Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Burr, Bundy and the West

By Gene Fischer

Aaron Burr and Ammon Bundy are very different men whose narratives have one thing in common.
They both attempted to incite armed rebellion in the American west, and in the process exposed Jeffersonian principles about the rights of men to rebel against their government to the light of day.

Aaron Burr was from the generation of the American Revolution, serving an as officer in the Continental Army. After the war he became a New York lawyer of considerable talent and a politician in that state. He reached the height of his career when he served as Thomas Jefferson’s vice-president during his first term. However, he was dropped as vice-president in part because of his killing of Alexander Hamilton during a duel. He had been charged with murder, but was acquitted.

Out of favor with official Washington, Aaron Burr developed a plan to create his own “empire,” an empire that included part of the Louisiana Territory in the new west. Burr planned to ally himself with men who “favored a separation of the western states from the Atlantic states.”  Burr’s military action fell apart before it started, and he was eventually arrested in February of 1807 on the Tombigbee River, in present day Alabama.

He was tried for treason, but was acquitted in a trial heard by Chief Justice John Marshall.

Will comment on this and similar tactics later.

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