Burr I. Aaron, an American clergyman and educator, born in Fairfield, Conn., Jan. 4, 1716, died Sept. 24, 1757. In 1738 he became pastor of the Presbyterian church in Newark, N. J., and in 1748 the second president of the college of New Jersey in that place (afterward removed to Princeton), of which he was one of the principal founders. He was succeeded in this office by Jonathan Edwards, his father-in-law. He published "The Supreme Deity of our Lord Jesus Christ Maintained " (new ed., 1791), several sermons, and a Latin grammar (1752). H. Aaron, an American soldier and politician, third vice president of the United States, son of the preceding, born at Newark, N. J., Feb. 6, 1756, died on Staten Island, N. Y., Sept. 14, 1836. Both his parents died before he was three years old, leaving him a considerable estate. He graduated at Princeton college in 1772, entered the army as a private, accompanied Arnold in the expedition to Canada, and was present at the attack upon Quebec. For his services in this campaign he was made major, and invited to join the military family of Washington. Some event soon occurred which compelled Burr to leave headquarters, and produced in the mind of Washington an impression against him which was never removed.
As aide-de-camp to Gen. Putnam, Burr was engaged in the defence of New York, and in 1777 he was made lieutenant colonel, with the command of his regiment. He was in the camp at Valley Forge, and distinguished himself at the battle of Monmouth, where he commanded a brigade. During the winter of 1778 and 1779 he was stationed in Westchester county, N. Y., and for a short time was in command at West Point. Early in the following spring he resigned his commission. Burr belonged to the Lee and Gates faction, and affected to despise the military talents of Washington. In 1782 he was admitted to the bar at Albany, and in July of the same year he married Mrs. Prevost, the widow of a British officer who had died in the West Indies. In 1783 he entered upon the practice of his profession in the city of New York. He was elected to the state legislature in 1784, appointed attorney general of New York in 1789, and chosen United States senator in 1791. While in the senate he was recommended for the mission to France, but Washington refused to appoint him. He left the senate in 1797, and the following year was returned to the state legislature.
He was active in the presidential canvass of 1800, and to his efforts may be attributed the success of the republicans in New York, upon the action of which state the result in the Union depended. On account of the prominence he thus obtained, the friends of Mr. Jefferson brought him forward for the vice-presidency. An equal number of votes having been cast for Jefferson and Burr in the electoral college, the election of a president devolved upon the house of representatives, most of the federal members voting for Burr. Jefferson was elected president, after a contest of several days, and, in accordance with the provisions of the constitution at that time, Burr became vice president. His conduct in permitting himself to be used by his political opponents in order to defeat the candidate of his party, and whom he himself had supported, dissolved his connection with the republicans, and destroyed his political influence. The federalists nominated him for governor of New York in 1804. Some of the leading men of that party refused to support him, and he was defeated. The contest was bitter, and led to a duel between Burr and Alexander Hamilton, July 11, 1804, in which the latter was killed.
Burr was disfranchised by the laws of New York for having fought a duel, and was indicted for murder in New Jersey. His term as vice president closed March 4, 1805, and in April he set out upon a journey through the western country. What were his real schemes is uncertain; probably they were not definitely formed in his own mind; but they seem to have included the formation of a new government in the south on the borders of, and perhaps partly within, the United States. He purchased 400,000 acres on the Red river, and gave his adherents to understand that the Spanish dominions were to be conquered. His proceedings excited alarm, and on Nov. 27, 1806, President Jefferson issued a proclamation against him. While endeavoring to make his way to the coast, he was arrested in Alabama, Feb. 19, 1807, and brought to Richmond, Ya., for trial upon an indictment for high treason. The trial began March 27, and lasted until Sept. 7. No overt act of treason could be proved, and the jury brought in the verdict, "Aaron Burr is not proved to be guilty under the indictment by any evidence submitted to us." He was accordingly set at liberty, and in 1808 went to Europe, hoping to obtain means to effect his designs, which had now taken the form of an attempt upon Mexico. He was disappointed, and after living abroad for some years, a part of the time in great poverty, he returned to America in 1812, and resumed the practice of his profession in New York, but never regained his position at the bar.
In his 78th year he married Madame Jumel, a wealthy widow, but was soon divorced, and died neglected three years afterward. In person Burr was below the medium stature; his manners and appearance were very attractive, but his principles were loose and his habits licentious. He was an adroit lawyer and,effective speaker. He had but one legitimate child, Theodosia, the wife of Gov. Allston of South Carolina, who was lost at sea in January, 1813. - See "Life of Aaron Burr," by Samuel L. Knapp (New York, 1835); "Memoirs, with Selections from his Correspondence " (2 vols., 1837-'8), and " Private Journal" during his residence abroad, with selections from his correspondence (2 vols., 1838), both edited by Matthew L. Davis; and "Life and Times of Aaron Burr," by James Parton (1858).