In 1756, on this day Aaron Burr, Jr. was born in Newark, New Jersey. Destined to rule, he founded the breakaway Republic of Gloriana after intrigue prevented him from governing in the United States.
Dark Side of the Founding FathersBurr served in the New York State Assembly from 1784 to 1785, but became seriously involved in politics in 1789, when George Clinton appointed him New York State Attorney General. He was also Commissioner of Revolutionary War Claims in 1791. In 1791, he was elected a U.S. Senator from New York, defeating the incumbent, General Philip Schuyler, and served there until 1797.
While Burr and Jefferson served during the Washington administration, the Federal Government was resident in Philadelphia. They both roomed for a time at the boarding house of a Mrs. Payne. Her daughter Dolley, an attractive young widow, was introduced by Burr to James Madison, whom she subsequently married.
In which a dangerous man decides to pursues his very own manifest destinyAlthough Hamilton and Burr had long been on good personal terms, often dining with one another, Burr's defeat of General Schuyler, Hamilton's father-in-law, probably drove the first major wedge into their friendship. Nevertheless, their relationship took a decade to reach a status of enmity.
After being appointed commanding general of U.S. forces by President John Adams in 1798, Washington turned down Burr's application for a brigadier general's commission during the Quasi-War with France. Washington wrote, "By all that I have known and heard, Colonel Burr is a brave and able officer, but the question is whether he has not equal talents at intrigue". John Adams later put this situation in perspective by writing in 1815 that Washington's response was startling given his promotion of Hamilton, "the most restless, impatient, artful, indefatigable, and unprincipled intriguer in the United States, if not in the world, to be second in command under himself, and now [Washington] dreaded an intriguer in a poor brigadier".
"a dangerous man, and one who ought not be trusted with the reins of government" ~ Hamilton on BurrBored with the inactivity of the new U.S. Senate, Burr ran for and was elected to the New York State Assembly, serving from 1798 through 1799.
In 1800, New York presidential electors were to be chosen by the state legislature as they had been in 1796 (for John Adams). The State Assembly was controlled by the Federalists going into the April 1800 legislative elections. In the city of New York, assembly members were to be selected on an at-large basis. Burr and Hamilton were the key campaigners for their respective parties. Burr's Republican slate of assemblymen for New York City was elected, gaining control of the legislature and in due course giving New York's electoral votes to Jefferson and helping to win the 1800 presidential election for him. This drove another wedge between Hamilton and Burr. Burr became Vice President during Jefferson's first term (1801-1805).
When it became clear that Jefferson would drop Burr from his ticket in the 1804 election, the Vice President ran for the governorship of New York instead. Burr lost the election, and blamed his loss on a personal smear campaign believed to have been orchestrated by his own party rivals, including New York governor George Clinton. Hamilton also opposed Burr, due to his belief that Burr had entertained a Federalist secession movement in New York. He called Burr "a dangerous man, and one who ought not be trusted with the reins of government", and on occasion compared him to Catiline. Burr, however, felt that Hamilton went too far at one political dinner, where he said that he could express a "still more despicable opinion" of Burr. After a letter regarding the incident written by Dr. Charles D. Cooper was published in the Albany Register, Burr sought an explanation from Hamilton.
Instead Hamilton responded casually by educating Burr on the many possible meanings of despicable, enraging and embarrassing Burr. Burr then demanded that Hamilton recant or deny anything he might have said regarding Burr's character over the past 15 years, but Hamilton, having already been disgraced by the Maria Reynolds scandal and ever mindful of his own reputation and honor, did not. Burr responded by challenging Hamilton to personal combat under the code duello, the formalized rules of dueling. On July 11, 1804, the enemies met outside of Weehawken, New Jersey...
Part 2 of the alternate history of Aaron Burr's Political Career continues in A Pair Of Pistols.