Aaron Burr

Aaron Burr Jr. (February 6, 1756 – September 14, 1836) was an American politician and lawyer. He served as the third vice president of the United States during President Thomas Jefferson's first term from 1801 to 1805. Burr's legacy is defined by his famous personal conflict with Alexander Hamilton that culminated in Burr killing Hamilton in the famous Burr–Hamilton duel in 1804.

Aaron Burr
Portrait by John Vanderlyn, 1802
3rd Vice President of the United States
In office
March 4, 1801  March 4, 1805
PresidentThomas Jefferson
Preceded byThomas Jefferson
Succeeded byGeorge Clinton
United States Senator
from New York
In office
March 4, 1791  March 3, 1797
Preceded byPhilip Schuyler
Succeeded byPhilip Schuyler
3rd Attorney General of New York
In office
September 29, 1789  November 8, 1791
GovernorGeorge Clinton
Preceded byRichard Varick
Succeeded byMorgan Lewis
Member of the New York State Assembly
from New York County
In office
July 1, 1784  June 30, 1785
Personal details
Aaron Burr Jr.

(1756-02-06)February 6, 1756
Newark, Province of New Jersey, British America
DiedSeptember 14, 1836(1836-09-14) (aged 80)
Staten Island, New York, U.S.
Resting placePrinceton Cemetery
Political partyDemocratic-Republican
(m. 1782; died 1794)

(m. 1833; div. 1836)
Children8 or more, including
Theodosia Burr Alston
John Pierre Burr
Aaron Columbus Burr
ParentsAaron Burr Sr.
Esther Edwards
RelativesTheodore Burr (cousin)
EducationPrinceton University (AB)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/serviceContinental Army
Years of service1775–1779
RankLieutenant colonel
Battles/warsAmerican Revolutionary War
  Battle of Quebec
  Battle of Monmouth

Burr was born to a prominent family in New Jersey. After studying theology at Princeton, he began his career as a lawyer before joining the Continental Army as an officer in the American Revolutionary War in 1775. After leaving the service in 1779, Burr practiced law in New York City, where he became a leading politician and helped form the new Jeffersonian Democratic-Republican Party. As a New York Assemblyman in 1785, Burr supported a bill to end slavery, despite having owned slaves himself.[1]

At age 26, Burr married Theodosia Bartow Prevost, who died in 1794 after twelve years of marriage. They had one daughter, Theodosia Burr Alston. Burr also had a relationship with his South Asian servant Mary Emmons, with whom he fathered two children, one a son, the abolitionist John Pierre Burr, though he never publicly acknowledged this relationship during his life.[1]

In 1791, Burr was elected to the U.S. Senate, where he served until 1797, and he ran as a candidate in the 1800 United States presidential election. An electoral college tie between Burr and Thomas Jefferson resulted in the House of Representatives deciding in Jefferson's favor, with Burr becoming Jefferson's vice president due to receiving the second-highest share of the votes. Although Burr maintained that he supported Jefferson, the president was highly suspicious of Burr, who was relegated to the sidelines of the administration for the single term of his vice presidency.

During his last year as vice president, Burr engaged in the duel in which he fatally shot Hamilton, his political rival, near where Hamilton's son Philip Hamilton died three years prior. Although duelling was illegal, Burr was never tried, and all charges against him eventually were dropped. Nevertheless, Hamilton's death ended Burr's political career.

Burr traveled west to the American frontier, seeking new economic and political opportunities. His secretive activities led to his 1807 arrest in Alabama on charges of treason. He was brought to trial more than once for what became known as the Burr conspiracy, an alleged plot to create an independent country led by Burr, but was acquitted each time. With large debts and few influential friends, Burr left the United States to live as an expatriate in Europe. He returned in 1812 and resumed practicing law in New York City. A brief second marriage at age 77 resulted in divorce and further scandal. Handicapped by a stroke and financially ruined, Burr died at a boarding house in 1836.