CHAPTER XII
BURR STOOPS TO CONQUER

1. THE LOWLY ASSEMBLYMAN

BURR'S term as Senator was approaching its end. The close of the Congressional session in 1797 marked the finish of his Senatorial career. The New York Legislature, now strongly Federalist in its complexion, with John Jay in the gubernatorial chair, returned Philip Schuyler in his stead. The proud General and patroon of an ancient family had nursed his spleen long enough. Now he had his revenge, and both he and his son- in-law, Hamilton, were content. They had crushed their enemy.

But Burr had not been taken by surprise. He had expected nothing else and had laid his plans accordingly. From national politics he returned to the local scene. He had neglected it too long, and a herculean task awaited him. It was nothing more nor less than to oust the triumphant and seemingly impregnably intrenched Federalists from their control of the State, and to assume definite and unquestioned leadership for himself. Burr, however, never desponded, never despaired. His was an unbounded energy, controlled and channelized by a first-rate brain.

The first step in his carefully prepared campaign was to inject himself into a strategic position in State politics. The spring election of 1797 for the Assembly gave him his opportunity. He ran on the ticket from New York City and was promptly elected. So also was young De Witt Clinton, nephew to the old ex-Governor -- as yet an unknown quantity in State politics. All over the State there were Republican gains, but not enough to damage substantially the Federalist majority.

It was seemingly a considerable comedown from United States Senator, national figure, aspirant for the Vice-Presidency, to the lowly condition of a local Assemblyman. Burr did not mind. He had but stooped to conquer. Nor were his opponents entirely deceived. Schuyler, recently exultant at his own triumph, wrote with considerable apprehension to Hamilton: "Mr. Burr, we are informed, will be a candidate for a seat in the Assembly; his views it is not difficult to appreciate. They alarm me, and if he prevails I apprehend a total change of politics in the next Assembly -- at

-145-

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