Quotable Burr

These are the two quotes most often attributed to AB:

“The rule of my life is to make business a pleasure, and pleasure my business.”

“Never do today what you can put off till tomorrow. Delay may give clearer light as to what is best to be done.”

It is also said that he uttered the famous words “Go west young man,” but that’s not true! You’ll also find it’s attributed to Horace Greeley. Also not true. It was written by one John Soule and it first appeared in the Terre Haute Express in 1851. Well after AB’s time.

Published in: on September 5, 2009 at 3:07 am  Leave a Comment  
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On the "Burr Conspiracy"

In June, 1834, as AB was in his last days, his friend and biographer Matthew L. Davis is reported to have questioned him on the alleged plot to seize the American West and establish a new republic under his rule. His answer was swift:

“No, I would as soon have thought of taking possession of the moon, and informing my friends that I intended to divide it among them!”

Published in: on September 4, 2009 at 3:27 am  Leave a Comment  
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As a Father

From Letters to Theodosia, his only surviving child by Theodosia Prevost-Burr

“My property, our home with all of its baubles, mean nothing to me, and whatever honors I have won in this world are empty. You are my only true treasure, and in you is the distillation of all that is pure and noble in your ancestry. Live your life to the full, and beware of giving your heart prematurely, for I will not consent to the gift of your hand to any man who is not worthy of you.”

“You know that you and your concerns are the highest, the dearest interest I have in this world, one in comparison with which all others are insignificant.”

“My letters to others are always ready; but toward you, a desire to say something at the last moment; a reluctance resembling that of parting – but all this you know and feel.”

“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.”

“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.”

“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.”

“Your little letter from Alexandria assured me of your safety, and for a moment consoled me for your absence. The only solid consolation is the belief that you will be happy, and the certainty that we shall often meet.”

On Finding Salvation

September 14, 1836. In his final hours, AB was being attended to by the Reverend Dr. P.J. Van Pelt. When asked if he expected to find salvation upon expiration, AB, fully in possession of his faculties, and in classic AB style, replied:

“On that subject I am coy.”

On 19th Century Paris

In 1810, AB found himself in Paris, what was then the latest state of refuge for the disgraced former Vice President. Acquitted of treason, but guilty of naked ambition, he was eventually shunned whever he went – England, Sweeden, Germany, etc. In writing to his daughter, he had this to say of “modern” Paris.

“No sidewalks. The carts, cabrioles, and carriages of all sorts run up to the very houses. You must save yourself by bracing flat against the wall, there being, in most places, stones set up against the houses to keep the carts from injuring them. Most of the streets are paved as Albany and New York were before the Revolution, with an open gutter in the middle. Some arched in the middle, and a little gutter each side, very near the houses. It is a fine sport for the cabriole and hack drivers to run a wheel in one of these gutters, always full of filth, and bespatter fifty pedestrians who are braced against the wall. The gutters or conduits for the water from the eaves of the houses are carried out a few feet from the roofs, and thus discharge the rainwater over your head. In most places there are no such pipes, and then you have the benefit of the water from the eaves. This was a great ridicule against the city of Albany about twenty years ago; but Albany has reformed the evil.”

On Transparency in Government

In 1799, NY Senator Burr debated the virtue of an amendment designed to prohibit naturalized citizens from obtaining elected office.

“America stood with open arms and presented an assylum [sic] to the oppressed of every nation; we invited them with the promise of enjoying equal rights with ourselves, and presented them with the flattering prospect of presiding in our councils and arriving at honour and trust; shall we deprive these persons of an important right derived from so sacred a source as our constitution[?]”

As a Chivalrous Man

“…when a lady does me the honor to name me the father of her child, I trust I shall always be too gallant to show myself ungrateful for the favor!”

Published in: on April 30, 2009 at 4:47 am  Leave a Comment  
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On His Critics

After his acquittal for treason, he lived a life of an outcast, constantly tarnished in the press and dragged through the mud. He rarely, if ever, made public statements defending himself or his actions. (He mistakenly thought his “friends” would do that for him…)

“What a lot of rascals they must be, to make war on one whom they do not know; or one who never did harm or wished harm to a human being! Yet they, perhaps, are not to be blamed, for they are influenced by what they hear.”

Published in: on March 5, 2009 at 5:09 am  Leave a Comment  
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As a Statesman

Closing remarks from Vice-President Aaron Burr Jr.’s farewell address to the US Senate in 1804:

“This house is a sanctuary; a citadel of law, of order, and of liberty; it is here-it is here in this exalted refuge-here, if anywhere, will be resistance made to the storms of political frenzy and the silent arts of corruption. And if the Constitution be destined ever to perish by the sacrilegious hands of the demagogue or the usurper, which God avert, its expiring agonies will be witnessed on this floor.”

Published in: on March 5, 2009 at 4:47 am  Leave a Comment  
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As a Realist

Aaron Burr’s wit and wisdom live through the ages. He called it like he saw it and was a great friend of irony.

“Every man likes his own opinion best.”

“I learned in the Revolution, in the society of gentlemen, and I have since observed for myself, that a man who is guilty of intentional bad manners, is capable of crime.”

Published in: on February 27, 2009 at 12:48 pm  Leave a Comment  
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