On Consumerism

For most of his life, Aaron Burr was the consumate consumer of the finer things. A man of epicurian tastes in everything – clothing, furniture, housing, books, wines – he was never coy when it came to his love of opulence. In fact, he had a keen understanding of himself and his innermost desires. He just loved having nice…stuff. For him, if he wanted something, even if it was cost prohibitive, he just acquired it and accumulated debts accordingly. He made really good money for his day, but really only saw his vocation as a way to satisfy his base need for…stuff. His wants and needs shared a fine line, often blurred by a world view that can best be called materialist:

“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.”

I can clearly see AB being a neighbor of mine…A guy with a three car garage jammed with so many things he “just HAD to have” that he can’t get his dandy carriage in it. He was one of the Jones’ I wouldn’t have wanted to keep up with. I imagine Christmas under the Burr family tree was a sight to behold!

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On Burr’s War

Subject of a Grand Jury inquiry, Burr had assembled a team of legal eagles that were amongst the best & brightest of the time to conduct his defense. But make no mistake, his was the mind coordinating the effort to save his own neck. The prosecution team was formidable, being led behind the scenes by none other than Thomas Jefferson.  

On the eve of the arrival of the prosecution’s star witness, prosecutors made a motion to have Burr committed to prison for treason, even though he had not been charged with a crime to this point. They ultimately failed in their attempt to cage him, AB going as far as to voluntarily recommend that his own bail be doubled from $10,000 to $20,000 to prove his intention of sticking around to defend his position to the fullest extent of the law. His bail was doubled, four friends posted the additional funds, and he remained free.  Brilliant.

On the subject of the charges the government were trumping up, he had this to say:

“Six months ago, he [President Jefferson] proclaimed that there was a civil war. And yet, for six months they [government officials] have been hunting for it, and still can not find one spot where it existed. There was, to be sure, a most terrible was in the newspapers; but no where else.”

The government would then need to call nearly 150 witnesses over the ensuing weeks to try to find someone who could speak directly to overt acts of treason. And they would call them…

Published in: on December 19, 2009 at 2:29 pm  Leave a Comment  
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On Relocation

When AB’s term as Vice President ended in 1805 he had very few options. Between his handling of the Hamilton affair and the machinations of the Virginia mafia , he was personna non grata in Washington. He couldn’ t really go home to New York either, because he could be extradited to New Jersey to face murder charges, and his debts were mounting, leaving his creditors eager to get their hands on him as well. He wrote of his situation to his son-in-law Joseph Alston:

“In New York I am to be disenfranchised, and in New Jersey hanged. You will not…conclude that I have become disposed to submit tamely to the machinations of a banditti.”

AB was determined to find a place to exercise his many talents legitimately. The American West offered the greatest promise for a man of his circumstance. And off he went, his energies focused on reclaiming his name and reputation as a man who could get things done.

Published in: on December 18, 2009 at 12:57 pm  Leave a Comment  
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On The Law

Aaron Burr was one of the nation’s top litigators in his day. He was renowned for making simple, concise and shrewd arguments that were hard, if not impossible, to counter. Alexander Hamilton, while a master with words and an effusive orator, was himself not as effective in a courtroom as AB. In fact, many don’t know, but the two actually practiced side-by-side in several high-profile cases in their time.

Of the law and the many things he said of it, one of his more famous quotes amongst litigators and jurists:

“Law is whatever is boldly asserted and plausibly maintained.”

Burr was an economist with words. Each one was conservatively chosen for it’s very specific meaning, and all inference it could carry. He was a master of overt subtlety.

Knowing this, what do you think he was telling us about the law with this quote?

Published in: on December 9, 2009 at 8:26 pm  Leave a Comment  
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On the Deep South US

In the summer of 1805, Aaron Burr took a 450+ mile trek through the deep south – New Orleans, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee among the places he visited in Late June through August…

“…vile country, destitute of springs and of running water–think of drinking the nasty puddle-water, covered with green scum, and full of animalculae–bah!”

Doesn’t sound like he saw a lot of future growth potential here. Old school “Dirty South?”

Published in: on December 8, 2009 at 4:26 am  Leave a Comment  
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Welcome To The League of Honest Men

Aaron Burr, Jr. (1756-1836) – US Vice President, US Senator, NY Atty. General, NY State Assemblyman, US Colonel, Patriot, Lawyer, Father, Husband, Student, American Benefactor, Feminist, Adventurer – many things history ignores. Not one to defend himself publicly, he remains much maligned and little understood.

Our agenda: increase contemporary knowledge and appreciation of the man. To that end, he’s presented in his own words, so that his true character may be revealed.

Published in: on December 5, 2009 at 9:06 pm  Comments (2)  
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