CHAPTER XXVII
MAN WITHOUT A COUNTRY

1. FLIGHT

AT the age of 51, Aaron Burr stood on the threshold, his past life in ruins, with eyes turned to Europe, eternally optimistic. Yet his flight from the shores of the country that had spurned him required stealth and finesse. Too many were eager to know his whereabouts, and chain him, if they could, to the very soil he wished to leave. He made his way by devious means to New York, and engaged passage on the British packet, Clarissa Ann, under the pseudonym of H. E. Edwards. For a month preceding the date of departure he lay concealed in the houses of his friends, not daring to show his face. To cast off suspicion, he wrote Theo, "Make ----- publish, about the time you get these, that Gamp. passed through that place on the ----- day of June, on his way to Canada, accompanied by one Frenchman and two Americans or Englishmen."1 Which announcement duly appeared in the public prints. Camp, Gampy, Gampillo, Gampasso, were pet names current in the family, and were used indiscriminately for Aaron Burr himself and his little grandson, Aaron Burr Alston.

On June 7, 1808, muffled against inquiring looks, H. E. Edwards boarded the packet, anchor was weighed, sails bellied to catch the vagrant breeze, and Burr had set sail for the unknown. But first there had been a tragic leave-taking from one Mary Ann Edwards, likewise muffled, and otherwise known to fame as Theodosia Burr Alston, with tears and desperate affection on the one side, and smiling, albeit Spartan fortitude on the other.

Halifax was the packet's first port of call, and Burr held to the seclusion of his cabin most of the way, shunning the usual seagoing intimacy with the other twenty-six passengers on board. At that Nova Scotian port he was welcomed by Sir George Prevost, a relative on his deceased wife's side, who furnished him with letters of introduction to family and friends in England, as well as a passport certifying that "G. H. Edwards was bearer of dispatches to the Right Honorable Lord Castlereagh, at whose office he was immediately to present himself on his arrival at London."2

The passage was comparatively swift; by July 13th, he had

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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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