Memoirs of Aaron Burr

Matthew L. Davis
Memoirs of Aaron Burr

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Title: Memoirs of Aaron Burr, Complete
Author: Matthew L. Davis
Release Date: April, 2005 [EBook #7852] [Yes, we are more than one
year ahead of schedule] [This file was first posted on May 23, 2003]
Edition: 10
Language: English

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[Frontispiece: A. Burr]

"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.
* * * * *

During a period of forty years I was intimately acquainted with Colonel
Burr, and have reason to suppose that I possessed his entire confidence.
Some time after his return from Europe in 1812, on different occasions,
he suggested casually a wish that I would make notes of his political
life. When the Memoirs and Correspondence of Mr. Jefferson were
published, he was much excited at the statements which were made in
his Ana respecting the presidential contest in Congress in 1801.
He procured and sent me a copy of the work, with a request that I
would peruse the parts designated by him. From this time forward he
evinced an anxiety that I would prepare his Memoirs, offering me the
use of all his private papers, and expressing a willingness to explain

any doubtful points, and to dictate such parts of his early history as I
might require. These propositions led to frequent and full conversations.
I soon discovered that Colonel Burr was far more tenacious of his
military, than of his professional, political, or moral character. His
prejudices against General Washington were immoveable. They were
formed in the summer of 1776, while he resided at headquarters; and
they were confirmed unchangeably by the injustice which he said he
had experienced at the hands of the commander-in-chief immediately
after the battle of Long Island, and the retreat of the American army
from the city of New-York. These grievances he wished to mingle with
his own history; and he was particularly anxious to examine the
military movements of General Washington on different occasions, but
more especially at the battle of Monmouth, in which battle Colonel
Burr commanded a brigade in Lord Stirling's division. I peremptorily
refused entering upon any such discussion; and, for some time, all
communication on the subject ceased.
Colonel Burr, however, renewed the conversation relative to his
Memoirs, and agreed that any thing which might be written should be
confined to himself. With this understanding I frequently visited him,
and made notes under his dictation. I never asked him a question on
any subject, or in relation to any man or measure, that he did not
promptly and willingly answer. On his part there was no desire of
concealment; nor did he ever express to me a wish to suppress an
account of any act of his whole life. So far as I could judge, his only
apprehensions were that "kind friends," as he sometimes termed them,
by attempts at explanation, might unintentionally misrepresent acts
which they did not understand.
I devoted the summer of 1835 to an examination of his letters and
papers, of which there is an immense quantity. The whole of them were
placed in my hands, to be used at my discretion. I was authorized to
take from among them whatever I supposed would aid me in preparing
the contemplated book.
I have undertaken the work, aware of the delicacy and responsibility of
the task. But, if I know myself, it has been performed with the most
scrupulous regard
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