Lawyers of History: Aaron Burr

Aaron Burr is an infamous historical figure thanks in part to the duel he participated in that ended the life of Alexander Hamilton. Burr, though, is much more than just a duelist. He was also the third vice president of the United States and, as well as a soldier and a lawyer. Aaron Burr’s story is much more interesting than just a single, notorious event.

Born in New Jersey in the 1750s, Burr and his sister were raised by their uncle after their parents’ death. Burr started attending the College of New Jersey, now Princeton University, at the age of thirteen. He then started law school, but his studies were interrupted as he was determined to be a part of the Revolutionary War. He returned to law school in 1781 a year later and joined the bar one year later.

He became a United States senator in 1791 after spending two years as the attorney general of New York. His senatorial race helped begin his rivalry with Alexander Hamilton as Burr defeated Phillip Schuyler, Hamilton’s father-in-law. The latter then regained his seat in the Senate from Burr six years later.

The twelfth amendment of the United States Constitution was created after the election of 1800, of which Burr was a part. Burr faced off against Thomas Jefferson, and the two received the same amount of votes in the electoral college, causing a tie. The election went to the House of Representatives, and Hamilton helped sway the vote to Jefferson, causing Burr to become the Vice President.

Towards the end of the Jefferson presidency, Burr ran for the governorship of New York, but Hamilton again swayed votes against him, causing him to lose once more. Burr then challenged Hamilton to their fateful duel.

After the duel, Burr’s political career was in ruins. After his time in office ended, he fled west, where he had an idea of leading a resurrection of the western states against the federal government, and then he would overthrow Texas and Mexico. He was arrested and tried for treason. He was acquitted and fled to Europe.

He returned to the United States in 1812, missing all of the prominences he once held. He started his law practice once more, and he stayed there until he died in 1836.

Originally published at https://chartwestcott.org.

Chart Westcott is Co-Founder and COO at Ikarian Capital, LLC a long/short equity biotech focused investment adviser. Read more at http://chartwestcott.net.