THUS, almost unwillingly, Burr embarked on his political career. The Assembly then met in New York, so that his legislative labors did not interfere very much with the continuance of his law practice. It was as a lawyer that Burr was determined to make his mark, not as a politician. He was in constant need of money, and the pay of a legislator was pitifully small. Furthermore, he still held aloof with that formidable reserve of his from the heat and squabblings of office holding. It is small wonder, then, that he did not take his new duties at first with the proper seriousness.
The first session of the Legislature opened October 12, 1784. The Assembly Journal discloses that he did not appear in his seat until November 5th, over three weeks later, and that his attendance for the balance of the session was exceedingly perfunctory. The record is blank of any measure proposed by him, or of any participation in debate.1
Certainly not an enviable record. But the leaven was stirring. For, when the Assembly convened for its second session on January 27, 1785, Burr was promptly on hand, and this time took a considerably more active part in the public discussions and voting.
On February 14th, he was placed on a joint committee to revise the laws of the State -- an important assignment. The following day, a bill entitled "An Act incorporating the several tradesmen and mechanics of the city and county of New-York" came up for a vote. On the face of it an innocuous, routine bill. But Burr's motion to reject it met with an instant storm of abuse. In spite of the tumult, however, and in spite of the fact that he was the only member of the Assembly from the city who dared fight the proposal, he persisted in his opposition. His motion was nevertheless defeated, and the bill passed.
The Council of Revision -- a peculiar constitutional body, composed of the governor, the chancellor, and the judges of the Supreme Court, before whom all bills must be laid for approval -- vetoed the measure in the very terms and with almost the very phrases that Burr had used. It was, they stated, a scheme whereby