Portrait of Aaron Burr.
Portrait of Aaron Burr by John Vanderlyn.

Aaron Burr

February 6, 1756–September 14, 1836

Suggested Reading for Aaron Burr

"Lin-Manuel Miranda's play "Hamilton" has reignited interest in the founding fathers; and it features Aaron Burr among its vibrant cast of characters. With Fallen Founder, Nancy Isenberg plumbs rare and obscure sources to shed new light on everyone's favorite founding villain. The Aaron Burr whom we meet through Isenberg's eye-opening biography is a feminist, an Enlightenment figure on par with Jefferson, a patriot, and—most importantly—a man with powerful enemies in an age of vitriolic political fighting. Revealing the gritty reality of eighteenth-century America, Fallen Founder is the authoritative restoration of a figure who ran afoul of history and a much-needed antidote to the hagiography of the revolutionary era." From Amazon.com.

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"This book restores Aaron Burr to his place as a central figure in the founding of the American Republic. Abolitionist, proto-feminist, friend to such Indian leaders as Joseph Brant, Burr was personally acquainted with a wider range of Americans, and of the American continent, than any other Founder except George Washington. He contested for power with Hamilton and then with Jefferson on a continental scale. The book does not sentimentalize any of its three protagonists, neither does it derogate their extraordinary qualities. They were all great men, all flawed, and all three failed to achieve their full aspirations. But their struggles make for an epic tale. Written from the perspective of a historian and administrator who, over nearly fifty years in public life, has served six presidents, this book penetrates into the personal qualities of its three central figures. In telling the tale of their shifting power relationships and their antipathies, it reassesses their policies and the consequences of their successes and failures. Fresh information about the careers of Hamilton and Burr is derived from newly-discovered sources, and a supporting cast of secondary figures emerges to give depth and irony to the principal narrative. This is a book for people who know how political life is lived, and who refuse to be confined within preconceptions and prejudices until they have weighed all the evidence, to reach their own conclusions both as to events and character. This is a controversial book, but not a confrontational one, for it is written with sympathy for men of high aspirations, who were disappointed in much, but who succeeded, in all three cases, to a degree not hitherto fully understood." From Amazon.com.

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"A vivid narrative history of Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, and their infamous duel. Duel is a remarkable retelling of the fatal 1804 duel between former Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton and Vice President Aaron Burr. Thomas Fleming takes the reader into the post-revolutionary world of the early nineteenth century, a chaotic and fragile time in the young country as well as a time of tremendous global instability. The success of the French Revolution and the proclamation of Napoleon as First Consul for Life had enormous impact on men like Hamilton and Burr, feeding their own political fantasies at a time of perceived Federal government weakness and corrosion. Their hunger for fame spawned antagonisms that wreaked havoc on themselves and their families and threatened to destabilize the fragile young American republic. From that poisonous brew came the tangle of regret and anger and ambition that drove the two men to their murderous confrontation in Weehawken, New Jersey. This is popular narrative history at its most authoritative, and authoritative history at its most readable--a must for readers interested in Hamilton, Burr, and America's early history." From Amazon.com.

Available from Amazon.com

Wheelan, Joseph. Jefferson's Vendetta: The Pursuit of Aaron Burr and the Judiciary. PublicAffairs. 2006.

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"The Burr treason trial, one of the greatest criminal trials in American history, was significant for several reasons. The legal proceedings lasted seven months and featured some of the nation's best lawyers. It also pitted President Thomas Jefferson (who declared Burr guilty without the benefit of a trial and who masterminded the prosecution), Chief Justice John Marshall (who sat as a trial judge in the federal circuit court in Richmond), and former Vice President Aaron Burr (who was accused of planning to separate the western states from the Union) against each other. At issue, in addition to the life of Aaron Burr, were the rights of criminal defendants, the constitutional definition of treason, and the meaning of separation of powers in the Constitution. Capturing the sheer drama of the long trial, Kent Newmyer's book sheds new light on the chaotic process by which lawyers, judges, and politicians fashioned law for the new nation." From Amazon.com.

Available from Amazon.com

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Aaron Burr Suggested Reading
  • Coverage February 6, 1756–September 14, 1836
  • Author
  • Keywords aaron burr, vice president, senator, revolutionary war officer, duel with alexander hamilton, senator
  • Website Name American History Central
  • URL
  • Access Date March 29, 2020
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update August 27, 2019

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