An illustration of the duel between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton [960×663]

How did Aaron Burr, one of the nation's founders, go from being a war hero and respected politician to being labeled a traitor and the man who killed Alexander Hamilton? It was a long and winding road, one that would bring Burr to Alabama, where he would be arrested and jailed on Feb. 19, 1807.

Burr was born nearly 250 years ago, on Feb. 6, 1756, to Aaron Burr Sr. and Esther Burr in Newark, N.J. Burr's father died in 1757, followed by his mother in 1758, so the child was adopted by Timothy Edwards. He was admitted to Princeton, then known as the College of New Jersey, when he was 13 and obtained a bachelor's degree at age 16.

According to Huntsville historian and author Wil Elrick, Burr was studying law when he joined the Continental Army in 1775. During the Revolutionary War, he helped to save an entire brigade that had been cornered by the British in Manhattan. In 1777, he was credited with stopping an attempted mutiny by some soldiers of the Continental Army who were distressed with the harsh winter conditions at Valley Forge.

After the war, Burr finished his studies and was admitted to the New York Bar Association. He married Theodosia Bartow Prevost and after her death, he began a political career. He was twice elected to the New York State Assembly, appointed New York State Attorney General, elected a senator from the State of New York before becoming the fledgling nation's third vice president, serving with Thomas Jefferson.

As his term neared its end, Burr decided to run for governor of New York, but he lost the election to Morgan Lewis. Burr blamed this loss on a smear campaign that was headed by then-Gov. George Clinton and Alexander Hamilton.

The Hamilton-Burr rivalry culminated in a duel on July 11, 1804, near Weehawken, N.J. Hamilton would be fatally wounded in the exact same spot his son had been killed in a previous duel while using the same pistol.

Because of Hamilton's popularity, the duel ended Burr's political career. Burr was charged with various crimes including murder in both New York and New Jersey, but because he was the sitting vice president, he was never tried in either jurisdiction, and eventually the charges were dropped.

Burr left office in 1805 and traveled west, where he allegedly plotted to split the Americas by forming an army to forcefully take over Spanish-held territories in America.

Hearing of Burr's plans, Jefferson declared him a traitor and issued an order for his arrest. Burr was stunned to learn he was a wanted man. His old friend Andrew Jackson helped Burr get deep into the Mississippi Territory in what is now the State of Alabama. Burr made a stop in the town that would later be known as Huntsville, before continuing farther south toward Spanish-controlled Florida.

In Washington County, Ala., Burr was captured by Lt. Edward Gaines near the Tombigbee River. Gaines took the former vice president into custody and escorted him to Fort Stoddert, where the prisoner was placed under military guard.

Lt. Edward Gaines took the former vice president into custody and escorted him to Fort Stoddert, where the prisoner was placed under military guard. During his time at the fort, Burr was treated exceptionally well, often taking his dinner with the camp commandant and his family, Elrick said. His treatment was understood as befitting his former position, and in turn he treated his captors with respect.

In early March, Gaines set out to transfer his famous prisoner to Washington, D.C., for trial. He escorted Burr to the Alabama River and placed him in a boat with an armed guard. The boat went up the Alabama River into Lake Tensaw. According to legend, women would line the banks and weep at the sight of the former vice president as a prisoner.

At the boatyard in Lake Tensaw, Burr was transferred to the soldiers that would accompany him on the remainder of the long journey north. On Aug. 3, 1807, Burr was officially charged with treason in the United States Circuit Court in Richmond, Va. However, with no witnesses against him, he was acquitted on Sept. 1. Burr suffered a stroke in 1834 and died in 1836.

/r/HistoryPorn Thread Link -