Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Today In History: A Former VP Was Tried For Treason

Two hundred years ago today, Aaron Burr was put on trial for committing treason against the United States. Would history just repeat itself already? It's a fascinating story. I got into the life of Aaron Burr when I was going through a Gore Vidal bender. He wrote a historical fiction Burr a Novel that I highly recommend.

In this troubled time, the end of President Jefferson's first term, Aaron Burr stepped down from the Vice Presidency, and began preparations for a military expedition that was either-- depending upon whose views one solicited--treasonous or patriotic. At its core, however, the Burr Conspiracy clearly was about conquest and adventure.

The Burr Conspiracy had its origins in a series of discussions over the winter of 1804-05 between Burr and his longstanding friend, General James Wilkinson. The two served together in the Quebec campaign of 1775-76. Over the years they often corresponded in a cipher invented by Wilkinson. Wilkinson was an intriguer of the first-order who had formerly been the head of a party in the West that favored a separation of the western states from the Atlantic states.

Burr left Washington for a tour of the West in March of 1805. His first stop was in Philadelphia, where he met with Anthony Merry, the British Minister to the United States. Merry reported details of his conversation in a letter to London:

Read more here to learn about a fascinating chapter in American History. Burr did a more in his life than kill Alexander Hamilton in a duel. History is one of my passions. Our history is so colorful when it isn't sanitized. If our schools taught the "fun facts", I have a sneaky suspicion that the kids would be more interested.