CHAPTER I
ANCESTRAL VOICES

1. RESPECTABLE BURRS

I HAVE never known, in any country," declared John Adams, second President of the United States, "the prejudice in favor of birth, parentage and descent more conspicuous than in the instance of Colonel Burr."1

The phraseology of the testy old man, reminiscing publicly in the year 1815, was singularly inept, for neither his own context nor the facts themselves disclose that Aaron Burr's meteoric rise, nor, for that matter, his as precipitous fall, was in anywise influenced by a general public preoccupation with the incidence of "birth, parentage and descent."

Nevertheless the major premise remains intact. Ii would be difficult, in that early period of American history, to discover another whose lineage, on either branch of the convergent family tree, was as proudly intellectual, as earnestly God-fearing, as solid and substantial in the things of the world, as that of Aaron Burr.

The first paternal Burr of whom there is any authentic public record was a certain Jehue, who migrated with Winthrop's fleet in 1630 to the bleak and uninviting shores of Massachusetts for the greater glory of God and the possible enhancement of his own economic status.

There is no reason to doubt that he found satisfaction on both counts, for he very early occupied a solid niche in the affairs of that theocratic Colony. In Roxbury, where he first settled, he was appointed Overseer of Roads and Bridges; when, seized with restlessness and lured by the reports of broad, fertile acres, he pushed on to Agawam, in the newly established Colony of Connecticut, he was soon its Tax Collector, probably the first. When he finally removed to Fairfield, in the same Colony, he was chosen Town Commissioner and representative in the General Court. In short, by the time he died in 1672 he had placed the name of Burr on a very respectable basis indeed.

Nor did his descendants let him down. They increased and multiplied in accordance with the Biblical injunction, and they steadily and uninterruptedly added new laurels to the family

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Aaron Burr: A Biography
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