Aaron Burr Essay

Essay by god4michaelHigh School, 10th grade April 2004

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Burr Essay

The novel Burr, by Gore Vidal, describes the life and historical significance of Aaron Burr. Burr had several historically significant events that he influenced. Aaron Burr served as vice-president of the United States. Colonel Burr shot and killed General Alexander Hamilton in a duel. He built a reputation as an excellent attorney and made important political connections. Chief Justice John Marshall tried Burr for law of treason. Aaron Burr influenced these events and several others.

In 1796 and 1800, Burr ran for vice-president with Thomas Jefferson on the Democratic-Republican ticket. Whatever doubts Virginia Republicans had about Burr -they had not voted for him in 1796- were put to rest when he carried New York City for his party in 1800 (p. 1-2, Ch. 1). It was assumed that the outcome of the national election would follow that in New York, but under the confused electoral system then in use Jefferson and Burr received an equal number of electoral votes for he presidency (73 each), throwing the election into the House of Representatives.

There the Federalists refused to heed the advice of Hamilton and unsuccessfully tried, against the obvious wishes of the public, to elect Burr. Jefferson won the contest and Burr became vice-president. Jefferson doubted his loyalty and soon began to withhold patronage from Burr and his followers. Although still a Republican, Burr began to cultivate Federalists; his strategy was to unite dissidents against the Virginia party of Jefferson and James Madison. (p. 218-227, Ch. 20).

In 1789 Burr was appointed attorney general of New York by Governor George Clinton. Two years later the state assembly, which was controlled by partisans of Clinton and Robert Livingston, elected Burr to the U.S. Senate. His career in the Senate was not particularly memorable. Hamilton hated him, Clinton soon...