Aaron Burr's Disgrace in the Burr Conspiracy Essay

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Aaron Burr had been Vice President during the first administration of Thomas Jefferson. In the summer of 1804, Burr killed his rival Alexander Hamilton in a duel, an event that effectively ended Burr’s career in national politics. Three years later, he was on trial, charged with the capital crime of treason by the government headed by Jefferson, his former partner in political office. Presiding over the trial was John Marshall, Chief Justice of the United States. Finally, there was James Wilkinson, general of the army, once Burr’s associate and at trial his chief accuser. With these principal players, the trial in the U.S. Circuit Court at Richmond was as much high political and personal drama as it was a judicial proceeding
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He continued to sound out potential backers for his military expedition. In western Pennsylvania, hoping to enlist the support of influential Colonel Morgan and his two sons, Burr made the fatal mistake of expressing plans which his host found shocking. Morgan wrote a letter to President Jefferson summarizing his conversation with Burr, setting in motion the effort that would eventually put an end to Burr's dreams and lead to his arrest and trial. (Linder, 2001)
In November a militia detachment caught up with Burr on the west bank of the Mississippi. Burr was handed a letter from the Governor of Mississippi demanding his surrender. He responded to the letter by denouncing Wilkinson whose "perfidious conduct" had "completely frustrated" his "projects.” The next day Burr met with the Governor who convinced him to surrender. A grand jury in Washington declared Burr "not guilty of any crime or misdemeanor against the United States." The jury went on to condemn the arrest, suggesting that it had given cause to "the enemies of our glorious Constitution to rejoice."(Landen, 2001) Once additional information about Burr's activities became known, a new warrant was issued for his arrest in mid-February. Burr was taken to Fort Stoddart for two weeks and then sent by a nine-man military guard on a one-thousand mile horseback trip to Richmond, where he would stand trial for treason.

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