CHAPTER IX
THE GENTLEMAN FROM NEW YORK

1. STRICTLY PROFESSIONAL

IN the meantime the prospects were fair and the skies unclouded. Burr wound up his duties as Attorney General and put his personal affairs in order. Theodosia admonished him anxiously that "it is . . . of serious consequence to you, to establish your health before you commence politician; when once you get engaged, your industry will exceed your strength; your pride cause you to forget yourself."1

Congress then met in Philadelphia, and Burr established himself in that city of Quakers, politicians and financiers sometime in October, 1791. He found lodgings in a house "inhabited by two widows. The mother about seventy, and the daughter about fifty. . . . The old lady is deaf, and upon my [ Burr's] first coming to take possession of my lodgings, she with great civility requested that I would never attempt to speak to her, for fear of injuring my lungs without being able to make her hear. I shall faithfully obey this injunction."2

The Second Congress of the United States opened on October 24, 1791. The First Congress had been the scene of much tumultuous debate, of the forging of a new nation. Hamilton had pushed his schemes for assumption of State debts, for payment of all governmental securities at par, for a National Bank, through Houses that were divided almost equally into enthusiastic supporters and bitter opponents. The great measures of government had been passed. President Washington heaved a sigh of relief and Hamilton permitted himself to relax. The Second Congress was a period of comparative quiet, of marking time. Within its halls parties had not yet fully crystallized. The loose appellations of Federalist and anti-Federalist still held their original meaning, based as they were on the Constitutional fight of 1787. Actually Congress voted on the basis of approval or disapproval of Hamilton's operations. Within a few years, however, as the depression that commenced in 1792 deepened, the issues were more baldly stated, and party lines became fixed and unalterable.

Already the fight between Jefferson and Hamilton in the Cabi

-102-

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Aaron Burr: A Biography
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