had a particularly odious meaning something like “throughly without any redeeming qualities”.) Burr sent Hamilton a letter asking that he explain or apologize. Hamilton refused to do either instead he wrote back talking about ways one might quantify degrees of “despicable-ness”. Burr wrote that Hamilton’s effort was unsatisfactory. So Hamilton replied by defending his remarks saying they were acceptable within the normal “give and take” of political discourse. Again Burr wanted a clear public withdrawal of the statement and an apology. Neither man would relent. So a duel was held on July 11 in New Jersey where dueling was still legal.

In his final Apologia, written the night before the duel, Hamilton said he was going to waste his first shot, but his actions on the field indicate he was anxious to get an accurate shot off. He check the shadows caused by the slanting morning light and put on eye glasses. All agreed there were two shots fired in perhaps a second. Burr’s friend, who had rowed him across the Hudson, thought Hamilton fired first. Hamilton’s two friends felt Burr fired first with Hamilton firing wildly as he fell.

In any event, Hamilton was badly wounded and died late the next day. Hamilton had not been a church goer, but called an Episcopal Bishop and also an Episcopal priest asking for communion. At first they denied him communion, but later the priest returned and gave him communion. Hamilton had a tremendous funeral and Gouverneur Morris gave Hamilton’s eulogy. Morris had known Hamilton fairly well over many years. Morris later wrote in his diary that he had difficulty preparing a meaningful eulogy that didn’t mention Hamilton’s illegitmate roots, or his womanizing, or his haughty, abrasive personality.

Burr was charged with murder in NY and later NJ. But he flied first to Phila and then to the far South where most leaders felt he had acted honorable, given Hamilton’s disgraceful behavior. Once cooler heads prevailed, the charges against Burr were dropped and he returned to D.C. to preside over the impeachment trial of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Chase. We will take up Burr’s performance as a presiding judge in our next segment. ..... ...... (prepared by Hugh Murray on 4/22/2018)

The nation’s political leadership has to stop destroying each other.

The investigation of Trump is evolving into an equally strong attack on Obama and his advisors. If this further evolves into a situation where the current President and the former President (our only black President) spend months shredding each other, with the media egging them on, any hope for national reconciliation will be lost for decades.

What is needed now is for the adults in Washington to work out a back room deal where Mueller agrees to close down his investigation while Nunes and Gressley agree to stop looking into Brennan, Clapper, Lynch and rest of that cast of characters. (There may have to be a secret report from the IG to Session so some process and personnel changes can be made in a low keyed way within the Justice Dept., the FBI, and certain Intelligence Agencies.)

Transparency is normally a laudable thing. However, America today is so divided, and the signs of corruption are popping up in so many places, and the various groups are so unwilling to accept truth if it is critical of their heroes, full transparency will probably destroy this country’s residue of cohesion.

Think of it. Say full transparency reveals that Obama approved placing “spies” inside the Trump campaign and say full transparency reveals that Trump’s son plotted with Russians to rig the US election. Blacks and minorities will never accept the first fact. While middle class and working class whites will probably never accept the second fact. What are the odds that these two huge groups of Americans, already somewhat at odds, are going to come together even over the next decade? The odds are little or none.

No, these investigations have to stop if we want to keep a united country. .... .(prepared by Hugh Murray on 5/22/2018)...............

Fallen Founder ...... by Nancy Isenberg (part 3 of 3)

Chap 8 - Little Quid Emperor

Burr returns to Washington and presides over the impeachment trial of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Chase who had offended Jefferson by his “seditious” remarks from the bench. Jefferson kept his distance from the process but had two of his fellow Republican Joe Nicholson and John Randolph push through the impeachment in the House. Jefferson had earlier forced a district court judge out for similar remarks.

The case came to the Senate and it fell to Burr to preside. The day the proceedings began, Burr berated Chase who was known for his bulling tactics in the courtroom, for his frequent intemperate outbursts, and for rough deportment in public. Then after a month’s delay the trial began in Feb 1804. Burr had made some changes to the Chamber. He added a special gallery for women who wished to observe. He also had a platform built under his chair so he might offer a more commanding presence. He had the two sides seated against the opposite side walls in velvet decorated boxes.

Chase only attended the first session of his trial which lasted nearly a month. Burr maintain strict decorum in the chamber always mentioning that women were present. The evidence came in mostly from witnesses that had experienced Chase’s bombast. But words used in the chamber had to be carefully selected and emotions were not allowed to rise.

Burr felt Chase was innocent of the charges, but he lacked a judicial temperament and needed to be frightened into better behavior. In the end, none of the eight articles of impeachment got the needed 2/3 vote from the Senate even though the Senate then had 24 Jeffersonian-Republicans and only 10 Federalists. Jefferson’s party turned against him once the facts were carefully considered.

Congressman Randolph, who was prosecuting, left the chamber in a huff loudly proclaiming the Constitution needed to be amended to allow for impeachment with only a majority of the Senate voting in favor.

The day after the Chase trial ended Burr delivered his farewell address to the chamber. It was so moving many Senators broke down and cried. Burr wrote his daughter in So Caroline that he had been thinking about some farewell ideas before the speech, but the speech itself was an “off the cuff” effort. To this day it remains one of the most remarkable speeches ever delivered in the Senate Chamber.

In it Burr noted the respect he had for all the Senators. He said he had no injuries to complain of and hoped no one had any complaints against him. He celebrated the Senate as an enlightened forum and was thankful it allowed all present to express their views. He said as presiding officer he had tried “to know no party, no cause, no friend” only to help seek the truth through sound reasoning. He made reference to a popular story of the day, Caleb Williams, in which the protagonist is haunted by false accusations. But Caleb when brought to trial faces the court with openness and frankness. Caleb’s accuser faced with such sincerity is flummoxed. Burr closed by saying the Senate with its love of liberty and truth will always be sanctuary against corruption, against the Demagogue, and against the Usurper. Burr quietly exited the chamber leaving many weeping, others in awe.

Burr wife was long deceased so his closest adviser in Washington was Albert Gallatin, the Sec’y of Treasury. Gallatin felt that Burr had no future in politics and probably little as a practicing lawyer. So Burr decided to follow a dream he had as a young man. Burr had been exposed to Augustine Prevost who had acquired land in Louisiana in the 1780 with an eye toward reselling smaller parcels. Burr was fascinated by Prevost’s activities and felt his future lay in the West.

Burr had come to know Gen. Wilkerson, the man appointed by Jefferson after the La. Purchase (1803) to keep order out west. Burr had even spent an evening with Wilkerson studying maps of the Louisiana Purchase and the Spanish areas to the southwest and in Florida. Burr set out after he left Washington to meet Wlkerson in New Orleans.

Meanwhile, Jefferson had hit on a plan to encourage Americans to settle in Texas and other Spanish areas in the hopes that in time these areas could be peacefully united with the US. Jefferson’s plan succeeded as American settlers eventually brought Texas into the US (1845).

Wilkerson had a checkered career from 1787 forward. Sometimes working for the Spanish, other times for the Americans. Although Wilkerson was tried by the Americans for double dealing in 1811, he was acquitted for lack of evidence. The extent of his activities were not fully known until the 20th century when the Spanish government opened their archives. In any event, this is one of the men Burr sought out to facilitate his ideas regarding Mexico and Florida.

Burr, along with others in Washington, felt the Spanish would not be forced out of Mexico or Florida without the involvement of Britain. Accordingly Burr contacted Anthony Merry the British Ambassador to the US and Charles Williamson, a Scottish born American who supported the British in the Revolutionary war but became an America after the British surrender at Yorktown. There was confusion about the exact communications that Burr had first with Williamson and later Merry.

Later at Burr’s treason trial, there was testimony about a Merry letter to Whitehall in which Merry said Burr had offered “to lend his assistance to (Britain) ..... to effect the separation of the western part of the U S” ... from the eastern states. Merry also speculated that with some British support, Burr would be able to assemble a force of perhaps 50,000 men.

Merry and Jefferson disliked each other. Some had hoped for Anglo American cooperation in pushing against Spain but the Jefferson - Merry mutual distrust precluded it. Merry also wrote home speculating that Burr had a “spirit of revenge” against Jefferson.

In Ap ‘05 Burr traveled to Pittsburgh to begin his barge trip to New Orleans. He spent time with the Blennerhassett family at their island near Parkersburg. At Cincinnati he met with Jonathan Dayton and Sen John Smith. All three were directors of a company that was building a canal to “by-pass” rocky rapids near Louisville. Burr spent the whole month of May ‘05 visiting around in Kentucky and went down to Nashville where he spent time with Andrew Jackson. Burr and Jackson liked each other but Jackson warned him against Wilkerson who had double crossed Jackson earlier.

In June ‘05, Burr finally met Wilkerson near the point where the Ohio and Mississippi rivers meet. Burr then went south to New Orleans. In New Orleans he got involved with a discussion club dedicated to changing the gov’t in Mexico City.

On July 14th he left New Orleans to visit western Florida. He then retracted his steps north and had a second meeting with Wilkerson in St. Louis. During the trip he received two offers of impressive support if he ran for the US House from a western state, but he was still inclined to organize a “filibuster” whenever hostilities might arise between the U.S. and Spanish-Mexico. He returned to D.C. in Nov ‘05.

During Burr’s trip west, several eastern newspapers began running opinion pieces on Burr’s motives for his trip. These pieces were very negative on Burr, calling him a modern “Cataline” or a “Quid Emperor” (meaning a third force presumably other than Federalist or Republican). Later disclosures indicate this newspaper campaign was orchestrated by the Spanish envoy to America.

Regardless, this newspaper campaign influenced Jefferson’s view of Burr. Though they were civil with each other, Burr’s request for Jefferson to appointment him to a Government job or judgeship was rejected. Burr then tried to get his remaining friends in NY to find him a job, but this effort was opposed by the deWitt Clinton group.

These attempts having come to nothing, caused Burr to set out for northwestern Louisiana where a large parcel was available for purchase or lease, this was called the Bastrop Property. This parcel was near the boundary with Spanish territory in modern day Texas. Burr had determined to wait there until the time was ripe to mount a “filibuster “ into Spanish territory.

Burr had authorized his friend Dayton to sow false information about his intentions with the Spanish envoy in Washington. Dayton was very imaginative at one point he said Burr was plotting a coup to overthrow Jefferson. Later people asked why would Dayton spread such unbelievable fable to the Spainish. It turned out he had properly assessed that 1) it would be believe (the envoy was very gullible) and 2) it was so sensational Dayton could ask for a large payment . He actually received $2,500 for this lie.

Burr set out again in the Spring of ‘06. His first visit was with a retired Col. Morgan who lived just south of Pittsburgh. Burr and Morgan got into a discussion about the possibility of a future secession of the new western states and territories. Morgan felt such was impossible and was upset that Burr would suggest such a thing might happen later on. Morgan was so upset he sent a letter reporting the conversation to Jefferson. Later the question arose: did Burr advocate or encourage secession or did he just say that such a thing might theoretically be possible.

From Pittsburgh, Burr traveled to Blennerhassett Is. and then on to Cincinnati. Burr noted Blennerhassett Is. was buzzing with activity as he passed through. He proceeded down the river swinging by to see Jackson once again and then started out for Louisiana.

However, Burr was arrested in Kentucky and charged with violated federal law by a local federal prosecutor, Joseph Daveiss, who had been a good friend of Hamilton. This move was based upon reports published in local newspapers accusing Burr of raising an army to take away lands belonging to the United States and/or invading a neighboring nation. When called to testify to the grand Jury that considered the charges, the newspaper men admitted they had no proof to support their accusations. The jury refused to indict Burr, so Burr proceeded toward Louisiana.

Burr then heard that his “friend” Gen Wilkerson had raised an alarm by saying Burr was raising an army and was about to attack and take control of New Orleans. Wilkerson wrote Jefferson a letter saying he had a letter from Burr with treasonous statements in it. (It turned out Wilkerson had a Burr letter written in code that contained statements of unclear and ambiguous meaning.) Jefferson was alarmed and charged Burr with treason 11/27/1806 and issued an arrest warrant for Burr.

Chap 9 - Will o’ Wisp Treason

Burr got word he was being sought, so he headed into Mississippi territory to escape the authority of Wilkerson who had obviously become an enemy. Burr was arrested in the Mississippi Territory and transported to Richmond where John Marshall, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, was organizing a treason trial. It convened 3/30/1807 in a Richmond tavern.

There was speculation in newspaper that the “free-booter” activities at Blennerhassett Island should be attributed to Burr. But Burr’s two short visits to the island and the lack of correspondence back and forth made any connection hard to prove.

At the trial, there were only two pieces of hard evidence: 1) there was the verbal evidence from William Eaton, who had shared quarters with Burr in Washington during the winter of 1805-06, Eaton claimed to recalled having heard Burr talk about plans to rest parts of some western states away from the US, and 2) there was the “Burr letter” which Wilkerson produced. The other evidence was hearsay or simply someone’s opinion.

Burr, of course, denied Eaton’s claims and the Burr legal team introduced testimony that made Eaton appear to be unstable and a glory hound. Then Marshall noticed the Burr letter from Wilkerson was not in Burr’s hand but was written in Wilkerson’s hand. This first led to Wilkerson testifying that he had lost Burr’s original and this was a copy he had prepared. Only after more questioning did it come out that Burr’s original was in fact from a “cipher” communication subject to errors in translation. Differences arose in how to interrupt certain phrases. Wilkerson’s interruptions of the codes was most damning to Burr.

The crowds attending the three day proceeding grew and grew. Marshall had to move the proceeding to the Virginia House of Delegates building to accommodate all those interested in attending.

At the end of the trial, Burr in his closing statement summed up the options for Marshall: 1) acquittal, 2) guilty of treason, and 3) guilty of the misdemeanor of organizing an adventure against an adjacent country (Spanish - Mexico) while the US was not at war with that country. Marshall chose option number one.

Chapter 10 - That Stranger was Aaron Burr

Burr was free to go; but where. He didn’t seem to have a place in the US at that time. Burr decided to travel to England. While there he moved in an intellectual circle becoming friendly with people like Jeremy Bentham. Burr traveled widely on the Continent, although Napoleon never allowed him to enter France.

In 1812 Burr returned to NYC and managed to begin practicing law again. He represented a wealthy family, the Eden family, and was able to make a decent living. In 1833, at the age of 77, Burr married Eliza Jumel, a very wealthy, middle aged widow. After a few months of marriage, she realized that Burr’s was not a good manager of her money and was causing her assets to dwindle so she moved for separation and divorce.

Burr had a stroke in 1834 . The divorce was granted the date of Burr’s death, Sept. 14, 1836. Burr was living in a boarding house on Staten Island at the time of his death.

He is buried with his father in Princeton N.J. In his will Burr made provision for four young people. Many historians think these were his illegitimate children.

Closing note: Burr’s personal letters and journals covering the most interesting portions of his life were all lost in a ship wreck probably in 1813, so historians are handicapped when trying to figure out Burr’s viewpoint on the many important events that filled his life. ...... (prepared by Hugh Murray on 5/5/2018) ................ (prepared by Hugh Murray on 5/23/2018) .

Small Package Shipping Coats from China need Review -

C-SPAN ran a show recently on needed reforms of the Post Office.

There were nearly a dozen presenters. Many problems were discussed. Most addressed the Post Office using something called "cross subsidization". Under this policy the Post Office charges its captive customers (e.g. first class letter writers) high fees to generate extra money which it uses to reduce rates to Amazon for their low priority package deliveries.

However, one presenter was Jayne Smaldone the inventor of and current president of a company that makes the patented Mighty Mug raised a different issue. He spoke about a foreign trade issue.

He said for him to ship a single Mighty Mug to a customer in China costs $22. However, the company in China (that has stolen his idea and is currently making and shipping the same mug into the US from China) pays a cost of $2 to ship one mug to one US customer. Delivery time from date of internet order to arrival at the US customer is 8 days (which means it comes "by air ")

He said for him to ship one mug across New Jersey from his warehouse to a local customer would be about $12.

Evidently, the United Nations has classified China as a "developing" country and it is therefore eligible for taxpayer subsidized small package shipping rates into the developed world.

Jayne said he called on a retailer in New Jersey asking the retailer to carry is mugs. He was going to provide him mugs for like $6.90 each. The retailer said he'd check it out.

The retailer ended up saying "no" because his customers could get the same mug via the internet from China for an "all in" cost of $6.00 with a 8 day delivery time. The retailer said he'd have to add a decent mark up above his cost to stock the mugs so he would be trying to sell a mug for say $9.00 that his customers can get "on line - delivered" for $6.

Jayne said the only way he can escape this situation is to move his warehouse to China where he can get the same favorable $2 shipping price.

Jayne also said he has a patent infringement lawsuit against the same Chinese operator. So far he has $750,000 tied up in that case, but the details of that lawsuit were not presented at this Post Office improvement forum.

Some of these numbers might be slightly wrong, but they are close. Remember there are a lot of costs involved in getting a product to a customer. Shipping costs are a major consideration particularly for small products with low manufacturing costs. ................... (prepared by Hugh Murray on 6/16/2018


E J Donne’s book Our Divided Political Heart: The Battle for the American Idea in an Age of Discontent speaks eloquently about America’s Collectivist History -

Dionne has done a through job of compiling the history of collectivist urges in America history. However, .....

1) He did not discuss the first world vs third world dichotomy in American society. America has about 100 million people that have third world level of educational and/or societal skills. These people are particularly dependant on the communitarian side of America’s structure. This group is also being augmented every year by a steady flow of additional folks coming from the third world: some through family reunification programs, some through the immigration lottery, some through visa overstays, some through illegal border crossing mostly from Mexico through the porous southern border. The question to be addressed here is .... how many more people can America absorb that require so much dependance on the communitarian side of America? What is America’s ability to absorb third world arrivals?

2) Mentioned but didn’t really elaborate on the Not for Profit and Church based side of America’s collectivist history. Here it is very important to differentiate. Government provided communitarian services can be demanded by the eligible recipients without any requirement for changed personal behavior that might mitigate the need for government help. Whereas, Church based programs can require behavior changes on the part of the recipient.

3) No mention of the relative degree of collectivist vs individualist distribution of income in our society at this time. Economist do these sorts of calculations all the time, but Donne ignores all that work. Currently it is estimated that if you take all taxes, all regulation, and all voluntary charitable contributions that contribute to the communitarian side of our society, you would get a 70 / 30 percent ratio. With the 70 being a measure of society’s energy being direct toward collectivist things (e.g. roads, disability payments, Sect 8 housing subsidies, medicare, farm subsidies, religious charities, armed forces, schools (public and private), etc.) and the 30% being the individually controlled items (e.g. whether to save a dollar or spend a dollar, whether to own a small car or large car, whether to go out to dinner or stay home, etc.)

Dionne is to be congratulated for gathering all this history. Now we await his analysis of the many other factors that bear on subject. The country needs direction on whether to move to a different ratio; or perhaps within the 70%, how to readjust the components between private charity, regulations, and taxes. Of course, within taxes and regulation alone their might be an adjustment between local control and Federal control. Currently America has a system where many programs paid for by local taxes are largely directed or determined by Federal court decisions, legislation, and regulations.

Much additional work and thought is needed....... (prepared by Hugh Murray on 6/24/2018)

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No, These Investigations Must Stop! -

The nation’s political leadership has to stop destroying each other. The investigation of Trump is evolving into an equally strong attack on Obama, his advisors, and leaders in the DOJ. If this further evolves into a situation where the current President and the former President (our only black President) spend months shredding each other, with the media egging them on, any hope for national reconciliation will be lost for decades.

What is needed now is for the adults in Washington to work out a back room deal where Mueller agrees to close down his investigation while Nunes and Grassley agree to stop looking into Rice, Clapper, Lynch and rest of that cast of characters. (There may have to be a secret report from the IG to Session so some process changes can be made in a low keyed way within the Justice Dept., the FBI, and certain Intelligence Agencies.)

Normally transparency is a laudable thing. However, America today is so divided, and the signs of corruption are popping up in so many places, and the various groups are so unwilling accept truth if it is critical of their heroes, full transparency will probably destroy this country’s residue of cohesion.

Think of it. Say full transparency reveals Obama approved placing “spies” inside the Trump campaign and say full transparency reveals that Trump’s son plotted with Russians to rig the US election. Blacks and minorities will never accept the first fact. While middle class and working class whites will never accept the second fact. What are the odds that these two groups are going to come together over the next decade? Little or none.

No, these investigations have to stop. ...............(prepared by Hugh Murray on 6/25/2018)


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This page hopes to bring a common sense, old fashioned view to today's news. The comments displayed on this page were prepared by Hugh V. Murray, who can be reached at hvm@aol.com