Aaron Burr's Biography

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Aaron Burr’s Life Biography

Aaron Burr was born on February 6, 1756 in Newark, New Jersey. When he first arrived, a little sister named Sally had already preceded him. Their father was Reverend Aaron Burr, and their mother was Ester Edwards Burr, daughter of the famous Jonathan Edwards, a high honor at the Calvin school. Aaron Burr Sr. was also the second president of Princeton. He represented all that was austere and hopeless in Puritanism. But Aaron, Jr. inherited only one tenet out of all the rigorous dogma into which he had been born he believed in predestination. During the Revolutionary War, Aaron Burr took part in General Benedict Arnold’s expedition into Canada in 1775, an arduous trek of over 500 miles in winter. Upon arriving before the Battle of Quebec, Burr was sent up the St. Lawrence River to make contact with General Richard Montgomery who had taken Montreal, and escort him to Quebec. Montgomery promoted Burr to Captain and made him an Aide de camp. Although Montgomery was killed in the attack, Burr distinguished himself with brave actions against the British. His courage made him a national hero and earned him a place on Washington's staff in Manhattan, but he quit after two weeks because he wanted to return to the field. Never hesitant to voice his opinions, Burr may have set Washington against him. However, rumors that Washington then distrusted Burr have never been substantiated. General Israel Putnam took Burr under his wing, and by his vigilance in the retreat from lower Manhattan to Harlem, Burr saved an entire brigade from capture. Alexander Hamilton was an officer of his group. In a stark departure from common practice, Washington failed to commend Burr's actions in the next day's General Orders and that is the fastest way to obtain a promotion in rank. Although Burr was already a nationally-known hero, he never received a commendation. According to Burr's stepbrother Matthew Ogden, Burr was infuriated by the incident, which may have led to the eventual estrangement between him and Washington. On becoming Lieutenant Colonel in July 1777, Burr assumed the command of a regiment called the "Malcoms". During the harsh winter encampment at Valley Forge, he guarded the "Gulph," a pass commanding the approach to the camp, and necessarily the first point that would be attacked. On June 28, 1778 at the Battle of Monmouth, his regiment was decimated by British artillery, and Burr suffered a stroke in the terrible heat from which he would never quite recover. In January 1779, Burr was assigned to the command of the lines of Westchester County, a region between the British post at Kingsbridge and that of the Americans about 15 miles to the north. In this district there was much turbulence and plundering by the lawless elements of both Whigs and Tories, and by bands of ill-disciplined soldiers from both armies. Burr established a thorough patrol system, rigorously enforced martial law, and quickly restored order. He resigned from the Continental Army in March 1779 on account of ill health, renewing his study of law. Burr did continue to perform occasional intelligence missions for Continental generals such as Arthur St. Clair and on July 5, 1779 he rallied a group of Yale students at New Haven along with Capt. James Hillhouse and the Second Connecticut Governors Foot Guard in a skirmish with the British at the West River. The British advance was repulsed, having to enter New Haven from Hamden. Despite this brief interlude, Burr was able to finish his studies and was admitted to the bar at Albany in 1782. He began to practice in New York City after its evacuation by the British in the following year. He lived in Richmond Hill an area just outside of Greenwich Village. That same year, Burr married Theodosia Bartow Prevost, the widow of James Marcus Prevost and British army officer who had died in the West Indies, during the Revolutionary War. They had four children, of whom the only to...
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