Aaron Burr's Treason Trial

2413 Words5 Pages

Aaron Burr's Treason Trial

The early 1800’s were an unusual time in the history of the United States. A country in its infancy, growing, turbulent, and filled with intrigue where political and economic fortunes were made and lost overnight. While the country was founded on noble ideas---and no doubt these powerful ideas were taken seriously---how such ideas were to be put into practice created fertile ground for personal ambition and interest to be a stronger motivator than the “common good”. In fact, at times it appears that the ideas were little more than vehicles for the personal ambitions---and in the case of this story---the personal vendettas of powerful personalities.

Aaron Burr, brilliant, ambitious, and a great orator, was certainly larger than life. And his battles with Thomas Jefferson---no less a dramatic figure---lead finally to his trial for treason against the United States. This trial was the culmination of a personal political battle between two great figures where Jefferson would stop at nothing to destroy Burr…even if it meant abusing the principles that he himself help enshrine as the basis for the United States. This trial, and the preceding events, are the subject of this paper. Reviewing the facts illustrates that the trial was really more about a vendetta between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr than the law.

Aaron Burr was born in 1756 and was one of the rising stars of the new republic. A rising star many felt was sure to be the President of the young country and to be a distinguished one at that. Burr’s conflict with Jefferson began when they tied for the presidential election of 1800. The election then went to the House of Representatives where Burr rejected Federalist ove...

... middle of paper ...


Harrison 24. Bibliography

Abernathy, Thomas. The Burr Conspiracy. New York: Oxford University press, 1954.

Baker, Leonard. John Marshall: A Life in Law. New York: Macmillan publishing Co., 1974.

Bernie, Francis. Shout Treason: The Trial of Aaron Burr. New York: 1959.

Blennerhassett, Harmon. Harmon Blennerhassett’s Journal. Athens: Ohio University Press, 1988.

Harrison, Lowell. “The Aaron Burr Conspiracy”. American History Illustrated, June, 1978.

Hobson, Charles. The Great Chief Justice. New York: University Press of Kansas, 1996.

Jenkinson, Isaac. Jefferson And Burr. Richmond: M. Cullaton Printers, 1898.

McCaleb, Walter. The Aaron Burr Conspiracy. New York: Wilson-Erickson, 1936.

Smith, Jean. John Marshall; Definer of a Nation. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1996.

Vidal, Gore. Burr. New York: Random House, INC., 1973.

Open Document