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Memoirs of Aaron Burr, Volume 2. by Matthew L. Davis

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[Frontispiece: Theodosia]





"I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him."



* * * * *

Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1836, by


in the Clerk's Office of the Southern District of New-York.

* * * * *



Colonel Burr's study of the law; shortness of his study; different
opinions respecting his law learning; his definition of law; his
manner of preparing causes and of conducting suits; his maxim for
sluggards; tendency to mystery in his practice; fondness for
surprising an opponent; an illustration of this remark; his treatment
of associate counsel; nice discrimination in the selection of
professional agents; their various characteristics; the same acuteness
displayed in politics; anecdote on this subject that occurred during
the contested election in 1800; great coolness and presence of mind in
civil as well as military life; an example in the death of Mr. P.;
commenced practice at the close of the revolution under the most
favourable auspices; multiplication of his papers; condensation a
peculiar trait in his mind; never solicited a favour from an opponent;
a strict practitioner; character of his mind; manner of speaking;
accorded to General Hamilton eloquence; an incident in relation to
Hamilton and Burr in the cause of Le Guen _vs_. Gouverneur and Kemble;
letter from John Van Ness Yates explanatory of Chief Justice Yates's
notes on that occasion; the effect he produced as a speaker; his
display of extraordinary talents on his trial at Richmond; his legal
opinions on various important occasions; a letter from him evincing
his great perseverance when nearly eighty years of age


A brief history of the rise of political parties in the state of
New-York; the city of New-York the rendezvous of the tories, from
which they communicated with the British ministry during the war;
feelings of the whigs on this subject; Joseph Galloway, of
Philadelphia, sails in 1778 for England; his correspondence with the
loyalists extensive; extracts from various letters written during the
war of the revolution, viz., from the Reverend Bishop Inglis, from
Isaac Ogden, from Daniel Cox, during the year 1778; from John Potts,
from Daniel Cox, from Isaac Ogden, from Daniel Cox, from Thomas Eddy,
from Bishop Inglis, from John Potts, from Bishop Inglis, from Isaac
Ogden, from Bishop Inglis, from Isaac Ogden, from Daniel Cox, during
the year 1779; from Charles Stewart, David Sproat, and James Humphrey,
Jun., printer, in 1779, in which General Arnold's _tory sympathies_
are alluded to; from Bishop Inglis, John Potts, and Christopher Sower;
from David Ogden, with the plan of a constitution for the government
of the American colonies after the whigs are conquered


Defeat of General Schuyler as a candidate for the office of governor
of the state of New-York, in opposition to George Clinton, in 1777;
commencement of the Clinton and Schuyler parties; defeat of General
Schuyler as a candidate for Congress in 1780; "a supreme dictator"
proposed; opposition of Hamilton to the project; the Clinton and
Schuyler parties continued to exist until the adoption of the federal
constitution; in 1779 a law passed disfranchising tories; in 1781 an
act confirmatory of this law; first session of the legislature after
the war held in the city of New-York, in 1784; petitions of the tories
rejected; Robert R. Livingston's classification of parties in the
state; suit of Mrs. Rutgers vs. Waddington for the recovery of the
rent of a building occupied by Waddington in the city of New-York
during the war; the mayor's court, James Duane and Richard Varick
presiding, decide against Mrs. Rutgers; great excitement and public
meetings; Waddington compromises the claim; in 1786 and 1787, sundry
laws restricting the privileges of the tories, through the
instrumentality of General Hamilton are repealed; the tories unite
with the Schuyler party; the strength of the Schuyler party in the
legislature elected from the tory counties; names of the members in
1788, 89; to which of the political parties Colonel Burr belonged;
letters from John Jay on the subject of proscribing the tories


The Livingstons were of the Schuyler party; subsequently of the
federal party; their change; reasons assigned; the federalists triumph
in the city of New-York at the election of 1799; Mr. Jefferson's
opinion as to the effect of the city election in 1800; the several
factions of the democratic party unite in this contest, through the
arrangements of Burr; the character of his friends; he is elected to
represent Orange county; the manner in which the city ticket for 1800
was formed; great difficulty to obtain Governor Clinton's consent to
use his name; interview of a sub-committee with the governor; his
denunciation of Jefferson; Burr's and Hamilton's efforts at the
election; success of the democratic party; apprehensions that the
federalists intended to change the result by fraud; a federal caucus
held on the evening of the 3d of May, 1800; letter to Duane, editor of
the Aurora, stating that the caucus had decided to request Governor
Jay to convene the legislature, and change the mode of choosing
presidential electors; federal printers deny the charge; the letter to
Jay, published in his works, thus proving the correctness of the
Aurora's statement


General Hamilton's pamphlet on the conduct of John Adams; Colonel Burr
ascertains that it is in the press; as soon as printed, a copy
obtained, and extracts sent to the Aurora and the New-London Bee;
Hamilton thus compelled to make the publication prematurely;
presidential electors chosen; letter from Jefferson to Burr; Jefferson
to Madison; tie vote between Jefferson and Burr; rules for the
government of the House of Representatives during the election;
informality in the votes of Georgia; constitutional provision on the
subject; statement of the case by Mr. Wells, of Delaware, and Mr.
Nicholas, of Virginia; balloting commenced on the 11th, and continued
until the 17th of February, 1801, when, on the 36th ballot, Mr.
Jefferson was elected president; letter from Burr to General S. Smith,
constituting him (Smith) his proxy to declare his sentiments in the
event of a tie vote


Mr. Burr's political position on being elected vice-president; letters
from Mr. Jefferson to Mr. Madison; the doubtful states in Congress on
the presidential question; the doubtful persons; their appointment to
office by Mr. Jefferson; address to Colonel Burr by certain
republicans at Baltimore, on his way to Washington in 1801; his
answer, disapproving of such addresses; casting vote, as
vice-president, on the bill to repeal the midnight judiciary act;
effects of this vote; letter from A. J. Dallas on the subject; from
Nathaniel Niles; from A. J. Dallas; Wood's history of John Adams's
administration; suppression by Burr; attacks upon Burr by Cheetham and
Duane; private letters from Duane approving of Burr's conduct


Effect of Burr's silence under these attacks; allegation that Dr.
Smith, of New-Jersey, as a presidential elector, was to have voted for
Burr; denial of Dr. Smith; Timothy Green charged with going to South
Carolina as the political agent of Burr; denial of Green; General John
Swartwout charged with being concerned in the intrigue; denial of
Swartwout; Burr charged with negotiating with the federalists; denial
of Burr, in a letter to Governor Bloomfield; David A. Ogden said to
have been the agent of the federal party or of Burr in this
negotiation; letter from Peter Irving to Ogden, inquiring as to the
fact; answer of Ogden, denying the charge; Edward Livingston
represented as Burr's "confidential friend" on the occasion; denial of
Livingston; Burr, in the year 1804, commences a suit against Cheetbam
for a libel; wager-suit between James Gillespie and Abraham Smith, and
a commission taken out to examine witnesses, April, 1806; transactions
in the United States' Senate on the 18th January, 1830, in relation to
Mr. Jefferson's charge against Mr. Bayard; letter from R. H. Bayard to
Burr; from Burr to Bayard; from Burr to M. L. Davis; from Davis to
Burr; from General S. Smith to R. H. and J. A. Bayard; from R. H.
Bayard to Burr


Letter from Judge Cooper to Thomas Morris; ditto; from James A. Bayard
to Alexander Hamilton; from George Baer to R. H. Bayard;
interrogatories to James A. Bayard, in Cheetham's suit; answers to
said interrogatories by Mr. Bayard; interrogatories to Bayard in the
suit of Gillespie _vs_. Smith; answers thereto; reasons why Mr.
Latimer was not removed from the office of collector of Philadelphia;
answer of Samuel Smith to interrogatories in the suit of Gillespie
_vs_. Smith


Effect of the attacks upon Burr; power of the press in corrupt hands;
Mr. Jefferson's malignity towards Burr; his hypocrisy; false entries
in his Ana of conversations said to have been held with Burr; letter
to Theodosia; ditto; ditto; to Joseph Alston; Theodosia to Joseph
Alston; to Theodosia; ditto; to Joseph Alston; to Theodosia; to Thomas
Morris; from P. Butler; to Joseph Alston; to Theodosia; from Thomas
Jefferson; to Theodosia


Letter to Joseph Alston; from D. Phelps, from Joseph Brandt (Indian
chief); from William P. Van Ness; to Theodosia; to Barnabas Bidwell;
to Joseph Alston; to Theodosia; from Charles Biddle; from Marinus
Willett; from John M. Taylor; from Mrs. *****; to Theodosia; ditto


Letter to Theodosia; ditto; to Joseph Alston; from Charles Biddle;
from John Coats; to Theodosia; from C. A. Rodney; to Theodosia; ftom
C. A. Rodney; from Uriah Tracy; from General Horatio Gates; from David
Gelston; to Theodosia; ditto; from Midshipman James Biddle; from John
Taylor, of Caroline


Letter from Theodosia to Joseph Alston; ditto; from A. Burr to Joseph
Alston; to Natalie; Theodosia to Joseph Alston; to Joseph Alston;
ditto; to Theodosia; to Joseph Alston; ditto; to Theodosia; ditto; to
Dr. John Coats; from Theodosia; to Theodosia; from Theodosia; to
Theodosia; ditto; ditto


Letter to Theodosia; ditto; from Theodosia; to Theodosia; from
Theodosia; from Charles Biddle; from John Taylor, of Caroline; from
Pierce Butler; to Theodosia; ditto; from Theodosia; from Theodosia;
ditto; to Theodosia; ditto; from Theodosia; to Theodosia; ditto; to
Charles Biddle; from Midshipman James Biddle


Note from Mr. Madison; from J. Wagner to Mr. Madison; from Samuel A.
Otis; letter from George Davis; from Charles Biddle; from Robert
Smith; from Robert G. Harper; from J. Guillemard; from John Vaugham;
from John Dickinson; to Charles Biddle; to Theodosia; to Peggy (a
slave); to Theodosia; to Joseph Alston; to Charles Biddle; ditto; to
Natalie Delage Sumter; to Theodosia; to A. R. Ellery; to Theodosia; to
Thomas Sumter, Jun.; to Charles Biddle; to F. A. Vanderkemp; to W. P.
Van Ness; to Theodosia; to Mrs. *****; to Theodosia; to Miss ----; to


Letter from Charles D. Cooper, which produced the duel between General
Hamilton and Colonel Burr; correspondence between the parties, with
explanations by W. P. Van Ness, second of Colonel Burr; statement of
what occurred on the ground as agreed upon by the seconds;
explanations of the correspondence, &c., by Nathaniel Pendleton,
second of General Hamilton; remarks on the letter which Mr. Van Ness
refused to receive; account of General Hamilton's wound and death, by
Dr. Hosack; remarks by General Hamilton on his motives and views in
meeting Colonel Burr; death of Hamilton; oration by Gouverneur Morris;
letter from Colonel Burr to Theodosia, dated the night before the
duel; same date to Joseph Alston


Letter to Joseph Alston; to Theodosia; from John Swartwout; to
Theodosia; ditto; to Joseph Alston; to Theodosia; ditto; journal for
Theodosia; to Joseph Alston; to Theodosia; to Joseph Alston; to
Theodosia; to Joseph Alston; to Theodosia


Letter to Theodosia; ditto; trial of Judge Chace before the United
States' Senate; Burr presides; acquittal; letter to Theodosia; ditto;
an account of the effect of Burr's speech on taking leave of the
Senate; letter to Joseph Alston; to Theodosia; journal of his tour in
the Western country; letter to Joseph Alston


Burr's early views against Mexico; letter from General Miranda to
General Hamilton, in April, 1798 on the subject of an expedition, in
conjunction with Great Britain, against South America; from Miranda to
Hamilton, in October, 1798, announcing the arrangements made with the
British; from Miranda to General Knox, same date, on the same subject;
General Adair's statement of Burr's views; grant of lands by the
Spanish government to Baron Bastrop; transfer of part of said grant to
Colonel Lynch; purchase from Lynch by Burr; the views of Burr in his
Western expedition, as stated by himself; he is arrested on the
Tombigbee; the cipher letter; transported to Richmond; trial and
acquittal of Burr; testimony of Commodore Truxton; Dr. Bollman's
treatment by Mr. Jefferson


Excitement produced against Burr by Jefferson, Eaton, and Wilkinson;
Senate of the United States pass a bill suspending writ of Habeas
Corpus; House rejects the bill on the first reading, _ayes_ 113, nays
19; extracts from Blennerhassett's private journal; official Spanish
documents, showing that General Wilkinson, after he had sworn to
Burr's treasonable designs, despatched his aid, Captain Walter
Burling, to Mexico, demanding from the viceroy for his service to
Spain, in defeating Burr's expedition against Mexico, the sum of _two
hundred thousand dollars_; sundry letters of Burr to Theodosia, while
imprisoned in Richmond on the charge of treason


Burr sails for England on the 7th of June, 18O8; arrives in London on
the 16th of July; makes various unsuccessful efforts to induce the
British ministry to aid him in his enterprise against South America;
receives great attention from Jeremy Bentham; continues his
correspondence with Bentham after his return to the United States;
visits Edinburgh; experiences great courtesy; introduced to M'Kenzie
and Walter Scott; returns to London; the ministers become suspicious
of him; his papers are seized, and his person taken into custody for
two days, when he is released, but ordered to quit the kingdom; leaves
England in a packet for Gottenburgh; travels through Sweden, Germany,
&c.; Bourrienne's (French minister at Hamburgh) account of Burr, and
Burr's account of Bourrienne; arrives in Paris on the 16th of
February, 1810; endeavours to induce Napoleon to aid him in his
contemplated expedition, but is unsuccessful; asks a passport to leave
France, and is refused; presents a spirited memorial to the emperor on
the subject; Russell, charge d'affaires, and M'Rae, United States
consul at Paris, refuse him the ordinary protection or passport of an
American citizen; in July, 1811, obtains permission from the emperor
to leave France; sails from Amsterdam on the 20th of September; is
captured next day by an English frigate, and carried into Yarmouth;
remains in England from the 9th of October, 1811, until the 6th of
March, 1812; arrives in New-York, via Boston, on the 8th of June,
after an absence of four years


Colonel Burr, on his return to New-York in 1811, resumes the practice
of law; prejudices against him; kindness of Colonel Troup; letter from
Joseph Alston to Burr, announcing the death of Aaron Burr Alston;
effect upon Burr; Theodosia's health precarious; Timothy Greene
despatched to bring her to New-York; letter from Greene; letter from
Greene, stating that he is to sail for New-York in a few days, on
board a schooner with Theodosia; letter from Alston to Theodosia,
expressing apprehensions for her safety; from Alston to Burr on the
same subject; from Alston to Burr, abandoning all hope of his wife's
safety; Theodosia supposed to have perished in a gale of wind early in
January, 1813; from Burr to Alston in relation to his private affairs;
Burr expresses his opinions on great, but not on minor political
questions; letter from Burr to Alston, denouncing the nomination of
Monroe for president, and recommending General Jackson; Alston
replies, concurring in sentiment with Burr, but ill health prevents
his acting; Alston's death; letter from William A. Alston to Burr,
explanatory of his late brother's will so far as Burr is interested;
from Theodosia to her husband, at a moment when she supposes that
death is approaching; Burr's continued zeal in favour of the South
American States; letter from General Toledo to Colonel Burr in 1816,
soliciting him to take command of the Mexican forces; Burr
commissioned by the Republic of Venezuela in 1819; Burr's pursuits
after his return from Europe; superintends the education of the Misses
Eden; his pecuniary situation; state of his health; paralytic; manner
of receiving strangers; restive and impatient at the close of his
life; death; conveyed to Princeton for interment; an account of his
funeral; proceedings of the Cliosophic Society



Colonel Burr's study of the law [1] has been already briefly noticed.
He brought to that study a classic education as complete as could, at
that time, be acquired in our country; and to this was added a
knowledge of the world, perhaps nowhere better taught than in the
camp, as well as a firmness and hardihood of character which military
life usually confers, and which is indispensable to the success of the
forensic lawyer. He was connected in the family circle with _two[2]
eminent jurists, who were at hand to stimulate his young ambition, and
to pour, in an almost perpetual stream, legal knowledge into his mind,
by conversation and by epistolary correspondence. The time he spent in
his studies preparatory to his admission would be considered short at
the present day; but (to use the language of another) "it is to be
recollected that at that time there were no voluminous treatises upon
the mere routine of practice to be committed to memory, without adding
a single legal principle or useful idea to the mind, and which only
teach the law student, as has been said of the art of the rhetorician,
'how to name his tools.' Burr, fortunately for his future professional
eminence, was not destined to graze upon this barren moor. He spent
his clerkship in reading and abstracting, with pen in hand, Coke and
the elementary writers, instead of Sellon and Tidd; and learnt law as
a science, and not as a mechanical art."

On the other hand, it has been said "that Colonel Burr was not a
deep-read lawyer; that he showed himself abundantly conversant with
the general knowledge of the profession, and that he was skilful in
suggesting doubts and questions; but that he exhibited no indications
of a fondness for the science, nor of researches into its abstruse
doctrines; that he seemed, indeed, to hold it and its administration
in slight estimation. The best definition of law, he said, was
'_whatever is boldly asserted and plausibly maintained_.' This sarcasm
was intended full as much for the courts as for the law administered
by them."

If Colonel Burr may have been surpassed in legal erudition, he
possessed other qualifications for successful practice at the bar
which were seldom equalled. He prepared his trials with an industry
and forethought that were most surprising. He spared no labour or
expense in attaining every piece of evidence that would be useful in
his attacks, or guard him against his antagonist. He was absolutely
indefatigable in the conduct of his suits. "He pursued (says a legal
friend) the opposite party with notices, and motions, and
applications, and appeals, and rearguments, never despairing himself,
nor allowing to his adversary confidence, nor comfort, nor repose.
Always vigilant and always urgent, until a proposition for compromise
or a negotiation between the parties ensued. 'Now move slow (he would
say); never negotiate in a hurry.' I remember a remark he made on this
subject, which appeared to be original and wise. There is a saying,
'Never put off till tomorrow what you can do to-day.' 'This is a
maxim,' said he, 'for sluggards. A better reading of the maxim
is--_Never do to-day what you can as well do to-morrow_; because
something may occur to make you regret your premature action.'"

I was struck, says the same friend, in his legal practice, with that
tendency to mystery which was so remarkable in his conduct in other
respects. He delighted in surprising his opponents, and in laying, as
it were, ambuscades for them. A suit, in which I was not counsel, but
which has since passed professionally under my observation, will
illustrate this point in his practice. It was an ejectment suit,
brought by him to recover a valuable tenement in the lower part of the
city, and in which it was supposed, by the able lawyers retained on
the part of the defendant, that the only question would, be on the
construction of the will. On the trial they were surprised to find the
whole force of the plainfiff's case brought against the authenticity
of an ancient deed, forming a link in their title, and of which, as it
had never, been questioned nor suspected, they had prepared merely
formal proof; and a verdict of the jury, obtained by a sort, of
_coup-de-main_, pronounced the deed a forgery. Two tribunals have
subsequently established the deed as authentic; but the plaintiff
lived and died in the possession of the land in consequence of the
verdict, while the law doubts, which form the only real questions in
the case, are still proceeding, at the customary snail's pace, through
our courts to their final solution.

To be employed as an assistant by Mr. Burr was not to receive a
sinecure. He commanded and obtained the constant and unremitted
exertions of his counsel. It was one of the most remarkable
exhibitions of the force of his character, this bending every one who
approached him to his use, and compelling their unremitted, though
often unwilling, labours in his behalf. His counsel would receive
notes from him at midnight, with questions which were sent for
immediate replies.

He showed nice discrimination in his selection of his professional
assistants. When learning was required, he selected the most erudite.
If political influence could be suspected of having effect, he chose
his lawyers to meet or _improve_ the supposed prejudice or
predilection. Eloquence was bought when it was wanted; and the cheaper
substitute of brow-beating, and vehemence used when they were
equivalent or superior. In nothing did he show greater skill than in
his measurement and application of his agents; and it was amusing to
hear his cool discussion of the obstacles of prejudice, or ignorance,
or interest, or political feeling to be encountered in various
tribunals, and of the appropriate remedies and antidotes to be
employed, and by what persons they should be applied.

Equal discrimination and acuteness was displayed in his political
movements. An anecdote which occurred in the contested election of
1800 will exemplify this remark. Funds were required for printing, for
committee-rooms, &c. The finance committee took down the names of
leading democrats, and attached to each the sum they proposed to
solicit from him. Before attempting the collection, the list, at
Colonel Burr's request, was presented for his inspection. An
individual, an active partisan of wealth, but proverbially
parsimonious, was assessed one hundred dollars. Burr directed that his
name should be struck from the list; for, said he, you will not get
the money, and from the moment the demand is made upon him, his
exertions will cease, and you will not see him at the polls during the
election. The request was complied with. On proceeding with the
examination, the name of another wealthy individual was presented; he
was liberal, but indolent; he also was assessed one hundred dollars.
Burr requested that this sum should be _doubled_, and that be should
be informed that no labour would be expected from him except an
occasional attendance at the committee-rooms to assist in folding
tickets. He will pay you the two hundred dollars, and thank you for
letting him off so easy. The result proved the correctness of these
opinions. On that occasion Colonel Burr remarked, _that the knowledge
and use of men consisted in placing each in his appropriate position_.

His imperturbable coolness and presence of mind were displayed in his
civil as well as in his military life. Against most of the
vicissitudes of a trial he guarded by his forethought and minuteness
of preparation. I was present myself, says the legal friend already
referred to, when he received with great composure a communication
which would have startled most men. Mr. P. had long been an inmate of
his house; he had been connected with him in many respects and for
many years. Colonel Burr and two other lawyers were discussing a
proposed motion in a chancery suit in which P. was the plaintiff, the
colonel himself having, an interest in the result. P. was then out of
town. A letter was brought in and handed to the colonel, which,
telling us to proceed with our debate, he carefully read, and then
placed it, in his customary manner, on the table, with the address
downwards. Our discussion proceeded earnestly for ten minutes at
least, when the colonel, who had listened with great attention, asked,
in his gentlest tone, "What effect would the death of P. have on the
suit?" We started, and asked eagerly why he put the question. "P. is
dead," he replied, "as this letter informs me; _will the suit abate?_"
The colonel was himself ill at the time, and unable to leave his sofa;
and even if there was some affectation in his demeanour, there was
certainly remarkable collectedness.

Colonel Burr commenced the practice of his profession at the close of
the revolution, under the most favourable auspices; and may be said at
one bound to have taken rank among the first lawyers of the day, and
to have sustained it until he became vice president, at which time, it
is believed, he had no superior at the bar, either in this state or in
the Union, nor even an equal, except General Hamilton.

The eclat which Burr, yet a beardless boy, had acquired by his
adventurous march under Arnold to Canada, through our northeastern
wilds, then a trackless desert; his gallant bearing at Quebec and
Monalouth; his efficient services in the retreat of our army from Long
Island and New-York; and his difficult and delicate command on the
lines of Westchester, followed him to private life, gathered around
him hosts of admirers and friends among our early patriots,
particularly the youthful portion of them, and no doubt essentially
aided him in making his successful professional _debut_. The name of
the chivalrous aid-de-camp who supported in his youthful arms the
dying hero of Quebec was familiar in the mouths of men, and from one
end of the continent to the other he was eulogized for his military
prowess. Such were the cheering auspices under which he sheathed his
sword when his physical energies would permit him no longer to wield

"He was indefatigable," says another legal friend, "in business, as he
had been in his previous studies, and no lawyer ever appeared before
our tribunals with his cause better prepared for trial, his facts and
legal points being marshalled for combat with all the regularity and
precision of a consummate military tactician. No professional
adversary, it is believed, has ever boasted of having broken or thrown
into confusion the solid columns into which he had formed them, or
having found void spaces in their lengthened line, or to have beaten
him by a _ruse de guerre_ or a surprise.

"He never heeded expense in completing his preparations for trial;
and, while laborious himself to an uncommon degree, he did not stint
the labours of others, so far as he could command or procure them.
Every pleading or necessary paper connected with his causes was in
tile first place to be multiplied into numerous copies, and then
abstracted or condensed into the smallest possible limits, but no
material point or idea was by any means to be omitted. His propensity
to concision or condensation was a peculiar trait in his mind. He
would reduce an elaborate argument, extending over many sheets of
paper, to a single page. Had he written the history of our revolution,
which he once commenced, he would probably have compressed the whole
of it in a single volume."

In his professional practice, he never solicited from an opponent any
favour or indulgence any more than he would have done from an armed
foe; but, at the same time, rarely withheld any courtesy that was
asked of him, not inconsistent with the interest of his clients. He
was a strict practitioner, almost a legal _martinet_, and so fond of
legal technicalities, that he never omitted an opportunity of trying
his own skill and that of opposite counsel in special pleas,
demurrers, and exceptions in chancery, notwithstanding the risk of
paying costs sometimes, though rarely incurred, and of protracting a

The labour of drawing his pleadings and briefs, however, at least
after his return from Europe in 1812, always devolved upon others;
and, with marginal notes of all the authorities which had been
consulted, from the year books downward, which were sometimes in law
French and law Latin, to the last reports in England and some half a
dozen of our states, in which may be properly called law English, were
submitted to his critical acumen; his thousand doubts, suggestions,
hints, and queries, which would start from his mind like a flash, and
for a moment seem to throw into inextricable confusion what had been
laboriously, and perhaps profoundly studied, at last would most
generally be adopted without material alterations or additions.

Colonel Burr's mind cannot be said to have been a comprehensive one.
It was acute, analytical, perspicacious, discriminating,
unimaginative, quick to conceive things in detail, but not calculated
to entertain masses of ideas. He would never have gained celebrity as
an author; but as a critic, upon whatever subject, his qualifications
have rarely been surpassed, though in literary matters and the fine
arts they were only exhibited in conversation. His colloquial powers
were impressive and fascinating, though he generally seemed a listener
rather than a talker; but never failed to say a proper thing in the
proper place."

As a public speaker, his ideas were not diffuse enough; or rather, he
appeared to lack fluency to make a long, and what is called an
elaborate argument upon any matter, however grave or momentous. In a
cause in which he was employed as associate counsel with General
Hamilton, an incident occurred, in relation to Chief Justice Yates,
not unworthy recording. It speaks a language that cannot he
misunderstood, and is demonstrative of the influence which he had over
the feelings as well as the minds of his hearers. It was the
celebrated case of Le Guen vs. Gouverneur and Kemble, one of the most
important, in regard to the legal questions and amount of property
involved, which at that day had been brought before our tribunals, and
in which case he completely triumphed. Only a short period previous to
his decease Colonel Burr remarked, that on this occasion he had
acquired more money and more reputation as a lawyer than on any other
during his long practice at the bar. A letter was addressed to Thurlow
Weed, Esq., requesting him to apply to the Hon. John Van Ness Yates,
son of the late chief justice, and ascertain whether the incident, as
reported, was founded on fact. To that letter Mr. Weed received the
following answer.


Albany, July 8th, 1837.


After some difficulty in finding my father's notes of the argument in
the case of Le Guen vs. Gouverneur and Kemble, I have ascertained that
the account you showed me, given in the letter of M. L. Davis, Esq.,
is in the main correct. My father's notes of General Hamilton's
argument are _very copious_. Those of Colonel Burr's are _limited_, in
this way--"Burr for plaintiff, I. The great principles of commercial
law which apply to this case are"--then follows a hiatus of some
lines. After which, as follows:--

"II. The plaintiff"--another _hiatus_.

"III. !!!!!" and this concludes all I can find.

Hamilton's eloquence was (if I may be allowed the expression)
_argumentative_, and induced no great elevation or depression of mind,
consequently could be easily followed by a note taker. Burr's was more
_persuasive_ and _imaginative_. He first enslaved the _heart_, and
then led captive the, _head_. Hamilton addressed himself to the _head_
only. I do not, therefore, wonder that Burr engrossed all the
faculties of the hearer. Indeed, I have heard him often at the bar
myself, and always with the same effect. I do not recollect, in
conversation, any particular allusion of my father's to Burr's
argument in the case of Le Guen _vs_. Gouverneur and Kemble; but I
have frequently heard him say, that of all lawyers at the bar, Burr
was the most difficult to follow in the way of taking notes. Yet Burr
was very _concise_ in his language. He had no pleonasms or expletives.
Every word was in its proper place, and seemed to be the only one
suited to the place. He made few or no repetitions. If what he said
had been immediately committed to the press, it would want no

Yours respectfully,


Colonel Burr's style of speaking at the bar was unique, or peculiarly
his own; always brief; never loud, vehement, or impassioned, but
conciliating, persuasive, and impressive; and when his subject called
for gravity or seriousness, his manner was stern and peremptory. He
was too dignified ever to be a trifler; and his sarcasm, sometimes
indulged in, rarely created a laugh, but powerfully told upon those
who had provoked it. His enunciation was slow, distinct, and emphatic;
perhaps too emphatic; and this was pronounced, by his early and
devoted friend, Judge Paterson, [3] a fault in his mode of speaking
while a youth, and seems never to have been fully corrected, as he did
that of rapid utterance, attaining the true medium for public speaking
in this respect. He spoke with great apparent ease, but could not be
called fluent, although he never appeared at a loss for words, which
were always so chaste and appropriate that they seemed to, have been
as carefully selected before they fell from his lips as if they had
been written down in a prepared speech and committed to memory. His
manner was dignified and courteous; his self-possession never for an
instant forsook him. He never appeared hurried or confused, or
betrayed the slightest embarrassment for want of ideas to support his
argument, or language in which to clothe it; and possessed a memory so
well disciplined as never to forget any thing in the excitement of the
legal forum which in the retirement of his study he had intended to
use. He has frequently been heard to say that he possessed no
oratorical talents; that he never spoke with pleasure, or even
self-satisfaction, and seemed unconscious of the effect which he
produced upon the minds of his audience.

Colonel Burr accorded the palm of eloquence to General Hamilton, whom
he frequently characterized as a man of strong and fertile
imagination, of rhetorical and even poetical genius, and a powerful
declaimer. Burr's ruling passion was an ardent love for military
glory. Next to the career of arms, diplomacy, no doubt, would have
been his choice, for which not only his courtly and fascinating
manners, but every characteristic of his mind peculiarly adapted him.
It is idle now to speculate upon what he might have been had
Washington yielded to the importunities of Madison, Monroe, and
others, and appointed him minister to the French republic. Our
country, before which he then stood in the original brightness of his
character, would have been honoured in the choice, both at home and
abroad, and his own destiny, at least, would have been widely

Notwithstanding oratory was not his forte, and he never spoke in
public with satisfaction to himself, still many anecdotes are told of
him which would show that the effect of his speeches were sometimes of
unequalled power. It is said, that at the close of his farewell
address to the Senate of the United States on his retirement from the
vice-presidency, there was scarcely a dry eye to be seen among his
grave auditors, many of whom were his bitter political adversaries.
His manner of speaking was any thing but declamatory, and more
resembled an elevated tone of conversation, by which a man, without
any seeming intention, pours his ideas in measured and beautiful
language into the minds of some small select circle, dislodging all
which they may have previously entertained upon a particular subject,
and fixing his own there, by the power of a seeming magical
fascination, which he could render, when he chose, almost
irresistible. To judge him by his success as a public speaker, few men
could be called more eloquent.

As a monument of his legal knowledge and talents, his trial at
Richmond may be referred to. The two volumes of Reports which contain
it exhibit on almost every page the impress of his great mind, in its
singular acuteness and perspicacity, and great powers of analysis and
argument. On that trial were engaged some of the ablest lawyers of our
country, and he manifestly took the lead of them all. But the
abilities which he displayed, hour by hour, and day by day, through
that long protracted contest, in which the verdict sought for by those
who then wielded the political destinies of our country was an
ignominious death, were no less remarkable than his unshaken firmness
and high moral elevation of deportment, struggling as he was for
honour and for life.

_Fiat Justicia ruat coelum_, was the motto of Chief Justice Marshall
on the trial of Colonel Burr. He was acquitted, but his acquittal was
not owing to the clemency or partiality of his judges. His acuteness
as a lawyer, and the adroitness with which he managed his defence,
contributed greatly, no doubt, in saving him from becoming a victim,
though his innocence of the charge of treason which had been brought
against him could hardly have effected that acquittal. Here, then, his
talents have done some good to his country, even if it be of a
negative character. They saved it from a stain of blood, which would
have been as indelible as is that of Admiral Byng upon the escutcheon
of England.

After Colonel Burr's return from Europe in 1812, he was engaged in
several important causes, in which he was preeminently successful. His
legal opinion in the great steam-boat cause aided in breaking up that
monopoly. He was originally employed in the important land trial of
Mrs. Bradstreet, and in the Eden causes, involving a large amount of
property in the city of New-York, and turning upon some of the nicest
points of the most difficult branch of the law of real property: he
triumphed over almost the entire force of the New-York bar, backed by
powerful corporations and individuals of great wealth, which they
profusely lavished in a long-protracted contest. He commenced the Eden
suits in opposition to an opinion which bad been given by General
Hamilton, Richard Harrison, and other members of the profession of
high standing, and on the faith of which opinions the parties in
possession of the lands had purchased and held them at the time the
suits were commenced.

Had Colonel Burr assiduously pursued the study of law through life,
like Marshall, Kent, and others, it is not easy to conjecture to what
elevated point he might have risen; but such was not his destiny; the
bent of his genius, which had received its inclination at the stirring
period of the world when he entered into active life, was military.
But to show his persevering industry in his practice as a lawyer, and
his power of enduring fatigue, even when almost an octogenarian, the
following letter, written by him, is inserted.

Albany, March, 1834.

Germond's, Wednesday Evening.

Arrived this evening between 6 and 7 o'clock, having been _forty-five_
hours in the stage without intermission, except to eat a hearty meal.
Stages in very bad order--roads excellent for wheels to Peekskill, and
thence very good sleighing to this city. The night was uncomfortable;
the curtains torn and flying all about, so that we had plenty of fresh

The term was closed this day. Nelson will hold the Special Court
to-morrow morning--have seen both Wendell and O'Connor this
evening--all ready--came neither fatigued nor sleepy.

A. B.


1. For the remarks which I am now about to present to the reader I am
principally indebted to two highly intelligent members of the bar.
_Either_ of whom is fully competent to a development of Colonel Burr's
legal character; and _neither_ of whom would be disqualified by any
prejudices in his _favour_. These gentlemen, it is believed,
entertained different views as to the Practical value of that species
of reading which is necessary to form what is by some termed "a truly
learned lawyer."

2. Colonel Burr's brother-in-law, Judge _Tappan Reeve_, and his uncle,
_Pierpont Edwards_.

3. see Vol. I., Ch. III.


Before entering upon the details connected with the election of 1800,
a brief history of the rise and progress of political parties in the
State of New-York is deemed necessary. By the Constitution adopted
during the revolutionary war, the state was divided into four
districts, viz., The Southern, the Middle, the Eastern, and the
Western. In the Southern District was included the counties of
Richmond (_Staten Island_), Kings, Queens, and Suffolk (_Long
Island_), New-York (_Manhattan Island_), and Westchester. These six
counties, from the autumn of 1776 until the summer of 1783, were in a
great measure in the possession of the British forces, and those
portions of them which were nominally within the American lines were
generally inhabited by tories and refugees. Lord North, or the most
unrelenting of his followers, were not as much opposed to American
independence as were the tories of the united provinces. The city of
New-York became the rendezvous of the most intelligent and influential
of this class. From this point they communicated with the British
premier, through their correspondents in London. Many of them that
were in exile from their late homes in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and
Connecticut, left their families behind them, under the protection of
the whigs. By this arrangement facilities were afforded for
ascertaining the position, resources, and movements of the rebel
armies. These facilities were not neglected, and the information thus
obtained was promptly communicated to the British commander-in-chief
in New-York, and to the ministry in England. The whigs felt that
ingratitude was returned for their hospitality, and, in consequence,
they became daily more incensed against the tories.

It is believed that the war would have terminated in 1780 or 1781, if
the British minister and his military commanders in America had not
been constantly led into errors by the opinions and advice of the
refugees, but especially those residing in the city of New-York.
Entertaining such views, the suffering whigs, in their most trying
hours, consoled themselves with the hope and belief that, when the
struggle should terminate and the country become independent, their
oppressors and persecutors would no longer be permitted to remain
among them. These were the predominant feelings of the men who were
perilling their lives and enduring every species of privation and
hardship for the freedom of their native land.

During the year 1778, Joseph Galloway, formerly of Philadelphia,
sailed for England. His correspondence was extensive, and he became
the depository of all the grievances of the American loyalists. He was
the medium of communication between them, Lord North, and Lord George
Germain. He possessed, in a high degree, the confidence of those who
were the conscience keepers of the king. Among the correspondents of
Mr. Galloway may be enumerated William Franklin, former governor of
New-Jersey, Daniel Cox, and David Ogden, members of his majesty's
council in New-Jersey, the Rev. Dr. Inglis, subsequently bishop of
Nova Scotia, and Isaac Ogden, counsellor at law of New-York, John
Potts, a judge of the Common Pleas in Philadelphia, John Foxcroft,
postmaster general of North America, &c., &c. None of Mr. Galloway's
correspondents exhibited a more vindictive spirit than the Rev. Bishop
Inglis. These letters were private and confidential, excepting so far
as, the ministry were concerned, for whose use most of them were
intended. None of them, it is believed, have ever heretofore found
their way into print. They are now matters of history. They are well
calculated to develop the secret designs of the tories, and, at the
same time, they afford the strongest view that could be given of the
patriotism, the sufferings, and the untiring perseverance of the sons
of liberty in those days. Some extracts will now be made from the
original manuscripts, for the purpose of showing, in a limited degree,
the cause, and thus far justifying the hostile feelings of the whigs
towards the refugees.

The _Rev. Bishop Inglis_, under date of the 12th December, 1778,
says--"Not less than sixty thousand of the rebels have perished by
sickness and the sword since the war began, and these chiefly farmers
and labourers. I consider it certain that a famine is inevitable if
the war continues two years longer; nay, one year war more will bring
inexpressible distress on the country with regard to provisions, and
this will affect the rebellion not less than the depreciation of their
pasteboard dollars. The rebellion, be assured, is on the decline. Its
vigour and resources are nearly spent, and nothing but a little
perseverance and exertion on the part of Britain is necessary to
supress it totally. Butler and Brandt's forces, Indians and loyalists,
I am told, amount to five or six thousand men. They have distressed
and terrified the rebels more since last spring than the whole royal

_Isaac Ogden_, under date 22d November, 1778, says--"Thus has ended a
campaign (if it deserve the appellation) without anything capital
being done or even attempted. How will the historian gain credit who
shall relate, that _at least_ twenty-four thousand of the best troops
in the world were shut up within their own lines by fifteen thousand,
_at most_, of poor wretches, who were illy paid, badly fed, and worse
clothed, and scarce, at best, deserved the name of soldiers?"

_Daniel Cox_, under date of 17th December, 1778, says--"Ned Biddle has
declined his seat in Congress. The truth is, he means to do more
essential service in the assembly, which has ordered the general sense
of the people to be taken respecting the present constitution of
Pennsylvania. Joe Reed is elected, and accepted the honour of being
president and commander-in-chief of the state."

_John Potts_, under date 1st March, 1779, says--"An opinion prevails
here that government (the British) will adopt the mode of devastation.
If that should really take place, adieu to all the hopes of the
friends of government ever again living in America. Be assured that,
should government be restored by such means, her friends would find it
impossible to travel this country without a guard to prevent
assassination. This is not only my opinion, but the real sentiments of
every friend to government. I have conversed with none, except some of
the violent tories, indeed, of New England, _who seem to partake of
the savage temper of our countrymen_." G---- N----[1] has said, in a
confidential letter to a friend of his, "that government wish to get
rid of this country, and is only at a loss how to do it without
leaving it in a situation to injure her."

_Daniel Cox_, 28th February, 1779, says--"At any rate, I see absolute
ruin attend us poor attainted loyalists should the colonies be given
up, or this place (New-York) be evacuated. I once fondly imagined
neither would happen. I wish that our old friend, the Black Prince, [2]
could have the direction here again, and have the glory of conducting
the future operations to a happy conclusion. I think he is more
calculated for it than somebody [3] else, who, though he may possess
zeal and honesty, wants head."

_Isaac Ogden_, 8th March, 1779, says--"Admiral Gambier is ordered from
this station, to the universal joy of all ranks and conditions. I
believe no person was ever more generally detested by navy, army, and
citizen, than this penurious old reptile."

_Daniel Cox_, 10th April, 1779, says--"In an open letter to me, Mrs.
Cox speaks of the increasing depreciation of the continental money,
under the allegory of an old acquaintance of mine lying in a deep
consumption. Should Great Britain be really treating, and give us up,
there must be an end to her glory. But such a misfortune I can never
believe her subject to, unless from her own folly and internal
factions of the accursed opposition."

_Thomas Eddy_, under date 5th month, 3d, 1779, says--"From accounts
received by last packet of the determined resolution of government to
pursue the war in America with vigour, I am led to believe that the
leaders in the rebellion must give up before fall. Indeed, when I
consider the dissatisfaction universally prevalent caused by the
badness of their money, I should not be surprised if such an event
would take place as soon as General, Clinton opens the campaign."

_Bishop, Inglis_, 14th May, 1779, says--"Remonstrate loudly to those
in authority against treating with the Congress--treating with them is
establishing them, and teaching the Americans to look up to them for
deliverance and protection. We have been guilty of a fatal error in
this from the beginning; we now see and feel the consequences. This
should teach us wisdom and better policy. Though we should conquer the
rebels, yet, if an accommodation is settled with the Congress, I shall
consider the colonies as eventually lost, and that in a little time,
to Great Britain."

_John Potts_, 15th May, 1779, says--"In my last I mentioned some
sanguine hopes which I could not help entertaining, from the prospect
of an election to be held in the beginning of April, for a new
convention, as they call it, in Pennsylvania. Those hopes are now
totally destroyed by the efforts of Joe Reed [4] and the violent
party. Their artful cry of tory against the party in favour of the
convention raised a flame too great to be withstood, and procured more
than twelve thousand signers to petitions against that measure, in
consequence of which the assembly rescinded the resolution for holding
the election."

"The person to whom I alluded in my last letter is the woman whom I
mentioned to you last fall as so truly enterprising. She has brought
three messages through the winter. From her I have this much further
to assure you, that great preparations are making at Pittsburgh for
the reception of troops.

"The friends of government all agree that they will be content to risk
for ever every future hope and prospect of being restored to their
estates, provided Great Britain will but secure her own authority
fully before any terms are listened to; and, when that is acknowledged
and established, then grant terms as liberal as she pleases,
consistent with good government and future security."

_Bishop Inglis_, 3d September, 1779, says--"General Tryon made two or
three descents on the coast of Connecticut, and burnt the towns of
Fairfield and Norwalk. He was accompanied by a large body of refugees,
who were extremely useful, and behaved with a resolution and
intrepidity which did them great honour. Had the descents on
Connecticut _been longer continued and carried on more extensively,
the most salutary consequences might be apprehended_.

"The delusive notion of treating with Congress, I find, still prevails
in some degree among you. Yet nothing could be more destructive to the
interest of government. Treating with them would be confirming their
usurpation. The loyalists, universally dread this above all things.
However they may differ in opinion on other points, they are unanimous
and united in this; and where so many are perfectly agreed in a matter
which is level to all understandings, it must be the evident dictate
of truth and reason."

_Isaac Ogden_, 20th September, 1779, says--"You may well ask what we
are doing here. Our army is now (including the garrison from Rhode
Island) at least twenty-four thousand men, a number sufficient to
march through the whole continent; but what do numbers avail when they
are cooped up in this dastardly manner? A want of knowledge of the
country, a want of enterprise, or a want of something else, God only
knows what, has prevented any and every attempt to interfere with the
enemy. It is not a want of sufficient force, neither is it because it
was impracticable. These are facts that the warmest of the rebels
acknowledge. Their force is really despicable when compared to the
army here. How is General Vaughan? I sincerely wish to see him at the
head of the army here, as he is the only general that has been here
that would listen to the advice of the American loyalists."

_Bishop Inglis_, 6th of November, 1779, says--"We have now within our
lines upward of twenty-six thousand effective men, as I have been
informed. Such a force, if led out and exerted with judgment and
spirit, could not be resisted by the rebels--it must bear down all
opposition. It is reported that Sir Henry Clinton is appointed sole
commissioner, with authority to choose five assistants as a counsel,
and that he is vested with power to treat with Congress, &c. It may be
very proper to have a commissioner here, vested with extensive powers;
but as to any hopes of treating with Congress about an accommodation,
be assured they are visionary. Congress have done enough to dissipate
all such fond expectations, unless their independence is acknowledged;
and I should be heartily sorry if a measure so dishonourable to the
nation, as treating with the Congress in any respect, were adopted.
Insult and obstinacy is all that can be expected from them.

"With respect to the rebellion, I am clearly of opinion that it daily
declines. Washington is the man to whom the army look for redress and
support. He is _now_ in America what Monk was in England in 1659. I
wish I could say in every respect. Were he equally disposed, he might
effect as sudden and total a revolution, here as honest George Monk
did then in England."

_Isaac Ogden_, 16th December, 1779, says--"There is an anecdote of
General Grey that I have lately heard and believe to be true, though
the fact cannot now be fully ascertained. Just before the battle of
Brandywine, an officer was despatched home by General Howe. General
Grey undertook to give him his instructions how to demean himself on
his arrival in London, &c. A copy of these instructions was found by a
countryman, and delivered to Joe Shippen (Secretary _Joe_,) who now
has them in Philadelphia. A gentleman here has seen them. As he
related them to me, you have them. 'You will first go to Lord George
Germain; he will ask you such and such question; you will answer them
_so and so_. You will then be sent to Lord North, who will ask you
these questions; you will thus answer them. You will then be sent to
the king, who will also ask you, &c.; you are also to give him these
answers. You will then be examined by the queen. She is a sensible
woman. You must answer with caution, but, of all things, be careful
that you say nothing that will condemn the conduct of General Howe.'
Some pains are taken to procure this paper from Mr. Shippen; if it can
be obtained, you will have it."

_David Ogden_, 3d December, 1779, says--"What gives me great concern
is the fear of a dishonourable peace being made with the rebels. My
fears arise from what I am told many of the officers in the army give
out that America can never be conquered; and the sooner it is given
up, and independence admitted by the crown and parliament, the better
for Great Britain; and I am also informed that they have wrote to that
purpose to their friends in England. What effect this may have on your
side of the Atlantic, backed by the anti-ministerial party with you,
enemies to monarchy and the great supporters of the rebellion in
America, time must show; but I am persuaded that the present ministers
will never give the least countenance to the independence of America.
The laying the country waste has been called cruelty by the favourers
of the rebellion, and said to be below the character of Britons; but
in cases of rebellion, it has always, by the most civilized nations,
been held justifiable, and no history affords an instance of calling
it cruelty. The great mercy shown the rebels since the commencement of
the rebellion is esteemed to be the greatest cruelty, as the lives of
many thousands would have been preserved by a vigorous, exertion of
the king's troops to distress the rebels wherever they marched, having
a strict regard not to injure the loyalists."

_Daniel Cox_, 7th December, 1779, says--"Should you see Joe Reed's
late speech to the assembly of Pennsylvania, you would imagine they
felt no shock from the Georgia defeat. [5]

If but common means are actively employed and properly conducted, the
rebellion must be crushed totally next campaign. I doubt not every
effort in the power of Congress, both abroad and at home, will be made
to carry themselves through another year; but, if you are successful
at home, they must go to the devil. For God's sake, therefore, do not
be frightened nor give us up; all must go right if You are but firm."

Reference has already been made to General Arnold's treason during the
summer of 1780.[6]

From the private correspondence of Mr. Galloway, it appears, that as
early as the autumn of 1778 Arnold was considered by the refugees as
"_lenient_," if not friendly to them, and in this light was
represented to the British ministry.

_Charles Stewart_, under date of the 17th December, 1778,
says--"General Arnold is in Philadelphia. It is said that he will be
discharged, being thought a _pert tory_. Certain it is that he
associates mostly with those people, and is to be married to Miss
Shippen, daughter of Edward Shippen, Esq."

_David Sproat_, 11th January, 1779, says--"You will also hear that
General Arnold, commandant in Philadelphia, has behaved with lenity to
the tories, and that he is on the eve of marriage to one of Edward
Shippen's daughters."

_James Humphreys, Jun_. (printer), 8th of April, 1779, says--"General
Arnold has been accused by the council of sundry misdemeanors. He has
insisted upon a trial by a court martial, and was triumphantly
acquitted. The Congress, however, have thought proper to remove him
from his command in the city of Philadelphia, he being of too lenient
a disposition to answer their cruel purposes."

This correspondence also develops the conflicting views which were
taken by the tories as to the operations of the British army. So far
as it had any influence, it was calculated to embarrass the ministry.
Only two very short extracts will be given on this subject. The
dividing point between the northern and the southern tories was
whether the main army should take possession of Hudson's river, or the
isthmus between Newcastle and Chesapeake Bay.

_Bishop Inglis_, May 14th, 1779, says--"I am still of opinion that
taking possession of Hudson's river should be the first object. When
that is done, which will effectually divide the rebel forces,
circumstances should determine whether our operations should be
directed eastward or westward."

_John Potts_, December 17th, 1778, says--"If government means to
pursue this matter, she must spare men enough to take possession of
the isthmus between Newcastle and Chesapeake Bay, and, by clearing
that country of rebels, procure sufficient provision and forage for
the whole British force in America. That country can also supply the
fleet with a great quantity of naval stores. The whole trade of
Maryland and Pennsylvania will be destroyed, and a great part of
Virginia. The interior of that peninsula is better disposed towards
the British government than any other country in the middle colonies.
If possession of Rhode Island and this place (New-York) is retained,
and that post taken, America has no access to sea from any
intermediate port but Egg Harbour, which will then be scarcely an
object. This is your plan, excepting the possession of Philadelphia
and Bordentown, and, as the troops would not be dispersed too much,
would, for that reason, be more eligible."

During the winter of 1778--79, the tories had it in contemplation to
establish a regular corps for the purpose of plundering the whigs.
About this period Colonel Burr took command of the lines in
Westchester. His opinion of this system of warfare is expressed in a
letter to General McDougall from which the following is
extracted--"Colonel Littlefield, with the party, returned this
morning. Notwithstanding the cautions I gave, and notwithstanding
Colonel Littlefield's good intentions, I blush to tell you that the
party returned loaded with plunder. Sir, till now I never wished for
arbitrary power. I could gibbet half a dozen _good_ whigs with all the
venom of an inveterate tory." [7]

Let the reader compare the above _whig_ sentiment with the following
_tory_ arrangement:--

_Christopher Sower_, 1st March, 1779, says--"An association is signing
here (New-York), according to which the loyalists are to form
themselves into companies of fifty men each; choose their own
officers; to have the _disposal_ of all prisoners by them taken; to
make excursions against the rebels, plunder them, sell the spoil,
appoint an agent to receive the money, and to divide it among them in
equal shares." [8]

In the autumn of 1779 the refugees in New-York formed a board of
delegates from the several provinces. In reference to it, _Daniel
Cox_, December 7th, 1779, says--"I have lately brought about a general
representation of all the refugees from the respective colonies, which
now compose a board, called the board of refugees, and of which I have
the honour at present to be president. We vote by colonies, and
conduct our debates in quite a parliamentary style."

_Christopher Sower_, the 5th of December, 1779, says--"The deputies of
the refugees from the different provinces meet once a week. Daniel
Cox, Esq., was appointed to the chair, to deprive him of the
opportunity of speaking, as he has the gift of saying little with many

Only one more extract will be given from the correspondence of Mr.
Galloway, and that relates to the doings of this board of refugees.
Among their labours, the manner of bringing the war to a speedy
termination, and the formation of a constitution for the British
provinces, engrossed their attention. No comments will be made on the
plan; but it will not be found unworthy a careful perusal. Although
presented as the individual suggestion of Mr. Ogden, it is evident,
from other portions of the correspondence, that it was not unadvised,
and, to the American reader, is now an amusing document.

_David Ogden_, 3d December, 1779, says--"When America submits to the
crown of Great Britain, which I take as a matter certain, and will
soon happen if proper measures are not neglected--pray, will not a
constitution and government, in a manner something similar to the
following, be most for the honour, security, peace, and interest of
Great Britain, and also for the happiness and safety of America, and
most compatible to the spirit and genius of both?

"That the right of taxation of America by the British parliament be
given up. That the several colonies be restored to their former
constitutions and forms of government, except in the instances after
mentioned. That each colony have a governor and council appointed by
the crown, and a house of representatives to be elected by the
freeholders, inhabitants of the several counties, not more than forty
nor less than thirty for a colony, who shall have power to make all
necessary laws for the internal government and benefit of each
respective colony that are not repugnant or contradictory to the laws
of Great Britain, or the laws of the American parliament, made and
enacted to be in force in the colonies for the government, utility,
and safety of the whole. That an American parliament be established
for all the English colonies on the continent, to consist of a lord
lieutenant, barons (to be created for that purpose), not to exceed, at
present, more than twelve, nor less than eight from each colony, to be
appointed by his majesty out of the freeholders, inhabitants of each
colony; a house of commons, not to exceed twelve nor less than eight,
from each colony, to be elected by the respective houses of
representatives for each colony, which parliament, so constituted, to
be three branches of legislature of the northern colonies, and to be
styled and called the Lord Lieutenant, the Lords, and Commons of the
British Colonies in North America. That they have the power of
enacting laws, in all cases whatsoever, for the general good, benefit,
and security of the colonies, and for their mutual safety, both
defensive and offensive, against the king's enemies, rebels, &c.;
proportioning the taxes to be raised in such cases by each colony. The
mode for raising the same to be enacted by the general assembly of
each colony, which, if refused or neglected, be directed and
prescribed by the North American parliament, with power to levy the
same. That the laws of the American parliament shall be in force till
repealed by his majesty in council; and the laws of the several
legislatures of the respective colonies to be in force till the same
be repealed by his majesty, or made void by an act and law of the
American parliament. That the American parliament have the
superintendence and government of the several colleges in North
America, most of which have been the grand nurseries of the late
rebellion, instilling into the tender minds of youth principles
favourable to republican, and against a monarchical government, and
other doctrines incompatible to the British constitution.

"A constitution and government something similar to the above, I am
convinced, from the knowledge I have of the temper and spirit of the
inhabitants of the colonies, will be most acceptable to them in
general (it being what they wish for), and will also be conducive to
establish a continued and lasting peace and harmony between Great
Britain and the colonies. The Congress, no doubt, as it will deprive
them of their power, will oppose the same by every artifice, as well
as every other plan of accommodation that will lessen their grandeur
and consequence. I am therefore persuaded that the Congress had best
be altogether disregarded in any overtures of accommodation to be made
or proposed, and all treaties with them absolutely refused, either
directly with them, or indirectly through the courts of France and
Spain, as men void of faith, or even common justice--deceivers of the
people, and enemies to the public weal and happiness of mankind. And
to facilitate a submission instead of a treaty, proceed with the army
against the rebels with vigour and spirit, and issue a proclamation
containing a constitution for North America, and a pardon to all who
lay down their arms and take the oath of allegiance to his majesty and
his government, _excepting_, as necessary examples of justice,

"_First_. The several members of the Continental Congress who have
been elected and served as members thereof since the declaration of

"_Second_. All governors, presidents of the supreme executive councils
or of other councils, or of any of the colonies, acting under the
Congress, or any new and usurped form of government.

"_Third_. All those who have been by his majesty appointed of his
council in any of the colonies, and since taken an active part in the
civil or military department under the Congress or under any
establishment of the rebel government.

"_Fourth_. All judges who have, since the rebellion, passed sentence
of death against any of his majesty's liege subjects, for any supposed
or real crime, committed or pretended to be committed against any law
enacted or made by the Congress, or by any of the usurped or pretended
legislatures of the colonies, making the fact or facts criminal for
which he, she, or they were condemned to suffer death.

"_Fifth_. All commissaries and others who have seized and sold the
estates of any of his majesty's liege subjects, under any pretence
whatsoever, unless it was done by the consent and orders of the
rightful owner, leaving all such to the mercy of his majesty, to be
granted to those only whose conduct merits mercy, and hold up the same
in the proclamation, if any should issue.

"Will it not be proper as well as just to have the estates of the
rebels who are gone out of the king's lines among the rebels
forfeited, confiscated, and sold by commissioners to be appointed for
that purpose, and the moneys arising on the sales to be applied to the
use of the refugees, to compensate for their sufferings by the rebels
in ease of the parliamentary donations? Will not the perfidy of France
and Spain justify Great Britain in proposing and entering into an
alliance with the courts of Russia, Prussia, and other powers, to
unite against France and Spain, the common disturbers of public
tranquillity; take and divide among them all their islands in the West


1. Lord North.

2. General Vaughan.

3. Sir Henry Clinton.

4. The Hon. Joseph Reed, whom the British attempted to bribe through
the agency of Mrs. Ferguson.

5. Referring to the discomfiture at Savannah of the combined forces of
France and the United States; the former under the command of Count
D'Estaing, the latter commanded by General Lincoln.

6. See Vol. I., Ch. XIII.

7. See Vol. I., Ch. IX.

8. On the back of Mr. Sower's letter Mr. Galloway has made, in his own
handwriting, this endorsement--"Mr. Sower is a German refugee at
New-York, and a person of the greatest influence among the Germans in


The extracts which have been given from the correspondence of Mr.
Galloway present, in a point of view sufficiently clear and distinct,
the unquestionable hostility of the tories towards the whigs; the
manner in which they wished the British ministry to conduct the
contest; the punishment they would have inflicted upon the rebels if
they had been successful, and the form in which they would have
subsequently governed the country. These views are deemed a sufficient
reason for the feelings of the whigs; a justification of those
legislative disqualifications of the tories which were adopted by the
State of New-York during the war of the revolution, and cause for the
patriotic determination that the refugees should not be protected or
permitted to remain in the land which they had so zealously struggled
to enslave.

At a very early period after the declaration of Independence, parties
were formed among the whigs. In the State of New-York, at the first
election, in 1777, for governor under the new Constitution, General
Schuyler was presented in opposition to George Clinton, but was
defeated. With that defeat it is believed commenced political
heart-burnings and collisions which, although at times smothered, were
never extinguished. Schuyler was a man of great boldness and sagacity.
He was personally unpopular, yet he possessed a commanding influence
over the mind of those with whom lie commingled or was in any manner
connected; an ascendancy which, in a measure, was to be ascribed to
the force of intellect.

On the 12th of September, 1780, General Schuyler was a candidate for
Congress. At that time the members were chosen by the legislature.
Each house, viva voce, named a candidate. The two branches then met
together and compared their nominations. If they both designated the
same individual, he was declared to be chosen. If not, they proceeded
as one body to a ballot, and the person having a majority of all the
votes given was duly elected. The house almost unanimously nominated
General Schuyler, the vote being for Schuyler, thirty-one, for Ezra
L'Hommidieu seven. The senate nominated L'Hommidieu. In joint ballot,
notwithstanding the vote Schuyler had received in the house,
L'Hommidieu was chosen. For some reason not then explained, there was
a sudden and extraordinary change of opinion in the legislature in
relation to General Schuyler.

About this period, certain individuals were for the appointment of a
"Supreme dictator, with all the powers conferred by the Roman people."
A convention was to be held at Hartford, consisting of delegates from
the five New-England states and the state of New-York, for the
purpose, among other objects, of devising more efficient measures for
the supply of the army. Judge Hobart, Egbert Benson, and General
Schuyler were the delegates. "It was for a contemplated by the
legislature to give them instructions to propose that a dictator
should be appointed, for which a majority in the more popular branch
were believed to be favourable. This 'mad project,' as Colonel
Alexander Hamilton designated it, was communicated to him by General
Schuyler in a letter of the 16th of September, 1780." [1]

The scheme was opposed with great ardour and perseverance by Governor
George Clinton, Ezra L'Hommidieu, and others; but, through the
influence of the former, in a great measure, the "mad project" was
defeated. Here again the party lines were drawn between Governor
Clinton and General Schuyler. It is highly probable that the plan for
appointing a "supreme dictator" was a principal cause for the change
of opinion respecting General Schuyler in the legislature on the 12th
of September, and contributed to defeat his election to Congress.

From this period until the adoption of the Federal Constitution, the
Clinton and the Schuyler parties continued to exist. In the ranks of
the latter there was great concert in action. On an examination of the
legislative journals from 1777 to 1788, it will be seen, that with
General Schuyler were the Jays, the Livingstons, the Van Rensellaers,
and the Bensons, and that they almost uniformly voted together.

And now of the tories. In the year 1779 some of them, who had removed
from Albany within the British lines, petitioned the legislature for
leave to return, which petition was rejected. At the same session an
act was passed requiring all counsellors and attorneys, before they
could be permitted to practice in any court, to produce evidence of
their attachment to the liberty and independence of the United States.
On the 20th of November, 1781, a special act was passed on the same
subject, confirmatory of what bad been done in 1779.

The first session of the legislature after the revolutionary war was
held in the city of New-York. It was convened by proclamation of the
governor on the 6th of January, 1784, and continued its sitting until
the 12th of May following. In the first month of the session, numerous
petitions were presented by the tories, praying to be relieved from
their banishment, and to be permitted a residence within the state.
The legislature perceived that, if they did not act promptly, their
tables would be covered with these memorials. Therefore, in the
language of Governor Clinton at the opening of the session, the
assembly said--

"While we recollect the general progress of a war which has been
marked with cruelty and rapine; while we survey the ruins of this once
flourishing city and its vicinity; while we sympathize in the
calamities which have reduced so many of our virtuous fellow-citizens
to want and distress, and are anxiously solicitous for means to repair
the wastes and misfortunes which we lament," we cannot hearken to
these petitions. They were referred to a select committee, which
committee in a few days reported against granting their prayer, and
the house instantly, without a division, agreed to the report. This
was on the 9th of February, 1784.

On the 11th of February, 1784, the assembly passed a resolution
directing that the names of those persons that had been attainted
should be communicated to the governors of the several states;
requesting to be supplied, in like manner, with "a list of the persons
proscribed or banished by their respective states, in order that
thereby the _principles of federal union_ may be adhered to and
preserved." In the senate this resolution was permitted to sleep.

Chancellor Robert R. Livingston, in a letter to John Jay dated the
25th of January, 1784, thus speaks of parties at this period. "Our
parties are, first, the tories, who still hope for power, under the
idea that the remembrance of the past should be lost, though they
daily keep it up by their avowed attachment to Great Britain;
secondly, the violent whigs, who are for expelling all tories from the
state, in hopes, by that means, to preserve the power in their own
hands. The third are those who wish to suppress all violence, to
soften the rigour of the laws against the loyalists, and not to banish
them from that social intercourse which may, by degrees, obliterate
the remembrance of past misdeeds."

On the 8th of March, 1784, Peter Yates and three hundred others
petitioned the legislature to prevent those persons who had joined or
remained with the enemy during the late war from returning, and to
prohibit such as have remained from being eligible to any office of
profit or trust. On the 31st of the same month strong resolutions were
introduced into the house, and adopted by both branches, against the
tories, declaring, among other things, "That as, on the one hand, the
rules of justice do not require, so, on the other, the public
tranquility will not permit, that such adherents who have been
attainted should be restored to the rights of citizenship."

In May, 1784, the legislature passed an act entitled "An act to,
preserve the freedom and independence of this state, and for other
purposes." The object of this law was to prohibit the tories from
holding any office. The Council of Revision returned the bill, with
objections to its passage, one of which was, "that so large a portion
of the citizens remained in parts of the _Southern District_ which
were possessed by the British armies, that in most places it would be
difficult, and in many _absolutely impossible_, to find men to fill
the necessary offices, even for _conducting_ elections, until a new
set of inhabitants could be procured."

This bill of disfranchisement, notwithstanding the objections of the
Council of Revision, was passed by more than two thirds of both
branches, and thus became a law. Such were the feelings of the
"violent whigs;" such the policy of the first legislature after the
termination of the war. But, unfortunately, among those who had fought
the battles of the revolution, there were some who doubted the
capacity of the people for self-government, while there were others
who sought power and influence at the hazard of principle. The
Schuyler party were in the minority. The Clinton party, designated by
Chancellor Livingston as the "violent whigs," were uncompromising on
the question of banishing the tories, who were numerous, especially in
the Southern District. It seemed probable, therefore, if restored to
citizenship, that they would amalgamate with the _third_ party, or
that class of whigs "who wished to suppress all violence, and to
soften the rigour of the laws against the royalists."

In March, 1783, the legislature passed an act entitled "An act for
granting more effectual relief in cases of trespass." The object of
this act was to enable the whigs at the termination of the war to
recover from the tories rent for any landed estate they might have
occupied; and in cases of suit for such rent, the act declares "that
no defendant or defendants shall be admitted to plead in justification
any military order or command whatsoever for such occupancy."

Under this statute an action was commenced by Mrs. Rutgers against Mr.
Waddington, in the Mayor's Court of the City of New-York, for the
recovery of rent for the occupancy of a brewhouse and malthouse, the
property of the said Mrs. Rutgers. The cause was argued on the 29th of
June, 1784, James Duane as Mayor, and Richard Varick as Recorder,
presiding. On the 27th of August the court gave judgment "that the
plea of the defendant was good for so much of the time as he held
under the British commander-in-chief; because, in the opinion of the
court, a liberal construction of the law of nations would make it so."
As this decision involved a great principle, and would materially
affect the whigs whose property had been occupied by the tories during
the war, it produced great excitement.

A meeting of the whigs was convened on the 13th of September, 1784. A
committee was appointed, and an address to the people of the state
prepared and published by them. That committee consisted of Melancton
Smith, Peter Ricker, Jonathan Lawrence, Anthony Rutgers, Peter T.
Curtenius, Thomas Tucker, Daniel Shaw, Adam Gilchrist, Junr., and John
Wiley. Of this committee Melancton Smith was the life and soul. He was
the author of the address--a clear, able, and unanswerable exposition
of the case. It states the determination of Mrs. Rutgers to carry it
up to the Supreme Court, and, if defeated there, to the Senate, which,
with the judges of the Supreme Court, constituted the Court for the
Correction of Errors. Having reference to the contemplated
proceedings, the address closes as follows:--

"Preparatory to such an event, we exhort you to be cautious, in your
future choice of senators, that none be elected but those on whom,
from long and certain experience, you can rely as men attached to the
liberty of America, and firm friends to our laws and constitution; men
who will spurn at any proposition that has a tendency to curtail the
privileges of the people, and who, at the same time that they protect
us against _judicial tyranny_, have wisdom to see the propriety of
supporting that necessary independence in courts of justice, both of
the legislature and people.

"Having confined ourselves to constitutional measures, and now
solemnly declaring our disapprobation of all others, we feel a freedom
in sounding the alarm to our fellow-citizens. If that independence,
which we have obtained at a risk which makes the acquisition little
less than miraculous, was worth contending for against a powerful and
enraged monarch, and at the expense of the best blood in America,
surely its preservation is worth contending for against those _among
ourselves who might impiously hope to build their greatness upon the
ruins of that fabric which was so dearly established_.

"That the principle of decision in the case of Rutgers _vs_.
Waddington is dangerous to the freedom of our government, and that a
perseverance in that principle would leave our legislature nothing but
a name, and render their sessions nothing more than an expensive form
of government, the preceding remarks must evidence.

"Permit us, on this occasion, earnestly to entreat you to join us in
watchfulness against every attempt that may be used, either violently
and suddenly, or _gently_ and _imperceptibly, to effect a revolution_
in the _spirit_ and _genius_ of our government; and _should there be
among us characters to whom the simplicity of it is offensive_, let
our attention and perseverance be such as to _preclude the hopes of a

Here again the party lines of 1777 are distinctly marked. Melancton
Smith, Jonathan Lawrence, &c., were of the Clinton party, while Mr.
Duane and Mr. Varick were attached to the Schuyler interest.

In October, 1784, the case of Rutgers _vs_. Waddington was brought
before the legislature, and on the 27th of that month the assembly

_Resolved_, That this adjudication is subversive of all law and good
order; because, if a court instituted for the _benefit and government
of a corporation_ may take upon themselves to dispense with a law of
the state, all other courts may do the like: therefore,

_Resolved_, That it be recommended to the honourable the Council of
Appointment, at their next session, to appoint such persons to be
mayor and recorder of the city of New-York as will govern themselves
by the known laws of the land.

Subsequently Waddington compromised the claim against him; but the law
in similar cases became operative, and remained so until its repeal by
the legislature. In the following session, March, 1785, an
unsuccessful attempt was made to repeal the act of 1781, disqualifying
tory counsellors and attorneys; some modification, however, of other
laws of a similar character was effected. In April, 1786, the
repealing act passed; and the restriction on the tory lawyers being
removed, they were permitted to practise in the several courts of the
state. During the same month, "an act for the payment of certain sums
of money" was amended by adding a clause, "restoring to the rights of
citizenship, on taking the oath of abjuration and allegiance," all
such persons as had been disfranchised by the third clause of the act
entitled "An act to preserve the freedom and independence of this
state," passed the 12th of May, 1784. During this session the Schuyler
party had the ascendence, and on all questions having a political
aspect the names of Alexander Hamilton, Richard Varick, C. Livingston,
Nicholas Bayard, David Brooks, James Livingston, &c., will be found on
the same side.

On the 10th of March, 1787, Mr. Hamilton asked leave, which was
granted, to bring in a bill to repeal the act entitled "An act for
granting relief in case of certain trespasses." This was the act under
which the suit had been commenced against Waddington, and which case
produced so much excitement in the summer and autumn of 1784. Mr.
Hamilton's bill passed; but, lest there should be some forgotten
statute that might restrict or limit the political privileges of the
tories, it was deemed expedient, on the 13th of April, to introduce
and pass an act under the imposing title of "An act to repeal all laws
of this state inconsistent with the treaty of peace." As its
provisions met every possible case, the tories were now placed on a
footing with the whigs. All they wanted was leaders. The rank and file
they already possessed.

The Schuyler party sought allies. The tories were numerous, especially
in the Southern District. The Clinton party, designated by Chancellor
Livingston, in his letter to John Jay, as the "_violent whigs_," were
uncompromising on the question of banishing the tories from the state.
It seemed probable, therefore, that, sooner or later, if restored to
citizenship, they would amalgamate with that class of whigs who wished
to suppress "all violence, and to soften the rigour of the laws
against the royalists."

The effect of these legislative measures on the tories was anticipated
by both friends and foes. Chancellor Livingston, in January, 1784, had
said that there were three parties in the state:--

_First_. The tories.

_Second_. The violent whigs.

_Third_. Those who wished " to soften the rigour of the laws against
the royalists."

The Council of Revision, composed of Robert R. Livingston, Justice
Morris, and Judge Hobart, had solemnly placed on record their opinion,
that, in some portions of the Southern District "it would be
difficult, and in many _absolutely impossible_, to find whigs to fill
the necessary offices even for _conducting_ elections." Under such
circumstances it was evident that the _first_ and _third_ parties must
amalgamate, and such was the result.

In January, 1788, the legislature met, and directed the call of a
State Convention, to whom was to be submitted the Federal
Constitution, as adopted by the General Convention held in
Philadelphia in May, 1787. During this session the same party lines
continued to be visible, although the respective parties had now
assumed, or were designated by new names. The Schuyler was called the
Federal party, and the Clinton the anti-Federal party; thev were
composed, however, of the same individuals, with very few exceptions.
The great, and almost the only strength which the federal party
possessed in the state was in the Southern District. Here the
acquisition of the tories rendered their power and influence
irresistible. From this district, composed of the counties of
Westchester, New-York, Richmond, King's, Queen's, and Suffolk, the
federalists had in the Assembly, during the session of 1788-89,
_twenty_ votes, and on no _party_ question did they command, during
the whole session, more than _twenty-three_ votes.

In December, 1788, a bill for carrying into operation the federal
constitution being under consideration, a proposition was made to
choose United States senators; but the federalists having a majority
in the Senate, and the anti-federalists a majority in the House of
Assembly, no compromise between the parties could be effected, and
consequently no senators were chosen.

The following persons may be considered as constituting the strength
of the Schuyler, now federal party, in the assembly of 1788-89:--

Brockholst Livingston, of the city of New-York. William W. Gilbert, "
" Alexander Macomb, " " Richard Harrison, " " Nicholas Hoffman, " "
John Watts, Jun., " " Nicholas Low, " " Gulian Verplanck, " " Comfort
Sands, " " Philip Van Cortlandt, Westchester county. Philip
Livingston, " " Nathaniel Rockwell, " " Walter Seaman, " " Jonathan
Horton, " " John Younglove, Albany county. Henry K. Van Rensellaer, "
" Stephen Carman, Queen's county. Whitehead Cornwell, " " Peter
Vandervoort, King's county. Aquilla Giles, " " Abraham Bancker,
Richmond county. John C. Dongan, " " Samuel A. Barker, Dutchess

It will be observed, that all the above Schuyler or federal members,
with the exception of _two_ from Albany and _one_ from Dutchess
county, were elected as representatives from the Southern District.

Having stated the origin and progress of the great political parties
in the State of New-York, as they appear from the public records, it
may be proper to add that Colonel Burr belonged to what was termed by
Mr. Livingston "the violent whig party." By that party, while the
tories were disfranchised, Mr. Burr was elected in 1784 to represent
the city and county of New-York in the legislature. By that party, in
1789, he was appointed attorney-general of the state. By that party,
in 1791, he was appointed a senator of the United States. By that
party, in 1792, he was appointed a judge of the Supreme Court. By that
party, subsequently, he was elected a member of the Assembly and a
member of the Convention to revise the Constitution of the State, of
which convention he was president; and by that party, in 1800, he was
elected vice-president of the United States.

It is not intended to discuss the policy, the humanity, or the justice
of the several measures proposed or adopted in relation to the tories
by "_the violent whigs_," or by those whigs who wished "_to soften the
rigour of the laws against the loyalists_." The historical facts have
been given, and the sources from whence they were derived specified.
The feelings and opinions of "_the violent whigs_," are expressed by
the legislature of the state on the 9th of February, 1784, and by
Governor George Clinton at the opening of that session in the city of
New-York. They say--" While we recollect the general progress of a war
which has been marked with cruelty and rapine; while we survey the
ruins of this once flourishing city and its vicinity; while we
sympathize in the calamities which have reduced so many of our
virtuous fellow-citizens to want and distress, and are anxiously
solicitous for means to repair the wastes and misfortunes which we
lament, we cannot hearken to these petitions."

On the other hand, the sentiments and views of those whigs who wished
"_to soften the rigour of the laws against the loyalists_" are to be
found in the following extracts of letters.


"Passay, 9th April, 1783.

"The tories will doubtless cause some difficulty; but that they have
always done; and as this will probably be the _last time_, we must
make the best of it. A universal, indiscriminate condemnation and
expulsion of those people would not redound to our honour, because so
harsh a measure would partake more of vengeance than of justice. For
my part, I wish that all, except _the faithless and cruel_, may be
forgiven. That exception would indeed _extend to very few_; but even
if it applied to the case of one only, that one ought, in my opinion,
to be saved."


"Passay, 12th September, 1783.

"Europe hears much, and wishes to hear more of divisions, seditions,
violences, and confusions among us. The tories are generally and
greatly pitied; _more, indeed, than they deserve_. The indiscriminate
expulsion and ruin of that whole class and description of men would
not do honour to our magnanimity or humanity, especially in the
opinion of those nations who consider, with more astonishment than
pleasure, the terms of peace which America has obtained."


1. See Life of Hamilton, Vol. I., p. 316

2. Jay's Works, Vol. I., p. 128.


It has been seen that the Livingstons were of the Schuyler party
during the revolutionary war, and that they continued so until the
year 1787, when, in common with their political friends, they were the
warm and ardent champions of the Federal Constitution. After its
adoption, and the organization of the government under it, they soon
became dissatisfied. The cause of that dissatisfaction has been
differently explained. On the one hand it was said that they were
alarmed at the doctrines of those who had been called to administer
the government, and at the assumption of powers not delegated by the
people. That they apprehended the government was verging towards a
_consolidated national_, instead of a _federal_ government of states.

On the other hand it was alleged that the family were disappointed and
disgusted at the neglect which they experienced from General
Washington. That, as Robert R. Livingston had been, in the state
convention which adopted the Constitution, one of its most splendid
and efficient supporters, he and his connexions anticipated his
appointment to some exalted station; but that, while he was passed by
unnoticed, his colleagues in that body, John Jay and Alexander
Hamilton, had both received distinguished appointments--the one as
Chief Justice of the United States, and the other as Secretary of the
Treasury. Whatever may have been the cause of this change, it is
certain that they soon abandoned the federal, and united their
political destiny with the anti-federal party. Although these
gentlemen, as politicians, were acting in concert with Mr. Burr, yet
there was no cordiality of feeling between them. In their social
intercourse, however, the most perfect comity was observed; and as
they were in a minority, struggling to break down a party haughty,
proscriptive, and intolerant beyond any thing that the American people
had beheld, they zealously united their efforts in effecting the
revolution of 1800.

Soon after the adoption of the new constitution, the anti-federal
party were recognised by a name more descriptive of their principles
and their views. They assumed the title of democrats. They considered
themselves anti-consolidationists, but not anti-federalists. They knew
that a section of the dominant party were the friends of a splendid
national government. That they were the advocates of a system, by
means of which all power would have concentrated in the general, and
the state governments been reduced to the level of mere corporations.
Against this system the democrats reasoned and contended with unabated
zeal. They were the early, unflinching, and faithful champions of
state rights_.

From the year 1790 until 1800, the democratic and federal parties were
alternately triumphant, both in the city and in the state of New-York.
In the former, the result of an election was frequently decided by the
operations of some local or exciting topic. No decisive contest took
place between the parties previous to 1800, founded on any great or
controlling principle of government. But, during the years 1798 and
1799, the whole country was agitated from one extreme to the other.
Revolutionary France was convulsed, and, in the midst of her
convulsions and sufferings, was daily committing the most cruel and
wanton excesses towards her own citizens, while she was offering
taunts and insults to foreign nations. The federal party seemed to
sigh for a war with France. Pretending that they apprehended a French
invasion, a large standing army was raised. At the head of this army,
second in command to General Washington, was placed General Alexander
Hamilton. To support the army and other useless extravagant
expenditures, a land tax and an _eight per cent._ loan was found
necessary. To silence the murmurs of an oppressed people, a sedition
law was enacted. Such were some of the fruits of the elder Mr. Adams's

In the autumn of 1799 and the winter of 1799-1800, the interesting and
vital question was presented to the American nation:--Will you sustain
this administration and these measures, and thus rivet chains upon
yourselves and your posterity? Or will you calmly, but firmly and in
union, resort to the constitutional remedy (the ballot-boxes) for
relief from wrongs and oppressions which, if permitted to endure, must
terminate in the horrors of intestine war? Here was a question of
principle; and, it is believed, a question which was to decide the
character of the government. Each party felt that it was a mighty
struggle, decisive of its future political influence, if not of its

The elections in the state of New-York were held in the month of
April. In the year 1799 the federalists had a majority in the city of
more than nine hundred. During the summer, it was universally conceded
that on the state of New-York the presidential election would depend,
and that the result in the city would decide the fate of the state.
That this opinion was as universal as it was true, cannot be more
distinctly exhibited than by the following extract of a letter from
Mr. Jefferson to Mr. Madison, dated 4th March, 1800.

"In New-York all depends on the success of the city election, which is
of twelve members, and of course makes a difference of twenty-four,
which is sufficient to make the two houses, joined together,
republican in their vote. * * * * * * Upon the whole, I consider it as
rather more doubtful than the last election (1796), in which I was not
deceived in more than a vote or two. * * * * * * In any event, we may
say, that if the city election of New-York is in favour of the
republican ticket, the issue will be republican; if the federal ticket
for the city of New-York prevails, the probabilities will be in favour
of a federal issue, because it would then require a republican vote
both from New-Jersey and Pennsylvania to preponderate against
New-York, on which we could not count with any confidence."

Reference has been made to the conflicting factions of which the
democratic party was now composed. The Clinton section, the Livingston
section, and the Burr section. The first and last were apparently the
same, but not so in reality. Colonel Burr's commanding talents had
acquired for him an influence in the ranks of the democratic party in
other states, which created some jealousy in the Clinton family, the
younger and collateral branches of which were extremely hostile to
him. The ambition of Burr, sustained by a daring spirit and
unconquerable perseverance, awakened the apprehensions of Governor
George Clinton lest he should be supplanted. The governor was a man of
great sagacity and shrewdness. But these two sections, or, perhaps,
more properly, the heads of them, united in their opposition to the

During the winter of 1800, the efforts of Colonel Burr to bring about
a concert in action of these discordant materials were unceasing. With
his own personal friends he had no difficulty, for it was ever one of
his characteristics to secure inviolable the attachment of his
friends. They were of the most ardent and devoted kind. Confiding in
his patriotism and judgment, and feeling that he was incapable of
deceiving them, they seemed willing, at all times and under all
circumstances, to hazard their lives and fortunes in his support. They
were generally young men of gallant bearing and disinterested views.
No sordid calculations were made by them. No mercenary considerations
influenced their conduct. They beheld in Colonel Burr a patriot hero
of the revolution, who had commingled with their fathers in the
battle-field, and who had perilled every thing in his country's cause.
Such were his friends, and such their zeal in his behalf. It was here
that Colonel Burr was all-powerful, for he possessed, in a pre-eminent
degree, the art of fascinating the youthful. But with all this tact
and talent, he was credulous and easily deceived. He therefore often
became the dupe of the most worthless and unprincipled.

Mr. Burr held frequent private meetings with his most intimate and
confidential friends. At all these meetings it is believed the success
of the democratic party was the only question under consideration. No
local or personal interests were permitted to be discussed. The
triumph of the party, as a whole, was the great object. By his
adherents, it was deemed indispensable that he should be a member of
the legislature to be chosen in April, which body was to appoint the
presidential electors. While, on the other hand, it was considered not
less necessary that he should be free to act at the polls in the city
of New-York during the election. How was this to be effected? After
much conference and deliberation it was resolved that he should be
elected from Orange county, if the arrangement could be made, and the
execution of the plan was intrusted principally to Peter Townsend,
Esquire, of Chester, who, with the aid of other influential friends,
accomplished it.

The next question was, Of whom shall the assembly ticket for the city
be composed? On the suggestion of Colonel Burr, the names of certain
distinguished individuals, venerable in years, and respected for their
services, for months before the election were put in circulation as
candidates; and, among others, Governor George Clinton and General
Horatio Gates. At length the nominating committees were chosen; but so
general had been the conversations as to suitable candidates, that
very little diversity of opinion prevailed in the formation of the

The following persons were nominated: George Clinton, Horatio Gates,

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