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Title: Memoirs of Aaron Burr, Complete
Author: Burr, Aaron
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Memoirs of Aaron Burr, Complete" ***

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[Frontispiece: A. Burr]





"I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him."



       *       *       *       *       *

Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1836, by


in the Clerk's Office of the Southern District of New-York.

       *       *       *       *       *


During a period of forty years I was intimately acquainted with
Colonel Burr, and have reason to suppose that I possessed his entire
confidence. Some time after his return from Europe in 1812, on
different occasions, he suggested casually a wish that I would make
notes of his _political life_. When the Memoirs and Correspondence of
Mr. Jefferson were published, he was much excited at the statements
which were made in his Ana respecting the presidential contest in
Congress in 1801.

He procured and sent me a copy of the work, with a request that I
would peruse the parts designated by him. From this time forward he
evinced an anxiety that I would prepare his Memoirs, offering me the
use of all his private papers, and expressing a willingness to explain
any doubtful points, and to dictate such parts of his early history as
I might require. These propositions led to frequent and full
conversations. I soon discovered that Colonel Burr was far more
tenacious of his _military_, than of his professional, political, or
moral character. His prejudices against General Washington were
immoveable. They were formed in the summer of 1776, while he resided
at headquarters; and they were confirmed unchangeably by the injustice
which he said he had experienced at the hands of the
commander-in-chief immediately after the battle of Long Island, and
the retreat of the American army from the city of New-York. These
grievances he wished to mingle with his own history; and he was
particularly anxious to examine the military movements of General
Washington on different occasions, but more especially at the battle
of Monmouth, in which battle Colonel Burr commanded a brigade in Lord
Stirling's division. I peremptorily refused entering upon any such
discussion; and, for some time, all communication on the subject

Colonel Burr, however, renewed the conversation relative to his
Memoirs, and agreed that any thing which might be written should be
confined to himself. With this understanding I frequently visited him,
and made notes under his dictation. I never asked him a question on
any subject, or in relation to any man or measure, that he did not
promptly and willingly answer. On his part there was no desire of
concealment; nor did he ever express to me a wish to suppress an
account of any act of his whole life. So far as I could judge, his
only apprehensions were that "_kind friends_," as he sometimes termed
them, by attempts at explanation, might unintentionally misrepresent
acts which they did not understand.

I devoted the summer of 1835 to an examination of his letters and
papers, of which there is an immense quantity. The whole of them were
placed in my hands, to be used at my discretion. I was authorized to
take from among them whatever I supposed would aid me in preparing the
contemplated book.

I have undertaken the work, aware of the delicacy and responsibility
of the task. But, if I know myself, it has been performed with the
most scrupulous regard to my own reputation for correctness. I have
aimed to state facts, and the fair deductions from them, without the
slightest intermixture of personal feeling. I am very desirous that a
knowledge of Mr. Burr's character and conduct should be derived from
his miscellaneous correspondence, and not from what his biographer
might write, unsupported by documentary testimony. With this view many
of his private letters are selected for publication.

I entertain a hope that I shall escape the charge of egotism. I have
endeavoured to avoid _that_ ground of offence, whatever may have been
my literary sins in other respects. It is proper for me, however, in
this place, and for a single purpose, to depart from the course
pursued in the body of the work. It is a matter of perfect notoriety,
that among the papers left in my possession by the late Colonel Burr,
there was a mass of letters and copies of letters written or received
by him, from time to time, during a long life, indicating no very
strict morality in some of his female correspondents. These letters
contained matter that would have wounded the feelings of families more
extensively than could be imagined. Their publication would have had a
most injurious tendency, and created heartburnings that nothing but
time could have cured.

As soon as they came under my control I mentioned the subject to
Colonel Burr; but he prohibited the destruction of any part of them
during his lifetime. I separated them, however, from other letters in
my possession, and placed them in a situation that made their
publication next to impossible, whatever might have been my own fate.
As soon as Colonel Burr's decease was known, with my own hands I
committed to the fire all such correspondence, and not a vestige of it
now remains.

It is with unaffected reluctance that this statement of facts is made;
and it never would have been made but for circumstances which have
transpired since the decease of Colonel Burr. A mere allusion to these
circumstances will, it is trusted, furnish ample justification. No
sooner had the newspapers announced the fact that the Memoirs of
Colonel Burr were to be written by me, than I received letters from
various quarters of the country, inquiring into the nature of the
revelations that the book would make, and deprecating the introduction
of individual cases. These letters came to hand both anonymously and
under known signatures, expressing intense solicitude for suppression.

Under such circumstances, am I not only warranted in these remarks,
but imperiously called upon to make them? What other mode remained to
set the public mind at ease? I have now stated what must for ever
hereafter preclude all possibility for cavil on one part, or anxiety
on the other. I _alone_ have possessed the private and important
papers of Colonel Burr; and I pledge my honour that every one of them,
so far as I know and believe, that could have injured the feelings of
a female or those of her friends, is destroyed. In order to leave no
chance for distrust, I will add, that I never took, or permitted to be
taken, a single copy of any of these letters; and, of course, it is
quite impossible that any publication hereafter, if any should be made
of such papers or letters, can have even the pretence of authenticity.


New-York, November 15th, 1836.

       *       *       *       *       *



Ancestors of Burr; his father's birth; preparations for the ministry;
the Rev. Aaron Burr visits Boston; his account of the celebrated
preacher Whitefield; is married in 1752; Nassau Hall built in
Princeton in 1757; the Rev. Aaron Burr its first president; letter
from a lady to Colonel Burr; from his mother to her father; death of
his parents; sent to Philadelphia, under the care of Dr. Shippen; runs
away when only four years of age


Burr is removed to Stockbridge, and placed under the care of Timothy
Edwards, his uncle and guardian; Edwards removes to Elizabethtown,
New-Jersey; Judge Tappan Reeve is employed in the family as a private
tutor to Burr; runs away to New-York at ten years of age; enters
Princeton College in 1769, in the thirteenth year of his age; his
habits there; an awakening in college in 1771-72; his conversation
with Dr. Witherspoon on the subject; selections from his compositions
while a student


Burr's college friends; letters of William Paterson to Burr; he
graduates in 1772, when sixteen years of age; remains in college to
review his studies; amusing anecdote relative to Professor S. S.
Smith, in the Cliosophic Society, while Burr was acting as president;
letter from Timothy Dwight; from Samuel Spring; correspondence with
Matthias Ogden and others, in cipher; anecdote respecting visit to a
billiard-table; enters the family of Joseph Bellamy, D. D. for the
purpose of pursuing a course of reading on religious topics; in 1774
determines to study the law; letter from Timothy Edwards


Removes to the family of Judge Reeve; amusing letter from Matthias
Ogden; to Ogden; from Jonathan Bellamy; from Ogden; from Lyman Hall to
the Rev. James Caldwell


Battles of Lexington and Bunker's Hill; Burr visits Elizabethtown,
and, in company with his friend Ogden, joins the army under Washington
before Cambridge; great disappointment and mortification at witnessing
the irregularities in the camp, and the want of a police; letter from
Roger Sherman to General David Wooster; from James Duane to General
Montgomery, announcing his appointment as a brigadier-general in the
continental army; General Montgomery's answer; Burr sickens in camp;
hears of General Arnold's intended expedition against Quebec;
volunteers as a private; forms a mess, and marches from Cambridge to
Newburyport with knapsack and musket; letters from Dr. James Cogswell,
Peter Colt, &c. to dissuade him from proceeding with the expedition;
efforts of his guardian to prevent him from marching; sufferings on
the march through the wilderness; escape from drowning in passing the
rapids; on arriving at the Chaudiere, is despatched by Arnold to
Montgomery with information; places himself under the protection of a
Catholic priest, who furnishes him with a guide; the guide becomes
alarmed; Burr is secreted for some days in a convent; arrives in
safety at Montgomery's headquarters; is appointed one of his
aid-de-camps; the plan of attack upon Quebec changed; Judge Marshall's
explanation of the reasons for the change; Burr's opinion on the same
subject; the attack made on the night of the 31st of December, 1775;
General Montgomery, Captains McPherson and Cheeseman, and all in
front, except Burr and a French guide, killed; Colonel Campbell orders
a retreat.


Resolve of Congress to erect a monument to the memory of General
Montgomery; procured by, and executed under the superintendence of Dr.
Franklin in Paris; erected in front of St. Paul's Church, in the city
of New-York, in 1789; Arnold takes command; Burr acts as brigade
major; Arnold resolves on demanding a surrender of Quebec, and that
Burr shall be the bearer of a sealed message; refuses, without first
reading its contents; after reading, considers it unbecoming an
American officer, and declines delivering it; receives complimentary
letters for his intrepidity in the attack; letter from Ogden; army
moves to the mouth of the Sorel; Burr determines on leaving it, which
Arnold forbids, but he persists; in Albany is notified that General
Washington wishes him to come to New-York; reports himself to the
commander-in-chief, who invites him to join his family; letter from
Ogden informing him that General Washington wishes him to take up his
residence at headquarters; joins Washington's family, but soon becomes
discontented; on the suggestion of Governor Hancock, accepts the
appointment of aid-de-camp to Major-general Putnam; letter to Ogden;
reasons for quitting Washington's family; letter from Paterson to
Burr; to Paterson


Some account of Mrs. Coghlan, daughter of Major Moncrieffe of the
British army; her residence in General Putnam's family; her removal to
the family of General Mifflin; her allusions, in her memoirs, to a
young American officer (Colonel Burr) with whom she had become
enamoured; letter of General Putnam to Miss Moncrieffe; Burr's
character for intrigue; destruction of confidential papers, improper
for public inspection; letter from Theodore Sedgwick to Burr; from
Ogden; to T. Edwards; from Ogden; General Putnam ordered to take
command on Long Island in the place of General Green; Burr reports to
Putnam unfavourably of the state of the army, but proposes to beat up
the enemy's quarters; is opposed to an action, considering it likely
to prove disastrous; battle on the 27th of August, 1776; Burr presses
upon Putnam and Mifflin the necessity of an immediate retreat; council
of war, and retreat ordered; General McDOUGALL has charge of the
embarcation of the troops from Brooklyn on the night of the 29th; Burr
assists him; his conduct this night inspires General McDOUGALL with a
confidence in him for vigilance and intrepidity which was never
afterward diminished; the retreat effected in good order; Burr is in
favour of an immediate evacuation of the city of New-York; on the 15th
of September the British land on Manhattan Island; General Washington
orders a retreat, which the enemy endeavour to intercept; in the
confusion, General Silliman's brigade is left behind, and General Knox
conducts it to a small fort (Bunker's Hill) in the suburbs of the
city; Burr discovers the perilous situation of the brigade, and
recommends Knox to retreat; Knox refuses, and denies the
practicability; Burr induces the officers and men of the brigade to
place themselves under his command, and, after some skirmishes, he
conducts them with trifling loss to the main army; Samuel Rowland to
Commodore Morris on this subject; certificate of the Rev. Hezekiah
Ripley, chaplain of General Silliman's brigade, respecting their
retreat under the command of Colonel Burr; also of Isaac Jennings and
Andrew Wakeman, and a letter from Nathaniel Judson, in relation to the
same affair


Letter from Colonel Burr to Mrs. Edwards; the British army move from
Brunswick to Princeton; General Washington crosses the Delaware;
letter to Ogden; Burr ordered by General Washington, through Putnam,
to proceed to Norwalk, Fairfield, and other places on the Sound, to
"settle a line of intelligence," &c.; on his return to camp, July
21st, 1777, is appointed by Washington a lieutenant-colonel in
Malcolm's regiment; Burr to Washington; joins his regiment in the
Clove, Orange county; the British come out from New-York, 2000 strong,
on a marauding party; Burr marches his regiment thirty miles in the
afternoon and evening to attack them; before morning captures their
picket-guards by surprise; the enemy retreat, leaving their plunder
behind them; statement of this affair by Judge George Gardner and
Lieutenant Hunter, with other details respecting Burr; Putnam orders
him to join Parsons's brigade with his regiment, for the purpose of
re-enforcing Washington; on the second day of his march, is ordered by
General Varnum to halt and defend the bridge at Pompton against the
British; in November, is stationed with his regiment, in advance of
the main army, at White Marsh, in Pennsylvania; goes into winter
quarters at Valley Forge; by the advice of General McDOUGALL, he is
ordered by Washington to take command of a strong body of militia,
posted to defend the Gulf near Valley Forge, all his senior officers
having been withdrawn for the purpose of giving him the command; an
intended mutiny suppressed by his promptitude and intrepidity; is of
the Lee and Gates party, opposed to Washington; misunderstanding with
Lord Stirling; letter from Lord Stirling; letter to him


Letter from Malcolm to Burr; battle of Monmouth, June 28t; arrest and
trial of General Lee; Burr dissatisfied with Washington's orders to
him during the action, in which he commanded a brigade;
Lieutenant-colonel Dummer, under his immediate command, killed; Burr's
horse shot under him; his health greatly impaired by fatigue and
exposure previous to and during the action; ordered by Washington, the
day after the battle, to proceed to Elizabethtown to watch the
movements of the enemy; several notes of Lord Stirling to him on the
subject; joins his regiment; ordered by the Baron de Kalb to West
Point; the legislature of New-York adopt rigid measures in regard to
the tories; Governor Clinton applies to the commander-in-chief to
appoint a confidential continental officer to take charge of them,
&c.; General Washington designates Colonel Burr; letter from Robert
Benson to Burr on the subject; proceedings of the Board of
Commissioners for defeating Conspiracies, transmitted in their letter
to Burr; letter from Theodore Sedgwick; from General Lee; Burr to
Washington, asking a furlough on account of ill health, without pay;
from Washington, granting the furlough, but ordering the pay; Burr
declines accepting it on these conditions, and joins his regiment at
West Point; letter from Mrs. Montgomery to Burr; ordered by General
McDOUGALL to take command of a brigade at Haverstraw, his seniors
having been withdrawn for the purpose; ordered by McDOUGALL to take
command of the lines in Westchester; letter to McDOUGALL, detailing
the arrangement of his pickets, outposts, &c.; to McDOUGALL; from
Major Platt; from McDOUGALL


Letter from Burr to McDOUGALL; from Paterson; from Major Platt; to
McDOUGALL; from McDOUGALL; from Platt; from McDOUGALL; from General
Putnam; from McDOUGALL; from Samuel Young, Esq., of Westchester, to
Commodore Morris, detailing Burr's military career on the lines


Letter from Burr to General Washington resigning his command; from
Washington; from Mrs. General Montgomery; from Paterson; from
McDOUGALL; at the request of General McDOUGALL, Burr consents, at
great hazard, to be the bearer of a verbal confidential communication
to General Washington; amusing incident at Townsend's iron-works, in
Orange county, on this expedition; in July, 1779, the British under
Tryon land at East Haven; Burr, although confined to a sick-bed,
arises, sallies forth, takes command of the students in the college
green, and checks for a time the advance of the enemy; Colonel Platt's
account of Burr's military life


Description of Burr's person and manner; anecdote illustrative of his
tact at correcting an ill-timed expression to a lady; his first
acquaintance with Mrs. Prevost, subsequently his wife; letter from Mr.
Monroe, late President of the United States, to Mrs. Prevost; General
Washington to Mrs. Prevost; from Paterson; from Colonel Troup; the
same; from Paterson; to Paterson; from Troup; from Major Alden; from
Paterson; from Troup; to Troup; from Troup; the same; the same; from
Peter Colt; the same; from Troup; the same


Letter from Paterson to Burr; the same; from Troup; Burr commences the
study of the law with Paterson, on the Rariton; removes to Haverstraw
to study with Thomas Smith; capture of Andre; Mrs. Arnold's confession
to Mrs. Prevost of her own guilt; scene with Mrs. Arnold at the house
of Colonel Morris in 1779-80; Burr leaves Haverstraw, and goes to
Albany to prepare for admission to the bar; letter to Major Alden;
from Thomas Smith; from Mrs. Prevost; the same; the same; from Major
Alden; to Mrs. Prevost; to Chief Justice Morris; to Mrs. Prevost;
Character of Philip Van Rensselear


Burr applies to the Supreme Court for admission; the bar objects to
his examination; objections overruled; admitted as an attorney on the
19th January, 1782, and as counsellor on the 17th of April, 1782;
commences the practice of law in Albany; letter from Major Popham; to
Mrs. Prevost; Burr married to Mrs. Prevost, July, 1782; letter from
Mrs. Burr; from Judge Hobart; from Mrs. Burr; the same; Burr removes
to New-York; elected a member of the legislature; his opposition in
that body to what was termed the Mechanics' Bill, produces great
excitement; threatened riot on the subject, Series of letters between
Mr. and Mrs. Burr


Series of letters between Mr. and Mrs. Burr continued from pages
275-285--Federal Constitution adopted; Burr nominated and defeated on
the Assembly ticket of "the Sons of Liberty," in opposition to the
Federal ticket; he supports Judge Yates in opposition to George
Clinton for the office of governor; Clinton elected; soon after
tenders Burr the office of attorney-general; he takes time to
deliberate; his letter to Governor Clinton, agreeing to serve; is
appointed attorney-general, September, 1789; commissioners appointed
by the legislature to report on revolutionary claims against the
state; Burr one of them; letters to and from Mrs. Burr; letter to his
daughter Theodosia; from Dr. Benjamin Rush; to Theodosia


Report of the commissioners, in pursuance of the act entitled An act
to receive and state accounts against the state, drawn by Burr;
appointed senator of the United States, 1791; caution in
correspondence; sales of the public lands by "the commissioners of the
land office," of which board Burr was a member; great dissatisfaction
as to those sales; subject brought before the Assembly with a view to
the impeachment of the board; Burr exonerated from censure; assembly
approve the conduct of the commissioners; anecdote of Melancton Smith
and General Hamilton; Burr, during his first session in the United
States Senate, with the sanction of the secretary of state (Mr.
Jefferson), is employed in examining the records of the department; is
prevented from proceeding, by order of President Washington; Mr.
Jefferson to Burr on the subject; contested election between Clinton
and Jay for governor; canvassers differ as to the legality of certain
votes; apply to Rufus King and Burr for advice; King and Burr differ
in opinion; Burr proposes to decline giving advice; Mr. King objects;
in consequence, they give separate and conflicting opinions; Burr
becomes zealous in support of that which he has given; seven of the
canvassers decide on destroying the votes of Otsego, Clinton, and
Tioga counties; four object; statement of the case; opinion of Mr.
King; opinion of Mr. Burr; letter from Jonathan D. Sargeant; subject
of the canvassers taken up by the legislature; protest of the
minority; reasons assigned to the legislature by the majority in
vindication of their conduct, drawn by Burr; Assembly approve the
conduct of the majority; letter from Burr to Jacob De Lamater,
explaining his own course in the contested election between Clinton
and Jay


Burr appointed a judge of the Supreme Court; declines, but Governor
Clinton does not report the fact until called upon by a resolution of
the legislature; chairman of the Senate Committee to answer the
president's speech, the first session of his membership; reports the
answer next day, which is adopted without opposition; defeats a bill
to increase the standing army by his single objection; letters to Mrs.
Burr; series of letters to his daughter Theodosia; teaches his slaves
to read and write; letters from one of them


Burr's manner of speaking; Albert Gallatin appointed a senator of the
United States; objections to the legality of his appointment; Burr
ardent in support of Gallatin; note of John Taylor, of Virginia, to
Burr, on the subject of replying to Rufus King; Senate decide against
Gallatin; Burr offers resolutions against sending an envoy
extraordinary to England, in 1794, and against selecting a _judge_ for
the station; votes against John Jay; discontents of the Democratic
party with General Washington for continuing Gouverneur Morris in
France; certain members of Congress recommend Colonel Burr to fill the
station; appoint Mr. Madison and Mr. Monroe to notify the president of
their wishes; General Washington refuses to make the appointment, but
agrees to nominate Mr. Monroe; Burr's opposition to Jay's treaty;
proposes amendments, which are rejected; letter to Thomas Morris;
detail of legislative proceedings in procuring the charter of the
Manhattan Company; Burr's conduct on the occasion; his duel with John
B. Church, Esq.; letter of Burr to -----, giving a history of his
transactions with the Holland Land Company; his daughter married; Miss
Burr to Joseph Alston; letter from Alston to Miss Burr on early
marriages; contested election in New-York in 1800; Burr a candidate
for the office of Vice President; a tie vote with Mr. Jefferson



The grandfather of Colonel Aaron Burr, the subject of these memoirs,
was a German by birth, and of noble parentage. Shortly after his
arrival in North America, he settled in Fairfield, Connecticut, where
he purchased a large tract of land, and reared a numerous family. A
part of this landed estate remained in the possession of his lineal
descendants until long after the revolutionary war. During Colonel
Burr's travels in Germany, in the year 1809, various communications
were made to him, orally and in writing, by different branches of the
Burr family, some of whom were then filling high and distinguished
scientific and literary stations.

His father, the Rev. Aaron Burr, was born in Fairfield, on the 4th day
of January, 1715, and was educated at Yale College. In a manuscript
journal which he kept, and which has been preserved, he says, "In
September, 1736, with many fears and doubts about my qualifications
(being under clouds with respect to my spiritual state), I offered
myself to trials, and was approved as a candidate for the ministry. My
first sermon was preached at Greenfield, and immediately after I came
into the Jerseys. I can hardly give any account why I came here. After
I had preached for some time at Hanover, I had a call by the people of
Newark; but there was scarce any probability that I should suit their
circumstances, being young in standing and trials. I accepted of their
invitation, with a reserve, that I did not come with any views of
settling. My labours were universally acceptable among them, and they
manifested such great regard and love for me, that I consented to
accept of the charge of their souls.

"A.D. 1738-39, January the 25th, I was set apart to the work of the
ministry, by fasting, prayer, and imposition of hands. God grant that
I may ever keep fresh upon my mind the solemn charge that was then
given me; and never indulge trifling thoughts of what then appeared to
me of such awful importance. The ministers who joined in this solemn
transaction were Mr. Dickinson, who gave the charge, and Mr. Pierson,
who preached. Mr. Dickinson, who presided at this work, has been of
great service to me by his advice and instruction, both before and
since my ordination.

"In November, 1739, I made a visit to my friends in New-England, and
again in March, 1740. In the following August gust I was in a
declining state of health, and by the advice of my physicians visited
Rhode Island. From thence I proceeded to Boston. On the 19th of
September I heard Mr. Whitefield preach in Dr. Colman's church. I am
more and more pleased with the man. On the 21st, heard him preach in
the Commons to about ten thousand people. On Monday, visited him, and
had some conversation to my great satisfaction. On the 23d, went to
hear him preach in Mr. Webb's church, but the house was crowded before
Mr. Whitefield came. The people, especially the women, were put into a
fright, under a mistaken notion that the galleries were falling, which
caused them to hurry out in such a violent manner, that many were
seriously injured and five killed. The same day, Mr. Whitefield
preached at Mr. Gee's church. In the evening he preached at Dr.
Sewall's church. On Saturday I went to hear him in the Commons; there
were about eight thousand hearers. He expounded the parable of the
prodigal son in a very moving manner. Many melted into tears. On the
4th of October, being on my return to New-Jersey, I arrived at
Fairfield, where I remained two days with my friends."

In the year 1748, Governor Belcher, of New-Jersey, by and with the
approbation of his Majesty's Council, granted a charter to the college
of New-Jersey, subsequently known as Nassau Hall. This college was
opened in Newark, the students living in private families. The Rev.
Aaron Burr was appointed the first president. In the year 1754 or
1755, the trustees commenced erecting the college in Princeton; and in
1757 it was so far completed that the students, about seventy in
number, were removed to the building.

In, June, 1752, President Burr, being then in his 38th year, was
married to Esther Edwards, the daughter of Jonathan Edwards, a
distinguished metaphysician and divine. He was the second president of
Princeton College, being called to that station on the decease of his
son-in-law, President Burr. Thus, the father of Colonel Aaron Burr,
and the grandfather on his mother's side, were, in succession, at the
head of that seminary of learning.

President Burr was alike celebrated for his eloquence and piety; but,
withal, he possessed no inconsiderable degree of eccentricity. His
courtship and marriage partook of it. Miss Edwards, after the
preliminaries were arranged, was brought to New-Jersey to be married.
The occurrence created much conversation, and gave rise to some
newspaper commentary. The following is extracted from the New-York
Gazette of the 20th of July, 1752.

"A letter to a gentleman from his friend, dated

"July 7th, 1752


"As you are a known and peculiar votary to the state of celibacy, I
judged it would do you no disservice to acquaint you of a late
occurrence, which sufficiently evidences, that after the most mature
consideration, some of our wisest and best men do prefer the
endearment of the nuptial bed.

"About eight days since, the Rev. Aaron Burr, president of the College
of New-Jersey, was married to a daughter of the renowned Mr. Jonathan
Edwards, late of Northampton. She is a young lady of about twenty-one.
Her person may be called agreeable; her natural genius seems to be
sprightly, and, no doubt, is greatly improved by a very virtuous
education. In short, she appears to be one every way qualified to make
a man of sense and piety happy in the conjugal relation. As to the
courtship or marriage, I shall not descend to particulars; but only
observe, in general, that, for some centuries, I suppose there has not
been one more in the patriarchal mode.

"I hope, sir, that this instance, both as to matter and form, will
have its genuine influence upon you, and as well bear a part in
convincing you that wedlock is incomparably preferable to the roving
uneasiness of the single state, as to direct you, when you are
choosing your mate, that, instead of acting the modern gallant, wisely
to imitate this example, and endeavour to restore courtship and
marriage to their original simplicity and design.


At different times Colonel Burr received friendly anonymous and other
communications, recommending to him the practice of a religious life.
It is a remarkable fact, that in almost every such instance he is
referred to the letters of his mother. From a communication to him,
written by a lady, the following is extracted. If it should meet her
eye, as it probably will, it is hoped that she will pardon this
freedom. Her name is suppressed, and will not be known, unless through
her own instrumentality.

"My Dear Sir,

"I trust the purity of the motives by which I am actuated will find an
apology in your bosom for the liberty I assume in addressing you on a
subject which involves your eternal interest.

"Here, in the wilds of -----, I have found an extract of a letter,
written by your inestimable mother nearly sixty years ago, of which
you are the principal subject; and a transcript of which I shall
enclose for your perusal. Perhaps you will think me a weak,
presumptuous being; but permit me, dear sir, to assure you, this does
not proceed from a whim of the moment. It is not a mere transient gust
of enthusiasm. The subject has long been heavy on my mind. I have more
than once resolved to converse with you freely; to tell you how my own
feelings were affected relative to your situation; but my faltering
tongue refused to obey the impulse of my soul, and I have withdrawn
abruptly, to conceal that which I had not confidence to communicate.
But meeting (I believe providentially) with this precious relic has
determined me. I will write, and transmit it to you. I am too well
convinced of the liberality of your sentiments; but I still believe
you retain an inherent respect for the religion of your forefathers.

"I have often reflected on your trials, and the fortitude with which
you have sustained them, with astonishment. Yours has been no common
lot. But you seem to have forgotten the right use of adversity.
Afflictions from Heaven 'are angels sent on embassies of love.' We
must improve, and not abuse them, to obtain the blessing. They are
commissioned to stem the tide of impetuous passion; to check
inordinate ambition; to show us the insignificance of earthly
greatness; to wean our affections from transitory things, and elevate
them to those realities which are ever blooming at the right hand of
God. When affliction is thus sanctified, 'the heart at once it humbles
and exalts.'

"Was it philosophy that supported you in your trials? There is an hour
approaching when philosophy will fail, and all human science will
desert you. What then will be your substitute? Tell me, Colonel Burr,
or rather answer it to your own heart, when the pale messenger
appears, how will you meet him--'undamped by doubts, undarkened by

"The enclosed is calculated to excite mingled sensations both of a
melancholy and pleasing nature. The hand that penned it is now among
'the just made perfect.' Your mother had given you up by faith. Have
you ever ratified the vows she made in your behalf? When she bade you
a long farewell, she commended you to the protection of Him who had
promised to be a father to the fatherless." The great Augustine, in
his early years, was an infidel in his principles, and a libertine in
his conduct, which his pious mother deplored with bitter weeping. But
she was told by her friends that 'the child of so many prayers, and
tears could not be lost;' and it was verified to her happy experience,
for he afterward became one of the grand luminaries of the church of
Christ. This remark has often been applied to you; and I trust you
will yet have the happiness to find that 'the prayers of the
righteous' have 'availed much.'

"One favour I would ask: when you have done with this, destroy it,
that it may never meet the eye of any third person. In the presence of
that God, before whom the inmost recesses of the heart are open, I
have written. I consulted him, and him only, respecting the propriety
of addressing it to you; and the answer he gave was, freedom in
writing, with a feeling of the deepest interest impressed upon my

"Z. Y"

"To Col. A. BURR."


"Princeton, Nov. 2, 1757.

"Honoured Sir,

"Your most affectionate, comforting letter, by my brother, was
exceedingly refreshing to me, although I was somewhat damped that I
should not see you until spring. But it is my comfort in this
disappointment, as well as under all my afflictions, that God knows
what is best for me and for his own glory. Perhaps I depended too much
on the company and conversation of such a near, and dear, and
affectionate father and guide. I cannot doubt but all is for the best,
and I am satisfied that God should order the affair of your removal as
shall be for his glory, whatever comes of me. Since I wrote my
mother's letter, God has carried me through new trials, and given me
new supports. My little son [1] has been sick with the slow fever ever
since my brother left us, and has been brought to the brink of the
grave. But I hope, in mercy, God is bringing him up again. I was
enabled to resign the child (after a severe struggle with nature) with
the greatest freedom. God showed me that the child was not my own, but
his, and that he had a right to recall what he had lent whenever he
thought fit; and I had no reason to complain, or say God dealt hard
with me. This silenced me. But how good is God! He hath not only kept
me from complaining, but comforted me, by enabling me to offer up the
child by faith. I think, if ever I acted faith, I saw the fullness
there was in Christ for little infants, and his willingness to accept
of such as were offered to him. 'Suffer little children to come unto
me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of God,' were
comforting words. God also showed me, in such a lively manner, the
fullness that was in himself of all spiritual blessings, that I said,
Although all streams were cut off, yet, so long as my God lives, I
have enough. He enabled me to say--'Although thou slay me, yet will I
trust in thee.' In this time of trial I was led to enter into a
renewed and explicit covenant with God, in a more solemn manner than
ever before, and with the greatest freedom and delight. After much
self-examination and prayer, I did give up myself and children to God
with my whole heart. Never, until now, had I a sense of the privilege
we are allowed in covenanting with God! This act of my soul left my
mind in a quiet and steady trust in God. A few days after this, one
evening, in talking of the glorious state my dear departed must be in,
my soul was carried out in such longing desires after this glorious
state, that I was forced to retire from the family to conceal my joy.
When alone, I was so transported, and my soul carried out in such
eager desires after perfection, and the full enjoyment of God, and to
serve him uninterruptedly, that I think my nature would not have borne
much more. I think I had that night a foretaste of Heaven. This frame
continued, in some good degree, the whole night. I slept but little;
and when I did, my dreams were all of heavenly and divine things.
Frequently since I have felt the same in kind, though not in degree.
Thus a kind and gracious God has been with me in six troubles, and in
seven. But, oh! Sir, what cause of deep humiliation and abasement of
soul have I, on account of remaining corruption which I see working,
especially pride! Oh, how many shapes does pride cloak itself in!
Satan is also busy shooting his darts; but, blessed be God, those
temptations of his that used to overthrow me, as yet, have not touched
me. Oh to be delivered from the power of Satan as well as sin! I
cannot help hoping the time is near. God is certainly fitting me for
himself; and when I think it will be soon that I shall be called
hence, the thought is transporting.

"Your dutiful and affectionate daughter,

"Esther Burr."

Such were the parents of Colonel Aaron Burr. Of the natural
guardianship and protection of both he was deprived before he had
reached the third year of his age. He was born on the 6th of February,
1756, in Newark, State of New-Jersey. His father died in August, 1757,
and his mother the year following, leaving two children, Aaron, and
his sister Sarah. She subsequently became the wife of Judge Tappan
Reeve, of Connecticut. On the decease of his father, Colonel Burr
inherited a handsome estate.

In the year 1760 Aaron was sent to Philadelphia, under the care of an
aunt and Dr. Shippen. For the family of the doctor he entertained a
high degree of respect. He frequently spoke of them in the kindest
terms, and recurred to this early period of his history with emotions
of gratitude for their care and protection.

Boswell, in his Life of Johnson, remarks that, "In following so very
eminent a man from his cradle to his grave, every minute particular
which can throw light on the progress of his mind, is interesting."
Johnson himself, in the Life of Sydenham, says "There is no instance
of any man, whose history has been minutely related, that did not, in
every part of life, discover the same proportion of intellectual

These high authorities are now quoted in justification of some of the
details which will be given in the progress of this work, and which,
in themselves, may appear trifling and unimportant. When Aaron was
about four years old, he had some misunderstanding with his preceptor,
in consequence of which he ran away, and was not found until the third
or fourth day after his departure from home; thus indicating, at a
tender age, that fearlessness of mind, and determination to rely upon
himself, which were characteristics stamped upon every subsequent act
of his life.


1. Col. Burr, at that time about twenty months old.


In 1761 he was removed to Stockbridge, in Massachusetts, and placed in
the family of Timothy Edwards, his mother's eldest brother. In 1762
his maternal uncle, Timothy, removed to Elizabethtown, New-Jersey.
Aaron and his sister Sarah remained in the family until the former
entered college, and the latter became the wife of Judge Reeve. A
private tutor was employed for them in the house of Mr. Edwards. For a
considerable portion of the time, Judge Reeve was engaged in that

When about ten years old, Aaron evinced a desire to make a voyage to
sea; and, with this object in view, ran away from his uncle Edwards,
and came to the city of New-York. He entered on board an outward-bound
vessel as cabin-boy. He was, however, pursued by his guardian, and his
place of retreat discovered. Young Burr, one day, while busily
employed, perceived his uncle coming down the wharf, and immediately
ran up the shrouds, and clambered to the topgallant-mast head. Here he
remained, and peremptorily refused to come down, or be taken down,
until all the preliminaries of a treaty of peace were agreed upon. To
the doctrine of unconditional submission he never gave his assent.

In 1769 Burr entered Princeton College; where, owing to his extreme
youth and smallness of stature, he was forced to commence with the
sophomore, although, upon examination, he was found qualified to enter
the junior class. This was a source of extreme mortification to him,
and especially as he had been prepared, and was every way qualified,
to enter the preceding year. From his infancy Burr was of a slender
frame, and appeared to be delicately formed; but exhibited great
muscular strength, and was able to endure excessive fatigue of body
and mind.

Previous to entering college, young Burr had formed extraordinary
notions of the acquirements of collegiates; and felt great
apprehension lest he should be found inferior to his classmates. He
was therefore, at first, indefatigable as well as systematic in his
studies. He soon discovered that he could not pursue them after dinner
with the same advantage that he could before. He suspected that this
was owing to his eating too abundantly. He made the experiment, and
the result convinced him that his apprehensions were well founded. He
immediately adopted a system of regimen, to which, in some degree, he
adhered through life. So abstemious was he during the greater part of
the first year after his entrance into college, that it operated
powerfully upon him, and he was supposed to be in bad health. He was
in the habit of studying sixteen or eighteen hours of the twenty-four,
until the period of examination arrived, when he discovered that the
progress he had made was so much beyond his associates, that he formed
an opinion as contemptuous as it had been exalted of his college
friends. The effect of this was ultimately very injurious upon his

During the last year that he remained in college, he passed a life of
idleness, negligence, and, in some measure, of dissipation. He applied
himself but little to his studies, and was in the constant pursuit of
pleasure. He graduated, however, when only sixteen years of age, with
a reputation for talents, and receiving the highest academic honours
the faculty could bestow.

In the year 1771-72, there was in the college what was termed, in
religious phraseology, "an awakening." A large portion of the
collegians became converted. It was only a short time before Burr
graduated, and in the midst of his hilarity and amusements. He was
frequently appealed to by his associates, and threatened with the most
terrific consequences if there was not an inward as well as an outward
change. From his infancy Burr's education had been strictly moral; and
strong impressions had been made upon his mind as to the existence of
a Deity, and the accountability of man. Yet this awakening did not
seem to him right in all its parts. He determined, therefore, to have
a free and full conversation with Dr. Witherspoon, the then president
of the college, on the subject. The result of that conversation in
some measure tranquillized young Burr. The Rev. Dr. assured him that
it was not true and rational religion, but fanaticism, that was
operating upon his friends.

Among the papers preserved by Colonel Burr are the originals of a
number of essays or orations, written and read by him, in conformity
with the regulations of the college, while yet a student. They are
without dates; but, as he graduated in 1772, they must have been
composed when he was of an age between thirteen and sixteen. A few of
them are here inserted, as exhibiting his manner of writing, and the
maturity and tone of his mind. The opinions which he formed, while yet
in college, as to public speaking and the selection of language, he
appears never to have changed. The style which he then recommended
seems ever after to have been his model.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Read in College, by Aaron Burr.--On Style._

"I have often observed, that it is very common for those who are
ambitious of excelling in composition, to study swelling words,
pompous epithets, and laboured periods. This is often practised,
especially by young writers. It is, however, generally condemned as a
fault, and sometimes too by those who practise it themselves. An
elegant simplicity of language is what every one should strive to
obtain. Besides the arguments which are usually offered on this head,
there is one very important one, which is commonly not much attended

"It is the business of every writer to acquire command of language, in
order that he may be able to write with ease and readiness, and, upon
any occasion, to form extempore discourses. Unless he can do this, he
will never shine as a speaker, nor will he ever make a figure in
private conversation. But to do this, it is necessary to study
simplicity of style. There never was a ready speaker, whose language
was not, generally, plain and simple; for it is absolutely impossible
to carry the laboured ornaments of language, the round period, or the
studied epithet, into extempore discourses; and, were it possible, it
would be ridiculous. We have learned, indeed, partly from reading
poetry, and partly from reading vicious compositions, to endure, and
too often to admire, such stiff and laboured discourses in writing;
but if it were even possible for a man to speak in the same pompous
diction in which Browne has written his vulgar errors, he would
certainly be very disagreeable. This reason, among others, may be
assigned for it; that however such false ornaments may please for a
time, yet, when a long and steady attention is required, we are tired
and disgusted with every thing which increases our labour, and diverts
the attention from the subject before us. A laboured style is a labour
even to the hearer. A simple style, like simple food, preserves the
appetite. But a profusion of ornament, like a profusion of sweets,
palls the appetite and becomes disgusting. A man might as soon think
of filling his stomach with sweetmeats, as going through a long debate
filled with pompous epithets and sounding language. If we have any
doubt of its being ridiculous, let us only suppose a man arguing an
abstruse subject in metaphysics, in the blank verse of Milton, or the
exact rhymes of Pope. The absurdity is the same, only different in
degree. I would not be understood to cut off an extempore speaker from
sublime expressions; because I do not suppose these to be inconsistent
with simplicity of style. I really doubt if there be any such thing as
sublimity of style, strictly speaking. But, indeed, rather believe
that the sublime depends upon the thoughts, which are the more sublime
by being clearly and simply expressed, This, however, is not material
at present. It is certainly impossible for a speaker to carry laboured
periods into his extempore discourses: it is no less certain, that in
general, a simple style is to be preferred, and that he would be
ridiculous and disagreeable if he could do it; and as extempore
speaking is a great object, which we ought to have in view in the
formation of our style, this may be used as one argument why we should
study a simple style."

_The Passions_.

"Amid the variety of literary pieces which have in all ages been
ushered into the world, few, if any, afford greater satisfaction than
those that treat of man. To persons of a speculative nature and
elegant taste, whose bosoms glow with benevolence, such disquisitions
are peculiarly delightful. The reason, indeed, is obvious; for what
more necessary to be learned and accurately understood? what more near
and interesting? and, therefore, what more proper to engage the
attention? Well may I say, with our ethic poet,

    "'The proper study of mankind is man.'

"If we take a view of the body only, which may be called the shell or
external crust, we shall perceive it to be formed with amazing nicety
and art. How are we lost in wonder when we behold all its component
parts; when we behold them, although various and minute, and blended
together almost beyond conception, discharging their peculiar
functions without the least confusion. All harmoniously conspiring to
one grand end.

"But when we take a survey of the more sublime parts of the human
frame; when we behold man's internal make and structure; his mental
faculties; his social propensions, and those active powers which set
all in motion--the passions,--what an illustrious display of
consummate wisdom is presented to our admiring view! What brighter
mark--what stronger evidence need we of a God? The scanty limits of a
few minutes, to which I am confined, would not permit me, were I equal
to the task, to enter into a particular examination of all man's
internal powers. I shall therefore throw out a few thoughts on the
passions only.

"Man's mental powers, being in their nature sluggish and inactive,
cannot put themselves in motion. The grand design then of the passions
is, to rouse them to action. These lively and vigorous principles make
us eager in the pursuit of those things that are approved by the
judgment; keep the mind intent upon proper objects, and at once awake
to action all the powers of the soul. The passions give vivacity to
all our operations, and render the enjoyments of life pleasing and
agreeable. Without them, the scenes of the world would affect us no
more than the shadowy pictures of a morning dream.

"Who can view the works of nature, and the productions of art, without
the most sublime and rapturous emotions? Who can view the miseries of
others, without being dissolved into compassion? Who can read human
nature, as represented in the histories of the world, without burning
to chastise the perpetrators of tyranny, or glowing to imitate the
assertors of freedom? But, were we of a sudden stripped of our
passions, we should survey the works of nature and the productions of
art with indifference and neglect. We should be unaffected with the
calamities of others, deaf to the calls of pity, and dead to all the
feelings of humanity. Without generosity, benevolence, or charity, man
would be a groveling, despicable creature. Without the passions, man
would hardly rank above the beasts.

"It is a trite truth, that the passions have too much influence over
our sentiments and opinions. It is the remark of a late author, that
the actions and sentiments of men do as naturally follow the lead of
the passions, as the effect does the cause. Hence they are, by some,
aptly enough, termed the principles of action. Vicious desires will
produce vicious practices; and men, by permitting themselves to think
of indulging irregular passions, corrupt the understanding, which is
the source of all virtue and morality. The passions, then, if properly
regulated, are the gentle gales which keep life from stagnating; but,
if let loose, the tempests which tear every thing before them. Too
fatal observation will evince the truth of this.

"Do we not frequently behold men of the most sprightly genius, by
giving the reins to their passions, lost to society, and reduced to
the lowest ebb of misery and despair? Do we not frequently behold
persons of the most penetrating discernment and happy turn for polite
literature, by mingling with the sons of sensuality and riot, blasted
in the bloom of life? Such was the fate of the late celebrated Duke of
Wharton, Wilmot, earl of Rochester, and Villers, duke of Buckingham,
three noblemen, as eminently distinguished by their wit, taste, and
knowledge, as for their extravagance, revelry, and lawless passions.
In such cases, the most charming elocution, the finest fancy, the
brightest blaze of genius, and the noblest burst of thoughts, call for
louder vengeance, and damn them to lasting infamy and shame.

"A greater curse cannot, indeed, befall community, than for princes
and men in eminent departments to be under the influence of
ill-directed passions. Lo Alexander and Cesar, the fabled heroes of
antiquity, to what lengths did passion hurry them? Ambition, with look
sublime, bade them on, bade them grasp at universal dominion, and wade
to empire through seas of blood! But why need I confine myself to
these? Do not provinces, plundered and laid waste with fire and sword;
do not nations, massacred and slaughtered by the bloody hand of war;
do not all these dreadful and astonishing revolutions, recorded in the
pages of history, show the fatal effects of lawless passions?

"If the happiness of others could not, yet surely our own happiness
should induce us to keep our passions within the bounds of reason; for
the passions, when unduly elevated, destroy the health, impair the
mental faculties, sour the disposition, embitter life, and make us
equally disagreeable to others and uneasy to ourselves. Is it not,
then, of moment, that our passions be duly balanced, their sallies
confined within proper limits, and in no case suffered to transgress
the bounds of reason? Will any one deny the importance of regulating
the passions, when he considers how powerful they are, and that his
own happiness, and perhaps the happiness of thousands, depends upon
it? The regulation of the passions is a matter of moment, and
therefore we should be careful to fix them upon right objects, to
confine them within proper bounds, and never permit them to exceed the
limits assigned by nature. It is the part of reason to sooth the
passions, and to keep the soul in a pleasing serenity and calm: if
reason rules, all is quiet, composed, and benign: if reason rules, all
the passions, like a musical concert, are in unison. In short, our
passions, when moderate, are accompanied with a sense of fitness and
rectitude; but, when excessive, inflame the mind, and hurry us on to
action without due distinction of objects.

"Among uncivilized nations, the passions do, in general, exceed all
rational bounds. Need we a proof of this? Let us cast our eyes on the
different savage tribes in the world, and we shall be immediately
convinced that the passions rule without control. Happy it is, that in
polished society, the passions, by early discipline, are so moderated
as to be made subservient to the most important services. In this
respect, seminaries of learning are of the utmost advantage, and
attended with the most happy effects. Moreover, the passions are
attended with correspondent commotions in animal nature, and,
therefore, the real temper will, of course, be discovered by the
countenance, the gesture, and the voice. Here I might run into a
pleasing enumeration of many instances of this; but, fearing that I
have already trespassed upon your patience, shall desist. Permit me,
however unusual, to close with a wish. May none of those unruly
passions ever captivate any of my audience."

_An Attempt to search the Origin of Idolatry._

"It is altogether impossible to fix exactly the period when idolatry
took its rise. Adam, coming immediately from the hands of God, had
experienced too many manifestations of his power and goodness to be
unacquainted with him, and must have preserved the purest idea of him
in his own family, which, most probably, continued in the branch of
Seth till the deluge. The posterity of Cain, on the contrary (the pure
idea of God gradually wearing away, and by loose men being connected
with sense), fell into idolatry, and every other crime, which brought
on the deluge; a period about which Moses has said but little, and
from what he has said we can draw no just conclusion with respect to
the idolatry of those times.

"A certain author, being persuaded that idolatry did not take its rise
till after the deluge, gives a very singular account of its origin.
According to him, atheism had spread itself over the world. This
disposition of mind, says he, is the capital crime. Atheists are much
more odious to the Divinity than idolaters. Besides, this principle is
much more capable of leading men into that excessive corruption the
world fell into before the deluge. The knowledge of a God, of whatever
nature he is conceived, and the worship of a Deity, are apt, of
themselves, to be a restraint upon men. So that idolatry was of some
use to bear down the corruption of the world. It is therefore
probable, that the horrid vices men were fallen into before the
deluge, proceeded only from their not knowing nor serving a God. I am
even of opinion (continues he) that the idolatry and polytheism after
the deluge derived their origin from the atheism and impiety that
reigned before it. Such is the temper of men, when they have been
severely punished for any crime, they run into the opposite extreme. I
conjecture (concludes the same author) this was the case with men
after the deluge. As they reckoned that this terrible judgment, which
carried such indications of Divine wrath, was sent for the punishment
of atheism, they ran into the opposite extreme. They adored whatever
seemed to deserve their worship.

"It is true, indeed, that idolatry is capable of furnishing a curb
against irregularity of manners; but this author has conjectured,
without foundation, that atheism reigned universally before the
deluge. He ought, at least, to have excepted the posterity of Seth.

"However idolatry might have reigned before the deluge, it is certain
that the knowledge and worship of the true God were again united in
the family of Noah; and as long as the children and grandchildren of
that patriarch made but one family, in all probability, the worship of
the true God was little altered in its purity. Noah being at the head
of the people, and Shem, Ham, and Japheth witnesses of God's vengeance
on their contemporaries, is it probable that they, living in the midst
of their families, would suffer them to depart from the truth? We read
of nothing that can incline us to this belief. Various have been the
conjectures concerning the authors of idolatry. Some believe it was
Serug, the grandfather of Terah, who first introduced idolatry after
the deluge. Others maintain it was Nimrod, and that he instituted the
worship of fire among his subjects, which continues even to this day
in some places in Persia. Others assert that Ham was the author of it,
and then his son Canaan; and it is most probable that the unfortunate
sons of an accursed father were the first who, following the
propensity of their own heart, sought out sensible objects to which
they might offer a superstitious worship. As the two sons of Ham,
Canaan and Mizraim, settled, the one in Phoenicia, and the other in
Egypt, it is probable that these were the first nurseries of idolatry;
and the sun, being looked upon as the purest image of the Creator, was
the first object of it. It is not probable that men would choose
beings like themselves for the first objects of their adoration.
Nothing could be more capable of seducing than the beauty and
usefulness of the sun, dispensing light and fertility all around. But,
to conclude, we must not imagine that all idolatry sprang from the
same country. It came by slow degrees, and those who made the first
advances towards this impiety, did by no means carry it to that
extravagant height to which it afterwards arrived."


In college, young Burr formed intimacies which ripened into lasting
friendship. The attachment between him and Colonel Matthias Ogden, of
New-Jersey, was both ardent and mutual; and, it is believed, continued
during the life of the latter. Colonel Knapp says, "Samuel Spring, D.
D., late of Newburyport, was in college with Colonel Burr, and part of
their college life was his chum. The doctor was a student of mature
age, and had a provisitorial power over Burr in his daily duties. He
has often spoken of his young friend with more than ordinary feeling.
He, in fact, prophesied his future genius, from the early proofs he
gave of intellectual power in the course of his college life."

At Princeton, Burr enjoyed the counsel and advice of the late William
Paterson, subsequently one of the judges of the Supreme Court of the
United States. To be thus early in life honoured with the respect and
esteem of such a man as Judge Paterson, was highly flattering. Their
correspondence commenced in 1772, and continued until the decease of
the judge. Extracts from his letters to Colonel Burr will be given
occasionally. He says, in a letter dated

"Princeton, January 17th, 1772.

"Dear Burr,

"I am just ready to take horse, and therefore cannot have the pleasure
of waiting on you in person. Be pleased to accept of the enclosed
notes on _dancing_. If you pitch upon it as the subject of your next
discourse, they may, perhaps, furnish you with a few hints, and enable
you to compose with the greater facility and despatch. To do you any
little services in my power will afford me great satisfaction, and I
hope you will take the liberty (it is nothing more, my dear Burr, than
the freedom of a friend) to call upon me whenever you think I can.

"When I shall be here again is uncertain--perhaps not before vacation.
Forbear with me while I say _that you cannot speak too slow_. Your
good judgment generally leads you to lay the emphasis on the most
forcible word in the sentence; so far you act very right. But the
misfortune is, that you lay too great stress upon the emphatical word.
Every word should be distinctly pronounced; one should not be so
highly sounded as to drown another. To see you shine as a speaker
would give great pleasure to your friends in general, and to me in
particular. I say nothing of your own honour. The desire of making
others happy will, to a generous mind, be the strongest incentive. I
am much mistaken if such a desire has not great influence over you.
You are certainly capable of making a good speaker. Exert yourself. I
am in haste.

"Dear Burr, adieu.


Another letter, dated

"Princeton, October 26th, 1772.

"Dear Burr,

"Our mutual friend, Stewart, with whom I spent part of the evening,
informed me you were still in Elizabethtown. You are much fonder of
that place than I am, otherwise you would hardly be prevailed upon to
make so long a stay. But, perhaps, the reason that I fear it, makes
you like it. There is certainly something amorous in its very air. Nor
is this a case any way extraordinary or beyond belief. I have read
(and it was in point, too) that a flock of birds, being on the wing,
and bending their flight towards a certain town in Connecticut,
dropped down dead just as they were over it. The people were at first
fairly at a loss to account for this phenomenon in any natural way.
However, it was at length agreed on all hands that it was owing to the
noisomeness of the atmosphere, the smallpox at that time being very
rife in the place. I should never have given credit to the report, had
it not come from so good a quarter as that of New-England. For my
part, I always drive through Elizabethtown as quickly as possible,
lest the soft infection should steal upon me, or I should take it in
with the very air I breathe.

"Yesterday I went to hear Mr. Halsey, and there, too, I saw his young
and blooming wife. The old gentleman seems very fond of his rib, and,
in good sooth, leers very wistfully at her as she trips along by his
side. Some allowance, however, must be made; he is in the vale of
life; love is a new thing to him, and the honey-moon is not yet over.
  'They are amorous, and fond, and billing,
  Like Philip and Mary on a shilling.'
I have promised to pay him a visit; Stewart, or some of the tutors, I
believe, will accompany me, and I hope you will too.

"Since commencement I have been at a Dutch wedding, and expect to be
at one or two more very shortly. There was drinking, and singing, and
fiddling, and dancing. I was pleased extremely. Every one seemed to be
in good-humour with himself, and this naturally led them all to be in
good-humour with one another.

"When the itch of scribbling seizes me, I hardly know when to stop.
The fit, indeed, seldom comes upon me; but when it does, though I sit
down with a design to be short, yet my letter insensibly slides into
length, and swells perhaps into an enormous size. I know not how it
happens, but on such occasions I have a knack of throwing myself out
on paper that I cannot readily get the better of. It is a sign,
however, that I more than barely esteem the person I write to, as I
have constantly experienced that my hand but illy performs its office
unless my heart concurs. I confess I cannot conceive how I got into so
scribbling a vein at present. It is now past eleven o'clock at night,
and besides being on horse the greater part of the day, I intend to
start early to-morrow for Philadelphia. There I shall see the races,
and the play, and, what is of more value far than all, there, too, I
shall see Miss -----, you know who.

"The enclosed letter to Spring I commit to your care. I should have
sent it before, as I wrote it immediately after you left this place,
but I really thought you were in New-England long ere now. I know not
his address; perhaps he is at Newport, perhaps he is not. If, on
inquiry, you find that the letter is wrongly directed, pray give it an
envelope, and superscribe it anew. If he is still at Newport, it
would, perhaps, more readily reach him from New-York than from any
part of New-England that you maybe at. I have said that if I am
mistaken in directing the within letter, you should cover it and give
it the proper address. Do, dear Burr, get somebody who can write at
least a passable hand to back it, for you give your letters such a
sharp, slender, and lady-like cast, that almost every one, on seeing
them, would conclude there was a correspondence kept up between my
honest friend Spring and some of the female tribe, which might,
perhaps, affect him extremely in point of reputation, as many people
suppose that nothing of this kind can be carried on between unmarried
persons of the two sexes without being tinged with love; and the
rather so, since the notion of Platonic love is, at the present day,
pretty generally, and I believe justly too, exploded. Platonic love is
arrant nonsense, and rarely, if ever, takes place until the parties
have at least passed their grand climacteric. Besides, the New-England
people, I am told, are odd, inquisitive kind of beings, and, when
pricked on by foolish curiosity, may perhaps open the letter, which I
do not choose should be common to every eye.

"You gave me some hopes that you would see my good friend Reeve before
you returned. If you do, make him my respectful compliments, and tell
him that I fully designed to write him, but that business prevented,
that laziness hindered, that--in short, tell him any thing, so it does
not impeach my affection, or lead him to think I have entirely
forgotten him. I am,

"Dear Burr yours sincerely,


In a letter to Dr. Spring, dated October 5, 1772, speaking of the
commencement, Judge Paterson says:--"The young gentlemen went through
their exercises in a manner passable enough. The speakers were all
tolerable--none of them very bad nor very good. Our young friend Burr
made a graceful appearance; he was excelled by none, except perhaps by
Bradford. Linn, too, was pretty generally approved; but, for my part,
I could not forbear thinking that he took rant, and rage, and madness
for true spirit--a very common mistake."

For some months after Burr graduated (1772), he remained in college,
reviewing his past studies, and devoting his time to general
literature. Possessed of an ample income, having access to the college
library, and continuing, from time to time, as his correspondence
shows, to supply himself with scientific and literary productions, his
mind was greatly improved during this period. It is true he continued
to indulge in amusements and pleasures; but, sleeping little, seldom
more than six hours, he found ample time for study.

In the college there was a literary club, consisting of the graduates
and professors, and still known as _The Clio-Sophic Society_. Dr.
Samuel S. Smith, subsequently president of the college, was then
(1773) a professor. With him young Burr was no favourite, and their
dislike was mutual. The attendance of the professors was expected to
be regular. The members of the society in rotation presided over its
deliberations. On a particular occasion it was the duty of young Burr
to take the chair. At the hour of meeting he took his seat as
president. Dr. Smith had not then arrived; but, shortly after the
business commenced, he entered. Burr, leaning on one arm of the chair
(for, although now sixteen years of age, he was too small to reach
both arms at the same time), began lecturing Professor Smith for his
non-attendance at an earlier hour, remarking that a different example
to younger members was expected from him, and expressing a hope that
it might not again be necessary to recur to the subject. Having
finished his lecture, to the great amusement of the society, he
requested the professor to resume his seat. The incident, as may well
be imagined, long served as a college joke.


New-Haven, March, 1772.


By a poor candle, with poor eyes and a poorer brain, I sit down to
introduce a long wished-for correspondence. You see how solicitous I
am to preserve old connexions; or, rather, to begin new ones.
Relationship, by the fashionable notions of those large towns, which
usurp a right to lead and govern our opinions, is dwindled to a formal
nothing--a mere shell of ceremony. Our ancestors, whose honesty and
simplicity (though different from the wise refinements of modern
politeness) were perhaps as deserving of imitation as the insincere
coldness of the present generation, _cousin'd_ it to the tenth degree
of kindred. Though this was extending the matter to a pitch of
extravagance, yet it was certainly founded upon a natural, rational
principle. Who are so naturally our friends as those who are born
such? I defy a New-Yorker, though callous'd over with city politeness,
to be otherwise than pleased with a view of ancient hospitality to
relations, when exercised by a person of good-breeding and a genteel

Now, say you, what has this to do with the introduction of a
correspondence? You shall know directly, sir. The _Edwardses_ have
been always remarkable for this fondness for their relations. If you
have the least inclination to prove yourself a true descendant of that
respectable stock, you cannot fail of answering me very soon. This
(were I disposed) I could demonstrate by algebra and syllogisms in a
twinkling; but hope you will believe me without either. I never asked
for many connexions in this way; and was never neglected but once, and
that by a Jersey gentleman, to whom I wrote and received no answer. I
hope the disease is not epidemical, and that you have not determined
against any communication with the rest of the world. It was a
mortification, I confess; for I am too proud to be denied a request,
though unreasonable, as many of mine are--therefore, I insist upon an
answer, at least, and as many more as you can find in your heart to
give me; promising, in return, as many by tale, though without a large
profit. I shall not warrant their quality.

Your sincere friend,



Newport, May 15th, 1772.


It is a little strange to me that I have not heard any thing of you
since your examination. I don't know but you are dissatisfied, since
you are so backward to write; however, I will, if possible, keep such
thoughts out of my mind till I hear from you in particular. If you are
let down a peg lower, you may tell me of it. If you are permitted to
live in college, you may tell me of it; and if you are turned out, you
may tell me of it. If you passed examination, and have a syllogism to
speak at commencement, _if you are able to make it_, I suppose you may
tell me of that likewise; or, if you are first in the class, you may
tell me, if you will only do it softly; indeed, you may tell me any
thing, for I profess to be your friend. Therefore, since you can trust
me so far, I expect you will now write, and let me know a little how
matters are at present in college. In particular, let me know the
state of the society (Cliosophic); and if I owe any thing to it, do
you pay it, _and charge it to your humble servant_.

I hope you will write the first opportunity, as I trust you have got
some very good news to tell me concerning the college in general, and
yourself in particular. I have nothing particular to write. It is very
pleasant to me where I am at present.

The study of divinity is agreeable;--far more so than any other study
whatever would be to me. I hope to see the time when you will feel it
to be your duty to go into the same study with a desire for the
ministry. Remember, that was the prayer of your dear father and
mother, and is the prayer of your friends to this time--that you
should step forth into his place, and make it manifest that you are a
friend to Heaven, and that you have a taste for its glory. But this,
you are sensible, can never be the case if you remain in a state of
nature. Therefore, improve the present and future moments to the best
of purposes, as knowing the time will soon be upon you when you will
wish that in living you had lived right, and acted rationally and like
an immortal.

Your friend,


In 1806-7 great excitement was produced, in consequence of Colonel
Burr writing in cipher to General Wilkinson, In this particular he
seems to have had peculiar notions. However innocent his
correspondence, he was, apparently, desirous at all times of casting
around it a veil of mystery. The same trait was conspicuous in his
political movements and intercourse. This has been one of the weak
points in Colonel Burr's character. He was considered a mysterious
man; and what was not understood by the vulgar, was pronounced selfish
or ambitious intrigue. Even his best friends were, often dissatisfied
with him on this account. Acting upon this principle of mystery at
every period of his life, he has corresponded with one or more
individuals in cipher. While yet a student in college, the letters
between his sister and himself are frequently written in cipher. So,
also, much of his correspondence with his most intimate friend,
Matthias Ogden, and with others in 1774 and 1775, is in cipher. Many
of these letters, thus written, are now in existence. To those,
therefore, acquainted with the character and peculiarities of Colonel
Burr, the fact of his writing a letter in cipher would not be
considered as any thing extraordinary; because it was a habit which he
had adopted and pursued for more than thirty years preceding the
period when this excitement was thus produced.

Before Burr left Princeton, and while lie was indulging himself in
pleasures and amusements, he accidentally visited a billiard-table. He
engaged in play, and, although he had never before seen the game, he
was successful, and won about half a Joe. On returning home with his
gains, he reflected on the incident with great mortification, and
determined never again to play; which determination he adhered to
through life. Colonel Burr not only abstained from playing at
billiards, but with equal pertinacity he refused to play at any game
for the purpose of acquiring money.

Although he had been somewhat tranquillized by his conversation with
Dr. Witherspoon on the subject of the awakening in college in 1772,
yet he was not entirely at ease. In consequence of which he came to a
resolution not to enter upon the concerns of life until this point was
more satisfactorily settled in his own mind. He concluded, therefore,
to visit and consult the Rev. Joseph Bellamy, a venerable and devoted
friend of his late father, and to whom he was known by reputation.

Joseph Bellamy, D.D., was an eminent preacher and theological writer
of Connecticut, and intimate friend of Colonel Burr's relative, the
famous Jonathan Edwards, with whose particular opinion he fully
agreed. He was celebrated in his days, before the establishment of
theological seminaries, as an instructor of young men preparing for
the ministry. The late Governor Wolcott used to speak of him with the
highest respect for his talent and moderation. He died in 1790.

In the autumn of 1773, Burr visited him at Bethlehem, in Connecticut,
and was received by his aged friend in a most kind and affectionate
manner. His advice, and the use of his library, were promptly
tendered. Burr commenced a course of reading on religious topics, and
was thus occupied from sixteen to eighteen hours a day. His habits
were those of great abstinence, and a recluse. His conversations with
the reverend divine were encouraged and indulged in with freedom, and
his inquiries answered. Here he remained until the spring of 1774,
when, to use his own language, he "came to the conclusion that the
road to Heaven was open to all alike." He, however, from that time
forward, avoided most studiously all disputation on the subject of

An impression has been created that Côlonel Burr was placed by his
guardian under Dr. Bellamy, for the purpose of studying divinity. This
is an error. His visit to the Rev. Dr. was not the result of a
conference or communication with any person whatever; but the volition
of his own mind, and for the purpose already stated. In fact, after
Burr entered college, his studies and his future pursuits in life
appear to have been left entirely under his own control. Whether this
arose from indolence on the part of his guardian, or from pertinacity
in young Burr, is uncertain; perhaps a little of both, united with the
great confidence which his uncle reposed in his judgment and talents.

In the spring of 1774, while he yet resided at Dr. Bellamy's, he
contemplated studying law; but was undecided whether he should read
with Pierpont Edwards, or with his brother-in-law, Tappan Reeve, and
upon this subject he wrote his guardian, who replies, in a letter

"Stockbridge, February 11th, 1774.

"Whether you study law with Mr. Reeve or your uncle Pierpont is a
matter of indifference with me. I would have you act your pleasure
therein. I shall write to your uncle upon it, but yet treat it as a
matter of doubt. Your board I shall settle with Dr. Bellamy myself. I
will send you cash to pay for your horse very soon. You may expect it
in the forepart of March. If I had known of this want of yours sooner,
I would have paid it before this.

"Your affectionate uncle,



In May, 1774, he left the Rev. Mr. Bellamy's, and went to the house of
his brother-in-law, Tappan Reeve, where his time was occupied in
reading, principally history; but especially those portions of it
which related to wars, and battles, and sieges, which tended to
inflame his natural military ardour. The absorbing topics of taxation
and the rights of the people were agitating the then British colonies
from one extreme to the other. These subjects, therefore, could not
pass unnoticed by a youth of the inquiring mind and ardent feelings of
Burr. Constitutional law, and the relative rights of the crown and the
colonists, were examined with all the acumen which he possessed, and
he became a Whig from reflection and conviction, as well as from

At this period, Burr's most intimate and confidential correspondent
was Matthias Ogden, of New-Jersey, subsequently Colonel Ogden, a
gallant and distinguished revolutionary officer. He writes to Burr,

"Elizabethtown, August 9th, 1774.


"I received yours by Mr. Beach, dated Sunday. I am not a little
pleased that you have the doctor (Bellamy) so completely under your
thumb. Last Saturday I went a crabbing. Being in want of a thole-pin,
I substituted a large jackknife in its stead, with the blade open and
sticking up. It answered the purpose of rowing very well; but it seems
that was not the only purpose it had to answer; for, after we had been
some time on the flats, running on the mud, as the devil would have
it, in getting into the boat I threw my leg directly across the edge
of the knife, which left a decent mark of nearly four inches long, and
more than one inch deep. It was then up anchor and away. Our first
port was Dayton's ferry, where Dr. Bennet happened to be, but without
his apparatus for sewing, to the no small disadvantage of me, who was
to undergo the operation. Mrs. Dayton, however, furnished him with a
large darning-needle, which, as soon as I felt going through my skin,
I thought was more like a gimlet boring into me; but, with the help of
a glass of wine, I grinned and bore it, until he took a few stitches
in the wound. So much for crabbing.

"I was at New-York about a fortnight since, on my way to Jamaica, Long
Island. The object of this journey you understand. I stayed at Mr.
Willett's three days, and then went to Colonel Morris's, and spent two
days there very agreeably. Nothing occurred worth relating, unless it
be some transactions of the greatest fool I ever knew.

"Mr. Elliot, collector of New-York, Mr. and Mrs. Delancey and
daughter, dined there on Sunday. Witherspoon [1] was led in with a
large bag tied to his hair, that reached down to the waistband of his
breeches, and a brass locket hanging from his neck below his stomach.
He was turned round and round by each of the company: was asked where
he got that very neat bag, and the valuable locket? He readily
answered, they were a present from Lady Kitty, who was violently in
love with him, and he expected to marry her in a short time. He is so
credulous that any child might impose on him. I told him that I came
from Lord Stirling's, and that he might write by me to Lady Kitty.
Accordingly, he wrote a long letter and gave me, which I opened there,
and, by desire of Colonel Morris, answered it, when I got to New-York,
in Lady Kitty's name, informing him that he must tell Mr. Morris to
provide himself with another tutor, as she intended marrying him
without fail the first of September, which I suppose he will as
sincerely believe as he does his existence.

"Yours affectionately,



Litchfield, August 17th, 1774.


Before I proceed any further, let me tell you that, a few days ago, a
mob of several hundred persons gathered at Barrington, and tore down
the house of a man who was suspected of being unfriendly to the
liberties of the people; broke up the court, then sitting at that
place, &c. As many of the rioters belonged to this colony, and the
Superior Court was then sitting at this place, the sheriff was
immediately despatched to apprehend the ringleaders. He returned
yesterday with eight prisoners, who were taken _without resistance_.
But this minute there is entering the town on horseback, with great
regularity, about fifty men, armed each with a white club; and I
observe others continually dropping in. I shall here leave a blank, to
give you (perhaps in heroics) a few sketches of my unexampled valour,
should they proceed to hostilities; and, should they not, I can then
tell you what I would have done.

The abovementioned _sneaks all gave bonds for their appearance_, to
stand a trial at the next court for committing a riot.

Yours affectionately,


On the 11th of September, 1774, he again writes Ogden:--

I wrote you last Thursday, and enclosed one of the songs you desired,
which was all I could then obtain. Miss -----, the fountain of melody,
furnished me with it. I knew that she, and no one else, had the notes
of the enclosed song. I told her I should be glad to copy them for a
most accomplished young gentleman in the Jerseys. She engaged to bring
them the first time she came in town, for she lives about two miles
from here. I this day received it, precisely as you have it. You may
depend upon its being the work of her own hands. If this don't deserve
an acrostic, I don't know--sense, beauty, modesty, and music. Matter

Pray tell me whether your prayers are heard, and a good old saint,
though a little in your way, is yet in Heaven. But remember, Matt.,
you can never be without plague, and when one gets out of the way, a
worse, very often, supplies its place; so, I tell you again, be
content, and hope for better times.

I am determined never to have any dealings with your friend Cupid
until I know certainly how matters will turn out with you: for should
some lucky devil step in between my friend and----, which kind Heaven
grant may never be; in such a case, I say, I would choose to be
untied, and then, you know, the wide world is before us.

Yours sincerely,


Burr again writes him, dated

Litchfield, February 2d, 1775.

I sent you a packet by N. Hazard, and from that time to this I have
not had the most distant prospect of conveying a letter to you.
However, I have written a number of scrawls, the substance of which
you shall now have.

The times with me are pretty much as usual; not so full of action as I
could wish; and I find this propensity to action is very apt to lead
me into scrapes. T. B. has been here since I wrote you last; he came
very unexpectedly. You will conclude we had some confab about Miss
-----. We had but little private chat, and the whole of that little
was about her. He would now and then insinuate slyly what a clever
circumstance it would be to have such a wife, with her fortune.

T. BURR, [2] by his kindness to me, has certainly laid me under
obligations, which it would be the height of ingratitude in me ever to
forget; but I cannot conceive it my duty to be in the least influenced
by these in the present case. Were I to conform to his inclination, it
could give him pleasure or pain only as the consequence was good or
bad to me. The sequel might be such as would inevitably cause him the
most bitter anguish; and, in all probability, would be such if I
should consult his fancy instead of my judgment. And who can be a
judge of these consequences but myself? But even supposing things
could be so situated that, by gratifying him, I should certainly be
the means of his enjoying some permanent satisfaction, and should
subject myself to a bare probability of misery as permanent, would it
not stagger the most generous soul to think of sacrificing a whole
life's comfort to the caprice of a friend? But this is a case that can
never happen, unless that friend has some mean and selfish motive,
such as I know T. Burr has not. I can never believe that too great
deference to the judgment of another, in these matters, can arise from
any greatness of soul. It appears to me the genuine offspring of
meanness. I suppose you are impatient for my reply to these
importunities. I found my tongue and fancy too cramped to say much.
However, I rallied my thoughts and set forth, as well as I was able,
the inconveniences and uncertainty attending such an affair. I am
determined to be very blunt the next time the matter is urged.

I have now and then an affair of petty gallantry, which might
entertain you if you were acquainted with the different characters I
have to deal with; but, without that, they would be very insipid.

I have lately engaged in a correspondence of a peculiar nature. I
write once, and sometimes twice a week, to a lady who knows not that
she ever received a line from me. The letters, on both sides, are
mostly sentimental. Those of the lady are doubtless written with more
sincerity, and less reserve, than if she knew I had any concern with
them. Mr. ----- received a letter from Miss -----. He is very little
versed in letter-writing, and engaged, or rather permitted, me to
answer it, not thinking thereby to embark in a regular correspondence,
but supposing the matter would thus end. I have had many scruples of
conscience about this affair, though I really entered into it not with
any sinister view, but purely to oblige----. I should be glad to know
your opinion of it. You will readily observe the advantage I have over
-----. He is of an unsuspicious make, and this gives me an opportunity
(if I had any inclination) to insert things which might draw from her
secrets she would choose I should be ignorant of. But I would suffer
crucifixion rather than be guilty of such an unparalleled meanness. On
the contrary, I have carefully avoided saying any thing which might
have the least tendency to make her write what she would be unwilling
I should see.



On the 12th of March, 1775, Burr writes Ogden:--

I have received your and Aaron's [3] letters. I was a little
disappointed that you did not send an acrostic; but I still entertain
some secret hope that the muse (who, you say, has taken her flight)
will shortly return, and, by a new and stricter intimacy, more than
repay the pains of this momentary absence. Your happiness, Matt., is
really almost the only present thing I can contemplate with any
satisfaction; though I, like other fools, view futurity with
partiality enough to make it very desirable; but I must first throw
reason aside, and leave fancy uncontrolled. In some of these happy
freaks I have endeavoured to take as agreeable a sleigh-ride as you
had to Goshen; but I find it impracticable, unless you will make one
of the party; for my imagination, when most romantic, is not lively or
delusive enough to paint an object that can, in my eyes, atone for
your absence. From this you will conclude that the news you heard of
me at Princeton is groundless. It is so far from being true, that
scarce two persons can fix on the same lady to tease me with. However,
I would not have you think that this diversity of opinion arises from
the volatility of my constitution, or that I am in love with every new
or pretty face I see. But, I hope, you know me too well to need a
caution of this nature. I am very glad to hear of -----'s downfall.
But, with all that fellow's low-lived actions, I don't more sincerely
despise him than I do certain other narrow-hearted scoundrels you have
among you. Mean as he is, he appears to me to have (or rather to have
had) more of something at bottom that bordered on honour, than some
who will pass through life respected by many. I say this, not so much
to raise him above the common standard of d--ls, as to sink them below
it. My idea of a d--l is composed more of malice than of meanness.

Since I commenced this letter I have passed through a scene entirely
new. Now, as novelty is the chief and almost only ingredient of
happiness here below, you'll fancy I have had some lucky turn. I think
it quite the reverse, I assure you. I have serious thoughts of leaving
the matter here, that you may be on the rack of curiosity for a month
or so. Would not this be truly satanic? What would be your conjectures
in such a case? The first, I _guess_, that I was sadly in love, and
had met with some mortifying rebuff.

What would you say if I should tell you that ----- had absolutely
professed love for me? Now I can see you with both hands up--eyes and
mouth wide open; but don't be over scrupulous. Trust me, I tell you
the whole truth. I cannot at present give you any further particulars
about the matter, than that I felt foolish enough, and gave as
cautious a turn to it as I could, for which I am destined to suffer
her future hostility.

Last week I received a letter from T. Edwards, which I fear may prove
fatal to the dear project of the 15th of April. He intends to be
hereabout the middle of that month. Supposing he should come here the
13th of April, what could I do? Run off and leave him? Observe the
uncertainty of all sublunary things. I, who a few months ago was as
uncontrolled in my motions as the lawless meteors, am now (sad
reverse!) at the beck of a person forty miles off. But all this
lamentation, if well considered, is entirely groundless, for (_between
you and me_) I intend to see you at Elizabethtown this spring. But
even supposing I should fail in this--where is this sad reverse of
fortune?--this lamentable change? Is it not a very easy matter to fix
on another time, and write you word by T. Edwards?

I have struck up a correspondence with J. Bellamy (son to the famous
divine of that name). He has very lately settled in the practice of
the law at Norwich, a place about seventy miles S. E. of this. He is
one of the cleverest fellows I have to deal with. Sensible, a person
of real humour, and is an excellent judge of mankind, though he has
not had opportunity of seeing much of the world. Adieu.



Norwich, March 14th, 1775.

To do justice to circumstances, which you know are of the greatest
importance in order to form a true estimate of what a person either
says or does, it is indispensably necessary for me to tell you that it
not only rains very generously, but that it is as dark as it was
before light was created. It would be ridiculous to suppose that you
need information that nothing but the irresistible desire of writing
could possibly keep me at home this evening.

I had received your February favour only just time to laugh at it
once, when the melancholy news that Betsy Devotion, of Windham, was
very dangerously sick, banished every joyous thought from my heart.
This Betsy you may remember to have heard mentioned near the name of
Natty Huntington, who died last December; and a very angel she was
too, I assure you. You see I speak of her in the _past_ sense, for she
has left us; and her friends are sure she is not less an angel _now_
than she was ten days ago. Very certain I am, that if a natural
sweetness of disposition can scale Heaven's walls, she went over like
a bird. But I believe we must leave _her_ and all the rest of our
departed friends to be sentenced by a higher Board.

  "Transports last not in the human heart;
  But all with transports soon agree to part."

If nature, in spite of us, did not take care of herself, we could not
but be perfectly wretched. Philosophy is the emptiest word in the
dictionary. And you may observe, wherever you find them, that those
persons who profess to place all their reliance upon it, under every
affecting circumstance of life, do but make use of the term as a mask
for an iron heart. "But" (as the devil said on another occasion) "put
forth thine hand, and touch his bone, and his flesh, and he will curse
thee to thy face." They have as little fortitude as anybody when
sufferings pinch home upon them.

Thus have I relieved a heart that perhaps felt a little too full; and
if it is at the expense of my _head_, I have nevertheless the
consolation that it will be received only as the overflowings of my
present feelings.

"When and where shall I see you again?" somebody once asked me. The
Lord only knows. Perhaps at the election at Hartford. If we can meet
_there_--there will be time for notice. But, happen as it may, be
assured that I am your most sincere friend,


"Stick my compliments in for him," says Hannah Phelps, a jolly girl of


Elizabethtown, March 18th, 1775.

Since we last saw each other, the 15th of April has been my mark, but
the receipt of yours of the 12th has blotted it from my memory, for
which nothing could atone but the expectation of seeing you here
nearly as soon.

I read with pleasure your love intrigues; your anonymous
correspondence with Miss -----, &.c., and, with as much seriousness,
the part relative to ----, Thaddeus Burr's overtures, &c.

_Steadily_, Aaron. Money is alluring, and there is a pleasure in
gratifying a friend; but let not a fortune buy your peace, nor sell
your happiness. Neither be too much biased by a friend, or any one's
advice, in a matter of so great consequence to yourself. Perhaps she
is worthy your love, and, if I could think she was, I would not say a
single thing to discourage you. Be cautious, Aaron; weigh the matter
well. Should your generous heart be sold for naught, it would greatly
hurt the peace of mine. Let not her sense, her education, her modesty,
her graceful actions, or her wit, betray you. Has she a soul framed
for love? For friendship? But why need I advise a person of better
judgment than myself? It is not advice, my friend; it is only caution.
You have a difficult part to act. If you reject, she curses: if you
pity, she takes it for encouragement. Matters with me go on smoothly.

I am now making up a party to go to the Falls, to be ready against you
come. My best regards to Mr. and Mrs. Reeve. I remain happy in the
enjoyment of -----'s love, and am,

Your unfeigned friend,


After the decease of President Burr, Lyman Hall was intrusted by the
executors with the collection of sundry debts due to the estate. A
removal, and his various avocations, prevented his performing that
duty with the necessary promptitude. In consequence, the heirs were
exposed to loss. A friend of the family, the Rev. James Caldwell, of
New-Jersey, wrote him on the subject, and his answer is so honourable,
that it is deemed only an act of justice to an upright man to record
it here. It is another instance of the integrity in private life of
those patriots that planned and accomplished the American Revolution.
It will be seen that Mr. Hall was a member of the Congress of 1775
from the State of Georgia.

Philadelphia, 17th May, 1775.


Since I saw you, and afterwards Mr. Ogden, in Georgia, I have written
to my attorneys and correspondents in Connecticut, to give me all the
information they could obtain respecting the affairs and concerns of
the late President Burr, left in my hands; which I had delivered over,
before I left that colony in 1759, into the hands of Thaddeus Burr, of
Fairfield; but no satisfactory answer can as yet be obtained. One
debt, indeed, has been discovered, of about forty pounds New-York
currency; but the bond on which it is due is as yet concealed.

On the whole, I find that it is not in my power to redeliver those
securities for moneys which I was once in possession of; nor have I
received the moneys due on those which were good; but am determined
that I will make just satisfaction to the claimant heirs (orphans) of
the late President Burr. It is, I know, my indispensable duty, and I
have for that purpose brought a quantity of rice to this city, the
avails of which, when sold, shall be appropriated to that use. I
should be glad that you, or Mr. Ogden, the executor, could be here to
transact the business, and, on a settlement, give me a power of
attorney, properly authenticated, to recover any part of those moneys
I can find due when I shall arrive in Connecticut, to which I propose
going as soon as the Congress rises. As I am in Congress, I cannot see
you directly; but, if liberty can be obtained, shall wait on you or
Mr. Ogden, or both, in my way to New-York, in a few days; but I think
Mr. Ogden, the executor, if it will suit, had better come here and
settle it. I mention him because I suppose he is the proper person to
discharge me, and give me a power of attorney.

I am, reverend sir,

With esteem, yours,


The Rev. JAS. CALDWELL, _Elizabethtown_


1. A relative of President Witherspoon.

2. Uncle to Colonel Aaron Burr.

3. Subsequently Governor Ogden, of New Jersey, and brother of Matthias


In his retirement at the house of his brother-in-law (Judge Reeve),
Burr was aroused by the shedding of his countrymen's blood at
Lexington on the 19th of April, 1775. Immediately after that battle,
he wrote a letter to his friend Ogden, requesting him to come on to
Litchfield and arrange for joining the standard of their country.
Ogden wrote for answer that he could not make the necessary
arrangements. The battle of Bunker's Hill (on the 16th of June, 1775)
followed in rapid succession; whereupon he started for Elizabethtown,
New-Jersey, to meet Ogden, and aid him in preparations for the journey
to Cambridge, where the American army was encamped.

Burr had been reading those portions of history which detailed the
achievements of the greatest military men and tacticians of the age in
which they lived. His idea of discipline and subordination was formed
accordingly. With the most enthusiastic feelings, and under the
influence of such opinions, Burr, in company with his friend Matthias
Ogden, left Elizabethtown, in July, 1775, for Cambridge, with the
intention of tendering their services in defence of American liberty.
He had now entered his twentieth year, but, in appearance, was a mere

It has been seen that, whatever were Burr's pursuits or studies, his
habits were those of intense application. He had already imbibed a
military ardour equalled by few--surpassed by none. Panting for glory
on the battle-field, information and improvement as a soldier were now
the objects that absorbed all his thoughts. On his joining the army,
however, he was sadly disappointed in his expectations. The whole was
a scene of idleness, confusion, and dissipation. From the want of
camp-police, the health of the men was impaired, and many sickened and
died. Of the officers, some were ignorant of their duty, while others
were fearful of enforcing a rigid discipline, lest it should give
offence to those who were unaccustomed to restraint. Deep
mortification and disappointment preyed upon the mind of young Burr.

The following original letters are found among the papers of Colonel
Burr, and, as casting some light upon the history of those times, are
deemed of sufficient interest (and not inapplicable) to be inserted in
this work. The patriotic reply of General Montgomery is above all


Philadelphia, June 23d, 1775.


The Congress, having determined it necessary to keep up an army for
the defence of America at the charge of the United Colonies, have
appointed the following general officers:--George Washington, Esq.,
commander-in-chief. Major-generals Ward, Lee, Schuyler, and Putnam.
Brigadier-generals Pomeroy, Montgomery, yourself, Heath, Spencer,
Thomas, Sullivan (of New-Hampshire), and one Green, of Rhode-Island.

I am sensible that, according to your former rank, you were entitled
to the place of a major-general; and as one was to be appointed in
Connecticut, I heartily recommended you to the Congress. I informed
them of the arrangement made by our assembly, which I thought would be
satisfactory to have them continue in the same order. But, as General
Putnam's fame was spread abroad, and especially his successful
enterprise at Noddle's Island, the account of which had just arrived,
it gave him a preference in the opinion of the delegates in general,
so that his appointment was unanimous among the colonies; but, from
your known abilities and firm attachment to the American cause, we
were very desirous of your continuance in the army, and hope you will
accept of the appointment made by the Congress.

I think the pay of a brigadier is about one hundred and twenty-five
dollars per month. I suppose a commission is sent to you by General
Washington. We received intelligence yesterday of an engagement at
Charlestown, but have not had the particulars. All the Connecticut
troops are now taken into the continental army. I hope proper care
will be taken to secure the colony against any sudden invasion, which
must be at their own expense.

I have nothing further that I am at liberty to acquaint you with of
the doings of the Congress but what have been made public. I would not
have any thing published in the papers that I write, lest something
may inadvertently escape me which ought not to be published. I should
be glad if you would write to me every convenient opportunity, and
inform me of such occurrences, and other matters, as you may think
proper and useful for me to be acquainted with. The general officers
were elected in the Congress, not by nomination, but by ballot.

I am, with great esteem,

Your humble servant,




Philadelphia, July 21st, 1775.


I am directed by the Congress to acquaint you of an arrangement in the
Massachusetts department, and the reason which led to it, lest, by
misunderstanding it, you might think yourself neglected.

When brigadiers-general were to be appointed, it was agreed that the
first in nomination should be one of the Massachusetts generals. The
gentlemen from that province recommended General Pomeroy, who was
accordingly fixed upon; but, before his commission arrived at the
camp, he had retired from the army. Under these circumstances the
Congress thought it just to fill up the commission designed for Mr.
Pomeroy with the name of General Thomas as first brigadier. You,
consequently, hold the rank to which you were elected.

I sincerely hope this may not give you any displeasure, as I am
confident no disrespect was intended.

Be pleased to accept my sincere wishes for your honour and happiness,
and particularly in the discharge of the important trust which you
have undertaken.

I am, with regard,

Dear sir, your most obedient servant,





I have been honoured with your letter of the 21st inst. My
acknowledgments are due for the attention shown me by the Congress.

I submit, with great cheerfullness, to any regulation they, in their
prudence, shall judge expedient. Laying aside the punctilio of the
_soldier_, I shall endeavour to discharge my duty to society,
considering myself only as the _citizen_, reduced to the melancholy
necessity of taking up arms for the public safety.

I am, &c., R. M.


The preceding is endorsed, in the handwriting of General Montgomery,
on the back of Mr. Duane's letter.

The laxity of the discipline which pervaded the camp at Cambridge, the
inexperience of the officers, and the contests and petty squabbles
about rank, all tended to excite great jealousy and discontent in the
army. As yet, Burr was attached to no particular corps. He mingled
indiscriminately with conflicting factions, until, disgusted with the
scene which he daily witnessed, he was violently attacked with a
nervous fever, by which he was confined to his bed.

One day he heard Ogden and some young men of the army conversing, in
an apartment adjoining that in which he was lying, on the subject of
an expedition. He called Ogden to his bedside, and inquired what was
the nature of the expedition of which they were speaking. Ogden
informed him that Colonel Arnold, with a detachment of ten or twelve
hundred men, was about to proceed through the wilderness for the
purpose of attacking Quebec. Burr instantly raised himself up in the
bed, and declared that he would accompany them; and, so pertinacious
was he on this point, that he immediately, although much enfeebled,
commenced dressing himself. Ogden expostulated, and spoke of his
debilitated state--referred to the hardships and privations that he
must necessarily endure on such a march, &c. But all was unavailing.
Young Burr was determined, and was immoveable. He forthwith selected
four or five hale, hearty fellows, to whom he proposed that they
should form a mess, and unite their destiny on the expedition through
the wilderness. To this arrangement they cheerfully acceded. His
friend Ogden, and others of his acquaintance, were conveyed in
carriages from Cambridge to Newburyport, distant about sixty miles;
but Burr, with his new associates in arms, on the 14th of September,
1775, shouldered their muskets, took their knapsacks upon their backs,
and marched to the place of embarcation.


Litchfield, August 17th, 1775.


I was infinitely surprised to hear from you in the army. I can hardly
tell you what sensations I did not feel at the time. Shall not attempt
to describe them, though they deprived me of a night's sleep. But that
was not spent altogether unhappily. My busybody, _Fancy_, led me a
most romantic chase; in which, you may be sure, I visited your tent;
beheld you (unnoticed) musing on your present circumstances,
apparently agitated by every emotion which would naturally fill the
heart of one who has come to the resolution to risk his life for his
country's freedom. You will excuse my mentioning, that from a deep,
absent meditation, partly expressed by half-pronounced soliloquies, I
beheld you start up, clap your hand upon your sword, and look so
fiercely, that it almost frightened me. The scene, on your discovering
me, immediately changed to something more tender; but I won't waste

If you should happen to find Dr. James Cogswell, who is in Colonel
Spencer's regiment, please to give my best love to him, and tell him
he is a lazy scoundrel.

It rains, my boy, excessively. Does it not drop through your tent?
Write often to



As soon as the guardian and relatives of young Burr heard of his
determination to accompany Arnold in his expedition against Quebec,
they not only remonstrated, but they induced others, who were friendly
to him, to adopt a similar course. While he remained at Cambridge, he
received numerous letters on the subject. The two following are


Camp in Roxbury, 9th September, 1775.

I am extremely sorry to hear that you are determined on the new
expedition to Quebec. I am sorry on my own account, as I promised
myself much satisfaction and pleasure in your company: but I am not
altogether selfish; I am right-justified sorry on yours. The
expedition in which you are engaged is a very arduous one; and those
who are engaged in it must unavoidably undergo great hardships. Your
constitution (if I am not much mistaken) is very delicate, and not
formed for the fatigues of the camp. The expedition, I am sensible, is
a glorious one, and nothing but a persuasion of my inability to endure
the hardships of it would have deterred me from engaging in it. If
this excuse was sufficient for me, I am persuaded it is for you, and
ought to influence you to abandon all thoughts of undertaking it. I
have no friend so dear to me (and I love my friends) but that I am
willing to sacrifice for the good of the grand--the important cause,
in which we are engaged; but, to think of a friend's sacrificing
himself, without any valuable end being answered by it, is painful
beyond expression. _You will die; I know you will die in the
undertaking; it is impossible for you to endure the fatigue._ I am so
exercised about your going, that I should come and see you if I had
not got the Scriptural excuse,--a wife, and cannot come.

My dear friend, you must not go: I cannot bear the thoughts of it.
'Tis little less melancholy than following you to your grave.

Your affectionate friend,



Watertown, 11th September, 1775.

I cannot retire to rest till I have written you a few lines, to excuse
my casting so many discouragements in the way of your journey to
Quebec. At first I did not think it so hazardous; but, upon inquiring
of those who had more knowledge of the country, thought it too
fatiguing an undertaking for one of your years; and I find it
altogether against the sentiments of your friends. I think you might
be fairly excused, without the risk of being reported as timid, as the
hopes of your family depend in a great degree upon you. I should have
rejoiced to see you relinquish this expedition; but, as you are
determined to pursue it, must beg you not to let any thing we have
said to you depress your spirits, or damp your resolution, as it may
otherwise have a fatal effect. We have held up the dark side of the
picture, in order to deter you from going. You must now think only on
the bright side, and make the least of every disagreeable circumstance
attending your march. Let no difficulty discourage you. The enterprise
is glorious, and, if it succeeds, will redound to the honour of those
who have planned and executed it.

May God give you health and strength equal to the fatigue of the
march, and preserve you safe from every danger you may encounter. Make
Quebec a safe retreat to the forces. I hope to have a particular
description of Canada from you when you return.

Don't turn Catholic for the sake of the girls. Again I beg you to
forget what I have said to discourage you. It proceeded from love to
you, and not a desire of rendering you ridiculous. Adieu, my dear



A day or two after Burr's arrival at Newburyport, he was called upon
by a messenger from his guardian, Timothy Edwards, with instructions
to bring the young fugitive back. A letter from his uncle (T. Edwards)
was delivered to him at the same time. Having read the letter, and
heard the messenger's communication, he coolly addressed him, and
asked, "How do you expect to take me back, if I should refuse to go?
If you were to make any forcible attempt upon me, I would have you
hung up in ten minutes." After a short pause the messenger presented a
second letter from his guardian, and with it a small remittance in
gold. It was couched in the most affectionate and tender language,
importuning him to return; and depicting, in the darkest colours, the
sufferings he must endure if he survived the attempt to reach Quebec.
It affected young Burr very sensibly, insomuch that he shed tears. But
his destiny was fixed. He wrote, however, a respectful letter to his
uncle, explanatory of his reasons for accompanying the army, and
expressive of his gratitude for the kindness he had experienced.

On or about the 20th of September, 1775, the troops under the command
of Arnold embarked at Newburyport. This detachment was to penetrate
Canada about ninety or one hundred miles below Montreal, proceeding by
the Kennebec river, and thence through the wilderness between the St.
Lawrence and the settled parts of Maine. In this route, precipitous
mountains, deep and almost impenetrable swamps and morasses, were to
be passed. Arnold, in a letter to General Washington, dated _Fort
Weston_, September 25th, 1775, says: "I design Chaudiere Pond as a
general rendezvous, and from thence proceed in a body. I believe, from
the best information I can procure, we shall be able to perform the
journey in twenty days; the distance from this being about one hundred
and eighty miles."

During the march through the wilderness, no regard whatever was paid
to order or discipline. Every man was left to take care of himself,
and make the best of his way through the woods. The sufferings of this
detachment from wet, and cold, and hunger, were excessive. From the
latter, however, Burr suffered less than any of his companions. His
abstemious habits in regard to eating seemed peculiarly calculated for
such an expedition. Both Burr and Ogden had been accustomed, in small
boats, to aquatic excursions round Staten Island and in its vicinity.
They were skilful helmsmen, and in this particular, in passing the
rapids, were frequently useful. Notwithstanding this qualification,
however, Burr, with some soldiers in a boat, was carried over a fall
of nearly twenty feet. One man was drowned, and much of the baggage
lost. The weather was cold, and it was with great difficulty that he
reached the shore.

"Arnold, who, at the head of the two first divisions, still prosecuted
his march, was thirty-two days traversing a hideous wilderness,
without seeing a house or any thing human. The troops were under the
necessity of hauling their bateaux up rapid streams; of taking them
upon their shoulders, with all their provisions, across
carrying-places; and of traversing, and frequently repassing, for the
purpose of bringing their baggage, deep morasses, thick woods, and
high mountains. These impediments, notwithstanding the zealous and
wonderfully persevering exertions of his men, so protracted his march,
that, though he had expected certainly to enter Canada about the
middle of October, he did not reach the first settlements on the
Chaudiere, which empties itself into the St. Lawrence near Quebec,
until the third of November.

"On the high grounds which separate the waters of the Kennebec from
those of the St. Lawrence, the scanty remnant of provisions was
divided among the companies, each of which was directed, without
attempting to preserve any connexion with another, to march with the
utmost possible celerity into the inhabited country. While those who
gained the front were yet thirty miles from the first poor and
scattered habitations which composed that frontier of Canada, their
last morsel of food was consumed. But, preceded by Arnold, who went
forward for the purpose of procuring for them something which might
satisfy the first demands of nature, the troops still persevered in
their labours, with a vigour unimpaired by the hardships they had
encountered, until they once more found themselves in regions
frequented by human beings." [1]

On the arrival of Arnold's detachment at Chaudiere Pond, Burr was
despatched with a verbal communication to General Montgomery. He
disguised himself as a young Catholic priest. In this order of men he
was willing to repose confidence. He knew that the French Catholics
were not satisfied with their situation under the provincial
government; but especially the priesthood. Feeling no apprehension for
his own safety from treachery, he proceeded to a learned and reverend
father of the church, to whom he communicated frankly who he was, and
what was his object. Burr was master of the Latin language, and had an
imperfect knowledge of the French. The priest was an educated man, so
that a conversation was held with but little difficulty. He
endeavoured to dissuade Burr from the enterprise. Spoke of it as
impossible to accomplish. He represented the distance as great, and
through an enemy's country. The boyish appearance of Burr induced the
reverend divine to consider him a mere child. Discovering, however,
the settled purpose of the young adventurer, the priest procured him a
confidential guide and a cabriolet (for the ground was now covered
with snow), and, thus prepared, he started on his journey. Without
interruption, he was conducted in perfect safety from one religious
family to another, until he arrived at Three Rivers. Here the guide
became alarmed in consequence of some rumours as to the arrival of
Arnold at the Chaudiere, and that he had despatched messengers to
Montgomery to announce to him the fact. Under strong apprehensions,
the guide refused to proceed any farther, and recommended to Burr to
remain a few days until these rumours subsided. To this he was
compelled to accede; and, for greater security, he was secreted three
days in a convent at that place. At the expiration of this period he
again set off, and reached Montgomery without further detention or

On his arrival at headquarters, he explained to the general the
character of the re-enforcement he was about to receive; the probable
number of effective men, and the time at which their arrival might be
anticipated. General Montgomery was so well pleased with the details
which had been given him, and the manner in which young Burr had
effected his journey after leaving Arnold, that he invited him (Burr)
to reside at headquarters, assuring him that he should receive an
appointment as one of his aids. At this time Montgomery was a
brigadier, and not entitled to aids, only in virtue of his being
commander-in-chief of the army. Previous to his death, however, he was
appointed a major-general, but the information did not reach him.

As soon as Burr had joined the family of the general, he entered upon
the duties of an aid; but no formal annunciation was made until the
army arrived before Quebec, when his appointment was announced in
general orders. Arnold arrived at Point Levi, opposite to Quebec, on
the 9th of November, 1775. He paraded for some days on the heights
near the town, and sent two flags to demand a surrender, but both were
fired upon as rebels with whom no communication was to be held. The
true reason, however, was, that Colonel M'Clean, the British
commandant, a vigilant and experienced officer, knowing the weakness
of his own garrison, deemed it impolitic, if not unsafe, to receive a
flag from Arnold.

The first plan for the attack upon the British works was essentially
different from that which was subsequently carried into execution.
Various reasons have been assigned for this change. Judge Marshall
says, "that while the general (Montgomery) was making the necessary
preparations for the assault, the garrison received intelligence of
his intention from a deserter. This circumstance induced him to change
the plan of his attack, which had been originally to attempt both the
upper and lower towns at the same time. The plan now resolved on was
to divide the army into four parts; and while two of them, consisting
of Canadians under Major Livingston, and a small party under Major
Brown, were to distract the attention of the garrison by making two
feints against the upper town of St. Johns and Cape Diamond, the other
two, led, the one by Montgomery in person, and the other by Arnold,
were to make real attacks on opposite sides of the lower town." [2]

Colonel Burr says, that a change of the plan of attack was produced,
in a great measure, through the advice and influence of Mr. Antill, a
resident in Canada, who had joined the army; and Mr. Price, a Montreal
merchant of property and respectability, who had also come out and
united his destiny with the cause of the colonies. Mr. Price, in
particular, was strongly impressed with the opinion, that if the
American troops could obtain possession of the lower town, the
merchants and other wealthy inhabitants would have sufficient
influence with the British commander-in-chief to induce him to
surrender rather than jeopard the destruction of all their property.
It was, as Colonel Burr thought, a most fatal delusion. But it is
believed that the opinion was honestly entertained.

The first plan of the attack was agreed upon in a council, at which
young Burr and his friend, Matthias Ogden, were present. The
arrangement was to pass over the highest walls at Cape Diamond. Here
there was a bastion. This was at a distance of about half a mile from
any succour; but being considered, in some measure, impregnable, the
least resistance might be anticipated in that quarter. Subsequent
events tended to prove the soundness of this opinion. In pursuance of
the second plan, Major Livingston, with a detachment under his
command, made a feint upon Cape Diamond; but, for about half an hour,
with all the noise and alarm that he and his men could create, he was
unable to attract the slightest notice from the enemy, so completely
unprepared were they at this point.

While the first was the favourite plan of attack, Burr requested
General Montgomery to give him the command of a small forlorn hope,
which request was granted, and forty men allotted to him. Ladders were
prepared, and these men kept in constant drill, until they could
ascend them (standing almost perpendicular), with their muskets and
accoutrements, with nearly the same facility that they could mount an
ordinary staircase. In the success of this plan of attack Burr had
entire confidence; but, when it was changed, he entertained strong
apprehensions of the result. He was in the habit, every night, of
visiting and reconnoitring the ground about Cape Diamond, until he
became perfectly familiarized with every inch adjacent to, or in the
vicinity of, the intended point of assault.

When the attack was about to be commenced, Captain Burr, and other
officers near General Montgomery, endeavoured to dissuade him from
leading in the advance; remarking that, as commander-in-chief, it was
not his place. But all argument was ineffectual and unavailing. The
attack was made on the morning of the 31st of December, 1775, before
daylight, in the midst of a violent snow-storm. The New-York troops
were commanded by General Montgomery, who advanced along the St.
Lawrence, by the way of Aunce de Mere, under Cape Diamond. The first
barrier to be surmounted was at the Pot Ash. In front of it was a
block-house and picket, in charge of some Canadians, who, after making
a single fire, fled in confusion. On advancing to force the barrier,
an accidental discharge of a piece of artillery from the British
battery, when the American front was within forty paces of it, killed
General Montgomery, Captain McPherson, one of his aids, Captain
Cheeseman, and every other person in front, except Captain Burr and a
French guide. General Montgomery was within a few feet of Captain
Burr; and Colonel Trumbull, in a superb painting recently executed by
him, descriptive of the assault upon Quebec, has drawn the general
falling in the arms of his surviving aid-de-camp. Lieutenant Colonel
Campbell, being the senior officer on the ground, assumed the command,
and ordered a retreat.


1. Marshall's Life of Washington

2. Marshall's Life of Washington, vol. i., p. 329.


To evince the high sense entertained by his country for the services
of General Montgomery, Congress directed a monument to be erected,
with an inscription sacred to his memory. They "_Resolved_, That, to
express the veneration of the United Colonies for their late general,
Richard Montgomery, and the deep sense they entertained of the many
signal and important services of that gallant officer, who, after a
series of successes, amid the most discouraging difficulties, fell, at
length, in a gallant attack upon Quebec, the capital of Canada, and to
transmit to future ages, as examples truly worthy of imitation, his
patriotism, conduct, boldness of enterprise, insuperable perseverance,
and contempt of danger and death, a monument be procured from Paris,
or other part of France, with an inscription sacred to his memory, and
expressive of his amiable character and heroic achievements; and that
the continental treasurer be directed to advance a sum, not exceeding
three hundred pounds sterling, to Dr. Benjamin Franklin, who is
desired to see this resolution properly executed, for defraying the
expenses thereof."

This resolve was carried into execution at Paris by that ingenious
artist, M. Caffieres, sculptor to Louis XVI., king of France, under
the direction of Dr. Benjamin Franklin. The monument is of white
marble, of the most beautiful simplicity and inexpressible elegance,
with emblematical devices, and the following truly classical
inscription, worthy of the modest but great mind of Franklin.








This monument was erected in front of St. Paul's Church, in the city
of New-York, in the spring of 1789.

General Arnold temporarily became commander-in-chief of the American
army near Quebec, and was accordingly removed to headquarters. Young
Burr was now called upon to perform the duties of brigade major.
Arnold's plan was, by a close blockade, to starve out the enemy; but,
from the weakness of his force, he soon discovered that this was
impracticable; and he knew that, on the opening of the spring, he
could not retain his present position, but must retreat. He therefore
resolved to send in a flag of truce, and demand a surrender. He
informed Captain Burr that he was about to send him with a
communication to General Carlton, the British commander. Captain Burr
required that he should be made acquainted with its contents. Arnold
objected; whereupon Burr remarked that, if the general wished it, he
would resign; but that he could not consent to be the bearer of the
communication without possessing a knowledge of its character. At
length, it was exhibited to him. It was demanding a surrender of the
fortress, but in terms that Captain Burr considered unbecoming an
American officer, and he so stated to the general; adding, that the
bearer of such a message, if he were permitted to deliver it, would be
treated by the British with contumely and contempt; and therefore
declined the mission. Another officer was selected, and met the fate
Burr anticipated. Shortly after (April 1st, 1776), General Wooster
arrived from Montreal and took the command. He was succeeded by
General Thomas about the 1st of May; and, on the 5th of May, it was
determined in council to raise the blockade of Quebec, and that the
sick and wounded should be immediately removed, with the artillery and
stores, by boats, to Three Rivers, preparatory to a retreat.

Burr's perseverance and zeal during the march through the wilderness
with Arnold, his subsequent boldness in joining Montgomery, and his
intrepidity at the assault on Quebec, had acquired for him great
reputation in the army, and had drawn towards him the attention of
some of the most distinguished Whigs in the United Provinces. From
every quarter he received highly complimentary letters. From a few of
them extracts are made. Colonel Antill, a resident of Montreal, who
had joined the American army, thus addresses him, five days after the
fall of Montgomery:--

"La La Chine, 5th January, 1776.


"I have desired Mr. Price to deliver you my pistols, which you will
keep until I see you. They are relics from my father's family, and
therefore I cannot give them to you. The general (Wooster) has thought
proper to send me to the Congress, where I shall have an opportunity
of speaking of you as you deserve.



On the 4th of January, General Wooster writes from Montreal to General

"Give my love to Burr, and desire him to remain with Colonel Clinton
for the present. [1] Not only him, but all those brave officers who
have so nobly distinguished themselves. I shall ever remember with
gratitude and the highest degree of approbation, and shall not fail to
represent them accordingly.


From a college-chum of great merit, he received a letter, dated

"Philadelphia, January 24th, 1776.


"I am informed a gentleman is just setting off for Quebec, and snatch
the opportunity of at once condóling with you for the loss of your
brave general, and congratulating you on the credit you have gained in
that action. 'Tis said you behaved well--you behaved gallantly. I
never doubted but you would distinguish yourself, and your praise is
now in every man's mouth. It has been my theme of late. I will not say
I was perfectly disinterested in the encomiums I bestowed. You were a
son of Nassau Hall, and reflected honour on the place of _my_
education. You were my classmate and friend, and reflected honour on
me. I make no doubt but your promotion will be taken care of. The
gentlemen of the Congress speak highly of you.

"Your affectionate,


 Judge Tappan Reeve writes--

"Stockbridge, January 27th, 1776.


"Amid the lamentations of a country for the loss of a brave,
enterprising general, your escape from such imminent danger, to which
you have been exposed, has afforded us the greatest satisfaction. The
news of the unfortunate attack upon Quebec arrived among us on the
13th of this month. I concealed it from your sister until the 18th,
when she found it out; but, in less than half an hour, I received
letters from Albany, acquainting me that you were in safety, and had
gained great honour by your intrepid conduct. It gave us a kind of
happiness that I should be very loath ever again to enjoy; for it
never can be the case until you have again been exposed to the like
danger, and have again escaped it, which I hope may never happen. To
know that you were in safety gave great pleasure. It was heightened by
hearing that your conduct was brave. Could you have been crowned with
success, it would have been complete.

"It was happy for us that we did not know that you were an
aid-de-camp, until we heard of your welfare; for we heard that
Montgomery and his aid-de-camps were killed, without knowing who his
aid-de-camps were.

"Your sister enjoys a middling state of health. She has many anxious
hours upon your account; but she tells me that, as she believes you
may serve your country in the business in which you are now employed,
she is contented that you should remain in the army. It must be an
exalted public spirit that could produce such an effect upon a sister
as affectionate as yours.



His friend, Jonathan Bellamy, writes, "Norwich, March 3d, 1776.


"Be you yet alive? I have been infinitely distressed for you; but I
hope it is now as safe with you as glorious. Doctor Jim Cogswell has
left the army. A few days ago I received a letter from him. 'I doubt
not,' he says, 'you have most sensible pleasure in the applauses
bestowed on our friend Burr; when I hear of his gallant behaviour, I
feel exquisite delight.'

"Curse on this vile distance between us. I am restless to tell you
every thing; but uncertainty whether you would ever hear it bids me be
silent, till, in some future happy meeting, I may hold you to my
bosom, and impart to you every emotion of my heart.

"Yours sincerely,


Immediately after the repulse of the Americans at Quebec, his friend
Ogden returned to New-Jersey, but spent much of his time with the army
in the city of New-York. He writes to Burr, dated

New-York, 20th March, 1776.

Some weeks have elapsed since I saw Walker and Price. To-day I met
with Hopkins at this place. My first inquiry was for letters from you.
I mean not to upbraid you. This is the third time of my writing since
I left you. I shall continue it, with the hope of giving you some
small satisfaction. Miss Dayton is well, and will soon be mine. Barber
is appointed major in the third Jersey battalion, of which Dayton is
colonel, and Walton White lieutenant-colonel. Hancock was particular
in his inquiry after you, and was disappointed in not receiving a line
from you. I was kindly received on my arrival at Philadelphia. The
Congress have since appointed me lieutenant-colonel in the first
Jersey battalion, in the room of Lieutenant-colonel Winds, who has the
regiment in the stead of Lord Stirling, who is advanced to a

Colonel Allen, who hands you this, is much of a gentleman, and worthy
your attention. Melcher has hobbled himself. Inquire of Colonel Allen.
General Thompson commands. To-morrow my appointment will be announced
in general orders, whereupon I shall join my regiment, but shall
obtain leave of absence for a week or two. Elizabethtown swarms with
girls, among which is Miss Noel. I have not seen Miss Ricketts.

When I was in Philadelphia, Colonel Reed expressed a desire of serving
me. He said there was a vacancy in General Washington's family, and
doubted not his recommendation would procure it for me. I declined it,
hoping to get a more active office, but desired he would procure it
for you. If any thing offers at Quebec, accept it, as it will not
hinder your appointment here. Washington is expected in New-York, when
I shall have a better chance of bringing it about. The pay and rank
are equal to a full major. I shall write you by Price. Miss Dayton is
particular in her inquiries after you.

Yours sincerely,


In the spring of 1776, the army moved from Montreal to the mouth of
the Sorel. Major Burr yet remained with it. While at Montreal, he
became disgusted with General Arnold, on account of his meanness and
other bad qualities. On the march through the wilderness, he was far
from being satisfied with the general. Burr thought he provided too
carefully for himself; and that he did not sufficiently share the
fatigues and privations of the march in common with the troops.
Immediately after arriving at the Sorel, he informed the general of
his desire to visit his friends, and to ascertain what was doing, as
he wished more active employment. General Arnold objected somewhat
petulantly. Burr remarked courteously, but firmly, "Sir, I have a boat
in readiness. I have employed four discharged soldiers to row me, and
I start to-morrow morning at six o'clock." He then designated the
point at which he should embark. Arnold forbade his departure,
whereupon Burr reiterated his determination.

The next morning, at the specified hour, he repaired to his boat, and
shortly after discovered the general approaching. "Why, Major Burr,"
says he, "you are not going?"--"I am, sir," replied the major. "But
you know, sir, it is contrary to my wish and against my orders."--"I
know, sir, that you have the _power_ of stopping me, but nothing short
of force shall do it." The general then changed his tone and manner,
and endeavoured to dissuade; but, after a few minutes' conversation,
Burr wished him great success, then embarked, and took his departure
without interruption.

On the Sorel an incident occurred which gave some alarm to the
voyagers. Burr had taken into his boat, as a kind of companion, a
young merchant. On the borders of the river they suddenly discovered a
large brick house, with wings, having loopholes to fire through, and
in view, at the door, stood an Indian warrior, in full costume. The
oarsmen were for attempting to retreat. Burr said it was too late, as
they were within the reach of the Indians' rifles. The passenger was
about to stop the men from rowing, when Burr threatened to shoot him
if he interfered. The inquiry was then made--"What are we to do?" The
major replied, "Row for the shore and land; I will go up to the house,
and we shall soon learn what they are." By this time several other
Indians had made their appearance. On reaching the shore, Burr took
his sword and proceeded to meet the red men. An explanation ensued,
and it was ascertained that they were friendly. The stores were landed
from the boat, and a merrimaking followed.

Major Burr continued his route to Albany. On his arrival, and while
there, he was notified verbally that it would be agreeable to the
commander-in-chief (General Washington) that he should visit New-York.
He forthwith proceeded down the river, and arrived in the city about
the 20th of May, 1776. He immediately reported himself to the
commander-in-chief, who invited him to join his family at headquarters
until he received a satisfactory appointment. The quarters of General
Washington were at that time in the house subsequently owned by
Colonel Burr, and known as Richmond Hill. This invitation was
accepted, and Major Burr occasionally rode out with the general, but
very soon became restless and dissatisfied. He wrote to John Hancock,
then president of Congress, and who had been an intimate friend of his
father, that he was disgusted, and inclined to retire from the
service. Governor Hancock objected, and asked him whether he would
accept the appointment of aid-de-camp to Major-general Putnam, then in
command in the city of New-York. Burr consented, and removed from the
headquarters of the commander-in-chief to those of Major-general
Putnam. About this period Burr received a letter from his friend, now
Lieutenant-colonel M. Ogden, who had proceeded to the north with his
regiment. He writes,

Fort George, 5th June, 1776.


I this evening experienced the greatest disappointment I have met with
since my memory. I yesterday saw Mr. Price; he informed me that you
were on your way, in company with the commissioners, who, I was this
day informed, were coming by the way of Skeenesborough. I altered my
course, and went that way, till I met them on the road. They informed
me you were coming by Lake George. I then turned about, very much
afraid you would pass me before I came into the lake road. But what
necessity for enumerating all these circumstances? I have missed you.
D--n the luck. I never so much desired, nor had occasion so much for
an interview. I have not received a single line from you since I left
Canada. Perhaps you have not written, or perhaps they have miscarried.
If they have miscarried, withered be the hand that held them back.
Tell me you omitted through carelessness, neglect, hurry of business,
or any thing, rather than want of friendship.

_General Washington desired me to inform you that he will provide for
you, and that he expects you will come to him immediately, and stay in
his family._ I should have acquainted you of this by letter, had I not
expected to have seen you. You will now want your horse. I have sold
him, and spent the money, and expect I shall not be able to refund it
until my return.

I am, if I ever was,

Yours sincerely,


Before the preceding letter was received by Major Burr, he felt piqued
at what he supposed the coldness and neglect of his friend Ogden, and,
under the influence of such feelings, wrote the following:--

New-York, New-York, 18th Jane, 1776,


A correspondence, which I flattered myself in former times was
mutually agreeable, has of late somehow strangely found an end. You
may remember, when you left Canada, I engaged to answer your first
letter immediately, and to continue writing from that time, by every
opportunity, as usual. I concluded your letters must have miscarried,
and wrote you a line by Mr. Avery. I had no direct intelligence from
you, till a verbal message by Mr. Duggan, the beginning of May. A few
days after, I received a letter from _Colonel Ogden_ by _Colonel
Allen_. I should have answered it, but had determined to visit my
native colony, and expected, by personal interview, to answer purposes
which I scarce hoped the cold medium of ink and paper could effect.

That I unfortunately missed you on my way hither, I need not relate.
At Albany I first heard you had passed me. I was upon the point of
following you; but the character of troublesome fool struck me in so
disagreeable a light, that, in spite of myself, I continued my

There is in man a certain love of novelty; a fondness of variety
(useful, indeed, within proper limits), which influences more or less
in almost every act of life. New views, new laws, new _friends_, have
each their charm. Truly great must be the soul, and firm almost beyond
the weakness of humanity, that can withstand the smiles of fortune.
Success, promotion, the caresses of the great, and the flatteries of
the low, are sometimes fatal to the noblest minds. The volatile become
an easy prey. The fickle heart, tiptoe with joy, as from an eminence,
views with contempt its former joys, connexions, and pursuits. A new
taste contracted, seeks companions suited to itself. But pleasures
easiest tasted, though perhaps at first of higher glee, are soonest
past, and, the more they are relied upon, leave the severer sting
behind. One cloudy day despoils the glow-worm of all its glitter.

Should fortune ever frown upon you, Matt.; should those you now call
friends forsake you; should the clouds gather force on every side, and
threaten to burst upon you, think then upon the man who never betrayed
you; rely on the sincerity you never found to fail; and if my heart,
my life, or my fortune can assist you, it is yours.

I go to-morrow to Elizabethtown, where I shall see the best of
women--your wife. Whatever letters or commands she may have for you, I
shall be careful to forward by the safest hands.

Your friend,


In the beginning of July, 1776, Major Burr was appointed aid-de-camp
to General Putnam. At this time the headquarters of the general were
in the large brick house, yet standing, at the corner of Broadway and
the Battery. Burr continued occasionally to correspond with his
friends, but was much occupied with his military duties, and those
studies which were calculated to render him scientifically master of
his profession. During the short period that he remained in the family
of General Washington, he was treated with respect and attention; but
soon perceived, as he thought, an unwillingness to afford that
information, and those technical explanations of great historical
military movements, which an inquiring and enlightened mind, like
Burr's, sought with avidity and perseverance. He therefore became
apprehensive, if he remained with the commander-in-chief, that,
instead of becoming a scientific soldier, he should dwindle down into
a practical clerk--a species of drudgery to which his pecuniary
circumstances did not render it necessary for him to submit, and for
which neither his habits, his education, nor his temperament in any
degree qualified him. He therefore determined promptly on a change,
and was willing to enter the family of Major-general Putnam, because
he would there enjoy the opportunities for study, and the duties which
he would be required to perform would be strictly military. There is
no doubt the short residence of Major Burr with General Washington
laid the foundation for those prejudices which, at a future day,
ripened into hostile feelings on both sides.

Judge Paterson thus writes him:--

New-Brunswick, July 22d, 1776.


I did myself the pleasure of writing you by my brother, who is in
General Sullivan's brigade, and who was in expectation of seeing you,
as he was destined for the Canada department. Indeed, from the
friendship which subsisted between us, I was in expectation of hearing
frequently from you, and, to tell the truth, was not a little
mortified that I was passed over in silence. Why, Burr, all this
negligence? I dare not call it forgetfullness, for I cannot bear the
thought of giving up my place in your esteem. I rejoice at your
return, and congratulate you on your promotion. I was attending the
convention at Burlington when you passed on to Philadelphia, and was
full of the pleasing hope of having an interview with you. The
Delaware, indeed, ran between us--a mighty obstacle, to be sure! I
inquired when you designed to return, that I might plant myself at
Bristol, and intercept you on your way. The inquiry was of no avail. I
have at times been violently tempted to write you a railing letter,
and for that purpose have more than once taken up the pen. But I can
hardly tell how, on such occasions, the Genius of Friendship would
rise up to view, and soften me down into all the tenderness of
affectionate sorrow--perhaps because I counted you as lost. I find I
must e'en forgive you--but, remember, you must behave better in
future. Do write me now and then. Your letters will give me unfeigned
pleasure, and, for your encouragement, I promise to be a faithful
correspondent. In the letter-way you used to be extremely careless;
you know I am, in that respect, of a different turn.

This will be handed you by Mr. Hugg and Mr. Leaming, members of our
convention, whom curiosity partly, and partly business, have impelled
to New-York. As men, they are genteel, sensible, and deserving. As
politicians, they are worthy of your regard, for they possess the
genuine spirit of whiggism. They have no acquaintance in York. They
are desirous of seeing the fortifications, and other things in the
military line. Pray take them by the hand; and be assured 'that any
kindness shown them will be acknowledged as an additional obligation
conferred upon

Your affectionate


A. Burr replies to this letter:--

New-York, July 26th, 1776.


I this day received your kind letter. It gave me a pleasure I seldom
experience. Can it be that you have still in memory the vagrant Burr?
Some fatality has ever attended our endeavours to meet. Why I have not
written to you I cannot tell. It has not been for want of friendship,
of inclination, or always of opportunity; but some unavoidable
accidents prevented so long, that I began to fear a letter from me
must be ushered in by some previous introduction, some anecdotes of
the writer, which might renew your remembrance, and authorize a
freedom of this nature. But your frank and kind epistle precludes
fulsome apologies, which; though sometimes necessary, I esteem, at
best, but a drug in letters.

I am exceedingly pleased with your friends, Messrs. Hugg and Learning,
but was unfortunate enough to be from home the day they came in town,
and had not the pleasure of seeing them till this afternoon. I felt
myself so nearly interested in the welfare of the province whose
constitution you are now framing, that I did not urge their stay with
the warmth my inclination prompted. If any other of our Jersey friends
should be coming this way, I should be happy in showing them every
civility in my power.

As to promises of writing, I shall make you none, my dear Bill, till
those already on hand, and of long standing, are discharged. I am no
epistolary politician or newsmonger; and as to sentiments, a variety
of novelties and follies has entirely dissipated them. This, however,
is only a new apology for an old misfortune. But why this to you, who
know me better than I know myself? This epistolary chat, though
agreeable, is by no means satisfactory. The sincerity of my
long-smothered affections is not to be thus expressed. I must contrive
to shake you by the hand. Perhaps I may, ere long, be sent to
Elizabethtown or Amboy on business, and will, undoubtedly, take
Brunswick in my way. I have, or had once, an agreeable female
acquaintance with Miss S. D., now Mrs. S., and with Miss S. was on
tolerable terms of intimacy. Could I but reconnoitre a while, and find
how the land lay, I might, perhaps, be able to graduate my compliments
with some propriety, from cold respects to affectionate regards. I
think I must leave you discretionary orders on this head, begging you
to make use of all the policy of war. There is no knowing of what
importance it may be to

Your affectionate



1. James Clinton, afterwards general, brother of Governor George


From the year 1780 until the year 1795, Mrs. Margaret Coghlan made no
inconsiderable noise in the court and fashionable circles of Great
Britain and France. She was the theme of conversation among the lords,
and the dukes, and the M. P.'s. Having become the victim, in early
life, of licentious, dissolute, and extravagant conduct, alternately
she was revelling in wealth, and then sunken in poverty. At length, in
1793, she published her own memoirs. Mrs. Coghlan was the daughter of
Major Moncrieffe, of the British army. He was Lord Cornwallis's
brigade major. Her father had three wives. She was a daughter of the
first wife. His second wife was Miss L*********, of New-York, and his
third wife Miss J**, of New-York. Mrs. Coghlan is introduced here,
because her early history is intimately connected with the subject of
these memoirs.

In July, 1776, she resided in Elizabethtown, New-Jersey. Her father
was with Lord Percy on Staten Island. In her memoirs, speaking of
herself, she says:--"Thus destitute of friends, I wrote to General
Putnam, who instantly answered my letter by a very kind invitation to
his house, assuring me that he respected my father, and was only his
enemy in the field of battle; but that, in private life, he himself,
or any part of his family, might always command his services. On the
next day he sent Colonel Webb, one of his aid-de-camps, to conduct me
to New-York. When I arrived in the Broadway (a street so called),
where General Putnam resided, I was received with great tenderness,
both by Mrs. Putnam and her daughters, and on the following day I was
introduced by them to General and Mrs. Washington, who likewise made
it their study to show me every mark of regard; but I seldom was
allowed to be alone, although sometimes, indeed, I found an
opportunity to escape to the gallery on the top of the house, where my
chief delight was to view, with a telescope, our fleet and army at
Staten Island. My amusements were few; the good Mrs. Putnam employed
me and her daughters constantly to spin flax for shirts for the
American soldiers; indolence, in America, being totally discouraged;
and I likewise worked some for General Putnam, who, though not an
accomplished _muscadin_, like our dilletantis of St. James's-street,
was certainly one of the best characters in the world; His heart being
composed of those noble materials which equally command respect and
admiration. * * * * * *

"Not long after this circumstance, a flag of truce arrived from Staten
Island, with letters from Major Moncrieffe, demanding me; for he now
considered me as a prisoner. General Washington would not acquiesce in
this demand, saying that I should remain a hostage for my father's
good behaviour. I must here observe, that when General Washington
refused to deliver me up, the noble-minded Putnam, as if it were by
instinct, laid his hand on his sword, and with a violent oath swore
that my father's request should be granted. The commander-in-chief,
whose influence governed Congress, soon prevailed on them to consider
me as a person whose situation required their strict attention; and
that I might not escape they ordered me to Kingsbridge, where, in
justice I must say, that I was treated with the utmost tenderness.
General Mifflin there commanded. His lady was a most accomplished,
beautiful woman; a Quaker," &c.

Mrs. Coghlan then bursts forth in expressions of rapture for a young
American officer, with whom she had become enamoured. She does not
name him; but that officer was Major Burr. "May these pages" (she
says) "one day meet the eye of him who subdued my virgin heart. * * *
* * To him I plighted my virgin vow. * * * * * * With this conqueror
of my soul, how happy should I now have been! What storms and tempests
should I have avoided" (at least I am pleased to think so) "if I had
been allowed to follow the bent of my inclinations. Ten thousand times
happier should I have been with him in the wildest desert of our
native country, the woods affording us our only shelter, and their
fruits our only repast, than under the canopy of costly state, with
all the refinements of courts, with the royal warrior" (the Duke of
York) "who would fain have proved himself the conqueror of France. _My
conqueror_ was engaged in another cause; he was ambitious to obtain
other laurels. He fought to liberate, not to enslave nations. He was a
colonel in the American army, and high in the estimation of his
country. _His_ victories were never accompanied with one gloomy,
relenting thought. They shone as bright as the cause which achieved

The letter from General Putnam of which Mrs. Coghlan speaks is found
among the papers of Colonel Burr, and is in the following words:--

New-York, July 26th, 1776.

I should have answered your letter sooner, but had it not in my power
to write you any thing satisfactory.

The omission of my title, in Major Moncrieffe's letter, is a matter I
regard not in the least; nor does it in any way influence my conduct
in this affair; as you seem to imagine. Any political difference
alters him not to me in a private capacity. As an officer, he is my
enemy, and obliged to act as such, be his private sentiments what they
will. As a man, I owe him no enmity; but, far from it, will, with
pleasure, do any kind office in my power for him or any of his

I have, agreeably to your desire, waited on his excellency to
endeavour to obtain permission for you to go to Staten Island. He
informs me that Lieutenant-colonel Patterson, who came with the last
flag, said he was empowered to offer the exchange of ----- ----- for
Governor Skeene. As the Congress have reserved to themselves the right
of exchanging prisoners, the general has sent to know their pleasure,
and doubts not they will give their consent. I am desired to inform
you, that if this exchange is made, you will have liberty to pass out
with Governor Skeene; but that no flag will be sent solely for that

Major William Livingston was lately here, and informed me that you had
an inclination to live in this city, and that all the ladies of your
acquaintance having left town, and Mrs. Putnam and two daughters being
here, proposed your staying with them. If agreeable to you, be
assured, miss, you shall be sincerely welcome. You will here, I think,
be in a more probable way of accomplishing the end you wish--that of
seeing your father, and may depend upon every civility from,


Your obedient servant,


This letter is in the handwriting of Major Burr, and undoubtedly was
prepared by him for the signature of the general. Miss Moncrieffe was,
at this time, in her fourteenth year. She had travelled, and, for one
of her age, had mingled much in the world. She was accomplished, and
was considered handsome. Major Burr was attracted by her sprightliness
and vivacity, and she, according to her own confessions, penned nearly
twenty years afterward, had not only become violently in love with,
but had acknowledged the fact to him. Whether the foundation of her
future misfortunes was now laid, it is not necessary to inquire. Her
indiscretion was evident, while Major Burr's propensity for intrigue
was already well known.

Burr perceived immediately that she was an extraordinary young woman.
Eccentric and volatile, but endowed with talents, natural as well as
acquired, of a peculiar character. Residing in the family of General
Putnam with her, and enjoying the opportunity of a close and intimate
intercourse, at all times and on all occasions, he was enabled to
judge of her qualifications, and came to the conclusion,
notwithstanding her youth, that she was well calculated for a spy, and
thought it not improbable that she might be employed in that capacity
by the British. Major Burr suggested his suspicions to General Putnam,
and recommended that she be conveyed to her friends as soon as might
be convenient. She was, in consequence, soon after removed to
Kingsbridge, where General Mifflin commanded. This change of
situation, in the work which she has published, is ascribed to General
Washington, but it originated with Major Burr.

After a short residence at Kingsbridge, leave was granted for her
departure to Staten Island. She accordingly set off in a continental
barge, under the escort of an American officer, who was ordered to
accompany her to the British headquarters. As the boat approached the
English fleet, she was met by another, having on board a British
officer, and was notified that she could proceed no further, but that
the king's officer would take charge of the young lady, and convey her
in safety to her father, who was six or eight miles in the country
with Lord Percy. She says, in her memoirs, "I then entered the British
barge, and bidding an eternal farewell to my dear American friends,
_turned my back on liberty_."

Miss Moncrieffe, before she had reached her fourteenth year, was
probably the victim of seduction. The language of her memoirs, when
taken in connexion with her deportment soon after her marriage, leaves
but little room for doubt. Major Burr, while yet at college, had
acquired a reputation for gallantry. On this point he was excessively
vain, and regardless of all those ties which ought to control an
honourable mind. In his intercourse with females he was an
unprincipled flatterer, ever prepared to take advantage of their
weakness, their credulity, or their confidence. She that confided in
him was lost. In referring to this subject, no terms of condemnation
would be too strong to apply to Colonel Burr.

It is truly surprising how any individual could have become so eminent
as a soldier, as a statesman, and as a professional man, who devoted
so much time to the other sex as was devoted by Colonel Burr. For more
than half a century of his life they seemed to absorb his whole
thoughts. His intrigues were without number. His conduct most
licentious. The sacred bonds of friendship were unhesitatingly
violated when they operated as barriers to the indulgence of his
passions. For a long period of time he seemed to be gathering, and
carefully preserving, every line written to him by any female, whether
with or without reputation; and, when obtained, they were cast into
one common receptacle,--the profligate and corrupt, by the side of the
thoughtless and betrayed victim. All were held as trophies of
victory,--all esteemed alike valuable. How shocking to the man of
sensibility! How mortifying and heart-sickening to the intellectual,
the artless, the fallen fair!

Among these manuscripts were many the production of highly cultivated
minds. They were calculated to excite the sympathy of the brother--the
parent--the husband. They were, indeed, testimonials of the weakness
of the weaker sex, even where genius and learning would seem to be
towering above the arts of the seducer. Why they were thus carefully
preserved, is left to conjecture. Can it be true that Moore is
correct, when, in his life of Lord Byron, he says, "The allusions
which he (Byron) makes to instances of _successful passion_ in his
career, were not without their influence on the fancies of that sex,
whose weakness it is to be most easily won by those who come
recommended by the greatest number of triumphs over others? Some of
these productions had been penned more than sixty years. They were all
committed to the flames, however, immediately after the decease of
Colonel Burr. Of them, it is believed, "not a wreck remains."

The faithful biographer could not pass over in silence this strong and
revolting trait in the character of Colonel Burr. It will not again be
referred to. From details, the moralist and the good man must shrink
with disgust and abhorrence. In this particular, Burr appears to have
been unfeeling and heartless. And yet, by a fascinating power almost
peculiar to himself, he so managed as to retain the affection, in some
instances, the devotion, of his deluded victims. In every other
respect he was kind and charitable. No man would go farther to
alleviate the sufferings of another. No man was more benevolent. No
man would make greater sacrifices to promote the interest or the
happiness of a friend. How strange, how inconsistent, how conflicting
are these allusions! They are nevertheless strictly true.

Many of the letters to and from Colonel Burr contain hints and
opinions as to public men and measures. Thus far, they are links in
the chain of history, in relation to the times when they were written.
They serve, also, to illustrate the character and the principles of
the writers themselves. With these views they are occasionally
selected. Theodore Sedgwick is a name recorded in the annals of our
country with distinction. He writes to Burr:--

Sheffield, 7th August, 1776.


If you remember, some months since, you and I mutually engaged to
correspond by letter. I told you then that you were not to expect any
thing either entertaining, or in any degree worth the trouble of
perusing. What can a reasonable being expect from an inhabitant of
such an obscure, remote, and dead place as Sheffield, to amuse,
instruct, or even to merit the attention of a young, gay,
enterprising, martial genius? I know you will expect nothing, and I
dare pledge my honour, therefore, that you will not, either now or in
future, in this respect, be disappointed.

You recollect, perhaps, that when I had the pleasure to see you here,
I informed you of a design to visit New-York and the southward. Soon
after my business called me to Boston, and, on my return, I was
obliged to go with the militia to Peekskill; from there I should have
visited the city and my friends, had not some foolish accidents
prevented. I now think, as soon as I can leave home, of making a tour;
but this, like other futurities, is wholly uncertain.

The insignificant figure I make, in my own opinion, in this day of
political and martial exertions, is an humbling consideration. To be
stoically indifferent to the great events that are now unfolding, is
altogether inconsistent, not only with my inclination, but even with
my natural constitution; and to pursue a line of conduct which
indicates such a disposition (I mean my continuance at home), is a
mystery for which I will endeavour to account. Remember, I do not
intend to libel the colony to which I belong.

Amid the confusion which was at once the cause and consequence of a
dissolution of government, men's minds as well as actions became
regardless of all legal restraint. All power reverted into the hands
of the people, who were determined that every one should be convinced
that _the people_ were the fountain of all honour. The first thing
they did was to withdraw all confidence from every one who had ever
any connexion with government. Lawyers were, almost universally,
represented as the pests of society. All persons who would pay court
to these extravagant and unreasonable prejudices became their idols.
Abilities were represented as dangerous, and learning as a crime, or
rather, the certain forerunner of all political extravagances. They
really demonstrated that they were possessed of creating power; _for,
by the word of their power, they created great men out of nothing_;
but I cannot say _that all was very well_.

Observing these violent symptoms, I could not pursue that which was
the only road to preferment; and I have never had an offer to go into
the army, except the one I accepted; while I have seen, in more than
one instance, men honoured with the command of a regiment for heading
mobs. Well: with this, I believe, I have troubled you long enough.
Pray, say you, what is it to me why you have not been in the army?
Why, nothing, my dear friend; but it is something to me. You know, my
dear Burr, I love you, or I should not submit such nonsense to your
perusal. If Mr. Swift still lives, give him my best compliments.
Pamela desires me to tell you she loves you. Answer this letter, and
thereby oblige

Your sincere friend,



Ticonderoga, July 26th, 1776.


I have been waiting with the greatest impatience to know what is doing
in York and Jersey. There are twenty different reports, that
contradict each other, relative to Howe and his fleet. It has once
been generally believed that a French fleet had arrived at New-York,
and blocked up the British army. Independence is well relished in this
part of the world. Generalship is now dealt out to the army by our
worthy and well-esteemed general, Gates, who is putting the most
disordered army that ever bore the name into a state of regularity and
defence. If our friends in Canada, commanded by Burgoyne, will wait a
few days, we shall give them a very proper reception.

The army are beginning to recruit fast, from the effects of a little
fresh meat, and some rum, when on fatigue. Ten days ago there were not
in our regiment eighty men fit for duty. We have now upwards of two
hundred and thirty; and, in a few days, they will be all as rugged as
New-Jersey is firm.

Colonel Winds is sent home on a fool's errand by the general, that he
may be out of the way of doing any more harm to the regiment. The
general assures me that I shall not be troubled with him again. I
suppose, by that, he has written to have him detained below. A short
history of this man will convince you that he ought to be nowhere but
on his farm. He, in the first place, is a professed enemy to
subordination, and has an utter aversion to discipline. He is
positive, and prefers his own opinion to even the general's, because
he was in the service last war. He is not possessed of one
qualification that distinguishes a gentleman, nor has he genius or
education. His whole study is to gain the applause of the private
soldiers, at the expense of every officer in the regiment. He is hated
by all his own officers except _two_, and despised by every gentleman
in the army.

We are in great want of brigadier-generals--three, at least. I mean
for the men that are now here. General Arnold will command the
water-craft on the lake in person. There are three brigades, commanded
by the colonels, Reed, Stark, and St. Clair. The last of these I
sincerely wish was appointed a brigadier by Congress. There is no
better man; the other two have full enough already.

Please to forward the enclosed, with the letter to Mr. Spencer. My
best respects to Generals Putnam, Greene, and Mifflin, and to Colonel
Trumbull. Compliments to Webb. I wait, with the greatest impatience,
some important news from New-York. Pray write particulars relative to
the conduct of the Jerseymen. Should any fall, mention their names.

I am yours sincerely,



New-York, 10th of August, 1776.

Dear Uncle,

I have received your letters from Stockbridge, with my watch, for
which I thank you. Our six galleys which went up the North river
attacked the British ships. They behaved well, but were drove off with
the loss of three killed and twelve or thirteen wounded. A second
attack is proposed. Vessels and chevaux-de-frises are sunk in the
North river. The channel is said to be effectually stopped. We are
endeavouring the same in the East river. The British fleet have been
largely re-enforced at different times. They are now said to be
upwards of two hundred sail within the Narrows. They have drawn up
seven of their heaviest ships in a line, nearly two miles advanced of
the rest.

By two Virginia gentlemen who went to England to take the gown, who
returned in a packet and landed on Staten Island, where they tarried
several days, and were permitted to cross to Elizabethtown on Thursday
last, we have some intelligence of the enemy. Clinton has arrived with
his shattered fleet and about 3600 men. By this it appears that he has
either fallen in with part of Dunmore's fleet, or picked up the
remainder of his own, which had been separated, and were not in the
action near Charlestown. Of the Hessians only 1300 or 1400 have
arrived. The remainder, about 9000, are daily expected. They were left
near the banks of Newfoundland. Those already here are not much
esteemed as soldiers.

The king's land-army is at present about 15 or 16,000 strong. They
expect very soon to exceed 25,000. They have taken on board all their
heavy cannon from Staten Island, and have called in several of their
outposts. Thirty transports have sailed under convoy of three
frigates. They are to come through the Sound, and thus invest us by
the North and East rivers. They are then to land on both sides of the
island, _join their forces, and draw a line across, which will hem us
in and totally cut off all communication, after which they will have
their own fun_.

These Virginia gentlemen lodged in a house with several king's
officers. They hold us in the utmost contempt. Talk of forcing all our
lines without firing a gun. The bayonet is their pride. They have
forgot Bunker's Hill.

Your nephew,

A. Burr.


Ticonderoga, August 11th, 1776.

Dear Burr,

I yesterday received yours of July 29th and August 2d. The others I
made mention of in the letter to Mrs. Ogden that I sent to you
unsealed. In my last you had a very particular account of the numbers,
force, names, &c., of our navy on the lake. As to our leaving
Crownpoint for this place, the field-officers knew nothing of it till
it was concluded on by the generals, Schuyler, Gates, and Arnold.

General Arnold is taking a very active part, I mean in the command of
the fleet. He will sail himself in a few days. He says he will pay a
visit to St. Johns. I wish he may be as prudent as he is brave. Well,
now have at you for news. Last evening the flag of truce returned,
bringing a letter directed to _George Washington, Esq_., and a truly
ridiculous copy of a general order, which you will see at General
Washington's by the time you receive this. But there is one part of it
in which I think they, in some measure, accuse us justly. I mean that
of assassinating, as they term it with too much truth,
Brigadier-general Gordon. He was shot by the Whitcomb I mentioned in
my last, who had been sent there as a spy. The act, though villainous,
was brave, and a peculiar kind of bravery, that, I believe, Whitcomb
alone is possessed of. He shot Gordon near by their advanced sentinel;
and, notwithstanding a most diligent search was made, he avoided them
by mere dint of skulking.

I shall have the honour to command the New-Jersey redoubt, which I am
now building with the regiment alone. It is situated on the right of
the whole, by the water's edge. It is to mount two eighteen-pounders,
two twelve, and four nine-pounders. In this I expect to do honour to
New-Jersey. I yesterday received a letter from Colonel Dayton, dated
the 28th of July, at the German Flats. He informs me that he is to
take the command at Fort Stanwix.

Should there be any thing to be had in New-York in the clothing way,
should be glad if you will lay some aside, no matter what--either
small-clothes, shirts, stockings, or any thing of the kind. My best
compliments to General Putnam. If you will let Robert or Sawyer have
the perusal of this, they would learn the news of this army. Paper is
so scarce, that one letter must serve both, unless something

Yours sincerely,


At this time Major-general Greene had the command on Long Island, but
his health was so bad that it became necessary for him to resign it.
The commander-in-chief ordered General Putnam to assume the command.
Major Burr was his aid-de-camp. The landing of the British had been
previously effected on the 22d of August, 1776, without opposition,
near Utrecht and Gravesend, on the southwest end of the island. The
American troops, less than 12,000, were encamped on the north of
Brooklyn heights. The British force, including Hessians, was more than
20,000 strong. The armies were separated by a range of hills, at that
time covered with wood, called the Heights of Gowannus. Major Burr
immediately commenced an inspection of the troops, and made to the
general a most unfavourable report, both as to their means of defence
and their discipline. The major proposed, however, several enterprises
for beating up the quarters of the enemy. To all which General Putnam
replied, that his orders were not to make any attack, but to act on
the defensive only.

On the 27th the action was fought. The loss of the Americans, in
killed, wounded, and prisoners, was about 1000. That of the British,
less than 350. The Americans were driven within the works which they
had thrown up. Major Burr, previous to the action, had expressed to
General Putnam the opinion that a battle ought not to be risked; and
that much was to be gained by placing the troops in a position where
the navy of the enemy would not be so serviceable to them.

On the 28th, the British advanced in column to within 500 or 600 yards
of the American works. General Robinson, who commanded a portion of
the enemy, represents, in his parliamentary examination, that they
approached much nearer. The American troops were formed in line to
receive them; but gave such indications of alarm, that Major Burr rode
to General Putnam, and informed him that he had no hope the men would
stand more than a single fire before they retreated. No attack,
however, was made. Burr continued to urge upon General Putnam and
Mifflin (the latter of whom came over on that day from New-York) the
necessity of a retreat. During the night of the 28th, General Mifflin
went the rounds, and observed the forwardness of the enemy's
batteries, and, on the morning of the 29th, pressed upon General
Washington an immediate retreat. A council was held, and the opinion
of Mifflin unanimously adopted. The embarcation of the troops was
committed to General McDOUGALL. He was at Brooklyn Ferry by eight
o'clock. In the early part of the night, the weather was very
unfavourable; but about eleven o'clock every thing was propitious. A
thick fog ensued, and continued until the whole army, 9000 in number,
with all the field artillery, ordnance, &c., were safely landed in
New-York. Major Burr was at Brooklyn. Here General McDOUGALL had an
opportunity of noticing his efficiency. His reputation for talents and
intrepidity had previously reached the ears of the general. From this
night, the 29th of August, 1776, until Major Burr retired from the
army, he possessed the entire confidence and esteem of General
McDOUGALL. Subsequent events, as will hereafter appear, tended to
strengthen and confirm the correctness of those prepossessions, thus
formed in the hour of peril, and in the midst of the most appalling

The situation of General Washington, after retreating from Long
Island, was very distressing. The defeat which the Americans had
experienced produced consternation and alarm in the ranks of a raw,
inexperienced, and undisciplined army. In addition to other
discouraging circumstances, within a few days after the retreat,
nearly one fourth of the troops were on the sick-list. Colonel Glover
says that the commander-in-chief divided his army, posting 12,000 at
Kingsbridge, 6500 at Harlem, and 4500 in the city of New-York.

On Sunday, the 15th of September, 1776, General Howe, as
commander-in-chief of the British forces, landed on Manhattan
(New-York) Island. General Washington had previously made the
necessary arrangements, and given orders for the troops to evacuate
the city and retire to Harlem, distant about seven miles. The descent
of the British created an alarm in the American ranks, and produced no
inconsiderable degree of confusion in the retreat. By some
unaccountable mismanagement, General Silliman's brigade was left in
New-York, and conducted by General Knox to a small fort then in the
suburbs, and known as Bunker's Hill. Major Burr having been
despatched, at his own request, with a few dragoons, by General
Putnam, to pick up the stragglers, discovered the error which had been
committed, and galloping up to the fort, inquired who commanded.
General Knox presented himself. Major Burr desired him to retreat
immediately, or the whole brigade would be cut off and sacrificed.
General Knox replied, that a retreat, thus in the face of the enemy,
was impracticable, and that he intended to defend the fort. Burr
remarked, that it was not bomb-proof; that it was destitute of water;
and that he could take it with a single howitzer; and then, addressing
himself to the men, said, that if they remained there, one half of
them would be killed or wounded, and the other half hung, like dogs,
before night; but, if they would place themselves under his command,
he would conduct them in safety to Harlem. Burr's character for
intrepidity and military skill was already so well established, that
they determined to follow him. In the retreat they had some
skirmishing, but met with very little loss in effecting their union
with the main body of the army. The following documents, furnished by
officers in Silliman's brigade, contain the details.


29th January, 1814.


In answer to the inquiries relating to the evacuation of New-York, in
1776, I can only observe, but few persons who were present, and
eyewitnesses of the event, are now living in this part of the country.
I find, however, the Rev. Doctor Ripley, a gentleman of eminent
respectability, and Messrs. Wakeman and Jennings, respectable citizens
of this town, now living, who belonged to the brigade of the late
General Silliman, the information of which gentlemen on any subject
can be relied on, and will be no otherwise than correct, however
prejudice or other cause might occasion a reluctance in disclosing the
information in their power to give; yet duty impelled their narrative,
and the neglecting an opportunity to give evidence of noble acts and
unrewarded worth they consider _ingratitude_. In preference to
communicating to you by way of letter concerning transactions of so
long standing as the year 1776, I desired the enclosed certificates,
which the gentlemen freely gave, in order to prevent any
misconstruction by passing through a second hand, by which you will
have more correct information than possibly in my power to give.

Very respectfully yours, &c.


_Certificate of the Rev. Hezekiah Ripley_.

On being inquired of by Samuel Rowland, Esq., of Fairfield town and
county, in the State of Connecticut, relative to my knowledge and
recollection respecting the merits of Colonel Aaron Burr as an officer
and soldier in the late revolutionary war between the United States
and Great Britain, can certify as follows:--

Hezekiah Ripley, of said Fairfield, doth certify, that on or about the
fifteenth day of September, 1776, I was the officiating chaplain of
the brigade then commanded by Gen. Gold S. Silliman. From
mismanagement of the commanding officer, that brigade was
unfortunately left in the city of New-York, and at the time before
mentioned. While the brigade was in front, and myself considerably in
the rear, I was met by the late General Putnam, deceased, who then
informed me of the landing of the enemy above us, and that I must make
my escape on the west side of the island. Whereupon I on foot crossed
the lots to the west side of the island, unmolested excepting by the
fire from the ships of the British, which at that time lay in the
North river. How the brigade escaped, I was not an eyewitness; but
well recollect, from the information I then had from General Chandler
(now deceased), then acting as a colonel in said brigade, that Mr.
Burr's exertions, bravery, and good conduct, was the principal means
of saving the whole of that brigade from falling into the hands of the
enemy, and whose conduct was then by all considered judicious and

But, however, I well recollect, before I had the information alluded
to from General Chandler, I had seen Mr. Burr, and inquired of him how
the brigade had made their escape, who then told me the particulars,
which were afterwards confirmed by all the officers; who were all of
opinion that, had it not been for him, they would not have effected
their retreat and escape.

As to my own opinion of the management of the troops on leaving
New-York, I then, and still suppose, as did General Chandler, that
Colonel Burr's merits there as a young officer ought, and did, claim
much attention, and whose official duties as an aid-de-camp on that
memorable day justly claimed the thanks of the army and his country.


_Certificate from Isaac Jennings and Andrew Wakeman_. Being requested
by Samuel Rowland, Esq., to give information relative to the
evacuation of New-York, in the year 1776, by the American army, we,
the subscribers, then acting, one in the capacity of a lieutenant, and
the other as a private, in the brigade commanded by the late General
Silliman, now deceased, do certify, That on the fifteenth day of
September (being on the Lord's day), the British landed on the east
side of the island, about four miles above the city. The American
troops retreated the same day to Harlem heights. By some
misapprehension of the orders, or from other causes unknown to us, our
brigade was left, and was taken by General Knox to Bunker's Hill, [1]
a small fort (so called) about a mile from town. The fort was scarcely
able to hold us all. We had but just got into the fort, when Aaron
Burr, then aid-de-camp to General Putnam, rode up and inquired who
commanded there. General Knox presented himself, and Burr (then called
Major Burr) asked the general what he did there? And why he did not
retreat with the army? The general replied, that it was impossible to
retreat, as the enemy were across the island, and that he meant to
defend that fort. Major Burr ridiculed the idea of defending the
place, being, as he said, without provisions, or water, or bomb-proof;
and that, with one mortar, or one howitzer, the enemy would take the
place in four hours, or in some very short time, and again urged
General Knox to retreat to Harlem heights; but General Knox said it
would be madness to attempt it. A smart debate ensued, the general
adhering to his opinion. Burr addressed himself to the men, and told
them that, if they remained there, they would before night be all
prisoners, and crammed into a dungeon, or hung like dogs. He engaged
to lead them off, and observed that it would be better that one half
should be killed in fighting, than all be sacrificed in that cowardly
manner. The men agreed to follow him, and he led them out; he and his
two attendants riding on the right flank. About four miles from town
we were fired upon by a party of the enemy. Burr galloped directly to
the spot the firing came from, hallooing to the men to follow him. It
proved to be only a guard of about a company of the enemy, who
immediately fled. Burr and his horsemen pursued and killed several of
them. While he was thus employed, the head of a column had taken a
wrong road. Burr came up and hurried us to the left, into a wood, and
rode along the column from front to rear, encouraging the men, and led
us out to the main army with very small loss.

The coolness, deliberation, and valour displayed by Major Burr in
effecting a safe retreat, without material loss, and his meritorious
services to the army on that day, rendered him an object of peculiar
respect from the troops, and the particular notice of the officers.




Albany, 10th February, 1814.


I have received your letter, with the preceding statement, respecting
our retreat from New-York Island, in September, 1776, and, in
compliance with your request, I have to reply, that the relation made
by Mr. Wakeman and Mr, Jennings corresponds with my recollection. I
was near Colonel Burr when he lead the dispute with General Knox, who
said it was madness to think of retreating, as we should meet the
whole British army. Colonel Burr did not address himself to the men,
but to the officers, who had most of them gathered around to hear what
passed, as we considered ourselves as lost. But Colonel Burr seemed so
confident that he could make good a retreat, and made it clear that we
were all lost if we stayed there, that we all agreed to trust to his
conduct and courage, though it did appear to us a most desperate
undertaking; and he did not disappoint us, for he effected a retreat
with the whole brigade; and I do not think we lost more than thirty
men. We had several brushes with small parties of the enemy. Colonel
Burr was foremost and most active where there was danger, and his
conduct, without considering his extreme youth, was afterwards a
constant subject of praise, and admiration, and gratitude. This affair
was much talked of in the army after the surrender of Fort Washington,
in which a garrison of about 2500 men was left under circumstances
very similar to ours; this fort having no bomb-proof. That garrison
surrendered, as is well known, the very same day our army retreated;
and of those 2500 men, not 500 survived the imprisonment they received
from the British. I have, since then, heard it repeated hundreds of
times by the officers and men of Silliman's brigade, that our fate
would have been the same had it not been for Colonel Burr. I was a
sergeant-major in Chandler's regiment of Silliman's brigade at the
time of the retreat.

I am your very obedient servant,



1. Adjacent to what is now Grand-street.


As early as the 10th of August, Burr, in a letter to his uncle
Edwards, [1] expressed apprehensions that the retreat of the American
army from Long Island might be cut off and then that the British
"would have their own fun." From that period until the retreat was
effected, on the night of the 27th, he continued to entertain the same
opinion as to the necessity of retreating. So, also, in relation to
the city of New-York. He thought no attempt should be made to hold it.
Subsequent events proved his good sense and foresight, as well as his
military genius. The city was abandoned on the 15th of September. Ten
days after he writes to his aunt Edwards, in reply to a desponding
letter he had received from her, his views of the recent movements of
the American army.


Kingsbridge, 26th September, 1776.


I fear, madam, you give yourself needless anxiety about the situation
of public affairs. It has been always held a maxim that our island and
seaport towns were at the discretion of the tyrant of Great Britain.
Reasons for the retreat from Long Island are well known. The
evacuation of New-York was a _necessary consequence_. The manner of
conducting these made present advantages but trifling to the enemy.
The loss to us is of still less importance; and, indeed, some happy
consequences resulting from the manoeuvres appear to me worthy of

We have hitherto opposed them with less than half their number, and
exposed to all their advantages of shipping. Our force is now more
united, theirs more divided. Our present situation renders their navy
of less service to them, and less formidable to us;--a circumstance of
vast importance, and to which I attribute all that has heretofore
appeared in their favour. Add to these, besides confirming our
internal union, the effect that every appearance of success on the
part of the enemy has upon our leading men. It arouses them from the
lethargy which began to prevail; convinces them that their measures
are unequal to their grand designs; that the present is the important
moment, and that every nerve must now be exerted.

This is not altogether fanciful. It has been actually the case. More
effectual measures than were ever before thought of are now taking for
levying a new army. A committee of Congress are on the spot with us to
know all our wants, and report them properly, that they may be
speedily provided for. I do not intend by this, my dear aunt, to
deceive you into an opinion that every thing is already entirely
secure; that we are now actually relieved from every degree of danger;
but to remove your apprehensions concerning the important events which
depend on our military exertions. I hope, madam, you will continue,
with your usual philosophy and resolution, prepared for the uncertain
events of war, not anticipating improbable calamities.

Various have been the reports concerning the barbarities committed by
the Hessians, most of them incredible and false. They are fonder of
plunder than blood, and are more the engines than the authors of
cruelty. But their behaviour has been in some instances savage, and
might excuse a fear, if reckoned among usual calamities; but these
should be viewed on a larger scale than that of common complaisance.
It should be remembered we are engaged in a civil war, and effecting
the most important revolution that ever took place. How little of the
horrors of either have we known! Fire or the sword have scarce left a
trace among us. We may be truly called a favoured people.

I have been not so engaged as common for a short time past, and have
liberty of remaining, for three or four days, about two miles from
camp, from whence I now write you, a little more at leisure; but I am
now within drumcall.

Your nephew,


After the abandonment of Manhattan Island by the American army, and
some fighting in Westchester, General Washington crossed the North
river with a part of the troops, and retreated through New-Jersey. The
movements of Lord Cornwallis left no doubt that the object of the
British general was Philadelphia. He advanced rapidly from Brunswick
upon Princeton, hoping, by forced marches, to get in the rear of the
Americans. On the 8th of December, 1776, Washington crossed the
Delaware, secured the boats, and broke down the bridges. Great
apprehension and alarm for the safety of Philadelphia now existed.
Judge Marshall, in his Life of Washington, says,

"In consequence of this state of things, the general advised that
lines of defence should be drawn from the Schuylkill, about the
heights of Springatsbury, eastward to the Delaware, and General Putnam
was ordered to superintend them." Major Burr was now actively engaged
as the aid-de-camp of General Putnam, whose esteem and unbounded
confidence he continued to enjoy. He writes Colonel Ogden,

Princeton, 7th March, 1777.

Dear Matt.,

I this evening received your letter of yesterday's date, by Stockton.
I knew not how to direct to you, nor where to send for the horse, or
should have done it sooner. I do not perfectly recollect the one you
mention, but should be glad of any on your recommendation. Both boots
and a saddle I want much, and shall be obliged to you to procure them
for me;--good leather would suit me as well as boots ready made. I
have not had a pair worth sixpence since those I had at Elizabethtown.

As to "expectations of promotion," I have not the least, either in the
line or the staff. You need not express any surprise at it, as I have
never made any application, and, as you know me, you know I never
shall. I should have been fond of a berth in a regiment, as we
proposed when I last saw you. But, as I am at present happy in the
esteem and entire confidence of my good old general, I shall be piqued
at no neglect, unless particularly pointed, or where silence would be
want of spirit. 'Tis true, indeed, my former equals, and even
inferiors in rank, have left me. Assurances from those in power I have
had unasked, and in abundance; but of these I shall never remind them.
We are not to judge of our own merit, and I am content to contribute
my mite in any station.

I shall probably be at Morris within ten days, on public business.
Write me whether I may expect you there. With sincere love to Mrs.


A. Burr.

In the spring of 1777, a new army was to be raised. For political
reasons it was deemed expedient to select, where it could be done with
propriety, for the colonels of regiments, gentlemen supposed to have
an influence. Among those who were thus selected was Colonel Malcolm,
formerly a merchant in the city of New-York. He was highly
respectable, and universally esteemed, but was not a military man. In
June, 1777, Burr was appointed lieutenant-colonel of his regiment; but
he did not receive official notice of the fact until the 26th of July.

On the 14th of July, 1777, General Putnam's headquarters being then at
Peekskill, he issued the following order:--

_By the Honourable Major-general Putnam, To Major Aaron Burr,


Pursuant to orders received from his excellency General Washington,
you are forthwith to repair to Norwalk, Fairfield, and the places
adjacent on the Sound, transmit me without delay the intelligence you
shall from time to time receive of the movements of the enemy, or any
of their fleets. Request of the committees, or select-men of the
different towns, that they will be very punctual in reporting to the
commanding officer at this post whatever may in any respect relate to
the movements of the army, as both their safety and the welfare of the
country may be promoted by their diligence in this particular.

On your return, which will be through Litchfield, you will leave
orders for all detachments of any regiments of General Nixon's brigade
to take the most direct route to Albany, provided they be farther than
thirty miles from this place, as much will be saved, and fatigue
avoided by the observance of this.

Having settled a line of intelligence from the different towns on the
coast, and left the necessary directions for the detachments of
Brigadier-general Nixon's brigade, you will return with all convenient
speed to this place.

Given under my hand, at headquarters, Peekskill, 14th day of July,


This was the last order that Major Burr ever received as the
aid-de-camp of his "good old general." On his return to camp he
received, in the usual form, a letter from General Washington,
announcing to him his appointment as lieutenant-colonel in the
Continental Army, to which he replied,

Peekskill, 21st July, 1777.


I was this morning favoured with your excellency's letter of the 29th
ult., and my appointment to Colonel Malcolm's regiment. Am truly
sensible of the honour done me, and shall be studious that my
deportment in that station be such as will ensure your future esteem.
I am nevertheless, Sir, constrained to observe, that the late date of
my appointment subjects me to the command of many who were younger in
the service, and junior officers the last campaign.

With submission, and if there is no impropriety in requesting what so
nearly concerns me, I would beg to know whether it was any misconduct
in me, or any extraordinary merit or services in them, which entitled
the gentlemen lately put over me to that preference? Or, if a uniform
diligence and attention to duty has marked my conduct since the
formation of the army, whether I may not expect to be restored to that
rank of which I have been deprived, rather, I flatter myself, by
accident than design? I would wish equally to avoid the character of
turbulent or passive, and am unhappy to have troubled your excellency
with a matter which concerns only myself. But, as a decent regard to
rank is both proper and necessary, I hope it will be excused in one
who regards his honour next to the welfare of his country.

I am not yet acquainted with the state of the regiment or the prospect
of filling it; but shall immediately repair to rendezvous and receive
Colonel Malcolm's directions.

I have the honour to be, with great respect,

Your excellency's obedient servant,


Colonel Malcolm's regiment was at this time stationed at Ramapo, or
the Clove, in Orange county, New-York, whither Lieutenant-colonel Burr
proceeded. On presenting himself, the colonel was greatly surprised.
The youthful appearance of Burr led him to apprehend that he would be
wanting in judgment and discretion; but a very short acquaintance
removed these impressions. Malcolm retired with his family about
twenty miles distant, leaving Burr in command, kindly remarking--"You
shall have all the honour of disciplining and fighting the regiment,
while I will be its father;" and he kept his word, for it is believed
that he never commanded it in battle during the whole war, although it
was frequently engaged. This duty devolved upon Colonel Burr.

In September, 1777, the British came out of the city of New-York, on
the west side of the Hudson river, about 2000 strong, for the purpose
of plundering and devastating the adjacent country, and capturing the
public stores. Colonel Burr was with his regiment, distant about
thirty miles, when he heard of the enemy, and yet he was in their
camp, and captured or destroyed their picket-guards before the next
morning. For two days and nights he never slept. His regular force did
not exceed three hundred men; but, by surprising the British
sentinels, he struck consternation into their ranks, and they fled
with precipitation, leaving behind them their plunder and a part of
their stores. The following letters afford ample details:--

Statement of Judge George Gardner, dated Newburgh, 20th December,

In September, 1777, the regiment called Malcolm's regiment lay at
Suffren's, in the Clove, under the command of Lieutenant-colonel Burr.
Intelligence having been received that the enemy were in Hackensack in
great force, and advancing into the country, Colonel Burr immediately
marched with the effective men, except a guard to take care of the
camp. I understood that while we were on the march, an officer arrived
express from Major-general Putnam, who commanded at Peekskill,
recommending or ordering Colonel Burr to retire with the public stores
to the mountains: to which Colonel Burr replied, that he could not run
away from an enemy whom he had not seen, mid that he would be
answerable for the public stores and for his men.

We arrived at Paramus, a distance of sixteen miles, before sunset.
There were considerable bodies of militia, in great alarm and
disorder, and doing much mischief to the neighbouring farms. They
could give no intelligence of the enemy but from rumour. Supposed them
to be within a few miles, and advancing.

Colonel Burr set some of the militia to repair the fences they had
destroyed, and arranged them as well as time would permit; and having
taken measures to secure the troops from surprise, and also for the
protection of the cornfields, he marched immediately, with about
thirty of the most active of the regiment, and a few of the militia,
to ascertain the position and numbers of the enemy. About ten o'clock
at night, being three miles from Hackensack, we got certain
intelligence that we were within a mile of the picket-guards of the
enemy. Colonel Burr then led the men into a wood, and ordered them to
sleep till he should awake them, of which we had great need, having
marched more than thirty miles since noon. Colonel Burr then went
alone to discover the position of the enemy. He returned about half an
hour before day and waked us, and told us that he was going to attack
the picket of the enemy. That we had only to follow him, and then
forbid any man to speak or to fire, on pain of death. He led us
between the sentinels in such a way that we were within a few yards of
the picket-guard before they suspected our approach. He then gave the
word, and we rushed upon them before they had time to take their arms,
and the greater part were killed. A few prisoners and some
accoutrements were brought off without the loss of one man. Colonel
Burr immediately sent off an express to Paramus, to order all the
troops to move, and to rally the country. Our little success had so
encouraged the inhabitants, that they turned out with great alacrity,
and put themselves under the command of Colonel Burr. But the enemy,
probably alarmed by these threatening appearances, retreated the next
day, leaving behind them the greater part of the cattle and plunder
which they had taken. Colonel Burr was prevented from pursuing, by
peremptory orders, which were received the day following the action,
to join, without delay, the main army, then in Pennsylvania.

I served in this regiment all the time it was under the command of
Colonel Burr, being about two years; after which he was called to take
a separate command in Westchester. During the whole time he never
permitted corporal punishment to be inflicted in a single instance;
yet no regiment in the army was under better discipline, and I doubt
whether it was equalled by any one.




New-York, 22d January, 1814.


I have understood that an application will be made to the legislature
by or on behalf of Colonel Burr, for remuneration for his military
services during our revolutionary war. Having had the happiness to
serve under him for more than two years, and having retained an
unbounded respect for his talents and character, you will pardon me
for asking your active support of any thing which may be moved in his
favour; for certainly, if any officer of the army deserved recompense,
it is Colonel Burr.

He sacrificed his health, and underwent more fatigue and privations
than any other officer of whom I had any knowledge. If I thought it
could be useful to him or amusing to you, I would enter into details;
but the facts are of general notoriety, and his superiority as a
military man, as far as my knowledge extends, universally allowed.

I will however detain you while I relate a single incident, because it
was the first of which I was a witness. I was attached as a cadet to
Colonel Malcolm's regiment, then stationed in the Clove, when Burr
joined it as lieutenant-colonel, being in the summer of 1777. Malcolm,
seeing that his presence was unnecessary while Burr was there, was
with his family about twenty miles distant. Early in September, we
heard that the enemy were out in great force. Burr gave orders for the
security of the camp and of the public stores, and within one hour
after news was received, marched with the choice of the regiment to
find the enemy. At Paramus the militia were assembled in considerable
force, but in great disorder and terror. No one could tell the force
or position of the enemy. Burr assumed the command, to which they
submitted cheerfully, as he alone (though but a boy in appearance)
seemed to know what he was about. He arranged and encouraged them as
well as time would permit, and, taking a few of the most hardy of the
men, continued his march towards the enemy. Two or three miles this
side Hackensack, we learned that we were near the enemy's advanced
guard. Burr chose a convenient place for the men to repose, and went
himself to examine the position of the enemy. A little before daylight
he returned, waked us, and ordered us to follow him. He led us
silently and undiscovered within a few paces of the British guard,
which we took or killed. From the prisoners we learned that the enemy
were about two thousand strong. Without loss of time he sent expresses
with orders to the militia, and to call out the country; and I have no
doubt but he would, within forty-eight hours, have had an army capable
of checking the progress of the enemy, and of preventing or impeding
their retreat; but they retreated the day following, and with every
mark of precipitation. During these two days and nights the colonel
did not lie down or take a minute's repose. Thus you perceive, my dear
sir, that Burr, being more than thirty miles distant when he heard of
the enemy, was in their camp the same night. You will agree with me
that things are not done so nowadays.

Similar instances of activity and enterprise occurred in each of the
four campaigns he served, and very frequently, during the winter, he
commanded on the lines of Westchester. I repeat, that it will afford
me pleasure to relate so much of these things as came to my own
knowledge, if it would be of any use.

Malcolm was never a month with the regiment after Burr joined it; so
that it was Burr who formed it, and it was a model for the whole army
in discipline and order. He never, in a single instance, permitted any
corporal punishment.

His attention and care of the men were such as I never saw, nor any
thing approaching to it, in any other officer, though I served under
many. It would be a disgrace to the country if such a man should be
denied a liberal compensation, when it is too well known that he
stands in need of it.

I shall consider myself as personally obliged by your exertions in his
favour, and hope your colleagues will add theirs to yours. Please to
show this letter to your colleagues, and to offer them my respects.

I am, very respectfully,

Your obedient servant,


The original order to join the main army in Pennsylvania, to which
Judge Gardner refers in the preceding statement, is found among the
papers of Colonel Burr, and is as follows:--

Headquarters, Peekskill, 27th September, 1777.


I have just received a letter from General Washington, dated
_thirty-four miles up Schuylkill_, wherein he informs me that General
Howe's army had found means to cross Schuylkill several miles below
his army; upon which he has ordered a further reenforcement from this
post, of which corps you must join. You will therefore, upon the
receipt of this, prepare to join General Parsons's brigade, whom I
have ordered up from the White Plains. I shall endeavour to send some
militia to guard the stores remaining in the Clove. Your baggage must
go with you.

I am, sir, your very humble servant,


Immediately after Colonel Burr had surprised and captured the British
guard, he received various complimentary notes from officers of the
army requesting details. A short extract from one is given.

Peekskill, 20th September, 1777.


I congratulate you upon the good fortune you met with in taking off
the enemy's picket. We have had various accounts about the manner in
which you executed the plan. The particulars I should be glad to hear
from yourself.

Yours, &c.


To Lieutenant-colonel A. BURR.

Colonel Burr, with his accustomed promptitude, as soon as he received
the orders of Major-general Putnam, put his regiment in motion. On the
second day of his march he received from General Varnum the following,
directed to Lieutenant-colonel Burr, on his march to Morristown.

Cakeat, October 1st, 1777.


I this moment received your favour of this date. The enemy have landed
at Powler's Hook in great force. I am apprehensive they mean attacking
Fort Montgomery by the way of the Clove. I have sent my baggage and
some forces there. The enemy must be attended to. You will therefore
halt in the nearest place that is convenient upon the receipt of this.
Keep a good look-out towards Newark, Elizabethtown, &c., or those
places from whence they can march into Pumpton. Should you be in
danger of being interrupted there, throw your party across the river
in Pumpton, and defend the bridge, if practicable. If not, make the
best retreat you can towards Morristown, &c. But by no means proceed
unless necessity urges, derived from the present object. In every
thing else pursue your best discretion.

I am, sir, your humble servant,


The following note from General Conway tends to prove, that although
Burr was only a lieutenant-colonel in 1777, yet that he was actually
received and treated as the commandant of his regiment, from which he
was never absent. Colonel Malcolm, in general, was employed on other


29th October, 1777.


I have received a letter from Captain Kearsley respecting the
settlement of the rank of the captains and subalterns. I could not
give him an immediate answer, because I was then attending a
court-martial. I wish this matter was settled as soon as possible to
the satisfaction of the officers of your regiment. The general
officers being employed in several courts-martial, which, along with
the camp-duty, will take up all their time, I think you had best apply
to the adjutant-general. Know from him the manner in which the ranks
of the Virginia and Pennsylvania officers have been settled, and
arrange accordingly, at least pro tempore, the rank of your gentlemen.

I am, sir, your most obedient and humble servant,


The regiment joined the army in November, 1777, at Whitemarsh, in
Pennsylvania, twenty miles from Philadelphia. Colonel Burr, in command
of it, was stationed about half a mile in advance of the main body.
After a few weeks, the army went into winter-quarters at Valley Forge.
During the winter, Colonel Burr proposed to General Washington an
expedition against Staten Island. He stated to the commander-in-chief
that he was personally and well acquainted with many of the
inhabitants in the vicinity of the island. That he believed they would
join him as volunteers; and that he only asked two hundred men of his
own regiment as a nucleus. General Washington declined granting the
request. But subsequently, an unsuccessful attempt was made under the
command of Lord Stirling.

Within eight or ten miles of Valley Forge, there was a narrow and
important pass, known as the Gulf. A strong body of militia were
stationed to defend it. They were in the habit of exciting in the camp
false alarms; and the main body, in consequence, was frequently put in
motion. When not put in motion, they were greatly disturbed,
especially at night. These alarms generally resulted from the want of
a rigid discipline. General McDOUGALL was at Valley Forge, and
exceedingly annoyed. Of Burr, as a disciplinarian and a soldier, he
entertained a high opinion; and recommended to Washington that he
withdraw from this detachment Burr's seniors, as officers, and give
him the command of the post, which was accordingly done. Colonel Burr
immediately commenced a rigid system of police, visiting every night,
and at all hours of the night, the sentinels; changing their position,
&c. During the day he kept the troops under a constant drill. The
rigour of this service was not adapted to the habits of militia, who
had been accustomed to pass, in camp, a life of idleness, and to act
as suited their individual whims and caprices. A portion of the most
worthless became restless, and were determined to rid themselves of
such a commander.

Colonel Burr was notified of the contemplated mutiny, in which he
would probably fall a victim. He ordered the detachment to be formed
that night (it being a cold, bright moonlight), and secretly directed
that all their cartridges should be drawn, so that there should not be
a loaded musket on the ground. He provided himself with a good and
well-sharpened sabre. He knew all the principal mutineers. He marched
along the line, eying the men closely. When he came opposite to one of
the most daring of the ringleaders, the soldier advanced a step, and
levelled his musket at Colonel Burr, calling out--"Now is your time,
my boys." Burr, being well prepared and in readiness, anticipating an
assault, with a celerity for which he was remarkable, smote the arm of
the mutineer above the elbow, and nearly severed it from his body,
ordering him, at the same time, to take and keep his place in the
line. In a few minutes the men were dismissed, and the arm of the
mutineer was next day amputated. No more was heard of the mutiny; nor
were there afterwards, during Colonel Bun's command, any false alarms.
This soldier belonged to Wayne's brigade; and some of the officers
talked of having Colonel Burr arrested, and tried by a court-martial,
for the act; but the threat was never carried into execution.

That Colonel Burr joined the army at White Marsh, and was there in
command of his regiment, the following application and order will

Near White Marsh, Nov., 1777.


The papers and clothing of the companies which have lately joined
Malcolm's regiment are at Bethlem. The papers are now wanted; and
several of the officers cannot appear decent until they receive other
clothes: for these reasons I would ask your indulgence for leave of
absence, for two subalterns, six days. Their presence is not
particularly necessary with their companies.

Respectfully your ob't serv't,


Hon. General CONWAY.

This application General Conway returns, with the following

Colonel Burr is master to send such officers as he thinks requisite,
in order to procure the papers wanted, and the clothes for the use of
the regiment.


While the army was at Valley Forge, in the winter of 1777-78, the
difficulties between General Washington and General Gates, and their
respective friends, became, in a great measure, matter of publicity.
At this period there were two parties among the officers. Washington
had his warm friends and supporters. Lee and Gates had theirs.

Colonel Burr was of the latter. The merits of the question will not be
discussed; and the subject will only be referred to so far as Burr is

In the spring of 1776, at the request of the commander-in-chief, Burr
joined his military family for a short space of time, but soon became
dissatisfied and retired. On the 29th of August, 1776, the American
army retreated from Long Island. This retreat Burr had pressed upon
Putnam, Mifflin, and others. In his letter to T. Edwards, [2] dated
the 10th of August, nearly _three weeks_ before it took place, he
says: "They (the British) are to come through the Sound, and thus
invest us by the North and East rivers. They are then to land on both
sides of the island, join their forces, and draw a line across, _which
will hem us in, and totally cut off all communication, after which
they will have their own fun._"

During the night of the retreat, Burr was actively engaged aiding
McDOUGALL in the embarcation of the troops at Brooklyn; and, from a
personal knowledge of the localities of it and the adjacent places, he
imagined that he had rendered some service. It has been shown that, by
his intrepidity and perseverance in the retreat from New-York, he
rescued from impending danger the brigade of General Silliman. In
neither of these cases was his conduct noticed by the
commander-in-chief, either in general orders or otherwise. Young,
ardent, ambitious, and of a fiery temperament, he thought that justice
was not done to his efforts, and construed these, with other minor
occurrences about the same time, into acts of hostility towards him.
In September, 1776, therefore, his prejudices against General
Washington became fixed and unchangeable; and to the latest hour of
his life he recurred to the retreat from Long Island, and from the
city of New-York, with acrimonious feelings towards the
commander-in-chief. Whatever may be said to the contrary, as early as
this period those prejudices were formed and confirmed. That General
Washington placed no confidence in Burr, and that, for some reason, he
was exceedingly hostile towards him, is equally certain. Whether his
hostility commenced at this period is matter of more uncertainty.
Events already noticed demonstrate that the general considered him an
intrepid, efficient, and vigilant officer.

Thus, in 1777, Burr was the friend of Lee and Gates in opposition to
General Washington. In the beginning of January, 1778, it was reported
to Burr that Lord Stirling had made some remarks respecting the manner
in which the colonel had contributed to arrange the rank of his
(Burr's) subaltern officers. Lord Stirling at this time commanded the
division. It will be recollected that, a few weeks previous, Colonel
Burr had proposed to the commander-in-chief an enterprise against
Staten Island, which was rejected; but, immediately after, it was
unsuccessfully attempted by Lord Stirling. The difficulty, therefore,
in fact, between these gentlemen, grew out of the latter circumstance.
On the 7th of January, 1778, Burr addressed Lord Stirling, requesting
an explanation, which was promptly given in the following note, and
thus the matter terminated.

Camp, January 8th, 1778.


The receipt of your letter of yesterday's date not a little surprised
me, for I can assure you that I have never made use of a word in
censure of yourself, or of the court you mention. I some days ago
ordered a return to be brought in of the names and rank of the
officers of the division, independent of what the two courts were
doing, and desired Major Monroe [3] to direct the brigade-majors to
make them out as soon as possible: from this, I suppose, some mistake
has arose, which I will call upon Major Stagg to explain.

I am,

Your most obedient humble servant,


Lieutenant-colonel BURR.


1. See Chapter VII.

2. See Chapter VII.

3. James Monroe, late president of the United States, then aid to Lord


Colonel Burr was a rigid disciplinarian, and in the performance of his
duty made no difference between those officers who were his friends
and those who were not; yet he never failed to adopt the most delicate
and gentlemanly course, where, in his opinion, rigour became
necessary. There are many documents tending to establish this fact,
such as the following:--

Camp, April 10th, 1778.

My Lord,

In my weekly returns, your lordship may have observed that Captain Tom
has been returned--_absent without leave_. As he had been long from
the regiment, and no reasons had been assigned to me for his
extraordinary absence, I thought myself in duty bound to make such
report. Upon his return to camp, he has accounted for his conduct in a
manner more satisfactory than I feared he could.

Unwilling to deal too severely with a valuable officer, and conscious
of the impropriety of passing any seeming neglect in entire silence, I
refer him to your lordship as the proper judge of his conduct and

My lord, you are acquainted with the character of Captain Tom. You
have often heard me mention him with respect. Should his absence
appear, in any degree, to have arisen from inattention, I hope your
lordship will treat it with all the delicacy which the conduct of a
man of feeling and of spirit can desire.

I have the honour to be,

Your lordship's most obedient servant,



Yorktown, June 16th, 1778.


I have just now met with Captain Kearsley, which enables me to let you
know that I am here, sent by General Gates to Congress on a variety of

I have consented to do duty as adjutant-general to the northern army,
on conditions of holding my regiment, and that it should come to the
northward. The first agreed to; the last according to events.

None of the sixteen additional regiments stand on the new
establishment. Of the strongest, if ours comes within that
description, it will be one. _As General Washington writes General
Gates that he cannot conveniently spare you at this time_, I recommend
your sending three or four officers to the State of New-York on the
recruiting service. You know who will answer best, and who can be best
spared; and to recruit for the regiment at large, I think I can
provide you with some men.

As I have not time either to pass through, come, or to write any other
of the officers, do tell them how I am circumstanced, and offer them
my best respects. I am happy to hear that Major Pawling is better. I
shall write from Peekskill very soon, and beg to hear from you.

I ever am, very sincerely, affectionately yours,


By the preceding letter it appears that "General Washington had
written to General Gates that he could not conveniently spare Colonel
Burr." The reason is obvious. It was at the very moment when Sir Henry
Clinton was about to evacuate Philadelphia, and to retreat through
New-Jersey. The commander-in-chief was unwilling at such a crisis to
part with an efficient and gallant officer. On the 18th of June, Sir
Henry Clinton, with his forces, left the city, proceeded to Gloucester
Point, three miles down the river, and crossed the Delaware into
New-Jersey. That day he marched as far as Haddonfield. The Americans
crossed the Delaware at Corriel's Ferry, and halted, after a
distressing march from heat and rain, within five miles of Princeton.
During the preceding winter General Lee had been exchanged, and joined
the army at Valley Forge.

The enemy's force was now estimated at between 9000 and 10,000, rank
and file. The Americans at 10,600, exclusive of Maxwell's brigade,
about 1200, and about 1200 militia. On the 24th of June, 1778, the
commander-in-chief propounded to the general officers the question,
"Will it be advisable to hazard a general action?" The answer was,
"Not advisable; but a detachment of 1500 to be immediately sent to
act, as occasion may serve, on the enemy's left flank and rear, in
conjunction with the other continental troops and militia already
hanging about them, and the main body to preserve a relative position,
to act as circumstances may require." Signed by Lee, Stirling, Greene,
Fayette, Steuben, Poor, Paterson, Woodford, Scott, Portail, Knox.

Four days after, viz., the 28th of June, the battle of Monmouth was
fought. It was on this occasion that General Washington ordered the
arrest of General Lee: 1stly, For disobedience of orders in not
attacking the enemy on the 28th of June, agreeably to repeated
instructions; 2dly, For misbehaviour before the enemy on the same day,
by making an unnecessary, disorderly, and shameful retreat; 3dly, For
disrespect to the commander-in-chief, in two letters, dated the 20th
of June. On the 12th of August the courtmartial, of which Lord
Stirling was president, found Lee guilty, and sentenced him to be
suspended from any command in the armies of the United States for the
term of twelve months. The history of the battle of Monmouth, with all
the consequences that followed, has long since been given to the world
by the friends and the opponents of the respective parties. It is only
necessary to state here, that Colonel Burr, on that occasion, was
ranked among the supporters of Lee, and had himself real or imaginary
cause of complaint against the commander-in-chief.

In this action Colonel Burr commanded a brigade in the division of
Lord Stirling, composed of his own regiment and some Pennsylvanians,
under the immediate command of Lieutenant-colonel Dummer. Gordon, in
his History of the American Revolution, says, "The check the British
received gave time to make a disposition of the left wing and second
line of the main army in the wood, and on the eminence to which he had
been directed and was retreating. On this were placed some batteries
of cannon by Lord Stirling, who commanded the left wing, which played
upon the British with great effect, and, _seconded by parties of
infantry detached to oppose them, effectually put a stop to their
advance_. The British, finding themselves warmly opposed in front,
attempted to turn the American left flank, but were repulsed."

Shortly after the action had become general, Burr discovered a
detachment of the enemy coming from the borders of a wood on the
southward. He instantly put his brigade in motion for the purpose of
checking them. It was necessary to cross a morass, over which a bridge
was thrown. He ordered Lieutenant-colonel Dummer to advance with the
Pennsylvania detachment, and that he would bring up the rear with his
own regiment. After a part of the brigade was over the bridge, Colonel
Barber, aid to General Washington, rode up, and said that the orders
of the commander-in-chief were that he should halt. Colonel Burr
remonstrated. He said his men, in their present position, were exposed
to the fire of the enemy, and that his whole brigade must now cross
the bridge before they could halt with any safety. Colonel Barber
repeated that the orders of General Washington were peremptory that he
should halt, which was accordingly done, and the brigade, in their
divided state, suffered severely. Lieutenant-colonel Dummer was
killed; Colonel Burr's horse was shot under him; and those who had
crossed the bridge were compelled to retreat.

The movements and the firing of the armies continued until dark. The
Americans remained on the battle-ground, with an intention of renewing
the attack in the morning. Burr's uniform practice was, when near an
enemy, to be up at night, visiting his own pickets, and taking the
necessary precautions for avoiding a surprise. The night preceding the
action Colonel Burr was thus engaged, as it was known that the British
would move at dawn of day, if not before, and General Washington had
given orders to Lee, who was in the advance, to commence the attack as
soon as they did move. The weather was intensely hot. Notwithstanding
the fatigue which Colonel Burr had undergone during the night of the
27th and the succeeding day, yet he remained up the night of the 28th
also. Sir Henry Clinton's troops were employed in removing their
wounded, and then marched away in such silence, that, though General
Poor lay near them, their retreat was effected without his knowledge.

Exhausted with fatigue, and worn out for the want of repose, on the
29th, Colonel Burr lay down under the shade of some trees and fell
asleep. When he awoke, he was exposed, and had been for some time, to
the rays of the sun. He found himself unable to walk without great
difficulty; and so severely was he afflicted, that he did not recover
from its effects for some years afterwards. A stranger to complaints
or murmurs when enduring pain, the real state of his health was
unknown to even his brother officers. In this situation he was
immediately ordered by General Washington, through Lord Stirling, to
repair to Elizabethtown, on highly important and confidential
business. The great object of the commander-in-chief was to ascertain,
as far as practicable, the future movements of the enemy, Sir Henry
Clinton having secured his retreat to the city of New-York. General
Washington proceeded to New-Brunswick, at which place Lord Stirling
was attending as president of the court-martial for the trial of
General Lee. The following notes will explain the character of Burr's
mission, and the confidence reposed in him by the commander-in-chief.


Brunswick, July 4th, 1778.


I have this moment received yours of yesterday's date. On showing it
to General Washington, he approves of the progress of your inquiries,
and desires they may be continued. But he particularly desires me to
_send off this express to you_, to request that you will endeavour to
get all the intelligence you possibly can from the city of New-York:
What are the preparations of shipping for embarcation of foot or
horse?--what expeditions on hand?--whether up the North river,
Connecticut, or West Indies? For this purpose you may send one, two,
or three trusty persons over to the city, to get the reports, the
newspapers, and the truth, if they can. We are just going to exhibit a
grand champêtre and feu de joie, so must only say that

I am sincerely yours,



Brunswick, July 6th, 1778,


I have your letter of yesterday's date. The court-martial, of which I
am president, is adjourned to Morristown, which will oblige me to go
there to-morrow. I must therefore desire you will direct your letters,
with such intelligence as you may procure, to his excellency General
Washington, who will be on the line of march with the army. In haste,

Your most obedient servant,



Brunswick, July 6, 1778.

General Washington desires me to state that he wishes you would employ
three, four, or more persons, to go to Bergen heights, Weehawk,
Hoebuck, or any other heights thereabout, convenient to observe the
motions of the enemy's shipping, and to give him the earliest
intelligence thereof; whether up the river particularly. In short,
every thing possible that can be obtained.

Yours, &c.,



Newark, July 8th, 1778.


His excellency desires me to inquire whether you have received any
information of the enemy's movements, situation, or design? He will
leave this place about 4 o'clock this afternoon, before which he will
expect to hear from you.

I am, dear sir, your most obedient,


Having completed the business on which he had been despatched by the
commander-in-chief, Colonel Burr proceeded to join his regiment,
although his health was very bad. In a few days he received the
following order:--

Camp, near Croton Bridge, 19th July, 1778.

Colonel Malcolm's regiment is ordered to march at two o'clock
to-morrow morning, to the fort at West Point, on Hudson river, with
the regiment commanded by Lieutenant-colonel Parker, which is to join
on the road near Croton bridge. The commander of the two regiments
will make all convenient despatch, marching ten miles a day, as water
and ground will admit.

The Baron DE KALB.

Early in July, 1778, in consequence of Sir Henry Clinton having
arrived in New-York with his army, much excitement and some
apprehension existed in the upper part of the state respecting the
tories. The legislature had previously adopted rigid measures on the
subject, and it became necessary that an intelligent and confidential
military officer should be designated to take charge of them. General
Washington selected Colonel Burr for this purpose, The trust was one
of a delicate character.


Camp, White Plains, 2d August, 1778.


By an act of the legislature of the State of New-York, the
commissioners for detecting and defeating conspiracies, &c., were
directed to tender an oath of allegiance, in the said act prescribed,
to certain persons, inhabitants of this state, who have affected to
observe, during the present war, a dangerous and equivocal neutrality;
and on their refusal to take the same, that the said commissioners
should cause them to be conveyed within the enemy's lines. In
consequence whereof, sundry persons, to whom the said oath hath been
tendered, and who have refused to take the same, were by the
commissioners directed to rendezvous at Fishkill, on Monday next, in
order to embark on board a sloop to be provided at that place for the

In order that this business might be conducted with as little danger
as possible to the operations of the present campaign, his excellency
Governor Clinton requested his excellency the commander-in-chief to
appoint an officer of the army for the purpose; and you being assigned
to this business, his excellency Governor Clinton hath directed me, in
his name, to request you to repair to Fishkill on Monday next, &c.

If by any accident you should not find the commissioners at Fishkill,
his excellency will be much obliged to you if you would ride up to
Poughkeepsie, where the board are sitting.

I am, with great respect, yours, &c.,


P. S. Enclosed is the flag; and his excellency the governor desires
you will fill the blank with the name of the sloop, and the names of
the persons who may be put on board by the commissioners.

_At a meeting of the Board of Commissioners for detecting and
defeating Conspiracies, held at Poughkeepsie, August 3d, 1778._

Present--Mr. Platt, Mr. Harpur, Mr. Cantine, and Mr. Wynkoop.

The board having received a letter from his excellency Governor
Clinton, dated at camp, White Plains, the second instant, informing
that his excellency General Washington had appointed
Lieutenant-colonel Burr to conduct such persons as had refused to take
the oath of allegiance to this state, prescribed by an act of the
legislature thereof, within the enemy's lines; therefore,

_Resolved_, That Colonel Burr be served with a copy of the proceedings
of this board against William Smith and Cadwallader Colden, Esquires,
and Mr. Roeliff J. Eltinge; and that he is hereby authorized to remove
each and every one of them within the enemy's lines, in such way and
manner as his excellency General Washington may have already directed,
or hereafter shall direct.

Extracts from the minutes, by order,

TEUNIS TAPPAN, Secretary to the Board.

FROM THE COMMISSIONERS TO COLONEL BURR. Poughkeepsie, August 3d, 1778.


The commissioners for conspiracies being informed by his excellency
the governor of your appointment to receive at Fishkill such persons
as have refused to take the oath prescribed by a law of this state,
and who, by virtue of the said law, are to be sent into the enemy's
lines, by us appointed to carry the same into execution; in
consequence of this, we hereby send you William Smith, Cadwallader
Colden, Esquires, and Mr. Roeliff J. Eltinge, who have refused to take
the said oath, and thereby have subjected themselves to a removal
within the said lines, which removal you will be pleased to take
charge of.

The bearer, Cornelius E. Wynkoop, Esquire, is one of the board, to
whom we refer you for such particulars as may be necessary to adjust,
the more effectually to enable us to convey, in future, such gentlemen
as the above over into the enemy's lines.

We are, sir, with respect,

Your most obedient servants,

  ZEPHA. PLATT,       )
  ROBERT HARPUR,      ) Commissioners.


Kinderhook, August 7th, 1778.


I write you in haste by Mr. Van Schaack, [1] who will convey it to you
should you be at West Point. This gentleman has, by long acquaintance,
manifested such qualities as have much attached me to his interest;
but, most unfortunately for his friends, has differed in political
opinions from the body of the community in general, and from me in
particular, in consequence of which difference (by means of the test
act of this state) he is about to be removed to the city of New-York;
and has been so obliging as to offer me his assistance in procuring
for, and sending to me, a few family necessaries. Should it be in your
power, I am very certain it would be an unnecessary request to desire
you to lend me any assistance: nor need I desire you to render Mr. Van
Schaack's short stay among you as agreeable as his and your
circumstances will permit.

I most sincerely congratulate you on the happy prospect of a speedy
termination to the war. I believe I shall visit the camp soon, in
which case you will have the pleasure to see Mr. Edwards in company. I
have, since I saw you, become the father of a second daughter. Pamela
has had a most tedious and dangerous illness, but is, thank God, now,
for her, very well. You may be sure she will be glad to be
affectionately remembered by you.

Yours most sincerely,


It has heretofore been stated that Colonel Burr was of the Lee and
Gates party in the army. A short note from Lee to Burr will show the
poignancy of the general's feelings under the sentence of the
court-martial, and the mortification and disappointment he experienced
when Congress refused to reverse that sentence.


October, 1778.


As you are so kind as to interest yourself so warmly in my favour, I
cannot resist the temptation of writing you a few lines. Till these
two days, I was convinced the Congress would unanimously have
rescinded the absurd, shameful sentence of the court-martial; but,
within these two days, I am taught to think that equity is to be put
out of the question, and the decision of the affair to be put entirely
on the strength of party; and, for my own part, I do not see how it is
possible, if the least decency or regard for national dignity has
place, that it can be called a party business.

I wish I could send you the trial, and will the moment I can obtain
one. I think myself, and I dare say you will think on the perusal,
that the affair redounds more to my honour, and the disgrace of my
persecutors, than, in the warmth of indignation, either I or my
aid-de-camps have represented it. As I have no idea that a proper
reparation will be made to my injured reputation, it is my intent,
whether the sentence is reversed or not reversed, to resign my
commission, retire to Virginia, and learn to hoe tobacco, which I find
is the best school to form a consummate _general_. This is a discovery
I have lately made. Adieu. Dear sir, believe me to be your most

Sincerely obliged servant,


After the battle of Monmouth, in June, 1778, Colonel Burr was
constantly employed. His health, from the fatigues of that and the
subsequent day, was greatly impaired. Early in October, he found
himself, in a measure, unfit for active service. He left West Point,
where his regiment was stationed, and repaired to Elizabethtown, in
the hope that a few weeks of repose might prove beneficial; but in
these hopes he was sorely disappointed. He then determined to ask a
furlough, and retire from the army for a few months, provided the
furlough was granted without his receiving pay. On this point he was
very fastidious. By these feelings he was uniformly governed through a
long life. He never sought nor accepted an office for the emolument it
afforded. He wrote the commander-in-chief on the subject, as


Elizabethtown, 24th October, 1778.


The excessive heat and occasional fatigues of the preceding campaign,
have so impaired my health and constitution as to render me incapable
of immediate service. I have, for three months past, taken every
advisable step for my recovery, but have the mortification to find,
upon my return to duty, a return of sickness, and that every relapse
is more dangerous than the former. I have consulted several
physicians; they all assure me that a few months retirement and
attention to my health are the only probable means to restore it. A
conviction of this truth, and of my present inability to discharge the
duties of my office, induce me to beg your excellency's permission to
retire from pay and duty till my health will permit, and the nature of
service shall more particularly require my attention, provided such
permission can be given without subjecting me to any disadvantage in
point of my present rank and command, or any I might acquire during
the interval of my absence.

I shall still feel and hold myself liable to be called into service at
your excellency's pleasure, precisely as if in full pay, and barely on
furlough; reserving to myself only the privilege of judging of the
sufficiency of my health during the present appearance of inactivity.
My anxiety to be out of pay arises in no measure from intention or
wish to avoid any requisite service. But too great a regard to
malicious surmises, and a delicacy perhaps censurable, might otherwise
hurry me unnecessarily into service, to the prejudice of my health,
and without any advantage to the public, as I have had the misfortune
already to experience.

I am encouraged in this proposal by the opinion Lord Stirling has been
pleased to express of the justice of my request;--the sense your
excellency must entertain of the weak state of the corps in which I
have the honour to command, and the present sufficiency of its
respective officers. I purpose keeping my quarters at this place until
I have the honour of your excellency's answer, which I wait with

I am, with respect,

Your humble servant,




Headquarters, Fredericksburgh, 26th October, 1778.


I have your favour of the 24th. You, in my opinion, carry your ideas
of delicacy too far when you propose to drop your pay while the
recovery of your health necessarily requires your absence from the
service. It is not customary, and it would be unjust. You therefore
have leave to retire until your health is so far re-established as to
enable you to do your duty. Be pleased to give the colonel notice of
this, that he may know where to call upon you should any unforeseen
exigency require it.

I am your obedient servant,


On the receipt of the above letter, Colonel Burr repaired to West
Point and joined his regiment, notwithstanding the shattered state of
his constitution. He was unwilling to absent himself from the service,
and at the same time receive pay. Colonel Burr was now in his
twenty-third year, and yet so youthful was his appearance, that
strangers, on a first introduction, viewed him as a mere boy. As
evidence of the fact, he has often related with great good-humour this
anecdote. While he was commanding at West Point, a countryman had some
business to transact with him. He requested admittance to Colonel
Burr. The orderly sergeant conducted him into headquarters.

"Sir," said the countryman, "I wish to see Colonel Burr, as I have
something to say to him."

"You may proceed. I am Colonel Burr."

"I suppose," rejoined the honest farmer, "you are Colonel Burr's son."

The sentinel at the door heard and repeated the conversation, and Burr
was often afterwards designated as Colonel Burr's son. He remained at
West Point until December, when he was removed to Haverstraw by the
orders of General McDOUGALL, and had the command of a brigade,
consisting of Malcolm's regiment, and a portion of Spencer's and
Patten's regiments. He was subsequently ordered to take command on the
lines in Westchester county, a most important and not less perilous
post. In December, he received from Mrs. J. Montgomery, the widow of
General Montgomery, a letter, as follows :--


Rhinebeck, December 25th, 1775.


I take the liberty to enclose a list of things Mr. Smith was so kind
as to send me from New-York by the return flag. The captain of the
flag, of whom I made some inquiries, professed to know nothing of
them, and referred me to Colonel Burr, who might know something of the

I am almost ashamed to take up your attention about so small an
affair; but the difficulty that attends obtaining the least article of
dress, must, I think, plead my apology. Besides, having this
opportunity, I would wish to assure Colonel Burr of the very great
respect I have for those gentlemen whom General Montgomery professed
to esteem; among which, sir, I am told you was not the least. To be by
him distinguished argues a superior merit, and will ensure you a most
sincere welcome at Rhinebeck should it lie in your way.

I am, sir, with esteem, yours, &c.



On taking command of the lines in Westchester, Colonel Burr received
from brother officers congratulatory letters, so distinguished was the
station considered. Colonel Udney Hay, under date of the 29th of
January, 1779, says, "As you have now got the post of honour, accept
of my sincere wishes that you may reap the laurels I believe you

As soon as Burr arrived at the camp, he commenced a system of reform
and discipline. Previous to his arrival, there was exhibited a most
disgraceful scene of plunder, and sometimes of murder, along the whole
frontier. This he promptly checked; and, in all his efforts to
accomplish this end, he was sustained by General McDOUGALL.


Camp, White Plains, 12th January, 1779.

Dear Sir,

The enclosed return will show you the deficiency of officers and men
at this post. Above the complement for the parties, I wish to have a
guard for myself, and a commissary's guard. To detail men for these
purposes will interfere with the rotation of duty.

I arrived here on Friday evening. The weather on Saturday was too
severe and stormy to permit me to make myself acquainted with the post
and disposition of the troops. I improved yesterday for those
purposes, and found it necessary to alter the position. I have moved
the left three miles forward, and the two centre divisions so as to
allign with that and Tarrytown. The posts now possessed by these
detachments are,

_First._ Tarrytown.

_Second._ Isaac Reed's and John Hammond's, near Sawmill river.

_Third._ Starr's and Moses Miller's, one and a half miles in front of

_Fourth._ Merritt's and neighbouring houses, near Farmer Oakley's.

By this arrangement the extent of my command is contracted three
miles, and the distance from my left to the Sound is three miles less
than before. The men more compact, and the posts equidistant from the
enemy. While I was upon the business above mentioned, Colonel
Littlefield and Mr. Thomas visited Colonel Enos and Lieutenant-colonel
Holdridge, to enforce the necessity of an immediate junction, to
complete the security of the country upon the present plan; but these
gentlemen say they have no orders to cross Biram river. They have
their quarters in Horseneck, and some troops are north of that place.
Thus, notwithstanding my endeavours, the country will be unprotected,
and I am insecure.

I enclose you the arrest of a Captain Brown. I am sorry for the
necessity of any thing which may have the appearance of severity; but
the avowal of behaviour so very unbecoming constrained me to it. The
required parties of militia will, I believe, join me this week. I
shall write you about iron-bound casks in a few days. There is not a
hide, the property of the country, in all this quarter, except
fourteen in the hands of the commissary of hides. I shall, as soon as
possible, make myself acquainted with the officers of the militia. I
have sent to Bedford, but have no answer, about rum, &c.

I send the names of a few of Malcolm's officers, whom I would wish
were ordered to join me immediately. Some of them, I believe, are
absent. Lieutenant-colonel Littlefield had it in intention to go with
most of the men this evening on an expedition to West Farms and
Morrisania. Abstracted from your verbal instructions, the plan
appeared to me premature. The men here are not half officered; the
country by no means sufficiently reconnoitred; the force very
inadequate, even for covering parties. As there was a prospect that
each of the inconveniences would shortly be removed, I advised to
defer it. To convince them that my disapprobation arose from no
jealousy of honour, I told Colonel Littlefield that if the enterprise
should hereafter be thought more advisable, I would leave to him the
execution: if I should think proper to send him on that command, I
would act with the covering party. One hundred and fifty continentals
and fifty militia was the force proposed for this evening; but as
there are a number of volunteers on the spot, I consented to and
encouraged an excursion to Frog's Neck, under Colonel Littlefield. I
expect little from it, but have not so much to fear.

I hope Mr. Stagg succeeded in his application to Mr. Erskine. A
draught of the country would be of great service to me. In your
instructions about plunder, you direct that all the fat horses, &c. in
the hands of disaffected persons, "lying certain courses," are to be
taken, on the supposition that they are designed for, or will fall
into the hands of, the enemy. As this mode of determining may be the
source of much altercation, I could wish, if you thought proper, the
seizable property might be designated by a certain number of miles
below our lines, or below the line intended to be formed from
Tarrytown, through White Plains, to Sawpits or Rye.

The two parties from Paterson's brigade will most of them want shoes
in ten days. It is my opinion that a great part of those who came last
with new shoes, will not, at the expiration of the time, be able to
return for the want of shoes. Those they now have are of the slightest
French make; many already worn out. If these men must be again
relieved by others better shod, and they again in a few days, there
will be such an endless marching and countermarching as will harass
the troops, and wear out more shoes than all the duty performed here.
Would not these evils be in some measure remedied by sending me a
parcel of shoes? I will keep an exact account of the regiment they are
delivered to.

Your most obedient servant,



White Plains, January 13th, 1779.


All the horsemen were so infatuated with the itch for scouting, that I
had not one to despatch with the letter herewith sent. Colonel
Littlefield, with the party, returned this morning. They brought up
one prisoner. I shall send him up with another grand rascal to-morrow.
There are evidences enough against Merritt to hang a dozen such, but
many of them dare not appear at present.

Notwithstanding the cautions I gave, and notwithstanding Colonel
Littlefield's good intentions, I blush to tell you that the party
returned loaded with plunder. Sir, till now, I never wished for
arbitrary power. I could gibbet half a dozen _good whigs_, with all
the venom of an inveterate tory. The party had not been returned an
hour, before I had six or seven persons from New-Rochelle and Frog's
Neck, with piteous applications for stolen goods and horses. Some of
these persons are of the most friendly families. I am mortified that
not an officer on the ground has shown any activity to detect the
plunderers or their spoil. I have got three horses, and a number of
other articles, and have confined two soldiers who had them in
possession. But these are petty rascals. I feel more pity than
indignation towards them. They were honest men till debauched by this
expedition. I believe some officers are concerned. If I can be assured
of that (and I shall spare no labour), you may depend on seeing them
with a file of men. The militia volunteers excelled in this business.
If I detect them I shall treat them with the same rigour, unless you
advise to the contrary. I wish you would give me directions. I have at
least a fortnight's work before me to undo the doings of last night.

This day I enter on my command. Truly an ominous commencement. Is this
the promised protection? I read in the face of every child I pass; for
the whole _honour_ of the expedition redounds to me. But enough of
this; more perhaps than you will thank me for. Webbers was of the
party, and can give you a history. I now perceive from whence arose
the ardour for scouting. I suppose the sergeants' parties of militia,
when they join me, will be subject to courts of the line.

Your most obedient servant,



Peekskill, January 14th, 1779.


The general has received yours, and directs me to inform you that such
assistance will be granted as is necessary for the protection of the
country and your honour.

He desires that no expedition be set on foot till you hear further
from him. He has no objections to Colonel Littlefield's remaining with
you till the arrival of more officers.

Handcuffs will be sent you as soon as they can be made. If you have a
number of prisoners at any time to send up, let them be fastened right
and left hands, and the guard cut the strings of their breeches, and
there will be no danger of their making their escape, as they will be
obliged to hold them up continually with one hand.

Last evening Josiah Fowler made his escape from the provost; possibly
he may fall into the hands of your scouts or patrols. If he does,
please to take the best care of him.

The general will write you fully by the captain who will soon
re-enforce you. One hundred pair of shoes will be sent you. The map of
the country is herewith transmitted, for the purpose of taking a
sketch of it. You will please to do it as soon as possible, and send
it up by a careful hand. The general does not wish you ever to carry
it from your quarters.

Your most obedient servant,

RICHARD PLATT, Aid-de-camp.


Headquarters, Peekskill, January 15th, 1779.


Your favours of the 11th and 12th, with their enclosures, came duly to

I am much mortified that Captain Brown should have merited your
putting him in an arrest. But you have done your duty, for which
accept my thanks.

If an officer commanding an outpost will not be very vigilant, he
exposes his party to be butchered, as the unfortunate Colonel Balor
lately experienced.

I am very sorry the militia have conducted so disorderly; but I wish
you to deal tenderly with them, as they are brave, and are very sore,
by the plundering of the tories. But support the honour of our arms
and your own, by giving redress to the innocent and defenceless.

As the principal objects of your command are to protect the good
people of these states, and prevent supplies going to the enemy, you
will not send out any parties, or make any excursions, but what are
necessary for intelligence, and the preservation of your parties, till
further orders. Your own ideas on this subject fully meet my
approbation. In the meantime, let all the officers and men of your
command, who are unacquainted with the ground, traverse it
alternately, from flank to flank, and as many miles in front as you
may judge necessary. The position of the whole I leave to your own
discretion, as circumstances shall arise. A good captain, and twenty
picked men, of Nixon's, with two drums, accompany this, to re-enforce
your left, and the orders are despatched to Major Pawling for the
officers you wrote for. One hundred pair of shoes_ will be sent to you
by this snow.

Send up all Burgoyne's men, with a good corporal and small party of
the nine-months men, with the first deserters or prisoners. The
sergeants' parties of the militia who are to join you, will, by their
engagements, be under the continental articles of war. If any of the
militia who may go out on scouts or parties with yours will not submit
to the articles of war and your orders, don't suffer them to go with
them, nor to appropriate any plunder; but order it to be given to the
continental troops, and those who shall submit to those articles.

If any of the militia maraud, send them up to me, with a guard. They
must not be suffered to violate civil and military law. The
legislature is the proper authority to enable them to make reprisals.
For whatever disorders they commit in front of your lines, will be
placed by the enemy to your account.

In all doubtful questions which may arise on my orders as to the
limits or legality of plunder in your front, _I authorize you to be
the sole judge._ In the exercise of this trust, it is my wish you
should lean to the honour of our arms.

A surgeon is directed to attend your party; when he arrives, please to
advise me of it, that I may be relieved from all anxiety about you and
your corps. If you are not supplied with rum before a quantity of it
arrives here, we shall not forget you. If your horsemen are mounted
and appointed, as well as your horse-guides, they will receive the
same pay. If the oxen at Mr. Hunter's are not in working order, put
them in the care of your forage-master till they are.

If you can get the articles taken from the inhabitants in the late
expedition restored, let the militia off for that offence. When you
get things in train, I flatter myself you will not have any fixture
trouble with them. But the officers of the regular troops must be
rigorously dealt with, according to our martial law.

As you and the commissary will be in the rear of the whole, the
nine-months men, worse shod than the other troops, may serve till I
have more leisure to complete your corps.

Don't omit sending to me all the newspapers you can procure. I am so
borne down with correspondence, that I can only add that

I am your affectionate humble servant,


P. S. I fear the pickets from your parties are too far advanced from
them. The distance ought not to exceed half a mile at night; and the
quarters of the pickets should be changed every night after dark.
Frequent patrols from each give the best security.

I submit it to your consideration whether it would not be of service
to have a quantity of old rags collected at each party and picket, for
the patrols to muffle their feet with in frosty weather when there is
no snow on the ground. It will prevent their being heard by the enemy,
and yours will hear those of the enemy if there are any near them.

A. M'D.


1. There were two families of Van Schaicks in the State of New-York.
They spelled their names differently. The family of Colonel _Van
Schaick_ were revolutionary whigs. The _Van Schaacks_ were adherents
of the crown.



White Plains, 21st January, 1779.


Mr. Benjamin Sands, and three other persons from Long Island, banished
for malepractices, wait on you with this. Benjamin Sands, jun. appears
to be a man of good understanding. He can give you a detail of their

Captain Black and three subalterns of Malcolm's regiment joined me

William Burtis goes under guard to you to-morrow. Also a Garret
Duyckman, whom I took upon information of Burtis. I knew of Burtis
having drove cattle before the receipt of your letter. Of his being a
spy I know nothing. Burtis wishes to procure favour by giving
information. I enclose his confession to me, that you may compare it
with his story to you. He has not told me all he knows, I am
convinced. I can secure Elijah Purdy any time if you direct. There is
no danger in delaying till I can hear from you. I wish to clear the
country of these rascals. It would be of infinite service to hang a
few up in this neighbourhood.

The two parties from Nixon's brigade, which came under sergeant's last
week, are so distressed for clothes, that I am obliged to send them to
their regiments. They came provided but for one week. Lieutenant
Wottles marches them up. I wish him to return with the re-enforcement.
I have sent the corporal and sixty-nine men to Bedford. I have now
about 170 privates. A single company, and twelve from Hammond's
regiment, join me to-day. That is his complement.

A commissary of hides at this place can furnish me with shoes as I
want them, if you will give an order for that purpose. He delivers
none without a general order. I can purchase rum here at twenty
dollars per gallon. There is no commissary of purchases.

There are a number of women here of bad character, who are continually
running to New-York and back again. If they were men, I should flog
them without mercy.

It was the indolence of the commissary, and not the real scarcity of
wheat, which alarmed me. I shall not trouble you again on the score of
flour. I send you two papers by the sergeant.

Yours respectfully,



Peekskill, January 22, 1779.


There are reasons, which I shall explain to you at a proper time, why
----- should not be sought after. Make a great noise about him; abuse
him as the vilest of horse thieves, and a spy for the enemy; but send
no parties after him. If you are told where he is, turn off the matter
by some pretext or other. Don't carry this out on party, or out of
your quarters to any unsafe place.

Yours affectionately,



January 27th.

I am at the Hermitage, my dear Burr, and cannot forbear writing you a
few lines, although I expected, before this time, to have been
favoured with a letter from you. Mrs. Prevost informs me that there is
the most flattering prospect of your soon being reinstated in your
health. The intelligence gives me real pleasure, and the more so,
because, until Mrs. Prevost told me, I had no idea of your disorder
being so rooted and dangerous. May health soon revisit you, my good
friend; and when it does, may it continue with you for years. I am
pleased with the hope of seeing you in Jersey early in the spring. I
shall be this way again in March, when perhaps I shall meet you at
this place. I write this standing in the midst of company. I am called
off to court, and therefore, for this time, adieu.



Peekskill, January 26th, 1779.


Captain Wiley, of Learned's brigade, will hand you this. He brings
with him forty men, I believe as good as any in the army. 'Tis the
general's intention that Nixon's, Paterson's, and the late Learned's
brigades, shall each furnish a party of sixty. You will please, after
selecting the best men for your parties, to order all the rest (save
your own and commissary's guard) to join their corps, as they complain
the duty is hard above. Either Captain Williams or Spur must leave
you, as Captain Wiley will command the party from Learned's. If there
are three subs for each party exclusive of those from your own
regiment, you can detain the whole of the subs of other brigades or
not, as you like.

Kearsley has not yet joined. The general will review all your letters
in a day or two, and give them full answers.

I am your most obedient servant,

RICHARD PLATT, Aid-de-camp.


White Plains, January 29th, 1779.


I had this day the favour of yours by Lieutenant Rost. The same
gentleman brought me a re-enforcement of thirty-nine privates, and a
proportion of officers. This enables me to send to camp a few of the
worst provided of the nine-months men. The returning party takes up
the prisoners mentioned in my last, and a deserter. Two more of
Malcolm's officers have joined me.

I enclose you a copy of a letter from Colonel Holdridge. The
enterprise appears to me something romantic; but I have acquainted
Colonel Holdridge of the steps I shall take should it prove serious,
and have appointed a place near this to meet him, if he thinks it
necessary. The number, disposition, and apparent intentions of the
enemy will point out our duty. I am this evening told, by good
authority, that Emerick is re-enforced, either by volunteer or
enlisted refugees, to the amount of 4 or 500, and that there are
strong symptoms of an excursion. I shall pay due attention to these
reports and authorities.

These two days past I have taken a particular view of the country and
roads from White Plains to Mamaroneck, Rye, and Sawpits. I find it
much easier protected, and more secure, than the western part of this
county. From the Bronx to Mamaroneck river, through White Plains, is
three miles. There are very few fords or bridges on either of those
rivers. Might it not be of service to draw a line, if but for a few
days, from Bronx to Rye, or Mamaroneck? The Purchase would be
certainly a ridiculous post.

The map is herewith sent. Lieutenant Chatburn, who has business at
West Point, will deliver this.

Yours respectfully,



Headquarters, Peekskill, 6th February, 1779.


I have devoted part of this night to review your letters, and to give
them some kind of answers. I can only mention ideas. I leave you to
dilate them.

The bearer is one of the sentries who was partly the occasion of the
late misfortune. I have reproved them severely, which I hope will have
the desired effect. For the future, order the sentry who does not fire
the alarm one hundred lashes, and the like number to any who shall
part with his arms without its being wrested from him by the enemy;
and a reward of twenty dollars to any non-commissioned officer or
soldier who shall bring in such arms. Publish this in orders.

I am fully sensible of your embarrassments and difficulties, for want
of vigilant officers and discipline. Be it your honour to surmount
them. Accept of my thanks for your attention to the service. Order one
pound and a half of flour or bread, and the like quantity of meat, to
each man, till the first of April. The duty is hard, and exercise
increases the appetite. Will it not advance the service to send you
down some biscuit? Give Commissary Leake no rest without vegetables.
His guard will be relieved by a militia one. How many sergeants'
parties have you? Your guard and that of the commissary will be taken
from the brigades, as 120 from Paterson's is to 60 from the others. In
returns, designate the strength from each brigade. The regiments whose
men have no bayonets, some means will be devised to furnish them.
Heavy packs should not be at the stated quarters. Fix a day beforehand
when you will hear the complaints of the disaffected. If any come on
other days, give them thirty-nine lashes first; wait the effects of
this discipline.

The oath of allegiance is no criterion of characters, nor the want of
a certificate thereof an evidence of a person's being disaffected.
Uniform character is the best rule to judge. Send up under guard all
women who stroll to New-York without leave. But cause them to be well
searched by matrons for papers _immediately_ when they are taken;
hair, caps, stays, and its lining, should be well examined. Do the
like to those going down. Send up the evidences against Bettice. I
approve your manner of treating Captain Williams. I did not yet intend
the hard money taken by him should be distributed. But, if it is done,
let it remain so. In future, no hard money should be distributed. You
will see the use I intend it for in a few days. I am sure it will
divert you. I hope soon to make up another party of sixty. If
Lieutenant Freeman is not returned to you, I shall send for him. Are
the wagons you mentioned some time ago returned? What is become of the
rifles? I want them much for the servants who go out with me on
horseback. All returning parties should march together till they
arrive at the cantonment of the first corps, then with their
respective officers. This will prevent disorders.

After rain or snow, I wish you to inspect the arms, and order them, in
your presence, to discharge them at a mark. The few cartridges spent
in this way will be well disposed of. Colonel Putnam is marched to the
mouth of Croton. Greaton's, in two or three days, moves near Pine's
bridge on that river. I think the present scarcity of bread will
prevent a movement of the enemy with regular troops. Major-general
Putnam is right in having the militia of Fairfield ready, if it has
not the effect on them, like that of the boy and the wolf in the
fable. If Ensign Leeland is still on the lines, send him up as an
evidence against Captain Brown.

A sea-captain, who, with three others, made their escape from New-York
the night of the 4th instant, says fourteen sail of the Cork fleet had
arrived last Sunday.

I am your affectionate



Headquarters, Peekskill, 7th February, 1779.


I directed Major Platt, some days since, to inform you, no provision
of any kind should be suffered to go below you till further orders.
Please to announce this to the justices. You have herewith a flag;
fill up the blank. On its return, desire the officer to call at
Colonel Phillips's for any papers or catalogues of books which may be
left there for me. The letter to Mr. Delancey to be left with the
enemy's officer on his advanced post. Cast your mind on the best means
of sweeping Westchester and West Farms of the tories when it is good
sledding, supposing two regiments to cover you. But this under the

Gonsalez Manuel, the bearer of this, brings with him John Broughton, a
prisoner of war, who is exchanged. You will please to order him kept
at a convenient distance in the rear till the flag goes in, when he is
to be sent and delivered to the commanding officer of the advanced
post. A receipt must be taken for him and transmitted to me.




Peekskill, February 23d, 1779.

Dear Burr,

In yours of yesterday you requested particular care of the enclosed,
but there was none. Malcolm left this yesterday for Haverstraw. He
intends, with Major Pawling, to pay you a visit by water, and perhaps
it will be to-day. I think there is some probability of his relieving
you. At any rate, you will be relieved by the time you wish.

As the general writes fully by this conveyance, I shall not be so
particular as I otherwise would. Cammell will be down shortly to pay
off accounts. One dollar per day is allowed for a saddle-horse. Your
certificates to the Van Warts will entitle them to their pay, be it
what it may.

The general has ordered Williams and Wattles to return the hard money
to him. It will be put in your hands. Love to Roger, when he comes.
Compliments to Malcolm's lads and Benson.

With singular affection,



Headquarters, 23d February, 1779.


Your several favours have been handed to me. I have not time now to
answer them fully. It will, however, be done by Major Hull, who is
ordered down to assist you. All your wishes will be gratified. One
hundred and twenty picked men, with bayonets, will reach you
to-morrow. Send your commissary up for rum. Let him call on me.

I am yours,



Headquarters, 15th February, 1779.


Your favour of the 12th came to hand with the prisoners. I have long
known Ackerly was up, and his business, but did not think his present
situation of sufficient importance to have him taken by K. Mr. Platt
will inform you how I intend to supply you with bayonets. He reached
you, I suppose, yesterday evening. I intend to send down the remains
of Colonel Poor's regiment for a few days, to cover a forage making by
Mr. Hayes near Mamaroneck; and shall send by them public arms, with
bayonets, to be exchanged for yours which want them. No good officer
or man now below with you must be relieved till further orders. Give
the officers of Poor's all the advice and assistance you can. The
money taken from Ketor will be divided among the officers and men in
such manner as you think proper. I shall send them down six for one
when I can raise cash.

Greaton's is at Pine bridge. Nixon moves in two days to support
Putnam. The stated express is on this side Croton, at his own house.
His name is John Cross, a refugee from New-York. Give me the earliest
advice of any appearance of a movement of the enemy on the river. Mrs.
Pollock was detained with the late bad weather two nights. She left
this at eight this morning.

I am, sir, yours, &c.,



Headquarters, 25th February, 1779.


The general wishes you to detain the best officers and men, for five
complete parties of sixty: and, as soon as Major Hull can be made
acquainted with your posts, and the nature of your command, he desires
you will ride up to headquarters if there is no probability of a
movement from below, and he will concert with you such measures as
shall be thought expedient.

The combustible balls are not yet come to hand. Five or six boxes of
ammunition will be sent down to Tarrytown by water the first
opportunity. 'Tis necessary that Dr Eustis, if not at the Plains,
should be sent for.

I am your obedient servant,

RICHARD PLATT, Aid-de-camp.

P.S.--Please to inform the general whether Colonel Poor's men have
accomplished the business they were sent upon or not.


Headquarters, Peekskill, 26th February, 1779.


I received your letter of this day. Colonel Putnam is ordered to march
and join you, and to act as circumstances shall cast up. Five boxes of
ammunition are ordered to be carried to you immediately from King's
ferry, by water. Leave a small party to receive it, and a cart to
carry it where you shall order it. As the strength of the enemy is not
mentioned, I can give no other orders.

Yours, &c.,



Headquarters, 27th February, 1779.


Your favour of yesterday reached me at 8 P.M. It was immediately
answered. Colonel Putnam was ordered to march and join you; he has
taken Nixon's regiment with him. Greaton's was put in motion at the
same time, to join the brigade, if the enemy did not continue to
advance in Connecticut. At half past ten of the same evening, five
boxes of ammunition was sent to you from King's ferry, by water, with
orders to keep close in shore, for fear of accidents. I hope it has
reached you. Your letter of this day, at 7 A. M., came to hand an hour
ago. From the reputed strength of the enemy, I am pleased with your
position. I think it promises success and laurels. I hope Bearmore
will smart for his temerity. You are all too remote from me to render
orders expedient. Circumstances must direct your movements. If the
enemy _move_, or appear in _force_ on the river, or a movement on it
in force should _apparently_ be intended, send up all Paterson's
detachments by _forced_ marches. I commit you and your corps to the
Lord of Hosts. Greaton has four boxes of spare ammunition. He will be
on the North Castle road to the Plains.

Yours affectionately,



Headquarters, Peekskill, 6th March, 1779.


This will be delivered to you by Mr. John Pine, who acted last
campaign as a horse-guide. He is a true friend to the country.
Whenever he shall get properly mounted, and reports himself to you for
service, give him a certificate of the day, and employ him.

Enclosed you have a list of horse-thieves and others who act very
prejudicial to our cause. I wish to have them taken and sent up here.
Perhaps it will be most eligible to make the attempt on all at the
same time. But I do not wish to retard the forage on your left, as
those posts are in great want of that article.

I am, sir, your humble servant,



Camp, Horse Neck, 9th March, 1779.


I have received a letter from Colonel Emerick (British), informing me
that one Butler, who has been a prisoner in New-York, being unable to
travel on foot, obtained of Colonel Emerick a dragoon and two horses
to conduct him some part of his way in the country. That Butler made
the dragoon drunk, then brought him off, together with the horses. The
whole of which he, in his letter, makes a demand to be returned.

Colonel Emerick has been misinformed as to Butler's acting so
faithless. The truth of the matter is, that Butler wanted the dragoon
to return with the horses, but that he (the dragoon) refused to do,
and swore he would never return. I would advise you by all means to
send the dragoon to Colonel Emerick in irons, together with the
horses, as a refusal would be contrary to all public faith.

I am, with the greatest respect,



Headquarters, Peekskill, 11th March, 1779.


Yours of the 9th has reached me. If the militia of Colonel Drake's are
good men, arm them of General Paterson's, and I will replace them to
him. Take the receipts of every man who shall be armed by the public,
and send them to me. The old general is not a civilian. Send Colonel
Emerick the enclosed copy of the horseman's deposition. Stop no
provisions, when small quantities answer for the purpose of -----. The
plunderers will be punished on the lines, but tried here. The names of
the witnesses are wanting. What you wrote for, to answer certain
purposes, shall be collected as soon as possible.

Give me the true history of the facts relative to the mare sold by
Wattles. He quibbles. Did he know the printed orders?--was she sold
conformable? The paymasters will be ordered down, and soap shall be

In haste, yours, &c.,


The preceding correspondence is evidence of the military character of
Colonel Burr, and his standing with General McDOUGALL. Although his
rank was only that of a lieutenant-colonel, yet he was constantly in
the actual command of a regiment, and frequently of a brigade. His
seniors were withdrawn from the post (which was generally a post of
danger) where he was stationed; or detachments were taken from
different regiments so as to make up for him a separate and
independent command. No man had a better opportunity than Samuel
Young, Esq., of knowing Colonel Burr's habits and conduct while
stationed in Westchester. Mr. Young was at one time a member of the
state legislature, and for many years surrogate of the county. The
following letter contains some interesting details.


Mount Pleasant (Westchester), 25th January, 1814.


Your letter of the 30th ultimo, asking for some account of the
campaign in which I served, under the command of Colonel Burr, during
the revolutionary war, was received some days ago, and has been
constantly in my mind. I will reply to it with pleasure, but the
compass of a letter will not admit of much detail.

I resided in the lines from the commencement of the revolution until
the winter of the year 1780, when my father's house was burnt, by
order of the British general. The county of Westchester, very soon
after the commencement of hostilities, became, on account of its
exposed situation, a scene of deepest distress. From the Croton to
Kingsbridge, every species of rapine and lawless violence prevailed.
No man went to his bed but under the apprehension of having his house
plundered or burnt, or himself or family massacred, before morning.
Some, under the character of whigs, plundered the tories; while
others, of the latter description, plundered the whigs. Parties of
marauders, assuming either character or none, as suited their
convenience, indiscriminately assailed both whigs and tories. So
little vigilance was used on our part, that emissaries and spies of
the enemy passed and repassed without interruption.

These calamities continued undiminished until the arrival of Colonel
Burr, in the autumn of the year 1778. He took command of the same
troops which his predecessor, Colonel Littlefield, commanded. At the
moment of Colonel Burr's arrival, Colonel Littlefield [1] had returned
from a plundering expedition (for to plunder those called tories was
then deemed lawful), and had brought up horses, cattle, bedding,
clothing, and other articles of easy transportation, which he had
proposed to distribute among the party the next day. Colonel Burr's
first act of authority was to seize and secure all this plunder; and
he immediately took measures for restoring it to the owners. This gave
us much trouble, but it was abundantly repaid by the confidence it

He then made known his determination to suppress plundering. The same
day he visited all the guards; changed their position; dismissed some
of the officers, whom he found totally incompetent; gave new
instructions. On the same day, also, he commenced a register of the
names and characters of all who resided near and below his guards.
Distinguished by secret marks the whig, the timid whig, the tory, the
horse-thief, and those concerned in, or suspected of, giving
information to the enemy. He also began a map of the country, in the
vicinity of the fort; of the roads, by-roads, paths, creeks, morasses,
&c., which might become hiding-places for the disaffected or for
marauding parties. This map was made by Colonel Burr himself, from
such materials as he could collect on the spot, but principally from
his own observation.

He raised and established a corps of horsemen from among the
respectable farmers and young men of the country, of tried patriotism,
fidelity, and courage. These also served as aids and confidential
persons for the transmission of orders. To this corps I attached
myself as a volunteer, but did not receive pay. He employed discreet
and faithful persons, living near the enemy's lines, to watch their
motions, and give him immediate intelligence. He employed mounted
videttes for the same purpose, directing two of them to proceed
together, so that one might be despatched, if necessary, with
information to the colonel, while the other might watch the enemy's
movement. He established signals throughout the lines, so that,
whether by night or by day, instant notice could be had of an attack
or movement of the enemy. He enforced various regulations for
concealing his positions and force from the enemy. The laxity of
discipline which had before prevailed enabled the enemy frequently to
employ their emissaries to come within the lines, and to learn the
precise state of our forces, supplies, &c. Colonel Burr soon put an
end to these dangerous intrusions, by prohibiting all persons residing
below the lines, except a few whom he selected, such as Parson Bartow,
Jacob Smith, and others, whose integrity was unimpeachable, from
approaching the outposts, without special permission for the purpose.
If any one had a complaint or request to make of the colonel, he
procured one or more of the persons he had selected to come to his
quarters on his behalf. This measure prevented frivolous and vexatious
applications, and the still more dangerous approach of enemies in
disguise. All these measures were entirely new; and, within eight or
ten days, the whole system appeared to be in complete operation, and
the face of things was totally changed.

A few days after the colonel's arrival, the house of one Gedney was
plundered in the night, and the family abused and terrified. Gedney
sent his son to make a representation of it to the colonel. The young
man, not regarding the orders which had been issued, came to the
colonel's quarters, undiscovered by the sentinels, having taken a
secret path through the fields for the purpose. For this violation of
orders the young man was punished. The colonel immediately took
measures for the detection of the plunderers; and though they were all
disguised, and wholly unknown to Gedney, yet Colonel Burr, by means
which were never yet disclosed, discovered the plunderers, and had
them all secured within twenty-four hours. Gedney's family, on
reference to his register, appeared to be tories; but Burr had
promised that every quiet man should be protected.

He caused the robbers to be conveyed to Gedney's house, under the
charge of Captain Benson, there to restore the booty they had taken,
to make reparation in money for such articles as were lost or damaged,
and for the alarm and abuse, the amount of which the colonel assessed,
to be flogged ten lashes, and to ask pardon of the old man; all which
was faithfully and immediately executed.

These measures gave universal satisfaction, and the terror they
inspired effectually prevented a repetition of similar depredations.
From this day plundering ceased. No further instance occurred during
the time of Colonel Burr's command, for it was universally believed
that Colonel Burr could tell a robber by looking in his face, or that
he had supernatural means of discovering crime. Indeed, I was myself
inclined to these opinions. This belief was confirmed by another
circumstance which had previously occurred. On the day of his arrival,
after our return from visiting the posts, conversing with several of
his attendants, and, among others, Lieutenant Drake, whom Burr had
brought with him from his own regiment, he said, "Drake, that post on
the North river will be attacked before morning; neither officers nor
men know any thing of their duty; you must go and take charge of it;
keep your eyes open, or you will have your throat cut." Drake went.
The post was attacked that night by a company of horse. They were
repulsed with loss. Drake returned in the morning with trophies of
war, and told his story. We stared, and asked one another--How could
Burr know that? He had not then established any means of intelligence.

The measures immediately adopted by him were such that it was
impossible for the enemy to have passed their own lines without his
having immediate knowledge; and it was these very measures which saved
Major Hull, on whom the command devolved for a short time, when the
state of Colonel Burr's health compelled him to retire.

These measures, together with the deportment of Colonel Burr, gained
him the love and veneration of all devoted to the common cause, and
conciliated even its bitterest foes. His habits were a subject of
admiration. His diet was simple and spare in the extreme. Seldom
sleeping more than an hour at a time, and without taking off his
clothes, or even his boots.

Between midnight and two o'clock in the morning, accompanied by two or
three of his corps of horsemen, he visited the quarters of all his
captains, and their picket-guards, changing his route from time to
time to prevent notice of his approach. You may judge of the severity
of this duty, when I assure you that the distance which he thus rode
every night must have been from _sixteen_ to _twenty-four_ miles; and
that, with the exception of two nights only, in which he was otherwise
engaged, he never omitted these excursions, even in the severest and
most stormy weather; and, except the short time necessarily consumed
in hearing and answering complaints and petitions from persons both
above and below the lines, Colonel Burr was constantly with the

He attended to the minutest article of their comfort; to their
lodgings; to their diet: for those off duty he invented sports, all
tending to some useful end. During two or three weeks after the
colonel's arrival, we had many sharp conflicts with the robbers and
horse-thieves, who were hunted down with unceasing industry. In many
instances we encountered great superiority of numbers, but always with
success. Many of them were killed, and many were taken.

The strictest discipline prevailed, and the army felt the fullest
confidence in their commander and in themselves, and by these means
became really formidable to the enemy. During the same winter,
Governor Tryon planned an expedition to Horse Neck, for the purpose of
destroying the salt-works erected there, and marched with about 2000
men. Colonel Burr received early information of their movements, and
sent word to General Putnam to hold the enemy at bay for a few hours,
and he (Colonel Burr) would be in their rear and be answerable for
them. By a messenger from him, Colonel Burr was informed by that
general that he had been obliged to retreat, and that the enemy were
advancing into Connecticut. This information, which unfortunately was
not correct, altered Colonel Burr's route towards Mamaroneck, which
enabled Tryon to get the start of him. Colonel Burr then endeavoured
to interrupt him in Eastchester, according to his first plan, and
actually got within cannon-shot of him; but Tryon ran too fast, and in
his haste left most or all of his cattle and plunder behind him, and
many stragglers, who were picked up.

I will mention another enterprise, which proved more successful,
though equally hazardous. Soon after Tryon's retreat, Colonel
Delancey, who commanded the British refugees, in order to secure
themselves against surprise, erected a block-house on a rising ground
below Delancey's bridge. This Colonel Burr resolved to destroy. I was
in that expedition, and recollect the circumstances.

He procured a number of hand-grenades, also rolls of port-fire, and
canteens filled with inflammable materials, with contrivances to
attach them to the side of the block-house. He set out with his troops
early in the evening, and arrived within a mile of the block-house by
two o'clock in the morning. The colonel gave Captain Black the command
of about forty volunteers, who were first to approach. Twenty of them
were to carry the port-fires, &c., &c. Those who had hand-grenades had
short ladders to enable them to reach the port-holes, the exact height
of which Colonel Burr had ascertained. Colonel Burr gave Captain Black
his instructions, in the hearing of his company, assuring him of his
protection if they were attacked by superior numbers; for it was
expected that the enemy, who had several thousand men at and near
Kingsbridge, would endeavour to cut us off, as we were several miles
below them. Burr directed those who carried the combustibles to march
in front as silently as possible. That, on being hailed, they should
light the hand-grenades, &c., with a slow match provided for the
purpose, and throw them into the port-holes. I was one of the party
that advanced. The sentinel hailed and fired. We rushed on. The first
hand-grenade that was thrown in drove the enemy from the upper story,
and before they could take any measure to defend it, the block-house
was on fire in several places. Some few escaped, and the rest
surrendered without our having lost a single man. Though many shot
were fired at us, we did not fire a gun.

During the period of Colonel Burr's command, but two attempts were
made by the enemy to surprise our guards, in both of which they were

After Colonel Burr left this command, Colonel Thompson, a man of
approved bravery, assumed it, and the enemy, in open day, advanced to
his headquarters, took Colonel Thompson, and took or killed all his
men, with the exception of about thirty.

My father's house, with all his outhouses, were burnt. After these
disasters our troops never made an effort to protect that part of the
country. The American lines were afterwards changed, and extended from
Bedford to Croton bridge, and from there, following the course of that
river, to the Hudson. All the intermediate country was abandoned and
unprotected, being about twenty miles in the rear of the ground which
Colonel Burr had maintained.

The year after the defeat of Colonel Thompson, Colonel Green, a brave,
and in many respects a valuable officer, took the command, making his
headquarters at Danford's, about a mile above the Croton. This
position was well chosen. But Colonel Green omitted to inform himself
of the movements of the enemy, and consequently was surprised.
Himself, Major Flagg, and other officers were killed, and a great part
of the men were either killed or taken prisoners: yet these officers
had the full benefit of Colonel Burr's system.

Having perused what I have written, it does not appear to me that I
have conveyed any adequate idea of Burr's military character. It may
be aided a little by reviewing the effects he produced. The troops of
which he took command were, at the time he took the command,
undisciplined, negligent, and discontented. Desertions were frequent.
In a few days these very men were transformed into brave and honest
defenders; orderly, contented, and cheerful; confident in their own
courage, and loving to adoration their commander, whom every man
considered as his personal friend. It was thought a severe punishment,
as well as disgrace, to be sent up to the camp, where they had nothing
to do but to lounge and eat their rations.

During the whole of this command there was not a single desertion. Not
a single death by sickness. Not one made prisoner by the enemy; for
Burr had taught us that a soldier with arms in his hand ought never,
under any circumstances, to surrender; no matter if he was opposed to
thousands, it was his duty to fight.

After the first ten days there was not a single instance of robbery.
The whole country, under his command, enjoyed security. The
inhabitants, to express their gratitude, frequently brought presents
of such articles as the country afforded; but Colonel Burr would
accept no present. He fixed reasonable prices, and paid in cash for
every thing that was received, and sometimes, I know, that these
payments were made with his own money. Whether these advances were
repaid, I know not.

Colonel Simcoe, one of the most daring and active partisans in the
British army, was, with Colonels Emerick and Delancey, opposed to Burr
on the lines, yet they were completely held in check.

But perhaps the highest eulogy on Colonel Burr is, that no man could
be found capable of executing his plans, though the example was before

When Burr left the lines a sadness overspread the country, and the
most gloomy forebodings were too soon fulfilled, as you have seen

The period of Colonel Burr's command was so full of activity and of
incident, that every day afforded some new lesson of instruction. But
you will expect only a general outline, and this faint one is the best
in my power to give.

With esteem, yours,



1. See Chapter IX


The military career of Colonel Burr was now drawing to a close. The
state of his health became alarming. His constitution was shattered.
His medical and other friends were of the opinion that he was
incapable of enduring the fatigues of another campaign. In the
judgment and talents of Dr. Eustis he reposed great confidence. That
gentleman pressed upon him, in a manner the most affectionate, the
necessity for his retiring. The sacrifice required of Burr was
inconceivably great. All his views and feelings were military. He
seemed as though he was born a soldier. He was ambitious of fame in
his profession. He had acquired a character for vigilance and
intrepidity unrivalled in the army. He was more than respected by his
brother officers, and idolized by the troops. As a man and a citizen,
he was exceedingly disliked by General Washington. Causes, unnecessary
to examine at this late period of time, had created between these
gentlemen feelings of hostility that were unconquerable, and were
never softened or mollified. Yet even General Washington, while he
considered Burr destitute of morals and of principle, respected him as
a soldier, and gave repeated evidence of entire confidence in his
gallantry, his persevering industry, his judgment, and his discretion.
At length, however, protracted disease compelled him to abandon all
those hopes of glory, nobly won in the battle-field, which had
inflamed his ardent and youthful mind; and on the 10th of March, 1779,
he tendered to the commander-in-chief his resignation.


Phillipsburgh, 10th March, 1779.


The reasons I did myself the honour to mention to your excellency in a
letter of September last still exist, and determine me to resign my
rank and command in the army.

The polite indulgence you favoured me with at that time restored
temporarily my health. At the instance of General McDOUGALL, I
accepted the command of these posts; but I find my health unequal to
the undertaking, and have acquainted him of my intentions to retire.
He has ordered an officer to relieve me before the 15th of March, on
which day I purpose to leave this command and the army.

Very respectfully,



Middlebrook, 3d April, 1779.


I have to acknowledge your favour of the 10th ultimo. Perfectly
satisfied that no consideration save a desire to reestablish your
health could induce you to leave the service, I cannot therefore
withhold my consent. But, in giving permission to your retiring from
the army, I am not only to regret the loss of a good officer, but the
cause which makes his resignation necessary. When it is convenient to
transmit the settlement of your public accounts, it will receive my
final acceptance.

I am, &c.,


A few days previous to Colonel Burr's resignation of his commission,
he received from the widow of General Montgomery the following


Rhinebeck, 7th March, 1779.


I should before this have answered your obliging letter, had not the
marriage of my eldest sister entirely taken up my time. I now return
you, sir, many thanks for your kind offers of service. The sincerity
with which they were made would have allowed me to accept them,
without fears of giving you trouble, had I not determined to run no
more risks, as I have been very unfortunate in my ventures that way.

You have awakened all my sensibility by the praises you bestow on my
unfortunate general. He was, indeed, an angel sent us for a moment.
Alas! for me, that this world was not more worthy of him--then had I
still been the happiest of women, _and his friends in stations more
equal to their own merits_. Reflections like these imbitter
continually each day as it passes. But I trust in the same merciful
Hand which has held me from sinking in my extreme calamity, that he
will still support and make me worthy of a blessed meeting hereafter.
Can you excuse, sir, the overflowing of a heart that knows not where
to stop when on a subject so interesting?

Mr. Tutard tells me you mean to quit the service. Whenever that
happens, you will doubtless have leisure to pay us a visit, which I
wish you to believe will give real pleasure to,

Sir, your obliged



The Ponds, 18th March, 1779.


I came to this place yesterday in the afternoon, and regret extremely
that I did not arrive earlier in the day, as I should have received
your letter. My stay here will be uncertain. At home I must be by the
beginning of April. I should be happy in seeing you before my return,
but how to effect it is the question. If I could possibly disengage
myself from business, I would take a ride to Paramus. My best respects
await on Mrs. Prevost; and every thing you think proper to the
mistress of your affections. I am married, Burr, and happy. May you be
equally so. I cannot form a higher or a better wish. You know I should
rejoice to meet you. Tell Mrs. Prevost that I shall take it unkindly
if she does not call upon me whenever she thinks I can be of any
service to her. To oblige her will give me pleasure for her own sake,
and double pleasure for yours. This is a strange, unconnected scroll;
you have it as it comes.

I congratulate you on your return to civil life, for which (I cannot
forbear the thought) we must thank a certain lady not far from
Paramus. May I have occasion soon to thank her on another account; and
may I congratulate you both in the course of the next moon for being
in my line: I mean the married. Adieu.

I am most sincerely yours,



Headquarters, Peekskill, 20th March, 1779.


My late intelligence from New-York and headquarters clearly mark the
enemy's intention to make a movement very soon. Whether it is intended
against the grand army, these posts, or New-London, time only can
determine. It is, however, our duty to be prepared. As a few days will
open up his views, _I imagine you do not think of quitting the ground
when business is to be done_. Should the enemy move up the river in
force, his thieves will be very busy below. Colonel Hammond's
regiment, on such an event, is to remain there; and one hundred rank
and file of continental troops _only_ are to keep them in countenance.
The rest, under charge of officers, to be sent up to join their corps.

You know the state of forage at this post. I wish you would make an
exertion to your left in front, to secure all you can for us; as much
as will consist with the safety of your party, and covering to the
rebels at Tarrytown. Send for Haynes and his assistant, and keep them
on the ground till they secure all that is practicable to be got from
your left. The weather has been so stormy and uncertain, the ----- are
not yet sent for. To-morrow morning it will be done. Please to attend
to the enclosed order respecting provisions. Late Learned's is moved
to West Point.

Major Hull's, of the 19th, is this moment received, and will be
attended to. I wish Captain Kearsley, Lieutenants Hunter and Lawrence,
to be sent to their regiments when Colonel Burr has finished what he
intends. They are much wanted. Note the contents of the enclosed

Yours, very respectfully,


It has been seen that Colonel Burr, while he commanded at White
Plains, on the frontier, not only kept the adjacent country in a state
of security, but that he kept the enemy in complete check. He was
succeeded in his command by Colonel Littlefield, who was soon
captured, and the post abandoned. Major Hull, in a letter to Colonel
Burr, dated the 29th of May, 1779, says, "_The ground you so long
defended is now left to the depredations of the enemy, and our friends
in distressing circumstances_."

In the beginning of June, Sir Henry Clinton captured the forts at
Stony Point and Verplanck's Point, and threatened West Point. His
force in this direction was upwards of six thousand rank and file. The
communication between General Washington, who was in New-Jersey, and
General McDOUGALL, who was at Newburgh, was greatly embarrassed.
Bandits were placed by the British in or near the passes through the
chains of mountains leading to Sussex, for the purpose of capturing
the expresses charged with despatches. At this critical moment Colonel
Burr was on a visit to McDOUGALL, who informed him that he had made
various unsuccessful attempts to communicate with Washington, and that
his expresses had either been captured or had deserted. After
apologizing to Burr, who was no longer in active service, the general
stated the importance of the commander-in-chief's knowing the position
and movements of the enemy, as well as the state of the American army.
He then very courteously requested Burr to be the bearer of a verbal
communication to Washington on the subject. To this, notwithstanding
his ill health and the danger of the enterprise, he assented. The
mission was undertaken and succeeded. He was also charged at the same
time with _verbal_ orders from General St. Clair, of a confidential
character, to officers commanding at different posts.

_To whom it may concern_:--

Colonel Burr, being on urgent public business, is to be put across the
ferry to New-Windsor without delay. Given this second day of June,


_To whom it may concern_:--

Colonel Burr, being on very pressing public business, every magistrate
will assist him in changing horses, and all friends of the country
will also assist him.

June 2d, 1779. ALEXANDER McDOUGALL, Major-general.

_To whom it may concern_:--

Colonel Burr, being on urgent public business, must be put across the
ferry to Fishkill landing without a moment's delay. Given at Pompton,
3d June, 1779.

ARTHUR ST. CLAIR, Major-general.

_To whom it may concern_:--

The quartermaster and commissary, at Newburgh or New-Windsor, will
receive and observe, as my orders, the verbal directions given by
Colonel Burr. Given at Pompton, 3d June, 1779.

ARTHUR ST. CLAIR, Major-general.

On this enterprise a most amusing incident occurred. Colonel Burr
arrived at the iron-works of the elder Townsend, in Orange county,
with a tired and worn-out horse. No other could be obtained; but,
after some detention, a half-broken mule, named _Independence_, was
procured, and the colonel mounted. But _Independence_ refused to obey
orders, and a battle ensued. The mule ran off with his rider, and
ascended a high bank, on the side of which stood a coal-house, filled
with coal through an aperture in the top. At length, _Independence_,
in the hope of clearing himself of his encumbrance, entered the
coal-house at full speed, the colonel firmly keeping his seat, and
both came down an inclined plane of coal, not less than thirty feet in
height. On reaching the ground without injury, Burr hired a man to
lead the animal a mile or two, and then again mounted him and pursued
his journey. This scene was exhibited on a hot day in the month of
June, amid a cloud of coal-dust. The anecdote Burr occasionally
repeated to his friends, and some of the younger branches of the
Townsend family.

About the first of July, 1779, Colonel Burr, then in feeble health,
visited his friends in Connecticut. He was at New-Haven when, on the
5th of July, the British landed, with 2600 men, in two divisions; one
under Governor Tryon, at East Haven, and the other under Garth, at
West Haven. At East Haven, where Tryon commanded, great excesses were
committed, and the town set on fire. Colonel Burr was at this moment
confined to his bed; but, on hearing that the enemy were advancing,
rose and proceeded to a part of the town where a number of persons had
collected. He volunteered to take command of the militia, and made an
unsuccessful attempt to rally them. At this moment he was informed
that the students had organized themselves, and were drawn up in the
college-yard. He immediately galloped to the ground, and addressed
them; appealing, in a few words, to their patriotism and love of
country; imploring them to set the example, and march out in the
defence of those rights which would, at a future day, become their
inheritance. All he asked was, that they would receive and follow him
as their leader.

The military character of Colonel Burr was known to the students. They
confided in his intrepidity, experience, and judgment. In their ranks
there was no faltering. They promptly obeyed the summons, and
volunteered. Some skirmishing soon ensued, and portions of the militia
united with them. The British, ignorant of the force that might be
presented, retired; but shortly returned, with several pieces of
artillery, when a cannonading commenced, and the boys retreated in
good order. An American historian says,--"The British entered the town
after being much galled and harassed." The slight check which they
thus received afforded an opportunity for the removal of some
valuables, and many of the women and children.

Trifling and unimportant as this skirmishing appears to have been,
Colonel Burr never referred to the incident but with exultation and
pride. Perhaps no event in his military life has he more frequently
mentioned. The confidence evinced by these young men he considered
complimentary to himself as a soldier; and usually alluded to the
circumstance as evidence of the effect which the character of an
officer would ever have upon undisciplined men, when called to command
them upon trying occasions.

The following letter, written by Colonel Platt, will close all that is
intended to be said of Colonel Burr as a soldier. More space has been
occupied with an account of his military character than would have
been thus occupied, if it was not known that he felt proud of his own
career as an officer. For history Mr. Burr entertained a great
contempt. He confided but little in its details. These prejudices were
probably strengthened by the consideration that justice, in his
opinion, had not been done to himself.


New-York, January 27th, 1814.


In reply to yours of the 20th of November last, requesting to be
informed what was the reputation and services of Colonel Burr during
the revolutionary war? I give you the following detail of facts, which
you may rely on. No man was better acquainted with him, and his
military operations, than your humble servant, who served in that war
from the 28th of June, 1775, till the evacuation of our capital on the
memorable 25th of November, 1783; having passed through the grades of
lieutenant, captain, major, major of brigade, aid-de-camp, deputy
adjutant-general, and deputy quartermaster-general; the last of which
by selection and recommendation of Generals Greene, McDOUGALL, and
Knox, in the most trying crisis of the revolution, viz., the year
1780, when the continental money ceased to pass, and there was no
other fiscal resources during that campaign but what resulted from the
creative genius of Timothy Pickering, at that crisis appointed
successor to General Greene, the second officer of the American army,
who resigned the department because there was no money in the national
coffers to carry it through the campaign, declaring that he could not,
and would not attempt it, without adequate resources, such as he
abounded in during the term of nearly three years antecedently as

In addition to the foregoing, by way of elucidation, it is to be
understood by you, that so early as from the latter part of the year
1776, I was always attached to a commanding general; and, in
consequence, my knowledge of the officers and their merits was more
general than that of almost any other in service. My operations were
upon the extended scale, from the remotest parts of Canada, wherever
the American standard had waved, to the splendid theatre of Yorktown,
when and where I was adjutant-general to the chosen troops of the
northern army.

At the commencement of the revolution, Colonel Burr, then about
eighteen years of age, at the first sound of the trump of war (as if
bred in the camp of the great Frederick, whose maxim was "to hold his
army always in readiness to break a lance with, or throw a dart
against, any assailant"), quit his professional studies, and rushed to
the camp of General Washington, at Cambridge, as a volunteer from
which he went with Colonel Arnold on his daring enterprise against
Quebec, through the wilds of Canada (which vied with Hannibal's march
over the Alps), during which toilsome and hazardous march he attracted
the attention and admiration of his commander so much, that he
(Arnold) sent him alone to meet and hurry down General Montgomery's
army from Montreal to his assistance; and recommended him to that
general, who appointed him an aid-de-camp, in which capacity he acted
during the winter, till the fatal assault on Quebec, in which that
gallant general, his aid McPherson, and Captain Cheeseman, commanding
the forlorn hope, fell. He afterwards continued as aid to Arnold, the
survivor in command.

Here I must begin to draw some of the outlines of his genius and
valour, which, like those of the British immortal, Wolf, who, at the
age of twenty-four, and only major of the 20th regiment, serving on
the continent, gave such specimens of genius and talents as to evince
his being destined for command.

At the perilous moment of Montgomery's death, when dismay and
consternation universally prevailed, and the column halted, he
animated the troops, and made many efforts to lead them on; and
stimulated them to enter the lower town; and might have succeeded, but
for the positive orders of Colonel Donald Campbell, the commanding
officer, for the troops to retreat. Had his plan been carried into
effect, it might have saved Arnold's division from capture, which had,
after our retreat, to contend with all the British force instead of a
part. On this occasion I commanded the first company in the first
New-York regiment, at the head of Montgomery's column, so that I speak
from ocular demonstration.

The next campaign, 1776, Colonel Burr was appointed aid-de-camp to
Major-general Putnam, second in command under General Washington at
New-York; and from my knowledge of that general's qualities and the
colonel's, I am very certain that the latter directed all the
movements and operations of the former.

In January, 1777, the continental establishment for the war commenced.
Then Colonel Burr was appointed by General Washington a
lieutenant-colonel in Malcolm's regiment, in which he continued to
serve until April, 1779, when the ill state of his health obliged him
to retire from active service, to the regret of General McDOUGALL,
commanding the department, and that of the commander-in-chief, who
offered to give him a furlough for any length of time, and to get
permission from the British general in New-York for him to go to
Bermuda for his health. This item will show his value in the
estimation of Generals Washington and McDOUGALL.

During the campaign of 1777, Malcolm's regiment was with the main
army, and commanded by Lieutenant-colonel Burr. For discipline, order,
and system, it was not surpassed by any in the service; and could his
(the lieutenant-colonel's) and Wolfe's orderly-books be produced, they
would be very similar in point of military policy and instructions,
and fit models for all regiments.

This regiment was also but led at the Valley Forge in 1777 and winter
of 1778, under General Washington, and composed part of his army at
the battle of Monmouth on the 28th of June, 1778, and continued with
it till the close of the campaign of that year, at which time it was
placed in garrison at West Point by General Gates; but, upon General
McDOUGALL's assuming the command of the posts in the highlands in
December, Malcolm's, Spencer's, and Patten's regiments were together
ordered to Haverstraw. The three colonels were permitted to go home
for the winter on furlough, and Lieutenant-colonel Burr had the
command of the whole brigade, at a very important advanced post.

At this period General McDOUGALL ordered a detachment of about three
hundred troops, under the command of Lieutenant-colonel Littlefield,
of the Massachusetts line, to guard the lines in Westchester county,
then extending from Tarrytown to White Plains, and from thence to
Mamaroneck or Sawpits, which last extension was guarded by Connecticut
troops from Major-general Putnam's division.

In this situation of affairs a very singular occurrence presented,
viz., that neither Lieutenant-colonel Littlefield, nor any other of
his grade, in the two entire brigades of Massachusetts troops
composing the garrison of West Point, from which the lines were to be
relieved, was competent, in the general's estimation, to give security
to the army above and the lines of those below; and, in consequence,
he was compelled to call Colonel Burr from his station at Haverstraw
to the more important command of the lines in Westchester, in which
measure, unprecedented as it was, the officers acquiesced without a
murmur, from a conviction of its expediency. At this time I was doing
the duty of adjutant-general to General McDougall.

It was on this new and interesting theatre of war that the confidence
and affections of the officers and soldiers (who now became permanent
on the lines, instead of being relieved every two or three weeks as
before), as well as of the inhabitants, all before unknown to Colonel
Burr, were inspired with confidence by a system of consummate skill,
astonishing vigilance, and extreme activity, which, in like manner,
made such an impression on the enemy, that after an unsuccessful
attack on one of his advanced posts, he never made any other attack on
our lines during the winter.

His humanity, and constant regard to the security of the property and
persons of the inhabitants from injury and insult, were not less
conspicuous than his military skill, &c. No man was insulted or
disturbed. The health of the troops was perfect. Not a desertion
during the whole period of his command, nor a man made prisoner,
although the colonel was constantly making prisoners.

A country, which for three years before had been a scene of robbery,
cruelty, and murder, became at once the abode of security and peace.
Though his powers were despotic, they were exercised only for the
peace, the security, and the protection of the surrounding country and
its inhabitants.

In the winter of 1779, the latter part of it, Major Hull, an excellent
officer, then in the Massachusetts line, was sent down as second to
Colonel Burr, who, after having become familiarized to his system,
succeeded him for a short time in command, about the last of April, at
which time Colonel Burr's health would not permit him to continue in
command; but the major was soon compelled to fall back many miles, so
as to be within supporting distance of the army at the highlands.

The severity of the service, and the ardent and increasing activity
with which he had devoted himself to his country's cause, for more
than four years, having materially impaired his health, he was
compelled to leave the post and retire from active service. It was two
years before he regained his health.

Major Hull has ever since borne uniformly the most honourable
testimony of the exalted talents of his commander, by declaring his
gratitude for being placed under an officer whose system of duty was
different from that of all other commanders under whom he had served.

Having thus exhibited the colonel's line of march, and his operations
in service, I must now present him in contrast with his equals in
rank, and his superiors in command.

In September, 1777, the enemy came out on both sides of the Hudson
simultaneously, in considerable force, say from 2 to 3000 men. On the
east side (at Peekskill) was a major-general of our army, with an
effective force of about 2000 men. The enemy advanced, and our general
retired without engaging them. Our barracks and storehouses, and the
whole village of Peekskill, were sacked and burnt, and the country

On the west side, at the mouth of the Clove, near Suffren's, was
Colonel Burr, commanding Malcolm's regiment, about three hundred and
fifty men. On the first alarm he marched to find the enemy, and on the
same night attacked and took their picket-guard, rallied the country,
and made such show of war, that the enemy retreated the next morning,
leaving behind him the cattle, horses, and sheep he had plundered.

The year following, Lieutenant-colonel Thompson was sent to command on
the same lines in Westchester by General Heath, and he was surprised
at nine or ten o'clock in the day, and made prisoner, with a great
part of his detachment.

Again, in the succeeding winter, Colonel Greene, of the Rhode Island
line, with his own and another Rhode Island regiment, who was a very
distinguished officer, and had with these two regiments, in the year
1777, defeated the Hessian grenadiers under Count Donop, at Red Banks,
on the Delaware, who was mortally wounded and taken prisoner,
commanded on the lines in Westchester; there receded to Pine's bridge,
and in this position Colonel Greene's troops were also surprised after
breakfast and dispersed, the colonel himself and Major Flagg killed,
and many soldiers made prisoners, besides killed and wounded.

On the west side of the Hudson, in the year 1780, General Wayne, the
hero of Stony Point, with a large command and field artillery, made an
attack on a block-house nearly opposite to Dobbs's ferry, defended by
cowboys, and was repulsed with loss; whereas Colonel Burr burnt and
destroyed one of a similar kind, in the winter of 1779, near
Delancey's mills, with a very few men, and without any loss on his
part, besides capturing the garrison.

Here, my good friend commodore, I must drop the curtain till I see you
in Albany, which will be on the first week in February, where I can
and will convince you that he is the only man in America (that is, the
United States) who is fit to be a lieutenant-general; and let you and
I, and all the American people, look out for Mr. Madison's
lieutenant-general in contrast.

I am your friend,



On retiring from the army, Colonel Burr visited his friends in
New-Jersey and Connecticut. He had previously determined, as soon as
his health would permit, to commence the study of law. During the four
years he was in public service, his patrimony was greatly impaired.
Towards his brethren in arms he had acted with liberality. Naturally
of an improvident character, he adopted no means to preserve the
property which he inherited. The cardinal vices of gaming and drinking
he avoided. But he was licentious in the extreme, and regardless of
consequences in the gratification of his desires. His extravagance was
unrestrained when, in his opinion, necessary to the enjoyment of his
pleasures. From the arms of his nurse until he had numbered fourscore
years, he was perpetually the dupe of the artful and the selfish.

Colonel Burr was about five feet six inches in height. He was well
formed, and erect in his attitude. In all his movements there was a
military air. Although of small stature, yet there was about him a
loftiness of mien that could not pass unnoticed by a stranger. His
deportment was polished and courtly. His features were regular, and
generally considered handsome. His eye was jet black, with a
brilliancy never surpassed. The appropriate civilities of the
drawing-room were performed with a grace almost peculiar to himself.
His whole manner was inconceivably fascinating. As a gentleman, this
was his great theatre. He acted upon the principle that the female was
the weaker sex, and that they were all susceptible of flattery. His
great art consisted in adopting it to the grade of intellect he
addressed. In this respect he was singularly fortunate as well as
adroit. In matters of gallantry he was excessively vain. This vanity
sometimes rendered him ridiculous in the eyes of his best friends, and
often enabled the most worthless and unprincipled to take advantage of
his credulity.

Such traits of character would appear to be incompatible with an
elevated and towering mind; yet they usually influenced, and
frequently controlled, one of the greatest and most extraordinary men
of the age. A volume of anecdotes might be related as evidence of
Colonel Burr's quickness of perception and tact at reply, when an
ill-judged or thoughtless expression was addressed by him to a lady.
One is sufficient for illustration.

After his return from Europe, in 1812, he met a maiden lady in
Broadway somewhat advanced in life. He had not seen her for many
years. As she passed him, she exclaimed to a gentleman on whose arm
she was resting, "Colonel Burr!" Hearing his name mentioned, he
suddenly stopped and looked her in the face. "Colonel," said she, "you
do not recollect me."

"I do not, madam," was the reply.

"It is Miss K., sir."

"What!" said he, "Miss K. _yet_!"

The lady, somewhat piqued, reiterated, "Yes, sir, Miss K. _yet_!"

Feeling the delicacy of his situation, and the unfortunate error he
had committed, he gently took her hand, and emphatically remarked,
"Well, madam, then I venture to assert _that it is not the fault of my

On Burr's being appointed, in 1777, a lieutenant-colonel in the army,
he joined his regiment, then stationed at Ramapoa, in New-Jersey. At
Paramus, not far distant, resided Mrs. Prevost, the wife of Colonel
Prevost, of the British army. She was an accomplished and intelligent
lady. Her husband was with his regiment in the West Indies, where he
died early in the revolutionary war. She had a sister residing with
her. It was her son, the Hon. John B. Prevost, who in 1802 was
recorder of the city of New-York, and subsequently district judge of
the United States Court for the district of Louisiana. The house of
Mrs. Prevost was the resort of the most accomplished officers in the
American army when they were in the vicinity of it. She was highly
respected by her neighbours, and visited by the most genteel people of
the surrounding country. Her situation was one of great delicacy and
constant apprehension.

The wife of a British officer, and connected with the adherents of the
crown, naturally became an object of political suspicion,
notwithstanding great circumspection on her part. Under such
circumstances, a strong sympathy was excited in her behalf. Yet there
were those among the Whigs who were inclined to enforce the laws of
the state against her, whereby she would be compelled to withdraw
within the lines of the enemy. In this family Colonel Burr became
intimate in 1777, and in 1782 married the widow Prevost.


Philadelphia, November 8th, 1778.

A young lady who either is, or pretends to be, in love, is, you know,
my dear Mrs. Prevost, the most unreasonable creature in existence. If
she looks a smile or a frown, which does not immediately give or
deprive you of happiness (at least to appearance), your company soon
becomes very insipid. Each feature has its beauty, and each attitude
the graces, or you have no judgment. But if you are so stupidly
insensible of her charms as to deprive your tongue and eyes of every
expression of admiration, and not only to be silent respecting her,
but devote them to an absent object, she cannot receive a higher
insult; nor would she, if not restrained by politeness, refrain from
open resentment.

Upon this principle I think I stand excused for not writing from B.
Ridge. I proposed it, however; and, after meeting with opposition in
-----, to obtain her point, she promised to visit the little
"Hermitage," [2] and make my excuse herself. I took occasion to turn
the conversation to a different object, and plead for permission to go
to France. I gave up in one instance, and she certainly ought in the
other. But writing a letter and going to France are very different,
you will perhaps say. She objected to it, and all the arguments which
a fond, delicate, unmarried lady could use, she did not fail to
produce against it. I plead the advantage I should derive from it. The
personal improvement, the connexions I should make. I told her she was
not the only one on whom fortune did not smile in every instance. I
produced examples from her own acquaintance, and represented their
situation in terms which sensibly affected both herself and Lady
C----. I painted a lady full of affection, of tenderness, and
sensibility, separated from her husband, for a series of time, by the
cruelty of the war--her uncertainty respecting his health; the pain
and anxiety which must naturally arise from it. I represented, in the
most pathetic terms, the disquietudes which, from the nature of her
connexion, might possibly intrude on her domestic retreat. I then
raised to her view fortitude under distress; cheerfullness, life, and
gayety, in the midst of affliction.

I hope you will forgive me, my dear little friend, if I produced you
to give life to the image. The instance, she owned, was applicable.
She felt for you from her heart, and she has a heart capable of
feeling. She wished not a misfortune similar to yours; but, if I was
resolved to make it so, she would strive to imitate your example. I
have now permission to go where I please, but you must not forget her.
She and Lady C---- promise to come to the Hermitage to spend a week or
two. Encourage her, and represent the advantage I shall gain from
travel. But why should I desire you to do what I know your own heart
will dictate? for a heart so capable of friendship feels its own pain
alleviated by alleviating that of another.

But do not suppose that my attention is only taken up with my own
affairs. I am too much attached ever to forget the Hermitage. Mrs.
Duvall, I hope, is recovering; and Kitty's indisposition is that of my
nearest relation. Mrs. de Visme has delicate nerves. Tell me her
children are well, and I know she has a flow of spirits, for her
health depends entirely on theirs.

I was unfortunate in not being able to meet with the governor. He was
neither at Elizabethtown, B. Ridge, Princeton, nor Trenton. I have
consulted with several members of Congress on the occasion. They own
the injustice, but cannot interfere. The laws of each state must
govern itself. They cannot conceive the possibility of its taking
place. General Lee says it must not take place; and if he was an
absolute monarch, he would issue an order to prevent it.

I am introduced to the gentleman I wished by General Lee in a very
particular manner. I cannot determine with certainty what I shall do
till my arrival in Virginia.

Make my compliments to Mrs. and Miss De Visme, and believe me, with
the sincerest friendship,



Mr. Peter De Visme, the brother of Mrs. Prevost, was captured at sea,
and made prisoner of war. As she was personally acquainted with
General Washington, she solicited his influence to promote his
exchange, to which the general replied:--

Headquarters, Middlebrook, 19th May, 1779.


It is much to be regretted that the pleasure of obeying the first
emotions in favour of misfortune is not always in our power. I should
be happy could I consider myself at liberty to comply with your
request in the case of your brother, Mr. Peter De Visme. But, as I
have heretofore taken no direction in the disposal of marine
prisoners, I cannot, with propriety, interfere on the present
occasion, however great the satisfaction I should feel in obliging
where you are interested. Your good sense will perceive this, and find
a sufficient excuse in the delicacy of my situation.

I have the honour to be, madam,

Your obedient servant,



Morristown, 29th September, 1779.


About four weeks ago I received a letter from you of the 8th of
August, and, a week after, another of the 23d. They came by the way of
Moorestown, from which to Rariton, where I reside. The conveyance is
easy and safe. I cannot point out any mode of sending your letters
better than that which you have adopted.

I was pleased extremely to hear from you, and, indeed, was quite
disappointed in not hearing from you sooner. I was for a time in
expectation that you would return into Jersey, as the scene of
military operations was directed to your part of the world, and would
unavoidably drive you from your study and repose. Military operations
are so fluctuating and uncertain as to render it exceedingly difficult
to fix upon a retreat which may not be broken in upon in the course of
a campaign. New-Haven bid fair to be the seat of calmness and
serenity, of course well suited for a studious and contemplative mind,
and therefore made choice of as the place of your abode. New-Haven,
however, partook of the common calamity; and, in the evolution of
human events, from a place of safety and repose, was turned into a
place of confusion and war.

You are not contented, my dear Burr, and why are you not? You sigh for
New-Jersey, and why do you not return? It is true we are continually
broken in upon by the sons of tumult and war. Our situation is such
that the one army or the other is almost constantly with us, and yet
we rub along with tolerable order, spirit, and content. Oh! that the
days of peace would once more return, that we might follow what
business, partake of what amusements, and think and live as we please.
As to myself, I am, my dear Burr, one of the happiest of men. The
office I hold calls me too frequently, and detains me too long, from
home, otherwise I should enjoy happiness as full and high as this
world can afford. It is, as you express it, "serene, rural, and
sentimental;" and such, one day, you will _feel_.

"You see no company--you partake of no amusements--you are always
grave." Such, too, has been the life that I have lived for months and
years. I cannot say that it is an unpleasing one. I avoided company;
indeed, I do so still, unless it be the company of chosen friends. I
have been ever fond of my fireside and study--ever fond of calling up
some absent friend, and of living over, in idea, past times of
sentimental pleasure. Fancy steps in to my aid, colours the picture,
and makes it delightful indeed. You are in the very frame of mind I
wish you to be; may it continue.

I cannot tell you what has become of Mrs. Prevost's affairs. About two
months ago I received a very polite letter from her. She was
apprehensive that the commissioners would proceed. It seems they
threatened to go on. I wrote them on the subject, but I have not heard
the event. I am at this place, on my way to a superior court in
Bergen. If possible, I shall wait on the good gentlewoman. At Bergen I
shall inquire into the state of the matter. It will, indeed, turn up
of course. You shall soon hear from me again. Adieu. May health and
happiness await you


The precarious and unsettled state of Colonel Burr's health, in the
autumn of 1779 and the beginning of 1780, was such that he was unable
to adopt and adhere to any regular system of study. Among his most
intimate personal friends was Colonel Robert Troup. He, too, had
determined to retire from public service, and was anxious to study in
the same office with Burr. His letters cast much light on their
pursuits at the time they were written.


Philadelphia, 16th January, 1780.

My dear Friend,

Watkins was kind enough to deliver me yours of the 8th of December,
written, I presume, at Paramus. I almost envy you the happiness you
have enjoyed. From the first moment of my acquaintance with Mrs.
Prevost and her sister, I conceived an admiration for them both, which
is much increased by the opinion you entertain of them. How, then, am
I flattered by their polite manner of mentioning my name. To whom am I
indebted but to you, my friend, for this unmerited favour? Surely
these ladies saw nothing in me at Governor Livingston's which was
worthy of remembrance, unless a terrible noise, which some people call
laughter, could be worth remembering. With the best intention,
therefore, to serve me, you have done me an injury, Aaron. I shall be
afraid to see our favourites in the spring, because I shall fall
infinitely short of their ideas of cleverness. Pray, do you recollect
the opinion which Judge Candour solemnly pronounced upon us both, in a
court of reason held at the Indian King? Why, then, will you expose my
weakness by ascribing to me imaginary excellences? If you persist in
such cruel conduct, sir, I will make you feel the weight of my
resentment, by publishing to the world the purity of my esteem for
your public and private character.

I am happy to find our plan of studying together appears more and more
rational to you. It really does to me, and I hope we shall follow it.
Since you left Philadelphia, some circumstances have turned up which
render my office so disagreeable to me that I am determined to resign.
_Vous pouvez compter sur moi_. Besides the disgust I have taken, I am
led to it by ambition, which has a small share of influence over me as
well as you.

But I am desirous of a change in our plan, which I request you to
think of seriously. I am inclined to believe it would be best for us
to study the law with Mr. Stockton, at Princeton. This, I know, will
surprise you; but your surprise will be lessened when you hear my

The practice of Connecticut differs so materially from the practice of
New-York and New-Jersey, that we should lose time by being with Mr.
Osmer. For, after being eighteen months or two years with him, it
would be necessary to continue nearly the same time in another office,
to get a competent knowledge of the practice. This is a matter of
consequence, especially as it is my object to qualify myself for
practice as soon as possible.

I have the highest opinion of Mr. Osmer, and, did I intend to follow
the law in Connecticut, there is no man I would sooner study with. I
believe he would ground us well in the knowledge of the dead-letter of
the law; but I wish to have the practice and the theory accompanying
each other. Mr. Stockton has been polite enough to make me an offer,
and has promised to spare no pains to instruct me. He would be glad to
instruct you likewise; for I have heard him express himself of you in
the most friendly manner. I propose to lodge at some substantial
farmer's house, about a mile from the main road, and have made a
solemn league and covenant with my own mind to seclude myself from the
pleasures of the world. This I know I can do. And have you not as much
philosophy as I have?

It is true, Mr. Stockton has unmarried daughters, and there is a
number of genteel families in and near Princeton. But why should we
connect ourselves with any of them, so as to interrupt our studies?
They will be entitled to a civil bow from us whenever we meet them;
and, if they expect more, they will be disappointed. Indeed, l shall
take care to inform them of my intentions, and if they afterwards
complain of my want of politeness in not visiting them, it will give
me little uneasiness.

I entreat you, my dearest and best friend, to reflect on this matter,
and favour me with your answer without a moment's loss of time. My
happiness, and my improvement in the law, depend entirely upon
pursuing my studies with you. The change I now propose is conformable
to the sentiments and wishes of all my friends, particularly of
Chancellor Livingston, who is certainly a judge.

I forgot to mention that Mr. Stockton is universally allowed to be one
of the best speakers we ever had in this part of the continent, and it
will therefore be in his power to teach us the eloquence of the bar,
which may be considered as a capital advantage.

I have communicated my sentiments on this subject more fully to our
mutual friend, Colonel Wadsworth, who will deliver you this letter,
than I have to you in writing. He will explain them to you, and, I am
sure, will give you his own with the utmost candour and sincerity. I
have left several messages at the house Dr. ----- lodges when he is in
town; but cannot get an answer, and see little prospect of getting
your money unless you write him a dunning letter. I shall leave one
for him to-morrow, and will endeavour to have the affair settled this

I write this at my lodgings, where I have not a single newspaper.
Colonel Wadsworth will leave town in the course of an hour; and, if I
can find time, I will go to the office and collect all I can find.
There have been none, however, since you left town, which are worth
reading. Wadsworth will tell you all the news I have, which is, that
old Roger Sherman is metamorphosed, by some strange magical power,
into _a very honest man_.

God bless you, and may Dom. Tetard soon have the pleasure of drinking
a glass of wine with us both, in his house at Kingsbridge. I mean,
after the British gentry have left it. I should have written to you
before, but I have been waiting these three weeks past for Colonel
Wadsworth to leave Philadelphia. He will inform you of the cursed
slavish life I lead at the treasury office. I am obliged to attend it
even on Saturday nights, which places me below the level of a negro in
point of liberty. Pray present my best respects to Tetard, and assure
him of my wishes to serve him at all times, and on all occasions.




Philadelphia, February 14th, 1780.

My Dear Burr,

I have resigned my office, and am now preparing to leave Philadelphia
to go to Princeton, agreeable to the plan in my letter by Colonel
Wadsworth. This week I expect to finish a little private business I
have on hand, and, by the latter end of the next, to be settled in a
regular course of study with Mr. Stockton. What think you of this
alteration in the plan we settled? Can you leave Mr. Osmer without
injury? I assure you, the only motive I have to prefer Stockton is a
desire to qualify myself for practice as soon as possible. All my
friends are against my studying in Connecticut, for the reason
mentioned in my last; and they all recommend Stockton to me. I am
therefore determined to study with him.

I am very much afraid that Princeton will be disagreeable to you on
many accounts, and particularly on account of the number of
acquaintances you have in and near it. This is a misfortune, to be
sure; but do as I shall, _neglect them all_; it is matter of perfect
indifference to me whether I affront them or not. My object is to
study with the closest attention. I must do it. I have no other

Permit me to declare, like a sincere friend, that my happiness is so
intimately connected with yours, that I shall be chagrined to an
extreme if you find it inconvenient to join me. We could be useful to
each other. Besides facilitating each other's progress in the law, we
could improve ourselves in writing and speaking. In one word--I am
confident I should acquire as much knowledge in three years with you
as in six years without you. I never was more serious. Come,
therefore, immediately, and bring Mr. Tetard with you to perfect us in
the French language, which I have paid little attention to since I
wrote you, and indeed since you left me.

Pray why have you neglected to answer my letter by Colonel Wadsworth?
I suspect something extraordinary is the matter with you. Or are you
so angry as not to think I merit an answer? Whatever your reason was,
let me request you to favour me with an answer to this by the first
opportunity. If it is sent under cover to Mr. Stockton, it will
perhaps reach me sooner.

It is reported, and pretty general believed, that Sir Henry Clinton,
with the fleet that came from New-York about six weeks ago, has
touched at Georgia; taken Prevost's troops with him, and gone either
to St. Augustine or the Havannah. This is very important news, if
true; but it seems to wait confirmation.

Your unalterable friend,



Middletown, February 16th, 1780.

Your friendly letter of September has at length found its way to me. I
am once more a recluse. It accords with my feelings. I should
doubtless be happier if I enjoyed perfect health and the society of a
friend _like you_; but why do I say like you? No likeness could
compensate for the absence of the original.

I am something at a loss how to regulate my motions for the coming
summer. The prospect of peace is still distant. It is an object of
importance with me to be not only secure from alarms, but remote from
the noise of war. My present situation promises at least those
advantages. Perhaps yours does equally. Events only can determine.

My health, which was till of late very promising, seems to decline a
little. This circumstance will oblige me to alter my course of life. I
shall be in your state in May or June, perhaps sooner. If you have a
prospect of tranquillity, I Shall have no thought of returning.
Colonel Troup, a worthy, sensible young fellow, and a particular
friend of mine, wishes to know where I shall prosecute my studies, and
is determined, he says, to be my companion. A gentleman who has been
long eminent at your bar, and whom we both know perfectly well, had
made Troup some polite offers of his service as an instructor. He was
pleased with the scheme, and as he knew the gentleman was professedly
my friend, urged me to put myself also under his tuition. I mentioned
to him in a late letter the objections which had been decisive with
me, and I fancy he will view them in the same light. He is the
companion I would wish in my studies. He is a better antidote for the
spleen than a ton of drugs. I am often a little inclined to _hypo_.

My best respects attend Mrs. Paterson. Speak of her in your letters. I
would not feel indifferent to one so near to you, even if no personal
acquaintance had confirmed my esteem. You would have heard from me
sooner, but no post has rode this fortnight. I have been pursuing the
track you marked out for me, though not with the ardour I could wish.
My health will bear no imposition. I am obliged to eat, drink, sleep,
and study, as it directs. No such restraint interrupts your bliss. May
you feel no bonds but those of love and friendship--no rules but those
that lead to happiness. Adieu.

Yours sincerely,



Philadelphia, 29th February, 1780.


Your favours of the 1st and 5th inst. came to hand last night, and are
both before me. I am very much indebted to you for your candour in
stating the objections which are against Princeton, as well as Mr.
Stockton. I had anticipated them all. They are far from being
groundless. But my situation was peculiar when I determined to live
with Mr. Stockton. In my last a principle of delicacy induced me to be
more reserved than is consistent with the sincerity of our affection
for each other. Forgive my criminal reserve. I will be plain with you

By a strange kind of contracted system, which pervades all the civil
establishments of Congress, I was reduced to the necessity of
resigning my office at least six weeks sooner than I expected. Though
I laboured both day and night, with as much drudgery as a negro on a
plantation in the West Indies, the board of treasury did not think
themselves authorized to report a warrant in my favour for money to
answer the common demands of living. They confined me to my salary of
_ten thousand dollars_ [3] per annum. Finding that I had not the most
distant prospect of getting a decent support while I continued in
office, and that I was obliged to pay four or five thousand dollars
out of my own private purse for _necessaries, I cursed and quit them_
the beginning of this month.

Being thus out of office, I thought it would be prudent to settle
myself at the law without a moment's delay, both on account of the
heavy expense of living in this city, and the loss of time, which is
of the greatest consequence to me. I did not forget Mr. Paterson when
I gave the preference to Mr. Stockton. The private character of the
former is infinitely superior to that of the latter, and so is his
public. But he is immersed in such an ocean of business, that I
imagined it would be out of his power to bestow all the time and pains
on our improvement we would wish. Besides, I was afraid of being more
confined to the drudgery of copying in his office than I ought. This
is inseparable from an office in which there is a good deal done,
however well disposed a lawyer may be to promote the interest of his
clerk. You observe that his present office expires next summer. I
grant it. Yet he may be chosen attorney-general again; and this I
believe will be the case, for there is not a man of sufficient
abilities in the state, except him and Morris, to whom the people
would give the office. Morris, I fancy, will not accept it if offered
to him, as he has lately resigned his seat on the bench; and I will
venture to predict that Paterson will be continued, though against his

Upon the whole, then, I feel extreme regret in telling you that I must
go and sit down at Princeton the latter end of this week at farthest.
The die is cast. My honour forbids me to act contrary to the
engagement I have entered into with Mr. Stockton. Had I received your
kind letter before my _absolute determination_, I should certainly
have followed your advice. Our plan, therefore, will be frustrated.
Painful the reflection! You would hurt me exceedingly if you came to
live at Princeton, and subjected yourself to the inconveniences you
mention, merely to please me.

I am glad to hear your health is mending, and should be still more
happy if it was unnecessary to make use of the mineral springs in the
Clove. I have always suspected that the law would disagree with your
delicate constitution. It requires the most intense study. Your
ambition to excel will stimulate you to the closest application, and I
dread the effects it may produce. You should therefore be cautions.
Health is a source of more substantial pleasure than the most
cultivated understanding.

A few days ago Dr. Edwards left a bundle of bills, amounting, as he
says, to one thousand pounds, at Dr, Rush's for me, to be sent to you.
I have not yet counted it, but I suppose it is right. To-day or
to-morrow I shall leave a receipt for it at Dr. Rash's. I believe I
shall presume so far upon your friendship as to borrow a part of it
for my own use for about a fortnight. I am much disappointed in
receiving a small sum to pay my debts in town. I sold two thousand
dollars in certificates to Mr. Duer just before he left town, and he
gave me an order upon a lady for the money. I find she will not be
able to pay it for some time hence, and I am so pressed for cash that
I have written to Duer, at Baskenridge, for the certificates or money
immediately. I expect an answer every moment; and, till I receive it,
shall consider part of yours as my own. The remainder I shall transmit
you by the first safe conveyance. I think it would be wrong to trust
the post with it.

I thank you sincerely for your offer of a horse. The present state of
my finances is such that I cannot afford to keep one. If I could it
might detach me from my studies. Beware of temptation, saith the
Scripture, and so saith my interest.

I suppose you have read the king's speech. He makes no mention of his
rebellious subjects in America, or of any allies, and is resolved to
prosecute the war. The debates in the House of Lords, as well as
Commons, on the motion for an address of thanks, were very warm. Lord
North, in one of his speeches, makes no scruple of declaring that they
have no allies to assist them. That they can get none. That the
combined fleets have a _decided superiority_; and that it would have
been highly dangerous for the English fleet to have fought them last
fall. The bills on Spain and Holland sell very fast. They will all be
disposed of in a very short time. There are large arrivals in Virginia
and Maryland; and there are several vessels below, waiting for the
river to be cleared of ice, which will be in three or four days. Poor
_continental_ is still going down hill. _Fifty-eight_ was refused
yesterday; and I have no doubt it will be _seventy_ for _one_ before
ten days hence. Adieu. As long as you are Aaron Burr, I will be



I intended to have wrote you a letter in answer to your last, but
neither head or heart will enable me at present. Although I am
answerable for my conduct, yet I cannot govern the animal fluids. I am
so much of a _lunatic thermometer_, that both _moon_ and _atmosphere_
very much influence my _aerial_ constitution. My brain is subject to
such changes, and so much affected by _external_ objects, that I may
be properly compared to a _windmill_. You may make the similitudes as
you please. I have not a single sentiment in my head, or feeling in my
heart, that would pay for expressing. At any rate, my mill will not
grind. What is all this says my friend Aaron? The pleasure I enjoyed
yesterday in feasting in good company, and in a variety of other
agreeables, at the nuptial anniversary of our dear and happy friends,
Mr. and Mrs. Thaddeus Burr, has deprived me of that common share of
sensibility which is generally distributed through the days of the
year, and rather destroyed the equilibrium. I set out for camp the
last of this week; may I expect letters from my friend? Be assured of
my warmest friendship, and make me happy by the like assurance, as it
will afford the sincerest pleasure to,

Yours, with affection,



Rariton, April 14th, 1780.


I take the earliest opportunity of acknowledging the receipt of your
_dateless_ letter, and returning you my best thanks for it. Mr. and
Mrs. Reeve [4] have been so kind as to tarry a night with me. We
endeavoured to prevail upon them to pass a few days with us, and
should have been happy if we could have succeeded. This letter goes
with them. That circumstance cannot fail, of making it still more
welcome to your honest and. benevolent heart.

I wrote you the latter end of January from the Hermitage, and
intrusted the letter to Mrs. Prevost. It was a mere scrawl. This is of
the same cast. However, I promise, the very first leisure hour, to
devote it entirely to you in the letter way. Although I do not write
frequently to you, yet, believe me, I think frequently of you. Oh,
Burr! may you enjoy health, and be completely happy; as much so as I
am--more I cannot wish you. Nor will you be able to attain high
felicity until you experience such a union as I do. Mrs. Paterson is
in tolerable health, and gives you her best respects. I wish her
safely through the month of May, and then I shall be still more happy.

When you come to Jersey I shall certainly see you. If I do not, it
will be treason against our friendship.

Peace is distant. There is no prospect of it in the present year. Nor
do I think that Britain will come to terms while she fancies herself
superior on the ocean. The war, however, goes southward, and there is
some hope that we shall be more in quiet this year than we have been
since the commencement of hostilities. On the opening of the campaign
we shall be able to judge better. Adieu.



Princeton, April 27th, 1780.


I wrote to you yesterday, and happened to put the letter into the
postoffice a little after the post had gone. In that letter I
requested you to come here as soon as possible, for it was highly
probable that I should leave Princeton entirely, and determine to
follow our original plan. The event has confirmed my conjecture. I
came here from General Morris's yesterday, and exerted all the
influence I was master of to get new lodgings, but could not, without
lodging in the town, which would be disagreeable to me on many
accounts. I have now given over all thoughts of staying here; and,
having an excellent pretext for changing my ground, I shall write to
Mr. Stockton, who is still in Philadelphia, and acquaint him with my
intentions of going away. Nothing is therefore wanting but yourself,
with a horse and chair, to make me completely happy. I wish to God I
could push off eastward immediately, but I cannot. I have no horse,
neither is it practicable to borrow or hire one. I must, then, wait
for you; and I request you, in the most pressing terms, to lose not a
moment's time in coming for me at General Morris's, about six miles
from this, near Colonel Van Dyke's mill, on the road to Somerset,
where I shall wait impatiently for you.

I am extremely uneasy lest this letter should reach you after you have
left home, and begun your journey northward. In that case I shall be
very unfortunate; and, to prevent too great a delay, I write to Mr.
Reeves at Litchfield, and enclose him a letter for you, and desire him
to forward it to you, wherever you are, with all expedition. I shall
likewise enclose another for you to Mrs. Prevost, who will be kind
enough to give it to you the moment you arrive there.

If we once get together, I hope we shall not be soon parted. It would
afford me the greatest satisfaction to live with you during life. God
grant our meeting may be soon. You have my best and fervent wishes for
the recovery of your health, and every other happiness. Adieu.



Fairfield, 15th May, 1780.


I wrote you from this place the 12th inst. This follows close upon it,
that I may rest assured of your having heard from me.

I go to-morrow to Middletown, from whence I shall hasten my departure
as much as possible. No trifling concerns should command me a moment;
but business of importance, and some embarrassments too serious to be
laughed out of the way, will, I fear, detain me this month. But the
month is already gone before you can receive this. I hope your
philosophy will not have forsaken you. Far from you be gloom and
despondency. Attune your organs to the genuine ha! ha! 'Tis to me the
music of the spheres; the sovereign specific that shall disgrace the
physician's art, and baffle the virulence of malady. Hold yourself
aloof from all engagements, even of the _heart_. We will deliberate
unbiased, that we may decide with wisdom. I form no decision on the
subject of our studies till I see you.

I write from the house of our friend Thaddeus, in a world of company,
who are constantly interrupting me with impertinent questions. Your
summons came unexpected, and found me unprepared. Nevertheless, my
assiduity shall convince you that you may command



At General Morris's, near Princeton, 16th May, 1780.


I wrote you, about three weeks ago, a very pressing letter, and
requested you to come for me here as soon as possible. My anxiety to
see you is extreme, and, lest my letter should have miscarried, I
cannot help troubling you with another. Every thing, my dear Burr, has
succeeded to my wishes. I have left Mr. Stockton upon the most
friendly terms imaginable, and I am still at General Morris's to avoid
expense, but am so situated that I cannot study. I assure you, my
future prosperity and happiness in life depends, in a greater measure
than you may imagine, on my living and studying with you; and the
sooner we get seated in some retired place, where we may live cheaply
and study without interruption, the better. I know myself--I think I
know you perfectly. I am more deceived than ever I was if we do not
live happily together, and improve beyond our most sanguine
expectations. Delay not, therefore, a single moment, my dear Burr, but
come for me yourself. A horse or a chair without you will be
unwelcome. I want to consult you about several matters of importance
to me before I leave this state. I say leave this state, for our
original plan of studying with Mr. Osmer appears the most rational to
me on many accounts.

I am so much attached to you, my dear Burr, and feel myself so much
interested in every thing which concerns you, that I believe, and hope
sincerely, it will be many years before we separate if we can once sit
down together. As long as my slender fortune will permit me to live
without business, we will, if you find it agreeable, enjoy the
pleasures of retirement. And when we enter on the theatre of the
world, why not act our parts together? Heaven grant that we may. I
repeat it again, my dearest friend, lose not a moment's time in coming
for me. It is painful to trespass so long upon General Morris's
bounty, though he be my friend, and I have not any means of stirring
an inch from him unless I walk. For fear you should not be at
Middletown, I shall enclose a copy of this letter to Mr. Reeves, and
request him to forward it to you immediately if you should not be with

With what pleasure did I receive yours of the 24th ult., at Princeton,
the other day, when I went to pay Mr. Stockton a visit after his
return from Philadelphia. I cordially congratulate you on the
improvement of your health by rash experiments. May it be as well
established as my own, which is perfectly capable of the closest
application. But I was not a little mortified to find you say nothing
about your intention to ride to Jersey. Let me entreat you once more
to set off as soon as possible. Every moment is precious, and ought to
be employed to advantage. I shall wait for you with the greatest
impatience; and, in the meantime, I am, what I always wish to be,

Your affectionate and sincere friend,



Society-Hall, General Morris's, 23d May, 1780.


My patience is almost exhausted. I have been waiting for you this
month past. Here I am, a pensioner upon the bounty of my good friend
General Morris, and am likely to continue so, unless you are kind
enough to come and carry me away. This is the fifth or sixth letter I
have written you on the subject. What can be the reason of the great
delay in forwarding letters by the post? Your last was above a
fortnight old before it got to Princeton; and, upon inquiry, Daddy
Plumb informs me the riders are ordered to ride _forty miles_ a day
during the season. Must I attribute it to the fatality which has
already separated us, and, I fear, is determined to put an eternal bar
to our junction? Such an event would blast all my hopes of future
happiness. My dear Aaron, I want words to express my pleasure in
anticipating the satisfaction of retiring from the cares of the world
with you, and living in all the simple elegance of ancient
philosophers. We should make a rapid improvement in every branch of
useful literature; and when we came to act our parts on the theatre of
the world, we might excite admiration, and, what would be infinitely
more pleasing to us, we should be better men and better citizens.

After Mr. Stockton returned from Philadelphia, I communicated to him
my situation and my intentions. He approved of my determination to go
away, and gave me some advice, which you shall know when you see me.
Thus I have left Mr. Stockton without causing the least uneasiness,
and I am now ready to enter upon our old plan, which appears the most
consistent with our present views. As I said in all my letters to you
on the subject, I am here from a principle of economy; but it is
disagreeable to stay so long as a visitor, and I am therefore obliged
to request you to alter your intention about coming here, and set off
the moment you receive this. I have no horse, and depend entirely upon
you. Besides the time we lose by postponing our settlement, I have a
matter of great importance to us both to communicate to you, that has
no connexion with our studying, and which makes it necessary for me to
see you immediately.

Poor Mr. Stockton is incurable. He cannot survive the summer.




Baskenridge, June 27th, 1786.


After a very disagreeable ride indeed, I came here the day before
yesterday in the afternoon; and yesterday morning, just as I was going
to mount my horse, I was seized with a violent fever, which lasted
till sunset. This morning I feel much better, though I am exceedingly
weak. In a few minutes I shall take an emetic; after which I suppose
the bark will be necessary. The fever seems to be of the intermittent
kind, and, I think, is occasioned principally by riding in the hot
sun. I am so agreeably situated here, that I shall stay till I
recover, which I hope will be in three or four days. The family are
very polite and attentive to me, and Dr. Cutting, who quarters in the
neighbourhood, is both my physician and apothecary.

The Miss Livingstons have inquired in a very friendly manner about
you, and expect you will wait upon them when you pass this way. Since
I have been here, I have had an opportunity of removing entirely the
suspicion they had of your courting Miss De Visme. [5] They believe
nothing of it now, and attribute your visits at Paramus to motives of
friendship for Mrs. Prevost and the family.

Wherever I am, and can with propriety, you may be assured I shall
represent this matter in its true light.

I have obtained a few particulars of -----, which I was before
unacquainted with, and which I cannot forbear communicating. He is the
son of the vice-president of Pennsylvania, who I always understood in
Philadelphia was a respectable merchant, and I believe is worth a
moderate fortune, though I am not certain. His family was not ranked
in the genteeler class before the war; but at present may be called
fashionable, or _á la mode_. The girls here think him handsome,
genteel, and sensible, and say positively he is no longer engaged to
Miss Shippen. He has frequently spoken to them in raptures, latterly
of Miss De Visme, and once declared he was half in love with her. I
have taken care to touch this string with the greatest delicacy.

How is your health? Better or worse? Pray neglect no opportunity of
writing to me. Present my most respectful compliments to Mrs. Prevost
and the family, and also the ladies on the hill.

Miss Susan Governor Livingston desires her compliments to you and the
two families. So do Susan and Eliza Baskenridge.

Yours affectionately,



Weathersfield, 7th July, 1780.


Will you allow me that appellation, who have so long neglected to
inform you of the situation of your affairs left in my hands? But
figure to yourself the thousand embarrassments that have attended me
in conducting my public concerns _towards a close_, and you will be
led to put a more favourable construction on my conduct than I should
otherwise expect.

My last informed you of the loss of the _Hawk_, being chased on shore
the back side of Long Island. It was a few days after she went out on
her last cruise, and before she had any success. Of course, about
£20,000, the amount of her last outfits, were thrown away. I fear this
will make her die in debt. Though all her goods are either sold or
divided, yet her accounts are not settled. I wish I could see a
tolerable prospect of their being speedily closed. But the agents are
embarrassed. As soon as I can get her accounts, will inform you of the
state of this unlucky adventure. There is on hand some clothing, some
duck, and rigging, out of which I hope to raise hard money. What shall
I do with the other articles, a small parcel of glassware and rum, and
the money arising from the sales of the vessel's sea-coat, &c.? I am
advised to sell every thing for continental money, at the present
going prices, and exchange it for hard. What is the exchange with you?
With us it is from sixty to seventy for one. Let me know what I am to
do with your money when I get it into my hands. I have not settled any
of your accounts but Stanley's.

Your friends are generally well, and wish to hear from you. Miss
H----- has been quite unwell since you left us, as she tells me she
hears you are. You will not be vain when I add, she has more than once
lamented _your ill state of health_, and expressed some fears that it
was not growing better. The Sallys beg me to make their best wishes
for your health and happiness acceptable to you. Shall I add, their
love also?

Friend Wadsworth has engaged in the supplies for the French navy and
troops. I think it will keep him employed, and much to his advantage.

Yours sincerely,



Weathersfield, July 16th, 1780.


I have to acknowledge the receipt of your polite and friendly letter
of the 1st inst. My little family would have been too much elated with
your attention to them had you not dashed the pleasure with the
account of your ill state of health. Pray be more attentive to the
recovery of it, even should it interfere with your study of the law.
Let your diet and exercise be simple and regular; directed by
experience. The former not too low. It is a good old maxim--be
religious, but not superstitious. So respecting health, be exactly
attentive, but not whimsical. Excuse the term, for invalids are but
too apt to be governed by whim rather than reason and experience.

Enclosed you have an account current with the agents of the Hawk.
Indeed, take it altogether, it is but a poor adventure. I shall
endeavour the settlement of your account with Friend -----, and remit
you. In the meantime, it will not be amiss to send me an account of
money advanced to him.

As to news, must refer you to the newspapers, where you will get a
large supply. I wish _our printers_ did not deal so much in the
marvellous. It is in vain for them to attempt copying Rivington. [7]
They had better stick to the truth.

Yours, &c.,



Rariton, July 18th, 1780.


Mr. Paterson went to Brunswick court this morning. The few lines by
Dr. Brown are the first I have had from you since I left Paramus;
where the other letters you refer to stay, I know not.

I am charmed with my present situation in every respect. It could not
be more agreeable to my wishes. I shall have reason to thank you, as
long as I live, for my change. The man I lodge with is an able
farmer--has a large house--is fond of me, and is possessed of every
thing a reasonable person could expect or wish for. I study
attentively, and have no interruption whatever. There is an agreeable
neighbourhood in this part of the country, and, when I choose, I can
unbend myself in very genteel company.

I am reading Wood at present. I have almost done with his 4th chapter,
and am looking over his chapter on courts. I confine my whole
attention to the practice, for reasons I will tell you when we meet. I
am translating Burlamaqui's Politic Law. Reading Robertson's Charles
V., Dalrymple on Feudal Property, and Swift's Works. The morning I
devote to the law. I am up sometimes before, generally at sunrise.
From two to half after three in the afternoon, and from nine to eleven
in the evening, I apply to other matters. I am in a fair way, if
public affairs will suffer me, to be retired.

Paterson is the very man we want. He is sensible, friendly, and, as
far as I am capable of judging, profound in the law. He is to examine
me on Saturday or Monday on what I have read, and I am preparing
accordingly. I have heard him examine Noel yesterday on the practice,
and I find his examinations are critical. In a couple of months I
expect to be as far advanced in the practice as Noel. I cannot bear
that he should be before me. It must not, it shall not be.

My health is perfectly restored, and I am now as well as ever I was. I
am happy to hear you grow better. May you soon be well enough to join
me. The weather is so intensely hot, and I am so closely engaged in
study, that I cannot determine when I shall pay you a visit.

Yours, &c.,



On the Rariton, 21st August, 1780.


The account I have given of my situation is far from a fiction. You
will find it a pleasing reality when you come here, which I suppose
you will postpone till you see me, as I have no doubt at present that
the second division of the French fleet has arrived, with a
re-enforcement of 4000 troops. This event will render it necessary for
me to be ready to move at a moment's warning; and, presuming there
will be no delay in commencing our operations, I think, in the course
of a fortnight, or three weeks at most, I shall be at Paramus.

Will your health permit you to join the army? I fear not. Fatigue and
bad weather may ruin it. I confess I am much disappointed in my
opinion of the mineral waters. From your letters, I conclude the stock
of health you have gained since I left you is scarcely perceptible.
Something else must be tried. Life is precious, and demands every
exertion and sacrifice to preserve it. Mr. Paterson and I have often
spoken together on this subject, and we both agree that a ride to the
southward next winter, and a trip to the West Indies in the spring,
would be of infinite service to you. This might be done with ease in
five or six months.

Mrs. Paterson is perfectly recovered, and her little girl grows
finely, and promises to be handsome. Mrs. Paterson often asks about
you, and seems anxious to have you among us. When you come, remember
to bring with you the book you took with you on our way to Paramus. I
believe it is an essay on health. Mrs. Paterson wants it, the idea you
gave me of her is just. She is easy, polite, sensible, and friendly.
Paterson is rather deficient in the graces, but he possesses every
virtue that enters into the composition of an amiable character.

I can hardly go out anywhere without being asked a number of questions
about you. You seem to be universally known and esteemed. Mr. Morris's
family are exceedingly particular in their inquiries concerning your
health. It would be easier for you to conceive, than for me to tell
you, how much they like you. They insist upon our paying them a visit
as soon as you are settled here, which I have promised, on your part
as well as my own.

Let me entreat you to avoid engaging any of your French books in
Connecticut, especially Chambaud's Exercises, to any person whatever.
I, and perhaps you, will stand in need of them all.

I am greatly indebted to the good family for their favourable
sentiments, which, as I said once before, must proceed more from
affection to you than what they find meritorious in me. I am certain,
however, that their esteem for me cannot exceed mine for them, and
this you will be kind enough to hint to them when you present my
respectful compliments. Assure Dom. Tetard of my friendship for him,
and fixed determination to use all endeavours to metamorphose him into
a Crassus after the war is ended. Adieu



1. Late President of the United States.

2. The residence of Mrs. Prevost.

3. Continental paper dollars--equal in value to _sixty for one silver

4. Judge Tappan Reeve, whose lady was the sister of Colonel Burr.

5. The sister of Mrs. Prevost

6. Deputy quartermaster-general; subsequently commissary for the
French army, and treasurer of the state of Connecticut.

7. Printer to the king in the city of New-York.



Morristown, 27th August, 1780.


I was not at Rariton when the doctor, who was the bearer of your
letter, passed that way. It would have given me pleasure to have shown
him every mark of attention and esteem in my power.

I dare say you count it an age since I have written you; and, indeed,
I must confess that the time has been long. Your good-nature, however,
will induce you to forgive me, although I cannot expect it from your
justice. I hope the water you drink will prove medicinal, and soon
restore you to health; although I am more disposed to think that it
will take time, and be effected gradually. Persons indisposed (I speak
from experience) are generally impatient to become well, and that very
impatience has a natural tendency to prevent it. Do not be restless,
my dear Burr; nor think that, because you do not get well in a month,
or in a season, you will not get well at all. The heat of this summer
has been intense, nor is it as yet much abated. Perhaps that too may
have had some effect upon you. The hale and hearty could scarcely bear
up under it. May health soon visit you, my good friend.

Mrs. Paterson is well. Our little pledge, a girl, Burr, [1] has been
much indisposed, but is at present on the mending hand. I am from home
as usual. My official duty obliges me to be so. I grow quite uneasy
under it, and I find ease and retirement necessary for the sake of my
constitution, which has been somewhat broken in upon by unceasing
attention to business. The business has been too much for me. I have
always been fond of solitude, and, as it were, of _stealing_ along
through life. I am now sufficiently fond of domestic life. I have
every reason to be so. Indeed, I know no happiness but at home. Such
one day will be your situation.

My compliments to the family at the Hermitage. I shall write you
before I leave this place.

Yours, &c.



Morristown, 31st August, 1780.


It is now near the midnight hour, and yet, late as it is, I could not
acquit myself to my conscience if I had not again written you before I
left this place, which will be early tomorrow. My life is quite in the
militant style--one continued scene of warfare. From this place I go
down to the Supreme Court at Trenton, which will be on Tuesday next,
and the Tuesday after that I shall return once more to Morristown, and
when I shall leave it will be uncertain. I rejoice when the hour of
rest comes up, and sicken at the approach of day. Business fairly
bears me down. The truth is, that I am tired of writing, tired of
reading, tired of bustling in a crowd, and, by fits, heartily tired of

I hope you go on gaining strength, and that you will in a little while
get the better of your disorder. The mind and the body affect each
other extremely. To a person in your state, hilarity, cheerfullness, a
serene flow of spirits, are better than all the drugs in a doctor's
shop. Gentle exercise is of infinite service. I hope you are not
wanting in any of these. If you are, I cannot easily pardon you,
because they are all within your power.

Make my compliments acceptable to the family at the Hermitage. I have
a high regard for them, and sincerely wish their happiness. I really
pity and admire Mrs. Prevost. Her situation demands a tear; her
conduct and demeanour the warmest applause. Tell Mrs. Prevost that she
must remember me among her friends; and that I shall be happy to
render her all the service in my power.

Since I have been at this place I have had a letter from Mrs.
Paterson, who is well. Our little girl, who was indisposed when I left
home, is not worse. I flatter myself I shall find her better when I
return. Alas, that I cannot be more at home. A husband and a parent
have a thousand tendernesses that you know nothing of. Adieu, my dear
Burr; live and be happy.



Morristown, October 23d, 1780.


I want words to express the pleasure I feel at the receipt of yours of
the 22d, by the boy who came for your horse. It relieved me from a
burden which had sunk my spirits lower than I recollect them to have
been by any calamity I have met with during the war. My imagination
had crowded my mind with a thousand melancholy reflections from the
moment I got your letter by Dr. Cutting, who, like a modern well-bred
gentleman, left it at my lodgings only three days ago. Some evil
genius certainly interrupts our correspondence. I write letters
without number, and yet you seldom hear from me, and when you do, the
letter is as old as if it had come from the other side of the
Atlantic. It is exactly the case with yours.

Mr. Paterson has been more unfortunate than I. He has often complained
of your neglect, as he thought it; but I informed him of the fate my
letters shared, and he was easy. However, he desired me last night to
give you a hint, that he had lately written you several long letters
without receiving an answer to either. He is now at Princeton,
attending court. I shall forward your letter that accompanied mine to
him by a safe conveyance. Paterson really loves you with the tenderest
affection, and can scarcely speak of your state of health without
shedding a friendly tear. As God is my judge, I could not forbear
shedding several when I read yours by Dr. Cutting, which is the first
I have had from you in near five weeks. I was afraid all farther
attempts to recover your health, so as to qualify you to execute our
plan, would be fruitless. In short, I thought you on the brink of
eternity, ready to take your final farewell of this wrangling world.
The critical situation of your sister increased my distress, and
extinguished every hope. How much more happy should I be if your
sister's health took the same fortunate turn. Your ride to Litchfield
must be doubly agreeable, as it will tend to establish your health and
better hers.

I must now communicate to you a disagreeable piece of news respecting
myself. It shows how rare it is to find a man of real disinterested
benevolence. Sears and Broome, I understand by Mr. Noel, who returned
from Philadelphia a few days ago, have protested the bill I drew upon
them last summer. Colonel Palfrey bought it, and has it returned to
him, for what reasons I cannot say positively, but I suspect they are
determined not to assist me, although they were lavish of their offers
when they supposed I never would be reduced to the necessity of
accepting them. Such conduct is characteristic of excessive meanness
of spirit, and I confess I am deceived in my opinion of them most
egregiously. True it is, that instances of this kind of behaviour
often occur in our intercourse with mankind; but, from the fortunes
these men have made since the war, and the frequent reports of their
generosity, I was led to imagine there was something more than mere
idle compliment and ostentatious parade in their offers. I was
deceived, and I hope it will be the last time. This affair has wounded
my pride so sensibly, that I shall be extremely cautious in future. I
must and will endeavour to adopt some mode of drawing supplies from my
certificates, which will be three years old next spring, and therefore
ought to be taken up by Congress By the table of depreciation
published by Congress to regulate the payment of the principal of
their certificates, I am entitled to three hundred and fifty pounds,
at the very lowest calculation, and this sum in specie.

When you come here you must exert all your abilities in finance, to
make me no longer dependant upon the bounty of friends; or rather, I
should say, your bounty, for you are the only person I have borrowed
money of. Till that time, my dear friend, can you keep me above water,
and do justice to yourself? Will you be able to extricate me from the
difficulties attending this bill? In plain terms, can you spare me the
amount of it? My reputation suffers by having the bill protested, and
I must, in a short time, send the money to Colonel Palfrey, for I am
persuaded I have no farther ground to expect the least assistance from
Sears and Broome. Fail not, by any means, to write me on this subject
before you leave Paramus, and be careful how you send the letter.

There is nothing but your health and my poverty that retards my
progress in study. They are fruitful sources of disquietude. When I
lay me down to sleep, they often prevent me from closing my eyes. When
I look into a book, they present a variety of melancholy images to my
imagination, and unfit me for improvement In all other respects I am
situated to my wishes: Paterson treats me as a bosom friend. He has
gone so far as to press me in the warmest terms to command his purse.
How I shall be able to requite your friendship is a matter beyond my
penetration. I declare, before the Searcher of all hearts, that I
consider your happiness and welfare as inseparable from my own, and
that no vicissitudes of fortune, however prosperous or calamitous they
may be, will ever tear you from my heart. Circumstanced as I now am,
words are the only proofs I can give you of my gratitude and
affection. Time will prove whether they are the cant of hypocrisy or
the language of esteem.

I lent your horse to Mrs. Paterson about a week ago, to carry her to
Elizabethtown to see her brother, who was to meet her there from
New-York; and disappointments in not seeing him, from day to day, have
detained her much longer than was expected, and it is probable that
she will not return until Thursday next; I have therefore sent the boy
down to Elizabethtown, or, more properly, shall send him in the
morning, with Mr. Noel's horse, which will answer full as well in the
wagon. This change will produce no inconvenience at all, and is better
than to detain the boy till Mrs. Paterson returns. She was exceedingly
well when she left home, and so was her little girl, which is
handsome, good-tempered, fat, and hearty. I am very particular in
presenting _her_ your respects, and _she_ is as particular in
inquiring about you.

Bring all the French books you can from Connecticut, particularly
Chambaud's Exercises, and all the other elementary books you have. I
should be fond of having the perusal of Rousseau's Social Compact, if
you can borrow it of Mrs. Prevost for me. I am quite rusty in the
French, for I have neglected it totally for two or three months. The
business of the office has engrossed so much of my attention, that I
have not lately read any other book but Blackstone. I am still in the
third volume. I digest thoroughly as I advance. I have unravelled all
the difficulties of the practice, and can do common business with
tolerable dexterity.

The horse will be delivered to you without a saddle. Gales, a young
fellow who was studying with Mr. Paterson, requested me to lend it to
him to ride as far as Newark last August, and he ran off to New-York,
and I never could get the saddle again. This piece of villany I could
not foresee, and it surprised almost as much as Arnold's. The grass
has been very short, and I fancy the horse will be leaner than you
expect. He is a most excellent saddle-horse.

I am extremely sorry to hear Mrs. Prevost and her sister are unwell.
Remember me to them in the most friendly manner. Give my compliments
also to Dr. Latimer, and all friends in the army near you. Don't
forget Mrs. De Visme, the children, Dom. Tetard, and the family on the
hill, although I hear they are strongly prejudiced against me. Mrs.
Judith Watkins, as you well know, has spoken maliciously. She is far
from being your friend. Every thing that passed one day at dinner in
confidence respecting our reception at her house, has been told to her
and her husband, with no small exaggerations, by some person of the
company. Governor Bill Livingston related some particulars that
astonished me, and added, that he and Mr. and Mrs. Watkins thought it
cruel in you to put such an unfair construction upon Watkins's
behaviour to us. All this talk is beneath our notice. What I said to
Bill was sufficient to erase any unfavourable impression from a candid
mind. If it has not produced that effect, any further attempt to
refute the calumny will only serve to confirm it.

Mrs. P. Livingston is here, and desires her respects to you. She was
glad to hear of the prospect you have of growing hearty. She is an
amiable woman, and loves you. Your friend,


The preceding correspondence contains in itself a tolerable history of
Colonel Burr's situation and employment from the summer of 1779 until
the autumn of 1780. After retiring from the army, he suffered most
severely from ill health--that ill health was, in a great degree,
produced by the fatigues and exposure on the 27th and 28th of June,
1779, at the battle of Monmouth. His constitution was feeble, and had
been shattered by his unparalleled vigilance in the winter of 1778-79,
while commanding the advanced post in Westchester. But the battle of
Monmouth seemed to have given it the finishing stroke.

The letters of Judge Paterson and Colonel Troup afford the best
evidence of his ill health, and of their affectionate devotion to him
as friends. They are given at some length, because they present rare
and extraordinary examples of fidelity in friendship. Both these
gentlemen preceded Colonel Burr to the tomb. Both continued to
respect, to esteem, and to love him, to their last hour. Their
character requires no panegyric. Colonel Troup lived until the year
1832. In manhood, for more than half a century, he venerated Colonel
Burr for his genius, his talents, his chivalry, his intrepidity of
character, his disinterestedness, his generosity. He deplored his
weaknesses, and abhorred his vices. But when he viewed the whole man,
from youth to more than threescore and ten years, he loved and
respected him. Both these distinguished citizens, as politicians, were
opposed to Colonel Burr from the year 1788 until the close of their

In the autumn of 1780, Colonel Burr commenced the study of law with
Judge Paterson, who resided at that time on the Rariton, about twenty
miles from Brunswick, in New-Jersey. Here he remained till the spring
of 1781. The judge was a man governed by fixed and settled rules. In
the application of these rules Colonel Burr found that his study of
the law would require much more time to prepare him for an examination
than he was willing to devote. He concluded that there must be a
shorter mode to get at the mechanical or practical part; and, having
determined to make the experiment, he left the office of Judge

From New-Jersey, in the spring of 1781, he removed to Haverstraw, then
in Orange county, State of New-York. Residing at this place was Thomas
Smith, Esq., formerly of the city of New-York, and brother to William
Smith, the king's attorney-general. Thomas Smith had a good law
library, which had been removed from the city into the Highlands for
safety. With Smith, Colonel Burr made an arrangement to study on a
plan of his own. By the contract, for a specified sum to be paid,
Smith was to devote certain portions of his time to Burr. At these
interviews, he was to answer such questions as Burr propounded. The
answers were taken down in writing, and formed the basis of additional
interrogatories; while, at the same time, they aided in directing his
attention to those legal points or authorities which were necessary
for him to examine or read. During the time he remained at Haverstraw,
he studied from sixteen to twenty hours a day.

In the summer of 1780, Major Andre, of the British army, was in
correspondence with Mrs. Arnold (the wife of General Arnold), under a
pretext of supplying her, from the city of New-York, with millinery
and other trifling articles of dress. On the 23d of September, 1780,
Major Andre was captured, and the treason of the general discovered.
When this news reached West Point, Mrs. Arnold became, apparently,
almost frantic. Her situation excited the sympathy of some of the most
distinguished officers in the American army. Mrs. Arnold, having
obtained from General Washington a passport, and permission to join
her husband in the city of New-York, left West Point, and on her way
stopped at the house of Mrs. Prevost, in Paramus, where she stayed one
night. On her arrival at Paramus the frantic scenes of West Point were
renewed, and continued so long as strangers were present. Mrs. Prevost
was known as the wife of a British officer, and connected with the
royalists. In her, therefore, Mrs. Arnold could confide.

As soon as they were left alone Mrs. Arnold became tranquillized, and
assured Mrs. Prevost that she was heartily sick of the theatrics she
was exhibiting. She stated that she had corresponded with the British
commander--that she was disgusted with the American cause and those
who had the management of public affairs--and that, through great
persuasion and unceasing perseverance, she had ultimately brought the
general into an arrangement to surrender West Point to the British.
Mrs. Arnold was a gay, accomplished, artful, and extravagant woman.
There is no doubt, therefore, that, for the purpose of acquiring the
means of gratifying an inordinate vanity, she contributed greatly to
the utter ruin of her husband, and thus doomed to everlasting infamy
and disgrace all the fame he had acquired as a gallant soldier at the
sacrifice of his blood. Mrs. Prevost subsequently became the wife of
Colonel Burr, and repeated to him these confessions of Mrs. Arnold.

The preceding statement is confirmed by the following anecdote. Mrs.
Arnold was the daughter of Chief-justice Shippen, of Pennsylvania. She
was personally acquainted with Major Andre, and, it is believed,
corresponded with him previous to her marriage. In the year 1779-80,
Colonel Robert Morris resided at Springatsbury, in the vicinity of
Philadelphia, adjoining Bush Hill. Some time previous to Arnold's
taking command of West Point, he was an applicant for the post. On a
particular occasion Mrs. Arnold was dining at the house of Colonel
Morris. After dinner, a friend of the family came in, and
congratulated Mrs. Arnold on a report that her husband was appointed
to a different, but more honourable command. The information affected
her so much as to produce hysteric fits. Efforts were made to convince
her that the general had been selected for a preferable station. These
explanations, however, to the astonishment of all present, produced no
effect. But, after the treason of Arnold was discovered, the family of
Colonel Morris entertained no doubt that Mrs. Arnold was privy to, if
not the negotiator for, a surrender of West Point to the British, even
before the general had charge of the post.

In the autumn of 1781 Colonel Burr left Haverstraw and went to Albany,
with a determination to make an effort to be admitted to the bar. He
continued his studies with the most untiring industry. He had his own
apartments and his own library, sleeping, when he did sleep, in a
blanket on the floor.

Colonel Burr's liberality in pecuniary matters had tended to impair
his private fortune. No man possessed a more benevolent heart. The
following letter presents one case out of many which might be
enumerated, evincing his generosity, and the delicate manner in which
he could confer a favour. Major Alden had become embarrassed in his
circumstances, and was greatly at a loss for a profession, at the
approaching close of the war, by which he might acquire a decent
support. These reflections rendered him gloomy and desponding. At
length he unbosomed himself to Colonel Burr, who thus replies to his


Rariton, February 15th, 1781.


If it will solace your woes to know there is a heart that feels them
as its own, that heart is mine. The thwarts of delicacy, which you
would exclude from the catalogues of distress, are certainly the
keenest humanity can feel. I know their force. I have felt them in all
their pungency.

A want of uniformity in the mode and object of my pursuit has been
long my misfortune, and has, I fear, been yours. There is a
persevering firmness that will conquer embarrassment, and, aided with
the secret smile of an approving conscience, cannot fail to put us
above the power of adversity. Thus "we shall shun misfortunes, or
shall learn to bear them."

I have ever found the moment of indecision to be the moment of
completest anguish. When our resolutions are taken with determined
firmness, they engross the mind and close the void of misery. Yes, my
friend, save the pang of sympathy, I am happy. These are my halcyon
days. Let us taste them together. We shall mutually heighten their
relish. Let us rescue some moments of rational enjoyment from the
wreck of impetuous time. Friendship shall smooth the rugged path of
science, and virtue cheer the way.

If law is your object, this situation is favourable to the pursuit.
You shall have access to the library and office, without the customary
expense. Your _ostensible reason_ for coming here shall be to pursue
your studies with me, under my friend Mr. Paterson. The two boys [2] I
wish you to instruct are of the sweetest tempers and the softest
hearts. A frown is the severest punishment they ever need. Four hours
a day will, I think, be fully sufficient for their instruction. There
are hours enough left for study--as many as any one can improve to
advantage; and these four will be fully made up to you by the
assistance you will derive from such of us as have already made some
small progress.

If it is possible, we live together. At any rate, you shall live near
me; we shall at least meet every day, or oftener, if we please.
Nothing will interrupt us. We will regulate our own amusements and
pursuits. Here are no expensive diversions of any kind. Your salary
shall be a genteel maintenance in such a situation. You shall have
sixty pounds, New-York currency, which is more than I expend here. You
will find it impossible to spend a farthing except board and clothing.
If, from this short sketch, you think the situation adapted to your
views, of which I feel a pleasing assurance, acquaint me immediately,
that I may prepare for your reception.

I purpose bringing the boys here the beginning of April. Be here by
that time, if possible. Get Mr. Thaddeus Burr to enclose your letter
to Loudon the printer, who will be careful to forward it to me. How
could I write to you How divine your residence? Never again harbour,
for a moment, a surmise that derogates from my sincerity.

My health is nearly established. I have not enough to despise the
blessing, but enough to relish every enjoyment of life. Adieu, my
friend; may that cheerfullness of which you have been robbed return,
and be as permanent as your merit or my affection.



Haverstraw, 1st March, 1781.


The preparations at New-York look this way, and that inclines me to
seek an asylum in New-Jersey, any part of which I believe will be
safe, if Hudson's river is the object of the enemy. If I could get
Mrs. De Visme's place, it would be most agreeable to Mrs. Smith. A few
weeks will determine me, and then I shall be in a situation to give
you and Colonel Troup every assistance in my power. As it is your
object to fit yourselves as soon as possible for admission to the bar,
without submitting to the drudgery of an attorney's office, in which
the advancement of the student is but too often a secondary
consideration, I should cheerfully devote a sufficient part of my time
to lead you through the practice of the law in all its parts; and make
no doubt, with close application on your part, I should be able in a
short time to introduce you to the bar, well qualified to discharge
the duties of the profession, with honour to yourselves, and safety to
your clients.

My library is now in a situation to be removed. Two boxes are missing,
and I fear have fallen a sacrifice to the liberty of the times. I only
wait till the roads will permit me to remove the remainder down, as I
think my books by no means safe where they now are, if the forts
should be attacked.

Your obedient servant,


At this period Colonel Burr was closely engaged in his studies. His
constitution was somewhat renovated. His correspondence now became
limited, and was principally confined to Mrs. Prevost. Here again the
peculiarity already referred to was in full operation. The greater
part of this correspondence is in cipher. But portions of it that are
not thus written are highly interesting, and give evidence that Mrs.
Prevost possessed a cultivated mind. Her health was very feeble, and
continued so, after she became the wife of Colonel Burr, until her
decease. Some extracts from her letters will be given.


Litchfeld, February 12th, 1781

I am happy that there is a post established for the winter. I shall
expect to hear from you every week. My ill health will not permit me
to return your punctuality. You must be contented with hearing once a

Your opinion of Voltaire pleases me, as it proves your judgment above
being biased by the prejudices of others. The English, from national
jealousy and enmity to the French, detract him. Divines, with more
justice, as he exposes himself to their censure. It is even their duty
to contemn his tenets; but, without being his disciple, we may do
justice to his merit, and admire him as a judicious, ingenious author.

I will not say the same of your system of education. Rousseau has
completed his work. The indulgence you applaud in Chesterfield is the
only part of his writings I think reprehensible. Such lessons from so
able a pen are dangerous to a young mind, and ought never to be read
till the judgment and heart are established in virtue. If Rousseau's
ghost can reach this quarter of the globe, he will certainly haunt you
for this scheme--'tis striking at the root of his design, and
destroying the main purport of his admirable production. Les
foiblesses de l'humanité, is an easy apology; or rather, a license to
practise intemperance; and is particularly agreeable and flattering to
such practitioners, as it brings the most virtuous on a level with the
vicious. But I am fully of opinion that it is a much greater chimera
than the world are willing to acknowledge. Virtue, like religion,
degenerates to nothing, because it is convenient to neglect her
precepts. You have, undoubtedly, a mind superior to the contagion.

When all the world turn envoys, Chesterfield will be their proper
guide. Morality and virtue are not necessary qualifications--those
only are to be attended to that tend to the public weal. But when
parents have no ambitious views, or rather, when they are of the more
exalted kind, when they wish to form a happy, respectable member of
society--a firm, pleasing support to their declining life, Emilius
shall be the model. A man so formed must be approved by his Creator,
and more useful to mankind than ten thousand modern beaux.

If the person whose kind partiality you mention is Paterson, I confess
myself exceedingly flattered, as I entertain the highest opinion of
the perspicuity of his judgment. Say all the civil things you please
for his solicitous attention to my health. But if it should be Troup,
which I think more probable, assure him of my most permanent




Litchfield, 6th March, 1781.

----Where can ----- be? Poor suffering soul; worthy a better fate.
Heaven preserve him for his own sake; for his distressed mother's. I
pity her from my heart, and lament my inability to alleviate her
sorrows. I invoke a better aid. May her "afflicted spirit find the
only solace of its woes"--Religion, Heaven's greatest boon to man; the
only distinction he ought to boast. In this, he is lord of the
creation; without it, the most pitiable of all created things.

How strangely we pass through life! All acknowledge themselves mortal
and immortal; and yet prefer the trifles of to-day to the treasures of
eternity. Piety teaches resignation. Resignation without piety loses
its beauty, and sinks into insensibility. Your beautiful quotation is
worth more than all I can write in a twelvemonth. Continue writing on
the subject. It is both pleasing and improving. The better I am
acquainted with it, the more charms I find. Worlds should not purchase
the little I possess. I promise myself many happy hours dedicated at
the shrine of religion,

Yours, affectionately,



Litchfield, May, 1781.

Our being the subject of much inquiry, conjecture, and calumny, is no
more than we ought to expect. My attention to you was ever pointed
enough to attract the observation of those who visited the house. Your
esteem more than compensated for the worst they could say. When I am
sensible I can make you and myself happy, I will readily join you to
suppress their malice. But, till I am confident of _this_, I cannot
think of our union. Till then I shall take shelter under the roof of
my dear mother, where, by joining stock, we shall have sufficient to
stem the torrent of adversity.

You speak of my spirits as if they were at my command, or depressed
only from perverseness of temper. In these you mistake. Believe me,
you cannot wish their return more ardently than I do. I would this
moment consent to become a public mendicant, could I be restored to
the same tranquillity of mind I enjoyed this time twelvemonth. The
influence my letters may have on your studies is imaginary. The idea
is so trite that I ask in hopes it was worn from your mind. My last
year's trials are vouchers. I was always writing with a view to please
you, and as often failed in the attempt. If a desire for my own
happiness cannot restore me to myself, pecuniary motives never can. I
wish you to study for your own sake; to ensure yourself respect and
independence; to ensure us the comforts of life, when Providence
deigns to fit our hearts for the enjoyment. I shall never look forward
with confidence till your pride extends to that. I had vainly
flattered my self that pride was inseparable to true love. In yours I
find my error; but cannot renounce my idea of its being a necessary
support _to_, and the only security _for_, permanent affection.

You see by the enclosed how ready my friends are to receive you, and
promote your interest. I wish you may be fortunate in executing aunt
Clark's business. My health and spirits are neither better nor worse
than when you left me. I thank you for your attention to Bird's




Sharon, September 11th, 1781.

My friend and neighbour, Mr. Livingston, will have the pleasure of
presenting you this. You will find him quite the gentleman, and worthy
your attention. Enclosed is a letter to my sister, which must be
delivered by yourself. You know my reasons too well to infer from my
caution that I entertain the least doubt of Mr. Livingston's

Monsieur Tetard is gone to the manor, summoned by Mrs. Montgomery, on
pretence of his being the only surviving witness to the general's
will. The business that was to have detained him but a few days has
kept him these six weeks. I cannot account for his delay, unless his
extravagant encomiums on the progress of a friend of yours has proved
a stimulation to those of superior talents. He exaggerates exceedingly
in extolling his pupils. Those whose expectations are raised from his
description must prepare themselves for disappointment.

Mr. and Mrs. Reeve were well a few days ago. She rides every morning
to visit the boy, and returns before breakfast. I fear they will
disappoint me in the promised visit.

We were obliged to Dr. Cutting for the most pleasing account of your
health and spirits. Also, of your great progress in law. Judge Hobart
expects Colonels Burr and Troup will make his suite to the October
court, where he hopes to usher them, with all the eclat due to their
merit. He counts the weeks, which he has now reduced to five. While
the warmth of friendship animates his countenance, his heart swells
with pride at the honour of patronising two such characters. He must
not be disappointed; this must be the route, or he will believe
himself slighted. I am obliged to his zeal, as it will procure us the
pleasure of seeing you. The sight of an old acquaintance is quite a
phenomenon. I am not surprised that genuine hospitality is fled to
cottages. You will find it à la rustique chez votre amie.



Fairfield, 26th February, 1781.


Your letter of the 15th inst. pleases me. You have a heart that feels:
a heart susceptible of tender friendship. Life has not a single charm
to compare with such sensations. You know too well how to excite such
emotions. Happy for us. These expel the keenest pangs. There is no
such thing as real happiness. At best, it is but a delusion. We make
our own pleasures as we do our troubles. Friendship will heighten the
one and moderate the other.

I have been tortured with the anxiety of suspense. It has given me the
most poignant distress. It disordered my mind; at times, almost drove
me to despair. Some of my friends saw the effect, but could not
conjecture the cause. You alone could penetrate the feelings of my
heart; you alone are in possession of that evidence which will convict
me of my weakness; my want of fortitude. I dare intrust you. I feel
the influence of your friendship. To a heart like yours, this will
prove the sincerity and affection of mine. I bid adieu to camp, having
completed my business, with my thanks to our worthy commander-in-chief
for his attention to my character. The discharge he gave me equalled
my wishes and exceeded my expectations. I have enjoyed the most
rational satisfaction for three days past. I have commenced student.
Dr. Johnson has given me my plan of studies, and free access to his
library. My ambition is not great, nor my views unbounded. I shall
proportion the means to the object. If I persevere with attention, I
have something more than wishes to build upon. Nothing within the
compass of my abilities, that is justifiable, will be left untried, to
gratify my reasonable desires.

I know that your request proceeded entirely from your friendship for
me, and that you felt happy that it was in your power to oblige me. I
feel the force of your kindness, but must deny myself the pleasure of
spending some months with my friend. My time is short; age presses
upon me. Four years have been devoted to my country, for which I have
received no compensation.

It gives me pleasure to hear that your health is such that you can be
thankful for the blessing, and are in a situation to enjoy yourself in
the pursuit of your studies. My heart is sincerely interested in your
happiness. Let me know your feelings, that I may know how to refine
mine. Your friendship and letters add a continual charm to my life,
and will always please the heart and secure the affection of, yours,

With sincerity,



Albany, 5th June, 1781.

I was absent when yours of the 10th ultimo came, and therefore did not
receive it till the first inst. You may be assured will one day repent
his insolence. Uniformity of conduct and great appearance of
moderation are all that can be put in practice immediately. The maxim
of a man whom neither of us esteem very highly is excellent on this
occasion--"_Suaviter in modo, fortiter in re_." See, my dear
Theodosia, what you bring upon yourself by having once piddled at
Latin. The maxim, however, would bear sheets of comment and days of
reflection. I second the just pride of ----, in being averse to crouch
to a villain. Your letter to E. would have every influence that mine
possibly could.

These crosses are of that class which, though they may perplex for a
moment (a moment is too much), yet cannot affect our real happiness.
That mind is truly great which can bear with equanimity the trifling
and unavoidable vexations of life, and be affected only by those
events which determine our substantial bliss. Every period, and every
situation, has a portion of these trifling crosses; and those who
expect to avoid them all, or conquer them all, must be wretched
without respite. Witness -----. I am half vexed at the manner in which
you speak of what you term "the sorrows of -----." They are just of
this trifling kind. Say and think no more of them. Their impression
was momentary, and is long past.

G.'s uniformity of conduct for some time has established his
character, and crushed the malice of his enemies. He has, however,
mingled some address in his deportment--has made visits, and some acts
of civility, to his avowed enemies, by which means he has gained some
and silenced others. His whole conduct, his language, and even his
thoughts, seem to have in view the happiness of. I believe this idea
is impressed on him every hour of his life.




Albany, 21st October, 1781.


I do myself the honour to enclose you several letters, which were
intended, I believe, to introduce me to your acquaintance, perhaps to
your friendship. I am particularly unfortunate to see neither Mr.
Hobart nor yourself on the present occasion; the more so, as I find a
rule of unexpected rigour, which, if strictly adhered to, must
effectually exclude me from this bar. Mr. Judge Yates gives me reason
to hope this rule may be enlarged. If it should be deemed unadvisable
to make one of such latitude as may include me within a general
description, perhaps my particular situation may be thought to claim
particular indulgence. Before the revolution, and long before the
existence of the present rule, I had served some time with an attorney
of another state. At that period I could have availed my self of this
service; and, surely, no rule could be intended to have such
retrospect as to injure _one whose only misfortune is having
sacrificed his time, his constitution, and his fortune, to his

It would give me sensible regret were my admission to establish a
precedent which might give umbrage to the bar; but, should your
opinion accord with my wishes, with respect to the indulgence due to
my particular case, the expression of it, to any gentleman of the
profession, would doubtless remove the possibility of discontent.
Perhaps I assume a freedom which personal acquaintance only could
warrant. I beg, sir, you will ascribe it to the reliance I am taught
to place on your goodness, and the confidence with which your
character inspires even those who have no other title to your notice.

Whatever may be the success of my present designs, I shall do myself
the honour of waiting on you, and assuring you, in person, of the
respect and esteem with which I am your obedient servant,


Colonel Burr frequently impressed upon those with whom he was in the
habit of a regular correspondence, the advantage of committing to
paper daily, in the form of a journal, such thoughts or ideas as
occurred and were deemed desirable to repeat. He adopted this form in
his communications with Mrs. Prevost. The following is a specimen:--

Albany, Thursday, December 3d, 1781.

I am at length arrived at my destined haven, and, what is very unusual
for me, have been successful in several trivial circumstances, such as
getting over the ferry (which is difficult at this season), finding
temporary quarters for my chevaux without difficulty or delay. I
cannot help regarding these as harbingers of good luck. I am, however,
not fortunate in finding Judge Yates. He is from home. G. civil, but
unwell. The room promised me is not fitted; must therefore seek other
lodgings. Bon soir. Visit me in my slumbers.

Friday night, December 4th.

Till sunset I was in doubt whether I should not be obliged to leave
Albany for want of quarters. Have at length found tolerable. No price
yet fixed. Probably not less than trois piasters the week. A day
completely lost, and I, of course, in ill humour with every thing but

Saturday, December 5th.

A sick headache this whole day. I earned it by eating last night a
hearty supper of Dutch sausages, and going to bed immediately after. I
am surprised it did not operate in the way of my disorder, which was
formerly the certain consequence of every error in diet; but no
symptom of that, though I was very restless.

I took the true Indian cure for the headache. Made a light breakfast
of tea, stretched myself on a blanket before the fire, fasted till
evening, and then tea again. I thought, through the whole day, that if
you could sit by me, and stroke my head with your little hand, it
would be well; and that, when we are formally united, far from deeming
a return of this disorder un malheur, I should esteem it a fortunate
apology for a day of luxurious indulgence, which I should not
otherwise allow myself or you.

Most unexpectedly, Lewis called upon me this evening, civilly offered
me his house, and asked me to dine. I was wrong, I think, to accept
his invitation, but this did not strike me till I had engaged. Must
dine there to-morrow.

Sunday, 6th December.

This is the third day in town, and no business done. These two days
past I have been studying the second volume of Rousseau. G. is
returned. He never appeared more unlike himself. I was somehow
uncommonly stupid, and, would you believe it, even awkward. Said very
little, and that little with hesitation. You know there are days when
every thing goes against one. Paid little attention to anybody (that
little, somehow, ill timed), and received still less from them.

How could we forget Latimer? He has sung Theodosia's praise among the
southern army in terms with which her best friends must be pleased. He
has also established the character of A. Burr. Quackenbush is
determined to be civil. Says his visits will be frequent.

Yates is returned. More of him to-morrow. An old, weather-beaten lady,
Miss Depeyster, has given the whole history of Burr, and much of
Theo., but nothing unfavourable. In a place where Burr thought himself
a stranger, there is scarce any age or sex that does not, either from
in formation or acquaintance, know something of him.

I am surprised I forgot to advise you to get a Franklin fireplace.
They have not the inconvenience of stoves, are warm, save wood, and
never smoke. The cost will not be, probably, more than ten or fifteen
dollars, which will be twice saved this winter in wood and _comfort_,
and they may be moved anywhere. If you have fears about _brat_,
[Foonote: Mrs. Prevost's youngest child.] I have none. He will never
burn himself but once; and, by way of preventive, I would advise you
to do that for him. It will be put up in a few hours by anybody. I am
in doubt whether it will be best to have it in the common room or one
of the back rooms. The latter will have many advantages. You may then
have a place sacred to love, reflection, and books. This, however, as
you find best; but that you have one I am determined, unless you can
give some better reason against it than I at present know of. Indeed,
I would wish you had two. You will get them with no trouble from the
Salisbury furnace. It is of the first importance that you suffer as
little as possible the present winter. It may, in a great measure,
determine your health ever after. I confess I have still some
transient distrusts that you set too little value on your own life and
comfort. Remember, it is not yours alone; but your letters shall
convince me. I waive the subject.

I am not certain I shall be regularly punctual in writing you in this
manner every day when I get at business; but I shall, if possible,
devote one quarter of an hour a day to you. In return, I demand one
half of an hour every day from you; more I forbid, unless on special
occasions. This half hour is to be mine, to be invariably at the same
time, and, for that purpose, fixed at an hour least liable to
interruption, and as you shall find most convenient. Mine cannot be so
regular, as I only indulge myself in it when I am fatigued with
business. The children will have each their sheet, and, at the given
hour, write, if but a single word Burr, at this half hour is to be a
kind of watchword.

Monday, 7th December.

I keep always a memorandum for you, on which, when I think of any
thing at any time of day that I wish to write, I make a short note in
a manner which no other person would understand. When I sit down to
write I have nothing to do but look at my memorandum. I would
recommend the same to you, unless you rather choose to write at the
moment when you think of any thing.

I have continually felt some apprehensions about the success of Troup
with the court. The Springs are but twenty-eight miles from Albany; I
will meet you there.

Phil. Van Rensselaer, whom I have never before seen, has been to
introduce himself, and tender his services of every kind. He is of the
most respectable and richest inhabitants.

Tuesday, 8th December.

No place yet; but, that time need not be lost, I have been looking
over Rousseau's 4th volume. I imagine ----- gathered thence his
sentiments on the subject of jealousy. If so, he has grossly mistaken
the ideas of Rousseau. Do you discover a symptom of it? Far otherwise.
You see only confidence and love. That jealousy for which you are an
advocate, he condemns as appertaining to brutes and sensualists.
Discard, I beseech you, ideas so degrading to true love. I am
mortified with the reflection that they were ever yours.

I think ----- must have taken pains to have overlooked the following
paragraph, when, in enumerating the duties of a woman towards a lover
or husband, he makes it principally to consist "in respecting
themselves, in order to acquire respect. How delightful are these
privileges! How respectable are they! how cordially do men prize them,
when a woman knows how to render them estimable." I fear ----- will be
convinced of this but too late. I am glad to find, however, that the
idea so often urged (in vain) by me, is not a mere vagary of my own
brain, but is supported by so good authority.

Wednesday, 9th December.

I have this day made a feint at law. But, were my life at stake, it
could not command my attention.

Thursday, 10th December.

We have about twelve or fourteen inches of snow. When you read my
letters I wish you would make minutes at the time of such facts as
require an answer; for, if you trust your memory till the time of
writing, you will omit half you would otherwise say.

Friday, 11th December.

I really wish much to know the conduct of -----. It is, however, more
curiosity than anxiety. It would be childish to build any part of
one's happiness on a basis so unstable.

The Van Rensselaer before mentioned, and henceforth to be designated
by _Ll_., proves to be a phenomenon of goodness and (can you believe
it) even tenderness. Tenderness, I hear you cry, in a Hollandois! But
hold your injustice; the character and fine heart of Van Rensselaer
will, I think, in future, remove your prejudice, especially when you
add to this his marked attention and civility.

Saturday, 12th December.

Van Rensselaer finds fault with my quarters, which, indeed, are far
removed from elegance, and, in some respects, from convenience. He
insists that I suffer him to provide me better.

I have not hitherto had an hour of Yates. His reasons, however, have
been good. On Monday we are to mangle law.

Sunday, 13th December.

Van Rensselaer has succeeded perfectly to my wish. I am with two
maidens, aunts of his, obliging and (incredible!!) good-natured. The
very paragon of neatness. Not an article of furniture, even to a
teakettle, that would soil a muslin handkerchief. I have two upper
rooms. I was interrupted at the line above, and cannot now, for my
life, recollect what I was intending to write. I leave it, however, to
plague you as it has done me.

Monday, 14th December.

I really fear Yates is playing the fool with me. Still evasive, though
plausibly so. I have just had an interview. To-morrow I must and will
come to a positive eclaircissement.

I am determined, in future, when doubt arises in my mind whether I
shall write a thing or not, invariably to write it. You recollect
-----'s advising that Carlos [3] should learn the violin.

G. was unkind enough to remind him that he was formerly opposed to
that opinion. There was a degree of insult in this reproach of which I
did not think G. capable. I truly believe he did not reflect on the
tendency of it. I do not remember that he is apt to take such unfair
advantage of his friends. Happy they who can make improvement of each
other's errors. The necessary, but dear-bought knowledge of
experience, is earned at double cost by those who reap alone.

Since I left you, I have not taken pen in hand without intending to
write you. I am happy in having done it, for I now feel perfectly

Tuesday, 15th December.

Yesterday was partly a day of business. The evening wholly and
advantageously so. This day has been rather a feint. Yates engaged. I
beg ten thousand pardons of Miss Depeyster; she is our warm friend and
advocate. One Bogart, at Tappan, is the scoundrel.

Wednesday, 16th December.

I perceive this letter-writing will not answer; though I write very
little, it is still half my business; for, whenever I find myself
either at a loss what to do, or any how discomposed or dull, I fly to
these sheets, and even if I do not write, I ponder upon it, and in
this way sacrifice many hours without reflecting that time passes
away. Yates still backward, but the day tolerably spent.

I have also been busy in fixing a Franklin fireplace for myself. I
shall have it completed to-morrow. I am resolved you shall have one or
two of them. You have no idea of their convenience, and you can at any
time remove them.

I expect to despatch Carlos to-morrow. I think I have already
mentioned that I wrote you from Kinderhook, and also this week by
Colonel Lewis, enclosed to our friend at Sharon.

An engagement of business to-day and this evening with Yates, prevents
me preparing for Carlos as I expected.



1. The lady of the Hon. Stephen Van Rensselaer

2. The sons of Mrs. Prevost, Frederick and John B. The latter was
Judge Prevost, of Louisiana. Mrs. Prevost was unable to expend such a
sum on these young gentlemen. it was a means adopted by Colonel Burr
delicately to assist, from his own purse, a desponding son of science.
Similar instances of his liberality, in the course of his life, were

3. A negro boy belonging to Colonel Burr.


In the autumn of 1781, as may be seen by the preceding correspondence,
Colonel Burr was in Albany, preparing himself for admission to the
bar. Judge Yates rendered him essential service on the occasion. His
friendship and kindness were appreciated, and gratefully recollected.
At that time Chief-justice Richard Morris, Robert Yates, and John
Sloss Hobart composed the bench of the Supreme Court of the State of
New-York. All these gentlemen were friendly to Burr, and treated him
with the utmost courtesy; but for Judge Yates he entertained, during
the continuance of his life, the most profound respect and veneration.

By the rules of the court it was required that candidates for
admission should have pursued a course of legal studies not less than
three years previous to presenting themselves for examination. Colonel
Burr applied to the court to dispense with this rule in his case. The
application was opposed with great zeal by all the members of the bar;
and, as no counsellor would make the necessary motion on the subject,
Burr was not only compelled to do it himself, but to argue the
question with the ablest of the profession.

After hearing the argument, the court determined that, as he had been
employed in the service of his country, when he might, under other
circumstances, have been a law-student, they would dispense with the
rigour of the rule so far as it applied to the period of study; but
that no indulgence would be granted in reference to the necessary
qualifications. In pursuance of this decision he underwent a severe
and critical examination by some of the most eminent members of the
bar, who were anxious for his rejection. The examination, however,
resulted in a triumphant admission that the candidate was duly
qualified to practise; and he was accordingly licensed as an attorney,
on the 19th day of January, 1782. And at "a supreme court of
judicature, held for the State of New-York, at the City Hall of the
city of Albany, on the 17th day of April, 1782, Aaron Burr having, on
examination, been found of competent ability and learning to practise
as counsellor," it was ordered that he be accordingly admitted.

Soon after Colonel Burr commenced the practice of law in the city of
Albany, he invited his friend and brother soldier, Major W. Popham, to
join him, and pursue a course of legal studies. This invitation was
given with his accustomed kindness. About the period of Burr's
marriage, Major Popham replies.


Fishkill, August 16th, 1782

Yesterday I was accidentally favoured with your friendly letter of the
3d of May, from Litchfield, which was peculiarly agreeable, as it
contained the first official accounts I have had of you since my
leaving Albany, and dispelled a train of gloomy reflections which your
supposed long silence had suggested.

The approbation you have given of my conduct, in an affair in which
you have so generously interested yourself, is very flattering. A
detail of the circumstances which rendered it necessary to postpone
the prosecution of my intended plan, would be too prolix for the
subject of a letter. They would not present one pleasing reflection;
and I love you too well to give you pain. Suspend, therefore, your
curiosity and your opinion, until the duties of the field permit me to
see you, when you shall be satisfied.

I hope the alterations you have made in your plan of life may equal
your most sanguine wishes. I am pleased that you have taken a house in
Albany, and sincerely congratulate you on an event that promises you
so much happiness. May you long enjoy all the blessings which can flow
from that happy state, for which Heaven has so remarkably designed

But why am I requested to "_say nothing about obligations_," while you
continue to load me with new ones? Or, why should I be denied the
common privilege of every liberal mind, that of acknowledging the
obligation which I have not the power of cancelling? Yes, my friend,
your generous offer claims my warmest thanks; but the very principle
which excites my gratitude forbids me to accept it. Dr. L informs me
you have written twice to me. One of the letters is lost. Will you
speedily supply the deficiency? If you can spare an hour from
business, retirement, or love, let me entreat you to devote it to your
friend. I cannot tell you how much I long to hear from you. Adieu.

Yours sincerely,


To Mrs. Prevost.

Albany, December 23d, 1781.

My dear Theodosia is now happy by the arrival of Carlos. This was not
wishing you a happy Christmas, but actually making it so. Let all our
compliments be henceforth practical. The language of the world sounds
fulsome to tastes refined by the sweets of affection.

I see mingle in the transports of the evening the frantic little
Bartow. [2] Too eager to embrace the bliss he has in prospect;
frustrating his own purposes by inconsiderate haste; misplacing every
thing, and undoing what he meant to do. It will only confuse you.
Nothing better can be done than to tie him, in order to expedite his
own business. That you might not be cheerful alone, I have obeyed the
orders of your heart (for you cannot, even at this distance, conceal
them) by a determination to take a social, friendly supper with Van

You wrote me too much by Dom. I hope it was not from a fear that I
should be dissatisfied with less. It is, I confess, rather singular to
find fault with the quantity, when matter and manner are so
delightful. You must, however, deal less in sentiments and more in
ideas. Indeed, in the letter in answer to my last, you will need to be
particularly attentive to this injunction. I think constantly of the
approaching change in our affairs, and what it demands. Do not let us,
like children, be so taken with the prospect as to lose sight of the

Remember to write me facts and ideas, and don't torment me with
compliments, or yourself with sentiments to which I am already no
stranger. Write but little, and very little at once. I do not know for
what reason, Theodosia, but I cannot feel my usual anxiety about your
health, though I know you to be ill, and dangerously so. One reason
is, that I have more belief in your attention to yourself.

Your idea about the water was most delightful. It kept me awake a
whole night, and led to a train of thoughts and sensations which
cannot be described. Indeed, the whole of your letter was marked with
a degree of confidence and reliance which augurs every thing that is
good. The French letter was truly elegant, as also that enclosed in
compliance with my request.

If Reeves has received the money upon the order I gave him, he may
send me by Carlos about twenty-five guineas, if he can spare so much
of it. I am in no present want.

Pardon me for not answering your last. My mind is so engrossed by new
views and expectations, that I cannot disengage it. I have not, these
five days past, slept more than _two hours_ a night, and yet feel
refreshed and well. Your presentiments of my illness on a certain
evening were wide from truth: believe me, you have no talent that way.
Leave it to others.

I think, if you keep Carlos two nights, it will serve; but keep him
longer rather than fatigue yourself. Adieu.


On the 2d of July, 1782, Colonel Burr was married to Mrs. Theodosia
Prevost. In April preceding he had entered into the practice of the
law in the city of Albany. His attention to business was unremitted.
In consequence, he soon found himself crowded with clients from every
quarter of the state. During his residence in Albany, his mind was
exclusively engrossed with his profession and his family. In the
education of Mrs. Burr's children by her first husband he took a deep
interest. Neither labour nor expense was regarded. It was his wish
that they should be accomplished, as well as educated men.

The preliminary treaty of peace having been signed, Colonel Burr
resolved to remove his family to the city of New-York so soon as the
British should evacuate it. Here he anticipated (and in this he was
not disappointed) an extensive practice. On the 20th of November,
1781, the legislature of the State of New-York passed an act
disqualifying from practice, in the courts of the state, all
"attorneys, solicitors, and counsellors at law," who could not produce
satisfactory certificates, showing their attachment and devotion to
the whig cause during the then pending war with Great Britain. This
act was in full force at the peace of 1783, and remained so, without
any attempt to modify it, until March, 1785, when a bill was
introduced into the legislature to repeal certain sections of it, so
far as they operated upon individuals therein named. The bill was
lost. But, on the 4th of April, 1786, the restriction thus imposed on
the tory lawyers was removed by an act of the legislature.

The law of 1781, previous to its repeal, had operated most favourably
for the Whig lawyers. Those of talents and standing, such as Colonel
Burr and others, had obtained a run of business which enabled them to
compete with the most profound of their tory rivals.

It was supposed that the British troops would evacuate the city of
New-York in the spring or early in the summer of 1783; but they
remained until the 25th of November of that year. Colonel Burr applied
to his friend, Thomas Bartow, to procure him a house for the
accommodation of his family, which he accordingly did.


New-York, April 16th, 1783


I received your agreeable favour a few days ago, and am happy to
congratulate you on the establishment of a peace: hope I shall soon
have the pleasure of seeing you in town. I have procured you a good
house in Maiden-lane, at the rate of two hundred pounds a year. The
rent to commence when the troops leave the city. Doctor Brown can
inform you more particulars about it, as he went with me to view it.
Before I engaged this house, I consulted Mrs. Clark She proposed her
house in Broadway, but could not get the tenant out, so that she gave
her consent to this.

Very respectfully yours,



Albany, 25th March, 1783.

Some think absence tends to increase affection; the greater part that
it wears it away. I believe neither, but that it only tends to prove
how far the heart is capable of loving; or rather, whether it is real
or imaginary. When the latter, every object that amuses, blots out the
idea of the absent, we find that they are not so necessary to our
happiness as we had fancied. But when that love is real, what can
amuse, what engage the mind, to banish, for a single instant, the
object of its delight? It hates every necessity that wrests it an
instant from the contemplation of its beauties; its virtues are ever
presenting themselves to increase our regret, and suggest innumerable
fears for its safety. Such have been the occupations of this day. I
tremble at every noise: new apprehensions are ever alarming me. Every
tender sensation is awake to thee.

26th March.

My extreme anxiety operated severely upon my health. I have not had so
ill a turn in some months. The remedies of S. prove but little more
efficacious than those of G. I do without either. Various are the
conjectures respecting your errand. All think me of the party. My
spirits need, my heart grows impatient for your return. Every
countenance speaks for you, while Theodosia grieves.

27th March.

My health is rather better. I have just this moment heard of General
Schuyler's going; have only time to tell you I rejoice at the
enclosed. It will save your hurry and anxiety Popham has written and
engaged for your attendance.


When the British were about to evacuate the city of New-York, and it
was ascertained that Colonel Burr had made the necessary arrangements
to settle there, his whig friends became anxious that he should
receive an appointment. Among those who urged this measure was Judge
Hobart, who had ever entertained an exalted opinion of his talents and
business habits. As soon as Colonel Burr was informed of the friendly
views entertained by the judge, he wrote him, expressing his
unwillingness to be considered a competitor with any gentleman for an
appointment. To this he received an answer.


June 17th, 1783.


Your favour has been received. However pure your views may be, I fear
you must be contented with the character of a private gentleman so
long as you determine to avoid a competition; for I am told there are
long lists of applicants for all the offices in the city and county of

With great respect, yours,



Albany, August 14th, 1783.

How unfortunate, my dearest Aaron, is our present separation. I never
shall have resolution to consent to another. We must not be guided by
others. We are certainly formed of different materials; and our
undertakings must coincide with them.

A few hours after I wrote you by Colonel Lewis, our sweet infant [3]
was taken ill, very ill. My mind and spirits have been on the rack
from that moment to this. When she sleeps, I watch anxiously; when she
wakes, anxious fears accompany every motion. I talked of my love
towards her, but I knew it not till put to this unhappy test. I know
not whether to give her medicine or withhold it: doubt and terror are
the only sensations of which I am sensible. She has slept better last
night, and appears more lively this morning, than since her illness.
This has induced me to postpone an express to you, which I have had in
readiness since yesterday. If this meets you, I need not dwell upon my
wish. I will only put an injunction on your riding so fast, or in the
heat, or dew. Remember your presence is to support, to console your
Theo., perhaps to rejoice with her at the restoration of our
much-loved child. Let us encourage this hope; encourage it, at least,
till you see me, which I flatter myself will be before this can reach
you. Some kind spirit will whisper to my Aaron how much his tender
attention is wanted to support his Theo.: how much his love is
necessary to give her that fortitude, that resolution, which nature
has denied her but through his medium. Adieu.



New-York, March 22d, 1784.

My Aaron had scarce quitted the door when I regretted my passiveness.
Why did I consent to his departure? Can interest repay the sacrifice?
can aught on earth compensate for his presence? Why did I hesitate to
decide? Ten thousand fears await me. What thought suggested my assent?
The anxiety he might suffer were he to meet with obstacles to raising
the sum required; should his views be frustrated for want of the
precaution this journey might secure; his mortification; mine, at not
having the power to relieve him, were arguments that silenced my
longing wish to hold him near me; near me for ever. My Aaron, dark is
the hour that separates my soul from itself.

Thus pensive, surrounded with gloom, thy Theo. sat, bewailing thy
departure. Every breath of wind whistled terror; every noise at the
door was mingled with hope of thy return, and fear of thy
perseverance, when Brown arrived with the word--_embarked_--the wind
high, the water rough. Heaven protect my Aaron; preserve him, restore
him to his adoring mistress. A tedious hour elapsed, when our son was
the joyful messenger of thy safe landing at Paulus Hook.

Stiff with cold, how must his papa have fared? Yet, grateful for his
safety, I blessed my God. I envied the ground which bore my pilgrim. I
pursued each footstep. Love engrossed his mind; his last adieu to
Bartow was the most persuasive token--"Wait till I reach the opposite
shore, that you may bear the glad tidings to your trembling mother."
O, Aaron, how I thank thee! Love in all its delirium hovers about me;
like opium, it lulls me to soft repose! Sweet serenity speaks, 'tis my
Aaron's spirit presides. Surrounding objects check my visionary charm.
I fly to my room and give the day to thee.



Albany, October 29th, 1784.

Mr. Watts this instant acquaints me that he is just setting off for
New-York. I run from court to waft you a memorandum of affection. I
have been remarkably well; was fortunate in my journey. The trial of
Livingston and Hoffman is now arguing. It began on Thursday of last
week, and will not conclude till to-night. No other business has been
or will be done this term. All this cursed long absence for nothing.

I cannot leave this till Sunday or Monday. Then to Westchester Court.
The return to joy and Theo. cannot be till Thursday or Friday, and
that depending on my business in Westchester. Miss Yates is on her
passage to New-York to spend eight or ten days.

I read your memorandum ten times a day, and observed it as religiously
as ever monk did his devotion. Yesterday I burnt it. To me it seemed
like sacrilege.

I fear I did not caution you enough against sleeping in the new house.
For Heaven's sake (or rather for my sake), don't think of it till I
come and judge. I left you an immensity of trouble, which I fear has
not promoted your health. Kiss our dear little flock for me. Adieu.


Late in the autumn of 1783 Colonel Burr removed from Albany into the
city of New-York. In the spring of 1784 he was elected a member of the
state legislature. At that early period political parties had not
assumed either form or shape. The simple and intelligible terms of
whip and tory were universally used. Colonel Burr's mind was occupied
with his professional business. The legislature met in the city of
New-York. He attended two sessions as a member. The first commenced on
the 12th of October, 1784. He was in the house only a small portion of
the time, and never interfered in what might be considered the
ordinary business of the day. On great questions he took an active and
decided part. His character for sagacity, discrimination, and
firmness, was well established; and he would, therefore, have
possessed great influence, if such had been his object; but his
ambition, at this time, was not political; or, if it was, he had
determined to smother it "until a more convenient season."

The second session while he was a member commenced on the 27th of
January, 1785. During this he was more attentive than at the preceding
session, but governed by the same system of policy, acting only when
great and important questions were under consideration. On the 14th of
February a joint committee of the two houses was appointed to revise
the laws of the state. Colonel Burr was chairman of the committee on
the part of the house. He introduced, on leave granted him, several
important bills. One in relation to the public lands, another relative
to the titles to real estate, &c. On the 25th of February a bill was
pending for the gradual abolition of slavery within the State of
New-York. It provided that all born after its passage should be born
free. Burr moved to amend, and proposed to insert a provision, that
slavery should be entirely abolished after a day specified. His
amendment being lost, he voted for the bill as reported. He was a
member of the legislature, and supported the law in 1799, by which,
ultimately, slavery within the state was abolished.

The question upon which he took the most prominent part related to an
application of some tradesmen and mechanics in the city of New-York
for an act of incorporation. The advocates of this bill had united
their interest with certain land speculators, and by these means it
was supposed both bills might be carried through the legislature.
Both, however, failed. Colonel Burr was the only member from the city
of New-York that opposed what was termed the Mechanics' Bill. His
opposition produced so much feeling and excitement, that a man of less
firmness would have been driven from his course. Riots were
threatened, and by many it was supposed his house would be assaulted.
His friends volunteered their services to protect him, but he declined
receiving their aid, averring that he had no fears of any violation of
the laws by men who had made such sacrifices as the whigs had made for
the right of self-government, and that he could and would protect
himself, if, contrary to his expectations, it should become necessary.
That he was prepared to resist any attack was universally known, but
none was attempted, and perhaps for that reason.

The Mechanics' Bill passed the legislature late in February, and was
sent to the Council of Revision. At that time the chancellor and the
judges of the Supreme Court formed a Council of Revision, and had a
qualified negative on all bills. If they considered a bill
unconstitutional, they returned it to the house in which it
originated, with their objections; after which, if it received the
vote of two thirds of both houses, it became a law. This bill was
returned on the 9th of March by the council, with their objections,
and, two thirds not voting in favour, it was lost. These objections,
in substance, were precisely what had been urged against it by Colonel
Burr on the floor of the assembly. The petitioners were forty-three in
number. The bill gave them unlimited powers in some particulars. It
did not incorporate their successors, only so far as they pleased to
admit them. They might hold landed estate in perpetuity to an
unlimited amount, provided their _income_ did exceed fifteen hundred
pounds beyond their _outgoings_. Their by-laws were to be approved by
the city corporation; thus, by rendering the one dependant on the
other, either the mechanics would influence the magistrates, and the
powers of the corporation of the city and county of New-York be made,
at some future day, instruments of monopoly and oppression; or, which
was more probable, the corporation of the city and county of New-York
obtain a controlling power over the mechanics, and thus add to the
extensive influence which that corporation already enjoyed, thereby
rendering it dangerous to the political freedom of the people. Such
were some of the objections entertained and urged by Colonel Burr
against this bill. The great body of the community were prepared to
sustain him; and, before the succeeding session of the legislature,
the intelligent among the mechanics were so well satisfied with the
correctness of his views, that a similar application was never
afterward made,

From the year 1785 until the year 1788, Colonel Burr was unknown as a
politician. His practice was extensive and lucrative. His domestic
relations seemed to occupy all his leisure time. His family was large,
and to direct the education of his children was to him the most
delightful employment. His zeal for their improvement is evinced in
some of the preceding letters. His own health was precarious, while
that of Mrs. Burr caused him constant alarm and apprehension. He had
but one child, a daughter; but the children of his wife by her first
husband (Colonel Prevost) he reared as his own, and with all the
tenderness of an affectionate father. The subjoined letters present
Mrs. Burr in a most estimable point of view, while they cast some
light upon Colonel Burr's character as a parent and a husband. They
cannot be read, it is believed, by even the giddy and the thoughtless
without feeling an interest in the destiny of their writers.

In the office of Colonel Burr, as students, were his two stepsons,
Frederick and John Bartow. When absent from home on professional or
other business, one of them frequently accompanied him as an
amanuensis. On these occasions all his instructions in relation to
lawsuits in which he was employed as counsel, or papers connected
therewith, were communicated to the attorney or clerk in the office
through Mrs. Burr. She appeared to be held responsible for the
punctual and prompt performance of any duty required of them. To him
she was indeed a helpmate; for she not only had charge of his domestic
concerns, but was counselled with, and intimately associated in, all
his business transactions.


Princeton, April, 1785.

I had just embarked in the stage at Paulus Hook when I learned that it
went no further than Newark; so that, after being three hours close
packed with rabble, I trudged an hour more to find a conveyance to
Elizabethtown, where I arrived at eight o'clock, chilled, fatigued,
and with a surly headache. A comfortable bed and tea made amends.

We arrived here at six o'clock this evening. I am fortunate in
company, and find the travelling much less fatiguing than I imagined.
Remind Frederick of the business with Platt. Write me by the nest
post, and by every stage. If I should even have left Philadelphia, I
shall meet the letters. Speak of Harriet, and sur tout des trois
Theo's. Adieu.



Philadelphia, April, Saturday, 1785.

I did not write you on Friday, as promised in my letter from
Princeton, for which I will apologize when we meet. I arrived here in
good plight on Friday evening. Augustine came down about noon on
Saturday. We have made some satisfactory progress in our business.
Seeing the great men of other countries puts me in more conceit of
those of my own.

I shall be released on Tuesday evening, which will permit me to see
thee on Thursday morning. Mr. Colt will inform you about every thing.
Unfortunately, a gentleman with whom part of our business is has left
town. If he should return to-morrow morning, I shall be the happiest
of swains on Wednesday morning. I am very minute in these
calculations, because I make them very often. Does Theodosia employ
herself ever in the same way?

I have been to twenty places to find something to please you, but can
see nothing that answers my wishes; you will therefore, I fear, only

Your affectionate



New-York, April, Saturday, 1785.

I persuade myself this is the last day you spend in Philadelphia. That
to-morrow's stage will bring you to Elizabethtown; that Tuesday
morning you will breakfast with those who pass the tedious hours
regretting your absence, and counting time till you return. Even
little Theo. gives up her place on mamma's lap to tell dear
papa--"come home." Tell Augustine he does not know how much he owes
me. 'Tis a sacrifice I would not make to any human being but himself,
nor even to him again. It is the last time of my life I submit to your
absence, except from necessity to the calls of your profession. All is
well at home. Ireson gone on his intended journey. Morris very little
here. The boys very attentive and industrious; much more so for being
alone. Not a loud word spoken by the servants. All, in silent
expectation, await the return of their much-loved lord; but _all
faintly_ when compared to thy



Since writing to you last evening, every thing has conspired to harass
and delay me. I was really in hopes of surprising you on Wednesday
morning; but am now most unfortunately and cruelly detained here till
to-morrow evening; shall therefore, with the usual luck of stages,
embrace you on Thursday morning.

I have been walking, in the course of this day, hunting offices,
records, &c., &c., above eight hours, and am not fatigued. I must
really be very robust. Thine,



Albany, April, 1785.

I arrived here on Tuesday evening very late, though little fatigued.
Wednesday afternoon I went with Sill to Bethlehem (Nichols), drank
tea, supped, and breakfasted. I am pleased with our friend's choice,
of which more next Tuesday evening. I am vexed you were not of my
party here--that we did not charter a sloop. I have planned a
_circuit_ with you to Long Island, with a number of pleasant &c.s,
which are also reserved to a happier moment.

I shall succeed in all Mrs. Clarke's business except that of the
lands, in which I hope little.

I feel impatient, and almost angry, that I have received no letter
from you, though I really do not know of any opportunity by which you
could have written; but it seems an endless while to wait till
Saturday night before I can hear from you. How convenient would a
little of the phlegm of _this region_ be upon such occasions as these!
I fear very much for our dear petite. I tell every one who asks me
that both she and you are well, because I abhor the cold, uninterested
inquiries, which I know would be made if I should answer otherwise. Do
you want the pity of such? Those you thought your very good friends
here have forgotten you.

Mademoiselle Y. is very civil. Are the Wadsworths with you? Have you
not been tormented with some embarrassments which I wickedly left you
to struggle with? I hope you don't believe the epithet. But why these
questions, to which I can receive no answer but in person? I
nevertheless fondly persuade myself that I shall receive answers to
them all, and many more about yourself, which I have in mind,
notwithstanding you will not have seen this. There is such a sympathy
in our ideas and feelings, that you can't but know what will most
interest me.

Give Johnstone the enclosed memorandum; or, if he has gone home, to
Bartow; the business is of importance, and admits of no delay.

Affectionately adieu,



Chester, Friday, May, 1785.

I arrived here about eleven o'clock this forenoon, with little
fatigue, my horse being an excellent one. Appearances are hostile;
they talk of twenty or twenty-five days at least. I believe I shall
not hold out so long. The commissioners are met, but not all the
parties, so that the business is not yet begun. The gentlemen from
Albany are not yet arrived or heard of. We shall probably do nothing
till they come. I have comfortable clean quarters.

Tell one of the boys to send me some supreme court seals; about six. I
forgot them. Write me what calls are made at the office for me.
Distribute my love. Let each of the children write me what they do.
You may certainly find some opportunity. Adieu.



Chester, May, 1785.

I strayed this morning for an hour or two in the woods, where I lay on
a rock to enjoy the wild retreat. The cheerfullness of all around me
led me to ask why all animated nature enjoyed its being but man? Why
man alone is discontented, anxious--sacrificing the present to idle
expectations;--expectations which, if answered, are in like manner
sacrificed. Never enjoying, always hoping? Answer, _tu mihi magna
Apollo_. I would moralize, but time--and my companions are coming in.
Let me hear of your health. Avoid all fatigue. Judge Yates proposes to
come down with me. Quoi faire?

My good landlady is out of tea, and begs me to send for a pound. Put
it up very well. I am in better health than spirits. Adieu.



New-York, May, 1785.

I am vexed that I did not inquire your route more particularly. I
cannot trace you in imagination, nor find your spirit when at rest;
nor dare I count the hours to your return. They are still too
numerous, and add to my impatience. I expect my reward in the health
you acquire. If it should prove otherwise, how I shall hate my
acquiescence to your departure. I anticipate good or evil as my
spirits rise or fall; but I know no medium; my mind cannot reach that
stage of indifference. I fancy all my actions directed by you; this
tends to spur my industry, and give calm to my leisure.

The family as you left it. Bartow never quits the office, and is
perfectly obliging. Your dear little daughter seeks you twenty times a
day; calls you to your meals, and will not suffer your chair to be
filled by any of the family.

Judge Hobart called here yesterday; says you are absent for a month. I
do not admit that among possibilities, and therefore am not alarmed. I
feel obliged to Mr. Wickham for his delay, though I dare not give
scope to my pen; my heart dictates too freely. O, my Aaron! how many
tender, grateful things rush to my mind in this moment; how much
fortitude do I summon to suppress them! You will do justice to their
silence; to the inexpressible affection of your _plus tendre amie_.

Bartow has been to the surveyor-general; he cannot inform him the
boundaries of those lots for J. W. There is no map of them but one in



Chester, May, 1785.

I joined the commissioners and parties in the woods, near this place,
on Wednesday noon; found the weather severe, and roads bad. Have,
since my arrival, been following the commissioners in their surveys.
Nothing transpires from which we can conjecture their intentions.

This morning came your kind, your affectionate, your truly welcome
letter of Monday evening. Where did it loiter so long? Nothing in my
absence is so flattering to me as your health and cheerfullness. I
then contemplate nothing so eagerly as my return; amuse myself with
ideas of my own happiness, and dwell on the sweet domestic joys which
I fancy prepared for me.

Nothing is so unfriendly to every species of enjoyment as melancholy.
Gloom, however dressed, however caused, is incompatible with
friendship. They cannot have place in the mind at the same time. It is
the secret, the malignant foe of sentiment and love. Adieu.



New-York, May, 1785.

Your dear letter was handed me this day, at a moment which, if
possible, increased its value. I have a little fever hanging about me,
which tends to depress my spirits for the time. Your moralizing
changed my dulness to a pleasing melancholy. I am mortified at the
interruption it met, and impatient to renew the theme; to renew it in
a more pleasing manner than even your letters afford. When my health
is ill, I find your absence insupportable; every evil haunts me. It is
the last that must take place till term; _that_ I must submit to. I am
pleased with your account of your health and spirits; they are both as
I wish.

When you write again, speak of your return. The uncertainty makes it
more irksome. The company you speak of will be as welcome as any at
this juncture; but my health and mind seem to require the calm
recreation of friendly sympathy; the heart that has long been united
to mine by the tenderest esteem and confidence, who has made every
little anxiety its own, to whom I can speak without reserve every
imaginary wo, and whose kind consolation shall appease those miseries
nature has imposed. But whatever present inconveniences may arise, I
submit to them with perfect resignation, rather than, even in idea, to
expect the one mentioned by you when last at home. My mind is
impressed with a perfect dread of all of that kind. We never can have
one to give us so little trouble as E. W., and yet we found it great.
We must avoid all such invitations, for the sacrifice on my part is
too great.

Friday morning.

I have passed a most tedious night. I went to bed much indisposed. M.
absent; mamma also. Ten thousand anxieties surrounded me till three,
when I fell asleep; waked at six, much refreshed, and in better health
than I could possibly have expected. I flatter myself your task will
end sooner than you expected. Mr. Marvin calls for my letter this
morning, which will be delivered with a pound of green tea I have
purchased for your landlady at two dollars. He has called. I am
hurried. Ten thousand loves

_Toujours la vôtre_.



Jane's in the Mountains, May, 1785.

I wrote my dear Theodosia a long letter of business and nonsense last
evening from Chester. I am now about twelve miles nearer to you, and
shall sleep to-night within thirty-five miles (only six hours' ride),
and shall to-morrow return surlily to Chester.

Our cavalcade is most fortunately composed. Some who abhor fatigue,
others who admire good fare, by which by which combination we ride
slow and live well. We have halted here half an hour to lounge and
take a luncheon. Of the last, I partook reasonably. The time which
others devote to the former, I devote (of right) to you, and thus
lounge with peculiar glee.

By return of Mr. Smith (who is obliging enough to deliver this), I
expect much longer letters from our lazy flock. By the next
opportunity I determine not to write you, but some others who deserve
more attention than I fear they will think I mean to give them.

The girls must give me a history of their time, from rising to night.
The boys any thing which interests them, and which, of course, will
interest me. Are there any, or very pressing calls at the office? The
word is given to mount. I shall have time to seal this and overtake
them. Kiss for me those who love me.



New-York, April, 1785.

Mrs. Wickham just called to tell me of an opportunity to Chester. How
joyfully I embrace it. I had a most insupportable impatience to
communicate to you my gratitude and thanks for your last visit. It was
a cordial to my health and spirits; a balm to my soul. My mind is
flushed with pleasing hopes. Ten thousand tender thoughts rush to my
pen; but the bearer may prove faithless. I will suppress them to a
happier moment, and anticipate the dear indulgence.

The family as you left it. Thy Theodosia's health and spirits increase
daily. Bartow's industry and utility are striking to the family and
strangers. Johnstone returned yesterday. Your letter was as eagerly
read as though I had not seen you. Write when you have leisure; if it
does not reach me immediately, it will serve to divert some tedious
moment in a future absence; even when you are at home, engrossed by
business, I frequently find a singular pleasure in perusing those
testimonies of affection.

I find I am continually speaking of myself. I can only account for it
from my Aaron having persuaded me 'tis his favourite subject, and the
extreme desire I have to please him induces me to pursue it. I take no
walks but up one stairs and down the other. The situation of my house
will not admit of my seeing many visitors. I hope some arrangement
will be accomplished by the next week.

A packet from Sill. He writes like a happy man--not the happy man of a
day, or I am much deceived in him. She is certainly to be ranked among
the fortunate. I wish she may be sensible of her lot.

I have fixed the time of seeing you. Till Saturday I will hope the
best. I cannot extend my calculations beyond it; four days of your
absence is an age to come. My compliments to your chum, and who else
you please. _Pense avec tendresse de la vôtre_.



Chester, May 12, 1785.

Nothing could be more welcome than your affectionate letters by Mr.
Wickham. They met me on Tuesday evening, on our return from a tour
through the mountains. I was for some hours transported home, to
partake of that domestic tranquillity which you so feelingly paint.
Continue to write if opportunity presents. They will cheer me in these
rustic regions. If not, they will not be lost.

This being a rainy day, we have kept within doors. Tomorrow, if fair,
we resume the business of climbing mountains, which will probably be
our employment till about the middle of next week. After which a week
more (at most) will finish the controversy.

Pay Moore nothing till I return, unless you see cause. Let him
rough-cast, if he is confident of succeeding; but tell him I will not
pay him till I am convinced it will bear weather, and last.

If the sheriff of Bergen (Dey) calls for his money, I enclose a note
with a blank for the name. You must speak to either Malcom or Lente
for their assistance, unless you can think of something more
convenient, putting the matter in such light as your address shall
think proper. If for any reasons you should prefer to make use of
Popham's name, do it. The person whose name is put in the note must
endorse it, and the note be dated. Let one of the boys go over to Mrs.
Baldwin for the certificate of the balance of the account, which, if
obtained, a deduction must be made accordingly. Perhaps, by paying
three or four hundred pounds, Mr. Morris will consent to wait my
return. Perhaps, at your instance, he will wait that time without any
payment. All which is humbly submitted. I enclose two notes, that you
may take your choice.

Mr. Watrous's business respecting the land is not very material. If it
should have failed, you may inform him that I have long since filed a
caveat which will cover his claim.

I bear the fatigues of our business to admiration. Have great
appetite, and sleep sound about ten hours a night. I am already as
black as a Shawanese. You will scarce know me if I continue this
business a few days longer. Thank our dear children for their kind
letters. But they are so afraid of tiring either me or themselves (I
suspect the latter), that they tell me few, very few, of those
interesting trifles which I want to know.

Let T. give them any new steps he pleases, but not one before the
others. If any one is behind or less apt, more pains must be taken to
keep them on a par. This I give in charge to you.

I fear you flatter me with respect to your health. You seem a little
studied on that score, which is not very natural to you when speaking
truth. But, if it is not true, it is surely your own fault. Go to bed
early, and do not fatigue your self with running about house. And upon
no account any long walks, of which you are so fond, and for which you
are so unfit. Simple diet will suit you best. Restrain all gout for
intemperance till some future time not very distant.

I do not _nor can_ promise myself all you promise me with respect to
the children. I have been too much mortified on that subject to remove
it at once.

This is the last expedition of the kind I shall ever undertake; and
ever since I have been here I have been planning ways to extricate
myself from it, but am defeated, and shall be absolutely detained
prisoner till the business is concluded. Johnstone can give you an
account of my quarters and mode of life. You haunt me daily more and
more. I really fear I shall do little justice to the business which
brought me here.

The children must pardon my not writing. I have a number of
memorandums of business to make out for Johnstone. Thank them again
for their letters, and beg them not to be so churlish.

Let one of the boys haunt Moore. But you surely can do it without
letting him vex you, even supposing he does nothing. I had much rather
that should be the case than that you should be one minute out of
humour with him.

The girls must go on with Tetard in his own way till I come, when I
will set all right.

It is already late. I must be up at sunrise. Bon soir, ma chère amie.



Chester, 19th May, 2 o'clock P. M., 1785.

We have this day begun the examination of witnesses, which, together
with the arguments, will keep us the greater part, and probably the
whole, of next week. I find myself gaining strength exceedingly since
my return from New-York, though perfectly out of humour with the
business, the distance, and the delay.

My trip to New-York has quite ruined me for business. I cannot confine
my mind to it. I am literally homesick, and think of nothing else. A
witness attending in court informs me of his going to New-York as soon
as his testimony is finished. I desert a moment to tell you that I am
wholly yours.

6 o'clock P. M., 19th May.

Since I wrote you at two o'clock our court is adjourned till nine
to-morrow. We go on briskly and in great good nature. If you were half
as punctual or as fortunate (which shall I call it?), I should
absolutely fancy myself talking with you. It would be some
indemnification for the distance and vexation. Make up in thinking of
me, and taking care of yourself, what you omit in writing. Thine at
all moments.

9 o'clock at night, 19th May.

A thousand thanks for your dear affectionate letter of Tuesday
evening. I was just sitting pensively and half complaining of your
remissness, when your letter is received and dispels every gloomy
thought. I write this from the impulse of my feelings, and in
obedience to your injunctions, having no opportunity in view.

The letters of our dear children are a feast. Every part of them is
pleasing and interesting. Le Jenne is not expected to be in New-York
for some weeks at least. I avoid the subject. I shudder at the idea of
suffering any thing to mar the happiness I promise myself.

There is no possibility of my return till the middle of next week. In
one of my letters I put it to the last of next week, but we have this
day made unexpected progress. If we are equally fortunate and equally
good-natured, we may finish Wednesday night; but this is conjecture,
and perhaps my impatience makes me too sanguine.

I broke off at the bottom of the other page to pay some attention to
those who deserve much from me (our dear children). To hear that they
are employed, that no time is absolutely wasted, is the most
flattering of any thing that can be told me of them. It ensures their
affection, or is the best evidence of it. It ensures, in its
consequences, every thing I am ambitions of in them. Endeavour to
preserve regularity of hours; it conduces exceedingly to industry.

I have just heard of a Mr. Brown who goes down by water. As I may not
have another opportunity, I hazard it by him. He promises to leave it
at old Mr. Rutherford's. Our business goes on very moderately this
morning. Witnesses all tardy. We have adjourned for want of something
to do. Melancholy and vexatious. It has given me a headache. We shall
be holden, I fear, all next week. Adieu.



Chester, 8 o'clock, 20th May, 1785.

Worse and worse. During the whole day we have not been five hours at
business. Our witnesses are so aged, and many so remote, that they
will not be in till Monday, so that, at this rate, we shall eke out
the whole of next week. I have at no time been so completely out of
patience; just now particularly, being a little churlish with my
headache, which, though not very severe, unfits me for any thing but
writing to you.

I wrote you and the whole flock last evening, and added a line to you
this morning, and sent off the packet by a Mr. Brown, who goes by
water, and promised to deliver it him-self. He has business at old Mr.
Rutherford's. If he is punctual, don't forget him in thinking of the
letters. Do say something that will make me a little more content with
this vexatious delay and imprisonment. I am prompted to write a
hundred things which I dare not, for fear I shall not find a safe
conveyance: that was particularly the case last evening and this
morning. It is perhaps fortunate, or I should spend too much time with
you in this way. I believe I do as it is. Adieu, a little while. I am
just going to prepare some hot punch.

Ten o'clock.

I have been till this minute making and sipping punch, and with great
success. It has thrown me into a perspiration, which obliges me to go
to bed. I am very illy reconciled to leave you and bid you good-night,
but so says my hard lot.

Saturday morning, 8 o'clock.

I lay awake till after three o'clock this morning; then got up and
took a large dose of medicine. It was composed posed of laudanum,
nitre, and other savoury drugs, which procured me sleep till now: have
no headache; must eat breakfast, and away to court as fast as

Saturday Evening.

Every thing almost stands still. I begin to despair of getting away. I
am sure the whole of next week will not finish our business at the
present rate. To make it more tedious and disagreeable, some of us are
less good-humoured than at first. Not a line from you since that I
have mentioned. I can find no opportunity for this. I am too vexed to
utter one sentiment.

Sunday, 22d May.

No opportunity for this scrawl yet. I begin to be tired of seeing it,
and wish it gone for this reason; and also, because I try to persuade
myself you would be glad to receive it.

To-day we have fine scope to reflect how much better we might have
employed it, had we been active in our business last week. I find the
whole might have been finished by yesterday (if the witnesses on both
sides had been ready) as well as a month hence.

My room is a kind of rendezvous for our side: have seldom, therefore,
time either to think or write, unless at night or early in the
morning. Judge Yates concludes to give us a few days of his company,
and to accept of a room with us. The coming of Le Jeune uncertain; not
probably till fall. You will receive a pail of butter, perhaps, with
this. I have been contracting for the year.

Have you done running up and down stairs? How do you live, sleep, and
amuse yourself? I wish, if you have leisure (or, if you have not, make
it), you would read the Abbé Mably's little book on the Constitution
of the United States. St. John has it in French, which is much better
than a translation. This, you see, will save me the trouble of reading
it; and I shall receive it with much more emphasis par la bouche
d'amour. Adieu. I seal this instantly, lest I be tempted to write
more. Again adieu.



New-York, May 22d, 1785.

Your letter by Mr. Bayard was brought me on Saturday, and the first I
had received since the one by Mr. Marvin till to-day. Mr. Brown very
punctually and civilly came with your welcome packet of Thursday, nine
o'clock. It was just before dinner; the children were dispersed at
different employments. I furnished the mantelpiece with the contents
of the packet. When dinner was served up they were called. You know
the usual eagerness on this occasion. They were all seated but Bartow,
when he espied the letters; the surprise, the joy, the exclamations
exceed description. The greatest stoic would have forgot himself. A
silent tear betrayed me no _philosopher_. A most joyous repast
succeeded. We talked of our happiness, of our first of blessings, our
best of papas. I enjoyed, my Aaron, the only happiness that could
accrue from your absence. It was a momentary compensation; the only
one I ever experienced. Your letters always afford me a singular
satisfaction;--a sensation entirely my own; this was peculiarly so. It
wrought strangely on my mind and spirits. My Aaron, it was replete
with tenderness! with the most lively affection. I read and re-read,
till afraid I should get it by rote, and mingle it with common ideas;
profane the sacred pledge. No; it shall not be. I will economize the
boon. I will limit the recreation to those moments of retirement
devoted to thee. Of a sudden I found myself unusually fatigued. I
reflected on the cause, and soon found I had mounted the stairs much
oftener than I could possibly have done on any other occasion.

I am vexed with my last letter to you; 'tis impossible for me to
disguise a single feeling or thought when I am writing or conversing
with the friend of my heart. I hope you have attended only to the last
paragraph, and avoided all unnecessary anxiety for her who wishes to
be a constant source of pleasure to thee. I have been in good health
since Saturday morning. Since yesterday, unusually gay and happy;
anticipating a thousand pleasures, studying every little arrangement
that can contribute to thy comfort. This wet weather is a bar to any
essential progress. The walls are still too damp to admit of either
paint or paper. I have a bed ready for the judge; _ne vous genez pas
lâ-dessus_. I am afraid some foolish reflections in my last will
embarrass you. Your affection and tenderness has put them to flight.
"Let nothing mar the promised bliss." Thy Theo. waits with
inexpressible impatience to welcome the return of her truly beloved.
Every domestic joy shall decorate his mansion. When Aaron smiles,
shall Theo. frown? Forbid it every guardian power.

Le Jeune perplexes me no longer. I am provoked with myself for having
repeated it to you. Your dear little Theo. grows the most engaging
child you ever saw. She frequently talks of, and calls on, her dear
papa. It is impossible to see her with indifference. All moves as you
wish it. All count the passing hours till thy return. Remember, I am
in good health and spirits; that I expect the same account of yours.
To think of me affectionately is my first command; to write me so, the
second. Hasten to share the happiness of thy much loved and much



New-York, August 28th, 1785.

The enclosed was to have gone yesterday, but the intended bearer
disappointed me. Young ---- and his companions have just left us; at
tasting your Madeira he pronounced you a d----d clever fellow. Your
merit increased with the number of glasses; they went away in
good-humour with themselves and the hostess. O my love, how earnestly
I pray that our children may never be driven from your paternal
direction. Had you been at home to-day, you would have felt as fervent
in this prayer as your Theo. Our children were impressed with utter
contempt for their guest. This gave me real satisfaction.

I really believe, my dear, few parents can boast of children whose
minds are so prone to virtue. I see the reward of our assiduity with
inexpressible delight, with a gratitude few experience. My Aaron, they
have grateful hearts; some circumstances prove it, which I shall
relate to you with singular pleasure at your return. I pity A. C. from
my heart. She will feel the folly of an over zeal to accumulate.
Bartow's assiduity and faithfullness is beyond description. My health
is not worse. I have been disappointed in a horse; shall have Pharaoh
to-morrow. Frederick is particularly attentive to my health; indeed,
none of them are deficient in tenderness. All truly anxious for papa's
return; we fix Tuesday, beyond a doubt, but hope impossibilities.

I had a thousand things to write, but the idea of seeing you banishes
every other thought. I fear much the violent exertions you are obliged
to make will injure your health. Remember how dear, how important it
is to the repose, to the life of



New-York, August 29th, 1785.

As soon as Tuesday evening came, I sent repeated messages to Cape's,
who persevered in the answer of there being no letter. I slept ill;
found my health much worse in the morning; rode out; in spite of
exercise, continued ill till your dear letter was handed me. I
immediately called for refreshment, and imagined I had recovered my
health; my sensations still tell me so. Ten thousand thanks for the
best prescription that ever physician invented. I ride daily;
breakfasted with Clem. Clarke this morning, who has scarce a trait of
himself. He neither knows nor cares for anybody but his son, who is
three years and a half old, fair hair, but not handsome; much
humoured; is introduced as a pet of the first value. Aunt more in
temper than was expected. He dines here to-morrow with the two Blakes.
I felt no other compulse to notice them than your wish.

Our little daughter's health has improved beyond my expectations. Your
dear Theodosia cannot hear you spoken of without an apparent
melancholy; insomuch that her nurse is obliged to exert her invention
to divert her, and myself avoid to mention you in her presence. She
was one whole day indifferent to every thing but your name. Her
attachment is not of a common nature; though this was my opinion, I
avoided the remark, when Mr. Grant observed it to me as a singular

You see I have followed your example in speaking first of myself. I
esteemed it a real trait of your affection, a sympathy in the
feelings, the anxiety of your Theo., who had every fear for your
health; more than you would allow her to express.

The garden wall is begun. I fear the front pavement will not answer
your intention. I write you again tomorrow. Much love awaits thee.
Thine, unchangeably,



New-York, 25th September, 1785.

Your dear letter of Saturday morning has just reached me. I was
relieved, delighted, till the recollection of the storm you have since
weathered took place. How have you borne it? Ten thousand fears alarm
me. I pursued thee yesterday, through wind and rain, till eve, when,
fatigued, exhausted, shivering, thou didst reach thy haven, surrounded
with inattention, thy Theo. from thee. Thus agitated, I laid my head
upon a restless pillow, turning from side to side, when thy kindred
spirit found its mate. I beheld my much-loved Aaron, his tender eyes
fixed kindly on me; they spake a body wearied, wishing repose, but not
sick. This soothed my troubled spirit: I slept tolerably, but dare not
trust too confidently. I hasten to my friend to realize the delightful
vision; naught but thy voice can tranquillize my mind. Thou art the
constant subject of love, hope, and fear. The girls bewail the
sufferings of their dear papa; the boys wish themselves in his place;
Frederick frets at the badness of the horse; wishes money could put
him in thy stead. The unaffected warmth of his heart delights me. If
aught can alleviate thy absence, 'tis these testimonies of gratitude
and affection from the young and guileless to the best of parents.
They feel the hand that blesses them, and love because they are
blessed. Thy orders shall be attended to. Mamma joins in the warmest
assurances of sincere affection. Theodosia and Sally in perfect
health. Beyond expression,




New-York, 27th September, 1785.

I have counted the hours till evening; since that, the minutes, and am
still on the watch; the stage not arrived: it is a cruel delay. Your
health, your tender frame, how are they supported! Anxiety obliterates
every other idea; every noise stops my pen; my heart flutters with
hope and fear; the pavement from this to Cape's [4] is kept warm by
the family; every eye and ear engrossed by expectation; my mind is in
too much trepidation to write. I resume my pen after another
messenger, in vain. I will try to tell you that those you love are
well; that the boys are very diligent; Ireson gone to Westchester. My
new medicine will, I flatter myself, prove a lucky one. Sally
amazingly increased. Fream at work at the roof. He thinks it too flat
to be secured. The back walls of the house struck through with the
late rain. M.Y. still at Miss W. You must not expect to find dancing
on Thursday night. I should think it a degree of presumption to make
the necessary preparations without knowing the state of your health.
Should this account prove favourable, I still think it best to delay
it, as the stage is very irregular in its return. That of Saturday did
not arrive till Sunday morning; it brought an unfavourable account of
the roads. Thus you probably would not partake, nor would I wish
spectators to check my vigilance, or divide that attention which is
ever insufficient when thou art the object. O, my Aaron, how impatient
I am to welcome thy return; to anticipate thy will, and receive thy
loved commands. The clock strikes eleven. No stage. My letter must go.
I have been three hours writing, or attempting to write, this
imperfect scrawl. The children desire me to speak their affection.
Mamma will not be forgot; she especially shares my anxiousness. Adieu.



Albany, October 30th, 1785. I have received your two affectionate
letters. The enclosed was intended to have been sent by the stage
which I met on my way up; but, by untoward accidents (needless to
detail), yet lies by me. My disorder has left me almost since I left
the city.

The person with whom I had business had gone from this place before my
arrival, so that I should have been, ere this, on my return, but that
I have suffered myself to be engaged in two land causes (Van Hoesen
and Van Rensselaer), which begin to-morrow, and will probably last the
whole week. I am retained for Van Hoesen, together with J. Bay and P.
W. Yates. Such able coadjutors will relieve me of the principal
burden. You may judge with what reluctance I engaged in a business
which will detain me so long from all that is dear and lovely. I dare
not think on the period I have yet to be absent. I feel it in some
sort a judgment for the letters written by the girls to N.W.

Your account of your health is very suspicious; you are not particular
enough; you say nothing of the means you use to restore yourself;
whether you take exercise, or how you employ your time.

I shall probably leave this on Sunday next; my horse will not take me
home in three days. I fear I shall not see you till Wednesday morning
of next week; perhaps not even then, for I am engaged to attend the
court at Bedford on Tuesday of next week. You shall hear again by the

Will not these continued rains deprive us of the pleasure of the
promised visit of the W.'s? How is it possible you can write me such
short letters, having so much leisure, and surrounded with all that
can interest me? Adieu.



Albany, 2d November, 1785.

I have lived these three days upon the letters I expected this
evening, and behold the stage without a line! I have been through the
rain, and dark, and mud, hunting up every passenger to catechise them
for letters, and can scarce yet believe that I am so totally

Our trial, of which I wrote you on Sunday, goes on moderately. It will
certainly last till twelve o'clock on Saturday night; longer it
cannot, that being the last hour of court. Of course, I leave this on
Sunday; shall be detained at Westchester till about Thursday noon, and
be home on Friday. This is my present prospect; a gloomy one, I
confess; rendered more so by your unpardonable silence. I have a
thousand questions to ask, but why ask of the dumb?

I am quite recovered. The trial in which I am engaged is a fatiguing
one, and in some respects vexatious. But it puts me in better humour
to reflect that you have just received my letter of Sunday, and are
saying or thinking some good-natured things of me. Determining to
write any thing that can amuse and interest me; every thing that can
atone for the late silence, or compensate for the hard fate that
divides us.

Since being here I have resolved that you in future accompany me on
such excursions, and I am provoked to have yielded to your idle fears
on this occasion. I have told here frequently, within a day or two,
that I was never so long from home before, till, upon counting days, I
find I have been frequently longer. I am so constantly anticipating
the duration of this absence, that when I speak of it I realize the
whole of it.

Let me find that you have done justice to yourself and me. I shall
forgive none the smallest omission on this head. Do not write by the
Monday stage, or rather, do not send the letter you write, as it is
possible I shall leave the stage-road in my way to Bedford.

Affectionately adieu,



1. Major Popham, fifty-four years after the date of this letter,
attended as a pall-bearer the funeral of Colonel Burr, the friend of
his youth.

2. Mrs. Prevost's son.

3. The unfortunate Mrs. Alston, of whom much will be said hereafter.

4. Stagehouse.



New-York, August, 1786.

Your letter was faithfully handed us by the boy from Hall's. Bartow
has enclosed the papers. Those you mentioned to me on the night of
your departure I cannot forward, as I have forgot the names of the
parties, and they cannot guess them in the office from my description,
I hope the disappointment will not be irreparable.

If you finish your causes before court is over, cannot you look at us,
even should you return to the manor? The two girls followed you to the
stagehouse, saw you seated and drive off. Frederick's tooth prevented
his attendance. My heart is full of affection, my head too barren to
express it. I am impatient for evening; for the receipt of your dear
letter; for those delightful sensations which your expressions of
tenderness alone can excite. Dejected, distracted with out them;
elated, giddy even to folly with them; my mind, never at medium,
claims every thing from your partiality.

I have just determined to take a room at aunt Clarke's till Sally
recovers her appetite; by the advice of the physician, we have changed
her food from vegetable to animal. A change of air may be equally
beneficial. You shall have a faithful account, I leave town at six
this evening. All good angels attend thee. The children speak their
love. Theodosia has written to you, and is anxious lest I should omit
sending it. Toujours la vôtre,



Albany, August, 1786.

Your letter of Thursday evening was stuffed into one of the office
papers, so that I did not find it for half an hour after I received
the packet, during all which time I had the pleasure of abusing you
stoutly. But I had only prepared myself for the most delightful
surprise. I apologized with great submission.

Why are you so cautiously silent as to our little Sally? You do not
say that she is better or worse; from which I conclude she is worse. I
am not wholly pleased with your plan of meat diet. It is recommended
upon the idea that she has no disorder but a general debility. All the
disorders of this season are apt to be attended with fevers, in which
case animal diet is unfriendly. I beg you to watch the effects of this
whim with great attention. So essential a change will certainly have
visible effects. Remember, I do not absolutely condemn, because I do
not know the principles, but am fearful.

Every minute of my time is engrossed to repair the loss of my little
book. Thank the boys for their attention to the business I left them
in charge. I wish either of them had given me a history of what is
doing in the office, and you of what is doing in the family. The girls
I know to be incorrigibly lazy, and therefore expect nothing from
them. The time was--but I have no leisure to reflect.




Albany, August, eleven o'clock at night, 1786.

I have this day your letter by my express. I am sorry that you and
others perplex yourselves with that office nonsense. Am too fatigued
and too busy to say more of it. We began our Catskill causes this
morning, and have this minute adjourned to meet at seven in the
morning. We shall be engaged at the same disagreeable rate till
Saturday evening. I think our title stands favourably; but the jury
are such that the verdict will be in some measure hazardous. I have
judgment for Maunsel against Brown, after a laboured argument. Inform
him, with my regards.

Since writing thus far, I have your affectionate letter by the stage,
which revives me. I shall not go to the manor. But, if I succeed in
our causes, shall be obliged to go to Catskill to settle with the
tenants, make sales, &c. Of this you cannot know till Tuesday evening.

I am wrong to say that I shall not go to the manor. I am obliged to
attend a Court of Chancery there. The chancellor had gone hence before
my arrival. I cannot be home till Thursday evening. I hope your next
will be of the tenour of the last. Your want of cheerfullness is the
least acceptable of any token of affection you can give me. Good
angels guard and preserve you.



New-York, November, 1787.

What language can express the joy, the gratitude of Theodosia? Stage
after stage without a line. Thy usual punctuality gave room for every
fear; various conjectures filled every breast. One of our sons was to
have departed tomorrow in quest of the best of friends and fathers.
This morning we waited the stage with impatience. Shrouder went
frequently before it arrived; at length returned--_no letter._ We were
struck dumb with disappointment. Bartow set out to inquire who were
the passengers; in a very few minutes returned exulting,--a packet
worth the treasures of the universe. Joy brightened every face; all
expressed their past anxieties; their present happiness. To enjoy was
the first result. Each made choice of what they could best relish.
Porter, sweet wine, chocolate, and sweetmeats made the most delightful
repast that could be shared without thee. The servants were made to
feel _their lord was well_, are at this instant toasting his health
and bounty; while the boys are obeying thy dear commands, thy
Theodosia flies to speak her heartfelt joys:--her Aaron safe, mistress
of the heart she adores; can she ask more? has Heaven more to grant?
"_Plus que jamais à vous_," dost thou recollect it? Do I read right? I
can't mistake; I read it everywhere; 'tis stamped on the blank paper;
I sully the impression with reluctance; I know not what I write. You
talk of long absence. I stoop not to dull calculations; thou hast
judged it best; thy breast breathes purest flame. What greater
blessing can await me? Every latent spark is kindled in my soul. My
imagination is crowded with ideas; they leave me no time for
utterance; _plus que jamais_; but for Sally, I should set out
to-morrow to meet you. I must dress and visit to-morrow. I have heard
nothing of the W.s. Our two dear pledges have an instinctive knowledge
of their mother's bliss. They have been awake all the evening I have
the youngest in my arms. Our sweet prattler exclaims at every noise,
There's dear papa, and runs to meet him. I pursue the medicine I began
when you left us, and believe it efficacious. Exercise costs me a
crown a day; our own horse disabled by the nail which penetrated the
joint. I have grown less, and better pleased with myself; feel
confident of your approbation. W. hastens the first assembly. F.
feigns herself lame, that she may not accompany M., who submits to
every little meanness, and bears all hints with insensibility. Has
called here once. Clement sailed on Monday.

Your remark on the shortness of my letters is flattering. This is the
last you shall complain of. My spirits and nerves coincide in asking
repose. Your daughter commands it. Our dear children join in the
strongest assurances of honest love. Mamma will not be forgotten.
Sweet sleep attend thee. Thy Theo.'s spirit shall preside. I wish you
may find this scrawl as short at reading as I have at writing. I am
surprised to find myself obliged to enclose it. Adieu.



New-York, Wednesday, November, 1787.

My health is better. As I fondly believe this the most interesting
intelligence I can give thee, I make it my preamble. What would I not
give to have but those four small words from thee? Though I had but
little hope, I found myself involuntarily counting the passing hours.
My messenger met the stage at the door. I need not relate his success.
I fancy many ills from the situation of your health when you left
home, and pray ardently they may prove merely fanciful. I have still
three tedious days to the next stage, when a line of affection shall
repay all my anxieties. Ireson returned to-day. The poor boys have
really been models of industry. They write all day and evening, and
sometimes all night, nor allow themselves time to powder.

I feel as though my guardian angel had forsaken me. I fear every thing
but ghosts. Tell me, Aaron, why do I grow every day more tenacious of
thy regard? Is it possible my affection can increase? Is it because
each revolving day proves thee more deserving? Surely, thy Theo.
needed no proof of thy goodness. Heaven preserve the patron of my
flock; preserve the husband of my heart; teach me to cherish his love,
and to deserve the boon.



Poughkeepsie, 28th June, 1788.

This afternoon the stage will pass through this place. Your letters
will not come to me till the morning, so that I can only thank you for
them, and the kind things they contain, by anticipation. I have
already read them in the same way, and therefore do thank you for
them, _de plein coeur_. I have a convenient room for my business in
one house, board at a different house, and bad lodgings at a third
house. This is, indeed, not so convenient an arrangement as might be
wished; but I could not procure these different accommodations at less
than three houses in this metropolis and seat of government.

As the boys will wish to know something of the progress of business
here, tell them that the cause of Freer and Van Vleeck has been this
day put off by the defendants, on payment of costs, on an affidavit of
the want of papers. In Noxon's cause I have a verdict for thirty-four
pounds. The evidence clearly entitled Mr. Livingston to three or four
hundred pounds, and so was the charge of the judge; but landlords are
not popular or favoured in this county. I am now going to court to
defend an action of trespass, in which I have been employed here; and
shall try Mr. Lansing's cause to-morrow, which will close my business
here. With how much regret I shall go further from home. Kiss our dear



Poughkeepsie, 29th June, 1788.

I have sat an hour at the door watching the arrival of the stage. At
length it comes, and your dear packet is handed to me just in season
to be acknowledged by Mr. Johnstone. He will tell you of the further
progress of my business and my intended movements. I go this evening
to Rhinebeck. How wishfully I look homeward. I like your industry, and
will certainly reward it as you shall direct.

My time is much engrossed. My health perfectly good. You say nothing
of yours; but your industry is a good omen. You can write to me by
Monday's stage, directed to be forwarded to me from Rhinebeck. I shall
be then at Kingston. Much love to the smiling little girl. I received
her letter, but not the pretty things. I continually plan my return
with childish impatience, and fancy a thousand incidents which render
it more interesting. Reserve your health and spirits, and I shall not
be deceived.




Albany, August 7th, 1788.

Oh Theo.! there is the most delightful grove--so darkened with
_weeping willows_, that at noonday a _susceptible_ fancy like yours
would mistake it for a bewitching moonlight evening. These
sympathizing willows, too, exclude even the prying eye of curiosity.
Here no rude noise interrupts the softest whisper. Here no harsher
sound is heard than the wild cooings of the gentle dove, the gay
thresher's animated warbles, and the soft murmurs of the passing
brook. Really, Theo., it is _charming_.

I should have told you that I am speaking of Fort Johnson, where I
have spent a day. From this _amiable_ bower you ascend a gentle
declivity, by a winding path, to a cluster of lofty oaks and locusts.
Here nature assumes a more august appearance. The gentle brook, which
murmured soft below, here bursts a cataract. Here you behold the
stately Mohawk roll his majestic wave along the lofty Apalachians.
Here the mind assumes a nobler tone, and is occupied by sublimer
objects. What _there_ was tenderness, _here_ swells to rapture. It is
truly _charming_.

The windings of this enchanting brook form a lovely island, variegated
by the most sportive hand of nature. This shall be yours. We will
plant it with jessamines and woodbine, and call it Cyprus. It seems
formed for the residence o£ the loves and the graces, and is therefore
yours by the best of titles. It is indeed most _charming_.

But I could fill sheets in description of the beauties of this
romantic place. We will reserve it for the subject of many an amusing
hour. And besides being little in the habit of the sublime or
poetical, I grow already out of breath, and begin to falter, as you
perceive. I cannot, however, omit the most interesting and important
circumstance; one which I had rather communicate to you in this way
than face to face. I know that you was opposed to this journey to Fort
Johnson. It is therefore with the greater regret that I communicate
the event; and you are not unacquainted with my inducements to it.

In many things I am indeed unhappy in possessing a singularity of
taste; particularly unhappy when that taste differs in any thing from
yours. But we cannot control necessity, though we often persuade
ourselves that certain things are our choice, when in truth we have
been unavoidably impelled to them. In the instance I am going to
relate, I shall not examine whether I have been governed by mere
fancy, or by motives of expediency, or by caprice; you will probably
say the latter.

My dear Theo., arm yourself with all your fortitude. I know you have
much of it, and I hope that upon this occasion you will not fail to
exercise it. I abhor preface and preamble, and don't know why I have
now used it so freely. But I am well aware that what I am going to
relate needs much apology _from_ me, and will need much _to_ you. If I
am the unwilling, the unfortunate instrument of depriving you of any
part of your promised gayety or pleasure, I hope you are too generous
to aggravate the misfortune by upbraiding me with it. Be assured (I
hope the assurance is needless), that whatever diminishes your
happiness equally impairs mine. In short, then, for I grow tedious
both to you and myself; and to procrastinate the relation of
disagreeable events only gives them poignancy; in short, then, my dear
Theo., the beauty of this same Fort Johnson, the fertility of the
soil, the commodiousness and elegance of the buildings, the great
value of the mills, and the very inconsiderable price which was asked
for the whole, have _not_ induced me to purchase it, and probably
never will: in the confidence, however, of meeting your forgiveness,

Affectionately yours,



Albany, 26th October, 1788.

I wrote you a few hours ago, and put the letter into the postofflce.
Little did I then imagine how much pleasure was near at hand for me.
Judge Hobart has this minute arrived, and handed me your letter of
Monday. I cannot thank you sufficiently for all the affection it
contains. Be assured it has every welcome which congenial affection
can give.

The headache with which I left New-York grew so extreme, that finding
it impossible to proceed in the stage, the view of a vessel off
Tarrytown, under full sail before the wind, tempted me to go on board.
We reached West Point that night, and lay there at anchor near three
days. After a variety of changes from sloop to wagon, from wagon to
canoe, and from canoe to sloop again, I reached this place last
evening. I was able, however, to land at Rhinebeck on Thursday
evening, and there wrote you a letter which I suppose reached you on
Saturday last.

My business in court will detain me till Saturday of this week, when I
propose to take passage in sloop. I have just drunk tea with Mrs.
Fairlie, and her daughter, five days old. Thank Bartow for the papers
by Judge Hobart. When I wrote him this evening I had not received




Albany, November, 1788.

I received your affectionate letter just as I was going into court,
and under the auspices of it have tried with success two causes. The
bearer of this was my client in one of them, and is happy beyond
measure at his success. Business has increased upon my hands since I
came here. My return seems daily more distant, but not to be regretted
from any views but those of the heart.

I hope you persevere in the regular mode of life which I pointed out
to you. I shall be seriously angry if you do not. I think you had best
take less wine and more exercise. A walk twice round the garden before
breakfast, and a ride in the afternoon, will do for the present, and
this will be necessary to fit you for the journey to Long Island.

A Captain Randolph will call with Mr. Mersereau: _c'est un soldat et
honnête homme, donnez eux à boire._ They will answer all your

Yours truly,



Albany, 23d November, 1788.

I thank you for your obliging letter of the 19th. It is not, indeed,
so long as I had hoped, but your reason for being concise is too
ingenious not to be admitted. I have, however, a persuasion that you
are at this moment employed in the same manner that I am; and in the
hope that your good intentions will not be checked by either want of
health or want of spirits, I venture to expect a much longer letter by
the coming post.

Your account of the progress of the measles is alarming. I am pleased
to find that you yet keep your ground. It persuades me that,
notwithstanding what you have written, you do not think the hazard
very great. That disorder hath found its way to this city, but with no
unfavourable symptoms. It is not spoken of as a thing to be either
feared or avoided.

I have no prospect of being able to leave this place before this day
week, probably not so soon. You must, by return of post, assure me
that I shall find you in good health and spirits. This will enable me
to despatch business and hasten my return. Kiss those who love me.



Albany, 26th November, 1788.

The unusual delay of the post deprives me of the pleasure of hearing
from you this evening. This I regret the more, as your last makes me
particularly anxious for that which I expected by this post.

I am wearied out with the most tedious cause I was ever engaged in.
To-morrow will be the eighth day since we began it, and it may
probably last the whole of this week. Write me whether any thing calls
particularly for my return so as to prevent my concluding my business
here. I am at a loss what to write until I have your answer to my
letters, for which I am very impatient.

Yours affectionately,


From the commencement of the year 1785 until the year 1788, Colonel
Burr took but little part in the political discussions of the day. In
the year 1787 the opinion had become universal that the states could
not be kept together under the existing articles of confederation. On
the second Monday in May, 1787, a convention met in Philadelphia for
the avowed purpose of "_revising the Articles of Confederation_," &c.
On the 28th of September following, that convention, having agreed
upon a "_new constitution_," ordered that the same be transmitted to
the several legislatures for the purpose of being submitted to a
convention of delegates, chosen in each state, for its adoption or

In January, 1788, the legislature of New-York met, and warm
discussions ensued on the subject of the new constitution. These
discussions arose on the question of calling a state convention.
Parties had now become organized. The friends of the new constitution
styled themselves _federalists_. Its opponents were designated
_anti-federalists_. The latter denied the right of the general
convention to form a "new constitution," and contended that they were
limited in their powers to "revising and amending the Articles of
Confederation." The former asserted that the general convention had
not transcended its powers.

Colonel Burr, on this point, appears to have assumed a neutral stand;
but, in other respects, connected himself with what was termed the
anti-federal party. He wished amendments to the constitution, and had
received, in common with many others, an impression that the powers of
the federal government, unless more distinctly defined, would be so
exercised as to divest the states of every attribute of sovereignty,
and that on their ruins ultimately there would be erected a splendid
_national_ instead of a _federal_ government.

In April, 1788, Colonel Burr was nominated by the anti-federalists of
the city of New-York as a candidate for the assembly. The feelings of
that day may be judged of by the manner in which the ticket was
headed. It was published in the newspapers and in handbills as

"The sons of liberty, who are again called upon to contend with the
_sheltered aliens_, who have, by the courtesy of our country, been
permitted to remain among us, will give their support to the following

"_William Deming, Melancton Smith, Marinus Willet, and Aaron Burr._"

The federalists prevailed by an overwhelming majority. The strength of
the contending parties was in the ratio of about seven federalists (or
tories) for one anti-federalist (or whig). Such were the political
cognomens of the day. The federalists styled their opponents
_anti-federalists_. The anti-federalists designated their opponents

In April, 1789, there was an election for governor of the State of
New-York. The anti-federal party nominated George Clinton. A meeting
of citizens, principally federalists, was held in the city of
New-York, and Judge Robert Yates was nominated in opposition to Mr.
Clinton. Mr. Yates was a firm and decided anti-federalist. He was
known to be the personal and political friend of Colonel Burr. At this
meeting a committee of correspondence was appointed. Colonel Hamilton
and Colonel Burr were both members of this committee.

In their address recommending Judge Yates they state, that
Chief-justice Morris or Lieutenant-governor Van Courtlandt were the
favourite candidates of the federal party; but, for the sake of
harmonizing conflicting interests, a gentleman (Mr. Yates), known as
an anti-federalist, had been selected, and they respectfully recommend
to Mr. Morris and Mr. Van Courtlandt to withdraw their names, and to
unite in the support of Mr. Yates. This address was signed by
Alexander Hamilton as chairman. Mr. Clinton, however, was re-elected.

This support of Judge Yates did not diminish Governor Clinton's
confidence in the political integrity, or lessen his respect for the
talents, of Colonel Burr. A few months after the election the governor
tendered to him the office of attorney-general of the state. At first
he hesitated about accepting the appointment; but, on the 25th of
September, 1789, addressed his excellency as follows:--



In case the office you were pleased to propose should be offered to
me, I have, upon reflection, determined to accept it; at least until
it shall be known upon what establishment it will be placed. My
hesitation arose not from any dislike to the office, but from the
circumstances which I took the liberty to suggest in our conversation
on this subject.

I have the honour to be

Your excellency's obedient servant,


On the receipt of the above note, Governor Clinton nominated Colonel
Burr to the council of appointment as attorney-general of the state,
and the nomination was confirmed. This office was rather professional
than political. It was, however, at the time, highly important, and
imposed the most arduous duties upon the incumbent. Under the new
constitution of the United States, after the organization of the
government, many intricate questions arose. To discriminate between
the claims upon the respective states and those upon the federal
government, often required close investigation and no inconsiderable
degree of legal astuteness. The claims of individuals who had been in
the service of the state during the war of the revolution, or who had
otherwise become creditors, were now presented for adjustment. There
were no principles settled by which their justice or legality could be
tested. All was chaos; and the legislature was about to be overwhelmed
with petitions from every quarter for debts due, or for injuries
alleged to have been sustained by individuals who had been compelled
to receive depreciated money, or whose private property had been taken
for public use. In this dilemma the legislature passed an act
authorizing the appointment of commissioners to report on the subject.
The commissioners were Gerard Bancker, treasurer, Peter T. Curtenius,
state auditor, and Aaron Burr, attorney-general.

During the period that Colonel Burr was attorney-general, the seat of
government was in the city of New-York. His official duties,
therefore, seldom required his absence from home, when his private
business, as a professional man, would not have rendered that absence
necessary. His correspondence, although more limited, lost none of its
interest, and miscellaneous selections from it are therefore


Albany, 21st October, 1789.


I have this moment received your letter of Sunday evening, containing
the account of your alarming accident and most fortunate rescue and
escape. I thank Heaven for your preservation, and thank you a thousand
times for your particular and interesting account of it.

I left my sloop at Kinderhook on Monday morning, and came here that
day in a wagon. I wrote you on the passage, and attempted to leave the
letter at Poughkeepsie, but the wind not permitting us to stop, I went
on board a Rhinebeck sloop, and there found Mrs. Peter R. Livingston,
who offered to take charge of my letter.

I am relieved from much anxiety by your management of certain
arrangements; I am glad M. W. is content. Mrs. Witbeck met with an
accident a little similar to yours; but she lost only her cap and

I am delighted to find that you anticipate as a pleasure that by this
post you may write as much as you please. If you set no other bound to
your pen than my gratification, you will write me the history every
day, not of your actions only (the least of which will be
interesting), but of your thoughts. I shall watch with eagerness and
impatience the coming of every stage. Let me not be disappointed; you
have raised and given confidence to these hopes. We lodge at a neat,
quiet widow's, near the Recorder Gansevoort's. Sill invited us very




Albany, 24th October, 1783.

With what pleasure have I feasted for three days past upon the letters
I was to receive this evening. I was engaged in court when the stage
passed. Upon the sound of it I left court and ran to the postoffice;
judge of my mortification to find not a line from your hand. Surely,
in the course of three days, you might have found half an hour to have
devoted to me. You well knew how much I relied on it; you knew the
pleasure it would have given me, and the disappointment and chagrin I
should feel from the neglect. I cannot, will not believe that these
considerations have no weight with you. But a truce to complaints. I
will hope that you have written, and that some accident has detained
the letter.

Your misfortunes so engrossed me, that I forgot to inquire about
Augustine's horses; and to give a caution, which I believe is
needless, about the blank checks. Do not part with one till you see it
filled up with sum and date. T. P. is apt to make mistakes, and once
lost a check which was by accident detected before it was presented
for payment. This is my fourth letter. Perhaps I write too much, and
you wish to give me an example of moderation.

Yours affectionately,



Albany, 28th October, 1789.

The history of your sufferings, this moment received, is truly
unexpected and affecting. My sympathy was wholly with your unfortunate
left hand. The distressing circumstances respecting your face must
certainly be owing to something more than the mere misfortune of your
burn. I cannot help feeling a resentment which must not be in this way
expressed. I am sure your sufferings might have been prevented. I had
promised myself that they were at an end many days ago.

Forgive my splenetic letter by the last post. I cannot tell you how
much I regret it. When I was complaining and accusing you of neglect,
you were suffering the most excruciating pain; but I could not have
imagined this unfortunate reverse. Impute my impatience to my anxiety
to hear from you. I am pleased at the gayety of your letter. Do not
think a moment of the consequences which you apprehend from the wound.
Let me only hear that you are relieved from pain, and I am happy. This
is my fifth letter. Frederick is the laziest dog in the world for not
having written me of your situation.

Yours, truly and affectionately,



Claverack, 27th June, 1791.

I have just arrived here, and find Mr. B. Livingston about to return
to New-York. He informs me that he left home on Saturday, and sent you
word that he was to meet me here. It was kind in him. I cannot say as
much of the improvement you made of his goodness.

It is surprising that you tell me nothing of Theo. I would by no means
have her writing and arithmetic neglected. It is the part of her
education which is of the most present importance. If Shepherd will
not attend her in the house, another must be had; but I had rather pay
him double than employ another. Is Chevalier still punctual? Let me
know whether you are yet suited with horses, and how?

In your letters, speak of Brooks and Ireson's attendance. I wish you
would often step into the office, and see as many as you can of the
people who come on business. Does young Mr. Broome attend? Other and
more interesting questions have been made and repeated in my former
letters; I will therefore, at present, fatigue with no more
interrogatories. Adieu.



New-York, 30th June, 1791.

My letter missed the post yesterday not from my neglect. It waited for
Brooks's packet, which was not ready till the mail was gone. Mr. B.
Livingston just handed me the one you intrusted to him. I was the more
pleased with it, as he accompanied it with the most favourabie account
of your health I have received since your absence, and promises to
forward this in the afternoon.

The Edwardses dine with me; they had taken lodgings previous to their
arrival, in consequence of a report made them by the little Bodowins
(who were at Mrs. Moore's last winter), that my house was too small
and inconvenient to admit of a spare bed. I esteem it a lucky escape.
It would have been impossible for me to have borne the fatigue.
Charlotte is worn out with sleepless nights, laborious days, and an
anxious mind. Hannah constantly drunk. Except William, who is a mere
waiter, I have no servant.

My guests are come to dinner. I have solicited them, and shall again,
to stay here; but, if they positively decline it, I will go to
Frederick. I will steal a moment after dinner to add another page.

July 2d.

The person Mr. Livingston expected to forward my letter by did not go,
nor could I hear of an opportunity, till, this moment, Mr. Williams
offered to take charge of this. I had arranged every thing to set out
for Frederick this morning, when a mortification was found to have
taken place on Charlotte's child, and she could not be moved. As I had
carted every thing on board, which I assure you was no small piece of
business, I sent Natie with the three younger children, and kept
Louise and Theo to go with me, whenever this disagreeable event is

Theo never can or will make the progress we would wish her while she
has so many avocations. I kept her home a week in hopes Shepherd would
consent to attend her at home, but he absolutely declined it, as his
partners thought it derogatory to their dignity. I was therefore
obliged to submit, and permit her to go as usual. She begins to
cipher. Mr. Chevalier attends regularly, and I take care she never
omits learning her French lesson. I believe she makes most progress in
this. Mr. St. Aivre never comes; he can get no fiddler, and I am told
his furniture, &c. have been seized by the sheriff. I don't think the
dancing lessons do much good while the weather is so warm; they
fatigue too soon. I have a dozen and four tickets on hand, which I
think will double in value at my return. As to the music, upon the
footing it now is she can never make progress, though she sacrifices
two thirds of her time to it. 'Tis a serious check to her other
acquirements. She must either have a forte-piano at home, or renounce
learning it. For these reasons I am impatient to go in the country.
Her education is not on an advantageous footing at present. Besides,
the playfellows she has at home makes it the most favourable moment
for her to be at liberty a few weeks, to range and gain in health a
good foundation for more application at our return, when I hope to
have her alone; nay, I will have her alone. I cannot live so great a
slave, and she shall not suffer. My time shall not be an unwilling
sacrifice to others; it shall be hers. She shall have it, but I will
not use severity; and without it, at present, I can obtain nothing;
'tis a bad habit, which she never deserves when I have her to myself.
The, moment we are alone she tries to amuse me with her improvement,
which the little jade knows will always command my attention; but
these moments are short and seldom. I have so many trifling
interruptions, that my head feels as if I had been a twelvemonth at
sea. I scarcely know what I speak, and much less what I write.

What a provoking thing that I, who never go out, who never dress
beyond a decent style at home, should not have a leisure moment to
read a newspaper. It is a recreation I have not had since you left
home, nor could I get an opportunity by water to send them to you.
Albany will be a more favourable situation for every conveyance. But I
don't understand why your lordship can't pay your obeisance at home in
this four week vacation. I think I am entitled to a reason.

Brooks attends regularly. Ireson from six to twelve, and from two to
six, as punctual as possible. I should have made the office more my
business had I known it would have been agreeable to you. I shall be
attentive for the future. Bartow is here every morning. Most people
either choose to wait for him, or call at some appointed hour when he
can be here. Mr. Broome is here every day.

God knows the quality of this epistle; but the quantity I am certain
you won't complain of. 'Tis like throwing the dice--a mere game at
hazard; like all gamblers, I am always in hopes the last will prove a
lucky cast. Pray, in what consists the pleasure of a familiar
correspondence? In writing without form or reflection your ideas and
feelings of the moment, trusting to the partiality of your friend
every imperfect thought, and to his candour every ill-turned phrase.
Such are the letters I love, and such I request of those I love. It
must be a very depraved mind from whom such letters are not

Neither the packet you left at Kingston, nor the money and greatcoat
by Colonel Gausbeck, have yet reached me. I wish you could have passed
that leisure four weeks with me at Frederick's. How pleasant such a
party would have been. How much quiet we should have enjoyed.

July 3d.

I was interrupted yesterday by the death of Charlotte's child. Though
a long-expected event, still the scene is painful. The mother's tears
were almost too much for me. I hope nothing new will occur to impede
my journey. I set off to-morrow morning.

I am not so sick as when I wrote you last, nor so well as when you
left me. I confess I have neglected the use of those medicines I found
relief from. The situation of my family has obliged me to neglect
myself, nor can I possibly use them at Frederick's. We shall be too
crowded. I will nevertheless take them with me. I live chiefly on ale.
I buy very good for one dollar per dozen. I have had twenty-one dozen
of your pipe of wine bottled. I think it very good.

I thank you for your remembrance per post of 30th June. It was
acceptable, though short. How is it possible you had nothing more to
write? I know the head may be exhausted, but I was in hopes the heart
never could. I am surprised at your not getting my letters. I fear
several have either gone to Albany or are lost. I shall, from this
day, keep the dates. I wrote you last Sunday--so did Ireson.

You can have no idea how comfortable the house seems since the small
tribe have left it. A few weeks' quiet would restore my head. It
really wants rest. You can't know how weak it is. I cannot guide a
single thought. Those very trifling cares were ever more toilsome to
me than important matters; they destroy the mind. But I am beginning
another sheet; I am sure you must be tired of this unconnected medley.
I will bid you adieu.

Theo. has begun to write several letters, but never finished one. The
only time she has to write is also the hour of general leisure, and,
when once she is interrupted, there is no making her return to work. I
have nothing more to write, except that I am yours affectionately,



Albany, 17th July, 1791.

I returned yesterday from Johnstown, worn down with heat, fatigue, and
bad fare. It is some small consolation that these tedious journeys are
not wholly unproductive.

At Johnstown I was very unexpectedly and agreeably surprised by your
letter of the 21st June, which was addressed to me at Kingston. It had
been intrusted to an Irishman, whom I at length met pretty much by
accident. It informs me of the villany of Frederick's servants, and of
his wanting a rib. The latter I have equally at heart with you, and
never lose sight of it; but, really, the big mother will not do; the
father is not much better--reputable and rich, but coarse and

On my return to this place I found your letter of Wednesday morning. I
fear the bad road near Pelham will discourage you from riding. As you
are likely to make considerable use of it, would it not be worth while
to have a few days' work done on it? About an hour after the receipt
of the last-mentioned letter, I was made happy by the receipt of that
of the 10th instant, which came by sloop. You seem fatigued and
worried, your head wild and scarcely able to write, but do not name
the cause. Whatever it may have been, I am persuaded that nothing will
so speedily and effectually remove such sensations as gentle exercise
(or even if it is not gentle) in the open air. The extreme heat of the
weather, and the uncommon continuance of it, have, I fear, interrupted
your good intentions on this head, especially as you are no friend to
riding early. I wish you would alter this part (if it is any part) of
your system. Walking early is bad on account of the dew; but riding
can, I think, in such weather, be only practised with advantage early
in the morning. The freshness of the air, and the sprightliness of all
animated nature, are circumstances of no trifling consequence. I have
no letter from you by the last post, which put me almost out of
humour, notwithstanding the receipt of the three above mentioned
within forty-eight hours, of which, however, the latest is a week old.

I hope Theo. will learn to ride on horseback. Two or three hours a day
at French and arithmetic will not injure her. Be careful of green
apples, &c.

I have been persuaded to undertake a laborious piece of business,
which will employ me diligently for about ten days. The eloquence
which wrought upon me was principally money. I am now at wages. What
sacrifices of time and pleasure do I make to this paltry
object--contemptible indeed in itself, but truly important and
attractive as the means of gratifying those I love. No other
consideration could induce me to spend another day of my life in
objects in themselves uninteresting, and which afford neither
instruction nor amusement. They become daily more disgusting to me; in
some degree, perhaps, owing to my state of health, which is much as
when I left New-York. The least fatigue brings a slight return of

Your exercise, your medicine, and your reading are three subjects upon
which you have hitherto dwelt only in prospect. They must be all, in
some degree, within your power. I have a partiality for the little
study as your bedroom. Say a word of each of these matters in your

Continue and multiply your letters to me. They are all my solace in
this irksome and laborious confinement. The six last are constantly
within my reach. I read them once a day at least. Write me of all I
have requested, and a hundred things which I have not. You best know
how to please and interest.

Your affectionate



Pelham, 23d July, 1791.

I have just now received your welcome letter of the 17th inst. The
pleasure imparted by so flattering a testimony of your good-will, was
tempered with a large portion of alloy in the confession of your ill
health. I was apprehensive travelling in the heat and bad
accommodations would check your recovery. Do return home as soon as
possible; or, rather, come to Pelham; try quiet, and the good air, and
the attention and friendship of those who love you. You may command
Bartow's attendance here whenever it suits you, and you have a
faithful envoy in Frederick, who will go post with your commands as
often as you wish. It is, indeed, of serious consequence to you, to
establish your health _before you commence politician_: when once you
get engaged, your industry will exceed your strength; your pride cause
you to forget yourself. But remember, you are not your own; there are
those who have stronger claims than ambition ought to have, or the
public can have.

Why did you undertake that very laborious task you mention? 'Tis
certain I have a great pleasure in spending money, but not when it is
accompanied with the unpleasant reflection of sacrificing your health
to the pursuit.

Theo. is much better; she writes and ciphers from five in the morning
to eight, and also the same hours in the evening. This prevents our
riding at those hours, except Saturday and Sunday, otherwise I should
cheerfully follow your directions, as I rise at five or six every day.
Theo. makes amazing progress at figures. Though Louisa has worked at
them all winter, and appeared quite an adept at first, yet Theo. is
now before her, and assists her to make her sums. You will really be
surprised at her improvement. I think her time so well spent that I
shall not wish to return to town sooner than I am obliged. She does
not ride on horseback, though Frederick has a very pretty riding horse
he keeps for her; but were she to attempt it now, there would be so
much jealousy, and so many would wish to take their turn, that it
would really be impracticable. But we have the best substitute
imaginable. As you gave me leave to dispose of the old wheels as I
pleased, I gave them as my part towards a wagon; we have a good plain
Dutch wagon, that I prefer to a carriage when at Pelham, as the
exercise is much better. We ride in numbers and are well jolted, and
without dread. 'Tis the most powerful exercise I know. No Spring
seats; but, like so many pigs, we bundle together on straw. Four miles
are equal to twenty. It is really an acquisition. I hope you will see
our little girl rosy cheeked and plump as a partridge. I rejoice with
you at the poor major's return. I grow lazy, and love leisure; and,
above all, the privilege of disposing of my own time with quiet and
retirement when it suits me. I have also made choice of the little
study for my own apartment; but with so large a family, and so few
conveniences, there can be no place of retirement. The vacation hours
of school, and Sunday, there is a constant hurlyburly, and every kind
of noise, though it is really much better than I feared. I take all
things as philosophically as I know how; provided I have no real evil
to struggle with, I pass on with the tumult. I am now writing in the
midst of it. The variety of sounds almost dim my sight; but I write
on, and trust to good luck more than reflection, I find so much to say
that I need not hesitate for matter, though I might for propriety of
speaking. My spirits are better: as to industry, it is of a very
flighty kind, and so variegated that it will not bear description. It
required some attention to get matters _en train_: it was like moving.
My disorder I have not, nor am not able to attend to; 'tis attended
with so many disagreeable circumstances that it is not practicable at
present; but my general health is greatly improved, and my head much
relieved. The hint you give respecting a rib for Frederick is more
elating than I can express. You say nothing of B. That part of my
petition was not less interesting. I humbly pray your honour may take
into consideration the equity and propriety of my prayer, and grant me
not only a hearing, but deign to give due consideration to the prayer
of your humble petitioner, being confident she will find grace and
mercy from your tribunal, with a full grant of all your endeavours to
reinstate her in that desired tranquillity whose source is in your
breast, to that happiness which is suspended on your will.

The heat and drought exceed all recollection. The town is extremely
unhealthy. It is fortunate we are here. There is always air--never
heat enough to incommode one. I am certain the child would have
suffered in town; she was much reduced; her voice and breast were
weak. Adieu. I think you must be tired before this. Attend to
yourself. If you love us, you will. You will for your



Pelham, 27th July, 1791.

I have lost some of your letters, and I make no doubt some of mine
have met the same fate; for this reason I am discouraged trusting any
more to the stage. I am obliged to wait with all the patience I can
command till the boat returns from town. I have no prospect at present
of forwarding this. I write to repeat my thanks for yours of the 17th.
It is the last I have received. I read it frequently, and always with
new pleasure. I was disappointed at not having a line from you by the
Saturday's mail. It is not fair to stand on punctilio, when you know
the disadvantages attending my situation here. You ought to be doubly
attentive _pour me soulager_. It is not so practicable to send some
miles from home twice a week as you imagine.

Poor Dr. Wright had his house two days ago burnt to the ground, and
all the furniture, with every article of clothing both of themselves
and the children. She is very disconsolate, and much to be pitied. We
certainly see the old proverb very often verified. "That misfortunes
never come singly," that poor little woman is a proof. They talk of a
general war in Europe; in that case _le moulin_ will be an object. We
wait your return to determine all things. The Emperess of Russia is as
successful as I wish her. What a glorious figure will she make on the
historical page! Can you form an idea of a more happy mortal than she
will be when seated on the throne of Constantinople? How her ambition
will be gratified; the opposition and threats of Great Britain, &c.
will increase her triumph. I wish I had wit and importance enough to
write her a congratulatory letter. The ladies should deify her, and
consecrate a temple to her praise. It is a diverting thought, that the
mighty Emperor of the Turks should be subdued by a woman. How enviable
that she alone should be the avenger of her sex's wrongs for so many
ages past. She seems to have awakened Justice, who appears to be a
sleepy dame in the cause of injured innocence.

Am I dreaming, or do you leave home again before you go to
Philadelphia? Tell all your intentions; I love to plan and arrange.
Our blind state here is one of our most vexatious evils; that state of
uncertainty damps every view, and converts our most pleasing hopes
into the most disappointing reflections.

Hy! ho! for the major. [1] I am tired to death of living in a nursery.
It is very well to be amused with children at an idle hour; but their
interruption at all times is insupportable to a person of common
reflection. My nerves will not admit of it. You judge right as to the
roads on the Neck.

Theodosia is quite recovered, and makes great progress at ciphering. I
cannot say so much in favour of her writing. I really think she lost
the last month she went to Shepherd. She has not improved since last
spring. She is sensible of it, is the reason she is not very desirous
to give you a specimen. We now keep her chiefly at figures, which she
finds very difficult, particularly to proportion them, and place them
straight under each other.

I will conclude my scrawl in the hope that Frederick will be able to
forward it for me. Adieu. Remember to answer all my questions, and to
take all my prayers in serious consideration. Be attentive to your
health, and you will add to the happiness of your



Albany, 31st July, 1791.

At length expectation is gratified, and my hopes--even my wishes,
fulfilled. Your letters of the 16th and 23d came both by the last
post. Their ease, their elegance, and, above all, the affection they
contain, are truly engaging and amiable. Be assured that petitions so
clothed and attended are _irresistible_.

I anticipate with increasing impatience the hour of leaving this
place, and am making every possible exertion to advance it. The delay
of two days at Red Hook is indispensable, but will cost me much

I finished on Monday last, tolerably to my own satisfaction, and I
believe entirely to that of my employers, the business so often
mentioned to you. I received in reward for my labour many thanks,
twenty half joes, and promises of more of both of these articles.

The last post is the only one I have missed since I left Esopus. I was
in court upon a trial which gave me not a moment's intermission till
ten o'clock that evening. Though I do not pay you in quality and
manner (for yours are, without flattery, inimitable), I believe I am
nothing in arrear in number or quantity. The present is indeed a poor
return for your two last; but though you miss of the recompense in
this sheet, you will find it in the heart of your



Philadelphia, 27th October, 1791.

I have this day received your letter dated Sunday morning. It came,
not by Mr. Sedgwick, but by the post, and was not put into the
postoffice until Tuesday. It was therefore wicked of you not to add a
line of that date. I am surprised to find that you had not received my
letter from Brunswick. The illness I then wrote you of increased the
next day, so that I did not arrive in town until Sunday. I am still at
Miss Roberts's, and unsettled, but hope to be to-morrow in tolerable
winter-quarters. I have had some trouble on that head, as well because
I am difficult to please, as because good accommodations are difficult
to find.

I receive many attentions and civilities. Many invitations to dine,
&c. All of which I have declined, and have not eaten a meal except at
my own quarters. You see, therefore, how little amusement you are to
expect. I called at Mrs. L.'s (the elder), but have not seen either
her, or as yet called to see her daughter. I have no news of Brooks,
and am distressed by his delay, having scarcely decent clothes. I
prudently brought a coat, but nothing to wear with it, and the
expectation of Brooks has prevented me from getting any thing here.
Send me a waistcoat, white and brown, such as you designed. You know I
am never pleased except with your taste.

I wrote you the day after my arrival here, but it being past the post
hour, kept it till Tuesday; made a small addition, and gave it to Mat.
to carry to the office. He put it into his coat-pocket (I suppose with
his pocket-handkerchief, which you know be has occasion to flourish
along the street). On the day following, with a face of woe, he told
me he had lost the letter, but had concealed it from me in hopes to
have found it. I hope it may fall into good-natured hands, and so got
eventually into the postoffice. It was short and stupid; unusually so,
which perhaps vexed me the more for the loss. Be assured you have
nothing to regret.

This letter can have nothing to recommend it but good-will and length,
though the latter, without some other merit, ought to condemn it; and
it would, I am sure, with any but you, who will give the best
construction to any thing from your



Philadelphia, 30th October, 1791.

I am at length settled in winter-quarters. The house stands about
twenty yards back from the street, and is inhabited by two widows. The
mother about seventy, and the daughter about fifty. The latter,
however, has her home in the country, and comes to town occasionally.
The old lady is deaf, and upon my first coming to take possession of
my lodgings, she with great civility requested that I would never
attempt to speak to her, for fear of injuring my lungs without being
able to make her hear. I shall faithfully obey this injunction. The
house is remarkably quiet, orderly, and is well furnished. They have
never before taken a person to board, and will take no other.

The honour which I have always done to your taste, and which indeed it
merits, ought to have assured you that your advice requires no
apology. I shall adopt your ideas about the wheels. If at the same
time you had caused the commission to be executed, you would have
added civility to good intentions.

Theodosia must not attempt music in the way she was taught last
spring. For the present, let it be wholly omitted. Neither would I
have her renew her dancing till the family are arranged. She can
proceed in her French, and get some teacher to attend her in the house
for writing and arithmetic. She has made no progress in the latter,
and is even ignorant of the rudiments. She was hurried through
different rules without having been able to do a single sum with
accuracy. I would wish her to be also taught geography if a proper
master can be found; but suspend this till the arrival of the major.

It is remarkable I that you should find yourself so soon discouraged
from writing, because you had written one letter before you had
received one. I had written you two before the receipt of your first.
But I shall in future expect two or three for one, as the labour of
business will prevent my writing frequently.

Remember the note to be put in the bank on Wednesday. If Bartow should
not arrive, send Strong for Willet. Adieu.


A. Burr.


Philadelphia, 14th November, 1791.

I recollect nothing of the letter I wrote to you, and which is
referred to in yours of the 9th. You have no forgiveness to ask or to
receive of me. If it was necessary, you had it even at the moment I
read your letter. You mistake the nature of my emotions. They had
nothing of asperity; but it is useless to explain them. I did it
partially in a letter I wrote soon after that which I sent you in
answer to yours. It was not such a letter as I ought to have written,
or you would have wished to receive; I therefore retained it. In what
way, or to what degree, I am affected by your letter of the 9th, will
not be told until we meet. Be assured, however, that I look forward to
that time with impatience and anticipate it with pleasure. It rests
wholly with you, and your conduct on this occasion will be a better
index to your heart than any thing you can write.

I enclose you a newspaper of this evening, containing a report by Mr.
Jefferson about vacant lands. When you have perused it, send it to
Melancton Smith. Take care, however, to get it back and preserve it,
as it is one of Freneau's. I send you also three of Freneau's papers,
which, with that sent this morning, are all he has published. I wish
them to be preserved. If you find them amusing, you may command them
regularly. Adieu.



Philadelphia, 14th November, 1791.

I am to-day in much better heart than at any time since I left
New-York. John Watts took me yesterday a long walk, and, though
fatigued, I was not exhausted. He takes every occasion to show me
friendship and attention. I see no reason for your delaying to make a
visit here. The roads are good and the season fine. If you do not
choose to come directly to my lodgings, which are commodious and
retired, I will meet you either at Dr. Edwards's, two miles from the
Red Lion, or at the Red Lion, which is twelve miles from this city.
Your first stage will be to Brunswick, your second Trenton, and your
third here.

I expressed myself ill if I led you to believe that I wished any
evidence or criterion of Theodosia's understanding. I desire only to
promote its growth by its application and exercise. Her present
employments have no such tendency, unless arithmetic engages a part of
her attention. Than this, nothing can be more useful, or better
advance the object I have in view. Other studies, promising similar
advantages, must, perhaps, for the reasons you mention, be for the
present postponed.

I hope this weather will relieve you from the most depressing of all
diseases, the influenza. Exercise will not cure, but will prevent the
return of it. I prescribe, however, what I do not practice. You have
often wished for opportunities to read; you now have, and, I hope,
improve them. I should be glad to know how your attention is directed.
Of the success I have no doubt.

To the subject of politics, which composes a part of your letter, I
can at present make no reply. The _mode_ of communication would not
permit, did no other reasons oppose it.

I have no voice, but could undoubtedly have some influence in the
appointment you speak of. For the man, you know I have always
entertained much esteem; but it is here said that he drinks. The
effect of the belief, even of the suspicion of this, could not be
controverted by any exertion or influence of his friends. I had not,
before the receipt of your letter, heard of his wishes on the subject
you mention. The slander, if slander it be, I had heard often and with

Sincerely yours,



Philadelphia, 1st December, 1791.

Enclosed in Bartow's last letter came one which, from the handwriting,
I supposed to be from that great fat fellow, Colonel Troup. Judge of
my pleasure and surprise when I opened and found it was from my dear
little girl. You improve much in your writing. Let your next be in
small hand.

Why do you neither acknowledge nor answer my last letter? That is not
kind--it is scarcely civil. I beg you will not take a fortnight to
answer this, as you did the other, and did not answer it at last; for
I love to hear from you, and still more to receive your letters. Read
my last letter again, and answer it particularly.

Your affectionate



Philadelphia, 4th December, 1791.

I fear I have for the present deprived you of the pleasure of reading
Gibbon. If you cannot procure the loan of a London edition, I will
send you that which I have here. In truth, I bought it for you, which
is almost confessing a robbery. Edward Livingston and Richard Harrison
have each a good set, and either would cheerfully oblige you.

To render any reading really amusing or in any degree instructive, you
should never pass a word you do not understand, or the name of a
person or place of which you have not some knowledge. You will say
that attention to such matters is too great an interruption. If so, do
but note them down on paper, and devote an hour particularly to them
when you have finished a chapter or come to a proper pause. After an
experiment of this mode, you will never abandon it. Lempriere's
Dictionary is that of which I spoke to you. Purchase also Macbeau's;
this last is appropriated to ancient theocracy, fiction, and
geography; both of them will be useful in reading Gibbon, and still
more so in reading ancient authors, or of any period of ancient

If you have never read Plutarch's Lives (or even if you have), you
will read them with much pleasure. They are in the City Library, and
probably in many private ones. Beloe's Herodotus will amuse you.
Bartow has it. You had better read the text without the notes; they
are diffuse, and tend to distract the attention. Now and then they
contain some useful explanation. After you have read the author, you
will, I think, with more pleasure read the notes and remarks in course
by themselves.

You expressed a curiosity to peruse Paley's Philosophy of Natural
History. Judge Hobart has it. If you read it, be sure to make yourself
mistress of all the terms. But, if you continue your Gibbon, it will
find you in employment for some days. When you are weary of soaring
with him, and wish to descend into common life, read the Comedies of
Plautus. There is a tolerable translation in the City Library. Such
books give the most lively and amusing, perhaps much the most just
picture, of the manners and degree of refinement of the age in which
they were written. I have agreed with Popham for his share in the City

The reading of one book will invite you to another. I cannot, I fear,
at this distance, advise you successfully; much less can I hope to
assist you in your reading. You bid me be silent as to my
expectations; for the present I obey. Your complaint of your memory,
even if founded in fact, contains nothing discouraging or alarming. I
would not wish you to possess that kind of memory which retains with
accuracy and certainty all names and dates. I never knew it to
accompany much invention or fancy. It is almost the exclusive blessing
of dullness. The mind which perceives clearly adopts and appropriates
an idea, and is thus enlarged and invigorated. It is of little moment
whether the book, the time, or the occasion be recollected.

I am inclined to dilate on these topics, and upon the effects, of
reading and study on the mind; but this would require an essay, and I
have not time to write a letter. I am also much prompted to convince
you, by undeniable proof, that the ground of your complaint does not
exist except in your own apprehensions, but this I reserve for an
interview. When I am informed of your progress, and of the direction
of your taste, I may have something further to recommend.

There is no probability of an adjournment of Congress during the
holydays, or for any longer time than one day. The possibility of my
being able to leave the business of Congress, and make a visit to
New-York, diminishes daily. I wish much to see you, and, if you are
equally sincere, we can accomplish it by meeting at Trenton. I can be
there on Friday night, but with much greater convenience on Saturday
noon or forenoon, and stay till Monday morning at least. Congress
adjourns every week from three o'clock on Friday until eleven o'clock
on Monday following. If, therefore, you write me that you will be at
Trenton at the times above mentioned, you may rely on seeing me there:
I mean at Mrs. Hooper's. This, though very practicable at present,
will not long be so, by reason of the roads, which at present are
good. If you make this trip, your footman must be on horseback; the
burden will be otherwise too great, and I must have timely notice by
letter. Mr. and Mrs. Paterson have invited you to make their house
your home at Brunswick.

Mat. laughs at your compliments, as you know he does at every thing. I
expect Theodosia's messages to be written by herself. I inquire about
your health, but you do not answer me.

Yours affectionately,



Philadelphia, December 13th, 1791.

I regret the disappointment of the Trenton visit, but still more the
occasion of it. Are you afflicted with any of your old, or with what
new complaint?

Tell Bartow that I have this evening received his letter by Vining,
who arrived in town last Monday. Beg him never again to write by a
private hand about business when there is a post. After the lapse of
five or six days without an answer, he should have sent a duplicate.
You have herewith the note for 4500 dollars.

I was charmed with your reflections on the books of two of our eminent
characters. You have, in a few words, given a lively portrait of the
men and their works. I could not repress the vanity of showing it to a
friend of _one_ of the authors.

The melancholy news of the disasters of our western army has engrossed
my thoughts for some days past. No public event since the war has
given me equal anxiety. Official accounts were received from General
Sinclair on Sunday. The reports which preceded, and which have
doubtless reached you before this time, had not exaggerated the loss
or the disgrace. No authentic estimate of the number of the killed has
yet been received; I fear it will not be less than eight or nine
hundred. The retreat was marked with precipitation and terror. The men
disencumbered themselves even of their arms and accoutrements. It is
some small consolation to have learned that the troops which fled to
Fort Jefferson have received a supply of provisions, and are secure
from any attack of the savages.

I approve, and hope at some time to execute, your plan of literary
repose. Tell Bartow to send a deed for me to execute to Carpenter,
pursuant to our contract. Pray attend to this; you will see that it
may be a little interesting to me.

Yours truly,



Philadelphia, 15th December, 1791

The post which arrived this afternoon (Thursday) brought the mail
which left New-York on Tuesday, and with it your sprightly and
engaging letter of the 12th. I thank you for your attention to my
friend, and still more for the pleasure you express at his visit. Your
"nonsense" about Voltaire contains more good sense than all the
strictures I have seen upon his works put together.

Next to your own ideas, those you gave me from Mr. J. were most
acceptable. I wish you would continue to give me any fugitive ideas or
remarks which may occur to you in the course of your reading; and what
you call your rattling way is that of all others which pleases me the

In short, let the way be your own, and it cannot fail to be
acceptable, to please, and to amuse.

I enclose this evening's paper. It contains _Strictures on Publicola_,
which you, perhaps, may find worth reading.

From an attentive perusal of the French Constitution, and a careful
examination of their proceedings, I am a warm admirer of the essential
parts of the plan of government which they have instituted, and of the
talents and disinterestedness of the members of the National Assembly.



Philadelphia, 18th December, 1791.

Mr. Learned arrived yesterday with your letter of the 15th. He
appeared pleased with your attentions, which you know gratified me.

I cannot recollect what hint I gave to Major P. which could have
intimated an expectation of seeing you in New-York during the _current
year_; unless, indeed, some of those wishes which I too often cherish
should have escaped me. We shall have no intermission of business
during the holy-days. If I should find it at any time practicable to
absent myself for a few days, it will most probably be about the
middle of next month. You have indeed, in your last letter, placed
yourself before me in the most amiable light; and, without soliciting,
have much more strongly enticed me to a visit. But for the present I
must resist. Will it not be possible for you to meet me at Trenton,
that we may travel together to New-York? If you assent to this, I will
name a day. Yet do not expose your health. On this subject you leave
me still to apprehension and conjecture.

Your account of Madame Genlis surprises me, and is a new evidence of
the necessity of reading books before we put them into the hands of
children. Reputation is indeed a precarious test. I can think at
present of nothing better than what you have chosen.

I am much in want of my maps of the different parts of North America.
It will, I believe, be best to send them all, carefully put up in a
box which must be made for the purpose. You may omit the map of
New-Jersey. The packing will require much care, as many are in sheets.
Ask Major P. for the survey he gave me of the St. Lawrence, of
different parts of Canada, and of other provinces, and send them also
forward. They may be sent by the Amboy stage, taking a receipt, which
transmit to me.

You would excuse the slovenliness, and admire the length of this
scrawl, if you could look into my study, and see the file of
unanswered, and even _un_perused letters; bundles of papers on public
and on private business; all soliciting that preference of attention
which Theodosia knows how to command from her



Philadelphia, 27th December, 1791.

What can have exhausted or disturbed you so much? You might surely
have given some hint of the cause. It is an additional reason for
wishing you here. If I had, before I left New-York, sufficiently
reflected on the subject, I would never have consented to this absurd
and irrational mode of life. If you will come with Mr. Monroe, I will
see you to New-York again; and if you have a particular aversion to
the city of Philadelphia, you shall stay a day or two at Dr.
Edwards's, ten miles from town, where I can spend the greater part of
every day.

You will perhaps admire that I cannot leave Congress as well as
others. This, if a problem, can only be solved at a personal

You perceive that I have received your letter of the 18th. It was
truly acceptable, and needed no apology. I do not always expect
letters of wit or science; and I beg you will write wholly without
restraint, both as to quantity and manner. If you write little, I
shall be glad to receive it; and if you write more, I shall be still
more glad; but when you find it a troublesome or laborious occupation,
which I have the vanity to hope will never happen, omit it. I take,
and shall continue to use, this freedom on my part; but I am for ever
obliged to put some restraint on myself, for I often sacrifice the
calls of business to the pleasure of writing to you.

27th December, at night.

This evening I am suffering under a severe paroxysm of the headache.
Your letters, received to-night, have tended to beguile the time, and
were at least a temporary relief. I am now sitting with my feet in
warm water, my head wrapped in vinegar, and drinking chamomile tea,
and all hitherto to little purpose. I have no doubt, however, but I
shall be well to-morrow. As I shall not probably sleep till morning,
and shall not rise in season to acknowledge your kind letters, I have
attempted this line. I am charmed with your account of Theodosia. Kiss
her a hundred times for me.

The reports of my style of life are, I should have thought, too
improbable to be related, and much too absurd to gain belief, or even

I have been these three weeks procuring two trifles to send you; but
am at length out of all patience with the stupidity and
procrastination of those employed; especially as the principal article
is a piece of furniture, a personal convenience, which, when done,
will not cost five dollars. The other is something between a map and a
picture. Though they will not arrive at the season I wished, they will
at any season be tokens of the affection of



Philadelphia, 2d January, 1792.

My Dear Theodosia,

Mr. Trumbull is good enough to engage to deliver this. You have long
known and admired the brilliancy of his genius and wit; I wish you
also to know the amiable qualities of his heart.



Philadelphia, 19th February, 1792.

Yesterday I received your truly affectionate letters; one dated
Thursday evening, the other without date.

You may expect a host of such falsehoods as that about the Indian war.
I have not been offered any command. When the part I take in the bill
on that subject shall be fully known, I am sure it will give entire
satisfaction to my friends.

It will not do for me at present to leave this place. I shall
therefore expect you here; and if you cannot spare the time to come
here, I will meet you either at Princeton or Trenton (preferring the
latter) any evening you shall name. Saturdays and Sundays, you know,
are our holydays. I can with ease be at Trenton at breakfast on
Saturday morning, or even on Friday evening, if thought more eligible.
But I expect this letter will pass you on your way here. My rooms at
No. 130 South Second-street are ready to receive you and Mrs. A., if
she chooses to be of the party. But the tenour of your last induces me
to think that you intend a very short visit, or rather, that you will
come express. Arrange it as you please, provided I see you somewhere
and soon.

I have a letter from Witbeck of a later date than that by Strong, and
of much more satisfactory tenour. I believe he will not disappoint the
expectations of my friends. He requests that some persons in New-York
may write to him and others in and about Albany, giving an account of
the expectations in Ulster, Dutchess, and the Southern District, and
naming persons who may be corresponded with.

My lodgings are on the right hand as you come. Drive directly up a
white gate between two lamps, and take possession. If I should be out,
the servant will know where, and will find me in a few minutes. Do not
travel with any election partisan (unless an opponent).




Albany, 5th August, 1792.


I have received your letter, which is very short, and says not one
word of your mamma's health. You talk of going to Westchester, but do
not say when or how.

Mr. and Mrs. Witbeck and their daughter talk very much about you, and
would be very glad to see you.

See what a letter I have got from little Burr, [3] and all his own
work too. Before I left home I wrote him a letter requesting him to
tell me what I should bring him; and in answer, he begs me to bring
mamma and you. A pretty present, indeed, that would be!

Your father,



Philadelphia, 24th September, 1792.


This letter will be handed to you by Mr. Beckley. He possesses a fund
of information about men and things. The republican ferment continues
to work in our state; and the time, I think, is approaching very fast
when we shall universally reprobate the maxim of sacrificing public
justice and national gratitude to the interested ideas of
stock-jobbers and brokers, whether in or out of the legislature of the
United States.

Your friends everywhere look to you to take an active part in removing
the monarchical rubbish of our government. It is time to speak out, or
we are undone. The association in Boston augurs well. Do feed it by a
letter to Mr. Samuel Adams. My letter will serve to introduce you to
him, if enclosed in one from yourself. Mrs. Rush joins me in best
compliments to Mrs. Burr, with

Yours sincerely,



Westchester, 8th October, 1792.

--I rose up suddenly from the sofa, and rubbing my head--"What book
shall I buy for her?" said I to myself. "She reads so much and so
rapidly that it is not easy to find proper and amusing French books
for her; and yet I am so flattered with her progress in that language,
that I am resolved that she shall, at all events, be gratified.
Indeed, I owe it to her." So, after walking once or twice briskly
across the floor, I took my hat and sallied out, determined not to
return till I had purchased something. It was not my first attempt. I
went into one bookseller's shop after another. I found plenty of fairy
tales and such nonsense, fit for the generality of children of nine or
ten years old. "These," said I, "will never do. Her understanding
begins to be above such things;" but I could see nothing that I would
offer with pleasure to _an intelligent, well-informed girl of nine
years old_. I began to be discouraged. The hour of dining was come.
"But I will search a little longer." I persevered. At last I found it.
I found the very thing I sought. It is contained in two volumes
octavo, handsomely bound, and with prints and registers. It is a work
of fancy, but replete with instruction and amusement. I must present
it with my own hand.

Your affectionate



1. Major Prevost, who was a widower, and whose children were left in
the care of Mrs. Burr while he made a voyage to England.

2. In the ninth year of her age.

3. Nephew of Colonel Burr


The correspondence in the last chapter between Mr. and Mrs. Burr has
been selected and published that the world may judge him as husband
and parent, so far as his letters afford a criterion. As literary
productions they cannot fail to interest and amuse.

On the 8th day of March, 1790, the legislature passed an act
appointing Gerard Bancker, treasurer, Peter Curtenius, auditor, and
Aaron Burr, attorney-general, a board of commissioners to report on
the subject of the various claims against the state for services
rendered, or injuries sustained, during the war of the revolution. The
task was one of great delicacy, and surrounded with difficulties. On
Colonel Burr devolved the duty of making that report. It was performed
in a masterly manner. When presented to the house, notwithstanding its
magnitude, involving claims of every description to an immense amount,
it met with no opposition from any quarter. On the 5th of April, 1792,
the report was ordered to be entered at length on the journals of the
assembly, and formed the basis of all future settlements with public
creditors on account of the war. In it the various claimants are
classified; legal and equitable principles are established, and
applied to each particular class. The report occupies eighteen folio
pages of the journals of the assembly. An extract from it is made, as
justly meriting a place in this work.

The said report is in the words and figures following:----"The
treasurer, the auditor, and the attorney-general, pursuant to the act
entitled _An act to receive and state accounts against this state_,
did forthwith, after the passing of the said act, give such notice of
their appointment and duties, and of the times and places for the
execution thereof, and of the period by the said act limited for
receiving and auditing claims, as is directed by the said act. And do
herewith transmit to the legislature their report upon the accounts
and claims against the state, which have been thereupon exhibited.

"The anxiety of the commissioners to render the execution of this
trust useful and acceptable has occasioned a delay of some weeks; if
their success in this attempt has been in any degree proportioned to
their attention to the subject, it will furnish their excuse; indeed,
when the legislature shall have seen the number, the variety, and
intricacy of the matters which have been submitted to the
consideration of the commissioners, it is hoped that a further apology
will be thought unnecessary.

"The commissioners have endeavoured to reduce these various demands
into classes, in such manner as to present to the legislature, in one
view, all which have appeared to depend on similar principles.
Notwithstanding their utmost attention to this object, they have found
it necessary to report on a considerable number of single cases. As
the authority under which they have acted required of them a state of
facts, together with their opinion thereupon, whenever there was a
want of uniformity either in the facts submitted or in the principles
to be applied in the determination, they have thought that strict
justice could not be done to the merit of the claim without a separate
discussion, though this has tended to lengthen the report beyond what
could have been wished, and to a degree which perhaps may in some
instances be thought prolix, yet the commissioners supposed it of
moment that their investigation should be not only satisfactory to
themselves, but that it should be apparent to the citizens upon whose
claims they have pronounced, that each hath received a distinct
attention, and that demands substantially different from each other
have not been inconsiderately blended. If the perusal of the
proceedings now submitted shall give an impression of this kind, it
will, in the opinion of the commissioners, tend to produce a more
cheerful acquiescence in the determination of the legislature, when
that determination shall reject the demand, and prevent a revival of
claims which shall now be extinguished. The commissioners have thought
that these were desirable objects, and have therefore been cautious of
generalizing, so as to destroy real distinctions, or suppress a fact
even of the lightest importance.

"In order to preserve uniformity in their opinions, the commissioners
have adopted certain principles, from which the hardship of any
particular case hath not induced them to depart. The most general and
important of these are,

"_First_. Where any species of claims is barred by an act of the
legislature, they have considered the act as a bar to their
investigation, farther than to ascertain it to be unquestionably
within the meaning of the law. This principle will be found to extend
to all claims for pay and rations alleged to be due for militia
service; to most of the demands against forfeited estates; to all
claims for property sequestered, when the sequestration was warranted
by the resolutions of the convention and the authority of the
commissioners; to all claims of payment of state agents' notes, and to
some other particular cases, which will appear in the report. In
support of this principle the commissioners have considered, that to
sanction by their opinion the admission of claims against the spirit
and letter of the statute would be an impeachment of the wisdom of
those laws; would be arrogating an authority not exercised by, or
permitted to, any court of law or equity, and would open a door to the
importunate and perhaps least deserving class of citizens, while
others, having similar demands, had withdrawn them from a spirit of
submission to the laws, by which these demands were precluded. The
commissioners have been confirmed in the propriety of their ideas by a
reflection that, if it shall for any reasons seem expedient to the
legislature to repeal or suspend the limitation of these or any of
those statutes, the avenues to redress will at once be open through
the ordinary officers of the state, without farther legislative
interposition; and that the opportunities of recompense would then be
notorious and equal; but that the redress, if any should be obtained
through the medium of the commissioners, would be partial in its
operation, and to the exclusion of those who with equal merits had
acquiesced in the known laws.

"_Second._ In the cases of claims for services done and supplies
furnished during the war, when the demand, though originating under
the authority of this state, is properly against the United States,
the opinion of the commissioners is against the allowance of any
recompense, because those claims should more properly be preferred to
Congress; and for that this state can have no credit with the United
States for payment or assumptions after the 1st day of October, 1788.

"And that, therefore, the claimants having neglected to exhibit their
demands within the period during which this state could without loss
have assumed them, cannot complain if they are now referred to the
proper tribunal. Payments by the state were in such cases, at all
times, of favour, and not of right.

"_Third._ All claims for the subsistence and services of the levies
and militia, or other troops, composing a part of the continental
army, or destined to join the army, and moving to such places of
destination, or under the command or orders of a continental officer,
and all claims for supplies and services beforehand for such troops,
are considered as proper against the United States only, and are
classed accordingly; the commissioners have been led to a more strict
attention to this distinction by the reasons just before mentioned,
and are warranted by the practice of the continental commissioners for
settling accounts, in declaring that such accounts and demands were
proper against the United States.

"Principles of more limited operation, and other remarks, will appear
in those parts of the report to which they apply.

"Explanatory of particular parts, and of the general form of the
report, it may be proper to observe,

"That where the claim or account appears, upon the face of it, to be
evidently against the United States only, or for other reasons
palpably inadmissible, the commissioners have thought it would have
been superfluous to state the proof, and have therefore, in those
cases only, given such abstracts of the claim or account as suffice to
render the exception apparent.

"In giving their opinion, the commissioners have not detailed all the
reasons which led to it, but have given a summary of such as appeared
to them most conclusive; and, as well in this as in stating the facts,
have aimed at as much brevity as appeared to them to consist with
perspicuity. If they shall be found in any instances obscure, a
reference to the claim and proofs will probably elucidate them. When
the claim is provided for by existing laws, the opinion of the
commissioners refers the claimant to the mode pointed out by such law.

"Demands of different natures by the same person are placed under the
head which comprises the greater demand. The claim and vouchers being
in such cases usually contained in the same paper or annexed together,
it was necessary so to place them in the report that there might be no
confusion in the references.

"To produce facility in the review of these proceedings, the documents
referred to are all herewith delivered, and are in bundles, marked
agreeably to the heads under which they are classed.

"_Claims for Militia Pay._

[In the report a number of cases are here inserted.]

"By an act passed the 27th of April, 1784, entitled _An act for the
settlement of the pay of the levies and militia for their services in
the late war, and for other purposes therein mentioned_, the mode in
which the rolls and abstracts for pay and subsistence are to be made
out and settled is particularly pointed out, and competent powers and
directions for the liquidation of those accounts are thereby given to
the treasurer and auditor."

"By the 14th section of an act passed the 21st of April, 1787,
entitled _An act for the relief of persons who paid money into the
treasury, &c_., the aforesaid act of the 27th of April, 1784, is
repealed. The commissioners consider this repeal as an exclusion of
all further claims for pay and subsistence of the militia and levies.
They are constrained to adopt this opinion, not only from the obvious
intention of the act, but because, by the absolute repeal of the act
of the 27th of April, 1784, there remains no prescribed mode of
authenticating these demands; that any rules which the discretion of
the commissioners should lead them to adopt would have been unknown to
the claimants, who could therefore have had no opportunity of adapting
their demands to such rules; and because, if the legislature shall be
disposed to direct compensations for such services, it will, in the
opinion of the commissioners, be most properly effected by a revival
of the said act of the 27th of April, 1784, with such further
provisions and checks as may be thought necessary; or by some other
general statute, to be passed for those purposes, and which may give
equal opportunities to the claimants, and place the liquidation and
settlement of such demands in the hands of the ordinary officers of
the state.

"_Claims for services, supplies, and losses, which, if admissible, can
be made against the United States only._

[In the report details follow, and the commissioners remark]--

"The foregoing claims and accounts the commissioners conceive to be
proper against the United States only. This is, in their opinion,
sufficiently evident in most of the cases from a bare statement of the
demands. Some few appear to require a more special report. The
resolutions of Congress of the 7th of May, 1787, and 24th of June,
1788, relative to the settlement of accounts between the United States
and individual states, will show the extent of the powers of the
Continental Commissioners, and will serve to explain the opinions in
such of the preceding cases as may appear to require farther

 "_Claims for payment of State Agents' Certificates_.

"By the 25th section of the act passed the 5th of May, 1786, entitled
_An act for the payment of certain sums of money, and for other
purposes therein mentioned_, all persons holding or possessing
certificates of Udny Hay or any of his assistants, or of Jacob Cuyler,
Morgan Lewis, or Andrew Bostwick, were required to present them, in
the manner therein prescribed, to the treasurer, before the 1st of
September, 1786; and those who failed therein are thereby declared _to
be barred and for ever precluded_ from any compensation, of which the
treasurer was directed to give public notice by advertisement, which
was accordingly done.

"By another act, passed the 31st of March, 1787, the time for
presenting the certificates of Udny Hay and his assistants was
extended until the first of May then next, which time has not been
further extended by any law of this state: so that all certificates of
those denominations which were not presented within the times and in
the manner specified in those laws, are expressly barred and for ever
precluded from compensation.

"The commissioners have therefore, for the reasons contained in the
observations prefixed to this report, conceived that a reference to
the aforesaid acts was the most proper discharge of their duty with
respect to all claims of compensation for such certificates.

"_Claims for grain impressed for the use of the army by virtue of
warrants issued by his excellency the governor, pursuant to an act
passed 23d June, 1780_.

"The law authorizing these impresses declares the articles impressed
to be for the _use and service of the army_, and that the owner shall
be entitled to receive from the public officer authorized to pay the
same the current price for the articles impressed, but does not say by
whom that public officer is to be appointed. The commissioners have,
however, no doubt but these were proper claims against the United
States, and would have been allowed by the Continental Commissioner if
exhibited in proper season; therefore, and for the reasons contained
in the second preliminary observation, the commissioners are of the
opinion that these claimants cannot of right demand payment of this

"The claims of Van Rensselaer and Dumond, the commissioners are of
opinion are reasonable; that, having been employed under the governor,
the claimants could have no demand against the United States, and that
the charges are proper against this state.

"_Claims for services in assisting H.I. Van Rensselaer and Egbert
Dumond in making the said impresses_.

"The commissioners consider the reasons just before stated in favour
of the claims of Van Rensselaer and Dumond to apply to the eleven
preceding, and that they are therefore proper charges against this

"_Claims for payment of debts due from persons whose property hath
been forfeited or sequestered_.

"The several foregoing demands against forfeited estates arose after
the 9th day of July, 1776, and are expressly precluded by the 42d
section of an act passed the 12th of May, 1784, entitled _An act for
the speedy sale of the confiscated and forfeited estates within this
state, and for other purposes therein mentioned_.

"The next twenty-five claims are for satisfaction of debts out of the
proceeds of property sequestered. The estates of the several debtors
have become forfeited, but in some instances no property hath come to
the hands of the commissioners of forfeitures; and in others, the
property which has come to their hands hath been insufficient for the
discharge of debts which have been certified.

"The succeeding twenty-six claims are to have debts satisfied out of
the proceeds of property sequestered, though there had been no
conviction of adherence or other forfeiture of the estate of the

"The commissioners are of opinion that a law should be passed
authorizing the treasurer to pay demands against forfeited estates, in
all cases where there still remains in his hands a surplus from the
proceeds of such estates, notwithstanding the limitation contained in
the act of 12th May, 1784. But the commissioners would recommend that
some mode different from that prescribed in the said act be directed
for the ascertaining the amount of those demands. The several
claimants and such others as have neglected to avail themselves of the
benefit of the said act, may, in the opinion of the commissioners, be
with propriety holden to strict legal proof of their respective
demands, in due course of law, in some court of record, where the
interest of the state may be defended by some officer to be for that
purpose appointed.

"The commissioners are further of opinion, that where there has been a
sequestration of any part of the property of a person _whose estate
hath become forfeited_, the avails of the property so sequestered, as
far as the same _can be distinguished_, should be subject to the
payment of his debts, in like manner as may be provided with respect
to other demands against forfeited estates; but it would not, in the
opinion of the commissioners, be at this time advisable to assume the
payment of the debts of persons whose property hath been sequestered,
and where there hath been no other forfeiture or confiscation.

"_Claims relative to sequestration, and property taken by orders of
the Convention_.

"These persons were voluntarily within the British lines, and their
property was therefore liable to sequestration under the acts of the
Convention. They produce a certificate of their attachment to the
American cause, signed by some respectable characters. But being
within the resolutions of the Convention, the commissioners cannot
advise a recompense.

  "GERARD BANCKER, _Treasurer_.
  "PETER T. CURTENIUS, _State Auditor_.
  "AARON BURR, _Attorney-general_."

On the 19th of January, 1791, Colonel Burr was appointed a senator of
the United States, in the place of General Schuyler, whose term of
service would expire on the 4th of March following. Until about this
period he was but little known as a partisan politician. After the
organization of the federal government under the new constitution, he
appears to have felt a great interest in its operations. In the French
revolution also, his feelings were embarked; and he was among the
number of those who condemned the cold and repulsive neutrality which
characterized the administration of that day. That he was now about to
launch into the troubled ocean of politics was evident to Mrs. Burr,
and therefore, in a letter to him under date of the 23d of July, 1791,
she says, "It is of serious consequence to you to establish your
health _before you commence politician_," &c.

In the autumn of 1791 Congress convened at Philadelphia, and Colonel
Burr took his seat in the Senate of the United States. It has often
been remarked of him, and truly, that no man was ever more cautious or
more guarded in his correspondence. A disposition, from the earliest
period of his life, to write in cipher, has already been noticed. To
this may be added an unwillingness, on all important questions, to
commit himself in writing. As soon as he entered the political arena,
this characteristic was visible even in his letters to Mrs. Burr. On
the 14th of November, 1791, he writes her--"To the subject of politics
I can at present make no reply. The _mode of communication would not
permit_, did no other reason oppose." And again, December 21st, he
says--"You will perhaps admire that I cannot leave Congress as well as
others. This, if a problem, _can only be solved at a personal

At the commencement of the revolutionary war, the State of New-York
held an extensive tract of wild and unimproved lands. Sundry laws were
passed in the years 1779, 1780, 1784, 1785, and 1786, providing for
their sale and settlement. A board was created, entitled "the
Commissioners of the Land Office." It was composed of the governor,
the secretary of state, the attorney-general, the treasurer, and the
auditor. The powers conferred by the several acts above referred to
having been found inadequate to the proposed object, the legislature,
on the 22d of March, 1791, gave unlimited powers to the commissioners,
authorizing them to "dispose of any of the waste and unappropriated
lands in the state, in such parcels, and on such terms, and in such
manner as they shall judge most conducive to the interests of the
state." In pursuance of this authority, the commissioners sold during
the year 1791, by estimate, five millions five hundred and forty-two
thousand one hundred and seventy acres of waste land, for the sum of
one million and thirty thousand four hundred and thirty-three dollars;
leaving in the possession of the state, yet to be disposed of, about
two millions of acres. Among the sales was one to Alexander Macomb,
for three millions six hundred and thirty-five thousand two hundred
acres. The magnitude of this sale, and the price at which it was sold,
created a great excitement throughout the state, and at the session of
the legislature which commenced on the 4th of January, 1792, the
subject was brought before the assembly.

The price at which Mr. Macomb made his purchase was eight pence per
acre, payable in five annual instalments, without interest, with
permission to discount for prompt payment at six per cent. per annum,
which made the price about equal to seven cents per acre cash. Colonel
Burr, as attorney-general, was a member of the board. On the 9th of
April, 1792, the report of the commissioners being the order of the
day, the subject was taken up in the house. Mr. Talbot, from
Montgomery county, moved sundry resolutions. They were intended as the
foundation for an impeachment of a part of the commissioners of the
land office. They assumed to contain a statement of facts, evidencing
on the part of the commissioners great indiscretion and want of
judgment, if not corruption, in the sale of the public lands, and they
charged the commissioners with a willful violation of the law. These
resolutions, however, excepted Colonel Burr from any participation in
the maleconduct complained of, inasmuch as the minutes of the board
proved that he was not present at the meetings (being absent on
official duty as attorney-general) when these contracts, so ruinous,
as they alleged, to the interests of the state, were made: nor did it
appear that he (Colonel Burr) was ever consulted in relation to them.
These resolutions elicited a heated debate; in the progress of which
all the commissioners, except the attorney-general, were assailed with
great bitterness; and charges of corruption by innuendo were
unceremoniously made. At a late hour the house adjourned without
decision until the next day.

On the 10th of April, 1792, Mr. Melancton Smith moved the following
resolution, with a preamble as a substitute:--

"Resolved, That this house do highly approve of the conduct of the
commissioners of the land office in the judicious sales by them, as
aforesaid, which have been productive of the before mentioned
beneficial effects."

This resolution was adopted by a vote of ays 35--noes 20.

Of Melancton Smith it is proper to remark here that he was a plain,
unsophisticated man. A purer patriot never lived. Of the powers of his
mind some opinion may be formed by the following anecdote. Dr.
Ledyard, who was afterwards health officer of the port of New-York,
was a warm federalist. He was at Poughkeepsie while the federal
constitution was under discussion in the state convention. Smith was
an anti-federal member of that body. Some time after the adoption of
the constitution, Ledyard stated to a friend of his, that to Colonel
Alexander Hamilton had been assigned, in a special manner, the duty of
defending that portion of the constitution which related to the
judiciary of the United States. That an outdoor conversation between
Colonel Hamilton and Mr. Smith took place in relation to the
judiciary, in the course of which Smith urged some of his objections
to the proposed system. In the evening a federal caucus was held; at
that caucus Mr. Hamilton referred to the conversation, and requested
that some gentleman might be designated to aid in the discussion of
this question. Robert R. Livingston, chancellor of the state, was
accordingly named. Mr. Livingston was at that time a distinguished
leader in the ranks of the federal party. Whoever will take the
trouble to read the debates in the Convention, in which will be found
the reply of Smith to Livingston, will perceive in that reply the
efforts of a mighty mind. It was a high but merited compliment to the
talents of Melancton Smith, that such a man as Colonel Hamilton should
have wished aid in opposing him.

During the winter of 1791-92, being Colonel Burr's first session in
the Senate of the United States, he spent much of his leisure time in
the state department. For several sessions after the organization of
the federal government, all the business of the Senate was transacted
with closed doors. At that period the correspondence of existing
ministers was kept secret, even from the senators. With every thing
connected with the foreign affairs of the country, Colonel Burr was
exceedingly anxious to make himself intimately acquainted. He
considered it necessary to the faithful and useful performance of his
duty as a senator. He obtained permission from Mr. Jefferson, then
secretary of state, to have access to the records of the department
before the hour for opening the office arrived. He employed one of the
messengers to make a fire at five o'clock in the morning, and
occasionally an intelligent and confidential clerk to assist him in
searching for papers. Here he was engaged until near ten o'clock every
day. It was his constant practice to have his breakfast sent to him.
He continued this employment the greater part of the session, making
notes on, or extracts from, the records of the department, until he
was interrupted by a peremptory order from the president (Washington)
prohibiting his farther examination.

Wishing some information that he had not obtained in relation to a
surrender of the western posts by the British, he addressed a note to
the secretary of state, asking permission to make that particular
examination; to which he received the following answer:----

"Thomas Jefferson presents his respectful compliments to Colonel Burr,
and is sorry to inform him it has been concluded to be improper to
communicate the correspondence of existing ministers. He hopes this
will, with Colonel Burr, be his sufficient apology."

In April, 1792, there was an election for governor of the State of
New-York. By some it was supposed that Governor Clinton would decline
being again considered a candidate. It was known that John Jay would
be the candidate of the federal party. At that period Colonel Burr had
warm personal friends in both parties, who were urging his
pretensions. Among the most ardent was Judge Yates. In the latter part
of February, 1792, he authorized his friends to state that he declined
a nomination. He was placed, however, in an unpleasant dilemma. The
connexions, and many of the personal friends of Governor Clinton, were
jealous of Colonel Burr's talents and growing influence. Between the
governor and himself there was very little intercourse. On the other
hand, the kindest feelings towards him were evinced by Chief-justice
Jay, who was a most amiable man. It was his wish, therefore, as far as
practicable, consistent with his principles, to remain neuter. He had
never been an electioneering character, and with the people he wished
to leave the pending question, without the exercise of any influence
he might be supposed to possess.

By the then existing laws of New-York, the ballots that were taken in
the several counties were, immediately after the election, transmitted
to the office of the secretary of state, and there kept until the
second Tuesday in May, when the board of canvassers were, by law, to
convene and canvass them. The election for governor was warmly
contested; the federal party supporting Judge Jay, the anti-federal
party George Clinton. When the canvassers met, difficulties arose as
to the legality of the returns from certain counties, particularly of
Otsego, Tioga, and Clinton. The canvassers differing in opinion on the
question whether the ballots should be counted or destroyed, they
agreed to ask the advice of Rufus King and Colonel Burr. These
gentlemen conferred, and, like the canvassers, differed: whereupon Mr.
Burr proposed that they should decline giving advice. To this Mr. King
objected, and expressed a determination to give his own opinion
separate. This rendered it necessary for Colonel Burr to adopt a like
procedure. He thus became a partisan, and a most efficient partisan,
in that controversy.

_Seven_ of the canvassers determined to reject and destroy the ballots
alleged to have been illegally returned. To this decision _four_
objected. The ballots were accordingly destroyed, and George Clinton
declared to be duly elected governor. The excitement produced was
without a parallel in the state. The friends of Judge Jay contended
that he had been chosen by the people, but was cheated out of his
election by the corruption of the canvassers. Great asperity and
virulence were exhibited by both political parties on the occasion.

From the moment that Colonel Burr was driven to interfere in the
controversy, he took upon himself, almost exclusively, the management
of the whole case on the side of the anti-federal party. His
accustomed acumen, vigilance, and zeal, were promptly put in
requisition. Full scope was allowed for the display of those great
legal talents for which he was so pre-eminently distinguished. It has
been known to only a very few individuals that on Colonel Burr rested
nearly the whole labour; and that nothing was done, even by the
canvassers, but under his advice and direction. It has therefore been
deemed proper to insert here some of the official details of the case.
They are worthy record, as an interesting part of the political
history of the State of New-York.

"_Statement of the case by the Canvassers, for the advice of Rufus
King and Aaron Burr_.

"OTSEGO.--By the 26th section of the constitution of the State of
New-York, it is ordained that sheriffs and coroners be annually
appointed, and that no person shall be capable of holding either of
the said offices for more than four years successively, nor the
sheriff of holding any other office at the same time. By the ninth
section of the act for regulating elections, it is enacted that one of
the inspectors shall deliver the ballots and poll-lists, scaled up, to
the sheriff of the county; and, by the tenth section of the said act,
it is further enacted, that each and every sheriff of the respective
counties in this state shall, upon receiving the said enclosures,
directed to be delivered to him as aforesaid, without opening or
inspecting the same, or any or either of them, put the said
enclosures, and every one of them, into one box, which shall be well
closed and sealed up by him, under his hand and seal, with the name of
his county written on the box, and be delivered by him into the office
of the secretary of this state, where the same shall be safely kept by
the secretary, or his deputy. By the eleventh section of the said act,
all questions arising on the canvass and estimate of the votes, or on
any of the proceedings therein, shall be determined by a majority of
the members of the joint committee attending; and their judgment shall
be final, and the oath of the canvassers requires them faithfully,
honestly, and impartially to canvass and estimate the votes contained
in the boxes delivered into the office of the secretary of this state
by the sheriffs of the several counties.

"On the 17th of February, 1791, Richard R. Smith was appointed sheriff
of the county of Otsego, and his commission gives him the custody of
that county until the 18th of February, 1792. On the 13th of January,
1792, he writes a letter to the Council of Appointment, informing them
that, as the year for which he was appointed had nearly elapsed, he
should decline a reappointment.

"On the 30th of March, 1792, the Council of Appointment appointed
Benjamin Gilbert to the office of sheriff of the said county, with a
commission, in the usual form, to keep the county until the 17th of
February next. His commission was delivered to Stephen Van Rensselaer,
Esq., on the 13th of April last, to be forwarded by him to the said
Benjamin Gilbert. By the affidavit of the said Benjamin Gilbert,
herewith delivered, it appears that he qualified into the office of
sheriff on the 11th day of May, 1792. On the first Tuesday in April,
1792, Richard R. Smith was elected supervisor of the town of Otsego,
in said county, and on the first Tuesday in May took his seat at the
board of supervisors, and assisted in the appointment of loan officers
for the county of Otsego. By the affidavit of Richard R. Smith,
herewith delivered, it appears that the ballots taken in the county of
Otsego were delivered to him as sheriff, and by him enclosed in a
sufficient box, on or about the 3d of May, which box he then delivered
into the hands of Leonard Goes, a person specially deputed by him for
the purpose of delivering the said box into the hands of the secretary
of this state, which was accordingly done, as appears by information
from the secretary.

"A small bundle of papers, enclosed and sealed, was delivered to the
secretary with the box, on which is written, 'The votes of the town of
Cherry Valley, in the county of Otsego. Richard R. Smith, Sheriff.'
Several affidavits, herewith delivered, state certain facts respecting
this separate bundle, said to be the votes of Cherry Valley.

"On this case arise the following questions:--

"1. Was Richard R. Smith the sheriff of the county of Otsego when he
received and forwarded the ballots by his special deputy?

"2. If he was not sheriff, can the votes sent by him be legally

"3. Can the joint committee canvass the votes when sent to them in two
parcels, the one contained in a box, and the other contained in a
paper, or separate bundle? Or,

"4. Ought they to canvass those sealed in the box, and reject the

"TIOGA.--It appears that the sheriff of Tioga delivered the box
containing the ballots to B. Hovey, his special deputy, who set out,
was taken sick on his journey, and delivered the box to H. Thompson,
his clerk, who delivered it into the secretary's office.

"_Question_. Ought the votes of Tioga to be canvassed?

"CLINTON.--It appears that the sheriff of Clinton delivered the box
containing the ballots to Theodorus Platt, Esq., who had no
deputation, but who delivered them into the secretary's office, as
appears by his affidavit.

"_Question._ Ought the votes of Clinton to be canvassed?"

_Mr. King's opinion to the Canvassers_.

"OTSEGO.--It may be inferred, from the constitution and laws of the
state, that the office of sheriff is held during the pleasure of the
Council of Appointment, subject to the limitation contained in the
26th section of the constitution. The sheriff may therefore hold his
office for four years, unless within that period a successor shall
have been appointed, and shall have entered upon the execution of the
office. The term of four years from the appointment of R. R. Smith not
having expired, and B. Gilbert not having entered upon the execution
of the office before the receipt and delivery of the votes by R. R.
Smith to his deputy, I am of opinion that R. R. Smith was then lawful
sheriff of Otsego.

"This opinion is strengthened by what is understood to be practice,
namely, that the office of sheriff is frequently held for more than a
year under one appointment.

"R. R. Smith's giving notice to the Council of Appointment of his
disinclination to be reappointed, or his acting as supervisor, cannot,
in my opinion, be deemed a resignation or surrender of his office.

"Should doubts, however, be entertained whether R. R. Smith was
_lawfully_ sheriff when he received and delivered the votes to his
deputy, the case contains facts which in another view of the subject
are important. It appears that R. R. Smith was appointed sheriff of
Otsego on the 17th of February, 1791, and afterwards entered upon the
execution of his office: that no other person was in the execution of
or claimed the office after the date of his appointment, and before
the time when he received and delivered the votes of the county to his
deputy; that during that interval R. R. Smith was sheriff, or the
county was without a sheriff; that R. R. Smith, during the election,
and when he received and delivered the votes to his deputy, continued
in the actual exercise of the shrievalty, and that under colour of a
regular appointment. From this statement it may be inferred, that if
R. R. Smith, when he received and delivered the votes to his deputy,
was not _de jure_, he was _de facto_, sheriff of Otsego.

"Though all the acts of an officer _de facto_ may not be valid, and
such of them as are merely voluntary and exclusively beneficial to
himself are void; yet such acts as tend to the public utility, and
such as be would be compellable to perform, such as are essential to
preserve the rights of third persons, and without which they might be
lost or destroyed, when done by an officer _de facto_, are valid.

"I am therefore of opinion, that admitting R. R. Smith, when he
received and delivered the votes to his deputy, was not _de jure_
sheriff, yet that he was _de facto_ sheriff; and that his receiving
and delivering the votes being acts done under colour of authority,
tending to the public utility, and necessary to the carrying into
effect the rights of suffrage of the citizens of that county, they are
and ought to be deemed valid; and consequently the votes of that
county may lawfully be canvassed.

"2d Question. The preceding answer to the first question renders an
answer to the second unnecessary.

"3d and 4th Questions. The sheriff is required to put into one box
every enclosure delivered to him by an inspector appointed for that
purpose by the inspectors of any town or district; and for omitting to
put any such enclosure into the box, he is liable to prosecution; but
in case of such omission, the votes put into the box, and seasonably
delivered into the secretary's office, may, notwithstanding such
omission, be lawfully canvassed; and equally so whether the omitted
enclosure be kept back or sent forward with the box to the secretary's
office. I am therefore of opinion that the votes contained in the box
may lawfully be canvassed; that those contained in a separate packet,
from considerations explained in the depositions, and distinct from
the objection of not being included within the box, cannot be lawfully

"CLINTON.--The deputy having no interest in the office of sheriff, but
being merely the sheriff's servant, it does not seem to be necessary
that the evidence of his being employed or made a deputy should be a
deed or an instrument in writing, though the latter would be proper;
yet a deputy may be made by _parole_: I am therefore inclined to the
opinion that the votes of Clinton may be canvassed.

"TIOGA.--The sheriff is one who executes an office in person or by
deputy, so far at least as the office is ministerial; when a deputy is
required of the sheriff conomine, he may execute it in person or by
deputy; but if the deputy appoints a deputy, it may be doubtful
whether ordinarily the acts of the last deputy are the acts of the
sheriff. The present instance is an extreme case; had the duty been
capable of being performed within the county, the sheriff or another
deputy could have performed. Here the deputy, being in the execution
of his duty, and without the county, is prevented by the act of God
from completing it; the sheriff could not appoint, and the deputy
undertakes to appoint a deputy to finish his duty, who accordingly
does so. The election law is intended to render effectual the
constitutional right of suffrage; it should therefore be construed
liberally, and the means should be in subordination to the end.

"In this case it may be reasonably doubted whether the canvassers are
obliged to reject the votes of Tioga.


_Mr. Burr's opinion to the Canvassers._

"OTSEGO.--The duration of the office of sheriff in England having been
limited by statute to one year, great inconveniences were experienced,
as well by suiters as by the public. To remove which it was thought
necessary to pass an act of parliament. The statute of 12 Ed. IV., ch.
1, recites at large these inconveniences, and authorizes the sheriff
to execute and return writs in the term of St. Michael, before the
delivery of a writ of discharge, notwithstanding the expiration of the
year. The authority given by this statute being to execute only
certain specified duties, the remedy was not complete, and another
statute [1] was soon after passed, permitting sheriffs to do every act
pertaining to the office, during the term of St. Michael and St.
Hilary, after the expiration of the year, if not sooner discharged.
The practice in England appears to have been conformable to these
statutes, [2] though the king did pretend to dispense with them by
force of the royal prerogative; and this claim and exercise of a power
in the crown to dispense with and control the operation of statutes,
has been long and universally condemned as odious and
unconstitutional; yet the form of the commission is said still to be
during pleasure.

"These considerations tend to show the principles of several opinions
and adjudications, which are found in English law-books, relative to
the holding over of the office of sheriff.

"None of the statutes of England or Great Britain continued to be laws
of this state after the first of May, 1778. So that at present there
remains no pretence for adopting any other than the obvious meaning of
the constitution, which limits the duration of the office to one year,
beyond which the authority to hold cannot be derived from the
constitution, the appointment, or the commission. If inconveniences
arise, remedies can be provided by _law only_, as has in similar cases
been done in England, deciding on legal principles; therefore, the
appointment and commission, and with them the authority of Mr. Smith,
must be deemed to have expired on the 18th of February.

"Yet there are instances of offices being exercised by persons holding
under an authority apparently good, but which, on strict legal
examination, proves defective; whose acts, nevertheless, are, with
_some limitations_, considered as valid. This authority is called
_colourable_, and the officer in such cases is said to be an officer
_de facto_; which intends an intermediate state between an exercise
strictly lawful and one without such colour of right. Mr. Smith does
not appear to me to have holden the office of sheriff on the 3d of May
under such colour or pretence of right. The term of his office had
expired, and he had formally expressed his determination not to accept
a reappointment; after the expiration of the year he accepted, and
even two days before the receipt of the ballots, openly exercised an
office incompatible with that of sheriff; and it is to be inferred,
from the tenour of the affidavits, that he then knew of the
appointment of Mr. Gilbert. The assumption of this authority by Mr.
Smith does not even appear to have been produced by any urgent public
necessity or imminent public inconvenience. Mr. Gilbert was qualified
in season to have discharged the duty, and, for aught that is shown,
his attendance, if really desired, might have been procured still

"Upon all the circumstances of this case, I am of opinion,

"1. That Mr. Smith was not sheriff of Otsego when he received and
forwarded the ballots.

"2d. That the ballots delivered by the deputy of Mr. Smith cannot be
legally canvassed.

"The direction of the law is positive, that the sheriff shall put all
the enclosures into one box. How far his inattention or misconduct in
this particular shall be deemed to vitiate the ballots of a county,
appears to be left to the judgment of the canvassers. Were the ballots
of this county subject to no other exception than that stated in the
third and fourth questions, I should incline to think it one of those
cases in which the discretion of the canvassers might be safely
exercised, and that the ballots contained in the boxes might be
legally canvassed; those in the separate package do not appear to be
subject to such discretionary power; the law does not _permit_ them to
be estimated. But the extent to which this power might be exercised in
cases similar in kind, but varying in degree, cannot be precisely
defined. Instances may doubtless be supposed, in which sound
discretion would require that the whole should be rejected.

"Clinton.----To the question relative to the ballots of this county,
it may suffice to say, that verbal and written deputation by a sheriff
are, in law, considered as of equal validity, particularly when it is
to perform a single ministerial act.

"Tioga.----it is said that a deputy may make a deputy to discharge
certain duties merely ministerial; but, considering the importance of
the trust in regard of the care of the ballots, and the extreme
circumspection which is indicated in the law relative to elections, I
think that the ballots of this county cannot, by any fiction or
construction, be said to have been delivered _by the sheriff_; and am
of opinion that they ought not to be canvassed.


The opinion of Rufus King in this case was concurred in by Stephen
Lush, T. V. W. Graham, and Abraham Van Vechten, of Albany; Richard
Harrison, John Lawrence, John Cozine, Cornelius J. Bogart, Robert
Troup, James M. Hughes, and Thomas Cooper, of New-York.

The opinion of Colonel Burr was sustained by Pierpont Edwards of
Connecticut, Jonathan D. Sergeant, of Philadelphia, Edmund Randolph,
of Virginia, United States attorney-general, Zephaniah Swift, Moses
Cleaveland, Asher Miller, David Daggett, Nathaniel Smith, and Dudley
Baldwin. These opinions were procured by Colonel Burr, as appears from
the private correspondence on the subject.


Philadelphia, 4th May, 1792.


You will perceive by the date of the enclosed that it has been ready
some time, but I have waited in hopes that I should have the pleasure
of sending forward Mr. Randolph's opinion in company with mine. As he
is not yet quite ready, and I am going out of town, I send forward my
own singly. He is very solicitous to collect all possible information
on the subject before he gives his opinion, and would willingly excuse
himself from the task, were it not, as he says, that it would look
like a want of that independence and firmness which dispose a man to
meet any question, however important or strongly contended.

His opinion hitherto has been conformable to yours, and I expect will
continue so. When it is ready I will forward it without the delay of
sending it round to Dr. Edwards's in the country. The doctor had
spoken to me some time before your letter came to me, so that I was
nearly prepared when I received yours.

Your obedient servant,


On the 6th of November, 1792, the legislature met. On the 13th,
petitions, memorials, &c. were presented to the House of Assembly,
demanding an inquiry into the conduct of the board appointed to
canvass the votes given for governor, &c. at the preceding election,
held in the month of April. On the 21st the house, in committee of the
whole, took up the subject. Witnesses were examined at the bar;
various resolutions and modifications were offered and rejected. The
debate was continued at intervals from the 21st of November, 1792,
until the 18th of July, 1793. The minority of the canvassers entered a
protest against the proceedings of the majority, which it is due to
them to insert here.

"_The Protest of Messrs. Jones, Roosevelt, and Gansevoort_.

"We, the subscribers, members of the joint committee appointed to
canvass and estimate the votes taken at the last election in this
state for governor, lieutenant-governor, and senators, do dissent
from, and protest against, the determination of the major part of said
committee respecting the votes taken at the said election in the
county of Otsego.

"I. Because these votes having been given by the freeholders of
Otsego, and the packages containing the same having been received and
transmitted in season to the secretary's office by the person acting
as sheriff of the county, the committee have no right to reject them
under the pretence of judging of the legality, validity, operation, or
extent of the sheriff's authority or commission; these commissions
being foreign to the duty of their appointment, and capable of a
decision only in the ordinary courts of law.

"II. Because, if the committee were by law authorized to examine and
determine the legality and extent of the sheriff's authority and
commission, we are of opinion that Richard R. Smith, at the time he
received and transmitted the ballots, was the lawful sheriff of
Otsego. By the constitution, the sheriff, whatever may be the form of
his commission, must hold his office during the pleasure of the
Council of Appointment; and, by the law of the land, he must continue
therein until another is appointed and takes upon himself the office.
Richard R. Smith, having been appointed on the 27th of February, 1791,
and Benjamin Gilbert having been appointed on the 30th of March, 1792,
but not having qualified or taken upon himself the office until
Richard R. Smith had received and forwarded the same, must be deemed
the lawful sheriff of the county. The uniform practice which has
prevailed since the establishment of the constitution, precludes all
doubt respecting its true construction on this point. For although the
commissions of the sheriffs are for one year, they have nevertheless
continued to exercise the office until others were appointed and
entered upon the execution thereof, which has often been long after
the expiration of the year, and sometimes after the same person has
remained in office more than four years successively. And such
sheriffs, sometimes after the expiration of their year, at others
after having held the office for four successive years, have received
and transmitted ballots for governor, lieutenant-governor, and
senators, which ballots have on former elections been received and
canvassed; and even upon the present canvass, the committee have
canvassed the ballots taken in the counties of Kings, Orange, and
Washington, notwithstanding the year had expired for which the
sheriffs of these counties were commissioned, and no new commissions
had been issued. Hence the sheriffs of those counties, in receiving
and transmitting the ballots, must have acted under their former
commissions, since a mere appointment without a commission, and a
compliance with the requisites prescribed by law, could not, in our
opinion, give any authority as sheriff to the person so appointed.

"III. Because, if Richard R. Smith, at the time he received and
forwarded the ballots, was not sheriff, the county was without a
sheriff, a position too mischievous to be established by a doubtful
construction of law.

"IV. Because, if Richard R. Smith was not of right sheriff of the
county at the time he received and forwarded the ballots, he was then
sheriff in fact of that county; and all the acts of such an officer
which tend to the public utility, or to preserve and render effectual
the rights of third persons, are valid in law.

"V. Because, in all doubtful cases, the committee ought, in our
opinion, to decide in favour of the votes given by the citizens, lest
by too nice and critical an exposition of the law the rights of
suffrage be rendered nugatory.

"We also dissent from, and protest against, the determination of the
major part of the said committee respecting the votes taken at the
said election in the county of Clinton;

"Because it appears that the sheriff of the said county deputed a
person by parole to deliver the box containing the ballots of the said
county into the secretary's office. Such deputation we deem to be
sufficient; and as there is satisfactory evidence that the box was
delivered in the same state in which it was received from the sheriff,
the votes, in our opinion, ought to be canvassed.

"We also dissent from, and protest against, the determination of the
major part of the said committee, by which they declare that George
Clinton was, by the greatest number of votes taken at the last
election for governor, lieutenant-governor, and senators, chosen
governor of this state; and that Pierre Van Courtlandt was, by the
greatest number of votes at the said election, chosen
lieutenant-governor; and that John Livingston was, by the greatest
number of votes at the said election, in the eastern district of this
state, chosen a senator in the said eastern district.

"Because it cannot be ascertained whether George Clinton was chosen
governor, or Pierre Van Courtlandt lieutenant-governor of this state,
by the greatest number of votes at the last election, without
examining the ballots contained in the boxes delivered into the
secretary's office by the sheriffs of the counties of Otsego and
Clinton--there being a sufficient number of freeholders in these
counties, with the votes given in the other parts of the state for
John Jay as governor and Stephen Van Rensselaer as
lieutenant-governor, to give them a majority of votes for those
offices. Nor can it be ascertained whether John Livingston was chosen
a senator in the eastern district by the greatest number of votes in
that district, without examining the votes taken in the county of
Clinton--there being a sufficient number of freeholders in that
county, with the votes given in other parts of the district for Thomas
Jenkins as a senator, to give him a greater number of votes for a
senator than the number given for the said John Livingston.




Joshua Sands, another member of the board of canvassers, entered
separately a protest, but substantially the same as the preceding.

The majority of the canvassers presented a document to the
legislature, in which they assigned their reasons for the course they
had pursued. That document was drawn by Colonel Burr. The original
draught, with his emendations, has been preserved among his papers. On
the motion of a member, it was read in the house the 28th day of
December, 1792, and is entered at large on their journals as

"_The reasons assigned by the majority of the Canvassers in
vindication of their conduct_.

"The joint committee appointed to canvass and estimate the votes for
governor, lieutenant-governor, and senators at the last election,
having been constrained, by a sense of their duty in the discharge of
the trust reposed in them, to reject the ballots returned from the
counties of Clinton, Otsego, and Tioga; and perceiving that attempts
are made to misrepresent as well the principles of their determination
as the facts on which they are founded, feel it incumbent on them to
state the grounds of their decision.

"CLINTON AND TIOGA.--A box, said to contain the ballots of the county
of Clinton, was deposited in the secretary's office by a Theodore
Platt, without any deputation or other authority, accompanied only by
his own affidavit, that he had received the said box from the sheriff
of Clinton.

Another box, said to contain the ballots of the county of Tioga, was
delivered by the sheriff of the county of Tioga to his deputy,
Benjamin Hovey, who, being detained by illness on the road, delivered
the said box to one James H. Thompson, by whom it was deposited in the
secretary's office.

"The joint committee, pursuant to the law, are sworn to canvass the
votes 'contained in the boxes delivered into the office of the
secretary of the state by the sheriffs of the several counties.' Hence
arose a question, whether this was not a _personal trust_, which could
not be legally performed by deputy? Upon this point we entertained
different opinions; but agreed that, if the discretion of the
committee was to be in any degree controlled by the directions of the
law, there appeared no room to doubt of the illegality of canvassing
boxes which were not delivered by a sheriff or the deputy of a
sheriff. The ballots contained in these boxes were therefore rejected;
not, however, without sensible regret, as no suspicion was entertained
of the fairness of those elections.

"OTSEGO.---It appears that Richard R. Smith, on the 17th of February,
1791, was appointed sheriff of the county of Otsego, to hold that
office until the 18th of February, 1792; that a commission was issued
agreeably to that appointment; that on the 13th of January, 1792, he
wrote to the governor and council that he should decline a
reappointment; that on the 30th of March, 1792, Benjamin Gilbert was
appointed sheriff of the said county; that the commission to the said
Benjamin Gilbert was, on the 13th of April, 1792, delivered to Stephen
Van Rensselaer, one of the Council of Appointment, to be by him
forwarded; that the said commission was in the hands of William
Cooper, Esq., first judge of the said county, on or before the 3d of
May; that the said Richard R. Smith, on the first Tuesday in April,
was elected supervisor of the town of Otsego, accepted that office,
and on the 1st day of May took his seat at the board of supervisors,
assisted in the appointment of loan officers, and _then_ declared that
he was no longer sheriff of the county, but that Benjamin Gilbert was
appointed in his place. It also appeared that Benjamin Gilbert had no
notice of his said appointment, or of the receiving of the ballots by
the said Richard R. Smith, until the 9th day of May, and that he was
sworn to the execution of the office on the 11th; that, on the 3d of
May, the said Richard R. Smith put up the ballots of the said county
in the store of the said William Cooper, Esq., in whose hands the
commission of Benjamin Gilbert then was; that the box said to contain
the votes of the said county was delivered into the secretary's office
by Leonard Goes previous to the last Tuesday in May, under a
deputation from the said Richard R. Smith; together with the said box,
and at the same time, the said Leonard Goes delivered a separate
packet or enclosure, which, by an endorsement thereon, purported to
contain 'the ballots received from the town of Cherry Valley, in the
county of Otsego.'

"The manner of the delivery of the said box and enclosure, and the
authority of the said Leonard Goes, were reported to the committee by
the secretary of the state.

"These votes were not canvassed for the following reasons:--

"1. The committee found themselves bound, by their oath and by the
directions of the law before mentioned, to canvass only the votes
contained in the boxes which may have been delivered into the
secretary's office by the _sheriffs_ of the several counties. It
appeared to them absurd to suppose this duty should be so expressly
enjoined, and that they should nevertheless be prohibited from
inquiring whether the boxes were or were not delivered by such
officers; or that they should be restrained from ascertaining a fact,
without the knowledge of which it was impossible that they could
discharge the duty with certainty to the public or with confidence to
themselves. They could not persuade themselves that they were, under
_that_ law and _that_ oath, compelled to canvass and estimate votes,
however fraudulently obtained, which should be delivered into the
secretary's office _by any person styling_ himself sheriff, though it
should at the same time be evident to them that he was _not the
sheriff_. If such was to be their conduct, a provision intended as a
security against impositions would be an engine to promote them. They
conceived, therefore, that the objection to an inquiry so important,
and in a case where the question was raised and the inquiry imposed
upon them by the suggestions of the secretary, must have arisen from
gross misrepresentation or willful error.

"Upon investigating the right of the said Richard R. Smith to exercise
that office, the facts appeared as herein-before stated.

"2. The constitution requires that sheriffs shall be _annually
appointed_; which, to our apprehension, implies that no person shall
exercise the office by virtue of any other than an _annual_
appointment. And should it even be admitted that the council may, at
_their pleasure_, remove a sheriff within the year, yet we do not see
on what ground it can be denied that the duration of the office is
limited to one year, unless a new appointment should take place. It
would otherwise be true that the council could indirectly, or by a
criminal omission, accomplish what is not within their direct or legal
authority. It will be readily admitted that an appointment and
commission for three years would be void; and surely the pretence of
one thus claiming should be preferred to a usurpation without even
such appearance of right, and against the known right of another. To
assert, therefore, that 'by the constitution the sheriff, whatever may
be the form of his commission, must hold his office during the
pleasure of the Council of Appointment; and that, by the law of the
land, he must continue therein until another is appointed and has
taken upon himself the office,' is an assertion accompanied with no
proof or reason, and is repugnant to the letter and spirit of the
constitution, which is eminently _the law of the land_. The practice
which has prevailed since the revolution, as far as hath come to our
knowledge, does not warrant the position; neither could mere practice,
if such had prevailed, justify the adoption of a principle contrary to
the obvious meaning of the constitution. Upon the present occasion we
have not canvassed the votes of any county which were not returned by
a sheriff holding his office under an appointment unexpired. The
sheriffs of Kings, Orange, and Washington had all been reappointed
within the present year, which satisfied the words of the
constitution, and was the _known_ and avowed reason which influenced
the committee to estimate the ballots of those counties. The doctrine
concerning the constitutional pleasure of the council in the
appointment of the office of sheriffs _had not then been invented_.

"3. But even admitting the visionary idea that the office of sheriff
(_whose duration is limited by the constitution_) can nevertheless be
holden _during the pleasure_ of the Council of Appointment, yet that
appears to have been determined by the letter of the appointment and
commission, by the appointment of Benjamin Gilbert, by the declaration
of Richard R. Smith, and by his acceptance and exercise of another
office, which is, by the constitution, declared to be incompatible
with the office of sheriff.

"It was evident, therefore, that Richard R. Smith had no authority by
appointment, by commission, by the constitution, or by any law, to
hold or exercise the office of sheriff on the third of May.

"4. As Richard R. Smith was not legally or constitutionally sheriff on
the third of May, neither, under the circumstances of the case, can he
be said to have been sheriff in fact, so as to render his acts valid
in contemplation of law: the assumption of power by Mr. Smith appears
to have been warranted by no pretence or colour of right. The time
limited for the duration of his office had expired by the express
tenure of his commission and appointment, and he had formally declared
his determination not to accept a reappointment. He had, two days
previous to his receiving the ballots, openly exercised an office
incompatible with that of sheriff; then declared that he had resigned
the office of sheriff, and that Benjamin Gilbert was appointed in his
place; and by an affidavit which was produced to the committee, it
appeared that, upon the day upon which he had put up the ballots in
the house of the said William Cooper, he, the said Richard R. Smith,
declared that he had resigned the office of sheriff. The business
might with equal care and certainty have been executed by Benjamin
Gilbert. The single act of receiving ballots could of itself continue
_no man_ a sheriff--least of all _a man disavowing that office, and
then in the exercise of another_. It was foreign to the duty of the
committee to provide against evils which may possibly arise from
casual vacancies in the office of sheriff by death and otherwise.
Vacancies will sometimes unavoidably happen, without further
legislative provision.

"There is not, therefore, in our opinion, any application to the
subject, or force in the objection, 'that if Richard R. Smith was not
sheriff, the county was without a sheriff;' neither is the position
true in fact, for it appears that the county was not then without a
sheriff. At the time the ballots were received, it was well known that
Benjamin Gilbert was appointed sheriff, and that his commission was in
the hands of William Cooper, in whose store Richard R. Smith put up
the ballots. It is also to be fairly inferred that, had proper
measures been taken to give notice to Mr. Gilbert, he would forthwith
have qualified and undertaken the execution of the office. It cannot,
therefore, consistent with truth or candour, be asserted that there
was the remotest probability that 'mischiefs' could in any parallel
case ensue from the principles adopted by the committee.

"It did not seem possible, therefore, by any principle of law, by any
latitude of construction, to canvass and estimate the ballots
contained in the box thus circumstanced.

"But, had the question been doubtful, it was attended by other
circumstances, which would have determined the committee against
canvassing those ballots.

"5. Because the notice of the appointment of Benjamin Gilbert was
received by Richard R. Smith on or before the first of May, and his
commission was received by William Cooper on or before the third of
May. Mr. Gilbert might therefore have been notified, qualified, and
executed the duty. He did actually qualify on the eleventh, which gave
ample time to have forwarded the ballots before the last Tuesday in
May. These facts, with other suggestions of unfair practices, rendered
the conduct of the Otsego election justly liable to suspicion; and the
committee were constrained to conclude that the usurpation of
authority by Richard R. Smith was wanton and unnecessary, and
proceeded from no motive connected with the preservation of the rights
of the people or the freedom and _purity of elections_.

"6. Because, having in several instances, by _unanimous vote_,
rejected ballots of whole towns, free from any suspicion of
unfairness, by reason of a defect in _form only_ of the return, the
committee conceived themselves the more strongly bound to reject
ballots where the defect was substantial, and the conduct at least
questionable; especially as the law regards the custody of enclosures
containing the ballots as a trust of high importance, and contemplates
but three persons in whose hands they are to be confided until they
come to the possession of the canvassers, to wit, the inspector, the
sheriff, and the secretary; all officers of great responsibility and

"7. Because the return, upon the face of it, appeared to be illegal.
The law requires the sheriff, 'upon receiving the said enclosure,
directed to be delivered to him as aforesaid, without opening or
inspecting the same, or any or either of them, to put the said
enclosures, and _every one of them, into one box_, which shall be well
closed, &c., and be delivered by him, without opening the same, or the
enclosures therein contained, into the office of the secretary of this
state before the last Tuesday in May in every year.'

"By recurring to the preceding state of facts it will be evident that
this direction of the law had been disregarded. If irregularities of
this kind should be permitted and countenanced, it would be in the
power of the sheriff, by excluding a part of the votes, to confer a
majority on any candidate, in counties where there were divisions of
interests. Affidavits were indeed produced tending to show that there
had been, in that town, disputes respecting the election of town
officers; that two enclosures, purporting to contain the votes of the
town, were delivered to Mr. Smith, and that he had put into the box
that enclosure which contained the votes taken by the persons whom _he
judged_ to be the legal inspectors: a matter proper to have been
submitted to the opinion of the committee.

"The committee have considered this subject with deliberate attention,
and in every light in which it could be placed; and whether they
regarded the channels of conveyance, the mode of the return, or the
general principles which ought to govern their decisions touching the
freedom of elections and security against frauds, they found
undeniable reasons which compelled them to reject the votes.








On the 18th of January, 1793, the House of Assembly passed the
following resolutions on the subject. "Thereupon, _Resolved_, That the
mode of prosecuting any joint committee of the Senate and Assembly,
appointed for the purpose of canvassing and estimating the votes taken
in this state for governor, lieutenant-governor, and senators, and the
penalties to be inflicted on such committee, or any of them, for any
improper conduct in the execution of the trust reposed in them by law,
are clearly pointed out in the twentieth and twenty-first sections of
the act for regulating elections, passed the 13th day of February, one
thousand seven hundred and eighty-seven; and that, therefore, any
person or persons who may suppose that any such joint committee, or
any of them have conducted themselves improperly in the execution of
the trust reposed in them, may prosecute the same to effect in the
ordinary course of law.

"_Resolved_, That notwithstanding this provision in the act for
regulating elections, this house hath gone into an inquiry with
respect to the conduct of the late committee appointed to canvass and
estimate the votes for governor, lieutenant-governor, and senators,
taken at the last general election held in this state, _to the intent_
that satisfaction may be given those citizens of the state who have
been dissatisfied with the decision of the major part of the said
committee, with respect to the votes taken in the counties of Otsego,
Tioga, and Clinton.

"_Resolved_, That after a full and fair examination into the conduct
of the major part of the said canvassing committee, it does not appear
to this house that the said major part of the committee, to wit: David
Gelston, Thomas Tillotson, Daniel Graham, Melancton Smith, David
M'Carty, Pierre Van Courtlandt, junior, and Jonathan N. Havens, have
been guilty of any mal or corrupt conduct in the execution of the
trust reposed in them by law.

"And whereas, by the eleventh section of the act for regulating
elections, it is enacted that all questions which shall arise upon any
canvass and estimate, or upon any of the proceedings therein, shall be
determined according to the opinion of the major part of the said
canvassing committee, and that their judgment and determination shall
in all cases be binding and conclusive; therefore,

"_Resolved_, As the sense of this house, that the legislature cannot
annul or make void any of the determinations of the said committee."

The question was taken on the preceding resolutions together, by yeas
and nays, and passed in the affirmative. Ays 35. Nays 22.

Among the individuals for whom Colonel Burr entertained a high degree
of respect, was Jacob De Lamater, Esq., of Marbletown. Between these
gentlemen, for several years, a friendly, and, in some instances, a
confidential correspondence existed. Mr. De Lamater was a federalist,
but personally attached to Colonel Burr. In 1792 he was among those
who wished him to become a candidate for the office of governor. After
the death of De Lamater, the letters addressed to him by Colonel Burr
were returned. They were written under the sacred seal of friendship;
but they contain not a sentence, not a word, that is not alike
honourable to his head and his heart. One is selected and here
published as explanatory of his _feelings_ and his _conduct_ in the
contested election (which so much agitated the State of New-York)
between George Clinton and John Jay. It requires no comment.


New-York, 15th June, 1792.


You will, before this can reach you, have heard of the event of the
late election. Some questions having arisen among the canvassers
respecting the returns from Clinton, Otsego, and Tioga, they requested
the advice of Mr. King and myself. We conferred, and, unfortunately,
differed; particularly as to the questions upon the Otsego return. I
therefore proposed that we should decline giving any opinion, being
for my own part much averse to interfere in the business. Mr. King,
however, determined to give his separate opinion, from what motives
you may judge. This laid me under the necessity of giving mine also,
which I did. If I can procure copies of both opinions, and of the
protest of the minority, and the reasons assigned by the majority of
the canvassers, I will send them herewith. They will enable you to
form a competent judgment of the law question, and of the fairness of
the Otsego return.

I do not see how any unbiased man can doubt, but still I do not
pretend to control the opinion of others, much less to take offence at
any man for differing from me. The reasons contained in my opinion,
and assigned by the majority of the canvassers, have never been
answered except by abuse. I can, in a personal interview, inform you
of some circumstances relative to the opinions which have been
procured in favour of the Otsego votes.

I have heard with much pride and pleasure of the warm and
disinterested manner in which I was espoused by some respectable
characters in your county. I shall never fail to recollect it with
sensibility and gratitude. It would therefore give me real pain to
believe that any part of my conduct had tended to thwart their wishes.
If it has had any such effect, it should at least be remembered that I
did not seek to gratify any wish or interest of my own. I took no part
in the election. I never gave to any person the most distant
intimation that I supposed you engaged to support Mr. Clinton, or to
take any other part than that which your inclinations and judgment
should direct. I felt no disposition to influence your conduct on that
occasion. Had I been so inclined, I have no doubt but I could, in
various parts of the state, have essentially injured Mr. Jay's
interest; but I made no attempt of the kind. Yet I shall never yield
up the right of expressing my opinions. I have never exacted that
tribute from another.

Upon the late occasion, indeed, I earnestly wished and sought to be
relieved from the necessity of giving any opinion, particularly from a
knowledge that it would be disagreeable to you and a few others whom I
respect and wish always to gratify. But the conduct of Mr. King left
me no alternative. I was obliged to give an opinion, and I have not
yet learned to give any other than which my judgment directs.

It would, indeed, be the extreme of weakness in me to expect
friendship from Mr. Clinton. I have too many reasons to believe that
he regards me with jealousy and malevolence. Still, this alone ought
not to have induced me to refuse my advice to the canvassers. Some
pretend, indeed, but none can believe, that I am prejudiced in his
favour. I have not even seen or spoken to him since January last. I
wish to merit the flattering things you say of my talents; but your
expressions of esteem and regard are still more flattering, and these,
I am sure, I shall never fail to merit, if the warmest friendship and
unalterable attachment can give me a claim.

Will you be abroad any, and what part of the summer? I ask, because I
propose to make you a visit on my way to, or return from, Albany, and
wish to be certain of finding you at home. No political changes can
ever diminish the pleasure with which I subscribe myself

Your affectionate friend,


The following letter is evidence of Colonel Burr's propensity to
correspond in cipher with his most intimate friends, even on
unimportant topics. Hundreds of the same character might be given.


New-York, October 30th, 1792


Your letter by Mr. Addison was particularly kind, after my long
_supposed_ silence. We may make use of _both keys or ciphers_, and if
some of the persons or things are designated by different characters,
no inconvenience will arise; if there should, we will correct it.

_V_ is to be the candidate, as my former letter will have told you: He
has the wishes of 9 for his success, for reasons which will be obvious
to you. Do you think that 8 would be induced from any motive to vote
for him?

Yours affectionately,



1. 17 Ed., ch. 7, more general.

2. 2 Hawks., 5, 51, Irish oct. edit., 2 mod. 261 statute 1 Wm. and
Mary, sess. 2, ch. 2. See also sec. 12 of the same statute.


On the 2d of October, 1792, Governor Clinton nominated Colonel Burr to
the Council of Appointment as Judge of the Supreme Court of the state,
which nomination was immediately confirmed. Thus, within the short
space of about three years, he was appointed by the democratic party
to the several important stations of Attorney-General, Senator of the
United States, and Judge of the Supreme Court. The last appointment
was made without consulting Mr. Burr. As soon as he was notified of
the fact, he informed the governor of his non-acceptance; yet so
anxious was his excellency, and so strong were his hopes that Colonel
Burr might be induced to withdraw his resignation, that be refused to
lay it before the council until the legislature, on the 7th of
December, adopted the following resolution--

"Whereas it appears to the legislature, by the records of the Council
of Appointment, that Aaron Burr, Esq., one of the senators for this
state in the Senate of the United States, was, on the 2d day of
October last, appointed one of the puisne justices of the Supreme
Court of Judicature of this state: Thereupon,

"_Resolved_ (if the honourable the Senate concur herein), That his
excellency the governor be and hereby is requested to inform the
legislature whether the said Aaron Burr hath accepted or refused the
said office."

On the 24th of October, 1791, Congress convened, and Colonel Burr took
his seat in the Senate of the United States. In those days it was the
practice of the president, accompanied by the heads of departments, to
proceed to Congress Hall for the purpose of meeting the two branches
of the national legislature, and opening the session with a speech, to
which a response was made by each body separately. On the 25th the
president made his annual communication; whereupon the Senate
"_Ordered_, That Messrs. Burr, Cabot, and Johnston be a committee to
prepare and report the draught of an address to the President of the
United States, in answer to his speech, delivered this day to both
houses of Congress in the Senate Chamber."

The next day Colonel Burr, as chairman of the committee, draughted and
reported an answer, which was adopted by the Senate without alteration
or amendment: an occurrence, it is believed, that happened in only two
other instances during the period that speeches were delivered by the
executive. After the election of Mr. Jefferson the system of sending
messages was substituted.

The journals of the Senate afford ample evidence that Colonel Burr was
an industrious and efficient member of that body. During the first
session of his term of service he was placed on numerous committees,
some of them important, and generally as chairman. His business habits
soon became evident, and were called into operation. His character for
firmness was well established before be took his seat in the Senate;
but on the 9th of January, 1794, it was displayed with effect. In
consequence of a difference between the two houses, a bill to increase
the standing army was lost.

Mr. King, of New-York, by consent, introduced a new bill; it was
entitled "An act for the more effectual protection of the southwestern
frontier settlers." Unsuccessful efforts were made by Colonel Burr and
others to amend it, by striking out some of its most odious features;
but there was a decided majority, as it was known to be an
administration measure, determined on carrying it through. The bill
was ordered to be engrossed for a third reading, and the question on
its passage was to be taken on the last day of the session. By the
rules of the Senate, the question could not be put if any member
objected. Colonel Burr objected, and the bill was thus defeated.

Notwithstanding his public engagements, Colonel Burr's mind was
constantly employed with the education of his daughter. Mrs. Burr's
health was gradually declining, insomuch that she was unable, at
times, to attend to her domestic concerns. This to him was a source of
unceasing care and apprehension. His letters to his daughter are
numerous. They are frequently playful, always interesting, displaying
the solicitude of an affectionate father anxious for the improvement
of his child.


Philadelphia, 18th January, 1793.

By the enclosed to Mr. Gurney, [1] I have requested him to write me a
letter respecting the health of the family, and Theo.'s improvement.
Request him to enclose, on a separate sheet, some columns of figures,
pounds, shillings, and pence. I shall show the letter and enclosure as
a specimen of his talents to some persons to whom I wish to recommend
him. Beg him to use no uncommon word or expression. He will pardon
this piece of advice when he recollects that I know so much better
than he does what will suit the persons to whom it is to be shown. If
he should offer his letter for your perusal before he sends it, remark
freely; it will be a kindness of which no one is so capable.

Should this come to hand after he has given his lesson on Saturday,
send him his letter, and request him to call on you, if you should be
able to bear five minutes conversation with him.

I wrote you yesterday, and have nothing to add respecting myself; and
only a repetition of my prayers for you, with my most affectionate and
anxious wishes.



Philadelphia, 8th February, 1793.

You may recollect that I left a memorandum of what Theo. was to learn.
I hope it has been strictly attended to. Desire Gurney not to attempt
to teach her any thing about the "concords." I will show him how I
choose that should be done when I return, which, I thank God, is but
three weeks distant.

It is eight days since I left home, and I have not a word from any one
of the family, nor even about any one of them. I have been out but
once, half an hour at Mrs. P.'s, a concert; but I call often at Mrs.
L.'s. I am more and more struck with the native good sense of one of
that family, and more and more disgusted with the manner in which it
is obscured and perverted: cursed effects of fashionable education! of
which both sexes are the advocates, and yours eminently the victims.
If I could foresee that Theo. would become a _mere_ fashionable woman,
with all the attendant frivolity and vacuity of mind, adorned with
whatever grace and allurement, I would earnestly pray God to take her
forthwith hence. But I yet hope, by her, to convince the world what
neither sex appear to believe--that women have souls!

Most affectionately yours,



Philadelphia, 15th February, 1793.

I received with joy and astonishment, on entering the Senate this
minute, your two elegant and affectionate letters. The mail closes in
a few minutes, and will scarce allow me to acknowledge your goodness.
The roads and ferries have been for some days almost impassable, so
that till now no post has arrived since Monday.

It was a knowledge of your mind which first inspired me with a respect
for that of your sex, and with some regret, I confess, that the ideas
which you have often heard me express in favour of female intellectual
powers are founded on what I have imagined, more than what I have
seen, except in you. I have endeavoured to trace the causes of this
_rare_ display of genius in women, and find them in the errors of
education, of prejudice, and of habit. I admit that men are equally,
nay more, much more to blame than women. Boys and girls are generally
educated much in the same way till they are eight or nine years of
age, and it is admitted that girls make at least equal progress with
the boys; generally, indeed, they make better. Why, then, has it never
been thought worth the attempt to discover, by fair experiment, the
particular age at which the male superiority becomes so evident? But
this is not in answer to your letter; neither is it possible now to
answer it. Some parts of it I shall never answer. Your allusions to
departed angels I think in bad taste.

I do not like Theo.'s indolence, or the apologies which are made for
it. Have my directions been pursued with regard to her Latin and

Your plan and embellishment of my mode of life are fanciful, are
flattering, and inviting. We will endeavour to realize some of it.
Pray continue to write, if you can do it with impunity. I bless Sir
J., who, with the assistance of Heaven, has thus far restored you.

In the course of this scrawl I have been several times called to vote,
which must apologize to you for its incoherence. Adieu.



Philadelphia, 16th February, 1793.

A line of recollection will, I am sure, be more acceptable than
silence. I consider myself as largely in your debt, and shall of
necessity remain so.

You have heard me speak of a Miss Woolstonecraft, who has written
something on the French revolution; she has also written a book
entitled "_Vindication of the rights of Woman_." I had heard it spoken
of with a coldness little calculated to excite attention; but as I
read with avidity and prepossession every thing written by a lady, I
made haste to procure it, and spent the last night, almost the whole
of it, in reading it. Be assured that your sex has in _her_ an able
advocate. It is, in my opinion, a work of genius. She has successfully
adopted the style of Rousseau's Emilius; and her comment on that work,
especially what relates to female education, contains more good sense
than all the other criticisms upon him which I have seen put together.
I promise myself much pleasure in reading it to you.

Is it owing to ignorance or prejudice that I have not yet met a single
person who had discovered or would allow the merit of this work?

Three mails are in arrear; that of Tuesday is the last which has
arrived. I am impatient to know how writing agrees with you. Pray let
me hear, from day to day, the progress of your cure. Most
affectionately yours,



Philadelphia, 18th February, 1793.

Just what I apprehended, I find, has taken place. Three sheets were
too much for a first attempt. It will, I fear, discourage you, if not
disable you from more moderate experiments. Yet I will hope to receive
by this day's mail at least one line, announcing your progressive
recovery, under your own hand.

Be assured that, after what you have written, I shall not send for
Gurney. Deliver him the enclosed. I hope it may animate his attention;
and tell him, if you think proper, that I shall be much dissatisfied
if Theo.'s progress in Latin be not very considerable at my return.
Geography has, I hope, been abandoned, for he has no talent at
teaching it.

The close of a session being always crowded with business, keeps me
much engaged. You must expect short letters--mere notes. Adieu.



Philadelphia, 20th February, 1793.

At length, my dear Theo., I have received your letter of the 20th of
January--written, you see, a month ago. But I observe that it was not
put into the postoffice until the day before yesterday. I suppose
Frederick or Bartow had carelessly put it in some place where it had
lain forgotten. It would indeed have been a pity that such a letter
should have been lost. There is something in the style and arrangement
of the words which would have done honour to a girl of sixteen.

All three of the Miss A.'s will visit New-York next summer, and pass
some weeks there. I hope to be at home in ten or twelve days from this
time. Let me receive one or two more letters from you, even if you are
obliged to neglect a lesson to find time to write them.

Alexis [2] often bids me to send you some polite and respectful
message on his part, which I have heretofore omitted. He is a
faithful, good boy. Upon our return home he hopes you will teach him
to read.

I am, my dear Theo.,

Your affectionate papa,



Philadelphia, 24th February, 1793


In looking over a list made yesterday (and now before me), of letters
of consequence to be answered immediately, I find the name of T.B.
Burr. At the time I made the memorandum I did not advert to the
compliment I paid you by putting your name in a list with some of the
most eminent persons in the United States. So true is it that your
letters are really of consequence to _me_. I now allude to that of the
19th instant, covering a fable and riddle. If the whole performance
was your own, which I am inclined to hope and believe, it indicates an
improvement in style, in knowledge of the French, and in your
handwriting. I have therefore not only read it several times, but
shown it to several persons with pride and pleasure.

I confess myself unable to solve your riddle, unless the _teeth_ or
the _alphabet_ (generally supposed to be twenty-four in each) will
give the solution. But I have not yet had an opportunity to consult
Miss P. A. To-morrow I shall call on her for the purpose, and will not
fail to inform you of her conjectures on the subject.

Your affectionate papa,



Philadelphia, 16th December, 1793.

I have a thousand questions to ask, my dear Theo., but nothing to
communicate; and thus I fear it will be throughout the winter, for my
time is consumed in the dull uniformity of study and attendance in
Senate; but every hour of _your_ day is interesting to _me_. I would
give, what would I not give to see or know even your most trifling
actions and amusements? This, however, is more than I can ask or
expect. But I do expect with impatience your journal. Ten minutes
every evening I demand; if you should choose to make it twenty, I
shall be the better pleased. You are to note the occurrences of the
day as concisely as you can; and, at your pleasure, to add any short
reflections or remarks that may arise. On the other leaf I give you a
sample of the manner of your journal for one day.

18th December,

I began this letter at the date which you see, being Monday last--was
interrupted, and the mail closed. Yesterday I was confined with a
severe headache, owing, I believe, to a change from an active to a
sedentary life without a corresponding change in diet.

A week and more has elapsed since I left home, and not a line from
you; not even the Sunday letter. Observe, that the journal is to be
sent to me enclosed in a letter every Monday morning.

_Plan of the Journal._

16th December, 1793.

Learned 230 lines, which finished Horace. Heigh-ho for Terence and the
Greek grammar to-morrow.

Practised two hours less thirty-five minutes, which I begged off.

Hewlett (dancing-master) did not come.

Began Gibbon last evening. I find he requires as much study and
attention as Horace; so I shall not rank the reading of _him_ among

Skated an hour; fell twenty times, and find the advantage of a hard
head and

Ma better--dined with us at table, and is still sitting up and free
from pain.

Your affectionate papa,



Philadelphia, 24th December, 1793.

Since being at this place I have had several conversations with Dr.
Rush respecting your distressing illness, and I have reason to believe
that he has given the subject some reflection. He has this evening
called on me, and given me as his advice that you should take hemlock.
He says that, in the way in which it is usually prepared, you should
commence with a dose of one tenth of a grain, and increase as you may
find you can bear it; that it has the narcotic powers of opium,
superadded to other qualities. When the dose is too great, it may be
discovered by a vertigo or giddiness; and that he has known it to work
wonderful cures. I was the more pleased with this advice, as I had not
told him that you had been in the use of this medicine; the
concurrence of his opinion gives me great faith in it. God grant that
it may restore your health, and to your affectionate



Philadelphia, 25th December, 1793.

The letter, my dear Theo., which (I have no doubt) you wrote me last
Sunday, has not yet come to hand. Am I to blame Strong? or the
postmaster? or whom?

When you have finished a letter, read it carefully over, and correct
all the errors you can discover. In your last there were some which
could not, upon an attentive perusal, have escaped your notice, as you
shall see when we meet.

I have asked you a great many questions, to which I have as yet no
answers. When you _sit_ down to write to me, or when you _set_ about
it, be it sitting or standing, peruse all my letters, and leave
nothing unanswered. Adieu.



Philadelphia, 31st December, 1793.

I received your letter and journal yesterday in the Senate Chamber,
just before the closing of the mail, so that I had only time to
acknowledge it by a hasty line. You see I never let your letters
remain a day unanswered, in which I wish you would imitate me. Your
last had no date; from the last date in the journal, and your writing
about Christmas holydays as yet at some distance, I suppose you wrote
about Sunday the 22d. Nine days ago! I beg you again to read over all
my letters, and to let me see by your answers that you attend to them.
I suspect your last journal was not written from day to day; but all
on one, or at most two days, from memory. How is this? Ten or fifteen
minutes every evening would not be an unreasonable sacrifice from
_you_ to _me_. If you took the Christmas holydays, I assent: if you
did not, we cannot recall the time. This is all the answer which that
part of your letter now admits of.

It is said that some few yet die of the yellow fever which lately
raged here; but the disorder does not appear to be, _at present_, in
any degree contagious; what _may_ be the case upon the return of warm
weather, is a subject of anxious conjecture and apprehension. It is
probable that the session of Congress will continue into the summer.

Give a place to your mamma's health in your journal. Omit the formal
conclusion of your letters, and write your name in a larger hand. I am
just going to Senate, where I hope to meet a letter from you, with a
continuation of your journal down to the 29th inclusive, which, if it
gives a good account of you and mamma, will gladden the heart of



Philadelphia, 31st December, 1793.

This day's mail has brought me nothing from you. I have but two
letters in three, almost four weeks, and the journal is ten days in
arrear. What--can neither affection nor civility induce you to devote
to me the small portion of time which I have required? Are authority
and compulsion then the only engines by which you can be moved? For
shame, Theo.! Do not give me reason to think so ill of you.

I wrote you this morning, and have nothing to add but the repetition
of my warmest affection.



Philadelphia, 4th January, 1794.

At the moment of closing the mail yesterday, I received your letter
enclosing the pills. I cannot refer to it by date, as it has none.
Tell me truly, did you write it without assistance? Is the language
and spelling your own? If so, it does you much honour. The subject of
it obliged me to show it to Dr. Rush, which I did with great pride. He
inquired your age half a dozen times, and paid some handsome
compliments to the handwriting, the style, and the correctness of your

The account of your mamma's health distresses me extremely. If she
does not get better soon, I will quit Congress altogether and go home.
Doctor Rush says that the pills contain two grains each of pure and
fresh extract of hemlock; that the dose is not too large if the
stomach and head can bear it; that he has known twenty grains given at
a dose with good effect. To determine, however, whether this medicine
has any agency in causing the sick stomach, he thinks it would be well
to take an occasion of omitting it for a day or two, if Doctor Bard
should approve of such an experiment, and entertains any doubts about
the effects of the pills on the stomach. Some further conversation
which I have had with Doctor Rush will be contained in a letter which
I shall write by this post to Doctor Bard.

My last letter to you was almost an angry one, at which you cannot be
much surprised when you recollect the length of time of your silence,
and that you are my only correspondent respecting the concerns of the
family. I expect, on Monday or Tuesday next, to receive the
continuation of your journal for _the fortnight past_.

Mr. Leshlie will tell you that I have given directions for your
commencing Greek. One half hour faithfully applied by yourself at
study, and another at recitation with Mr. Leshlie, will suffice to
advance you rapidly.

Your affectionate,



Philadelphia, 7th January, 1794.

When your letters are written with tolerable spirit and correctness, I
read them two or three times before I perceive any fault in them,
being wholly engaged with the pleasure they afford me; but, for your
sake, it is necessary that I should also peruse them with an eye of
criticism. The following are the only mispelled words. You write
_acurate_ for _accurate_; _laudnam_ for _laudanum_; _intirely_ for
_entirely_; this last word, indeed, is spelled both ways, but entirely
is the most usual and the most proper.

Continue to use all these words in your next letter, that I may see
that you know the true spelling. And tell me what is laudanum? Where
and how made? And what are its effects?

"It was what she had long wished for, and was at a loss how to procure

Don't you see that this sentence would have been perfect and much more
elegant without the last _it_? Mr. Leshlie will explain to you why.
By-the-by, I took the liberty to erase the redundant _it_ before I
showed the letter.

I am extremely impatient for your farther account of mamma's health.
The necessity of laudanum twice a day is a very disagreeable and
alarming circumstance. Your letter was written a week ago, since which
I have no account. I am just going to the Senate Chamber, where I hope
to meet a journal and letter. Affectionately,



Philadelphia, 8th January, 1794

Your two letters of Friday and Saturday came together by yesterday's
mail, which did not arrive till near sunset. Your letter of Friday was
not put into the postoffice until Saturday afternoon. You might have
as well kept it in your own hands till Monday eleven o'clock. Since
the receipt of these letters I have been three times to Doctor Rush to
consult him about a drink for your mamma; but not having had the good
fortune to find him, have written to him on the subject. I shall
undoubtedly procure an answer in the course of this day, and will
forward it by to-morrow's post.

I beg, Miss Prissy, that you will be pleased to name a single
"_unsuccessful effort_" which you have made to please me. As to the
letters and journals which you _did_ write, surely you have reason
abundant to believe that they gave me pleasure; and how the deuse I am
to be pleased with those you _did not_ write, and how an omission to
write can be called an "_effort_," remains for your ingenuity to

You improve much in journalizing. Your last is far more sprightly than
any of the preceding. Fifty-six lines sola was, I admit, _an effort_
worthy of yourself, and which I hope will be often repeated. But pray,
when you have got up to two hundred lines a lesson, why do you go back
again to one hundred and twenty, and one hundred and twenty-five? You
should strive never to diminish; but I suppose that _vis inertiæ_,
which is often so troublesome to you, does some times preponderate. So
it is now and then even with your


Learn the difference between _then_ and _than_. You will soonest
perceive it by translating them into Latin.

Let me see how handsomely you can subscribe your name to your next
letter, about this size,



Philadelphia, 10th of January, 1794.

I fear that you will imagine that I have been inattentive to your last
request about Dr. Rush; but the truth is, I can get nothing
satisfactory out of him. He enumerates over to me all the articles
which have been repeatedly tried, and some of which did never agree
with your mamma. He is, however, particularly desirous that she should
again try milk--a spoonful only at a time: another attempt, he thinks,
should be made with porter, in some shape or other. Sweet oil,
molasses, and milk, in equal proportions, he has known to agree with
stomachs which had rejected every thing else. Yet he says, and with
show of reason, that these things depend so much on the taste, the
habits of life, the peculiarity of constitution, that she and her
attending physician can be the best, if not the only advisers. It
gives me very great pleasure to learn that she is now better. I shall
write you again on Sunday, having always much to say to you




Philadelphia, 13th January, 1794.

Your letter of the 9th, my dear Theo., was a most agreeable surprise
to me. I had not dared even to hope for one until to-morrow. In one
instance, at least, an attempt to please me has not been
"unsuccessful." You see I do not forget that piece of impudence.

Doctor Rush says that he cannot conceive animal food to be
particularly necessary; nourishment is the great object. He approves
much of the milk punch and chocolate. The stomach must on no account
be offended. The intermission of the pills for a few days (not however
for a whole week) he thinks not amiss to aid in determining its
effects. The quantity may yet be increased without danger, but the
present dose is in his opinion sufficient; but after some days
continual use, a small increase might be useful.

I was yesterday thronged with company from eight in the morning till
eleven at night. The Greek signature, though a little mistaken, was
not lost upon me. I have a letter from Mr. Leshlie, which pays you
many compliments. He has also ventured to promise that you will every
day get a lesson in Terence by yourself. You know how grateful this
will be to



Philadelphia, 14th January, 1794.

I really think, my dear Theo., that you will be very soon beyond all
verbal criticism, and that my whole attention will be presently
directed to the improvement of your style. Your letter of the 9th is
remarkably correct in point of spelling. That word rec_ie_ved still
escapes your attention. Try again. The words _wold_ and _shold_ are
mere carelessness; necess_e_ry instead of necess_a_ry, belongs, I
suspect to the same class.

"Dr. B. called here, but did not speak of his having rec_ie_ved a
letter from you, but desired," &c.

When I copied the foregoing, I intended to have shown you how to
improve it; but, upon second thought, determine to leave it to
yourself. Do me the favour to _endorse_ it on, or _subjoin_ it to,
your next letter, corrected and varied according to the best of your

"Ma begs you will omit the thoughts of leaving Congress," &c.; "omit"
is improperly used here. You mean "_abandon, relinquish, renounce_, or
_abjure_ the thoughts," &c. Your mamma, Mr. Leshlie, or your
dictionary (Johnson's folio), will teach you the force of this
observation. The last of these words would have been too strong for
the occasion. You have used with _propriety_ the words "encomium" and
"adopted." I hope you may have frequent occasion for the former, with
the like application.

"Cannot be committed to paper," is well expressed.



Philadelphia, 16th January, 1794.

I hope the mercury, if tried, will be used with the most vigilant
caution and the most attentive observation of its first effects. I am
extremely anxious and apprehensive about the event of such an

I fear, my dear little girl, that my letter of the 13th imposed too
much upon you; if so, dispense with what you may find too troublesome.
You perceive by this license the entire confidence which I place in
your discretion.

Your journal still advances towards perfection. But the letter which
accompanied it is, I remark with regret, rather a falling off. I have
received none more carelessly written, or with more numerous omissions
of words. I am sensible that many apologies are at hand; but you,
perhaps, would not be sensible that any were necessary, if I should
omit to remind you.

On Sunday se'nnight (I think the 26th) I shall, unless baffled or
delayed by ice or weather, be with you at Richmond Hill. I will not
bid you adieu till the Friday preceding. In the interim, we shall
often in this way converse.

I continue the practice of scoring words for our mutual improvement.
The use, as applicable to you, was indicated in a former letter.

I am sure you will be charmed with the Greek language above all
others. Adieu.



Philadelphia, 23d January, 1794.

Io, triumphe! There is not a word mispelled either in your journal or
letter, which cannot be said of a single page you ever before wrote.
The fable is quite classical, and, if not very much corrected by Mr.
Leshlie, is truly a surprising performance, and written most
beautifully. But what has become of poor Alpha Beta? Discouraged? That
is impossible. Laid aside for the present? That, indeed, is possible,
but by no means probable. Shall I guess again? Yes; you mean to
surprise me with some astonishing progress. And yet, to confess the
truth, your lessons in Terence, Exercises, and "music" (without a _k_,
observe) seem to leave little time for any other study. I must remain
in suspense for four days longer.

Doctor Rush thinks that bark would not be amiss, but may be beneficial
if the stomach does not rebuke it, which must be constantly the first
object of attention. He recommends either the cold infusion or
substance as least likely to offend the stomach.

Be able, upon my arrival, to tell me the difference between an
_infusion_ and _decoction_; and the history, the virtues, and the
_botanical_ or medical name of the bark. Chambers will tell you more
perhaps than you will wish to read of it. Your little mercurial
disquisition is ingenious, and prettily told.

I have a most dreary prospect of weather and roads for my journey. I
set off on Saturday morning, and much fear that it will take two or
three days to get to Now-York.



Philadelphia, 13th February, 1794.

I received your letter and enclosures yesterday in Senate. I stopped
reading the letter, and took up the story in the place you directed;
was really affected by the interesting little tale, faithfully
believing it to have been taken from the Mag. D'Enf., and was
astonished and delighted when I recurred to the letter and found the
little deception you had played upon me. It is concisely and
handsomely told, and is indeed a performance above your years.

Mr. Leshlie is not, I am afraid, a competent judge of what you are
capable of learning; you must convince him that you can, when you set
in earnest about it, accomplish wonders.

Do you mean that the forty lines which you construed in Virgil were in
a part you had not before learned?

I despair of getting genuine Tent wine in this city. There never was a
bottle of real unadulterated Tent imported here for sale. Mr.
Jefferson, who had some for his own use, has left town. Good Burgundy
and Muscat, mixed in equal parts, make a better Tent than can be
bought. But by Bartow's return you shall have what I can get--sooner
if I find a conveyance.

Bartow is the most perfect gossip I ever knew; though, I must say, it
is the kind of life I have advised him to while he stays here. Adieu.



Philadelphia, 7th March, 1794.

Your letter of the 4th was three days on the road. I am certain that I
have answered punctually all which have come to hand. True, I have not
written to you as frequently as during the first few weeks of my
residence here. For the last month I have been very much occupied by
public business. You will need no other proof of it when I tell you
that near twenty unanswered letters are now on my desk, not one of
yours among them, however, except that received last evening. I have
not even been to the theatre except about an hour, and then it was
more an errand of business than amusement.

Poor Tom, [3] I hope you take good care of him. If he is confined by
his leg, &c., he must pay the greater attention to his reading and

I shall run off to see you about Sunday or Monday; but the roads are
so extremely bad that I expect to be three days getting through. I
will bring with me the cherry sweetmeats, and something for _Augusta
Louisa Matilda Theodosia Van Horne_. I believe I have not recollected
all her names.




Philadelphia, 31st March, 1794.

I am distressed at your loss of time. I do not, indeed, wholly blame
you for it, but this does not diminish my regret. When you want
punctuality in your letters, I am sure you want it in every thing; for
you will constantly observe that you have the most leisure when you do
the most business. Negligence of one's duty produces a
self-dissatisfaction which unfits the mind for every thing, and
_ennui_ and peevishness are the never-failing consequences. You will
readily discover the truth of these remarks by reflecting on your own
conduct, and the different feelings which have flowed from a
persevering attention to study, or a restless neglect of it.

I shall in a few days (this week) send you a most beautiful assortment
of flower-seeds and flowering shrubs. If I do not receive a letter
from you to-morrow, I shall be out of all patience. Every day's
journal will, I hope, say something of mamma.



Philadelphia, 7th June, 1794.

I have received my dear Theo.'s two little, very little, French
letters. The last left you tormented with headache and toothache, too
much for one poor little girl to suffer at one time, I am sure: you
had doubtless taken solue sudden cold. You must fight them as well as
you can till I come, and then I will engage to keep them at bay.

I remark that you do not acknowledge the receipt of a long letter
which I wrote you on the road the night after I left New-York. I hope
it has not missed you; but it is needless now to ask about it, for I
shall certainly see you before I could receive your answer to this.

Whatever you shall translate of Terence, I beg you to have copied in a
book in a very fair handwriting.



Albany, 4th August, 1794.


We arrived here yesterday, after a hot, tedious passage of _seven
days_. We were delayed as well by accidents as by calms and contrary
winds, The first evening, being under full sail, we ran ashore at
Tappan, and lay there aground, in a very uncomfortable situation,
twenty-four hours. With great labour and fatigue we got off on the
following night, and had scarce got under sail before we missed our
longboat. We lost the whole tide in hunting for it, and so lay till
the morning of Wednesday. Having then made sail again, with a pretty
strong head wind, at the very first tack the Dutch horse fell
overboard. The poor devil was at the time tied about the neck with a
rope, so that he seemed to have only the alternatives of hanging or
drowning (for the river is here about four miles wide, and the water
was very rough); fortunately for him, the rope broke, and he went
souse into the water. His weight sunk him so deep that we were at
least fifty yards from him before he came up. He snorted off the
water, and turning round once or twice, as if to see where he was,
then recollecting the way to New-York, he immediately swam off down
the river with all force. We fitted out our longboat in pursuit of
him, and at length drove him on shore on the Westchester side, where I
hired a man to take him to Frederick's. All this delayed us nearly a
whole tide more. The residue of the voyage was without accident,
except such as you may picture to yourself in a small cabin, with
seven men, seven women, and two crying children--two of the women
being the most splenetic, ill-humoured animals you can imagine.

On my arrival here I was delighted to receive your letter of the 30th,
with the journal of that and the preceding days. Your history of those
three days is very full and satisfactory, and has induced me, by way
of return, to enlarge on the particulars of my journey. I am quite
gratified that you have secured Mrs. Penn's (observe how it is
spelled) good opinion, and content with your reasons for not saying
the civil things you intended. In case you should dine in company with
her, I will apprize you of one circumstance, by a trifling attention
to which you may elevate yourself in her esteem. She is a great
advocate for a very plain, rather abstemious diet in children, as you
may see by her conduct with Miss Elizabeth. Be careful, therefore, to
eat of but one dish; that a plain roast or boiled: little or no gravy
or butter, and very sparingly of dessert or fruit: not more than half
a glass of wine; and if more of any thing to eat or drink is offered,
decline it. If they ask a reason--Papa thinks it not good for me, is
the best that can be given.

It was with great pain and reluctance that I made this journey without
you. But your manners are not yet quite sufficiently formed to enable
you to do justice to your own character, [4] and the expectations
which are formed of you, or to my wishes. Improve, therefore, to the
utmost the present opportunity; inquire of every point of behaviour
about which you are embarrassed; imitate as much as you can the
manners of Madame De S., and observe also every thing which Mrs. Penn
says and does.

You should direct your own breakfast. Send Cesar every morning for a
pint of milk for you; and, to save trouble to Madame De S., let her
know that you eat at breakfast only bread and butter.

I wish you would read over your letters after you have written them;
for so many words are omitted, that in some places I cannot make out
the sense, _if any they contain_. Make your figures or ciphers in your
letters, but write out the numbers at length, except dates. Adieu,
affectionately adieu,



Albany, 14th August, 17 94.


Last evening's mail brought me your letter and journal from the 1st to
the 11th of August, according to your dates, which, however, are

The account of your time is very satisfactory. You really get along
much better than I expected, which is infinitely to the credit of your
good sense, that being your only guide. From the attentions you
receive from Mrs. Penn and her family, I judge you have been so
fortunate as to gain her esteem, and that her prejudices are turned
into prepossessions, which I assure you gratified me not a little.

Your invitation to the Z.'s was, I confess, a very embarrassing
dilemma, and one from which it was not easy to extricate yourself. For
the future, take it as your rule to visit only the families which you
have known me to visit; and if Madame De S. should propose to you to
visit any other, you may tell her what are my instructions on the
subject. To the young ladies, you may pretend business or engagements:
avoid, however, giving any offence to your companions. It is the
manner of a refusal, much more than the refusal, which gives offence.
This direction about your visits applies only to the citizens or
English families. You may, indeed it is my wish, that you should visit
with Madame De S. all her French acquaintance.

I go this afternoon to attend a court at Ballston, and shall, on
Monday, attend one at Troy, which will probably last about three days;
after which I shall take passage for New-York, proposing, however, to
pass a day at Kingston, and another at Poughkeepsie, with citizen
Hauterieve, so that I may be expected home some time in the week after
next; but you will hear often from me before that time. You must not
send me any letter after those which will come by the mail leaving
New-York on Monday next; yet you must continue your letters and
journal as usual, for my amusement on my return.

In future, write no more on the little paper, but let the letters and
journal be together on paper of this size, or common letter-paper. Set
apart every day half an hour or an hour to write to me, and I must
again entreat you to write at least legibly: after great pains, I am
wholly unable to decipher some of the hieroglyphics contained in your

Four pages in Lucian was a great lesson; and why, my dear Theo., can't
this be done a little oftener? You must, by this time, I think, have
gone through Lucian. I wish you to begin and go through it again; for
it would be shameful to pretend to have read a book of which you could
not construe a page. At the second reading you will, I suppose, be
able to double your lessons; so that you may go through it in three
weeks. You say nothing of writing or learning Greek verbs;--is this
practice discontinued? and why?

I wish you to go oftener to the house. You may, if you like, go any
morning, to take an early breakfast there, giving notice the day
before to Mr. Leshlie, that he may attend at the hour of your return,
when I know you can readily make up the lost time.

Do you continue to preserve Madame De S.'s good opinion of your
talents for the harp? And do you find that you converse with more
facility in the French? These are interesting questions, and your
answer to this will, I hope, answer fully, all the questions it
contains. Vale, vale.



Albany, 16th August, 1704.

Another post has arrived, and brought me no letter from you. It is the
last omission which I shall readily pardon, and this only in
consideration of your not having then received my last. I returned
this day from Ballston, and my principal business to this city was to
receive and answer your letters. Judge, therefore, of my

Mr. and Mrs. Witbeck made many inquiries about you, and appeared much
mortified that you did not accompany me.

I hope you will, before this can reach you, have answered J. Yates's
letter. Once more I place my expectations on the arrival of the next

Let me know whether Mrs. Penn has left town, how often you have been
with her, and what passed. I need not repeat my anxiety to know how
you and Madame de S. agree, and what progress you make in music,
dancing, and speaking French. She promised to give you now and then a
lesson on the forte-piano; is she as good as her word?

Having failed in your promise to write by every post, you cannot
expect me to return within the month--one promise being founded on the

Your affectionate papa,



Albany, 18th August, 1794.

Yesterday I received your letter and journal to the 13th inclusive. On
the 13th you say you got nine pages in Lucian. It was, to be sure, a
most surprising lesson. I suspect it must have been the second time
going over; and even then it would have been great, and at the same
rate you will be through a second time before my month is up. I should
be delighted to find it so. I have not told you directly that I should
stay longer than a month, but I was angry enough with you to stay
three months when you neglected to write to me for two successive

I am very sorry to see so many blank days with Mr. Leshlie. If he is
not at your room within a quarter of an hour of his time, Cesar should
be forthwith sent off express for him. Let Cesar, therefore, call on
you every morning at the hour Mr. Leshlie ought to come.

I left New-York on the 28th of July. My month, therefore, will expire
on the 28th of August, so that you cannot complain until that day is
past. The court at Troy will probably detain me the whole of this
week, which is three days longer than I expected.

I long to hear what you contributed towards Madame de S.'s _jour de
fête_. No letter yet for John Yates. Why do you delay it so long? You
have had several leisure days; for this delay there should be some
apology in your letter.

Affectionately your papa,



Troy, 21st August, 1794.


I sent Alexis in the rain to Albany for your letter of the 18th and
journal, which he has just brought me. Your letters are my only
consolation during this afflicting absence--for it is to me a real
affliction. I have forborne to express to you my impatience, lest it
should increase yours.

The business I have undertaken here will, contrary to all expectation,
detain me till Saturday night. I hope to be on my return on Monday,
when you must begin to pray for northerly winds; or, if you have
learned, to say mass, that the French Roman Catholics rely on to
procure them all earthly and spiritual blessings. By-the-by, if you
have not been to the Roman chapel, I insist that you go next Sunday,
if you are not engaged in some other party.

I am very happy to receive a letter for John Yates. I shall send it to
him to-day; it is very handsome, and will please him much. I will
indeed return with all possible speed. Continue your journal. Adieu.



Philadelphia, 21st December, 1794.

I obeyed faithfully the command in your letter which bade me read the
journal first, and I read it with great eagerness, hoping to find what
I did find in the last sentence. That 16th was really a surprising
day. Three hundred and ninety-five lines, all your exercises, and all
your music. Go on, my dear girl, and you will become all that I wish.

I keep carefully your letters and journals, and when we meet you shall
read them again, which I am sure you will do with pleasure. It is
always delightful to see and correct our own errors.

Monsieur Maupertuis is highly mortified that you should suppose him so
ignorant as to have lost himself on the road. It seems he only went a
little off the highway _from curiosity to see the country_.

I hope you like Terence. Can't you lug a scrap from him now and then,
apropos, into your letters? It will please

Your affectionate papa,



New-York, 5th January, 1795.

You see me safe arrived in New-York. I have passed but one hour at
Richmond Hill. It seems solitary and undesirable without you. They are
all well, and much, very much disappointed that you did not come with

Pray write to Mrs. A., if but one line; she expects and deserves it. I
was there last evening for the first time. Your picture is really like
you; still it does not quite please me. It has a _pensive,
sentimental_ air; that of a love-sick maid! Stewart has probably meant
to anticipate what you may be at sixteen; but even in that I think he
has missed it.

Bartow has grown immensely fat. Mrs. A. has recovered and walks about.
There has been a serious attempt to institute masquerade. It has not
succeeded, nor is it yet abandoned.

We (you and I) have both neglected one duty of civility. Some weeks
ago Mrs. Jackson was polite enough to call on you, with Miss Jackson
and Miss Brown, who left you cards. You have never returned the visit.
I beg you to do it without delay. Doctor Edwards will probably make
time to go with you for a few minutes. It is at Doctor Jackson's in
Third-street, between High and Arch.

Our house in Partition-street is very neatly finished, and pleases me
much; so much that I propose to inhabit it upon our return from
Philadelphia, at least until the hot weather.

You are now in the arms of Somnus, or ought to be; for though I date
my letter the 5th, it is in truth about half past eleven at night of
the 4th. So wants half an hour of the 5th. Dream on. _Salutem_.



Bristol, 14th September, 1795.

Saturday night I lodged at Elizabethtown, and, after two wettings,
dined on Sunday with General Freelinghuysen. Madame (late Miss Yard)
asked much after you, as did Maria, the general's daughter. The family
is a picture of cheerfullness and happiness. At Princeton (to-day) I
met Le Mercier, who is well, except a broken scull, a face disfigured,
and some bruises about the ribs--considerable deductions, you will
say, from the "corpore sano." They are the effects of a very huge
beating bestowed on him (gratis) by two gentlemen of the town. He had
some difference with one of them, who had challenged him, which Le
Mercier refused, not being a Christian-like and clerical way of
settling differences. So the challenger, with a friend (for L. M.
could have thrashed him singly), took an opportunity to catch poor Le
Mercier alone, and discussed the subject with him in the manner above

Your friends Miss Stockton and Miss Smith said some civil things about
you, and send abundance of love, which I promised them I would forget
to deliver.

My journey thus far has been wonderfully fortunate, having only
overset once and broken down once, which, considering that I am
seventy miles on my route, is, for me, a very small list of
grievances; but I shall count it full measure if I am prevented from
entering Philadelphia to-morrow, which is a little to be apprehended.

You must pay off Meance and Hewlet for their attendance on you and
Natalie. [5] They must be paid regularly at the end of each month. I
forgot it. Get their accounts, and give them an order on Strong for
the amount. When either of you want money, Roger Strong will furnish
it. Pray settle also your account with Madame Senat, and write me that
these things are done.

Tell Mr. Martel that I request that all the time he can spare you be
devoted to Latin; that I have provided you with a teacher of French,
that no part of his attention might be taken off. I will send from
Philadelphia the certificate he requested, which escaped my memory
while at New-York.

I fear it will puzzle you all to decipher this. You may show to Mr.
Martel the clause which relates to him. Salutem, chère Theodosia.



Philadelphia, 17th September, 1795.

By this post I received a letter from Colonel Ward, requesting leave
to remove his family into my house, Richmond Hill. He lives, you may
recollect, in the part of the town which is said to be sickly. I could
not therefore refuse. He will call on you to go out with him. You had
better, immediately on receipt of this, go out yourself, and apprize
Anthony and Peggy.

Your letter to Kersaint is much to the purpose. It came by this day's
mail, though put in the postoffice on Tuesday, but after the closing
of the mail. With it I have also received your letter, written, I
suppose, on Tuesday evening, because it speaks of the circus; but, as
usual, without date. I beg that, when you sit down to write a letter,
you will begin by putting a date at the top; this will then presently
become a habit, and will never be omitted.

I am sorry, very sorry that you are obliged to submit to some reproof.
Indeed, I fear that your want of attention and politeness, and your
awkward postures, require it. As you appear desirous to get rid of
these bad habits, I hope you will soon afford no room for ill-nature
itself to find fault with you--I mean in these particulars; for as to
what regards your heart and your motives of action, I know them to be
good, amiable, and pure. But to return to the subject of manners, &c.
I have often seen Madame at table, and other situations, pay you the
utmost attention; offer you twenty civilities, while you appeared
scarcely sensible that she was speaking to you; or, at the most,
replied with a cold _remercie_, without even a look of satisfaction or
complacency. A moment's reflection will convince you that this conduct
will be naturally construed into arrogance; as if you thought that all
attention was _due_ to you, and as if you felt above showing the least
to anybody. I know that you abhor such sentiments, and that you are
incapable of being actuated by them. Yet you expose yourself to the
censure without intending or knowing it. I believe you will in future
avoid it. Observe how Natalie replies to the smallest civility which
is offered to her.

Your habit of stooping and bringing your shoulders forward on to your
breast not only disfigures you, but is alarming on account of the
injury to your health. The continuance in this vile habit will
certainly produce a consumption: then farewell papa; farewell
pleasure; farewell life! This is no exaggeration; no fiction to excite
your apprehensions. But, setting aside this distressing consideration,
I am astonished that you have no more pride in your appearance. You
will certainly stint your growth and disfigure your person.

Receive with calmness every reproof, whether made kindly or unkindly;
whether just or unjust. Consider within yourself whether there has
been no cause for it. If it has been groundless and unjust,
nevertheless bear it with composure, and even with complacency.
Remember that one in the situation of Madame has a thousand things to
fret the temper; and you know that one out of humour, for any cause
whatever, is apt to vent it on every person that happens to be in the
way. We must learn to bear these things; and, let me tell you, that
you will always feel much better, much happier, for having borne with
serenity the spleen of any one, than if you had returned spleen for

You will, I am sure, my dear Theodosia, pardon two such grave pages
from one who loves you, and whose happiness depends very much on
yours. Read it over twice. Make me no promises on the subject. On my
return, I shall see in half an hour whether what I have written has
been well or ill received. If well, it will have produced an effect. I
have sent Alexis with your letter to Kersaint while I write this.
After closing of the mail I shall present myself. To-morrow morning I
take stage for Baltimore; thence to Washington, &c. You shall
certainly hear often from me. You have not yet acknowledged the
receipt of my letter from Bristol. R. Strong has received his, written
at the same time. Having many letters to answer by this mail, I cannot
add any thing sprightly to this dull letter. One dull thing you will
hear me repeat without disgust, that I am your affectionate friend,



City of Washington, 23d September, 1795.

I write from the house of our friends, Law and Duncanson, where I make
my home. Miss Duncanson, who is mistress of the house, is a very
sprightly, sensible, ladylike woman. My remarks on this city are
reserved till we meet.

Your letter of the 17th, and one without date (I suppose the 18th),
came in this evening. They contain more wit and sprightliness than you
ever wrote in the same compass, and have amused me exceedingly. But
why do you diminish their value by carelessness? There is an omission
of one or more words in almost every sentence. At least I entreat you
to read over your letters before you seal them: some clauses are
absolutely unintelligible, though in several I can guess what word you

Why are you still in town? I am very much dissatisfied with it; for
Mr. Strong writes me that the fever is in Partition-street. I beg you
to go off with a good parcel of books to Frederick's.

I told Madame Senat that I should want the two front rooms in
Partition-street, and the very small room which adjoins the smallest
of the front rooms; and surely she will have room enough without it.
Try to arrange this so; that is, by asking her if she cannot spare
that room (the large front). Mr. Strong writes me that she is taking
possession of it. In that case my papers will be moved, which will be
very disagreeable to me.

I fix the 24th of October for my return; if any very extraordinary
thing should detain me, you shall be advised of it seasonably. Direct
to me at the city of Washington until the 10th of October. Tell R.
Strong the same. I forgot to write it to him.

When, you go on any party from Pelham, to Brown's Mrs. Cox's, &c.,
your studies may be intermitted. At least as much of them as may be
necessary. I am tired, and half sick; a great cold, for which I shall
lie by here tomorrow.




City of Washington,

26th September, 1795.

Since Tuesday last I have been here much against my will; arrested by
high command; performing quarantine by authority not to be questioned
or controverted. In plain English, I am sick. On Wednesday I found one
side of my face as large as your uncle F.'s; red swollen eyes; ears
buzzing and almost stopped; throat so closed as to refuse a passage to
words out or food in; and a stupid mazy-headedness, well adapted to
the brilliancy of my figure. Being the guest of my friends Law and
Duncanson, I receive from them the most distressing attentions, but
especially from Miss Duncanson, a well-bred, sprightly, and agreeable
woman. My person had not, however, till this morning, received its
last embellishment. Alexis came in at his usual hour, and presenting
himself at my bedside, after staring at me for half a minute,
exclaimed, with an air of great astonishment--_Diable!_ and not a word
more. _Qu'a-t-il_, Alexis? To which he made not a word of reply, but
fell to drawing up the curtains; and having also very deliberately
opened the window-shutters, he returned again to his examination.
After gazing for some time (which I found it useless to interrupt), he
_diabled_ two or three times at intervals of some seconds, and then
pronounced that I had _ou la petite vérole ou la rougeole_; and to
convince me, brought a glass. In truth he did not _diable_ without
reason, for my whole face, neck, hands, and arms are most bountifully
covered with something like the measles or rash. All these pleasant
appearances seem to be the effects of a great cold, taken I know not
when or how--

"_Nil illi larva aut tragicis upus esse cothurnis._"

My throat is something better, notwithstanding I went abroad

Sunday, 27th September.

I am so much better to-day, that, if the weather was good, I should
prosecute my journey if I could find the means of getting on; but the
rain, which is continual and very heavy, keeps well and sick within

It is now ten days since I have heard from you; a very long time,
considering the situation in which you was left at the date of your
last: in a city infected with a mortal and contagious fever. I hope,
nay, I persuade myself that you obeyed my wishes by escaping from it
to Pelham. The next mail will tell me, and, I trust, relieve me from
an anxiety which pursues me day and night.

Monday, 28th September.

Your letter of the 21st, written, I suppose, at Dr. Brown's, is just
come in, and relieves me from a weight of anxiety about your health. I
am sorry, however (very sorry), that you are not at Frederick's, and
am not absolutely either pleased or satisfied with the change.

Of attention and tenderness you will receive not only enough, but a
great deal too much; and an indulgence to every inattention, awkward
habit, and expression, which may lead you to imagine them to be so
many ornaments: as to your language, I shall expect to find it
perfectly infantine. As to studies or lessons, I do not know which of
them you allude to, as you do not say what books you have taken up. If
Mr. Leshlie is your _only_ master, as I suppose, your lesson must be
larger than ever heretofore. Your translation of the comedy into
French, if not finished, must go on; and if finished, something
similar must be taken up. Some English or French history must employ a
little of every day. I hope you will ride on horseback daily if the
weather should permit--Sam [6] always with you. Visit your neighbours
B. B. as often as you please, taking very great care not to surfeit
the family with your charming company, which may happen much sooner
than you would be inclined to believe.

You ought to be out of the Odyssey before this will reach you,
counting only two hundred lines a day since we parted. You may begin
the Iliad, if you please. Since you are at uncle B.'s, I will not now
pretend to inquire into the motives, much less to censure. I have no
doubt but you meant to do the best, and I now hope you will endeavour
to make the best _of_ it, and bad enough that will be, with respect to
all improvement, if I am not disappointed.

Pray allot an hour for your journal, and never let it be a day in
arrear. I shall consider this as occupying usefully the hour which
used to be Hewlet's or Meance's. At any rate, let me not, on my
return, have occasion to apply to you the motto,

"Strenua me exercet inertia,"

nor that other of

"Operose nihil agit."

But so improve your time that you may with pleasure review and commit
it to journal.

----"Hoc est, Vivere bis, vitâ priori frui."

And let it, at no very distant period, be said of you,

"Tot, tibi, sunt, ergo dotes, quot sidera coelo."

If you should never deserve this, it shall not be the fault of



New-York, 8th February, 1796.

What will you think of the taste of New-York when I shall tell you
that Miss Broadhurst is not very generally admired here? Such is the
fact. I have contributed my feeble efforts to correct this opinion.
Mat's [7] child will not be christened until you shall be pleased to
indicate the time, place, manner, and name.

I have promised Tom that he shall take me to Philadelphia if there be
sleighing. The poor fellow is almost crazy about it. He is importuning
all the gods for snow, but as yet they don't appear to listen to him.

Your being in the ballette charms me. If you are to practise on
Wednesday evening, do not stay away for the expectation of receiving
me. If you should be at the ballette, I will go forthwith to see you.
Adieu, chère fille.

A. Burr.


Philadelphia, 16th January, 1797.

When I write to you oftener than your turn, you must not let it be
known, or there will be jealousy. Your two letters of the 11th and
13th have so much wit, sprightliness, and good sense, that I cannot
delay to tell you how much they pleased me. Go on, and you will write
better than Cynthia herself. To aid your advances towards perfection,
I shall often point out such errors as shall appear to me more
particularly to claim your attention.

At present you fail most in punctuation. A very little thought will
teach where the sense is complete and a full period is proper. The
lesser pauses may be found by reading over two or three times what you
may have written. You will naturally make small pauses where the sense
shall require it. In spelling you are very well. Always write your
name with great care. Adieu.

A. Burr.


Philadelphia, 23d January, 1797.

You must not "puzzle all day," my dear little girl, at one hard
lesson. After puzzling faithfully one hour, apply to your arithmetic,
and do enough to convince the doctor that you have not been idle.
Neither must you be discouraged by one unlucky day. The doctor is a
very reasonable man, and makes all due allowance for the levities as
well as for the stupidity of children. I think you will not often
challenge his indulgence on either score.

And do you regret that you are not also a woman? That you are not
numbered in that galaxy of beauty which adorns an assembly-room?
Coquetting for admiration and attracting flattery? No. I answer with
confidence. You feel that you are maturing for solid friendship. The
friends you gain you will never lose; and no one, I think, will dare
to insult your understanding by such compliments as are most
graciously received by too many of your sex.

How unpardonably you neglect C. and N. B. Where are the promised
letters? I see with delight that you improve in diction, and in the
combination and arrangement of your little ideas. With a view to
farther improvement, your letters to me are a most useful exercise. I
feel persuaded that all my hopes and wishes concerning you will be

Never use a word which does not fully express your thoughts, or which,
for any other reason, does not please you. Hunt your dictionary till
you find one. Arrange a whole sentence in your mind before you write a
word of it; and, whatever may be your "hurry" (never be in a _hurry_),
read over your letter slowly and carefully before you seal it.
Interline and erase lightly with your pen what may appear to you to
require amendment or correction. I dispense with your copying unless
the letter should be much defaced, in which case keep it till the next
mail. Copy and improve it.

Your play on "Light" is pretty and witty, and the turn on the _dear
little_ letter does not dishonour the metempsychosis of Madame Dacier.

I shall probably see you very soon; we will then rearrange your hours,
and endeavour to remove the present and forestall all future troubles.
I should be mortified--I should be almost offended--if I should find
that you passed over any word in my letters without becoming perfectly
acquainted with its meaning, use, and _etymology_.

Since I commenced this letter, yours of the 21st has come in. It
speaks of another which has not come, and of Martel's paper, neither
of which have come. This arises from "hurry." The note to Mr.
Livingston is middling. Affectionately--no, you hate that word;
perhaps every thing is implied in plain.



Albany, 4th January, 1799.

On Tuesday I arrived here, and yesterday received your two letters of
the 29th and 30th of December. Your despondency distresses me
extremely. It is indeed unfortunate, my dear Theodosia, that we are
constrained to be separated. I had never so much need of your society
and friendship, nor you, perhaps, of mine. It is a misfortune which I
sincerely regret every hour of the day. It is one, however, which you
must aid me to support, by testifying that you can support your share
of it with firmness and activity. An effort made with decision will
convince you that you are able to accomplish all I wish and all you
desire. Determination and perseverance in every laudable undertaking
is the great point of difference between the silly and the wise. It is
essentially a part of your character, and requires but an effort to
bring it into action. The happiness of my life depends on your
exertions; for what else, for whom else do I live? Not that the
acquisition of the languages alone can decide your happiness or mine;
but if you should abandon the attempt, or despair of success, or relax
your endeavours, it would indicate a feebleness of character which
would dishearten me exceedingly. It is for my sake that you now
labour. I shall acknowledge your advancement with gratitude and with
the most lively pleasure. Let me entreat you not to be discouraged. I
know you to be capable of much greater efforts than this will require.
If your young teacher, after a week's trial, should not suit you,
dismiss him on any pretence without wounding his pride, and take the
old Scotchman. Resolve to succeed, and you cannot fail.

I parted with you amid so much hurry and confusion, and so many
vexations, that, when I had time to reflect, I seemed to have said
none of the things which I had wished and intended. I reproached
myself perpetually that I had not urged you to attend me. Your letters
almost confirmed me in the design of returning to fetch you; and yet
more sober reason seems to tell me that these things were rather the
effusions of sentiment than of a deliberate estimate of your real
interests. In six weeks, however, we shall meet.

I intended to have recommended to you the ancient and modern history
of Millot. Natalie has some of the volumes--some are in the library at
Mrs. D.'s, of which I hope you keep the key. Millot is concise,
perspicuous, and well selected. Rollin is full of tedious details and
superstitious nonsense.

There is nothing more certain than that you may form what countenance
you please. An open, serene, intelligent countenance, a little
brightened by cheerfullness, not wrought into smiles or simpers, will
presently become familiar and grow into habit. A year will with
certainty accomplish it. Your physiognomy has naturally much of
benevolence, and it will cost you some labour (which you may well
spare) to eradicate it. Avoid, for ever avoid, a smile or sneer of
contempt; never even mimic them. A frown of sullenness or discontent
is but one degree less hateful. You seem to require these things of
me, or I should have thought them unnecessary. I see, with pleasure I
see, that you have engaged in this matter. We shall both be gratified
by the result, which cannot fail to accord with our wishes.

R. has a deal of godly coquetry. It makes a strange medley. I was most
hospitably received, and full opportunity given with pretty apparent
design. R. has promised to be in Albany in a month. Things are in
_statu quo_.

I am unsettled, and at present at Witbeck's. One would think that the
town was going into mourning for your absence. I am perpetually
stopped in the streets by little and big girls. Where is Miss Burr?
Won't she come up this winter? Oh, why didn't you bring her? &c.

J. B. P. arrived yesterday, he has not given me a letter, or any other
thing from you. He suspects, however, that he has at least a letter; a
fact which he will endeavour to ascertain in the course of this week.
I wrote you two letters on my way up, addressed to 135
Greenwich-street. Is that right? Adieu, chère amie,



Albany, 11th February, 1799.

On Saturday, the 9th, I received Your two letters, from the 1st to the
6th inclusive; the last of which is the only one that has come in due
season, or in what is termed the course of post. You now see that a
letter can come from New-York in three days; a truth which has been
frequently verified by the receipt of my letters, but never before by
the despatch of your own.

How very perverse and provoking you are about your correspondence with
Mr. Martin. I told you expressly that he was not angry, but, on the
contrary, that he sent it laughingly and as a good joke. Pray, from
whom did you learn that he was angry? You charge me with not noticing
two of your letters, and that I have not given you any directions
about heedlessness. With submission, miss, you are mistaken. It is
true that I have not repeated the word, but I have intimated several
things intended to this point. You expected, I presume, that I should
treat the subject scientifically, as Duport does his art, and begin by
explanation of terms, and then proceed to divide and subdivide the
matter, as a priest does a sermon. Such a dose would, I am sure, have
sickened you. I have therefore thought it best to give you very little
at a time, and watch, as physicians do with potent medicines, the
effect produced. When we meet, which I verily believe will be in five
or six days after the receipt of this, you shall have as much as I
shall find your stomach will bear.

What the deuse can have got into Madame S. and N., I am utterly at a
loss to conjecture, and beg you not to give the remotest hint, but
meet them as usual.

My overtures to B. Livingston and Mr. and Mrs. R. were mere
volunteers, not produced by any thing you said or wrote; but I thought
it might tend to produce a certain effect in your favour. So you have
no apologies to make or pardons to ask on this subject. As this,
however, is much the best composed part of your letter, I am
particularly obliged to you for it, even if you did it to display your
eloquence. It is, indeed, very happily expressed.

You seem to have emerged from your lethargy, which, I must confess,
was obvious to an alarming degree in several preceding letters. I
congratulate you upon it, and hope you will never suffer it again to
invade your faculties.

We will talk of houses, &c. about the 19th inst. Henry Walton has gone
to New-York by the last stage. He is one of those whose good opinion
and esteem I wish you to acquire. He has delicacy, taste, and
refinement--very, very rare qualities in this country at this day. He
will be often at your house; receive him with courtesy.

I go to bed between 12 and 1, and rise between 7 and 8. For some
reasons to me unknown, I cannot drink a single glass of wine without
serious injury; still less can I bear ardent spirits; of course, I am
pretty much in the bread and water line; this is the more provoking,
as I dine out almost every day, and the dinners are really excellent
and well-dressed, not exceeded in New-York. I have dined at home but
four days since my arrival in this city. Think of that Miss B., and be
hush about hospitality, &c.

Your name to one letter is beautifully written; to the other, _la la_.
The handwriting of the letters various; very good, very bad, and
middling; emblematic, shall I say, of the fair authoress? Please to
resolve me whether author is not of both genders, for I hate the
appendix of _ess?_

What novel of Miss Burney or D'Arblay is that in which the heroine
begins by an interesting account of little details on her début in
London, and particularly of a ball where she met Lord Somebody and did
twenty ridiculous things? I want such a description of a ball from
you. Be pleased to read those first letters of the novel referred to,
and take them for a model.

You don't say half enough about the long letter which I wrote you on
Sunday of the last week. Adieu, chére amie.



Albany, 26th January, 1800.

We arrived yesterday without accident. To-day I expected Alexis and
John; but the stage has arrived without them, and without a line
explanatory of the cause of their delay.

On alighting from the stage yesterday, I found at the door of my
intended lodgings a number of persons who were impatiently expecting
my arrival. I perceive that I shall be day and night engrossed by
business. If I should write to you less or less often than usual, you
will know the cause.

The ideas, of which you are the object, that daily pass through my
mind, would, if committed to writing, fill an octavo volume; invent,
then, and teach me some mode of writing with the facility and rapidity
that we think, and you shall receive by every mail some hundred pages.
But to select from a thousand thoughts that which is best and most
seasonable; of the variety of attitudes of which every object is
susceptible, to determine on that which is most suitable for the thing
and the occasion; of all possible modes of expression and language, to
discern the most appropriate, _hic labor, hoc opus est_. Yet have we
both known persons of a moderate grade of intellect who could write
whenever you would put a pen in their hands, and for any length of
time you might please, without one moment of reflection or
embarrassment. Pray explain to me this phenomenon. All this I confess
is not very applicable to you or to my present occupation, for I
generally write you what first offers, without considering whether it
be the best; and if many obtrude themselves at once, I write you, as
at present, of--_nothing_. Indeed, my dear Theodosia, I have many,
many moments of solicitude about you. Remember that occupation will
infallibly expel the fiend ennui, and that solitude is the bug-bear of
fools. God bless and aid thee.



Albany, 30th January, 1800.

At length John and Alexis have arrived; but what gratified me more,
and what I looked for with much more impatience was, a letter. I
selected yours from the number which they brought me. I was not
disappointed. It merits all the eagerness with which I had expected

You reflect, and that is a security for your conduct. Our most
humiliating errors proceed usually from inattention, and from that
mental dissipation which we call heedlessness. You estimate your
situation with great truth. Many are surprised that I could repose in
you so great a trust as that of yourself; but I knew that you were
equal to it, and I am not deceived.

You do right to stay much at home. It will scarcely be worth while to
go to V. P.'s. C. is excluded from all rule. I am quite oppressed with
the kindness and friendship of _b. b._ towards you. How fortunate you
are in such a friend. If their invitations should be so frequent as to
interrupt your lessons, you will do well to refuse even them. There is
a measure to be observed in the acceptance of the good offices even of
our best friends; and at your age, to prefer duty to pleasure when
they are in collision, is a degree of firmness rarely exhibited, and,
therefore, the more calculated to inspire respect. I perceive that I
am not very explicit; but you will reflect and discern my meaning.
Montesquieu said he wrote to make people think, and not to make them
read--and why may not A. Br. Perhaps, however, there may be no
collisions; and then your good sense will teach you not to wear out

You indicate a very pleasant mode in which you suppose I may make you
happy; but you do not estimate things rightly. What you imagine to be
symptoms of love are the mere effusions of politeness, added to
respect and esteem.

I forget the plan we projected, but there can be no better one than
that of your last letter, to which, therefore, you may adhere, unless
indeed you can invent a better.

You may tell C. that as she and I _are on ceremony_, I shall expect
the first letter. She knows well that the bare sight of her
handwriting would drive Le Guen and the parchments to the antipodes. I
do thank you for your constancy about the French ball. Do not be
alarmed lest I expect too much. I know your force, and now feel
assured that I shall have reason to be more than satisfied both with
your discretion and your attainments. I shall not again find time to
write you two pages; so do not expect it. Nevertheless, you will
engross much, very much of the thoughts and affections of


Previous to the year 1800, slavery existed in the State of New-York.
Colonel Burr, at different periods, was the owner of slaves. All those
that remained in his family for any length of time were taught to read
and write. During his absence from home it was his practice to
correspond with one or more of them. As a master, he was beloved. A
few letters are here given as specimens of this correspondence. They
are copied _literally_.


New-York, 3d December.


I received your letter December 1st, and we are all happy to hear that
you are well. Harry has taken the chair to the coachmaker's, and has
gave him directions according to your orders. I have asked James to
write to you to know how the venison was to be done; but I will now
have it cured as you have ordered. The sashes of the windows were
nailed down the day that you went away, and the ladder that you
mention belongs to Mr. Halsey, and be has taken it away. All the
papers that have any writing on is put into the drawers, and I will
take care of the ink that it does not freeze. Colonel Platt was here,
and has taken the four red cases that was in the wine-room; and he
asked me for a square box, and as you had not told me of it, I said
that I had never seen it. There is nothing in the stable; but don't
know what is in Sam's room, as he has locked the door. We are happy to
hear that Sam, and George, and the horses are in good order, and all
the family gives their love to them.



New-York, 17th December.


I received your letter, and am happy to hear that you are in a good
state of health. Harry went to Mr. Alston's farm the day after I
received the letter, and the man had gone away the 11th day of
December. Stephen was not at home when he went there, and by what he
could understand there was a great difference between Daniel and
Stephen; and Harry says that for the time that he has been there he
had not neglected his work. But, master, I wish to beg a favour of
you; please to grant it. I have found there is a day-school, kept by
an elderly man and his wife, near to our house, and if master is
willing that I should go to it for two months, I think it would be of
great service to me, and at the same time I will not neglect my work
in the house, if you please, sir.



New-York, 29th December.


I received your letter, which has given me no satisfaction concerning
your health; and as there has been a report in the paper that you was
wounded, it has made us very uneasy, supposing it to be true; but I
hope that it is not so, as I hear that people gives no credit to it. I
go to the school, since master is willing, and I like the teacher very
much. He pays great attention to my learning, and I have teached Nancy
her letters ever since you have been gone, which I think will be of as
much service to her as if she went to school. We are all well at
present, and I hope that you are the same.


TO COLONEL BURR. New-York, 12th January.


I have received your letter of the 4th inst., and it gives us great
happiness to hear that you are in good health, as all the family are
except myself. I was taken sick on the 30th of last month, so that I
have not been able to go to school; and as I am better than I have
been, to write these few lines; I am too weak to write Mrs. Alston,
but Elenora's child is well. The woman came here the 7th of this month
for the money, and Harry went to Mrs. Van Ness the 9th, and she said
that Mr. Van Ness did not tell her any thing of it, and she could not
give it.



1. Theodosia's preceptor.

2. A coloured boy.

3. A coloured man, the slave of Colonel Burr.

4. Theodosia had now entered her _twelfth_ year.

5. Natalie De Lage was the daughter of a French lady, who was once a
member of the family of the Princess L'Ambaul. Natalie was adopted and
educated by Colonel Burr as his child. She married the son of General
Sumter, of South Carolina.

6. A slave of Colonel Burr's.

7. A servant of Colonel Burr.


The preceding correspondence not only introduces the reader into the
social circle of Colonel Burr, but into the bosom of his family. It
develops his character, so far as the most sacred and confidential
communications can develop it--as a friend--a husband--a parent--and a
master. We are approaching a period, however, in his history when the
scene is to be changed. In the spring of 1794 Mrs. Burr died; and in
1801 his daughter was married, and removed to South Carolina. Thus
terminated, in a great measure, all those domestic relations and
enjoyments which had afforded him so much pleasure, and connected with
which be had indulged the best feelings of his heart.

Colonel Burr was a member of the Senate of the United States from the
4th of March, 1791, until the 4th of March, 1797. During this period
he continued to practise the law. He was in that class of his
profession to which belonged a Hamilton, a Harrison, and a Livingston.
The partiality of some of his friends may have placed him at the head
of the bar. His opponents ranked him second _only_ to their particular
favourite. As a speaker, Colonel Burr was calm and persuasive. He was
most remarkable for the power which he possessed of condensation. His
appeals, whether to a court or a jury, were sententious and lucid. His
speeches, generally, were argumentative, short, and pithy. No flights
of fancy, no metaphors, no parade of impassioned sentences, are to be
found in them. When employed on the same side of a cause with General
Hamilton, it was his uniform practice to permit that gentleman to
select his own place in the cause.

It has often been remarked that Colonel Burr's character could not be
better drawn than it is in a short sketch of his father, by Governor
Livingston. "Though a person" (says the governor) "of a slender and
delicate make, to encounter fatigue he has a heart of steel; and, for
the despatch of business, the most amazing talents, joined to a
constancy of mind that ensures success in spite of every obstacle. As
long as an enterprise appears not absolutely impossible, he knows no
discouragement; but, in proportion to its difficulty, augments his
diligence; and, by an insuperable fortitude, frequently accomplishes
what his friends and acquaintance conceive utterly impracticable."

In the year 1793 Albert Gallatin was appointed a senator of the United
States by the State of Pennsylvania. On claiming his seat in January,
1794, a petition was presented against his admission into that body,
on the ground that he had not been a citizen the requisite number of
years. The subject was referred to a committee of seven. Their report
elicited a warm debate, which continued for several days. Colonel Burr
took an active part, and greatly distinguished himself in support of
Mr. Gallatin's claim. His colleague, Mr. King, had taken the lead
against the right of Mr. Gallatin to a seat. John Taylor, of Caroline,
Virginia, addressed a note to Colonel Burr, in which he says--"We
shall leave you to reply to King: _first_, because you desired it;
_second_, all depends upon it; no one else _can_ do it, and the
audience will expect it."

On the 28th of February, 1794, the Senate "_Resolved_, That the
election of Albert Gallatin to be a senator of the United States was
void, he not having been a citizen of the United States the term of
years required as a qualification to be a senator of the United
States."--Ays 14, nays 12.

On the 20th of February, 1794, the Senate adopted a resolution,
declaring that their galleries, at the commencement of the next
session, should be opened while the Senate were "engaged in their
legislative capacity." For this, or a similar resolution, Colonel Burr
had voted at every previous session since he had been a member.

His personal respect for John Jay has been heretofore mentioned; but
on no occasion did he permit such feelings to interfere with his
political acts, when called upon to perform a public duty. On the 16th
of April, 1794, the president nominated John Jay, then chief-justice
of the United States, as envoy extraordinary to Great Britain. On the
19th, when the nomination was called up for consideration, Mr. Burr
offered the following resolutions--

"_Resolved_, That any communications to be made to the court of Great
Britain may be made through our minister now at that court with equal
facility and effect, and at much less expense, than by an envoy
extraordinary; and that such an appointment is at present inexpedient
and unnecessary:

"That to permit judges of the Supreme Court to hold, at the same time,
any other office or employment emanating from, and holden at the
pleasure of, the executive, is contrary to the spirit of the
constitution; and, as tending to expose them to the influence of the
executive, is mischievous and impolitic." Ays 10, nays 17.

The nomination was then confirmed by a vote of 18 to 8, Mr. Burr
voting in the negative. This vote, it was understood at the time, gave
pain to Mr. Jay. In a letter to his lady, dated the 20th of April, the
judge says--"Yesterday the Senate approved of the nomination by a
great majority. _Mr. Burr was among the few who opposed it_."

About this period the democratic party were highly incensed against
the president for continuing Gouverneur Morris as a minister to the
French Republic. The Executive Provisory Council had requested his
recall. He was considered a monarchist, and hostile to the revolution.
Many of the opposition senators had spoken with great freedom of the
policy of General Washington in this particular. These remarks having
been communicated to the president, he expressed, informally, a
willingness to recall Mr. Morris, and to nominate a member of the
opposition, if they would designate a suitable person. In consequence
of this suggestion, the democratic members of the Senate, and some of
the most distinguished members of the House, had a conference, and
resolved on recommending Colonel Burr. Mr. Madison, Mr. Monroe, and
another member of Congress whose name is not recollected, were
delegated to wait on the president and communicate the wishes of the

General Washington paused for a few moments, and then remarked, that
he had made it a rule of life never to recommend or nominate any
person for a high and responsible situation in whose integrity he had
not confidence; that, wanting confidence in Colonel Burr, he could not
nominate him; but that it would give him great pleasure to meet their
wishes if they would designate an individual in whom he could confide.
The committee returned and reported the result of their conference.
The senators adhered unanimously to their first nomination, and the
same delegates waited upon the president and reiterated the adherence
of their friends to Colonel Burr. Whereupon General Washington, with
some warmth, remarked that his decision was irrevocable; but
immediately added, "I will nominate you, Mr. Madison, or you, Mr.
Monroe." The former replied that he had long since made up his mind
never to leave his country, and respectfully declined the offer. They
retired, and reported the result of their second interview. The
democratic gentlemen were not less inflexible, and instructed their
delegates to say to the president that they would make no other
recommendation. On the third visit they were received by Mr. Randolph,
secretary of state, to whom they made the communication, but who
considered it indecorous, knowing the president's feelings, to repeat
the message.

This incident demonstrates, on the one hand, the strong and
unchangeable prejudices of General Washington against Colonel Burr;
and on the other, the firm and unbounded confidence reposed in him by
the democracy of those days. The anecdote is not related on the
authority exclusively of Colonel Burr. It is confirmed by the written
statement of a gentleman of high standing, to whom Mr. Monroe repeated
all the details. No other selection was made by the opposition
senators; but, on the 27th of May, 1794, James Monroe was nominated as
Minister Plenipotentiary to the French Republic.

On the 8th of June, 1795, the president submitted to the Senate of the
United States the treaty negotiated with Great Britain by John Jay.
This question called into operation all the powers of Mr. Burr's mind.
He was opposed to it in the form it had been negotiated. His views and
opinions may be distinctly understood by comparing the amendments
which he proposed with the original treaty. On the 22d June the Senate
resumed the consideration of it, whereupon he offered the following

"That the further consideration of the treaty concluded at London the
19th of November, 1794, be postponed, and that it be recommended to
the President of the United States to proceed without delay to further
friendly negotiation with his Britannic Majesty, in order to effect
alterations in the said treaty in the following particulars:----

"That the 9th, 10th, and 24th articles, and so much of the 25th as
relates to the shelter or refuge to be given to the armed vessels of
states or sovereigns at war with either party, be expunged.

"2d Art. That no privilege or right be allowed to the settlers or
traders mentioned in the 2d article, other than those which are
secured to them by the treaty of 1783 and existing laws.

"3d. Art. That the 3d article be expunged, or be so modified that the
citizens of the United States may have the use of _all_ rivers, ports,
and places within the territories of his Britannic Majesty in North
America, in the same manner as his subjects may have of those of the
United States.

"6th Art. That the value of the negroes and other property carried
away contrary to the 7th article of the treaty of 1783, _and the loss
and damage sustained by the United States by the detention of the
posts_, be paid for by the British government--the amount to be
ascertained by the commissioners who may be appointed to liquidate the
claims of the British creditors.

"12th Art. That what relates to the West India trade, and the provisos
and conditions thereof in the 12th article, be expunged, or be
rendered much more favourable to the United States, and without any
restraint on the exportation, in vessels of the United States, of any
articles not the growth, produce, or manufacture of the said islands
of his Britannic Majesty.

"15th Art. That no clause be admitted which may restrain the United
States from reciprocating benefits by discriminating between foreign
nations in their commercial arrangements, or prevent them from
increasing the tonnage or other duties on British vessels on terms of
reciprocity, or in a stipulated ratio.

"21st Art. That the subjects or citizens of either party be not
restrained from accepting commissions in the army or navy of any
foreign power."

In 1797, while Colonel Burr was yet a member of the United States
Senate, his mind was occupied with the project of a bank, and he
conferred with several of his personal friends on the subject. Among
others, he wrote the honourable Thomas Morris, who was at the time a
member of the state Senate.


New-York, 1st February, 1797.


I have been informed that the present sheriff of Dutchess either has
resigned or will decline a reappointment, and that Platt Smith is
among the candidates. I have very little personal acquaintance with
Mr. Smith--am not, indeed, certain that I should recognise him if I
should meet him; but I have long known him by reputation, and can
assure you that he is a man of irreproachable character, of
independent property, and much above ordinary in point of
intelligence. His connexions are very influential (perhaps the most
so) in that county. He is, in short, a man, in my opinion, every way
qualified to fill the office. Has always been of your party, and
supported Jay's election. He is withal a generous, manly, independent
fellow, of that cast which you like; one who will feel sensibly any
favours or civilities which may be done him. If you should not be
otherwise pledged, you will oblige several of your personal friends by
supporting his pretensions.

I have drawn out a plan for a bank, but find that it will require so
many explanations that I forbear to send it. I perceive that you are
about selling our stock in the funds of the United States. We have
already talked over this matter. The more I reflect, the stronger
appear the objections. It will doubtless be urged in favour of an
immediate sale, that our funds are in danger of seizure by the United
States. This is a mere bugbear. Such a thing will never again be even
proposed, and, if proposed, will never receive three votes in the
Senate. I hope, therefore, our legislature will not suffer themselves
to be precipitated into this sale from any such unfounded

Mr. Belasies, a gentleman, a man of education and fortune, by birth an
Englishman, has come out with his family to reside in this country. If
he should apply for leave to hold lands in this state, I hope he may
be gratified; from the little I have seen, and the much I have heard
of him, I am persuaded that he will be a valuable acquisition to any
state and to any society. He is no politician.

I return to-morrow to Philadelphia, where I shall remain for this
month. May l expect to see you here in the spring? Present me most
respectfully to Williamson, and be assured of my esteem and


In April, 1798, Colonel Burr was elected a member of Assembly for the
city and county of New-York by the democratic party. This year was
marked with more political virulence than any other year since the
independence of the country. It was during the year 1798 that the
alien and sedition laws were passed. In the autumn of 1798, Matthew
Lyon, then a representative in Congress from Vermont, was endicted for
harbouring an intention "to stir up sedition, and to bring the
president and government of the United States into contempt," &c. He
was convicted, and the sentence was--"Matthew Lyon, it is the pleasure
of this court that you be imprisoned four months, pay costs, and a
fine of one thousand dollars, and stand committed until the judgment
be complied with." This year the celebrated mission to France,
consisting of Messrs. Marshall, Pinckney, and Gerry, excited the
attention not only of the American people, but of the civilized world.
In short, this year the foundation was laid for the overthrow of
federal power in the United States.

In no section of the country was there more political excitement than
in New-York. Parties were nearly balanced. There were only two banks
in the city; the Bank of New-York, and the branch of the United States
Bank. They were charged with being influenced in their discounts by
political considerations. At all events, they were under the
management and control of federalists; and to counteract their alleged
influence, Colonel Burr was anxious for the establishment of a
democratic institution. With this view he proposed to obtain a charter
for supplying the city with water; and as it was certain that if
confined to that particular object the stock would not be subscribed,
he caused the application to be made for two millions of dollars, and
inserted a clause in that charter, that the "surplus capital might be
employed in any way not inconsistent with the laws and constitution of
the United States or of the State of New-York." It is under this
clause that the Manhattan Company use and exercise all the privileges
of a bank. The directors were named in the charter, and a majority of
them were of the democratic party.

It has been said that the charter was obtained by trick and
management; and that, if suspicion bad been entertained by any of the
federal members, Colonel Burr could not have got the bill through the
legislature. It is due to him, so far as it can be justly done, to
rescue his memory from the imputation of having _misrepresented_ or
_misstated_ to any member the object he had in view. The facts in
reference to the passage of the charter of the Manhattan Company
through the Senate will now be given. The statement is upon authority
that cannot be contradicted.

When the bill had passed the Assembly and was sent to the Senate,
Colonel Burr, during the hours of business, went into the Senate
Chamber, and requested a federal senator (now living) from the western
district to move a reference of that bill to a select committee, to
report complete, which would supersede the necessity of its going to a
committee of the whole. The senator replied, that though he had no
objection to make the experiment, yet that he was persuaded the motion
would not prevail, because the Senate, not having a press of business
before them, uniformly refused thus committing bills to select
committees instead of a committee of the whole. Colonel Burr then
suggested, that perhaps if the mover would intimate, while on the
floor, that the honourable Samuel Jones was contemplated as chairman
of that committee, the confidence which the Senate was known to repose
in him, and in his uniform attention to every thing relating to the
city of New-York, would perhaps induce the Senate on this occasion to
depart from its accustomed mode of proceeding. Accordingly the motion
was made, and passed without opposition.

The committee named by the honourable Stephen Van Rensselaer, then
lieutenant-governor, were Samuel Jones, Ambrose Spencer, and Thomas
Morris. It was suggested to one of these gentlemen that the part of
the bill authorizing the employment of the surplus capital had better
be stricken out of it; in consequence of which that gentleman applied
to Colonel Burr for an explanation on this point. Mr. Burr promptly
and frankly informed the honourable member, that it not only did
authorize, but that it was in tended the directors should use the
surplus capital in any way they thought expedient and proper. That
they might have a bank, an East India Company, or any thing else that
they deemed profitable. That the mere supplying the city with water
would not, of itself, remunerate the stockholders. Colonel Burr added,
that the senator was at liberty to communicate this explanation to
other members, and that be had no secrecy on the subject. The bill was
subsequently reported by Mr. Jones and passed.

This view of the proceedings of the legislature is sustained by what
occurred in the Council of Revision, from the minutes of which an
extract has been made.

"_At a meeting of the Council of Revision, held at the City Hall of
the City of Albany, on Monday, the 1st of April, 1799._

"PRESENT--His Excellency the Governor, the Honourable the Chancellor,
the Chief Justice, and Judge Benson.

"Mr. Reynolds and Mr. Robbins, from the honourable the Assembly,
delivered to the council the bill entitled _An act for the relief of
John Lansing_, the bill entitled _An act for supplying the city of
New-York with pure and wholesome water_, and the bill entitled _An act
to amend the statute of limitation_, and the bill entitled _An act
making provision to keep in repair the bridge over Schoharie Creek, at
Fort Hunter, in the county of Montgomery_.

"The council proceeded to take the said bills into consideration, and

"_Resolved_, That the bill entitled _An act for supplying the city of
New-York with pure and wholesome water_ be committed to the honourable
the Chief Justice; that the bill entitled _An act to amend the statute
of limitation_ be committed to the honourable the Chancellor."

"_At a meeting of the Council of Revision, held at the City Hall of
the City of Albany, on Tuesday, the 2d of April, 1799._

"PRESENT--His Excellency the Governor, the Honourable the Chancellor,
the Chief Justice, and Judge Benson.

"The honourable the Chief Justice, to whom was committed the bill
entitled _An act for supplying the city of New-York with pure and
wholesome water_, reported the following objections, to wit:

"_Because_ the bill creates a corporation, with a capital of two
millions of dollars, vested with the unusual power to divert its
surplus capital to the purchase of public or other stock, _or any
other moneyed transactions or operations not inconsistent with the
constitution and laws of this state or of the United States_, and
which surplus may be applied to the purposes of trade, or any other
purpose which the very comprehensive terms in which the clause is
conceived may warrant; this, in the opinion of the council as a novel
experiment, the result whereof as to its influence on the community
must be merely speculative and uncertain, peculiarly requires the
application of the policy which has heretofore uniformly obtained,
that the powers of corporations relative to their money operations
should be of limited instead of perpetual duration."

"The council proceeded to take the preceding objections into
consideration, which were overruled; it was thereupon

"_Resolved_, That it does not appear improper to the council that the
said bill, entitled _An act for supplying the city of New-York with
pure and wholesome water_, should become a law of this state.

"_Ordered_, That the honourable the Chancellor deliver a copy of the
preceding resolution, signed by his excellency the Governor, to the
honourable the Assembly."

"_State of New-York, Secretary's Office_.

"I certify the preceding to be true extracts from the minutes of the
Council of Revision of this state.



"_Deputy Secretary_.

"_Albany, April 29th_, 1836."

Of the correctness of the above statement, and the fairness of Mr.
Burr's conduct in relation to the Manhattan Company, there cannot be
the shadow of a doubt; but it is probable that a large portion of the
members never attempted to examine into the extent of the powers
granted to the Manhattan Company; while another portion considered the
project of Colonel Burr, in reference to an East India Company or a
bank, as chimerical and visionary. It is, however, evident that no
trick or misrepresentation was practised to procure the passage of the
bill; unless, indeed, his silence on the floor of the house as to his
ulterior views may be so construed. His object was a bank; and when
appealed to on this particular point, he admitted the fact. At all
other times he remained silent on the subject. When the bill had
passed he was lauded by the democratic party for his address, and they
rejoiced in his success. Its political effect was considered highly
important, as it tended to break down a system of pecuniary
favouritism, which was made to operate in support of the party in

During the summer of 1799 vague rumours were privately circulated
respecting certain transactions of Colonel Burr with the Holland Land
Company. It was whispered that a bond, which the company held against
him for twenty thousand dollars, had been given up for secret services
rendered them. In other circles it was hinted that the compensation
was for procuring the passage of a bill through the legislature
authorizing aliens to hold lands, &c. Connected with these rumours,
John B. Church, Esq. had spoken with so much freedom as to produce a
challenge from Colonel Burr. On the 2d of September, 1799, the parties
met at Hoboken, and having exchanged a shot without effect, Mr. Church
made the _amende honorable_, and the affair was so satisfactorily
adjusted as to restore the social intercourse of these gentlemen. Mr.
Church was attended by Abijah Hammond, Esq., and Colonel Burr by Judge
Edanus Burke, of South Carolina.

On the ground a most ludicrous incident occurred. Previous to leaving
the city of New-York, Colonel Burr presented to Judge Burke his
pistol-case. He explained to the Judge that the balls were cast
intentionally too small; that chamois leather was cut to the proper
size to put round them, but that the leather must be greased (for
which purpose grease was placed in the case), or that there would be a
difficulty in getting the ball home. After the parties had taken their
stand, Colonel Burr noticed the judge hammering the ramrod with a
stone, and immediately suspected the cause. When the pistol was handed
him by his friend, he drew the ramrod, and ascertained that the ball
was not home, and so informed the judge; to which Mr. Burke replied,
"I forgot to grease the leather; but you see he is ready, don't keep
him waiting; _just take a crack as it is, and I'll grease the next_!"
Colonel Burr bowed courteously, but made no reply, and discharged his
pistol in the state it had been given to him. The anecdote for some
time after was the subject of merriment among those who had heard it.

No explanation was ever given, it is believed, of the transactions
between Colonel Burr and the Holland Land Company. It was his practice
to let his actions speak for themselves, and to let the world construe
them as they pleased. This was a great error, and was the source in
after life of much trouble and suffering to him, yet he would not
depart from it. A few weeks subsequent to this duel, however, be
received from a friend a kind letter, asking confidentially an
explanation of these transactions, to which he replied,


New-York, 6th October, 1799.


I cannot refuse to the manner of your request, nor to the friendly
motives which have produced it, to satisfy your inquiries with regard
to Witbeck's bond and the Holland Company.

In December, 1795 or 1796, I forget which, I entered into a covenant
with the Holland Company for the purchase of one hundred thousand
acres of land, at twelve shillings per acre, payable by instalments.
The covenant contained a penalty of twenty thousand dollars; as
security on my part for this penalty, in case it should become due, I
mortgaged to Cazenove, or the Holland Company, twenty thousand acres
of land in Presque Isle, being one hundred shares of two hundred acres
each in the Population Company, and I assigned to him Thomas L.
Witbeck's bond, payable to me, for twenty thousand dollars, as further
collateral security.

In the fall of 1797 Cazenove joined with me in a power of attorney to
James Wadsworth, then in Europe, for the sale of one hundred thousand
acres, and, until the summer or fall of the year following, we had
reason to believe that they were or would be sold, which of course
would have terminated all questions about the penalty. Some time in
the year 1797 or 1798, it was noised in Albany that Thomas L. Witbeck
had given a bond for twenty thousand dollars, and his credit at the
bank and elsewhere became affected by it. He wrote me often on the
subject. In reply, I begged him to explain that the bond was not for
the payment of money, and that, even if it should become forfeited,
the twenty thousand acres of Presque Isle lands were alone a
sufficient security. Witbeck, however, continued to be uneasy for his
credit, and teased me to take up his bond by giving other security. I
thought this rather unkind, and did not trouble myself about it.
Indeed, I was in hopes that the sale of the land in Europe would have
closed the transaction. Not long after this, I think in November last,
Cazenove informed me that be had been applied to by Witbeck to change
that security, and added that he was willing to change it for one of
equal solidity, provided it would not impair his rights.

Witbeck's importunities continued, and he became so very urgent and
repeated that I was finally (November last), long after the passing of
the alien bill, induced to offer A. I. Frederick Prevost's bond in the
place of Witbeck's. Cazenove took time to consider and inquire; and
finding, in fact, that Prevost's bond was a much better one than
Witbeck's, agreed to take it. Prevost accordingly executed _to me_ a
bond for twenty thousand dollars, of which Harrison drew a special
assignment to the Holland Company. We made a memorandum that this
exchange should not vary the rights of the parties (viz., the Holland
Company and Aaron Burr), and Thomas L. Witbeck's bond was given up. In
this transaction I never suspected that Cazenove imagined that _he_
was doing a favour either to me or Thomas L. Witbeck, and I am
confident that he never entertained so absurd a belief. It was with
great reluctance that I gave Prevost's bond. I had claims on Witbeck
which justified me in exposing him to some hazard. Prevost had a
family, a clear, independent estate, and did not owe a cent in the
world; but he had better nerves than Witbeck, and would not tease me.

About this time we learned that all prospect of selling the land in
Europe had failed, and as I never had an expectation of paying except
from the land itself, it became necessary to close the transaction. It
should be observed, that soon after my contract with Cazenove he
received orders, as he informed me, to sell no more under sixteen
shillings (two dollars), and afterward I understood that he had raised
the price to twenty shillings. In December last we had several
conferences for the purpose of settling this business. I offered to
give back the land and cancel the covenants. He talked of the penalty.
I replied that be would only recover the damages sustained, which, by
his own account, were nothing; for, as the price of the land was
raised to twenty shillings, the Holland Company would, by their own
estimation, gain one hundred thousand dollars by taking back the land.
He appeared to feel the unreasonableness of his demand, and finally
evaded my proposal by questioning his own authority. This I considered
as a pretence; some irritation ensued, and we parted without
concluding any thing.

Thus the matter remained until May last (1799), when our negotiations
were renewed. After various overtures and propositions on either side,
it was at length agreed that I should convey to the Holland Company,
absolutely, the twenty thousand acres Presque Isle lands. That this
should be received in discharge of the advances that Cazenove had made
thereon, and in full satisfaction of all damages claimed on the
covenants; and that thereupon the covenants should be cancelled, the
bond of I. A. Frederick Prevost be given up, and the Holland Company
take back their lands. This was accordingly done a few days before
Cazenove sailed for Europe, which was, I think, in June last.

I should have noted, that about the year 1792 or 1793, I became
jointly concerned with the Holland Company and sundry individuals in
the purchase from the State of Pennsylvania of the whole Presque Isle
angle, and of other lands adjoining to the amount of a million of
acres. The association was called the Population Company, and was
under the management of directors, who had a right to assess on the
proprietors or associates any sums they might think proper to promote
the settlements required by the patents. My interest was one hundred
shares, or twenty thousand acres, for which I had paid, at the time I
mortgaged to Cazenove, upwards of seven thousand five hundred dollars.
The thing was considered as extremely valuable, and I have no doubt
but my interest would, if I could have retained it five years, have
been worth to me more than one hundred thousand dollars. Lands within
the angle were last year sold at twenty dollars per acre.

Though it be obvious that no damages were due or could have been
recovered by the Holland Company on the penalty contained in the
covenants, yet I had several motives to urge me to some sacrifice in
order to get rid of the business. _First._ I could not repay the
advances made by Cazenove, which amounted to several thousand dollars.
_Second._ I could not bear to give any uneasiness to Frederick
Prevost, which might have been the consequence of a legal proceeding.
_Third._ I was a little apprehensive of being sued on the covenants
for payment of the purchase money. Cazenove, on his part, had but a
single motive, to wit--he found that these lands were all I had to
give, and that a suit would have produced only expense.

The aforegoing facts are substantially known to Le Roy, Bayard, and
McEvers, and to Harrison and Ogden. The two last were consulted on the
closing of the business in May and June last (1799). The former of
them, Harrison, several times on the exchange of the bonds. I have not
spoken to either of those gentlemen on the subject since the
transactions took place; but any person is at liberty to do it who may
choose to take the trouble.

I have given you a summary of my whole concern with Cazenove and the
Holland Company, not knowing what part of it might tend to elucidate
your inquiries.

By those who know me, it will never be credited that any man on earth
would have the hardiness even to propose to me dishonourable
compensations; but this apart, the absurdity of the calumny you allude
to is obvious from the following data, resulting from the deeds and
known facts:

That at the time the Alien Bill was under consideration, and long
after, the bond, the covenant, and the penalty were objects of no
concern, as we had reason to believe that the lands were or would be
sold in Europe, so as to leave me a profit:

That Witbeck's bond was _never given up_, but exchanged for one more
safe and valuable:

That I had not, nor by possibility could have, any interest in this
exchange, as it was relieving one friend to involve another still more
dear to me:

That, so far from any understanding between Cazenove and me, we had
controversies about the very bond and penalty for more than a year
after the passing of the Alien Bill: That no part of the penalty was
ever due from me to the Holland Company; and that of course, they
could never have demanded the bond, which was expressly a security for
the penalty, and not for the payments:

That nevertheless I did finally give Cazenove a valuable and
exorbitant compensation to induce him to cancel the covenants and
discharge the penalty.

This, sir, is the first time in my life that I have condescended
(pardon the expression) to refute a calumny. I leave to my actions to
speak for themselves, and to my character to confound the fictions of
slander. And on this very subject I have not up to this hour given one
word of explanation to any human being. All the explanation that can
be given amounts to no more than this--_That the thing is an absolute
and abominable lie_. I feel that the present detail is useless and
trifling; but you have asked with good-nature, and I could not, with
the appearance of good-nature, refuse. I pardon you the labour I have
had in writing, and for that which you will have in reading no apology
can be due from

Your friend and obedient servant,


In January, 1801, Colonel Burr's daughter Theodosia was married to
Joseph Alston, Esq., of South Carolina. Mr. Alston was in his
twenty-second, Miss Burr in her eighteenth year. He was a gentleman of
talents and fortune, and a few years after his marriage was chosen
governor. Some opinion of his style of writing may be formed by his
defence of early marriages; while that portion of his letter which
relates to his native state cannot be uninteresting to South


New-York, January 13th, 1801.

I have already written to you by the post to tell you that I shall be
happy to see you _whenever you choose;_ that I suppose is equivalent
to _very soon;_ and that you may no longer feel doubts or suspicions
on my account, I repeat the invitation by a packet as less dilatory
than the mail; but for all these doubts and suspicions I will take
ample revenge when we meet.

I yesterday received your letter of the 26th of December, and am
expecting your defence of early marriages to-day. My father laughs at
my impatience to hear from you, and says I am in love; but I do not
believe that to be a fair deduction, for the post is really very
irregular and slow--enough so to provoke anybody.

We leave this for Albany on the 26th inst., and shall remain there
till the 10th February. My movements will after that depend upon my
father and _you_. I had intended not to marry this twelvemonth, and in
that case thought it wrong to divert you from your present engagements
in Carolina; but to your solicitations I yield my judgment. Adieu. I
wish you many returns of the century.

14th January.

I have not yet received your promised letter; but I hope it may be
long in proportion to the time I have been expecting it. The packet
has been delayed by head-winds, but now that they are fair she will
have a quick passage; at least such I wish it. Adieu, encore.



Charleston, S. C. December 28th, 1800.

Aristotle says "that a man should not marry before he is
six-and-thirty:" pray, Mr. Alston, what arguments have you to oppose
to such authority? Hear me, Miss Burr.

It has always been my practice, whether from a natural independence of
mind, from pride, or what other cause I will not pretend to say, never
to adopt the opinion of any one, however respectable his authority,
unless thoroughly convinced by his arguments; the "ipse dixit," as
logicians term it, even of Cicero, who stands higher in my estimation
than any other author, would not have the least weight with me; you
must therefore, till you offer better reasons in support of his
opinion than the Grecian sage himself has done, excuse my differing
from him.

Objections to early marriages can rationally only arise from want of
discretion or want of fortune in the parties; now, as you very well
observe, the age of discretion is wholly uncertain, some men reaching
it at twenty, others at thirty, some again not till fifty, and many
not at all; of course, to fix such or such a period as the proper one
for marrying, is ridiculous. Even the want of fortune is to be
considered differently, according to the country where the marriage is
to take place; for though in some places a fortune is absolutely
necessary to a man before he marries, there are others, as in the
eastern states for example, where he marries expressly for the purpose
of making a fortune.

But, allowing both these objections their full force, may there not be
a single case that they do not reach? Suppose (_for instance, merely_)
a young man nearly two-and-twenty, already of the _greatest_
discretion, with an ample fortune, were to be passionately in love
with a young lady almost eighteen, equally discreet with himself, and
who had a "sincere friendship" for him, do you think it would be
necessary to make him wait till thirty? particularly where the friends
on both sides were pleased with the match.

Were I to consider the question personally, since you allow that
"individual character" ought to be consulted, no objection clearly
could be made to my marrying early.

From my father's plan of education for me, I may properly be called a
hot-bed plant. Introduced from my infancy into the society of men,
while yet a boy I was accustomed to think and act like a man. On every
occasion, however important, I was left to decide for myself; I do not
recollect a single instance where I was controlled even by advice; for
it was my father's invariable maxim, that the best way of
strengthening the judgment was to suffer it to be constantly
exercised. Before seventeen I finished my college education; before
twenty I was admitted to the bar. Since that time I have been
constantly travelling through different parts of the United States; to
what purpose I leave you to determine.

From this short account of myself you may judge whether my manners and
sentiments are not, by this time, in some degree formed.

But let us treat the subject abstractedly; and, as we have shown that
under particular circumstances no disadvantages result from early
marriages, let us see if any positive advantages attend them.

Happiness in the marriage state, you will agree with me, can only be
obtained from the most complete congeniality of mind and disposition,
and the most exact similarity of habits and pursuits; now, though
their natures may generally resemble, no two persons can be entirely
of the same mind and disposition, the same habits and pursuits, unless
after the most intimate and early association; I say early, for it is
in youth only the mind and disposition receive the complexion we would
give them; it is then only that our habits are moulded or our pursuits
directed as we please; as we advance in life they become fixed and
unchangeable, and instead of our governing them, govern us. Is it not
_therefore_ better, upon every principle of happiness, that persons
should marry young, when, directed by mutual friendship, each might
assimilate to the other, than wait till a period when their passions,
their prejudices, their habits, &c. become so rooted that there
neither exists an inclination nor power to correct them? Dr. Franklin,
a very strong advocate for my system, and, I think, at least as good
authority as Aristotle, very aptly compares those who marry early to
two young trees joined together by the hand of the gardener;
  "Trunk knit with trunk, and branch with branch intwined,
  Advancing still, more closely they are join'd;
  At length, full grown, no difference we see,
  But, 'stead of two, behold a single tree!" [1]

Those, on the other hand, who do not marry till late, say "thirty,"
for example, he likens to two ancient oaks;

  "Use all your force, they yield not to your hand,
  But firmly in their usual stations stand;
  While each, regardless of the other's views,
  Stubborn and fix'd, it's natural bent pursues!" [2]

But this is not all; it is in youth that we are best fitted to enjoy
that exquisite happiness which the marriage state is capable of
affording, and the remembrance of which forms so pleasing a link in
that chain of friendship that binds to each other two persons who have
lived together any number of years. Our ideas are then more refined;
every generous and disinterested sentiment beats higher; and our
sensibility is far more alive to every emotion our associate may feel.
Depend upon it, the man who does not love till "thirty" will never,
never love; long before that period, he will become too much enamoured
of his own dear self to think of transferring his affections to any
other object. He may marry, but interest alone will direct him in the
choice of his wife; far from regarding her as the sweetest friend and
companion of his life, he will consider her but as an unavoidable
encumbrance upon the estate she brings him. And can you really hope,
my Theodosia, with all your ingenuity, to convince me that such a
being will enjoy equal happiness in marriage with me? with me, about
to enter into it with such rapture; who anticipate so perfect a
_heaven_ from our uniting in every study, improving our minds
together, and informing each other by our mutual assistance and
observations? No--I give you full credit for your talents, but there
are some causes so bad that even you cannot support them.

Enough, however, of this topic till we meet; I have already given you
a volume of nonsense upon it.

Now for the fable, I cannot call it description, your "dear friends"
have given you of this state. "The country," they say, because of the
marshy grounds, "is rendered continually unhealthy with fever and
agues." One would really conclude from this that we were a good
representation of a meeting of _Shaking Quakers_. Alas! beautiful and
romantic hills of Carolina, which the delighted traveller so often
stops to admire; fair and fertile plains interspersed with groves of
the orange, the lemon, and the myrtle, which fling such healthful
fragrance to the air, where are ye fled? Has some earthquake, some
sudden and dreadful concussion of nature, ingulfed you? No! You still
remain for the delight and ornament of our country; you have lost
existence only in the imagination of some beau or belle of New-York;
who, ignorant of the geography and appearance of the most celebrated
states, believes every other place except the Park and the Battery a
desert or a marsh. But let us proceed:--"As to Charleston, an annual
epidemic, joined to the yells of whipped negroes, which assail your
ears from every house, and the extreme heat, make it a perfect
purgatory!" What! is Charleston, the most delightfully situated city
in America, which, entirely open to the ocean, twice in every
twenty-four hours is cooled by the refreshing seabreeze, the
Montpelier of the south, which annually affords an asylum to the
planter and the West-Indian from every disease, accused of heat and
unhealthiness?--Island of Calypso, where reigned perpetual spring! may
we not, after this, expect thy flower-enamelled fields to be
metamorphosed into dreary wastes of snow, and the sweet concerts of
the feathered choir, which elysionized thy woods, converted into the
howling of the tiger, or the horrid bark of the wolf? But this is not
all, unfortunate citizens of Charleston; your disposition has been
even still more outraged than your climate. Your mildness, humanity,
and benevolence, are no more; cruelty, barbarity, a sanguinary love of
torture, are now your distinguishing characteristics; the scream, the
yell of the miserable, unresisting African, bleeding under the scourge
of relentless power, affords music to your ears! Ah! from what
unfriendly cause does this arise? Has the God of heaven, in anger,
here changed the order of nature? In every other region, without
exception, in a similar degree of latitude, the same sun which ripens
the tamarind and the anana, ameliorates the temper, and disposes it to
gentleness and kindness. In India and other countries not very
different in climate from the southern parts of the United States, the
inhabitants are distinguished for a softness and inoffensiveness of
manners, degenerating almost to effeminacy; it is here then, only,
that we are exempt from the general influence of climate: here only
that, in spite of it, we are cruel and ferocious! Poor Carolina!

"The state of society, too, is equally inviting. The men and women
associate very little; the former employ themselves either in the
business of life, or in hunting horse-racing, and gaming; while the
latter meet in large parties, composed entirely of themselves, to sip
tea and look prim!" Would a stranger who had been among us, who had
witnessed the polished state of our society, the elegance of our
parties, the case and sociability of manners which prevail there, the
constant and agreeable intercourse between the sexes, the
accomplishments of our ladies, that proud and elevated spirit among
the men which would feel "a stain like a wound," believe the account
you have written meant as a picture of South Carolina? Would he
believe, still further, that it was drawn by an American? No. He would
suppose it the production of some jaundiced foreigner, who had never
visited us, and who set down every thing out of his own country as
rude and Gothic. Now I recollect Morse gives a description something
like this of _North_ Carolina; and I suspect your "friends" stole
their account, with a little exaggeration, from him, but mistook the
state. I have now replied to the fable of your "dear friends" in a
_veritable_ style; but, setting aside rhapsody, if you have time to
read it, I will give you a proper and impartial account of our country
in a few words. Possibly it may serve to amuse you, if still confined
by your ankle.

For about sixty or seventy miles from the seacoast, the land is,
perhaps, more uninterruptedly level than any equal tract of territory
in the United States; from that distance it gradually becomes more
hilly, till, as you advance into the interior, you become entangled in
that chain of mountains which, rising in the back parts of
Pennsylvania, runs through that state, touches a corner of Maryland,
and, extending through North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia,
forms a line between the Atlantic and transatlantic states. In upper
Carolina it is as healthy as anywhere on the continent. The people are
robust, active, and have a colour as fine as those of Rhode Island. In
the low country, it is true, we are visited by "the fevers and agues"
you mention, but it is only at a particular season, and near the banks
of the rivers. In this we are by no means singular; those who reside
on the borders of the lakes, the Connecticut, the Delaware, and the
Potomac, are equally exposed. On the seacoast we again find health;
Charleston, till within a few years past, was remarkably healthy.
Since '93 it has been afflicted, at different times, during the
summer, with an epidemic, which has certainly proved extremely fatal;
but ought it to be called an "annual visitant" here any more than at
Boston, New-York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, &c., all of which places
have been equally, and some of them more, afflicted by it?

With regard to our manners; if there is any state which has a claim to
superior refinement, it is certainly South Carolina. Generally
speaking, we are divided into but two classes, very rich and very
poor; which, if no advantage in a political view, is undoubtedly
favourable to a polished state of society. Our gentlemen having large
fortunes, and being very little disposed by the climate to the
drudgery of business or professions, have full leisure for the
attainment of polite literature, and what are usually called
accomplishments; you therefore meet with few of them who are not
tolerably well informed, agreeable companions, and completely well
bred. The possession of slaves renders them proud, impatient of
restraint, and gives them a haughtiness of manner which, to those
unaccustomed to them, is disagreeable; but we find among them a high
sense of honour, a delicacy of sentiment, and a liberality of mind,
which we look for in vain in the more commercial citizens of the
northern states. The genius of the Carolinian, like the inhabitants of
all southern countries, is quick, lively, and acute; in steadiness and
perseverance he is naturally inferior to the native of the north; but
this defect of climate is often overcome by his ambition or necessity;
and, whenever this happens, he seldom fails to distinguish himself. In
his temper he is gay and fond of company, open, generous, and
unsuspicious; easily irritated, and quick to resent even the
appearance of insult; but his passion, like the fire of the flint, is
lighted up and extinguished in the same moment. I do not mention his
hospitality and kindness to strangers, for they are so common they are
no longer esteemed virtues; like common honesty, they are noticed only
when not possessed. Nor is it for the elegance of their manners only
that the South Carolinians are distinguished; sound morality is
equally conspicuous among them. Gaming, so far from being a
fashionable vice, is confined entirely to the lower class of people;
among gentlemen it is deemed disgraceful. Many of them, it is true,
are fond of the turf; but they pursue the sports of it merely as an
amusement and recreation, not a business. As to hunting, the country
gentlemen occasionally engage in it, but surely there is nothing
criminal in this! From my education and other pursuits I have seldom
participated in it myself; but I consider it, above all exercises, the
most manly and healthful.

But come, let us dismiss the gentlemen and their amusements, and take
up the female part of the community.

The ladies of Carolina, I confess, are not generally as handsome as
those of the northern states; they want that bloom which, in the
opinion of some, is so indispensable an ingredient in beauty; but
their paleness gives them an appearance of delicacy and languor which
is highly interesting. Their education is perhaps more attended to
than anywhere else in the United States; many of them are well
informed, all of them accomplished. For it would be far more
unpardonable in a girl to enter a room or go through a congo
ungracefully, than to be ignorant of the most common event in history
or the first principles of arithmetic. They are perfectly easy and
agreeable in their manners, and remarkably fond of company; no
Charleston belle ever felt "ennui" in her life. In the richness of
their dress and the splendour of their equipages they are unrivalled.
From their early introduction into company, and their constant and
unreserved intercourse with the other sex, they generally marry young;
and if their husbands want only companions for the theatre or the
concert-room, or some one to talk over the scandal of the day with
when at home, they make tolerable wives. As we have now brought them
to the "ne plus ultra" of human happiness, marriage, we will leave
them there, and so finish our description.

The reason of your not hearing from me so long after your return to
New-York was this: not knowing till you wrote me from Ballston how my
letters would be received, I was really afraid to venture writing.

You ask how Miss P. walks? If it is your object, as you say, from
knowing bow you stand with her in point of forces, to preserve better
what you have won, receive a general lesson. "Continue in every
respect exactly as you are, and you please me most."

You wish me to acquire French. I already understand something of it,
and, with a little practice, would soon speak it. I promise you,
therefore, if you become my instructress, in less than two months
after our marriage to converse with you entirely in that language. I
fix the period _after_ our marriage, for I cannot think of being
corrected in the mistakes I may make by any other person than my wife.
Suppose, till then, you return to your Latin, and prepare to use that
tongue with me, since you are averse to one understood by all the
canaille. Adieu. I have literally given you a folio volume.

Yours, my dear Theodosia,


P. S. The arrangement you speak of proposing in your letter for an
interview has determined me. I shall there fore sail certainly in a
few days. Winds be propitious!

Miss BURR.

In April, 1799, the federal party were triumphant in the State of
New-York. The city was entitled to thirteen members of Assembly. They
were federalists, and were elected by an average majority of 944; the
whole number of votes being about 6000. Colonel Burr during this year
was not in public life, but he was not an idle spectator of passing
events. The year following a President of the United States was to be
elected. It was now certain, that unless the vote of the State of
New-York could be obtained for Mr. Jefferson, he could not be elected.
It was equally certain, that unless the city could be carried by the
democratic party, the state would remain in the bands of the

During the winter of 1799 and the spring of 1800, Colonel Burr
commenced a system of party organization for the approaching contest.
The presidential electors were at that time chosen by the legislature,
meeting in joint ballot. His first object was to secure such a
committee of nomination for the city and county of New-York as, in the
selection of candidates for the assembly, would be influenced by his
recommendation. His opinion, often expressed to his confidential
friends during the winter of 1800, was, that without a most powerful
ticket there was no prospect of success; with such a ticket and proper
exertions it could be elected. He entertained no doubt (and the result
proved that he was correct), that on the city and county of New-York
were suspended the destinies of the country, whether for good or
whether for ill. These views and these opinions were presented and
enforced by him for days, and weeks, and months previous to the
election upon all the young and ardent politicians of the city with
whom he had any intercourse. The effect of which was, that when the
crisis arrived, every member of the party seemed to feel the great
responsibility which rested upon him.

The next object with Colonel Burr was to inculcate harmony in the
party and concert in action. It was known that a most unconquerable
jealousy existed between the Clinton and Livingston families and the
adherents of those factions. The Clintons and their supporters were
anti-federalists. The Livingstons were not less distinguished as
federalists, until some time after the organization of the general
government under the new constitution. Colonel Burr enforced, in mild
and persuasive terms, the necessity of sacrificing all prejudices and
partialities; of surrendering all personal and ambitious
considerations; of standing shoulder to shoulder, and uniting in one
great effort to rescue the country from misrule. By the most unceasing
perseverance he succeeded in both these objects.

Every section of the democratic party felt the necessity of Colonel
Burr's being a member of the legislature that was to choose the
electors; but a difficulty arose. It was understood that General
Hamilton would personally attend the several polls during the three
days of election; that he would counsel and advise with his political
friends, and that he would address the people. Here again all seemed
to feel that Colonel Burr was the man, and perhaps the only man, to
meet General Hamilton on such an occasion. But if his name was on the
Assembly ticket as a candidate, his personal exertions during the
election would be lost to the party. To place him in that situation
appeared to many like abandoning the field without a struggle to the
federalists. In this dilemma, the county of Orange patriotically came
forward and nominated him as a candidate on their Assembly ticket,
thus leaving him free to act in the city of New-York; and by the
people of Orange Colonel Burr was elected a member of the legislature.

All the details connected with the formation of the Assembly ticket in
April, 1800, for the city and county of New-York, will be given
hereafter. The result is known. It succeeded. The legislature was
democratic. Presidential electors of the democratic party were
appointed. Colonel Burr's services were appreciated by the democracy
in every section of the country, and he was nominated on the ticket
with Mr. Jefferson for the offices of President and Vice President of
the United States. By the constitution, as it was originally adopted,
the person who had the greatest number of votes, provided they were a
majority of the whole number given, was president; and the person
having the next highest number, with the like proviso, was
vice-president. When the ballots were examined, it appeared that Mr.
Jefferson and Colonel Burr were the two highest candidates, and that
their votes were equal. By the provisions of the constitution, it
devolved upon the House of Representatives of the United States,
voting by states, to designate which of these gentlemen should be
president, and which vice-president.

On proceeding to the ballot a contest ensued, which lasted for several
days, producing the most implacable and bitter animosities; a contest
which terminated in the election of Mr. Jefferson and the ruin of
Colonel Burr. Until within a few years that scene has been completely
enveloped in mystery. A part of the incidents connected with it,
however, in a fugitive form, are before the world. But the period has
arrived when the question should be met with manly firmness; when the
voice of history should announce to posterity the truth, the whole
truth, and nothing but the truth, so far as it can be ascertained. The
generation which were the actors in those scenes have passed away. The
parties immediately interested are sleeping the sleep of death. Few,
very few indeed now living, understand the nature of that contest. The
curtain shall be drawn aside. The documents which develop its
character, and which are scattered in fragments, will be brought
together, and recorded (it is hoped) in a permanent and tangible form.

It will be seen that the immediate friends and advisers of Mr.
Jefferson, until within a few hours of the balloting, had no
confidence in certain leading and distinguished members of Congress,
whose names shall be given, but who, on his coming into power,
promptly received the most substantial evidence of his kind feelings
by appointments to office. The clearest evidence will be presented
that Mr. Jefferson entered into terms and conditions with the federal
party or some of their leaders; that the honourable James A. Bayard,
of Delaware, acted on the part of the federalists, and the honourable
Samuel Smith, of Maryland, at present mayor of Baltimore, on the part
of Mr. Jefferson; and that terms and conditions were agreed upon
between them before Mr. Jefferson could be elected; while, on the
other hand, it will be demonstrated that the charges which have been
made against Colonel Burr of having intrigued and negotiated with the
federal party to obtain the office of president were as unjust as they
were groundless. But "_I come to bury Cesar, not to praise him_."


1. Manuscript poem of my own.

2. From the same.

[Frontispiece: Theodosia]





"I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him."



       *       *       *       *       *

Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1836, by


in the Clerk's Office of the Southern District of New-York.

       *       *       *       *       *



Colonel Burr's study of the law; shortness of his study; different
opinions respecting his law learning; his definition of law; his
manner of preparing causes and of conducting suits; his maxim for
sluggards; tendency to mystery in his practice; fondness for
surprising an opponent; an illustration of this remark; his treatment
of associate counsel; nice discrimination in the selection of
professional agents; their various characteristics; the same acuteness
displayed in politics; anecdote on this subject that occurred during
the contested election in 1800; great coolness and presence of mind in
civil as well as military life; an example in the death of Mr. P.;
commenced practice at the close of the revolution under the most
favourable auspices; multiplication of his papers; condensation a
peculiar trait in his mind; never solicited a favour from an opponent;
a strict practitioner; character of his mind; manner of speaking;
accorded to General Hamilton eloquence; an incident in relation to
Hamilton and Burr in the cause of Le Guen _vs_. Gouverneur and Kemble;
letter from John Van Ness Yates explanatory of Chief Justice Yates's
notes on that occasion; the effect he produced as a speaker; his
display of extraordinary talents on his trial at Richmond; his legal
opinions on various important occasions; a letter from him evincing
his great perseverance when nearly eighty years of age


A brief history of the rise of political parties in the state of
New-York; the city of New-York the rendezvous of the tories, from
which they communicated with the British ministry during the war;
feelings of the whigs on this subject; Joseph Galloway, of
Philadelphia, sails in 1778 for England; his correspondence with the
loyalists extensive; extracts from various letters written during the
war of the revolution, viz., from the Reverend Bishop Inglis, from
Isaac Ogden, from Daniel Cox, during the year 1778; from John Potts,
from Daniel Cox, from Isaac Ogden, from Daniel Cox, from Thomas Eddy,
from Bishop Inglis, from John Potts, from Bishop Inglis, from Isaac
Ogden, from Bishop Inglis, from Isaac Ogden, from Daniel Cox, during
the year 1779; from Charles Stewart, David Sproat, and James Humphrey,
Jun., printer, in 1779, in which General Arnold's _tory sympathies_
are alluded to; from Bishop Inglis, John Potts, and Christopher Sower;
from David Ogden, with the plan of a constitution for the government
of the American colonies after the whigs are conquered


Defeat of General Schuyler as a candidate for the office of governor
of the state of New-York, in opposition to George Clinton, in 1777;
commencement of the Clinton and Schuyler parties; defeat of General
Schuyler as a candidate for Congress in 1780; "a supreme dictator"
proposed; opposition of Hamilton to the project; the Clinton and
Schuyler parties continued to exist until the adoption of the federal
constitution; in 1779 a law passed disfranchising tories; in 1781 an
act confirmatory of this law; first session of the legislature after
the war held in the city of New-York, in 1784; petitions of the tories
rejected; Robert R. Livingston's classification of parties in the
state; suit of Mrs. Rutgers vs. Waddington for the recovery of the
rent of a building occupied by Waddington in the city of New-York
during the war; the mayor's court, James Duane and Richard Varick
presiding, decide against Mrs. Rutgers; great excitement and public
meetings; Waddington compromises the claim; in 1786 and 1787, sundry
laws restricting the privileges of the tories, through the
instrumentality of General Hamilton are repealed; the tories unite
with the Schuyler party; the strength of the Schuyler party in the
legislature elected from the tory counties; names of the members in
1788, 89; to which of the political parties Colonel Burr belonged;
letters from John Jay on the subject of proscribing the tories


The Livingstons were of the Schuyler party; subsequently of the
federal party; their change; reasons assigned; the federalists triumph
in the city of New-York at the election of 1799; Mr. Jefferson's
opinion as to the effect of the city election in 1800; the several
factions of the democratic party unite in this contest, through the
arrangements of Burr; the character of his friends; he is elected to
represent Orange county; the manner in which the city ticket for 1800
was formed; great difficulty to obtain Governor Clinton's consent to
use his name; interview of a sub-committee with the governor; his
denunciation of Jefferson; Burr's and Hamilton's efforts at the
election; success of the democratic party; apprehensions that the
federalists intended to change the result by fraud; a federal caucus
held on the evening of the 3d of May, 1800; letter to Duane, editor of
the Aurora, stating that the caucus had decided to request Governor
Jay to convene the legislature, and change the mode of choosing
presidential electors; federal printers deny the charge; the letter to
Jay, published in his works, thus proving the correctness of the
Aurora's statement


General Hamilton's pamphlet on the conduct of John Adams; Colonel Burr
ascertains that it is in the press; as soon as printed, a copy
obtained, and extracts sent to the Aurora and the New-London Bee;
Hamilton thus compelled to make the publication prematurely;
presidential electors chosen; letter from Jefferson to Burr; Jefferson
to Madison; tie vote between Jefferson and Burr; rules for the
government of the House of Representatives during the election;
informality in the votes of Georgia; constitutional provision on the
subject; statement of the case by Mr. Wells, of Delaware, and Mr.
Nicholas, of Virginia; balloting commenced on the 11th, and continued
until the 17th of February, 1801, when, on the 36th ballot, Mr.
Jefferson was elected president; letter from Burr to General S. Smith,
constituting him (Smith) his proxy to declare his sentiments in the
event of a tie vote


Mr. Burr's political position on being elected vice-president; letters
from Mr. Jefferson to Mr. Madison; the doubtful states in Congress on
the presidential question; the doubtful persons; their appointment to
office by Mr. Jefferson; address to Colonel Burr by certain
republicans at Baltimore, on his way to Washington in 1801; his
answer, disapproving of such addresses; casting vote, as
vice-president, on the bill to repeal the midnight judiciary act;
effects of this vote; letter from A. J. Dallas on the subject; from
Nathaniel Niles; from A. J. Dallas; Wood's history of John Adams's
administration; suppression by Burr; attacks upon Burr by Cheetham and
Duane; private letters from Duane approving of Burr's conduct


Effect of Burr's silence under these attacks; allegation that Dr.
Smith, of New-Jersey, as a presidential elector, was to have voted for
Burr; denial of Dr. Smith; Timothy Green charged with going to South
Carolina as the political agent of Burr; denial of Green; General John
Swartwout charged with being concerned in the intrigue; denial of
Swartwout; Burr charged with negotiating with the federalists; denial
of Burr, in a letter to Governor Bloomfield; David A. Ogden said to
have been the agent of the federal party or of Burr in this
negotiation; letter from Peter Irving to Ogden, inquiring as to the
fact; answer of Ogden, denying the charge; Edward Livingston
represented as Burr's "confidential friend" on the occasion; denial of
Livingston; Burr, in the year 1804, commences a suit against Cheetbam
for a libel; wager-suit between James Gillespie and Abraham Smith, and
a commission taken out to examine witnesses, April, 1806; transactions
in the United States' Senate on the 18th January, 1830, in relation to
Mr. Jefferson's charge against Mr. Bayard; letter from R. H. Bayard to
Burr; from Burr to Bayard; from Burr to M. L. Davis; from Davis to
Burr; from General S. Smith to R. H. and J. A. Bayard; from R. H.
Bayard to Burr


Letter from Judge Cooper to Thomas Morris; ditto; from James A. Bayard
to Alexander Hamilton; from George Baer to R. H. Bayard;
interrogatories to James A. Bayard, in Cheetham's suit; answers to
said interrogatories by Mr. Bayard; interrogatories to Bayard in the
suit of Gillespie _vs_. Smith; answers thereto; reasons why Mr.
Latimer was not removed from the office of collector of Philadelphia;
answer of Samuel Smith to interrogatories in the suit of Gillespie
_vs_. Smith


Effect of the attacks upon Burr; power of the press in corrupt hands;
Mr. Jefferson's malignity towards Burr; his hypocrisy; false entries
in his Ana of conversations said to have been held with Burr; letter
to Theodosia; ditto; ditto; to Joseph Alston; Theodosia to Joseph
Alston; to Theodosia; ditto; to Joseph Alston; to Theodosia; to Thomas
Morris; from P. Butler; to Joseph Alston; to Theodosia; from Thomas
Jefferson; to Theodosia


Letter to Joseph Alston; from D. Phelps, from Joseph Brandt (Indian
chief); from William P. Van Ness; to Theodosia; to Barnabas Bidwell;
to Joseph Alston; to Theodosia; from Charles Biddle; from Marinus
Willett; from John M. Taylor; from Mrs. *****; to Theodosia; ditto


Letter to Theodosia; ditto; to Joseph Alston; from Charles Biddle;
from John Coats; to Theodosia; from C. A. Rodney; to Theodosia; ftom
C. A. Rodney; from Uriah Tracy; from General Horatio Gates; from David
Gelston; to Theodosia; ditto; from Midshipman James Biddle; from John
Taylor, of Caroline


Letter from Theodosia to Joseph Alston; ditto; from A. Burr to Joseph
Alston; to Natalie; Theodosia to Joseph Alston; to Joseph Alston;
ditto; to Theodosia; to Joseph Alston; ditto; to Theodosia; ditto; to
Dr. John Coats; from Theodosia; to Theodosia; from Theodosia; to
Theodosia; ditto; ditto


Letter to Theodosia; ditto; from Theodosia; to Theodosia; from
Theodosia; from Charles Biddle; from John Taylor, of Caroline; from
Pierce Butler; to Theodosia; ditto; from Theodosia; from Theodosia;
ditto; to Theodosia; ditto; from Theodosia; to Theodosia; ditto; to
Charles Biddle; from Midshipman James Biddle


Note from Mr. Madison; from J. Wagner to Mr. Madison; from Samuel A.
Otis; letter from George Davis; from Charles Biddle; from Robert
Smith; from Robert G. Harper; from J. Guillemard; from John Vaugham;
from John Dickinson; to Charles Biddle; to Theodosia; to Peggy (a
slave); to Theodosia; to Joseph Alston; to Charles Biddle; ditto; to
Natalie Delage Sumter; to Theodosia; to A. R. Ellery; to Theodosia; to
Thomas Sumter, Jun.; to Charles Biddle; to F. A. Vanderkemp; to W. P.
Van Ness; to Theodosia; to Mrs. *****; to Theodosia; to Miss ----; to


Letter from Charles D. Cooper, which produced the duel between General
Hamilton and Colonel Burr; correspondence between the parties, with
explanations by W. P. Van Ness, second of Colonel Burr; statement of
what occurred on the ground as agreed upon by the seconds;
explanations of the correspondence, &c., by Nathaniel Pendleton,
second of General Hamilton; remarks on the letter which Mr. Van Ness
refused to receive; account of General Hamilton's wound and death, by
Dr. Hosack; remarks by General Hamilton on his motives and views in
meeting Colonel Burr; death of Hamilton; oration by Gouverneur Morris;
letter from Colonel Burr to Theodosia, dated the night before the
duel; same date to Joseph Alston


Letter to Joseph Alston; to Theodosia; from John Swartwout; to
Theodosia; ditto; to Joseph Alston; to Theodosia; ditto; journal for
Theodosia; to Joseph Alston; to Theodosia; to Joseph Alston; to
Theodosia; to Joseph Alston; to Theodosia


Letter to Theodosia; ditto; trial of Judge Chace before the United
States' Senate; Burr presides; acquittal; letter to Theodosia; ditto;
an account of the effect of Burr's speech on taking leave of the
Senate; letter to Joseph Alston; to Theodosia; journal of his tour in
the Western country; letter to Joseph Alston


Burr's early views against Mexico; letter from General Miranda to
General Hamilton, in April, 1798 on the subject of an expedition, in
conjunction with Great Britain, against South America; from Miranda to
Hamilton, in October, 1798, announcing the arrangements made with the
British; from Miranda to General Knox, same date, on the same subject;
General Adair's statement of Burr's views; grant of lands by the
Spanish government to Baron Bastrop; transfer of part of said grant to
Colonel Lynch; purchase from Lynch by Burr; the views of Burr in his
Western expedition, as stated by himself; he is arrested on the
Tombigbee; the cipher letter; transported to Richmond; trial and
acquittal of Burr; testimony of Commodore Truxton; Dr. Bollman's
treatment by Mr. Jefferson


Excitement produced against Burr by Jefferson, Eaton, and Wilkinson;
Senate of the United States pass a bill suspending writ of Habeas
Corpus; House rejects the bill on the first reading, _ayes_ 113, nays
19; extracts from Blennerhassett's private journal; official Spanish
documents, showing that General Wilkinson, after he had sworn to
Burr's treasonable designs, despatched his aid, Captain Walter
Burling, to Mexico, demanding from the viceroy for his service to
Spain, in defeating Burr's expedition against Mexico, the sum of _two
hundred thousand dollars_; sundry letters of Burr to Theodosia, while
imprisoned in Richmond on the charge of treason


Burr sails for England on the 7th of June, 18O8; arrives in London on
the 16th of July; makes various unsuccessful efforts to induce the
British ministry to aid him in his enterprise against South America;
receives great attention from Jeremy Bentham; continues his
correspondence with Bentham after his return to the United States;
visits Edinburgh; experiences great courtesy; introduced to M'Kenzie
and Walter Scott; returns to London; the ministers become suspicious
of him; his papers are seized, and his person taken into custody for
two days, when he is released, but ordered to quit the kingdom; leaves
England in a packet for Gottenburgh; travels through Sweden, Germany,
&c.; Bourrienne's (French minister at Hamburgh) account of Burr, and
Burr's account of Bourrienne; arrives in Paris on the 16th of
February, 1810; endeavours to induce Napoleon to aid him in his
contemplated expedition, but is unsuccessful; asks a passport to leave
France, and is refused; presents a spirited memorial to the emperor on
the subject; Russell, chargé d'affaires, and M'Rae, United States
consul at Paris, refuse him the ordinary protection or passport of an
American citizen; in July, 1811, obtains permission from the emperor
to leave France; sails from Amsterdam on the 20th of September; is
captured next day by an English frigate, and carried into Yarmouth;
remains in England from the 9th of October, 1811, until the 6th of
March, 1812; arrives in New-York, via Boston, on the 8th of June,
after an absence of four years


Colonel Burr, on his return to New-York in 1811, resumes the practice
of law; prejudices against him; kindness of Colonel Troup; letter from
Joseph Alston to Burr, announcing the death of Aaron Burr Alston;
effect upon Burr; Theodosia's health precarious; Timothy Greene
despatched to bring her to New-York; letter from Greene; letter from
Greene, stating that he is to sail for New-York in a few days, on
board a schooner with Theodosia; letter from Alston to Theodosia,
expressing apprehensions for her safety; from Alston to Burr on the
same subject; from Alston to Burr, abandoning all hope of his wife's
safety; Theodosia supposed to have perished in a gale of wind early in
January, 1813; from Burr to Alston in relation to his private affairs;
Burr expresses his opinions on great, but not on minor political
questions; letter from Burr to Alston, denouncing the nomination of
Monroe for president, and recommending General Jackson; Alston
replies, concurring in sentiment with Burr, but ill health prevents
his acting; Alston's death; letter from William A. Alston to Burr,
explanatory of his late brother's will so far as Burr is interested;
from Theodosia to her husband, at a moment when she supposes that
death is approaching; Burr's continued zeal in favour of the South
American States; letter from General Toledo to Colonel Burr in 1816,
soliciting him to take command of the Mexican forces; Burr
commissioned by the Republic of Venezuela in 1819; Burr's pursuits
after his return from Europe; superintends the education of the Misses
Eden; his pecuniary situation; state of his health; paralytic; manner
of receiving strangers; restive and impatient at the close of his
life; death; conveyed to Princeton for interment; an account of his
funeral; proceedings of the Cliosophic Society



Colonel Burr's study of the law [1] has been already briefly noticed.
He brought to that study a classic education as complete as could, at
that time, be acquired in our country; and to this was added a
knowledge of the world, perhaps nowhere better taught than in the
camp, as well as a firmness and hardihood of character which military
life usually confers, and which is indispensable to the success of the
forensic lawyer. He was connected in the family circle with _two[2]
eminent jurists, who were at hand to stimulate his young ambition, and
to pour, in an almost perpetual stream, legal knowledge into his mind,
by conversation and by epistolary correspondence. The time he spent in
his studies preparatory to his admission would be considered short at
the present day; but (to use the language of another) "it is to be
recollected that at that time there were no voluminous treatises upon
the mere routine of practice to be committed to memory, without adding
a single legal principle or useful idea to the mind, and which only
teach the law student, as has been said of the art of the rhetorician,
'how to name his tools.' Burr, fortunately for his future professional
eminence, was not destined to graze upon this barren moor. He spent
his clerkship in reading and abstracting, with pen in hand, Coke and
the elementary writers, instead of Sellon and Tidd; and learnt law as
a science, and not as a mechanical art."

On the other hand, it has been said "that Colonel Burr was not a
deep-read lawyer; that he showed himself abundantly conversant with
the general knowledge of the profession, and that he was skilful in
suggesting doubts and questions; but that he exhibited no indications
of a fondness for the science, nor of researches into its abstruse
doctrines; that he seemed, indeed, to hold it and its administration
in slight estimation. The best definition of law, he said, was
'_whatever is boldly asserted and plausibly maintained_.' This sarcasm
was intended full as much for the courts as for the law administered
by them."

If Colonel Burr may have been surpassed in legal erudition, he
possessed other qualifications for successful practice at the bar
which were seldom equalled. He prepared his trials with an industry
and forethought that were most surprising. He spared no labour or
expense in attaining every piece of evidence that would be useful in
his attacks, or guard him against his antagonist. He was absolutely
indefatigable in the conduct of his suits. "He pursued (says a legal
friend) the opposite party with notices, and motions, and
applications, and appeals, and rearguments, never despairing himself,
nor allowing to his adversary confidence, nor comfort, nor repose.
Always vigilant and always urgent, until a proposition for compromise
or a negotiation between the parties ensued. 'Now move slow (he would
say); never negotiate in a hurry.' I remember a remark he made on this
subject, which appeared to be original and wise. There is a saying,
'Never put off till tomorrow what you can do to-day.' 'This is a
maxim,' said he, 'for sluggards. A better reading of the maxim
is--_Never do to-day what you can as well do to-morrow_; because
something may occur to make you regret your premature action.'"

I was struck, says the same friend, in his legal practice, with that
tendency to mystery which was so remarkable in his conduct in other
respects. He delighted in surprising his opponents, and in laying, as
it were, ambuscades for them. A suit, in which I was not counsel, but
which has since passed professionally under my observation, will
illustrate this point in his practice. It was an ejectment suit,
brought by him to recover a valuable tenement in the lower part of the
city, and in which it was supposed, by the able lawyers retained on
the part of the defendant, that the only question would, be on the
construction of the will. On the trial they were surprised to find the
whole force of the plainfiff's case brought against the authenticity
of an ancient deed, forming a link in their title, and of which, as it
had never, been questioned nor suspected, they had prepared merely
formal proof; and a verdict of the jury, obtained by a sort, of
_coup-de-main_, pronounced the deed a forgery. Two tribunals have
subsequently established the deed as authentic; but the plaintiff
lived and died in the possession of the land in consequence of the
verdict, while the law doubts, which form the only real questions in
the case, are still proceeding, at the customary snail's pace, through
our courts to their final solution.

To be employed as an assistant by Mr. Burr was not to receive a
sinecure. He commanded and obtained the constant and unremitted
exertions of his counsel. It was one of the most remarkable
exhibitions of the force of his character, this bending every one who
approached him to his use, and compelling their unremitted, though
often unwilling, labours in his behalf. His counsel would receive
notes from him at midnight, with questions which were sent for
immediate replies.

He showed nice discrimination in his selection of his professional
assistants. When learning was required, he selected the most erudite.
If political influence could be suspected of having effect, he chose
his lawyers to meet or _improve_ the supposed prejudice or
predilection. Eloquence was bought when it was wanted; and the cheaper
substitute of brow-beating, and vehemence used when they were
equivalent or superior. In nothing did he show greater skill than in
his measurement and application of his agents; and it was amusing to
hear his cool discussion of the obstacles of prejudice, or ignorance,
or interest, or political feeling to be encountered in various
tribunals, and of the appropriate remedies and antidotes to be
employed, and by what persons they should be applied.

Equal discrimination and acuteness was displayed in his political
movements. An anecdote which occurred in the contested election of
1800 will exemplify this remark. Funds were required for printing, for
committee-rooms, &c. The finance committee took down the names of
leading democrats, and attached to each the sum they proposed to
solicit from him. Before attempting the collection, the list, at
Colonel Burr's request, was presented for his inspection. An
individual, an active partisan of wealth, but proverbially
parsimonious, was assessed one hundred dollars. Burr directed that his
name should be struck from the list; for, said he, you will not get
the money, and from the moment the demand is made upon him, his
exertions will cease, and you will not see him at the polls during the
election. The request was complied with. On proceeding with the
examination, the name of another wealthy individual was presented; he
was liberal, but indolent; he also was assessed one hundred dollars.
Burr requested that this sum should be _doubled_, and that be should
be informed that no labour would be expected from him except an
occasional attendance at the committee-rooms to assist in folding
tickets. He will pay you the two hundred dollars, and thank you for
letting him off so easy. The result proved the correctness of these
opinions. On that occasion Colonel Burr remarked, _that the knowledge
and use of men consisted in placing each in his appropriate position_.

His imperturbable coolness and presence of mind were displayed in his
civil as well as in his military life. Against most of the
vicissitudes of a trial he guarded by his forethought and minuteness
of preparation. I was present myself, says the legal friend already
referred to, when he received with great composure a communication
which would have startled most men. Mr. P. had long been an inmate of
his house; he had been connected with him in many respects and for
many years. Colonel Burr and two other lawyers were discussing a
proposed motion in a chancery suit in which P. was the plaintiff, the
colonel himself having, an interest in the result. P. was then out of
town. A letter was brought in and handed to the colonel, which,
telling us to proceed with our debate, he carefully read, and then
placed it, in his customary manner, on the table, with the address
downwards. Our discussion proceeded earnestly for ten minutes at
least, when the colonel, who had listened with great attention, asked,
in his gentlest tone, "What effect would the death of P. have on the
suit?" We started, and asked eagerly why he put the question. "P. is
dead," he replied, "as this letter informs me; _will the suit abate?_"
The colonel was himself ill at the time, and unable to leave his sofa;
and even if there was some affectation in his demeanour, there was
certainly remarkable collectedness.

Colonel Burr commenced the practice of his profession at the close of
the revolution, under the most favourable auspices; and may be said at
one bound to have taken rank among the first lawyers of the day, and
to have sustained it until he became vice president, at which time, it
is believed, he had no superior at the bar, either in this state or in
the Union, nor even an equal, except General Hamilton.

The eclat which Burr, yet a beardless boy, had acquired by his
adventurous march under Arnold to Canada, through our northeastern
wilds, then a trackless desert; his gallant bearing at Quebec and
Monalouth; his efficient services in the retreat of our army from Long
Island and New-York; and his difficult and delicate command on the
lines of Westchester, followed him to private life, gathered around
him hosts of admirers and friends among our early patriots,
particularly the youthful portion of them, and no doubt essentially
aided him in making his successful professional _debut_. The name of
the chivalrous aid-de-camp who supported in his youthful arms the
dying hero of Quebec was familiar in the mouths of men, and from one
end of the continent to the other he was eulogized for his military
prowess. Such were the cheering auspices under which he sheathed his
sword when his physical energies would permit him no longer to wield

"He was indefatigable," says another legal friend, "in business, as he
had been in his previous studies, and no lawyer ever appeared before
our tribunals with his cause better prepared for trial, his facts and
legal points being marshalled for combat with all the regularity and
precision of a consummate military tactician. No professional
adversary, it is believed, has ever boasted of having broken or thrown
into confusion the solid columns into which he had formed them, or
having found void spaces in their lengthened line, or to have beaten
him by a _ruse de guerre_ or a surprise.

"He never heeded expense in completing his preparations for trial;
and, while laborious himself to an uncommon degree, he did not stint
the labours of others, so far as he could command or procure them.
Every pleading or necessary paper connected with his causes was in
tile first place to be multiplied into numerous copies, and then
abstracted or condensed into the smallest possible limits, but no
material point or idea was by any means to be omitted. His propensity
to concision or condensation was a peculiar trait in his mind. He
would reduce an elaborate argument, extending over many sheets of
paper, to a single page. Had he written the history of our revolution,
which he once commenced, he would probably have compressed the whole
of it in a single volume."

In his professional practice, he never solicited from an opponent any
favour or indulgence any more than he would have done from an armed
foe; but, at the same time, rarely withheld any courtesy that was
asked of him, not inconsistent with the interest of his clients. He
was a strict practitioner, almost a legal _martinet_, and so fond of
legal technicalities, that he never omitted an opportunity of trying
his own skill and that of opposite counsel in special pleas,
demurrers, and exceptions in chancery, notwithstanding the risk of
paying costs sometimes, though rarely incurred, and of protracting a

The labour of drawing his pleadings and briefs, however, at least
after his return from Europe in 1812, always devolved upon others;
and, with marginal notes of all the authorities which had been
consulted, from the year books downward, which were sometimes in law
French and law Latin, to the last reports in England and some half a
dozen of our states, in which may be properly called law English, were
submitted to his critical acumen; his thousand doubts, suggestions,
hints, and queries, which would start from his mind like a flash, and
for a moment seem to throw into inextricable confusion what had been
laboriously, and perhaps profoundly studied, at last would most
generally be adopted without material alterations or additions.

Colonel Burr's mind cannot be said to have been a comprehensive one.
It was acute, analytical, perspicacious, discriminating,
unimaginative, quick to conceive things in detail, but not calculated
to entertain masses of ideas. He would never have gained celebrity as
an author; but as a critic, upon whatever subject, his qualifications
have rarely been surpassed, though in literary matters and the fine
arts they were only exhibited in conversation. His colloquial powers
were impressive and fascinating, though he generally seemed a listener
rather than a talker; but never failed to say a proper thing in the
proper place."

As a public speaker, his ideas were not diffuse enough; or rather, he
appeared to lack fluency to make a long, and what is called an
elaborate argument upon any matter, however grave or momentous. In a
cause in which he was employed as associate counsel with General
Hamilton, an incident occurred, in relation to Chief Justice Yates,
not unworthy recording. It speaks a language that cannot he
misunderstood, and is demonstrative of the influence which he had over
the feelings as well as the minds of his hearers. It was the
celebrated case of Le Guen vs. Gouverneur and Kemble, one of the most
important, in regard to the legal questions and amount of property
involved, which at that day had been brought before our tribunals, and
in which case he completely triumphed. Only a short period previous to
his decease Colonel Burr remarked, that on this occasion he had
acquired more money and more reputation as a lawyer than on any other
during his long practice at the bar. A letter was addressed to Thurlow
Weed, Esq., requesting him to apply to the Hon. John Van Ness Yates,
son of the late chief justice, and ascertain whether the incident, as
reported, was founded on fact. To that letter Mr. Weed received the
following answer.


Albany, July 8th, 1837.


After some difficulty in finding my father's notes of the argument in
the case of Le Guen vs. Gouverneur and Kemble, I have ascertained that
the account you showed me, given in the letter of M. L. Davis, Esq.,
is in the main correct. My father's notes of General Hamilton's
argument are _very copious_. Those of Colonel Burr's are _limited_, in
this way--"Burr for plaintiff, I. The great principles of commercial
law which apply to this case are"--then follows a hiatus of some
lines. After which, as follows:--

"II. The plaintiff"--another _hiatus_.

"III. !!!!!" and this concludes all I can find.

Hamilton's eloquence was (if I may be allowed the expression)
_argumentative_, and induced no great elevation or depression of mind,
consequently could be easily followed by a note taker. Burr's was more
_persuasive_ and _imaginative_. He first enslaved the _heart_, and
then led captive the, _head_. Hamilton addressed himself to the _head_
only. I do not, therefore, wonder that Burr engrossed all the
faculties of the hearer. Indeed, I have heard him often at the bar
myself, and always with the same effect. I do not recollect, in
conversation, any particular allusion of my father's to Burr's
argument in the case of Le Guen _vs_. Gouverneur and Kemble; but I
have frequently heard him say, that of all lawyers at the bar, Burr
was the most difficult to follow in the way of taking notes. Yet Burr
was very _concise_ in his language. He had no pleonasms or expletives.
Every word was in its proper place, and seemed to be the only one
suited to the place. He made few or no repetitions. If what he said
had been immediately committed to the press, it would want no

Yours respectfully,


Colonel Burr's style of speaking at the bar was unique, or peculiarly
his own; always brief; never loud, vehement, or impassioned, but
conciliating, persuasive, and impressive; and when his subject called
for gravity or seriousness, his manner was stern and peremptory. He
was too dignified ever to be a trifler; and his sarcasm, sometimes
indulged in, rarely created a laugh, but powerfully told upon those
who had provoked it. His enunciation was slow, distinct, and emphatic;
perhaps too emphatic; and this was pronounced, by his early and
devoted friend, Judge Paterson, [3] a fault in his mode of speaking
while a youth, and seems never to have been fully corrected, as he did
that of rapid utterance, attaining the true medium for public speaking
in this respect. He spoke with great apparent ease, but could not be
called fluent, although he never appeared at a loss for words, which
were always so chaste and appropriate that they seemed to, have been
as carefully selected before they fell from his lips as if they had
been written down in a prepared speech and committed to memory. His
manner was dignified and courteous; his self-possession never for an
instant forsook him. He never appeared hurried or confused, or
betrayed the slightest embarrassment for want of ideas to support his
argument, or language in which to clothe it; and possessed a memory so
well disciplined as never to forget any thing in the excitement of the
legal forum which in the retirement of his study he had intended to
use. He has frequently been heard to say that he possessed no
oratorical talents; that he never spoke with pleasure, or even
self-satisfaction, and seemed unconscious of the effect which he
produced upon the minds of his audience.

Colonel Burr accorded the palm of eloquence to General Hamilton, whom
he frequently characterized as a man of strong and fertile
imagination, of rhetorical and even poetical genius, and a powerful
declaimer. Burr's ruling passion was an ardent love for military
glory. Next to the career of arms, diplomacy, no doubt, would have
been his choice, for which not only his courtly and fascinating
manners, but every characteristic of his mind peculiarly adapted him.
It is idle now to speculate upon what he might have been had
Washington yielded to the importunities of Madison, Monroe, and
others, and appointed him minister to the French republic. Our
country, before which he then stood in the original brightness of his
character, would have been honoured in the choice, both at home and
abroad, and his own destiny, at least, would have been widely

Notwithstanding oratory was not his forte, and he never spoke in
public with satisfaction to himself, still many anecdotes are told of
him which would show that the effect of his speeches were sometimes of
unequalled power. It is said, that at the close of his farewell
address to the Senate of the United States on his retirement from the
vice-presidency, there was scarcely a dry eye to be seen among his
grave auditors, many of whom were his bitter political adversaries.
His manner of speaking was any thing but declamatory, and more
resembled an elevated tone of conversation, by which a man, without
any seeming intention, pours his ideas in measured and beautiful
language into the minds of some small select circle, dislodging all
which they may have previously entertained upon a particular subject,
and fixing his own there, by the power of a seeming magical
fascination, which he could render, when he chose, almost
irresistible. To judge him by his success as a public speaker, few men
could be called more eloquent.

As a monument of his legal knowledge and talents, his trial at
Richmond may be referred to. The two volumes of Reports which contain
it exhibit on almost every page the impress of his great mind, in its
singular acuteness and perspicacity, and great powers of analysis and
argument. On that trial were engaged some of the ablest lawyers of our
country, and he manifestly took the lead of them all. But the
abilities which he displayed, hour by hour, and day by day, through
that long protracted contest, in which the verdict sought for by those
who then wielded the political destinies of our country was an
ignominious death, were no less remarkable than his unshaken firmness
and high moral elevation of deportment, struggling as he was for
honour and for life.

_Fiat Justicia ruat coelum_, was the motto of Chief Justice Marshall
on the trial of Colonel Burr. He was acquitted, but his acquittal was
not owing to the clemency or partiality of his judges. His acuteness
as a lawyer, and the adroitness with which he managed his defence,
contributed greatly, no doubt, in saving him from becoming a victim,
though his innocence of the charge of treason which had been brought
against him could hardly have effected that acquittal. Here, then, his
talents have done some good to his country, even if it be of a
negative character. They saved it from a stain of blood, which would
have been as indelible as is that of Admiral Byng upon the escutcheon
of England.

After Colonel Burr's return from Europe in 1812, he was engaged in
several important causes, in which he was preeminently successful. His
legal opinion in the great steam-boat cause aided in breaking up that
monopoly. He was originally employed in the important land trial of
Mrs. Bradstreet, and in the Eden causes, involving a large amount of
property in the city of New-York, and turning upon some of the nicest
points of the most difficult branch of the law of real property: he
triumphed over almost the entire force of the New-York bar, backed by
powerful corporations and individuals of great wealth, which they
profusely lavished in a long-protracted contest. He commenced the Eden
suits in opposition to an opinion which bad been given by General
Hamilton, Richard Harrison, and other members of the profession of
high standing, and on the faith of which opinions the parties in
possession of the lands had purchased and held them at the time the
suits were commenced.

Had Colonel Burr assiduously pursued the study of law through life,
like Marshall, Kent, and others, it is not easy to conjecture to what
elevated point he might have risen; but such was not his destiny; the
bent of his genius, which had received its inclination at the stirring
period of the world when he entered into active life, was military.
But to show his persevering industry in his practice as a lawyer, and
his power of enduring fatigue, even when almost an octogenarian, the
following letter, written by him, is inserted.

Albany, March, 1834.

Germond's, Wednesday Evening.

Arrived this evening between 6 and 7 o'clock, having been _forty-five_
hours in the stage without intermission, except to eat a hearty meal.
Stages in very bad order--roads excellent for wheels to Peekskill, and
thence very good sleighing to this city. The night was uncomfortable;
the curtains torn and flying all about, so that we had plenty of fresh

The term was closed this day. Nelson will hold the Special Court
to-morrow morning--have seen both Wendell and O'Connor this
evening--all ready--came neither fatigued nor sleepy.

A. B.


1. For the remarks which I am now about to present to the reader I am
principally indebted to two highly intelligent members of the bar.
_Either_ of whom is fully competent to a development of Colonel Burr's
legal character; and _neither_ of whom would be disqualified by any
prejudices in his _favour_. These gentlemen, it is believed,
entertained different views as to the Practical value of that species
of reading which is necessary to form what is by some termed "a truly
learned lawyer."

2. Colonel Burr's brother-in-law, Judge _Tappan Reeve_, and his uncle,
_Pierpont Edwards_.

3. see Vol. I., Ch. III.


Before entering upon the details connected with the election of 1800,
a brief history of the rise and progress of political parties in the
State of New-York is deemed necessary. By the Constitution adopted
during the revolutionary war, the state was divided into four
districts, viz., The Southern, the Middle, the Eastern, and the
Western. In the Southern District was included the counties of
Richmond (_Staten Island_), Kings, Queens, and Suffolk (_Long
Island_), New-York (_Manhattan Island_), and Westchester. These six
counties, from the autumn of 1776 until the summer of 1783, were in a
great measure in the possession of the British forces, and those
portions of them which were nominally within the American lines were
generally inhabited by tories and refugees. Lord North, or the most
unrelenting of his followers, were not as much opposed to American
independence as were the tories of the united provinces. The city of
New-York became the rendezvous of the most intelligent and influential
of this class. From this point they communicated with the British
premier, through their correspondents in London. Many of them that
were in exile from their late homes in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and
Connecticut, left their families behind them, under the protection of
the whigs. By this arrangement facilities were afforded for
ascertaining the position, resources, and movements of the rebel
armies. These facilities were not neglected, and the information thus
obtained was promptly communicated to the British commander-in-chief
in New-York, and to the ministry in England. The whigs felt that
ingratitude was returned for their hospitality, and, in consequence,
they became daily more incensed against the tories.

It is believed that the war would have terminated in 1780 or 1781, if
the British minister and his military commanders in America had not
been constantly led into errors by the opinions and advice of the
refugees, but especially those residing in the city of New-York.
Entertaining such views, the suffering whigs, in their most trying
hours, consoled themselves with the hope and belief that, when the
struggle should terminate and the country become independent, their
oppressors and persecutors would no longer be permitted to remain
among them. These were the predominant feelings of the men who were
perilling their lives and enduring every species of privation and
hardship for the freedom of their native land.

During the year 1778, Joseph Galloway, formerly of Philadelphia,
sailed for England. His correspondence was extensive, and he became
the depository of all the grievances of the American loyalists. He was
the medium of communication between them, Lord North, and Lord George
Germain. He possessed, in a high degree, the confidence of those who
were the conscience keepers of the king. Among the correspondents of
Mr. Galloway may be enumerated William Franklin, former governor of
New-Jersey, Daniel Cox, and David Ogden, members of his majesty's
council in New-Jersey, the Rev. Dr. Inglis, subsequently bishop of
Nova Scotia, and Isaac Ogden, counsellor at law of New-York, John
Potts, a judge of the Common Pleas in Philadelphia, John Foxcroft,
postmaster general of North America, &c., &c. None of Mr. Galloway's
correspondents exhibited a more vindictive spirit than the Rev. Bishop
Inglis. These letters were private and confidential, excepting so far
as, the ministry were concerned, for whose use most of them were
intended. None of them, it is believed, have ever heretofore found
their way into print. They are now matters of history. They are well
calculated to develop the secret designs of the tories, and, at the
same time, they afford the strongest view that could be given of the
patriotism, the sufferings, and the untiring perseverance of the sons
of liberty in those days. Some extracts will now be made from the
original manuscripts, for the purpose of showing, in a limited degree,
the cause, and thus far justifying the hostile feelings of the whigs
towards the refugees.

The _Rev. Bishop Inglis_, under date of the 12th December, 1778,
says--"Not less than sixty thousand of the rebels have perished by
sickness and the sword since the war began, and these chiefly farmers
and labourers. I consider it certain that a famine is inevitable if
the war continues two years longer; nay, one year war more will bring
inexpressible distress on the country with regard to provisions, and
this will affect the rebellion not less than the depreciation of their
pasteboard dollars. The rebellion, be assured, is on the decline. Its
vigour and resources are nearly spent, and nothing but a little
perseverance and exertion on the part of Britain is necessary to
supress it totally. Butler and Brandt's forces, Indians and loyalists,
I am told, amount to five or six thousand men. They have distressed
and terrified the rebels more since last spring than the whole royal

_Isaac Ogden_, under date 22d November, 1778, says--"Thus has ended a
campaign (if it deserve the appellation) without anything capital
being done or even attempted. How will the historian gain credit who
shall relate, that _at least_ twenty-four thousand of the best troops
in the world were shut up within their own lines by fifteen thousand,
_at most_, of poor wretches, who were illy paid, badly fed, and worse
clothed, and scarce, at best, deserved the name of soldiers?"

_Daniel Cox_, under date of 17th December, 1778, says--"Ned Biddle has
declined his seat in Congress. The truth is, he means to do more
essential service in the assembly, which has ordered the general sense
of the people to be taken respecting the present constitution of
Pennsylvania. Joe Reed is elected, and accepted the honour of being
president and commander-in-chief of the state."

_John Potts_, under date 1st March, 1779, says--"An opinion prevails
here that government (the British) will adopt the mode of devastation.
If that should really take place, adieu to all the hopes of the
friends of government ever again living in America. Be assured that,
should government be restored by such means, her friends would find it
impossible to travel this country without a guard to prevent
assassination. This is not only my opinion, but the real sentiments of
every friend to government. I have conversed with none, except some of
the violent tories, indeed, of New England, _who seem to partake of
the savage temper of our countrymen_." G---- N----[1] has said, in a
confidential letter to a friend of his, "that government wish to get
rid of this country, and is only at a loss how to do it without
leaving it in a situation to injure her."

_Daniel Cox_, 28th February, 1779, says--"At any rate, I see absolute
ruin attend us poor attainted loyalists should the colonies be given
up, or this place (New-York) be evacuated. I once fondly imagined
neither would happen. I wish that our old friend, the Black Prince, [2]
could have the direction here again, and have the glory of conducting
the future operations to a happy conclusion. I think he is more
calculated for it than somebody [3] else, who, though he may possess
zeal and honesty, wants head."

_Isaac Ogden_, 8th March, 1779, says--"Admiral Gambier is ordered from
this station, to the universal joy of all ranks and conditions. I
believe no person was ever more generally detested by navy, army, and
citizen, than this penurious old reptile."

_Daniel Cox_, 10th April, 1779, says--"In an open letter to me, Mrs.
Cox speaks of the increasing depreciation of the continental money,
under the allegory of an old acquaintance of mine lying in a deep
consumption. Should Great Britain be really treating, and give us up,
there must be an end to her glory. But such a misfortune I can never
believe her subject to, unless from her own folly and internal
factions of the accursed opposition."

_Thomas Eddy_, under date 5th month, 3d, 1779, says--"From accounts
received by last packet of the determined resolution of government to
pursue the war in America with vigour, I am led to believe that the
leaders in the rebellion must give up before fall. Indeed, when I
consider the dissatisfaction universally prevalent caused by the
badness of their money, I should not be surprised if such an event
would take place as soon as General, Clinton opens the campaign."

_Bishop, Inglis_, 14th May, 1779, says--"Remonstrate loudly to those
in authority against treating with the Congress--treating with them is
establishing them, and teaching the Americans to look up to them for
deliverance and protection. We have been guilty of a fatal error in
this from the beginning; we now see and feel the consequences. This
should teach us wisdom and better policy. Though we should conquer the
rebels, yet, if an accommodation is settled with the Congress, I shall
consider the colonies as eventually lost, and that in a little time,
to Great Britain."

_John Potts_, 15th May, 1779, says--"In my last I mentioned some
sanguine hopes which I could not help entertaining, from the prospect
of an election to be held in the beginning of April, for a new
convention, as they call it, in Pennsylvania. Those hopes are now
totally destroyed by the efforts of Joe Reed [4] and the violent
party. Their artful cry of tory against the party in favour of the
convention raised a flame too great to be withstood, and procured more
than twelve thousand signers to petitions against that measure, in
consequence of which the assembly rescinded the resolution for holding
the election."

"The person to whom I alluded in my last letter is the woman whom I
mentioned to you last fall as so truly enterprising. She has brought
three messages through the winter. From her I have this much further
to assure you, that great preparations are making at Pittsburgh for
the reception of troops.

"The friends of government all agree that they will be content to risk
for ever every future hope and prospect of being restored to their
estates, provided Great Britain will but secure her own authority
fully before any terms are listened to; and, when that is acknowledged
and established, then grant terms as liberal as she pleases,
consistent with good government and future security."

_Bishop Inglis_, 3d September, 1779, says--"General Tryon made two or
three descents on the coast of Connecticut, and burnt the towns of
Fairfield and Norwalk. He was accompanied by a large body of refugees,
who were extremely useful, and behaved with a resolution and
intrepidity which did them great honour. Had the descents on
Connecticut _been longer continued and carried on more extensively,
the most salutary consequences might be apprehended_.

"The delusive notion of treating with Congress, I find, still prevails
in some degree among you. Yet nothing could be more destructive to the
interest of government. Treating with them would be confirming their
usurpation. The loyalists, universally dread this above all things.
However they may differ in opinion on other points, they are unanimous
and united in this; and where so many are perfectly agreed in a matter
which is level to all understandings, it must be the evident dictate
of truth and reason."

_Isaac Ogden_, 20th September, 1779, says--"You may well ask what we
are doing here. Our army is now (including the garrison from Rhode
Island) at least twenty-four thousand men, a number sufficient to
march through the whole continent; but what do numbers avail when they
are cooped up in this dastardly manner? A want of knowledge of the
country, a want of enterprise, or a want of something else, God only
knows what, has prevented any and every attempt to interfere with the
enemy. It is not a want of sufficient force, neither is it because it
was impracticable. These are facts that the warmest of the rebels
acknowledge. Their force is really despicable when compared to the
army here. How is General Vaughan? I sincerely wish to see him at the
head of the army here, as he is the only general that has been here
that would listen to the advice of the American loyalists."

_Bishop Inglis_, 6th of November, 1779, says--"We have now within our
lines upward of twenty-six thousand effective men, as I have been
informed. Such a force, if led out and exerted with judgment and
spirit, could not be resisted by the rebels--it must bear down all
opposition. It is reported that Sir Henry Clinton is appointed sole
commissioner, with authority to choose five assistants as a counsel,
and that he is vested with power to treat with Congress, &c. It may be
very proper to have a commissioner here, vested with extensive powers;
but as to any hopes of treating with Congress about an accommodation,
be assured they are visionary. Congress have done enough to dissipate
all such fond expectations, unless their independence is acknowledged;
and I should be heartily sorry if a measure so dishonourable to the
nation, as treating with the Congress in any respect, were adopted.
Insult and obstinacy is all that can be expected from them.

"With respect to the rebellion, I am clearly of opinion that it daily
declines. Washington is the man to whom the army look for redress and
support. He is _now_ in America what Monk was in England in 1659. I
wish I could say in every respect. Were he equally disposed, he might
effect as sudden and total a revolution, here as honest George Monk
did then in England."

_Isaac Ogden_, 16th December, 1779, says--"There is an anecdote of
General Grey that I have lately heard and believe to be true, though
the fact cannot now be fully ascertained. Just before the battle of
Brandywine, an officer was despatched home by General Howe. General
Grey undertook to give him his instructions how to demean himself on
his arrival in London, &c. A copy of these instructions was found by a
countryman, and delivered to Joe Shippen (Secretary _Joe_,) who now
has them in Philadelphia. A gentleman here has seen them. As he
related them to me, you have them. 'You will first go to Lord George
Germain; he will ask you such and such question; you will answer them
_so and so_. You will then be sent to Lord North, who will ask you
these questions; you will thus answer them. You will then be sent to
the king, who will also ask you, &c.; you are also to give him these
answers. You will then be examined by the queen. She is a sensible
woman. You must answer with caution, but, of all things, be careful
that you say nothing that will condemn the conduct of General Howe.'
Some pains are taken to procure this paper from Mr. Shippen; if it can
be obtained, you will have it."

_David Ogden_, 3d December, 1779, says--"What gives me great concern
is the fear of a dishonourable peace being made with the rebels. My
fears arise from what I am told many of the officers in the army give
out that America can never be conquered; and the sooner it is given
up, and independence admitted by the crown and parliament, the better
for Great Britain; and I am also informed that they have wrote to that
purpose to their friends in England. What effect this may have on your
side of the Atlantic, backed by the anti-ministerial party with you,
enemies to monarchy and the great supporters of the rebellion in
America, time must show; but I am persuaded that the present ministers
will never give the least countenance to the independence of America.
The laying the country waste has been called cruelty by the favourers
of the rebellion, and said to be below the character of Britons; but
in cases of rebellion, it has always, by the most civilized nations,
been held justifiable, and no history affords an instance of calling
it cruelty. The great mercy shown the rebels since the commencement of
the rebellion is esteemed to be the greatest cruelty, as the lives of
many thousands would have been preserved by a vigorous, exertion of
the king's troops to distress the rebels wherever they marched, having
a strict regard not to injure the loyalists."

_Daniel Cox_, 7th December, 1779, says--"Should you see Joe Reed's
late speech to the assembly of Pennsylvania, you would imagine they
felt no shock from the Georgia defeat. [5]

If but common means are actively employed and properly conducted, the
rebellion must be crushed totally next campaign. I doubt not every
effort in the power of Congress, both abroad and at home, will be made
to carry themselves through another year; but, if you are successful
at home, they must go to the devil. For God's sake, therefore, do not
be frightened nor give us up; all must go right if You are but firm."

Reference has already been made to General Arnold's treason during the
summer of 1780.[6]

From the private correspondence of Mr. Galloway, it appears, that as
early as the autumn of 1778 Arnold was considered by the refugees as
"_lenient_," if not friendly to them, and in this light was
represented to the British ministry.

_Charles Stewart_, under date of the 17th December, 1778,
says--"General Arnold is in Philadelphia. It is said that he will be
discharged, being thought a _pert tory_. Certain it is that he
associates mostly with those people, and is to be married to Miss
Shippen, daughter of Edward Shippen, Esq."

_David Sproat_, 11th January, 1779, says--"You will also hear that
General Arnold, commandant in Philadelphia, has behaved with lenity to
the tories, and that he is on the eve of marriage to one of Edward
Shippen's daughters."

_James Humphreys, Jun_. (printer), 8th of April, 1779, says--"General
Arnold has been accused by the council of sundry misdemeanors. He has
insisted upon a trial by a court martial, and was triumphantly
acquitted. The Congress, however, have thought proper to remove him
from his command in the city of Philadelphia, he being of too lenient
a disposition to answer their cruel purposes."

This correspondence also develops the conflicting views which were
taken by the tories as to the operations of the British army. So far
as it had any influence, it was calculated to embarrass the ministry.
Only two very short extracts will be given on this subject. The
dividing point between the northern and the southern tories was
whether the main army should take possession of Hudson's river, or the
isthmus between Newcastle and Chesapeake Bay.

_Bishop Inglis_, May 14th, 1779, says--"I am still of opinion that
taking possession of Hudson's river should be the first object. When
that is done, which will effectually divide the rebel forces,
circumstances should determine whether our operations should be
directed eastward or westward."

_John Potts_, December 17th, 1778, says--"If government means to
pursue this matter, she must spare men enough to take possession of
the isthmus between Newcastle and Chesapeake Bay, and, by clearing
that country of rebels, procure sufficient provision and forage for
the whole British force in America. That country can also supply the
fleet with a great quantity of naval stores. The whole trade of
Maryland and Pennsylvania will be destroyed, and a great part of
Virginia. The interior of that peninsula is better disposed towards
the British government than any other country in the middle colonies.
If possession of Rhode Island and this place (New-York) is retained,
and that post taken, America has no access to sea from any
intermediate port but Egg Harbour, which will then be scarcely an
object. This is your plan, excepting the possession of Philadelphia
and Bordentown, and, as the troops would not be dispersed too much,
would, for that reason, be more eligible."

During the winter of 1778--79, the tories had it in contemplation to
establish a regular corps for the purpose of plundering the whigs.
About this period Colonel Burr took command of the lines in
Westchester. His opinion of this system of warfare is expressed in a
letter to General McDougall from which the following is
extracted--"Colonel Littlefield, with the party, returned this
morning. Notwithstanding the cautions I gave, and notwithstanding
Colonel Littlefield's good intentions, I blush to tell you that the
party returned loaded with plunder. Sir, till now I never wished for
arbitrary power. I could gibbet half a dozen _good_ whigs with all the
venom of an inveterate tory." [7]

Let the reader compare the above _whig_ sentiment with the following
_tory_ arrangement:--

_Christopher Sower_, 1st March, 1779, says--"An association is signing
here (New-York), according to which the loyalists are to form
themselves into companies of fifty men each; choose their own
officers; to have the _disposal_ of all prisoners by them taken; to
make excursions against the rebels, plunder them, sell the spoil,
appoint an agent to receive the money, and to divide it among them in
equal shares." [8]

In the autumn of 1779 the refugees in New-York formed a board of
delegates from the several provinces. In reference to it, _Daniel
Cox_, December 7th, 1779, says--"I have lately brought about a general
representation of all the refugees from the respective colonies, which
now compose a board, called the board of refugees, and of which I have
the honour at present to be president. We vote by colonies, and
conduct our debates in quite a parliamentary style."

_Christopher Sower_, the 5th of December, 1779, says--"The deputies of
the refugees from the different provinces meet once a week. Daniel
Cox, Esq., was appointed to the chair, to deprive him of the
opportunity of speaking, as he has the gift of saying little with many

Only one more extract will be given from the correspondence of Mr.
Galloway, and that relates to the doings of this board of refugees.
Among their labours, the manner of bringing the war to a speedy
termination, and the formation of a constitution for the British
provinces, engrossed their attention. No comments will be made on the
plan; but it will not be found unworthy a careful perusal. Although
presented as the individual suggestion of Mr. Ogden, it is evident,
from other portions of the correspondence, that it was not unadvised,
and, to the American reader, is now an amusing document.

_David Ogden_, 3d December, 1779, says--"When America submits to the
crown of Great Britain, which I take as a matter certain, and will
soon happen if proper measures are not neglected--pray, will not a
constitution and government, in a manner something similar to the
following, be most for the honour, security, peace, and interest of
Great Britain, and also for the happiness and safety of America, and
most compatible to the spirit and genius of both?

"That the right of taxation of America by the British parliament be
given up. That the several colonies be restored to their former
constitutions and forms of government, except in the instances after
mentioned. That each colony have a governor and council appointed by
the crown, and a house of representatives to be elected by the
freeholders, inhabitants of the several counties, not more than forty
nor less than thirty for a colony, who shall have power to make all
necessary laws for the internal government and benefit of each
respective colony that are not repugnant or contradictory to the laws
of Great Britain, or the laws of the American parliament, made and
enacted to be in force in the colonies for the government, utility,
and safety of the whole. That an American parliament be established
for all the English colonies on the continent, to consist of a lord
lieutenant, barons (to be created for that purpose), not to exceed, at
present, more than twelve, nor less than eight from each colony, to be
appointed by his majesty out of the freeholders, inhabitants of each
colony; a house of commons, not to exceed twelve nor less than eight,
from each colony, to be elected by the respective houses of
representatives for each colony, which parliament, so constituted, to
be three branches of legislature of the northern colonies, and to be
styled and called the Lord Lieutenant, the Lords, and Commons of the
British Colonies in North America. That they have the power of
enacting laws, in all cases whatsoever, for the general good, benefit,
and security of the colonies, and for their mutual safety, both
defensive and offensive, against the king's enemies, rebels, &c.;
proportioning the taxes to be raised in such cases by each colony. The
mode for raising the same to be enacted by the general assembly of
each colony, which, if refused or neglected, be directed and
prescribed by the North American parliament, with power to levy the
same. That the laws of the American parliament shall be in force till
repealed by his majesty in council; and the laws of the several
legislatures of the respective colonies to be in force till the same
be repealed by his majesty, or made void by an act and law of the
American parliament. That the American parliament have the
superintendence and government of the several colleges in North
America, most of which have been the grand nurseries of the late
rebellion, instilling into the tender minds of youth principles
favourable to republican, and against a monarchical government, and
other doctrines incompatible to the British constitution.

"A constitution and government something similar to the above, I am
convinced, from the knowledge I have of the temper and spirit of the
inhabitants of the colonies, will be most acceptable to them in
general (it being what they wish for), and will also be conducive to
establish a continued and lasting peace and harmony between Great
Britain and the colonies. The Congress, no doubt, as it will deprive
them of their power, will oppose the same by every artifice, as well
as every other plan of accommodation that will lessen their grandeur
and consequence. I am therefore persuaded that the Congress had best
be altogether disregarded in any overtures of accommodation to be made
or proposed, and all treaties with them absolutely refused, either
directly with them, or indirectly through the courts of France and
Spain, as men void of faith, or even common justice--deceivers of the
people, and enemies to the public weal and happiness of mankind. And
to facilitate a submission instead of a treaty, proceed with the army
against the rebels with vigour and spirit, and issue a proclamation
containing a constitution for North America, and a pardon to all who
lay down their arms and take the oath of allegiance to his majesty and
his government, _excepting_, as necessary examples of justice,

"_First_. The several members of the Continental Congress who have
been elected and served as members thereof since the declaration of

"_Second_. All governors, presidents of the supreme executive councils
or of other councils, or of any of the colonies, acting under the
Congress, or any new and usurped form of government.

"_Third_. All those who have been by his majesty appointed of his
council in any of the colonies, and since taken an active part in the
civil or military department under the Congress or under any
establishment of the rebel government.

"_Fourth_. All judges who have, since the rebellion, passed sentence
of death against any of his majesty's liege subjects, for any supposed
or real crime, committed or pretended to be committed against any law
enacted or made by the Congress, or by any of the usurped or pretended
legislatures of the colonies, making the fact or facts criminal for
which he, she, or they were condemned to suffer death.

"_Fifth_. All commissaries and others who have seized and sold the
estates of any of his majesty's liege subjects, under any pretence
whatsoever, unless it was done by the consent and orders of the
rightful owner, leaving all such to the mercy of his majesty, to be
granted to those only whose conduct merits mercy, and hold up the same
in the proclamation, if any should issue.

"Will it not be proper as well as just to have the estates of the
rebels who are gone out of the king's lines among the rebels
forfeited, confiscated, and sold by commissioners to be appointed for
that purpose, and the moneys arising on the sales to be applied to the
use of the refugees, to compensate for their sufferings by the rebels
in ease of the parliamentary donations? Will not the perfidy of France
and Spain justify Great Britain in proposing and entering into an
alliance with the courts of Russia, Prussia, and other powers, to
unite against France and Spain, the common disturbers of public
tranquillity; take and divide among them all their islands in the West


1. Lord North.

2. General Vaughan.

3. Sir Henry Clinton.

4. The Hon. Joseph Reed, whom the British attempted to bribe through
the agency of Mrs. Ferguson.

5. Referring to the discomfiture at Savannah of the combined forces of
France and the United States; the former under the command of Count
D'Estaing, the latter commanded by General Lincoln.

6. See Vol. I., Ch. XIII.

7. See Vol. I., Ch. IX.

8. On the back of Mr. Sower's letter Mr. Galloway has made, in his own
handwriting, this endorsement--"Mr. Sower is a German refugee at
New-York, and a person of the greatest influence among the Germans in


The extracts which have been given from the correspondence of Mr.
Galloway present, in a point of view sufficiently clear and distinct,
the unquestionable hostility of the tories towards the whigs; the
manner in which they wished the British ministry to conduct the
contest; the punishment they would have inflicted upon the rebels if
they had been successful, and the form in which they would have
subsequently governed the country. These views are deemed a sufficient
reason for the feelings of the whigs; a justification of those
legislative disqualifications of the tories which were adopted by the
State of New-York during the war of the revolution, and cause for the
patriotic determination that the refugees should not be protected or
permitted to remain in the land which they had so zealously struggled
to enslave.

At a very early period after the declaration of Independence, parties
were formed among the whigs. In the State of New-York, at the first
election, in 1777, for governor under the new Constitution, General
Schuyler was presented in opposition to George Clinton, but was
defeated. With that defeat it is believed commenced political
heart-burnings and collisions which, although at times smothered, were
never extinguished. Schuyler was a man of great boldness and sagacity.
He was personally unpopular, yet he possessed a commanding influence
over the mind of those with whom lie commingled or was in any manner
connected; an ascendancy which, in a measure, was to be ascribed to
the force of intellect.

On the 12th of September, 1780, General Schuyler was a candidate for
Congress. At that time the members were chosen by the legislature.
Each house, viva voce, named a candidate. The two branches then met
together and compared their nominations. If they both designated the
same individual, he was declared to be chosen. If not, they proceeded
as one body to a ballot, and the person having a majority of all the
votes given was duly elected. The house almost unanimously nominated
General Schuyler, the vote being for Schuyler, thirty-one, for Ezra
L'Hommidieu seven. The senate nominated L'Hommidieu. In joint ballot,
notwithstanding the vote Schuyler had received in the house,
L'Hommidieu was chosen. For some reason not then explained, there was
a sudden and extraordinary change of opinion in the legislature in
relation to General Schuyler.

About this period, certain individuals were for the appointment of a
"Supreme dictator, with all the powers conferred by the Roman people."
A convention was to be held at Hartford, consisting of delegates from
the five New-England states and the state of New-York, for the
purpose, among other objects, of devising more efficient measures for
the supply of the army. Judge Hobart, Egbert Benson, and General
Schuyler were the delegates. "It was for a contemplated by the
legislature to give them instructions to propose that a dictator
should be appointed, for which a majority in the more popular branch
were believed to be favourable. This 'mad project,' as Colonel
Alexander Hamilton designated it, was communicated to him by General
Schuyler in a letter of the 16th of September, 1780." [1]

The scheme was opposed with great ardour and perseverance by Governor
George Clinton, Ezra L'Hommidieu, and others; but, through the
influence of the former, in a great measure, the "mad project" was
defeated. Here again the party lines were drawn between Governor
Clinton and General Schuyler. It is highly probable that the plan for
appointing a "supreme dictator" was a principal cause for the change
of opinion respecting General Schuyler in the legislature on the 12th
of September, and contributed to defeat his election to Congress.

From this period until the adoption of the Federal Constitution, the
Clinton and the Schuyler parties continued to exist. In the ranks of
the latter there was great concert in action. On an examination of the
legislative journals from 1777 to 1788, it will be seen, that with
General Schuyler were the Jays, the Livingstons, the Van Rensellaers,
and the Bensons, and that they almost uniformly voted together.

And now of the tories. In the year 1779 some of them, who had removed
from Albany within the British lines, petitioned the legislature for
leave to return, which petition was rejected. At the same session an
act was passed requiring all counsellors and attorneys, before they
could be permitted to practice in any court, to produce evidence of
their attachment to the liberty and independence of the United States.
On the 20th of November, 1781, a special act was passed on the same
subject, confirmatory of what bad been done in 1779.

The first session of the legislature after the revolutionary war was
held in the city of New-York. It was convened by proclamation of the
governor on the 6th of January, 1784, and continued its sitting until
the 12th of May following. In the first month of the session, numerous
petitions were presented by the tories, praying to be relieved from
their banishment, and to be permitted a residence within the state.
The legislature perceived that, if they did not act promptly, their
tables would be covered with these memorials. Therefore, in the
language of Governor Clinton at the opening of the session, the
assembly said--

"While we recollect the general progress of a war which has been
marked with cruelty and rapine; while we survey the ruins of this once
flourishing city and its vicinity; while we sympathize in the
calamities which have reduced so many of our virtuous fellow-citizens
to want and distress, and are anxiously solicitous for means to repair
the wastes and misfortunes which we lament," we cannot hearken to
these petitions. They were referred to a select committee, which
committee in a few days reported against granting their prayer, and
the house instantly, without a division, agreed to the report. This
was on the 9th of February, 1784.

On the 11th of February, 1784, the assembly passed a resolution
directing that the names of those persons that had been attainted
should be communicated to the governors of the several states;
requesting to be supplied, in like manner, with "a list of the persons
proscribed or banished by their respective states, in order that
thereby the _principles of federal union_ may be adhered to and
preserved." In the senate this resolution was permitted to sleep.

Chancellor Robert R. Livingston, in a letter to John Jay dated the
25th of January, 1784, thus speaks of parties at this period. "Our
parties are, first, the tories, who still hope for power, under the
idea that the remembrance of the past should be lost, though they
daily keep it up by their avowed attachment to Great Britain;
secondly, the violent whigs, who are for expelling all tories from the
state, in hopes, by that means, to preserve the power in their own
hands. The third are those who wish to suppress all violence, to
soften the rigour of the laws against the loyalists, and not to banish
them from that social intercourse which may, by degrees, obliterate
the remembrance of past misdeeds."

On the 8th of March, 1784, Peter Yates and three hundred others
petitioned the legislature to prevent those persons who had joined or
remained with the enemy during the late war from returning, and to
prohibit such as have remained from being eligible to any office of
profit or trust. On the 31st of the same month strong resolutions were
introduced into the house, and adopted by both branches, against the
tories, declaring, among other things, "That as, on the one hand, the
rules of justice do not require, so, on the other, the public
tranquility will not permit, that such adherents who have been
attainted should be restored to the rights of citizenship."

In May, 1784, the legislature passed an act entitled "An act to,
preserve the freedom and independence of this state, and for other
purposes." The object of this law was to prohibit the tories from
holding any office. The Council of Revision returned the bill, with
objections to its passage, one of which was, "that so large a portion
of the citizens remained in parts of the _Southern District_ which
were possessed by the British armies, that in most places it would be
difficult, and in many _absolutely impossible_, to find men to fill
the necessary offices, even for _conducting_ elections, until a new
set of inhabitants could be procured."

This bill of disfranchisement, notwithstanding the objections of the
Council of Revision, was passed by more than two thirds of both
branches, and thus became a law. Such were the feelings of the
"violent whigs;" such the policy of the first legislature after the
termination of the war. But, unfortunately, among those who had fought
the battles of the revolution, there were some who doubted the
capacity of the people for self-government, while there were others
who sought power and influence at the hazard of principle. The
Schuyler party were in the minority. The Clinton party, designated by
Chancellor Livingston as the "violent whigs," were uncompromising on
the question of banishing the tories, who were numerous, especially in
the Southern District. It seemed probable, therefore, if restored to
citizenship, that they would amalgamate with the _third_ party, or
that class of whigs "who wished to suppress all violence, and to
soften the rigour of the laws against the royalists."

In March, 1783, the legislature passed an act entitled "An act for
granting more effectual relief in cases of trespass." The object of
this act was to enable the whigs at the termination of the war to
recover from the tories rent for any landed estate they might have
occupied; and in cases of suit for such rent, the act declares "that
no defendant or defendants shall be admitted to plead in justification
any military order or command whatsoever for such occupancy."

Under this statute an action was commenced by Mrs. Rutgers against Mr.
Waddington, in the Mayor's Court of the City of New-York, for the
recovery of rent for the occupancy of a brewhouse and malthouse, the
property of the said Mrs. Rutgers. The cause was argued on the 29th of
June, 1784, James Duane as Mayor, and Richard Varick as Recorder,
presiding. On the 27th of August the court gave judgment "that the
plea of the defendant was good for so much of the time as he held
under the British commander-in-chief; because, in the opinion of the
court, a liberal construction of the law of nations would make it so."
As this decision involved a great principle, and would materially
affect the whigs whose property had been occupied by the tories during
the war, it produced great excitement.

A meeting of the whigs was convened on the 13th of September, 1784. A
committee was appointed, and an address to the people of the state
prepared and published by them. That committee consisted of Melancton
Smith, Peter Ricker, Jonathan Lawrence, Anthony Rutgers, Peter T.
Curtenius, Thomas Tucker, Daniel Shaw, Adam Gilchrist, Junr., and John
Wiley. Of this committee Melancton Smith was the life and soul. He was
the author of the address--a clear, able, and unanswerable exposition
of the case. It states the determination of Mrs. Rutgers to carry it
up to the Supreme Court, and, if defeated there, to the Senate, which,
with the judges of the Supreme Court, constituted the Court for the
Correction of Errors. Having reference to the contemplated
proceedings, the address closes as follows:--

"Preparatory to such an event, we exhort you to be cautious, in your
future choice of senators, that none be elected but those on whom,
from long and certain experience, you can rely as men attached to the
liberty of America, and firm friends to our laws and constitution; men
who will spurn at any proposition that has a tendency to curtail the
privileges of the people, and who, at the same time that they protect
us against _judicial tyranny_, have wisdom to see the propriety of
supporting that necessary independence in courts of justice, both of
the legislature and people.

"Having confined ourselves to constitutional measures, and now
solemnly declaring our disapprobation of all others, we feel a freedom
in sounding the alarm to our fellow-citizens. If that independence,
which we have obtained at a risk which makes the acquisition little
less than miraculous, was worth contending for against a powerful and
enraged monarch, and at the expense of the best blood in America,
surely its preservation is worth contending for against those _among
ourselves who might impiously hope to build their greatness upon the
ruins of that fabric which was so dearly established_.

"That the principle of decision in the case of Rutgers _vs_.
Waddington is dangerous to the freedom of our government, and that a
perseverance in that principle would leave our legislature nothing but
a name, and render their sessions nothing more than an expensive form
of government, the preceding remarks must evidence.

"Permit us, on this occasion, earnestly to entreat you to join us in
watchfulness against every attempt that may be used, either violently
and suddenly, or _gently_ and _imperceptibly, to effect a revolution_
in the _spirit_ and _genius_ of our government; and _should there be
among us characters to whom the simplicity of it is offensive_, let
our attention and perseverance be such as to _preclude the hopes of a

Here again the party lines of 1777 are distinctly marked. Melancton
Smith, Jonathan Lawrence, &c., were of the Clinton party, while Mr.
Duane and Mr. Varick were attached to the Schuyler interest.

In October, 1784, the case of Rutgers _vs_. Waddington was brought
before the legislature, and on the 27th of that month the assembly

_Resolved_, That this adjudication is subversive of all law and good
order; because, if a court instituted for the _benefit and government
of a corporation_ may take upon themselves to dispense with a law of
the state, all other courts may do the like: therefore,

_Resolved_, That it be recommended to the honourable the Council of
Appointment, at their next session, to appoint such persons to be
mayor and recorder of the city of New-York as will govern themselves
by the known laws of the land.

Subsequently Waddington compromised the claim against him; but the law
in similar cases became operative, and remained so until its repeal by
the legislature. In the following session, March, 1785, an
unsuccessful attempt was made to repeal the act of 1781, disqualifying
tory counsellors and attorneys; some modification, however, of other
laws of a similar character was effected. In April, 1786, the
repealing act passed; and the restriction on the tory lawyers being
removed, they were permitted to practise in the several courts of the
state. During the same month, "an act for the payment of certain sums
of money" was amended by adding a clause, "restoring to the rights of
citizenship, on taking the oath of abjuration and allegiance," all
such persons as had been disfranchised by the third clause of the act
entitled "An act to preserve the freedom and independence of this
state," passed the 12th of May, 1784. During this session the Schuyler
party had the ascendence, and on all questions having a political
aspect the names of Alexander Hamilton, Richard Varick, C. Livingston,
Nicholas Bayard, David Brooks, James Livingston, &c., will be found on
the same side.

On the 10th of March, 1787, Mr. Hamilton asked leave, which was
granted, to bring in a bill to repeal the act entitled "An act for
granting relief in case of certain trespasses." This was the act under
which the suit had been commenced against Waddington, and which case
produced so much excitement in the summer and autumn of 1784. Mr.
Hamilton's bill passed; but, lest there should be some forgotten
statute that might restrict or limit the political privileges of the
tories, it was deemed expedient, on the 13th of April, to introduce
and pass an act under the imposing title of "An act to repeal all laws
of this state inconsistent with the treaty of peace." As its
provisions met every possible case, the tories were now placed on a
footing with the whigs. All they wanted was leaders. The rank and file
they already possessed.

The Schuyler party sought allies. The tories were numerous, especially
in the Southern District. The Clinton party, designated by Chancellor
Livingston, in his letter to John Jay, as the "_violent whigs_," were
uncompromising on the question of banishing the tories from the state.
It seemed probable, therefore, that, sooner or later, if restored to
citizenship, they would amalgamate with that class of whigs who wished
to suppress "all violence, and to soften the rigour of the laws
against the royalists."

The effect of these legislative measures on the tories was anticipated
by both friends and foes. Chancellor Livingston, in January, 1784, had
said that there were three parties in the state:--

_First_. The tories.

_Second_. The violent whigs.

_Third_. Those who wished " to soften the rigour of the laws against
the royalists."

The Council of Revision, composed of Robert R. Livingston, Justice
Morris, and Judge Hobart, had solemnly placed on record their opinion,
that, in some portions of the Southern District "it would be
difficult, and in many _absolutely impossible_, to find whigs to fill
the necessary offices even for _conducting_ elections." Under such
circumstances it was evident that the _first_ and _third_ parties must
amalgamate, and such was the result.

In January, 1788, the legislature met, and directed the call of a
State Convention, to whom was to be submitted the Federal
Constitution, as adopted by the General Convention held in
Philadelphia in May, 1787. During this session the same party lines
continued to be visible, although the respective parties had now
assumed, or were designated by new names. The Schuyler was called the
Federal party, and the Clinton the anti-Federal party; thev were
composed, however, of the same individuals, with very few exceptions.
The great, and almost the only strength which the federal party
possessed in the state was in the Southern District. Here the
acquisition of the tories rendered their power and influence
irresistible. From this district, composed of the counties of
Westchester, New-York, Richmond, King's, Queen's, and Suffolk, the
federalists had in the Assembly, during the session of 1788-89,
_twenty_ votes, and on no _party_ question did they command, during
the whole session, more than _twenty-three_ votes.

In December, 1788, a bill for carrying into operation the federal
constitution being under consideration, a proposition was made to
choose United States senators; but the federalists having a majority
in the Senate, and the anti-federalists a majority in the House of
Assembly, no compromise between the parties could be effected, and
consequently no senators were chosen.

The following persons may be considered as constituting the strength
of the Schuyler, now federal party, in the assembly of 1788-89:--

Brockholst Livingston, of the city of New-York. William W. Gilbert, "
" Alexander Macomb, " " Richard Harrison, " " Nicholas Hoffman, " "
John Watts, Jun., " " Nicholas Low, " " Gulian Verplanck, " " Comfort
Sands, " " Philip Van Cortlandt, Westchester county. Philip
Livingston, " " Nathaniel Rockwell, " " Walter Seaman, " " Jonathan
Horton, " " John Younglove, Albany county. Henry K. Van Rensellaer, "
" Stephen Carman, Queen's county. Whitehead Cornwell, " " Peter
Vandervoort, King's county. Aquilla Giles, " " Abraham Bancker,
Richmond county. John C. Dongan, " " Samuel A. Barker, Dutchess

It will be observed, that all the above Schuyler or federal members,
with the exception of _two_ from Albany and _one_ from Dutchess
county, were elected as representatives from the Southern District.

Having stated the origin and progress of the great political parties
in the State of New-York, as they appear from the public records, it
may be proper to add that Colonel Burr belonged to what was termed by
Mr. Livingston "the violent whig party." By that party, while the
tories were disfranchised, Mr. Burr was elected in 1784 to represent
the city and county of New-York in the legislature. By that party, in
1789, he was appointed attorney-general of the state. By that party,
in 1791, he was appointed a senator of the United States. By that
party, in 1792, he was appointed a judge of the Supreme Court. By that
party, subsequently, he was elected a member of the Assembly and a
member of the Convention to revise the Constitution of the State, of
which convention he was president; and by that party, in 1800, he was
elected vice-president of the United States.

It is not intended to discuss the policy, the humanity, or the justice
of the several measures proposed or adopted in relation to the tories
by "_the violent whigs_," or by those whigs who wished "_to soften the
rigour of the laws against the loyalists_." The historical facts have
been given, and the sources from whence they were derived specified.
The feelings and opinions of "_the violent whigs_," are expressed by
the legislature of the state on the 9th of February, 1784, and by
Governor George Clinton at the opening of that session in the city of
New-York. They say--" While we recollect the general progress of a war
which has been marked with cruelty and rapine; while we survey the
ruins of this once flourishing city and its vicinity; while we
sympathize in the calamities which have reduced so many of our
virtuous fellow-citizens to want and distress, and are anxiously
solicitous for means to repair the wastes and misfortunes which we
lament, we cannot hearken to these petitions."

On the other hand, the sentiments and views of those whigs who wished
"_to soften the rigour of the laws against the loyalists_" are to be
found in the following extracts of letters.


"Passay, 9th April, 1783.

"The tories will doubtless cause some difficulty; but that they have
always done; and as this will probably be the _last time_, we must
make the best of it. A universal, indiscriminate condemnation and
expulsion of those people would not redound to our honour, because so
harsh a measure would partake more of vengeance than of justice. For
my part, I wish that all, except _the faithless and cruel_, may be
forgiven. That exception would indeed _extend to very few_; but even
if it applied to the case of one only, that one ought, in my opinion,
to be saved."


"Passay, 12th September, 1783.

"Europe hears much, and wishes to hear more of divisions, seditions,
violences, and confusions among us. The tories are generally and
greatly pitied; _more, indeed, than they deserve_. The indiscriminate
expulsion and ruin of that whole class and description of men would
not do honour to our magnanimity or humanity, especially in the
opinion of those nations who consider, with more astonishment than
pleasure, the terms of peace which America has obtained."


1. See Life of Hamilton, Vol. I., p. 316

2. Jay's Works, Vol. I., p. 128.


It has been seen that the Livingstons were of the Schuyler party
during the revolutionary war, and that they continued so until the
year 1787, when, in common with their political friends, they were the
warm and ardent champions of the Federal Constitution. After its
adoption, and the organization of the government under it, they soon
became dissatisfied. The cause of that dissatisfaction has been
differently explained. On the one hand it was said that they were
alarmed at the doctrines of those who had been called to administer
the government, and at the assumption of powers not delegated by the
people. That they apprehended the government was verging towards a
_consolidated national_, instead of a _federal_ government of states.

On the other hand it was alleged that the family were disappointed and
disgusted at the neglect which they experienced from General
Washington. That, as Robert R. Livingston had been, in the state
convention which adopted the Constitution, one of its most splendid
and efficient supporters, he and his connexions anticipated his
appointment to some exalted station; but that, while he was passed by
unnoticed, his colleagues in that body, John Jay and Alexander
Hamilton, had both received distinguished appointments--the one as
Chief Justice of the United States, and the other as Secretary of the
Treasury. Whatever may have been the cause of this change, it is
certain that they soon abandoned the federal, and united their
political destiny with the anti-federal party. Although these
gentlemen, as politicians, were acting in concert with Mr. Burr, yet
there was no cordiality of feeling between them. In their social
intercourse, however, the most perfect comity was observed; and as
they were in a minority, struggling to break down a party haughty,
proscriptive, and intolerant beyond any thing that the American people
had beheld, they zealously united their efforts in effecting the
revolution of 1800.

Soon after the adoption of the new constitution, the anti-federal
party were recognised by a name more descriptive of their principles
and their views. They assumed the title of democrats. They considered
themselves anti-consolidationists, but not anti-federalists. They knew
that a section of the dominant party were the friends of a splendid
national government. That they were the advocates of a system, by
means of which all power would have concentrated in the general, and
the state governments been reduced to the level of mere corporations.
Against this system the democrats reasoned and contended with unabated
zeal. They were the early, unflinching, and faithful champions of
state rights_.

From the year 1790 until 1800, the democratic and federal parties were
alternately triumphant, both in the city and in the state of New-York.
In the former, the result of an election was frequently decided by the
operations of some local or exciting topic. No decisive contest took
place between the parties previous to 1800, founded on any great or
controlling principle of government. But, during the years 1798 and
1799, the whole country was agitated from one extreme to the other.
Revolutionary France was convulsed, and, in the midst of her
convulsions and sufferings, was daily committing the most cruel and
wanton excesses towards her own citizens, while she was offering
taunts and insults to foreign nations. The federal party seemed to
sigh for a war with France. Pretending that they apprehended a French
invasion, a large standing army was raised. At the head of this army,
second in command to General Washington, was placed General Alexander
Hamilton. To support the army and other useless extravagant
expenditures, a land tax and an _eight per cent._ loan was found
necessary. To silence the murmurs of an oppressed people, a sedition
law was enacted. Such were some of the fruits of the elder Mr. Adams's

In the autumn of 1799 and the winter of 1799-1800, the interesting and
vital question was presented to the American nation:--Will you sustain
this administration and these measures, and thus rivet chains upon
yourselves and your posterity? Or will you calmly, but firmly and in
union, resort to the constitutional remedy (the ballot-boxes) for
relief from wrongs and oppressions which, if permitted to endure, must
terminate in the horrors of intestine war? Here was a question of
principle; and, it is believed, a question which was to decide the
character of the government. Each party felt that it was a mighty
struggle, decisive of its future political influence, if not of its

The elections in the state of New-York were held in the month of
April. In the year 1799 the federalists had a majority in the city of
more than nine hundred. During the summer, it was universally conceded
that on the state of New-York the presidential election would depend,
and that the result in the city would decide the fate of the state.
That this opinion was as universal as it was true, cannot be more
distinctly exhibited than by the following extract of a letter from
Mr. Jefferson to Mr. Madison, dated 4th March, 1800.

"In New-York all depends on the success of the city election, which is
of twelve members, and of course makes a difference of twenty-four,
which is sufficient to make the two houses, joined together,
republican in their vote. * * * * * * Upon the whole, I consider it as
rather more doubtful than the last election (1796), in which I was not
deceived in more than a vote or two. * * * * * * In any event, we may
say, that if the city election of New-York is in favour of the
republican ticket, the issue will be republican; if the federal ticket
for the city of New-York prevails, the probabilities will be in favour
of a federal issue, because it would then require a republican vote
both from New-Jersey and Pennsylvania to preponderate against
New-York, on which we could not count with any confidence."

Reference has been made to the conflicting factions of which the
democratic party was now composed. The Clinton section, the Livingston
section, and the Burr section. The first and last were apparently the
same, but not so in reality. Colonel Burr's commanding talents had
acquired for him an influence in the ranks of the democratic party in
other states, which created some jealousy in the Clinton family, the
younger and collateral branches of which were extremely hostile to
him. The ambition of Burr, sustained by a daring spirit and
unconquerable perseverance, awakened the apprehensions of Governor
George Clinton lest he should be supplanted. The governor was a man of
great sagacity and shrewdness. But these two sections, or, perhaps,
more properly, the heads of them, united in their opposition to the

During the winter of 1800, the efforts of Colonel Burr to bring about
a concert in action of these discordant materials were unceasing. With
his own personal friends he had no difficulty, for it was ever one of
his characteristics to secure inviolable the attachment of his
friends. They were of the most ardent and devoted kind. Confiding in
his patriotism and judgment, and feeling that he was incapable of
deceiving them, they seemed willing, at all times and under all
circumstances, to hazard their lives and fortunes in his support. They
were generally young men of gallant bearing and disinterested views.
No sordid calculations were made by them. No mercenary considerations
influenced their conduct. They beheld in Colonel Burr a patriot hero
of the revolution, who had commingled with their fathers in the
battle-field, and who had perilled every thing in his country's cause.
Such were his friends, and such their zeal in his behalf. It was here
that Colonel Burr was all-powerful, for he possessed, in a pre-eminent
degree, the art of fascinating the youthful. But with all this tact
and talent, he was credulous and easily deceived. He therefore often
became the dupe of the most worthless and unprincipled.

Mr. Burr held frequent private meetings with his most intimate and
confidential friends. At all these meetings it is believed the success
of the democratic party was the only question under consideration. No
local or personal interests were permitted to be discussed. The
triumph of the party, as a whole, was the great object. By his
adherents, it was deemed indispensable that he should be a member of
the legislature to be chosen in April, which body was to appoint the
presidential electors. While, on the other hand, it was considered not
less necessary that he should be free to act at the polls in the city
of New-York during the election. How was this to be effected? After
much conference and deliberation it was resolved that he should be
elected from Orange county, if the arrangement could be made, and the
execution of the plan was intrusted principally to Peter Townsend,
Esquire, of Chester, who, with the aid of other influential friends,
accomplished it.

The next question was, Of whom shall the assembly ticket for the city
be composed? On the suggestion of Colonel Burr, the names of certain
distinguished individuals, venerable in years, and respected for their
services, for months before the election were put in circulation as
candidates; and, among others, Governor George Clinton and General
Horatio Gates. At length the nominating committees were chosen; but so
general had been the conversations as to suitable candidates, that
very little diversity of opinion prevailed in the formation of the

The following persons were nominated: George Clinton, Horatio Gates,
Samuel Osgood, Henry Rutgers, Elias Nexsen, Thomas Storm, George
Warner, Philip I. Arcularius, James Hunt, Ezekiel Robins, Brockholst
Livingston, and John Swartwout.

In this ticket the three sections of the democratic, but at this
election designated the _republican party,_ are fully represented.
Governor Clinton at the head of one section, Brockholst Livingston
representing another, and General Gates, well known to be the personal
and political friend of Colonel Burr. This ticket being nominated by
the committee, the difficulty was to procure their consent to stand as
candidates. A majority of them had no expectation of success. They
considered the contest as a forlorn hope, and shrank from being set up
as targets to be shot at. Governor Clinton, General Gates, Brockholst
Livingston, and others, had repeatedly declared their fixed
determination not to permit their names to be used.

A sub-committee was appointed to wait upon the candidates, and obtain
permission to present their names for approval to a general meeting of
citizens to be convened for that purpose. The sub-committee consisted
of Aaron Burr, David Gelston, John Swartwout, John Mills, and Matthew
L. Davis. After various communications and much persuasion, _nine_ of
the candidates consented, some of them conditionally. But Governor
Clinton, General Gates, and Brockholst Livingston were for a time
immoveable. At length Colonel Burr induced Judge Livingston to agree
that he would serve, if Governor Clinton and General Gates consented
to serve. The sub-committee next waited upon General Gates, and
Colonel Burr appealed to him in the most mild and persuasive language.
After much importunity he yielded, provided Governor Clinton was also
a candidate.

No terms can give a correct idea of the scenes between Governor
Clinton and the sub-committee, for they had an interview with him on
three different days. The last was at the house of Colonel Burr, where
Mr. Clinton met the committee by appointment. He never did consent to
stand, but pledged himself to Colonel Burr and the committee that he
would publish nothing in the newspapers, reserving to himself the
right (which he subsequently exercised) of stating in conversation
that his name was used without his authority or permission. Thus it is
evident, that but for the matchless perseverance of Colonel Burr, the
ticket, as it stood, never could have been formed, and, when formed,
would have been broken up, and the republican party discomfited and

An imperfect sketch of the scene at the house of Colonel Burr was
published in the year 1802, in a pamphlet under the signature of
_Aristides_. The following is extracted from it. The note of reference
here given is also extracted. Its correctness was never publicly
denied by either of the gentlemen named. There exists no longer any
reason for concealment on the subject; and it is therefore now
admitted that this _note_ was written from memorandums made at the
time by the author of this volume.


"Governor Clinton, however, remained unmoved by the most earnest
solicitations; and, with matchless firmness, resisted the arguments of
Mr. Burr, who forcibly asserted that it was a right inherent in the
community to command the services of an individual when the nature of
public exigences seemed to require it. He was inflexible to the last,
and then was nominated and elected without a distinct expression of
his approbation. Justice, however, induces me to acknowledge, that the
reasons he assigned for the reluctance with which he acted were
plausible and potent.

"He explicitly declared that he had long entertained an unfavourable
opinion of Mr. Jefferson's talents as a statesman and his firmness as
a republican. That he conceived him an accommodating trimmer, who
would change with times, and bend to circumstances for the purposes of
personal promotion. Impressed with these sentiments, he could not,
with propriety, he said, acquiesce in the elevation of a man destitute
of the qualifications essential to the good administration of the
government; and added other expressions too vulgar to be here
repeated. 'But,' said he, with energy, 'if you, Mr. Burr, was the
candidate for the presidential chair, I would act with pleasure and
with vigour.'"

It is so notorious that these were Governor Clinton's sentiments, that
it is scarcely necessary to produce authority to prove it. To remove,
however, every doubt in the reader's mind, I will refer him to Mr.
David Gelston, Mr. John Mills, Mr. John Swartwout, or Mr. Matthew L.
Davis, in whose presence these sentiments, and many others more
disrespectful, if possible, were uttered. It was at the house of Mr.
Burr, who, anticipating the evil consequences that at that critical
moment would result from such conduct in Governor Clinton, insisted,
before he left the house, that he should promise his friends to desist
from using such language previous to or during the election. This was
very reluctantly complied with on the part of Mr. Clinton.

"Notwithstanding this, they were continually reiterated by his son,
who publicly and loudly animadverted upon the character of Mr.
Jefferson with the most vulgar severity. Similar sentiments were
certainly entertained by all Governor Clinton's connexions, as their
conduct during the election clearly evinced. Mr. Dewitt Clinton,
through the whole contest, never appeared at the poll, but observed
the most shameful indfference and inactivity."

The nomination of a ticket having been made and approved at a public
meeting over which Anthony Lispenard presided, its effect upon both
parties was tremendous. The character and standing of the candidates
seemed a presage of victory. It elated, and gave life and vigour to
the republicans, while it paralyzed and depressed the federalists.

Never before or since has a ticket been presented to the citizens of
New-York composed of men combining such talents, patriotism,
experience, and public services, as the republican assembly ticket for
the year 1800.

Those who possess a knowledge of the character of Colonel Burr know
what were his qualifications for execution. The plan of the campaign
having been opened, it only remained to be executed. In the
performance of this duty, all Mr. Burr's industry, perseverance, and
energy were called into operation. Nor were the federal party idle or
inactive. They possessed wealth and patronage. Led on to the contest
by their talented chieftain, General Hamilton, whose influence in
their ranks was unbounded, they made a desperate but ineffectual
resistance to the assaults upon their political citadel. If defeated
here, their power was gone, and the administration of the government
lost. Both General Hamilton and Colonel Burr exerted themselves
personally at the polls during the three days of election. They
repeatedly addressed the people, and did all that men could do. They
frequently met at the same polls, and argued, in the presence of large
assemblages, the debatable questions. Their deportment towards each
other and towards their opponents was such as comported with the
dignity of two of the most accomplished and courtly gentlemen of the
age in which they lived.

The polls of the election opened on the morning of the 29th of April,
and finally closed at sunset on the 1st of May. Immediately after, the
inspectors commenced counting and canvassing the ballots. Sufficient
progress was made during the night to render it, in a great measure,
certain that the republican ticket had succeeded; and on the 2d of May
this result was announced, the average majority being about 490. All
doubt as to the presidential vote of the state of New-York was now
removed, unless the federal party, in their expiring agonies, could
devise some plan by which the will of the people, thus clearly
expressed, should be defeated. Such apprehensions were entertained,
and, it was soon discovered, not entertained without good reason.

In both branches of the legislature elected in 1799 the federalists
had a majority. The time of service of the members would expire on the
1st of July, 1800. After the nomination of the republican assembly
ticket, but previous to the election in April, 1800, it was suspected
that certain federalists had in contemplation a project to render the
city election null and void if the republicans succeeded. When the
polls were closed, therefore, discreet and intelligent men were placed
at them to guard, if it should be found necessary, the inspectors from
committing, inadvertently, any errors, either in canvassing or making
their returns. Every movement, subsequently, of leading federal
gentlemen was narrowly and cautiously watched. The result of the
election was announced on the 2d of May. On the 3d of May, in the
evening, a select and confidential federal caucus was held. On the 4th
a letter was written to William Duane, editor of the Aurora, stating
that such a caucus had been held the preceding night, and that it was
determined by the caucus to solicit Governor Jay to convene the
existing legislature forthwith, for the purpose of changing the mode
of choosing electors for president, and placing it in the hands of the
people by districts. The effect of such a measure would have been to
neutralize the State of New-York, and, as the result finally proved,
would have secured to the federal party their president and
vice-president. This letter was published in the Aurora of the 6th of
May, and called forth the denunciations of those federal papers whose
conductors were not in the secret. The author of the letter was
assailed as a _Jacobin_ calumniator, and the whole story was
pronounced a vile fabrication. One of the New-York city papers
reprinted the letter, and thus closes its commentary on it:--"Where is
the American who _will not detest the author of this infamous lie_? If
there is a man to be found who will sanction this publication, he is
worse than the worst of Jacobins!"

What effect, if any, was produced by this immediate exposure of the
caucus proceedings, it is not necessary now to inquire. It is
sufficient to say that the development was, in all its parts,
literally correct, and the subject is here introduced for the twofold
purpose of showing, _first_, the vigilance, promptitude, and
arrangement of the republican party of that day; and, _second_, the
means to which certain desperate federalists were willing to resort
for the purpose of retaining power. That the representations contained
in the publication of the Aurora were strictly true, is now matter of
recorded history.

In the life of John Jay, vol. i., p. 412, the letter addressed to the
governor on this subject is published. It bears date _one day_ after
the publication in the Aurora, but before the paper reached the city
of New-York. The author of the work, after some preliminary remarks,
Says--"These details will explain the proposal made in the following
letter, which was received by the governor _from one of the most
distinguished federalists in the United States_." [1]


New-York May 7, 1800.


You have been informed of the loss of our election in this city. It is
also known that we have been unfortunate throughout Long Island and in
Westchester. According to the returns hitherto, it is too probable
that we lose our senator for this district.

The moral certainty, therefore, is, that there will be an anti-federal
majority in the ensuing legislature; and the very high probability is,
that this will bring Jefferson into the chief magistracy, unless it be
prevented by the measure which I shall now submit to your
consideration; namely, the immediate calling together of the existing

I am aware that there are weighty objections to the measure; but the
reasons for it appear to me to outweigh the objections; and, in times
like these in which we live, it will not do to be over scrupulous. It
is easy to sacrifice the substantial interests of society by a strict
adherence to ordinary rules.

In observing this I shall not be supposed to mean that any thing ought
to be done which integrity will forbid; but merely that the scruples
of delicacy and propriety, as relative to a common course of things,
ought to yield to the extraordinary nature of the crisis. They ought
not to hinder the taking of a legal and constitutional step to prevent
an atheist in religion and a fanatic in politics from getting
possession of the helm of state.

You, sir, know in a great degree the anti-federal party; but I fear
you do not know them as well as I do. 'Tis a composition, indeed, of
very incongruous materials, but all tending to mischief--some of them
to the overthrow of the government, by stripping it of its due
energies; others of them to a revolution after the manner of
Bonaparte. I speak from indubitable facts, not from conjectures and
inferences. In proportion as the true character of the party is
understood, is the force of the considerations which urge to every
effort to disappoint it; and it seems to me that there is a very
solemn obligation to employ the means in our power.

The calling of the legislature will have for object the choosing of
electors by the people in districts; this (as Pennsylvania will do
nothing) will ensure a majority of votes in the United States for a
federal candidate. The measure will not fail to be approved by all the
federal party, while it will, no doubt, be condemned by the opposite.
As to its intrinsic nature, it is justified by unequivocal reasons of
_public safety_.

The reasonable part of the world will, I believe, approve it. They
will see it as a proceeding out of the common course, but warranted by
the particular nature of the crisis and the great cause of social

If done, the motive ought to be frankly avowed. In your communication
to the legislature, they ought to be told that temporary circumstances
had rendered it probable that, without their interposition, the
executive authority of the general government would be transferred to
hands hostile to the system heretofore pursued with so much success,
and dangerous to the peace, happiness, and order of the country. That
under this impression, from facts convincing to your own mind, you had
thought it your duty to give the existing legislature an opportunity
of deliberating whether it would not be proper to interpose, and
endeavour to prevent so great an evil, by referring the choice of
electors to the people distributed into districts.

In weighing this suggestion, you will doubtless bear in mind that
popular governments must certainly be overturned; and, while they
endure, prove engines of mischief, if one party will call to its aid
all the resources which vice can give, and if the other (however
pressing the emergency) confines itself within all the ordinary forms
of delicacy and decorum.

The legislature can be brought together in three weeks, so that there
will be full time for the object; but none ought to be lost.

Think well, my dear sir, of this proposition; appreciate the extreme
danger of the crisis; and I am unusually mistaken in my view of the
matter if you do not see it right and expedient to adopt the measure.

Respectfully and affectionately yours.

Mr. Jay's biographer adds--"On this letter is the following
endorsement in the governor's hand, _Proposing a measure for party
purposes which I think it would not become me to adopt_."


1. As there were but _few_ of "the most distinguished federalists in
the United States" residing at that time in the city of New-York, the
intelligent reader will form his own conclusions as to the source from
whence it emanated.


During the summer of 1800 General Hamilton prepared for the press his
celebrated pamphlet, entitled--"A letter from Alexander Hamilton,
concerning the public conduct and character of John Adams, Esq.,
president of the United States." It was the design of the author of
this pamphlet that it should be privately printed, and circulated in
South Carolina only a few days before the election, for the purpose of
preventing Mr. Adams from getting the vote of South Carolina, but
securing it to Mr. Pinckney, who was the federal candidate for the
vice-presidency. The consequence would have been to place Mr.
Pinckney's electoral vote higher than Mr. Adams's, and thus, if the
federal party succeeded, Mr. Pinckney would have been elected
president and Mr. Adams vice-president. Colonel Burr ascertained the
contents of this pamphlet, and that it was in the press. Its immediate
publication, he knew, must distract the federal party, and thus
promote the republican cause in those states where the elections had
not yet taken place. Arrangements were accordingly made for a copy, as
soon as the printing of it was completed; and when obtained, John
Swartwout, Robert Swartwout, and Matthew L. Davis, by appointment, met
Colonel Burr at his own house. The pamphlet was read, and extracts
made for the press. Mr. Davis was charged with forwarding these
extracts to William Duane, editor of the Aurora, and to Charles Holt,
editor of the Bee, printed in New-London, which was accordingly done,
and the extracts immediately published. [1]

The effect of this sudden and unexpected explosion was such as might
have been anticipated. It rent the federal party in twain. The
publication, from time to time, of extracts, and the excitement which
was produced throughout the country by them, at length compelled Mr.
Hamilton to authorize the publication of the entire pamphlet; and
accordingly, in October, as the electors were to be chosen in
November, it was advertised for sale in the Daily Gazette. The editor
of the paper explained that it was not the intention of General
Hamilton to give publicity to this letter at the time it was made
public; but that extracts from it by some unknown means had found
their way to the public, and therefore the whole was now given.

Further evidence of the vigilance and efficiency of Colonel Burr in
promoting the revolution of 1800 is deemed unnecessary. It is most
solemnly believed that the overthrow of the federal party at that time
would not have been accomplished but through his zeal, sagacity, and
industry. His friends, therefore, have ascribed to him, and not
without some foundation, the election of Mr. Jefferson to the

Governor Jay having refused to comply with the wishes of "one of the
most distinguished federalists in the United States," as proposing a
measure for party purposes which he (Governor Jay) thought it would
not become him to adopt, the legislature did not convene until the
fourth day of November, 1800, and on the sixth they proceeded to the
choice of electors for president and vice-president. The republican
ticket prevailed. It was composed of the following, persons:--

    Isaac Ledyard, of Queen's County.

    Anthony Lispenard, of New-York.

    P. Van Courtlandt, of Westchester

    James Burt, of Orange.

    Gilbert Livingston, of Dutchess.

    Thomas Jenkins, of Columbia.

[continued list of Republican electors]

    Peter Van Ness, of Columbia.

    Robert Ellis, of Saratoga.

    John Woodworth, of Rensellaer.

    J. Van Rensellaer, of Albany.

    Jacob Eacker, of Montgomery, and

    William Floyd, of Suffolk.

The vote stood:--

                      Republican.     Federal.
In the Senate 18 24 In the Assembly 64 39

Thus, on joint ballot, the republican majority was nineteen; and
consequently, as the city of New-York elected _twelve_ members, if the
federalists had succeeded in the city, they would have had, in joint
ballott, a majority of from six to ten.

As a part of the history of this election, the following letter and
extracts from letters are here inserted.


Washington, December 15, 1800.


Although we have not official information of the votes for president
and vice-president, and cannot have until the first week in February,
yet the state of the votes is given on such evidence as satisfies both
parties that the two republican candidates stand highest. From South
Carolina we have not even heard of the actual vote, but we have
learned who were appointed electors, and with sufficient certainty how
they would vote. It is said they would withdraw from yourself one
vote. It has also been said that a General Smith, of Tennessee, had
declared that he would give his second vote to Mr. Gallatin, not from
any indisposition towards you, but extreme reverence to the character
of Mr. Gallatin. It is also surmised that the vote of Georgia will not
be entire. Yet nobody pretends to know these things of a certainty,
and we know enough to be certain that what it is surmised will be
withheld, will still leave you four or five votes at least above Mr.
Adams. However, it was badly managed not to have arranged with
certainty what seems to have been left to hazard. It was the more
material, because I understand several high-flying federalists have
expressed their hope that the two republican tickets may be equal, and
their determination in that case to prevent a choice by the House of
Representatives (which they are strong enough to do), and let the
government devolve on a president of the Senate. Decency required that
I should be so entirely passive during the late contest, that I never
once asked whether arrangements had been made to prevent so many from
dropping votes intentionally as might frustrate half the republican
wish; nor did I doubt, till lately, that such had been made.

"While I must congratulate you, my dear sir, on the issue of this
contest, because it is more honourable, and, doubtless, more grateful
to you than any station within the competence of the chief magistrate,
yet, for myself, and for the substantial service of the public, _I
feel most sensibly the loss we sustain of your aid in our new
administration. It leaves a chasm in my arrangements which cannot be
adequately filled up. I had endeavoured to compose an administration
whose talents, integrity, names, and dispositions should at once
inspire unbounded confidence in the public mind, and ensure a perfect
harmony in the conduct of the public business. I lose you from the
list,_ and am not sure of all the others. Should the gentlemen who
possess the public confidence decline taking a part in their affairs,
and force us to take persons unknown to the people, the evil genius of
this country may realize his avowal that 'he will beat down the
administration.' The return of Mr. Van Benthuysen, one of your
electors, furnishes me a confidential opportunity of writing this much
to you, which I should not have ventured through the postoffice at
this prying season. We shall, of course, see you before the fourth of
March. Accept my respectful and affectionate salutations."

The letter is, in a great measure, incomprehensible. It indicates
nothing but Mr. Jefferson's extreme terror and apprehension lest he
should be disappointed in his anticipated elevation to the presidency.
It displays the _tact_ of the ostrich, and the _sincerity_ of a
refined Jesuit. What does Mr. Jefferson mean by the declaration that
he had formed a cabinet, of which Mr. Burr was to be a member? What
when he says--_"I lose you from the list?_' Can any man believe that
Mr. Jefferson expected to be elected president, but that Colonel Burr
would be defeated; and that, acting upon such a state of facts, he had
already selected the members of his administration, and that Mr. Burr
was one of them? The supposition is absurd; but, without such a
supposition, what becomes of the truth of Mr. Jefferson's declaration
when he says--"I feel most sensibly the loss we sustain of your aid in
our new administration. _It leaves a chasm in my arrangements_ which
cannot be adequately filled up?" If this letter is carefully read and
analyzed, its object may be comprehended. It was written a few weeks
before the balloting was to take place in Congress. Mr. Jefferson
expresses doubt as to the vote Mr. Burr will receive, but considers it
certain that he will have "four or five votes at least above Mr.
Adams." Four days after this letter he writes in a very different tone
to a friend.


"Washington, December 19, 1800.


"Mrs. Brown's departure for Virginia enables me to write
confidentially what I would not have ventured by the post at this
prying season. The election in South Carolina has, in some measure,
decided the great contest. Though, as yet, we do not know the actual
votes of Tennessee, Kentucky, and Vermont, yet we believe the votes to
be, on the whole, Jefferson, 73; Burr, 73; Adams, 65; Pinckney, 64.
Rhode Island withdrew one from Pinckney. There is a possibility that
Tennessee may withdraw _one_ from Burr, and Burr writes that there may
be one vote in Vermont for Jefferson. But I hold the latter
_impossible_, and the former _not probable_; and that there will be an
absolute parity between the two republican candidates. This has
produced great dismay and gloom on the republican gentlemen here, and
exultation in the federalists, who openly declare they will prevent an
election, and will name a president of the Senate _pro tem._ by what,
they say, would only be a _stretch_ of the constitution. The prospect
of preventing this is as follows. Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee,
Kentucky, Vermont, Pennsylvania, and New-York can be counted on for
their vote in the House of Representatives, and _it is thought, by
some, that BAER of Maryland and LINN of New-Jersey will come over._"

The preceding extract shows that Mr. Jefferson entertained no doubt
"that there would be an absolute parity between the two republican
candidates," notwithstanding his doubting remarks on that subject to
Colonel Burr. Hopes were also entertained "that Mr. Baer of Maryland
and _Linn of New-Jersey would come over._" Reference will hereafter be
made to these two states. The result of the electoral vote was as Mr.
Jefferson anticipated. _Seventy-three_ republican and _sixty-five_

Although the ballots for president and vice-president had not been
examined officially, yet it was well known that there was a tie
between Mr. Jefferson and Colonel Burr.

On the 5th of February, 1801, Mr. Bayard, in the House of
Representatives, offered a resolution declaring that, in case of a
tie, the house would continue to ballot until a choice of president
was made. It was referred to a select committee, and, on the 10th, it,
with other rules to govern the house during the balloting, was
adopted. The Senate passed a resolution that the ballots should be
opened with closed doors. William H. Wells, of Delaware, of the
Senate, and John Nicholas, of Virginia, and John Rutledge, of South
Carolina, of the House of Representatives, were appointed tellers.

On the 11th of February the ballots were opened. During the
performance of this ceremony a most extraordinary incident occurred.
As it is known to but few now living, and never been publicly spoken
of, it has been deemed proper to record it here, as a part of the
history of that exciting contest.

The Aurora of the 16th of February, 1801, remarks, that "the tellers
declared that there was some informality in the votes of Georgia; but,
believing them to be true votes, reported them as such." No
explanation of the nature of this informality was given; nor is it
known that any has ever been given since. Had it been announced at the
time, there can be no doubt it would have proved fatal to the election
of Mr. Jefferson. Whether the interest of our country would or would
not have been thereby promoted, is not a question for discussion here.

By the Constitution of the United States at that time it was provided,
Art. 2, sect. 1, "The electors shall meet in their respective states,
and vote by ballot for two persons, of whom one at least shall not be
an inhabitant of the same state with themselves. And they shall 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 of the United States, directed to the
President of the Senate. 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. The person having
the greatest number of votes shall be the president, if such number be
_a majority of the whole number of electors appointed_; and if there
be more than one who have such majority, and have an equal number of
votes, then the House of Representatives shall immediately choose, by
ballot, one of them for president; and if no person have a majority,
then from the _five highest_ on the list the said house shall, in like
manner, choose the president. But, in choosing the president, the
votes shall betaken by states, and a majority of all the states shall
be necessary to a choice."

From the above extract it will be seen that the Constitution is
imperative as to the _form_ and _manner_ in which the electoral
returns are to be made. The ceremony of opening was performed in the
presence of the two houses. The package of a state having been opened
by the vice-president, it was handed by him to the tellers. Mr.
Jefferson was the presiding officer. On opening the package endorsed
Georgia votes, it was discovered to be totally irregular. The
statement now about to be given is derived from an honourable
gentleman, a member of Congress from the state of New-York during the
administration of Mr. Jefferson, and yet living in this state. He says
that Mr. Wells (a teller on the part of the Senate) informed him that
the envelope was blank; that the return of the votes was not
authenticated by _the signatures of the electors, or any of them,
either on the outside or the inside of the envelope, or in any other
manner_; that it merely stated in the inside that the votes of Georgia
were, for Thomas Jefferson _four, and for Aaron Burr _four_, without
the signature of any person whatsoever. Mr. Wells added, that he was
very undecided as to the proper course to be pursued by the tellers.
It was, however, suggested by one of them that the paper should be
handed to the presiding officer, without any statement from the
tellers except that the return was informal; that he consented to this
arrangement under the firm conviction that Mr. Jefferson would
announce the nature of the informality from the chair; but, to his
utmost surprise, he (Mr. Jefferson) rapidly declared that the votes of
Georgia were _four_ for Thomas Jefferson and _four_ for Aaron Burr,
without noticing their informality, and in a hurried manner put them
aside, and then broke the seals and handed to the tellers the package
from the next state. Mr. Wells observed, that as soon as Mr. Jefferson
looked at the paper purporting to contain a statement of the electoral
vote of the state of Georgia, his countenance changed, but that the
decision and promptitude with which he acted on that occasion
convinced him of that which he (a federalist) and his party had always
doubted, that is to say, Mr. Jefferson's decision of character, at
least when his own interest was at hazard. Mr. Wells further stated,
that if the votes of Georgia had not been thus counted, as it would
have brought all the candidates into the house, Mr. Pinckney among the
number, Mr. Jefferson could not have been elected president.

The same honourable member of Congress further stated, that some few
years after receiving the above information from Mr. Wells, he became
intimately acquainted with John Nicholas, who was one of the tellers
referred to, and who had removed from Virginia into the western part
of the State of New-York. Mr. Nicholas gave to the honourable member
the same statement in substance, not knowing that it had been
previously derived from Mr. Wells. Mr. Nicholas was a warm personal
and political friend of Mr. Jefferson, and declared that he never felt
so astounded in his life as when he discovered the irregularity. He
claimed some credit for the adroit manner in which he had managed Mr.
Rutledge, so far as to obtain his consent to hand the paper to Mr.
Jefferson without public explanation from the tellers, and which was
effected by a conciliatory appeal to the magnanimity of the member
from South Carolina.

The whole number of electoral votes given at the election in 1800 was
_one hundred and thirty-eight_: necessary to a choice, _seventy_. Mr.
Jefferson and Mr. Burr had each, according to the return made,
seventy-three. Georgia gave _four _votes. If that number had been
deducted from Jefferson and Burr, as illegally returned, of which
there is no doubt, they would have had only _sixty-nine_ votes each;
consequently they would not have had, in the language of the
Constitution, "a majority of the whole number of electors appointed,"
and the candidates out of which a choice of president must be made
would have been Mr. Jefferson, Mr. Burr, Mr. Adams, and Mr. Pinckney.
The federal members would then have said to the republicans, We will
unite with you in the choice of either of the gentlemen presented to
the house except Mr. Jefferson; and if the government is to be brought
to a termination by our failure to elect a president, the
responsibility will be on you. And is it to be believed, that in such
a case the _doubtful_ members who were sighing for office, if any such
there were, would have rejected the suggestion in toto?

The balloting continued from the 11th until the 17th of February
inclusive. _Nine_ states were necessary to a choice. On the first
ballot Mr. Jefferson had _eight_, Mr. Burr _six_, and _two_ states
were divided. At every ballot the same result was announced, until the
_thirty-sixth_ ballot, which was given on the 17th of February, when
Mr. Jefferson was declared duly elected, _ten_ states having voted for

On the first ballot Mr. Jefferson received New-York, New-Jersey,
Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky, Georgia, and

Mr. Burr received New-Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island,
Connecticut, Delaware, and South Carolina --_six_.

Divided, Vermont and Maryland--_two_.

On the final ballot Mr. Jefferson received New-York, New-Jersey,
Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky, Georgia, Tennessee,
Maryland (_four_ votes and _four_ blanks), Vermont (_one_ vote and
_one_ blank)--_ten_.

Mr. Burr received New-Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and

Delaware _blank_, South Carolina _no vote_.

During the balloting _one hundred and six_ members of the House of
Representatives were present. Of this number _fifty-one_, on the first
ballot, voted for Mr. Jefferson; and on no subsequent vote was that
number increased. The election was effected by the states of Maryland
and Vermont giving their vote, instead of remaining _equally divided_,
and thus having no vote; and that change was produced in Maryland by
Mr. Craick, Mr. Dennis, Mr. Baer, and Mr. Chew Thomas voting _blank_,
and Mr. Lewis R. Morris, of Vermont, in like manner voting blank,
leaving Mr. Matthew Lyon the sole representative of the state.

Previous to the balloting, Mr. Burr addressed to General S. Smith, of
Baltimore, a member of the House of Representatives, the following
letter. It will be seen by the date, that as soon as Colonel Burr
supposed that there was a probability of a tie, he constituted General
Smith his proxy to declare his sentiments.


"New-York, 16th December, 1800.

"It is highly improbable that I shall have an equal number of votes
with Mr. Jefferson; but, if such should be the result, every man who
knows me ought to know that I would utterly disclaim all competition.
Be assured that _the federal party can entertain no wish for such an
exchange_. As to my friends, they would dishonour my views and insult
my feelings by a suspicion that I would submit to be instrumental in
counteracting the wishes and the expectations of the United States.
And I now constitute you _my proxy to declare these sentiments_ if the
occasion should require." [2]

Baltimore, February 28, 1801.

Sir--Many of the citizens of Baltimore, who have just now heard of
your arrival among them, beg leave to congratulate you and themselves
upon the success of the late election of President and Vice-president
of the United States. They, in a particular manner, appreciate that
patriotism which disclaimed competition for the presidential chair
with that other eminent character who has finally been called to
it--as setting a just value upon the will of the people.

By order of the meeting.


To Aaron Burr, Vice-president elect of the United States of America.


1. Mr. Tucker, in his life of Jefferson, ascribes the defeat of the
federal party in South Carolina to General Hamilton's pamphlet. Its
premature publication, no doubt, contributed largely to produce this

2. The effect of this letter upon public opinion may be judged of by
the following, among other testimonials which might be inserted.


This contest in Congress produced, almost immediately, strong feelings
of dissatisfaction between some of the friends of Mr. Jefferson and
Colonel Burr. Jealousies and distrust had previously existed. Mr.
Jefferson was anxious that Mr. Madison should be his successor in
office. The Clinton and Livingston families were prepared to unite in
a crusade against Colonel Burr; the chieftains of each section hoping
to fill the station from which he was to be expelled. General Hamilton
was in favour of the election of Mr. Jefferson, as opposed to Colonel
Burr. The result afforded him a triumph, and be was prepared, when
opportunity should present, to prostrate his late successful opponent.
Such was the state of parties, and such the feelings of leading and
distinguished partisans, when Colonel Burr entered upon the
vice-presidency, on the fourth of March, 1801. He was hemmed in on
every side by political adversaries, ready for the onset so soon as it
should be deemed expedient to make it. Every movement, every
expression at the convivial board or in the social circle, and every
action, was carefully watched and noted for future use, if, by the
exercise of ingenuity and misrepresentation, such expression or action
could be so tortured as to operate injuriously to him. These several
sections, each acting within its own sphere, impelled by conflicting
motives, were untiring in their efforts to accomplish the great
object--the ruin of the vice-president. They combined wealth, talents,
and government patronage.

The following short extracts from letters, written as early as 1794
and 1795, will show what were the wishes of Mr. Jefferson (so far as
any reliance can be placed on professions) in relation to Mr. Madison.


"Monticello, December 28, 1794.


"I do not see in the minds of those with whom I converse a greater
affliction than the fear of your retirement; [1] but this must not be,
_unless to a more splendid and more efficacious post_. [2]

There I should rejoice to see you; I hope I may say, I shall rejoice
to see you. I have long had much in my mind to say to you on that
subject; but double delicacies have kept me silent. I ought, perhaps,
to say, _while I would not give up my own retirement for the empire of
the universe_, how I can justify wishing one, whose happiness I have
so much at heart as yours, to take the front of the battle which is
fighting for my security."


"Monticello, April 27, 1795.


"In mine, to which yours of March the twenty-third was an answer, I
expressed my hope of the only change of position I ever wished to see
you make, and I expressed it with entire sincerity, because there is
not another person in the United States who, being placed at the helm
of our affairs, my mind would be so completely at rest for the fortune
of our political bark. The wish, too, was pure, and unmixed with any
thing respecting myself personally. * * * * * *

"If these general considerations were sufficient to ground a firm
resolution never to permit myself to think of the office (president),
or be thought of for it, the special ones which have supervened on my
retirement still more insuperably bar the door to it. My health is
entirely broken down within the last eight months; _my age requires
that I should place my affairs_ in a clear state; these are sound, if
taken care of, but capable of considerable dangers if longer
neglected; and, above all things, the delights I feel in the society
of my family, and in the agricultural pursuits in which I am so
eagerly engaged. _The little spice of ambition which I had in my
younger days has long since evaporated, and I set still less store by
a posthumous than present name_."

It is a remarkable fact, that, previous to the balloting in Congress,
all parties and sections of parties concurred in the opinion that the
election would finally be determined, as it was, by New-York,
New-Jersey, and Maryland. These _three_ states would render the
election of Colonel Burr certain; _two_ of them could elect Mr.
Jefferson. The vote, of New-York was to be decided by _Theodorus
Bailey_, of Dutchess county, and _Edward Livingston_, of the city of
New-York; the vote of New-Jersey by Mr. _Linn_, and the vote of
Maryland by Mr. _Dent_ or Mr. _Baer_.

In the Commercial Advertiser of the thirteenth of February, 1801, a
paper opposed to the election of Colonel Burr, there is published an
extract of a letter from a member of Congress, dated Washington,
February 10, which states that, upon the second ballot, it is expected
that New-York, New-Jersey, and Maryland will vote for Mr. Burr.

On the sixth of February, 1801, a leading and influential republican
member of Congress writes to his correspondent a letter, from which
the following is extracted:--

"I have not time to answer your letter as fully as I could wish, as it
would have been my desire to communicate to you not only facts, _but
some of the reasons which have induced us to adopt the steps we have
heretofore taken_. But, at all events, it is important that you should
have an immediate knowledge of the present situation of affairs.

"It is reduced to moral certainty, so far as any reliance can be
placed on the solemn determinations of men, that either Mr. Jefferson
will be chosen, or that there will be no choice made. The republican
majorities of eight states (including _Linn_ [3] of New-Jersey, and
the New-York representation, [4] the republican half of Maryland,
including Mr. Dent, [5] and Lyon of Vermont, are _pledged_ to
persevere in voting for Mr. Jefferson to the end, be the consequence
what it will."

Colonel Burr, soon after his election, gave his enemies an opportunity
to cavil. It would be impossible to enter into all the details
connected with this subject; but the principal charges which were made
against the vice-president, and assigned as reasons for opposing his
renomination, will be briefly presented. The replies to or
explanations of them, by the parties implicated, will also be given.

Late in November, 1801, when Mr. Burr was on his way to Washington to
take his seat in Senate as vice-president, he was addressed by certain
citizens of Baltimore, on which occasion he remarked, "Time will not
allow me to return you a written answer, but I must be permitted to
state my disapprobation of the mode of expressing public sentiment by
addresses." This gave offence to some, and, by the artful and
designing, was misrepresented. Mr. Burr, during the years 1798 and
1799, had beheld, with mortification and disgust, the adulatory, if
not sycophantic addresses presented to President Adams. This reproof,
therefore, of his friends, evinced his natural independence of
character as well as the purest republican notions.

In the month of January, 1802, a bill to repeal what was termed by the
republicans the federal midnight judiciary act, was pending before the
Senate. On the 27th of January, a motion was made to refer the bill to
a committee for the purpose of amendment. On this motion the votes
were, _ayes_, 14; _noes_, 14. The vice-president, Colonel Burr, was in
the chair. He said--"I am for the affirmative, because I never can
resist the reference of a measure where the Senate is so nicely
balanced, and when the object is to effect amendment that may
accommodate it to the opinions of a large majority, and particularly
when I can believe that gentlemen are sincere in wishing a reference
for this purpose. Should it, however, at any time appear that delay
only is intended, my conduct will be different."

This decision afforded the enemies of Colonel Burr an opportunity to
break ground more openly against him. He was now charged with aiding
the federal party in their efforts to embarrass the administration,
and with the design of defeating the wishes of the American people. As
yet, the charge of intriguing and negotiating with the federalists to
obtain the presidency in opposition to Mr. Jefferson had not been
made. The allies had not yet sufficiently poisoned the public mind
against the vice-president, nor had they subsidized the requisite
number of presses for carrying on the work of destruction. While the
grand assault was meditating, and these _feints_ were carrying on
against the vice-president, he was constantly receiving approbatory
letters from intelligent and well-informed citizens, many of whom
cowered beneath the storm when, in the height of its fury, it burst
upon the victim. From among a number the following are selected:--


Philadelphia, 3d February, 1802.[6]


On the judiciary question, I wrote my sentiments to Mr. Wilson
Nicholas early in the session. I am sorry our friends have taken so
peremptory a position, as the very circumstance of having taken it
will render it difficult to move them. I cannot concur with them in
the policy or expediency of the measure. The business of the court
will not allow me to give my reasons in detail, but you shall have my

1. There never was a case in which a party could be more justified in
expressing their resentment, on account of the manner of passing the
act; the manner of organizing the courts; the nature of the opposition
to the repeal, denying its constitutionality, and menacing a civil

2. The repeal would be constitutional, from a review of the
principles, and terms of the constitution itself; of the peculiar
situation of the country ; its growing population ; its extending
prospects; its increasing wants, pursuits, and refinements, &c.; of
the analogy to the Judiciary Institution of England, where independent
of the legislature is not within the policy or provision of the
statutes relative to the commissions of the judges; of the analogy to
the Judiciary Institutions of the sister states, which have all been
subject to legislative interference occasionally. In Pennsylvania
particularly, the constitution declares that the judges shall hold
their commissions during good behaviour; yet it expressly authorizes
the legislature to abolish the Court of Common Pleas, &c.; and of the
precedents in the existing act of Congress, which is an exercise of
the power _sub modo_.

3. But notwithstanding the indignation I feel, in common with our
friends, at the manner of passing the Circuit Court act; and
notwithstanding my perfect conviction that Congress has the power of
repealing the act, I think the repeal would be impolitic and
inexpedient. If it would be impolitic acting on party principles, it
would be inexpedient of course; but I mean, also, that it would be
inexpedient on account of the use that Pennsylvania (and I presume the
same as to other states) has derived from the institution:

1st. _It is impolitic_.

The republicans are not agreed on the constitutionality of the repeal.
The people at large have imbibed strong prejudices on the subject of
judicial independence. The repeal would be ascribed to party
animosity; and if future amendments should be made, it would be
considered as a personal proceeding, merely to remove the present
judges: the hazard of loss in public opinion is greater than the hope
of gain. There is a mass of the community that will not be fermented
by the leaven of party passions. By persons of this description, the
motive and effect will be strictly analyzed and purified. The mere
resuscitation of the old system will either expose the administration
of justice to inconceivable embarrassments, or demonstrate the motive
to be abstractedly a party one, by calling for an immediate reform.
The clamour of the federalists will at least have a reasonable

2. _It is inexpedient_.

The mere repeal will reinstate a system which every man of common
sense and candour must deprecate. It will entirely destroy
institutions susceptible of being modelled into a form economical as
well as useful. It will deprive some states of tribunals which have
been found highly advantageous, to the despatch of business. I allude
particularly to Pennsylvania. In this state justice, as far as
respects our state courts, is in a state of dissolution, from the
excess of business and the parsimony of the legislature.

With this view of the subject you will perceive that I think--_First_,
There ought not to be a total repeal. _Second_, There ought to be

If, however, a repeal should take place, I am clearly of opinion that
it would be unjustifiable to make any provision for the ex-judges. On
this point and on the introduction of amendments I will, if you desire
it, amplify by a future post.

The zealous republicans are exciting some intemperance here, in
opposition to a memorial from our bar, which, you will perceive, is
confined to the operation of the law in this state as a matter of
fact, and not to any controversy of a constitutional or political

I shall be anxious to hear from you as often as you can spare a
moment, and particularly while the judiciary bill is pending.

Yours, with great regard,



February 17, 1802.


Permit me to thank you most sincerely for the vote you gave in favour
of Mr. Dayton's motion to refer the judiciary bill to a select
committee; not because I am by any means satisfied it is not best that
bill should pass, but because I earnestly desire that republicanism
should on every occasion display the spirit of conciliation, as far as
can be done without the destruction of principle. I am every day more
and more satisfied that the cause is more endangered by the want of
such displays than by every thing besides. The fate of parties in and
about Congress will ultimately be determined by the great body of the
well informed in the middle walks of life. It is happy, in some
respects, that these are generally so far from the scene of action as
to be tolerably free from the blinding influence of those passions
which the scene itself is calculated to excite. They wish for every
thing that tends to convince the great public that republicanism,
instead of being hostile, is friendly to moderation and harmony. Shall
we not do well to mark with great care and precision the sunken rocks
and shoals on which self-denominated federalism has dashed itself to
pieces? Among these I would enumerate their too eager and violent
pursuit of their object. Had they been patient and accommodating, the
eyes of the public would have been still hoodwinked, until habit,
gradually acquired, would have rendered an expensive monarchy the most
agreeable government. But, thank Heaven, they, by overacting, exposed
their own feelings and designs. Will not the same pertinacity and
precipitation endanger the better--the opposite cause? It is a
prevalent idea among us middling people, that a good government must
be a moderate one; and we are exceedingly apt to judge of the spirit
of the government from the spirit of our rulers. Every thing
non-conciliating bears in its very front strong symptoms of a
tyrannical spirit.

I am, sir, the more gratified by your moderation because (though I am
ashamed to avow it) I have heard you was too impetuous. Pardon my
mistake; and suffer me to entreat you to encourage a steady pursuit of
republican measures in that way which will convince the bystanders
that the actors are uniformly and irresistibly urged to pursue them by
cool conviction, resulting from a candid, extensive, and philanthropic
survey of the great object. Passion and caprice very illy become so
awfully sublime an object as that for which well-informed republicans

With sentiments of respect, your obedient servant,



Philadelphia, 3d April, 1802.


The judiciary storm has passed away for the present. I perceive,
however, that an effort is making to improve the old system without
increasing the number of judges; and we are once more unanimous at the
bar of Philadelphia in rejoicing that Paterson, and not Chase,
presides in our circuit. I had begun an outline of courts and
jurisdictions agreeably to your wish; but I lost the hope of its being
adopted when finished, so I abandoned the labour. Perhaps it may be
worth while to renew the scheme, with a view to a future session.

There are some rumours of jealousy and dissatisfaction prevailing
among the republican leaders, in the executive as well as the
legislative departments of the federal as well as of our state
government. It will be disgraceful, indeed, if the rumours axe true.
Very sincerely yours,


Such were the sentiments and views of many of the most pure and
intelligent of the republican party in relation to a repeal of the
judiciary act of 1800. The preceding letters express the opinions
entertained by thousands who were opposed to federal men and federal
measures, but who wanted time for reflection; and yet, when Colonel
Burr voted to recommit the repealing bill for the purpose of
ascertaining whether it could not be rendered more satisfactory, the
conspirators cried aloud, _Crucify him--crucify him_.

The plot now began to thicken. During the year 1801, a Scotchman by
the name of Wood was employed to write "_A History of John Adams's
Administration_." Ward & Barlas, booksellers in New-York, were the
proprietors of the copyright, and printed 1250 copies. William Duane,
editor of the Aurora, furnished the author a portion of his materials,
and became the agent to negotiate with a London bookseller for the
publication of an edition in England. In the summer or autumn of 1801
Colonel Burr was informed of the progress of the work, and procured a
copy before it was ready for publication. On examining it, he came to
the conclusion that it was calculated to do the republican party more
injury than good. It abounded with misrepresentations, errors, and
libels. Mr. Burr, through a friend, agreed to pay a stipulated sum for
the suppression of the work, under the most solemn assurance that no
copy or copies would be permitted to go into the hands of any third
person, but that the whole edition should be delivered to the agent
who was to pay the money. Before the time of payment arrived, it was
ascertained that a copy or copies had been parted with, and would not
be returned. The contract was, therefore, never carried into effect.
Pending this negotiation, Mr. Duane, through Wood or Ward & Barlas,
was made acquainted with the arrangements which were in progress.
Cheetham, the editor of the American Citizen, was also informed of
what was doing. This was considered a most favourable opportunity for
assailing the vice-president, and charging him with the design of
suppressing the History of John Adams's Administration for the purpose
of keeping the people in ignorance of the wrong doings of the federal
party. Although the assailants had a full view of the whole ground,
yet the attack was commenced by innuendoes, indicating ignorance of
the true state of facts. The charge operated most injuriously upon the
republican character of Colonel Burr. The injury was irreparable, and
the attacks continued with unexampled malignity.

This brief statement, it is hoped, will be found sufficiently explicit
to be intelligible. And now for the conduct of Mr. Duane on the
occasion. His object, and the object of his employers, was
accomplished; but whether a short development of the whole case will
or will not add to his fame, the reader must determine.

On or about the 27th of February, 1802, the editor of the Aurora, in
his paper, states that a curious fact has lately been brought to light
in New-York; that Wood had completed his engagement with Ward & Barlas
to furnish a history of John Adams's Administration, and that 1250
copies were printed, but suppressed at the desire of some person. Mr.
Duane then animadverts with harshness, and expresses a wish to get a
clew to the names of the person or persons who suppressed the work.

On the 31st of May, 1802, the Aurora states that the American Citizen
and the Evening Post have commenced a warfare, of which Mr. Burr is
the object; that the principal matter of charge is the suppression of
Wood's History of John Adams's Administration; and then adds--"We are
fully possessed of one side of the subject, and have perused the
suppressed book attentively."

On the 12th of July, 1802, the Aurora says--"So far as it relates to
Mr. Burr, my opinions have been uniform and reiterated to his
particular friends, that if the motives for the suppression of the
book were not _satisfactorily explained to the public_, his standing
with the republican interest was gone."

During the period between February and July, 1802, the Aurora
reprinted the slanders of Cheetham against Mr. Burr in relation to the
suppressed book, and continued, from time to time, his own attacks
upon the vice-president. While thus _publicly_ giving currency to
these calumnies, would it be believed (if asserted) that Mr. Duane was
_privately_ writing Colonel Burr, and approving of his conduct in
suppressing the work? One of his letters on this subject is deemed
sufficient to a right understanding of the case. It will now be given
without comment. * * * * *


Thursday, April 15, 1802.


I think it fortunate that the pamphlet of Mr. Wood has not yet been
published, and that it would be much more so if it were not ever to
see the light. It has disappointed my expectations of finding in it at
least some useful reflections and reasonings, however little novelty
there might be in the facts. But, even in the narration of facts, I
find numerous errors, and not a few misrepresentations of things
notorious to every man who has attended with understanding to the
course of public affairs. There is in it a _something_, too, of a
character very different from what was represented to me; the adoption
of the story of Hamilton [7] and Lafayette, if it is not the effect of
an indifference to accuracy, or a coldness in pursuit of truth, is
something much worse, and at least is suspicious: there is more of the
same kind of matter, and less attention to the influence and views of
such characters, than the subject required. I consider it, upon the
whole, as a hasty, crude, and inconsistent production, calculated
rather to produce evil than the least good--as it would be attributed
to the republicans, with all its faults and inconsistencies, and a
credit assumed from it as a party confession of merit, in a particular
character, which is not founded, at least in the way stated in the
pamphlet. Were some parts of it omitted, and false statements
rectified, it might not do any harm; and perhaps it might be found
advisable to adopt some plan of that kind, making a careful _record of
the omissions_ to insert any future _misrepresentations_, and a like
record of such _additions_ or _alterations_. This might be very easily
done by printing the pages anew which contain the exceptionable parts,
and, if necessary, substituting reflections or anecdotes, founded in
fact, in their places. This might be done at a small expense. The
thing, thus corrected, published; and, if any effort should be made to
misrepresent, credit would be derived even by the defence, and the
exposure of the motives for suppressing the misstatements.

This I have thought proper to write you, and I hope will, in its
object and motives, find with you an excuse for doing so.

I am, with respect, your obedient servant,



1. Mr. Madison was then a member of Congress.

2. President of the United States.

3. Appointed by Mr. Jefferson supervisor of internal revenue for the
state of New-Jersey.

4. Edward Livingston and Theodorus Bailey; the former appointed United
States district attorney for the district of New-York; the latter
subsequently appointed postmaster of the city of New-York, and removed
from the country, a distance of nearly one hundred miles, to take
charge of the office. Cheetham, editor of the _American Citizen,_ some
time after Mr. Livingston's appointment, in referring to him,
says--"Should Mr. Burr's _confidential friend ever become dangerous,
we will show what he has been and what he is_."

5. Appointed United States marshal for the Potomac district of

6. This letter is dated _seven_ days after Mr. Burr's casting vote in
the Senate.

7. The story here referred to is thus related by Wood in his history:
"In the year 1780, he (Hamilton) was promoted to the rank of colonel,
and at the siege of Yorktown commanded the attack on one of the
redoubts, the capture of which decided the fate of Lord Cornwallis and
his army. The conduct of Mr. Hamilton on this occasion was truly
honourable, and, in the history of his life, ought to weigh against
several of those scars that have since stained his character. Previous
to the attack, the Marquis de Lafayette proposed to General Washington
to put to death all the British troops that should be found in the
redoubts, as a retaliation for several acts of barbarity committed by
the royal army. The steady and nervous mind of Washington, which was
ever known to yield to the virtuous prejudice of compassion, gave his
assent to the bloody order. But Mr. Hamilton (the tenderness of whose
feelings has led him into error), after the redoubts were subdued,
took the conquered under his protection, and proved to his enemies
that Americans know how to fight, but not to murder." [General
Hamilton, in a letter referring to this same story, says--"Positively
and unequivocally, I declare that no such or similar order, or any
intimation or hint resembling it, was ever by me received or
understood to have been given."


Colonel Burr's silence under these reiterated attacks, with such means
of defence as his enemies knew that he possessed, encouraged and
imboldened them to make other and more daring assaults. He was now
charged, in general terms, with intriguing for the presidency, in
opposition to Mr. Jefferson; with endeavouring to obtain federal
electoral votes, and thus to defeat Mr. Jefferson and promote his own
elevation; with having entered into terms and conditions with federal
members of Congress in the winter of 1800; and with having committed
himself to, that party, in the event of success through their
instrumentality. These slanders were countenanced and circulated in
whispers by men high in authority, until the political integrity of
Colonel Burr was so far ruined as to render any defence, on his part
or on the part of his friends, useless and unavailing. The hireling
press now boldly entered upon specific charges; naming the parties
with whom Colonel Burr or his friends had negotiated, and the agents
whom the vice-president had employed to effect his purposes. These
details were given in a manner so circumstantial, as, by their
audacity, seemingly to command confidence. The slanders were
circulated with industry and rapidity, while the contradictions rarely
met the public eye, except through the medium of a federal press,
which publication, with the already prejudiced republican, was
construed as evidence of the truth of the charge. The principal
instances of specific cases will now be presented as briefly as

The presidential electors of the state of New-Jersey were federal. Dr.
Samuel S. Smith, president of Princeton College, was an elector. The
Hon. Jno. B. Prevost, son of Mrs. Burr by her first husband, was
married to the daughter of Dr. Smith. This circumstance rendered
plausible a story invented and propagated by the calumniators of
Colonel Burr. They boldly charged that "_Dr. Smith, of New-Jersey, was
secretly to have voted for Mr. Burr, and thus made him President of
the United States_." To this charge Dr. Smith replied as follows :--


Princeton, July 29, 1802.


In your paper of Monday, July 26, under the article entitled _A View
of the Political Conduct of Aaron Burr, Esq_., by the author of the
_Narrative_, I observe some very gross misrepresentations, which I
conceive it to be a duty that I owe to Mr. Burr, the New-Jersey
electors, and myself, to declare to be absolutely false. Mr. Burr
never visited me on the subject of the late election for president and
vice-president--Mr. Burr never conversed with me a single second on
the subject of that election, either before or since the event. No
project or plan of the kind mentioned in that paper was proposed or
hinted at among the electors of New-Jersey. I am assured that Mr. Burr
held no intrigue with them on that occasion, either collectively or
individually. They were men above intrigue; and I do not know that he
was disposed to use it. At their meeting, they unanimously declared
that a fair and manly vote, according to their sentiments, was the
only conduct which was worthy of their own characters or of their


It was next charged that Colonel Burr had sent, at his own expense,
special agents to different states, previous to the choice of
electors, with the view of influencing their selection, and to promote
his own elevation to the exclusion of Mr. Jefferson. The agents named
were Mr. Abraham Bishop, of New-Haven, and Mr. Timothy Green, of
New-York. It was asserted that Mr. Bishop was Mr. Burr's agent at
Lancaster, Pennsylvania, during the session of the legislature that
appointed the presidential electors.

In August, 1802, Mr. Bishop published a full and explicit refutation
of the charge. He denied that Mr. Burr sent him to Lancaster, or that
he went there for any purposes personally or politically regarding
that gentleman. The publication of Mr. Bishop is not readily to be
found; but he is still living, and subsequently was appointed by Mr.
Jefferson collector of the port of New-Haven.

In relation to Mr. Green, it was alleged that he was sent to Columbia,
South Carolina, for similar purposes, and that he "_corresponded with
the vice-president on the subject of the then approaching election,
under cover to John Swartwout_." The replies of Mr. Green and Mr.
Swartwout were as follows:--

"New-York, October 11, 1802,


"In the _American Citizen_ of this day you have made a publication, to
which you have affixed your names. In this you have stated, 1st, That
Timothy Green, of this city, was despatched as an agent to Columbia,
the seat of government of the state of South Carolina, by the
vice-president. 2dly, That he was the eulogist and intercessor for the
vice-president. 3dly, That he sent the vice-president despatches
regularly, addressed to Mr. John Swartwout, of this city, under cover.

"Now, as you have been most egregiously imposed upon by some
disorganizing person, it is your duty and mine that the public be
immediately furnished with both what were and what were not my
inducements and motives in making a journey in November, 1800, to
Columbia, and of my conduct while there. For this purpose you will
please to insert in your paper of to-morrow the following corrections
to your statement:--

"1st, I aver that I never went on any message of a political nature to
Columbia, in South Carolina, or to any other place for the
vice-president or any other person; neither was I ever requested or
desired by the vice- president or by any other person to go to
Columbia, in South Carolina, or any other place, on any political or
electioneering mission, of any name or nature whatsoever. On the
contrary, my journey to Columbia, in South Carolina, in the year of
our Lord 1800, and my engagements until my return in 1801, was wholly
unsolicited by any person (except my debtors in South Carolina), and
were solely of a commercial nature, and for which I had been preparing
eight months before.

"2dly, That I never wrote a letter to the vice-president of a
political nature; neither did I write him any information relative to
the presidential election in South Carolina, neither did I ever
enclose a letter, directed to the vice-president, in a letter or cover
directed to Mr. John Swartwout.

"3dly, That my letters to Mr. Swartwout while in South Carolina were
unsolicited, and written solely with the motive to relieve the minds
of my friends from the anxiety necessarily attendant on a state of
suspense, while an important event is hourly expected to take place.

"4thly, That I never was in the habit of eulogizing public men,
neither did I vary from my usual manners while in South Carolina. I
had no occasion to intercede for the election of Colonel Burr: all the
fear I had while there was lest a compromise should take place, as the
political parties were nearly balanced in the state legislature. This
I did, as far as in my power, conscientiously endeavour to prevent;
knowing that, if union and good faith were not inviolably preserved
among the constitutional republicans, our past, present, and future
exertions would be unavailing.



"New-York, October 13, 1802.


"In your seventh letter addressed to Aaron Burr, Esq., Vice-president
of the United States, published in the American Citizen of the 11th
instant, I notice the following paragraph, viz.:--

"Meantime, Sir, you had your eye on South Carolina; you despatched an
agent, Mr. Timothy Green, of this city, to Columbia, the seat of
government of that state. It was questionable whether South Carolina
would give you a single vote. At that period you were scarcely known
in the state. Mr. Green was at Columbia at least two months. He, was
your eulogist; your intercessor; he sent you despatches regularly;
they were addressed to Mr. John Swartwout, of this city, under cover,
and by him communicated to you.

"You will please to inform the public, through the medium of your
paper, that the above paragraph, so far as relates to my receiving
letters under cover, or communications from Timothy Green for Aaron
Burr, is utterly destitute of truth.


In a pamphlet entitled "A View of Aaron Burr's Political Conduct," it
was charged that "Mr. Burr, while in the city of New-York, carried on
a negotiation with the heads of the federal party at Washington with a
view to his election as President of the United States. A person was
authorized by them to confer with him on the subject, who accordingly
did so. Mr. Burr assented to the propositions of the negotiator, and
referred him to his confidential friend to complete the negotiation.
Mr. Burr stated that, after the first vote taken in the House of
Representatives, New-York and Tennessee would give in to the

To this Colonel Burr replied, in a letter to _Governor Bloomfield_, of
New-Jersey, under date September 21, 1802:--

"You are at liberty to declare from me that all those charges and
insinuations which aver or intimate that I advised or countenanced the
opposition made to Mr. Jefferson pending the late election and
balloting for president; that I proposed or agreed to any terms with
the federal party; that I assented to be held up in opposition to him,
or attempted to withdraw from him the vote or support of any man,
whether in or out of Congress; THAT ALL SUCH ASSERTIONS AND

In the pamphlet already referred to, and various newspaper
publications, it was alleged that General Hamilton had personal
knowledge of Colonel Burr's negotiations with the federalists. On the
13th of October, 1802, the editor of the New-York Evening Post
(William Coleman) states that he is authorized to say that General
Hamilton, at a dinner at Edward Livingston's, declared that he had no
personal knowledge of any negotiation in reference to the presidency
between Colonel Burr and any person whatever.

It will be recollected that Colonel Burr, in his letter to Governor
Bloomfield, denied the charge of "having proposed or agreed to any
terms with the federal party." The person named as being the agent of
the federalists, with authority to confer with Colonel Burr, was David
A. Ogden, Esq., of the city of New-York, who was intimately connected
with General Hamilton in professional business. Dr. Peter Irving was
at that time the proprietor and editor of a highly respectable daily
journal (Morning Chronicle) published in the city of New-York. The
facts in relation to this charge are developed in the following


"New-York, November 24, 1802.


"Though I have not the pleasure of a personal acquaintance with you, I
flatter myself that the contents of this letter will preclude the
necessity of an apology for addressing you.

"It has been asserted in various publications that Mr. Burr, during
the late election for president and vice-president, entered into
negotiations and agreed to terms with the federal party, or with
certain individuals of that party, with a view to advance himself to
the office of president to the exclusion of Mr. Jefferson. Mr. Burr,
in a letter to Governor Bloomfield, dated the 21st of September last,
declared that all such allegations were false and groundless; and the
charges have been renewed in more recent publications, which point to
you by name as the person through whom such negotiations were carried
on and terms concluded. It has now become interesting to a great
portion of the community to be informed how far these assertions and
charges have been authorized by you, or are warranted by your
knowledge of facts.

"Having received frequent anonymous communications for the Morning
Chronicle relative to these matters, and being unwilling to occupy the
paper with vague and unsubstantial conjectures or remarks on a subject
of such importance, I am induced to apply directly to yourself as an
authentic source of information. I do this with the more confidence,
from a persuasion that you can have no wish to suffer false reports to
circulate under the authority of your name for mere party purposes;
and that, in the actual posture of things, you cannot be averse to
declare publicly and explicitly your agency, if any, in the business.
I take the liberty, therefore, of requesting your written declaration
to the points above stated, together with any circumstances you may be
pleased to communicate tending to establish the truth or falsehood of
the charges in question.

"I have the honour to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,



New-York, November 24, 1802.


"Though I did not conceive it to be incumbent upon me, or in itself
proper to notice a publication in a newspaper in which my name was
used without my permission or knowledge, yet I have no objection to
reply to an inquiry which comes in the shape of that contained in your
letter, and from a person of your standing in society.

"I declare that my journey to the city of Washington, in the year
1800, was purely on private business, and without any understanding or
concert whatever with Colonel Burr, whom I met at the stage-office on
his way to Trenton, not having had before the least intimation of such
a meeting; and that I was not then or at any time charged by him with
any commission or errand of a political nature. In the course of our
journey, no political conversation took place but of a general nature
and in the presence of the passengers.

"When about to return from the city of Washington, two or three
members of Congress, of the federal party, spoke to me about their
views as to the election of president, desiring me to converse with
Colonel Burr on the subject, and to ascertain whether he would enter
into terms. On my return to New-York I called on Colonel Burr, and
communicated the above to him. He explicitly declined the explanation,
and did neither propose nor agree to any terms. I had no other
interview or communication with him on the subject; and so little was
I satisfied with this, that in a letter which I soon afterward wrote
to a member of Congress, and which was the only one I wrote, I
dissuaded from giving support to Colonel Burr, and advised rather to
acquiesce in the election of Mr. Jefferson, as the less dangerous man
of the two to that cause with which I believed the public interest to
be inseparably connected.

"There are no facts within my knowledge tending to establish the truth
of the charges specified in your letter.

"With due respect, I am, sir, your obedient servant,



It was then boldly asserted that Edward Livingston was "the
confidential friend" to whom Mr. Ogden was referred "to complete the
negotiation;" whereupon Mr. Burr made a call upon Mr. Livingston, to
which the following reply was given:--


"In consequence of certain insinuations lately circulated, I think it
proper to declare that you did not, in any verbal or written
communication to me, during the late presidential election, express
any sentiment inconsistent with those contained in your letter to
General Smith, [1] which was published, or evincing any desire that
the vote of the state should be transferred from Mr. Jefferson to

"I am, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,


"The Vice-president of the United States."

In the hope of giving some support to these, calumnies, Mr. William S.
Pennington, of New-Jersey, addressed a letter to the editors of the
American Citizen, in which he asserted that General John Swartwout had
written to Robert Williams, of Poughkeepsie, pending the election,
recommending or countenancing the support of Mr. Burr for president to
the exclusion of Mr. Jefferson. To this General Swartwout replied:--


"The false colouring given by the relation of one William S.
Pennington, in a letter to Denniston & Cheetham, which appeared in the
American Citizen of the 22d inst., and their subsequent malicious
remarks, oblige me once more to ask pardon for obtruding myself on the
public attention.

"I declare, on my honour, that I did not at any time advise the
election of Mr. Burr as president of the United States to the
exclusion of Mr. Jefferson; nor did I ever write to any person or
persons to that effect; and I hereby authorize Mr. Robert Williams to
publish any letter or letters he may have received from me on the
subject of the late presidential election. I am induced to contradict
the base slanders of those exclusive patriots by a regard to truth
only, and not from a conviction that it would have been either
dishonourable to me, or disadvantageous to the country or the
republican party, to have promoted the election of Mr. Burr to the
presidential chair.


"New-York, January 23."

The principal specifications, intended as explanatory of the general
charge against Colonel Burr of intriguing for the presidency, have now
been given. The replies of the parties implicated accompany them. A
whole generation has passed away since these scenes occurred, and yet
the time has not arrived when they can be calmly reviewed with
impartiality and free from prejudice. They may serve, however, as
beacon-lights for those who are now figuring or may hereafter figure
on the great political theatre of our country. Through life, Colonel
Burr committed an error, if he did not display a weakness, in
permitting his reputation to be assailed, without contradiction, in
cases where it was perfectly defensible. His enemies took advantage of
the sullen silence which he was known to preserve in regard to
newspaper attacks. Under these attacks he fell from the proud eminence
he once enjoyed to a condition more mortifying and more prostrate than
any distinguished man has ever experienced in the United States.

Different individuals, to gratify different feelings, have ascribed
this unprecedented fall to different causes. But one who is not
altogether ignorant of the springs of human actions; whose
partialities and prejudices are mellowed by more than threescore years
of experience; who has carefully and laboriously, in this case,
examined cause and effect, hesitates not in declaring that, from the
moment Aaron Burr was elected vice-president, his doom was unalterably
decided, if that decision could be accomplished by a combination of
wealth, of talent, of government patronage, of favouritism and
proscription, inflamed by the worst passions, and nurtured by the hope
of gratifying a sordid ambition. The contest in Congress fixed his
fate. Subsequent events were only consequences resulting from
antecedent acts.

In the progress of this work no desire has been evinced, none is felt
to screen Colonel Burr from censure where it is merited. But the man
who can read, unmoved, the evidence which has already been presented
of the injustice done him in the charge of having intrigued and
negotiated with the federal party for the presidency, must possess
more of philosophic than of generous or magnanimous feelings. It would
seem that the task of recording the presidential contest in Congress,
in the spring of 1801, was now brought to a close. But not so. There
yet remains another and imposing view to be presented. Whatever may
have been the wishes of Colonel Burr, it is certain that they were so
far under his own control as to prevent him from entering into any
negotiation, bargain, or intrigue to obtain the presidency. There is
not the slightest evidence of any such attempt on his part, while
there is strong, if not conclusive proof to the contrary. Can as much
be said in favor of his great competitor on that occasion? This is the
view that remains to be taken. But, before presenting the testimony in
the case, some explanation is necessary as to the manner in which it
was first obtained and subsequently made public.

In the year 1804, a suit was instituted by Colonel Burr against James
Cheetham, editor of the American Citizen, for a libel, in charging him
with intriguing for the presidency. This suit was commenced by Mr.
Burr with reluctance, and only to gratify personal friends. It
progressed tardily, impediments having been thrown in the way of
bringing it to trial by the defendant, and probably the cause not
sufficiently pressed by the complainant. In 1805 or 1806, some persons
who were really desirous of ascertaining not only the truth or falsity
of the charge, but whether there was any foundation for it, determined
on having a _wager-suit_ placed at issue on the records of the court,
and then take out a commission to examine witnesses. Accordingly, the
names of _James Gillespie_, plaintiff, and _Abraham Smith_, defendant,
were used. The latter at the time being a clerk in the store of
Matthew L. Davis, then in the mercantile business, trading under the
firm of Strong & Davis.

It was universally believed, that if there were two men in Congress
that could unfold the whole negotiation if any had taken place, those
two men were James A. Bayard, of Delaware, and Samuel Smith, of
Baltimore. The former, a federal gentleman of high standing, the sole
representative of a state in the Congress of 1800, and thus
possessing, at any moment, the power of deciding the contest in favour
of Mr. Jefferson. The latter, a political and personal friend of Mr.
Jefferson, and the very individual whom Colonel Burr had previously
selected as his proxy to declare his sentiments, in case there was a
tie between Mr. Jefferson and himself. A commission was accordingly
taken out, and, on the 3d of April, 1806, Mr. Bayard and Mr. Smith
were examined. No use, however, was made of these depositions until
December, 1830, being a period of nearly twenty-five years.

On the publication of Mr. Jefferson's writings, the sons of the late
James A. Bayard felt that the memory of their father had been
wrongfully and unjustly assailed in two paragraphs in the fourth
volume of this work. The first of these paragraphs, on the 28th of
January, 1830, was read in the United States Senate by the Hon. Mr.
Clayton, of Delaware, General Samuel Smith and Edward Livingston both
being members of the Senate and present. He read the following:

"_February 12, 1801_. Edward Livingston tells me that Bayard applied
to-day or last night to General Samuel Smith, and represented to him
the expediency of coming over to the states who vote for Burr; that
there was nothing in the way of appointment which he might not
command, and particularly mentioned the secretaryship of the navy.
Smith asked him if he was authorized to make the offer. He said he was
authorized. Smith told this to Livingston and W. C. Nicholas, who
confirms it to me," &c.

Mr. Clayton then called upon the senator from Maryland (Mr. Smith) and
the senator from Louisiana (Mr. Livingston) to disprove the statement
here made by Mr. Jefferson.

Mr. Smith, of Maryland, rose and said "that he had read the paragraph
before he came here to-day, and was, therefore, aware of its import.
He had not the most distant recollection that Mr. Bayard had ever made
such a proposition to him. Mr. Bayard, said he, and myself, though
politically opposed, were intimate personal friends, and he was an
honourable man. Of all men, Mr. Bayard would have been the last to
make such a proposition to any man; and I am confident that he had too
much respect for me to have made it under any circumstances. I never
received from any man any such proposition."

Mr. Livingston, of Louisiana, said, "that as to the precise question
which had been put to him by the senator from Delaware, he must say,
that having taxed his recollection as far as it could go on so remote
a transaction, he had no remembrance of it."

The sons of the late Mr. Bayard, not yet being satisfied as to the
other paragraph, resolved on an investigation of the subject, and with
this view one of them wrote the following letter. [2]


Wilmington, March 8, 1830.


In the fourth volume of Mr. Jefferson's Writings, lately published by
his grandson, page 521, under the head of a note made April 15, 1806,
occurs the following paragraph, after the detail of a conversation
held with you about a month previously:--

"I did not commit these things to writing at the time, but I do now,
because, in a suit between him and Cheetham, he has had a deposition
of Mr. Bayard taken which seems to have no relation to the suit, nor
to any other object than to calumniate me. Bayard pretends to have
addressed to me, during the pending of the presidential election in
February, 1801, through General Samuel Smith, certain conditions on
which my election might be obtained; and that General Smith, after
conversing with me, gave answers from me. This is absolutely false. No
proposition of any kind was ever made to me on that occasion by
General Smith, or any answer authorized by me. And this fact General
Smith affirms at this moment."

Mr. Jefferson supposes this deposition to have been made in your suit
against Cheetham. I have some reason to think he is mistaken as to the
precise case in which it was made. However this may be, I am anxious
to procure a copy of it, as returned with the commission under which
it was taken.

If I may not be considered as trespassing too far on your time and
attention, will you permit me to ask whether the deposition referred
to by Mr. Jefferson is still in existence? In what case it was taken?
And whether a copy of it can be procured?

I have the honour to be, respectfully,

Your obedient servant,



New-York, March 10, 1830.


I have this day received your letter of the 8th inst., containing an
extract from the fourth volume of the writings of Mr. Jefferson. I
have not seen that book, and, on inquiry, do not learn that there is a
copy in this city.

The suit referred to is not that of Cheetham, but one instituted,
without my agency or knowledge, _on a wager_. The title not now
recollected. A commission to take testimony was transmitted to me,
then at Washington, and several depositions thereupon taken; copies of
all of which may, no doubt, be found among the papers of the late Mr.

A gentleman well informed of these matters is now at Albany, where I
expect to meet him about the 20th inst., when it may be in my power to
give you further satisfaction on the subject of your letter.

I pray in the mean time to be informed whether you are a son of the
late Mr. Bayard. Or how, if at all related to him. And what use it is
proposed to make of the communications you may receive. Permit me to
add, it will at all times afford me great pleasure to gratify the
family of Mr. Bayard on this or on any other occasion.

I have the honour to be, very respectfully,



New-York, March 15, 1830.


I enclose you copies of a letter from Mr. Richard H. Bayard, with my
answer, and have only to inquire whether I may refer to you to answer
this letter of Mr. Bayard; your memory being better than mine, and I
not having the depositions in question, or any copies thereof at this
moment at my command. If you should write, please to enclose your
letter to me. I think it was you who got up that suit. Pray give me
the title and date.

I expect to be in Albany early next week. In your answer to this, let
me know where to find you. God speed you.



Albany, March 18, 1830.


The irregularity of the mails has prevented my receiving your letter
of the 15th inst., with its enclosures, until this day.

I have read Mr. Bayard's letter to you under date of the 8th inst. All
the circumstances connected with the subject to which it refers are
within my recollection; but, absent as I am from my papers, I am
unwilling to speak with great confidence in relation to events which
have occurred nearly thirty years since.

The deposition of Mr. Bayard, to which I presume Mr. Jefferson alludes
in his memorandum of the 15th of April, 1806, was taken, as you
remark, in the case of _a wager_. The title of the cause I do not now
recollect; but Abraham Smith, a clerk in my store, was one of the
parties, and I think the period was during the winter of 1805. It may
have been a year later.

In that deposition Mr. Bayard states that a negotiation in regard to
the pending election between Mr. Jefferson and Colonel Burr, in
February, 1801, was entered into with Mr. Jefferson, through Mr.
Nicholas, of Virginia, and General Samuel Smith, of Maryland; and that
Mr. Jefferson did agree to certain stipulations or conditions therein
specified. It is proper for me to add, that to both Robert G. Harper
and General Smith the same interrogatories were propounded that were
answered by Mr. Bayard, and that the testimony (if my memory is
correct) of Mr. Bayard was, in every material point, sustained by both
these gentlemen. These examinations were made under a commission
issued out of the Supreme Court of our state.

Several copies of these depositions were made from the originals, and
I have reason to believe that one copy of them was in the possession
of Mr. Bayard or Mr. Harper, and another in the possession of Stephen
R. Bradley, Esq., of Vermont. They were read by different gentlemen;
among them, I think, was General John P. Van Ness, of Washington city,
and Rundolph Bunner, Esq., late a member of Congress from this state,
who, I have no doubt, can and would, if asked, detail their contents.
I should suppose that General Smith would not only recollect the
occurrences in February, 1801, but the contents also of the deposition
to which he has sworn.

During the contest I was the advocate of Mr. Jefferson's election, and
corresponded with different members of Congress; among the number were
Edward Livingston and Albert Gallatin, Esquires. The letters I then
received enumerated not only the _doubtful states_, but the _doubtful
men_ of both parties which were in Congress. These letters have been
carefully preserved.

It is due to the character of the late Mr. Bayard to remark, that, so
far as the circumstances have come to my knowledge, there was nothing
in the transaction calculated in the slightest degree to impeach his
fidelity to his party or his honour. The object of the negotiation was
not to aggrandize or to elevate himself or his friends, but to secure
and perpetuate certain cardinal points of federal policy.

I have not seen the works of Mr. Jefferson, but I will obtain and
examine them with care and attention. The history of the times to
which these memorandums and documents relate are enveloped in thick
darkness. Whether the period has yet arrived when an effort should be
made to dispel that darkness is problematical. The means, however, do
exist of proving, to the satisfaction of the most skeptical, what are
the facts in the case; and, consequently, of doing full justice to all
the parties concerned; and that duty, however unpleasant, shall, at a
proper crisis, be fairly, impartially, and fearlessly performed.

At my advanced age I do not wish to be drawn into newspaper
controversies; nor can I be induced, prematurely, to make any
publication on the subject alluded to in this letter. At the same
time, you are at liberty to communicate the whole or any part of its
contents to Mr. Bayard, in the expectation that it will be used

Respectfully, your friend,



Washington, April 3, 1830.


Ill health, and disinclination to go back to circumstances which
happened thirty years past, has prevented an earlier answer to your
letter. In the extract you have sent me from Mr. Jefferson's writings,
it is said--"Bayard" (alluding to his deposition) "pretends to have
addressed to me, during the pending of the presidential election in
February, 1801, through General Smith, certain conditions on which my
election might be obtained, and that General Smith, after conversing
with me, gave answer for me. This is absolutely false. No proposition
of any kind ever was made to me on that occasion by General Smith, or
any answer authorized by me; and the fact General Smith affirms at
this moment"--to wit, 15th of April, 1806. Yes, gentlemen, it was (I
believe) on that day I put into the hands of Mr. Jefferson a press
copy of _my deposition in the case of Cheetham_, [3] in which _I
perfectly recollect that I deny having ever received from Mr.
Jefferson any proposition of any kind to be made by me to Mr. Bayard
or any other person. Not, perhaps, in those words, but in detail to
that effect_; or having ever communicated any proposition of the kind
as from Mr. Jefferson to Mr. Bayard.

My experience in life has shown that few men take advice unless it
comports with their own views. I will, however, recommend that you let
well enough alone. Your father was a bitter, most bitter enemy of Mr.
Jefferson; his enmity was known to all, and, I presume, to Mr.
Jefferson; it was therefore very natural for him to conclude that the
suit of Cheetham had been got up for the express purpose of obtaining
the oath of your father with the view of injuring him, and that your
father had advised such a course. _My recollection of what passed on
the occasion is as strong as if it had happened yesterday_. I will
give you a detail in as few words as possible.

Two or three days before the election was terminated, a member, who I
suppose had been deputed by the federal party, called on me to
converse on the subject. I held little conversation with _him_. Your
father then called on me, and said that he was anxious to put an end
to the controversy; that, in case of dissolution, Delaware never could
expect to obtain her present advantages; that, if satisfied on certain
points, he would terminate the contest. He then went on to state those
points: they were three or four. I can now remember only _three_, to
wit--the funding system, the navy, and the retaining or dismissal of
federalists then in office. I answered promptly that I could satisfy
him fully on two of the points (which two I do not now recollect), for
that I had had frequent conversations with him on them, and I stated
what I understood and believed to be his opinions, and what I thought
would be his rule of conduct; with which explanation your father
expressed his entire satisfaction, and on the third requested that I
would inform myself.

I lodged with Mr. Jefferson, and that night had a conversation with
him, _without his having the remotest idea of my object_. Mr.
Jefferson was a gentleman of _extreme frankness_ with his friends; he
conversed freely and frankly with them on all subjects, and gave his
opinions without reserve. Some of them thought that he did so too
freely. Satisfied with his opinion on the third point, I communicated
to your father the next day--that, from the conversation that I had
had with Mr. Jefferson, I was satisfied in _my own mind_ that his
conduct on that point would be so and so. But I certainly never did
tell your father that I had any authority from Mr. Jefferson to
communicate any thing to him or to any other person.

During the session of Congress of 1805-6, your father told me that a
little lawyer in Delaware had (he supposed at the instance of Colonel
Burr) endeavoured to get from him a deposition touching a conversation
with me; that he had refused it; that Burr had, however, trumped up a
suit for the sole purpose of coercing his deposition and mine, and
said that a commission to take testimony was now in the city, and that
he apprized me that I might be prepared. I asked him what he would
state in his deposition. He answered similar to the quotation you have
sent. I told him instantly that I had communicated to him my _own
opinion_, [4] derived from conversation with Mr. Jefferson, and not
one word from him to your father; and that my testimony would, as to
that point, be in direct hostility. He then said, the little fellow
will have our testimony by some means or other, and I will give mine.
I answered that I would also. A few nights afterward Colonel Burr
called on me. I told him that I had written my deposition, and would
have a fair copy made of it. He said, trust it to me, and I will get
Mr. ----- to copy it. I did so, and, on his returning it to me, I
found words not mine interpolated in the copy. I struck out those
words, had it copied again, and, to prevent all plea of false copying,
I had a press copy taken of it. When I appeared before the commission,
I found a deposition attached to that of your father, and asked how
they came by that. They answered that it had been sent to them. I
requested them to take it off; that I had the deposition in my hand to
which alone I would swear; they did so, and my deposition was
attached. The next day (I think) I called, and told Mr. Jefferson what
had passed, read to him the press copy, and asked him if he
recollected having given to me the opinions I had detailed. He
answered that he did not, but it might be so, for that they were
opinions he held and expressed to many of his friends, and as probably
to me as any other, and then said that he would wish to have a copy. I
told him that I had no use for it; he might, and I gave him the press

You have now a tolerable full view of the case, and will see that no
possible censure can attach to Mr. Jefferson; that a diversity of
opinion will arise from publication as to your father's credibility or
mine, and that both may suffer in the Public estimation. I will
conclude that, during my long life, I have scarcely ever known an
instance of newspaper publication between A. and B. that some obloquy
did not attach to both parties.

I am, gentlemen, with respect,

Your obedient servant,



Wilmington, Delaware, April 22, 1830.


I have just received your letter of the 10th ult., in answer to mine
of the 8th, the reason of which delay is to be found in the fact of
your having directed it to Wilmington, North Carolina. It was
accordingly conveyed to that place, and was returned and received by
me this morning.

I reply to your inquiries that I am the eldest son of the late James
A. Bayard, and that the object which I have in view is the vindication
of his character from the aspersion contained in the passage in Mr.
Jefferson's writings, a copy of which I sent you.

It is true that among my father's papers I have found rough copies of
the deposition made in your suit against Cheetham, as well as of that
made in the wager case. Together with the first-named deposition there
is also a copy of the interrogatories; but, in the latter case, simply
a rough copy of the deposition, without title, or any memorandum of
the names of the parties. You will perceive at once the necessity of
accompanying the deposition in the wager case with its _title_ and a
copy of the interrogatories, in order to show, in the first place, Mr.
Jefferson's error in the statement of the case, and, secondly, to
refute his assertion that the deposition had "nothing to do with the
suit, or with any other object than to calumniate him."

The subsequent part of his statement will be met by the deposition
itself, by reference to concomitant circumstances, and such
corroborating testimony as time has spared. Being anxious to avoid all
room for cavil, by publishing the depositions as returned with the
respective commissions, lest, perchance, there should be some slight
verbal inaccuracies, I applied to you, believing it was in your power
to give the information necessary to enable me to procure certified
copies of the record.

You have thus, Sir, an entire exposition of my motives for addressing
you my letter of the 8th ult.; and, in conformity with the sentiment
you are so good as to express in the conclusion of your letter, I
doubt not you will furnish me with such information as you possess on
the subject.

I wrote some time since to Mr. Edward N. Rogers, of your city, to
procure for me copies of my father's and General Samuel Smith's
depositions in _both_ cases. He informs me, by his letter of the 17th
inst., that the depositions in your suit against Cheetham are not to
be found in the office; that the case went off by default, and he
supposes they were never filed. At all events, the clerk cannot now
find them.

You will probably be able to state what became of them, and whether
copies can be procured. I will ask of you, therefore, the favour to
communicate to him information on this point, as well as the _name_ of
the _wager case_, that he may be enabled to comply with my request,
with the execution of which he has been so kind as to charge himself.

I have the honour to be, respectfully,

Your obedient servant,



1. See Ch. V.

2. It is considered proper to state here that the correspondence which
follows is published without the privity or consent of either of the
Mr. Bayards. It is found among the papers of Colonel Burr, and is
intimately connected with a history of the transaction.

3. The suit was James Gillespie _vs_. Abraham Smith. See deposition.

4. Will the reader examine the deposition, especially what relates to
Mr. McLean and Mr. Latimer?


The necessary information having been given to Mr. Bayard to enable
him to procure the depositions of his father and General Smith, they
were accordingly obtained from Mr. Bradley, of Vermont. Before
presenting them, it may not be improper to give the letters of two
members of Congress, one of which enters somewhat into a history of
the case, and _both_ of which negatives, in the most positive manner,
any attempt of Colonel Burr, or any person acting in his behalf, to
negotiate, bargain, or intrigue with the federal party for the office
of president.


Washington, February 10, 1801.


We have this day locked ourselves up by a rule to proceed to choose a
president before we adjourn. * * * * * * * We shall run Burr
perseveringly. You shall hear of the result instantly after the fact
is ascertained. _A little good management would have secured our
object on the first vote_, but now it is too late for any operations
to be gone into, except that of adhering to Burr, and leave the
consequences to those who have heretofore been his friends. If we
succeed, a faithful support must, on our part, be given to his
administration, which, I hope, will be wise and energetic.

Your friend,



February 13, 1801.


We have postponed, until to-morrow 11 o'clock, the voting for
president. All stand firm. Jefferson eight--Burr six--divided two.
_Had Burr done any thing for himself, he would long ere this have been
president._ If a majority would answer, he would have it on every


Washington, January 7, 1801.


I have been but a few days in this city; but, since my arrival, have
had the pleasure to receive the letter which you did me the honour to
write on the 27th ult. I am fully sensible of the great importance of
the subject to which it relates, and am, therefore, extremely obliged
by the information you have been so good as to communicate.

       *       *       *       *       *

It is considered that at least, in the first instance, Georgia, North
Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, New-Jersey, and
New-York will vote for Mr. Jefferson. It is probable that Maryland and
Vermont will be divided. It is therefore counted, that upon the first
ballot it would be possible to give to Mr. Burr six votes. It is
calculated, however, and strongly insisted by some gentlemen, that a
persevering opposition to Mr. Jefferson would bring over _New-York,
New-Jersey, and Maryland._ What is the probability relative to
New-York?--your means enable you to form the most correct opinion. As
to New-Jersey and Maryland, it would depend on Mr. Linn of the former
and Mr. Dent of the latter state.

I assure you, sir, there appears to be a strong inclination in a
majority of the federal party to support Mr. Burr. The current has
already acquired considerable force, and is manifestly increasing. The
vote which the representation of a state enables me to give would
decide the question in favour of Mr. Jefferson. At present I am by no
means decided as to the object of preference. If the federal party
should take up Mr. Burr, I ought certainly to be impressed with the
most undoubting conviction before I separated myself from them. I
cannot, however, deny that there are strong considerations which give
a preference to Mr. Jefferson. The subject admits of many and very
doubtful views; and, before I resolve on the part I shall take, I will
await the approach of the crisis, which may probably bring with it
circumstances decisive of the event.

The federal party meet on Friday for the purpose of forming a
resolution as to their line of conduct. I have not the least doubt of
their agreeing to support Colonel Burr. Their determination will not
bind me; for though it might cost me a painful struggle to disappoint
the views and wishes of many gentlemen with whom I have been
accustomed to act, yet the magnitude of the subject forbids the
sacrifice of a strong conviction.

I cannot answer for the coherence of my letter, as I have undertaken
to write to you from the chamber of representatives, with an attention
divided by the debate which occupies the house. I have not considered
myself at liberty to show your letter to any one, though I think it
would be serviceable, if you could trust my discretion in the
communication of it.

With great consideration,

Your obedient servant,



Frederick, April 19, 1830


In compliance with your request, I now communicate to you my
recollections of the events of the presidential election by the House
of Representatives in 1801. There has been no period of our political
history more misunderstood and more grossly misrepresented. The course
adopted by the federal party was one of principle, and not of faction;
and I think the present a suitable occasion for explaining the views
and motives at least of those gentlemen who, having it in their power
to decide the election at any moment, were induced to protract it for
a time, but ultimately to withdraw their opposition to Mr. Jefferson.

I have no hesitation in saying that the facts stated in the deposition
of your father, the late James A. Bayard, so far as they came to my
knowledge, are substantially correct; and although nearly thirty years
have elapsed since that eventful period, my recollection is vivid as
to the principal circumstances, which, from the part I was called upon
to act, were deeply graven on my memory. As soon as it was generally
known that the two democratic candidates, Jefferson and Burr, had the
highest and an equal number of votes, and that the election would
consequently devolve on the House of Representatives, Mr. Dent, who
had hitherto acted with the federal party, declared his intention to
vote for Mr. Jefferson, in consequence of which determination the vote
of Maryland was divided.

It was soon ascertained that there were six individuals, the vote of
any one of whom could at any moment decide the election. These were,
your father, the late James A. Bayard, who held the vote of the state
of Delaware; General Morris, of Vermont, who held the divided vote of
that state; and Mr. Craik, Mr. Thomas, Mr. Dennis, and myself, who
held the divided vote of Maryland. Much anxiety was shown by the
friends of Mr. Jefferson, and much ingenuity used to discover the line
of conduct which would be pursued by them. Deeply impressed with the
responsibility which attached to their peculiar situation, and
conscious that the American people looked to them for a president,
they could not rashly determine either to surrender their
constitutional discretion, or disappoint the expectations of their

Your father, Mr. Craik, and myself having compared ideas upon the
subject, and finding that we entertained the same views and opinions,
resolved to act together, and accordingly entered into a solemn and
mutual pledge that we would in the first instance yield to the wishes
of the great majority of the party with whom we acted, and vote for
Mr. Burr, but that no consideration should induce us to protract the
contest beyond a reasonable period for the purpose of ascertaining
whether he could be elected. We determined that a president should be
chosen, but were willing thus far to defer to the opinions of our
political friends, whose preference of Mr. Burr was founded upon a
belief that he was less hostile to federal men and federal measures
than Mr. Jefferson. General Morris and Mr. Dennis concurred in this

The views by which the federal party were governed were these:--They
held that the Constitution had vested in the House of Representatives
a high discretion in a case like the present, to be exercised for the
benefit of the nation; and that, in the execution of this delegated
power, an honest and unbiased judgment was the measure of their
responsibility. They were less certain of the hostility of Mr. Burr to
federal policy than of that of Mr. Jefferson, which was known and
decided. Mr. Jefferson had identified himself with, and was at the
head of the party in Congress who had opposed every measure deemed
necessary by the federalists for putting the country in a posture of
defence; such as fortifying the harbours and seaports, establishing
manufactories of arms; erecting arsenals, and filling them with arms
and ammunition; erecting a navy for the defence of commerce, &c. His
speculative opinions were known to be hostile to the independence of
the judiciary, to the financial system of the country, and to internal
improvements. All these matters the federalists believed to be
intimately blended with the prosperity of the nation, and they
deprecated, therefore, the elevation of a man to the head of the
government whose hostility to them was open and avowed. It was feared,
too, from his prejudices against the party which supported them, that
he would dismiss all public officers who differed with him in
sentiment, without regard to their qualifications and honesty, but on
the ground only of political character. The House of Representatives
adopted certain resolutions for their government during the election,
one of which was that there should be no adjournment till it was

On the 11th February, 1801, being the day appointed by law for
counting the votes of the electoral colleges, the House of
Representatives proceeded in a body to the Senate chamber, where the
vice-president, in view of both houses of Congress, opened the
certificates of the electors of the different states; and, as the
votes were read, the tellers on the part of each house counted and
took lists of them, which, being compared and delivered to him, he
announced to both houses the state of the votes; which was, for Thomas
Jefferson 73 votes, for Aaron Burr 73 votes, for John Adams 65 votes,
for Charles Pinckney 64 votes, for John Jay one vote; and then
declared that the greatest number and majority of votes being equal,
the choice had devolved on the House of Representatives. The members
of the house then withdrew to their own chamber, and proceeded to
ballot for a president. On the first ballot it was found that Thomas
Jefferson had the votes of eight states, Aaron Burr of six states, and
that two were divided. As there were sixteen states, and a majority
was necessary to determine the election, Mr. Jefferson wanted the vote
of one state. Thus the result which had been anticipated was realized.

The balloting continued throughout that day and the following night,
at short intervals, with the same result, the 26th ballot being taken
at 8 o'clock on the morning of the 12th of February. The balloting
continued with the same result from day to day till the 17th of
February, without any adjournment of the house. On the previous day
(February 16), a consultation was held by the gentlemen I have
mentioned, when, being satisfied that Mr. Burr could not be elected,
as no change had taken place in his favour, and there was no evidence
of any effort on the part of himself or his personal friends to
procure his election, it was resolved to abandon the contest. This
determination was made known to the federal members generally, and
excited some discontent among the violent of the party, who thought it
better to go without a president than to elect Mr. Jefferson. A
general meeting, however, of the federal members was called, and the
subject explained, when it was admitted that Mr. Burr could not be
elected. A few individuals persisted in their resolution not to vote
for Mr. Jefferson, but the great majority wished the election
terminated and a president chosen. _Having also received assurances
from a source on which we placed reliance that our wishes with regard
to certain points of federal policy in which we felt a deep interest
would be observed in case Mr. Jefferson was elected_, the opposition
of Vermont, Delaware, and Maryland was withdrawn, and on the 36th
ballot your father, the late James A. Bayard, put in a blank ballot,
myself and my colleagues did the same, and General Morris absented
himself. The South Carolina federalists also put in blank ballots.
Thus terminated that memorable contest.

Previous to and pending the election, rumours were industriously
circulated, and letters written to different parts of the country,
charging the federalists with the design to prevent the election of a
president, and to usurp the government by an act of legislative power.
Great anxiety and apprehensions were created in the minds of all, and
of none more than the federalists generally, who were not apprized of
the determination of those gentlemen who held the power, and were
resolved to terminate the contest when the proper period arrived. But
neither these rumours, nor the excitement produced by them, nor the
threats made by their opponents to resist by force such a measure, had
the least influence on the conduct of those gentlemen. They knew the
power which they possessed, and were conscious of the uprightness of
their views, and of the safety and constitutional character of the
course they had adopted. I was privy to all the arrangements made, and
attended all the meetings of the federal party when consulting on the
course to be pursued in relation to the election; and I pledge my most
solemn asseveration that no such measure was ever for a moment
contemplated by that party; that no such proposition was ever made;
and that, if it had ever been, it would not only have been
discouraged, but instantly put down by those gentlemen who possessed
the power, and were pledged to each other to elect a president before
the close of the session.

I am respectfully, Sir,

Your most obedient servant,


INTERROGATORIES to be administered to James A. Bayard, Esq., of the
state of Delaware, late a member of Congress for the United States
from the said state of Delaware, a witness to be produced, sworn, and
examined in a cause now depending in the Supreme Court of Judicature
of the state of New-York, between Aaron Burr, plaintiff, and James
Cheetham, defendant, on the part of the defendant.

1st. Do you know the parties, plaintiff and defendant, or either and
which of them, and how long have you known them respectively?

2d. Were you a member of the House of Representatives, in Congress of
the United States, from the state of Delaware, in the sessions holden
in the months of January and February, in the year 1801?

3d. Was there not an equal number of votes for Thomas Jefferson and
Aaron Burr, as president and vice-president of the said United States,
at the election for those officers in the December preceding, and did
not the choice of a president consequently devolve on the said House
of Representatives?

4th. Did not the said house ballot for the president several times
before a choice was made? if so, how many times? Was not the frequency
of balloting occasioned by an attempt on the part of several members
of Congress to elect the said plaintiff, Aaron Burr, as president? Do
you know who such members were? if so, what were their names?

5th. Do you know that any measures were suggested or pursued by any
person or persons to secure the election of Aaron Burr to the
presidency? if so, who were such person or persons? Did _he_, the said
Aaron Burr, know thereof? Were there any letter or letters written
communicating such an intention? if so, were such letter or letters
forwarded to him through the postoffice by any person, and who? Has he
not informed you, or have you not understood (and if so, how?) that he
was apprized that an attempt would be made to secure his election?

6th. Did he or any other person (and if so, who?) ever communicate to
you, by writing or otherwise, or to any other person or persons to
your knowledge, that any measure had been suggested or would be
pursued to secure his election? When were these communications made?

7th. Had not some of the federal members of Congress a meeting at
Washington, in the month of December, 1800, or of January or of
February, 1801, at which it was determined to support Aaron Burr for
the presidency? Or if there were any meeting or meetings to your
knowledge, in respect to the ensuing election for a president of the
United States in the said House of Representatives, what was advised
or concluded upon, to the best of your remembrance or belief? Was not
David A. Ogden, of the city of New-York, attorney at law, authorized
or requested by you, or some other member or members of Congress, or
some other person, and who in particular, to call upon the plaintiff
and inquire of him--

1st. What conduct he would pursue in respect to certain cardinal
points of federal policy?

2d. What co-operation or aid the plaintiff could or would afford
towards securing his own election to the presidency? or if you or some
other person did not authorize or request the said David A. Ogden to
make such communication to the plaintiff in exact terms, what, in
substance, was such authority or request? Do you know, or were you
informed by the said David A. Ogden or otherwise, that he or any other
person had made the said communication to the plaintiff, or the same
in substance? Do you know, or have you been informed (and if so, how?)
that the plaintiff declared, as to the first question, it would not be
expedient to enter into explanations, or words to that effect? That,
as to the second question, New-York and Tennessee would vote for him
on a second ballot, and New-Jersey might be induced to do the same, or
words to that effect? Did you ever communicate with the plaintiff, or
he with you, on the subject? Do you know any person who did
communicate with him? and if so, what did he say?

Did you not receive a letter or letters from Alexander Hamilton, of
New-York, and late Secretary of the Treasury of the United States, now
deceased, in the month of January or February, 1801, or at some other
time, and when, respecting the election of a president of the United
States? Did he not communicate to you that the said David A. Ogden had
been requested to see the plaintiff for the purposes aforesaid? And
what in particular were the contents of such letters or letter, or
communication? Do you know that any, and if so, what measures were
suggested or pursued to secure the election of said plaintiff as
president; and did the said plaintiff know, or was he informed
thereof, or what did he know, or of what was he informed? Had you any
reason or reasons to believe that any of the states would relinquish
Thomas Jefferson and vote for Aaron Burr as president in the said
election in the said House of Representatives, or that the said Aaron
Burr calculated on such relinquishment? If so, which state or states,
and what was the reason or reasons of such belief?

8th. Do you know any matter, circumstance, or thing which can be
material to the defendant in this cause? If yea, set the same forth
fully and particularly.

_Interrogatory on the part of the plaintiff_.--Do you know of any
matter or thing that may be beneficial to the plaintiff on the trial
of this cause? If so, declare the same fully and at length, in the
same manner as if you had been particularly interrogated thereto.

Miller & Van Wyck, Attorneys for Defendant.

Approved, March 6, 1805.

B. Livingston.

The deposition of James A. Bayard, sworn and examined on the twenty
---- day of ----, in the year of our Lord 1805, at Wilmington, in the
state of Delaware, by virtue of a commission issuing out of the
Supreme Court of Judicature of the state of New-York, to John Vaughan,
---- or any two of them, directed for the examination of the said
James A. Bayard, in a cause there depending between Aaron Burr,
plaintiff, and James Cheetham, defendant, on the part and behalf of
the defendant.

1st. To the first interrogatory this deponent answers and says, As a
member of the House of Representatives, I paid a visit of ceremony to
the plaintiff on the fourth of March, in the year 1801, and was
introduced to him. I had no acquaintance with him before that period.
I had no knowledge of the defendant but what was derived from his
general reputation before the last session of Congress, when a
personal acquaintance commenced upon my becoming a member of the

2d. To the second interrogatory, this deponent saith, I was.

3d. To the third interrogatory this deponent saith, There was an
equality of electoral votes for Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Burr, and the
choice of one of them did, of consequence, devolve on the House of

4th. To the fourth interrogatory this deponent saith, The house
resolved into states, balloted for a president a number of times, the
exact number is not at present in my recollection, before a choice was
made. The frequency of balloting was occasioned by the preference
given by the federal side of the house to Mr. Burr. With the exception
of Mr. Huger, of South Carolina, I recollect no federal member who did
not concur in the general course of balloting for Mr. Burr. I cannot
name each member. The federal members at that time composed a majority
of the house, though not of the states. Their names can be ascertained
by the journals of the House of Representatives.

5th. To the fifth interrogatory this deponent saith, I know of no
measures but those of argument and persuasion which were used to
secure the election of Mr. Burr to the presidency. Several gentlemen
of the federal party doubted the practicability of electing Mr. Burr,
and the policy of attempting it. Before the election came on there
were several meetings of the party to consider the subject. It was
frequently debated, and most of the gentlemen who had adopted a
decided opinion in favour of his election employed their influence and
address to convince those who doubted of the propriety of the measure.
I cannot tell whether Mr. Burr was acquainted with what passed at our
meetings. But I neither knew nor heard of any letter being written to
him on the subject. He never informed me, nor have I reason to
believe, further than inference, from the open professions and public
course pursued by the federal party, that he was apprized that an
attempt would be made to secure his election.

6th. To the sixth interrogatory the deponent saith, Mr. Burr, or any
person on his behalf, never did communicate to me in writing or
otherwise, or to any other persons of which I have any knowledge, that
any measures had been suggested or would be pursued to secure his
election. Preceding the day of the election, in the course of the
session, the federal members of Congress had a number of general
meetings, the professed and sole purpose of which was to consider the
propriety of giving their support to the election of Mr. Burr. The
general sentiment of the party was strongly in his favour. Mr. Huger,
I think, could not be brought to vote for him. Mr. Craik and Mr. Baer,
of Maryland, and myself, were those who acquiesced with the greatest
difficulty and hesitation. I did not believe Mr. Burr could be
elected, and thought it vain to make the attempt; but I was chiefly
influenced by the current of public sentiment, which I thought it
neither safe nor politic to counteract. It was, however, determined by
the party, without consulting Mr. Burr, to make the experiment whether
he could be elected. Mr. Ogden never was authorized or requested by
me, nor any member of the house to my knowledge, to call upon Mr.
Burr, and to make any propositions to him of any kind or nature. I
remember Mr. Ogden's being at Washington while the election was
depending. I spent one or two evenings in his company at Stiller's
hotel, in small parties, and we recalled an acquaintance of very early
life, which had been suspended by a separation of eighteen or twenty
years. I spent not a moment with Mr. Ogden in private. It was reported
that he was an agent for Mr. Burr, or it was understood that he was in
possession of declarations of Mr. Burr that he would serve as
president if elected. I never questioned him on the subject. Although
I considered Mr. Burr personally better qualified to fill the office
of president than Mr. Jefferson, yet, for a reason above suggested, I
felt no anxiety for his election, and I presumed if Mr. Ogden came on
any errand from Mr. Burr, or was desirous of making any disclosures
relative to his election, he would do it without any application from
me. But Mr. Ogden or any other person never did make any communication
to me from Mr. Burr, nor do I remember having any conversation with
him relative to the election. I never had any communication, directly
or indirectly, with Mr. Burr in relation to his election to the
presidency. I was one of those who thought from the beginning that the
election of Mr. Burr was not practicable. The sentiment was frequently
and op