CHAPTER II
CHILDHOOD

1. A SON IS BORN

ON February 6, 1756, Esther Burr was "unexpectedly delivered of a Son," and "had a fine time altho it pleased God in infinite wisdome so to order it that Mr. Burr was from home." But, she rattled on, "I had a very quick & good time. A very good laying in till a but 3 weeks, then I had the Canker very bad, & before I had recovered of that my little Aaron (for so we call him) was taken very Sick so [that] for some days we did not expect his life. He has never been so well Since tho he is comfortable at present."1 His sister Sally was almost two now. There were to be no more children. Tragedy was lurking in the shadows.

But the protagonists did not know it at the time. They were still at Newark, in the parsonage at the juncture of Broad and William. The College buildings were growing slowly. Esther Burr was in raptures over them. "The College," she exclaims lyrically, "is a Famious building I assure you & the most commodious of any of the Colleges as well as much the largest of any upon the Continent. There is Somthing very Striking in it & a grandure & yet a Simplicity [that] cant well be expressed."2

Her husband was noticeably more controlled in his enthusiasms.

"We have begun a Building at Princeton," he wrote his Scotch correspondent, "which contains a Hall Library & Rooms to accommodate about an 100 Students, tho it will not any more of it be finished than is absolutely necessary at present, with an house for the President. We do everything in the plainest & cheapest manner, as far as is consistent with Decency & Convenience, having no superfluous ornaments." But he is satisfied. The students are behaving well. There are, in fact, some among them "that give good evidences of real Piety, & a prospect of special Usefullness in the Churches of Christ."3 That, after all, was the all-important thing: The training of missionaries to spread the new unrest, the inner agitation, to all America.

Little Aaron was only six months old when a company of soldiers was quartered on the parsonage unexpectedly. Esther was not pleased. That night she scribbled in her diary:" 50 Soldiers to

-14-

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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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