CHAPTER XXIX
DECLINING YEARS

1. DOUBLE TRAGEDY

FOR several weeks Burr lay concealed in the home of his faithful friends, while they bestirred themselves to sound out government officials, politicians, old friends and creditors alike as to the steps that might be taken against him should he reveal his presence in the United States. The results were fairly encouraging. Madison had other fish to fry now -- the Anglo- American situation was daily becoming more alarming, and perhaps Dolly Madison had spoken privately to her husband of Theo's letter. John Wickham replied from Richmond to Swartwout's discreet inquiries about the forfeited bail in Ohio and pending civil suits, to the effect that some $4000 had been paid to the unfortunate bailor "or is about to be by Col. Burr's Friend in Phila (Mr. Pollock I think) & that the other suits have been dismissed"; while Luther Martin, who had also been on the bail bond, "has never mentioned any proceeding against him on his recognizance to appear in Ohio, & I think that nothing has been done on it." And, in closing, Wickham was "glad to hear that after so many sufferings Col. Burr has the prospect of being restored to his country & of being permitted again to employ his talents with advantage."1

At length it was deemed safe to disclose his presence. An item was inserted in a Boston newspaper, to be quoted by the New York Columbian, that "ColonelBurr, . . . once so celebrated for his talents and latterly so much talked of for his sufferings, arrived at Newburyport from France and England, and passed through this town on his way to New York."2 The paragraph seemed to produce no untoward reactions and Burr was sufficiently heartened to come into the open.

A few days later another item appeared in the Columbian -- a very modest and discreet line of type. "Aaron Burr," it read, "had returned to the city and had resumed the practice of law at [9] Nassau Street."3 This had the desired effect. The city rubbed its collective eyes, and rocked with excitement. For the moment everything was forgotten -- the political enmities, the riot of accusations -- there was a feeling that he had been dealt with too se

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Aaron Burr: A Biography
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