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July 6, 2014

ED VASICEK: Aaron Burr: Dubious patriot of Revolution

Some have great strengths, weaknesses

When I read in the paper last week that same-sex marriages were happening in Indiana — and even Kokomo — I was heartbroken. If you have read my columns over time, you know I embrace traditional family values. Yet this is not personally a good time for me to write about the future of marriage in America. I hope to do so when life slows down. Today, I would like to consider writing about a controversial patriot during the time of the Revolution, Aaron Burr. My material is primarily drawn from two sources: ushistory.org and Wikipedia.

The important leaders of our country were often related. Burr’s father was a Presbyterian minister and president of what would become Princeton University, and his grandfather was the famous Jonathan Edwards, preacher of “Sinners in the Hands of An Angry God” fame. His parents died when Burr was merely 2, and soon thereafter his grandfather also died. Young Burr was raised by guardians. He became a good friend of Jonathan Dayton. Dayton, Ohio, was named after this man. Burr studied theology at Princeton (then known as the College of New Jersey). He did not always live out his beliefs, however.

During the Revolution, Burr was associated with Benedict Arnold’s forces (before Arnold turned traitor) initially, and is said to have not gotten along with George Washington (perhaps because of political views). Burr was promoted to lieutenant colonel before his health gave way and he had to resign, but later organized private militia to help the cause of independence.

According to ushistory.org, “He was elected a senator in 1791 ... he began to organize the Democratic Party in New York City. The group became a political powerhouse that could ensure the election of a democratic President. The ticket was to be Thomas Jefferson as President and Aaron Burr as Vice-President. The wrangling ... ended in a draw — both men received seventy-three electoral votes each ... Alexander Hamilton decided to use his weight and influence to support Thomas Jefferson — who was elected. As Vice President, Aaron Burr presided over the Senate and he eventually was nominated in 1804 to the governorship of New York, but lost to Republican Morgan Lewis. Each loss he blamed on Alexander Hamilton ... On July 11, 1804 — Burr and Hamilton met at ten paces at Weehawken. Both fired and Hamilton fell, mortally wounded.”

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