CHAPTIER XXVI
ON TRIAL

1. ORANGES AND JAIL

WITH morning came new expedients. A writ of habeas corpus was sued out, whereby Burr was brought back into court to continue the everlasting discussions. John Randolph left the jury room again, this time to demand from Burr the letter addressed by Wilkinson to him, dated May 13th, the reference to which Wilkinson had eliminated from the cipher letter. Burr refused to deliver any communication which had been made to him confidentially, even from such a scoundrel as Wilkinson, and Randolph retired discomfited.1 Later, when Wilkinson himself challenged its disclosure, Burr was to say that he had placed it out of his power to deliver. It must be admitted that it was probably more than motives of honor which animated Burr in his persistent refusal. Doubtless, the missing letter contained material which would have definitely proved his filibustering intentions against Mexico, and thus rendered him liable to conviction on the misdemeanor charge.

The same day the Jury brought in additional indictments against Jonathan Dayton, John Smith, Comfort Tyler and Davis Floyd. They were making a clean sweep.

The next day, Burr's counsel appeared with an eloquent request for the removal of their client from the sultry, unsanitary jail to more comfortable and commodious quarters. Marshall looked inquiringly at Hay, who remained silent. Thereupon he ordered Burr's removal to his former lodgings near the Capitol, provided that they were first made sufficiently strong for safekeeping. Pursuant to this order Burr was shifted to the front room of Luther Martin's house, the windows were barred, the door padlocked, and a guard of seven men placed in the adjoining house to keep constant watch on the distinguished prisoner.2 But he remained in these quarters only two days, for the Government could not brook such unusual favors to the man whose life it was seeking. The Executive Council of Virginia came to the rescue with an offer of three large rooms on the third floor of its penitentiary for Federal prisoners, and promised uninterrupted access to his counsel. The

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Aaron Burr: A Biography
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments x
  • Illustrations xi
  • Chapter I - Ancestral Voices 1
  • Chapter II - Childhood 14
  • Chapter III - College Years 21
  • Chapter IV - Swords and Bullets 32
  • Chapter V - The War Goes On 53
  • Chapter VI - Prelude to Life 69
  • Chapter VII - Chiefly Legal 84
  • Chapter VIII - The Politician Embarked 93
  • Chapter IX - The Gentleman from New York 102
  • Chapter X - Intermediate Years 115
  • Chapter XI - Party Growth 132
  • Chapter XII - Burr Stoops to Conquer 145
  • Chapter XIII - The Second American Revolution 167
  • Chapter XIV - Jefferson or Burr 188
  • Chapter XV - Vice-President Burr 210
  • Chapter XVI - The Last Struggle for Power 236
  • Chapter XVII - Tragic Duel 246
  • Chapter XVIII - The Impeachment of Justice Chase 261
  • Chapter XIX - Backgrounds for the Conspiracy 270
  • Chapter XX - Western Journey 296
  • Chapter XXI - Never to Return 320
  • Chapter XXII - The Man Hunt Starts 344
  • Chapter XXIII - Dictatorship in New Orleans 364
  • Chapter XXIV - The Stage Is Set 387
  • Chapter XXV - Tried for Treason 396
  • Chapter XXVI - On Trial 424
  • Chapter XXVII - Man without a Country 449
  • Chapter XXVIII - Failure in France 471
  • Chapter XXIX - Declining Years 496
  • Notes 519
  • Bibliography 547
  • Index 555
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