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Aaron Burr treason trial Essay Example
Aaron Burr treason trial Essay Example

Aaron Burr treason trial Essay Example

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  • Pages: 6 (3013 words)
  • Published: October 19, 2018
  • Type: Essay
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The early 1800s 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 Burreven 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.Burrs conflict with Jefferson began when they tied for the presidential election of 1800. The el

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ection then went to the House of Representatives where Burr rejected Federalist overtures for a coalition, but did not publicly support giving the Presidency to Jefferson.Burr felt that an election should not be won through coalitions and he was especially bitter about the idea of working with the Federalists. Burr, arrogant, confident and trusting in the rightness of his position, made no effort to persuade congress to his side. On the other hand, Jefferson quickly established deals with many of the Federalist congressmen to insure their votes and consequently won the presidency. During several depositions following the election it became very clear to the public that Jefferson had worked with the Federalists in order to secure the election. A founder and the leader of the Republicans had, in the end, sided with the opposition in order to insure his own presidential victory. This political maneuvering to ensure his election made Jefferson look opportunistic and self-serving, and left an enduring black spot on his reputation that was never removed. Jefferson directly blamed Burr, and he would distrust and despise Burr for the rest of his life. A close friend of Jefferson even declared, that this fixed the destiny of Colonel Burr Mr. Jeffersons malignity toward Colonel Burr never ceased but with his last breathe.

In the end, the election concluded with Jefferson as President and Burr as Vice President. Their personal enmity only grew worse while they were forced to work together in the White House. Jefferson finally ousted Burr from the Republican ticket during his reelection.After this Burr

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would attempt to run for the governorship of New York, but through clever planning by Alexander Hamilton he would lose this election.This would result in the infamous dual of honor between Burr and Hamilton, in which Hamilton was fatally shot by Burr. Wanted for murder in two states, Burr would then be forced to flee to the west.Thus began the final chapter of his ambitious career.

Burr was almost fifty when he arrived in the West for the first time. He was amazed by the amount of untamed land and openness of the western plains, but was most impressed by the incredible isolation . His natural charm and great oratorical skill would serve him well in this untamed land. His uncanny ability to sway small and large groups alike--in an land where outsized ideas and ambitions seemed the order of the day--would aid him on the road ahead.

Burr came west with no clear idea what to do. He thought he might simply rebuild his legal career, speculate in land, and seek public office. Or possibly construct a canal around the Falls of the Ohio.But such ideas didnt quite fit with a man who had been so close to the Presidency of the Republic. It is not known exactly where the idea for a conspiracy came from, but on April 29, 1805 Burr unveiled his plan to lead a revolution in Mexico (still a colony of Spain) over dinner with Herman Blennerhassett. Blennerhassett was a rich landowner who lived on a 300-acre island on the Ohio River and Burr realized that for this plan to succeed it would require a great deal of money, men and other resources .

But Blennerhassett wasnt much for grand foreign adventures and Burr eventually settled on a strategy of swindling Britain and Spain into giving him the money and the troops he needed to revolutionize Mexico. This was difficult from the start, especially since the Spaniards controlled Mexico at the time.

Burrs plan was to lie to both Britain and Spain, telling them he was trying to tear the United States in half, east from west. But instead of breaking up the country he intended instead to use the money and troops from Spain and Britain to invade Mexico. He outlined the first part of his strategy in a letter to Anthony Merry, the British minister to the US, and Don Carlos Yrujo, the Spanish minister to the US on January 1st, 1806.This letter eventually ended up in the hands of president Jefferson, and would become an important part of the prosecutions case against Burr in his trial for treason. Burr maintained that he never had any intention of committing treasonit was simply a ruse against two countries that were not particularly popular in the US at that time.Since it was well known at that time that to commit treason you had to actually commit an overt act of treason, not only plan one, Burr claimed (later) that his strategy was a reasonable one.

Burrs grand plan began to fail when he realized he could not obtain the funds he required without the help of both

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