“Law is whatever is boldly asserted and plausibly maintained.”
– Aaron Burr

Aaron Burr was the third vice president of the United States, serving under President Thomas Jefferson.  Burr fatally shot his rival, Alexander Hamilton, during a duel.

As a revolutionary soldier, Burr joined Benedict Arnold’s men in their expedition to Quebec.  By the spring of 1776, Burr had achieved the rank of major, and was appointed to serve under George Washington at his home in New York.

In 1800, Burr ran for the U.S. presidency with Thomas Jefferson.  Because they each received the same amount of electoral votes, members of the House of Representatives were left to determine the winner.  When the House met to discuss the election, Burr’s rival, Hamilton, vocalized his support for Jefferson and his disapproval of Burr.  In the end, Jefferson secured the presidency and Burr became vice president.  Burr was incensed, believing that Hamilton had manipulated the vote in Jefferson’s favor.

Nearing the end of his term as vice president, Burr ran for the governorship of New York, but lost.   Again, he blamed Hamilton for besmirching him as a candidate, and, eager to defend his honor, challenged Hamilton to a duel.  Hamilton accepted, and the face-off took place on the morning of July 11, 1804; it ended when Burr shot Hamilton to death.  The public was outraged. Burr fled New York and New Jersey but eventually returned to Washington, DC where he completed his term safe from prosecution.  The indictments in the case never reached trial.

In 1807, Burr was brought to trial on charges of conspiracy and high misdemeanor, for leading a military charge against Spanish territory and for trying to separate territories from the United States.  Chief Justice John Marshall acquitted Burr on the treason charge and eventually revoked his misdemeanor indictment, but the conspiracy scandal left Burr’s political career in ruins.

Burr spent the four years following his trial traveling throughout Europe, attempting unsuccessfully to garner support for revolutionizing Mexico and freeing the Spanish colonies.  He died under the care of his cousin on September 14, 1836, on Staten Island, New York.1

by Patrick Gaffney

by Patrick Gaffney

1 This blog is taken from Aaron Burr Biography.  Retrieved from:  http://www.biography.com.