Burr, Hamilton, and Jefferson: A Study in Character

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Oxford University Press, 28. sept 2000 - 528 pages
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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.

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LibraryThing Review

Kasutaja arvustus  - antiqueart - LibraryThing

Kennedy does a credible job of removing Burr from the trash heap of American History and re-installs him as a founding father. As always funny and loaded with "psycho-babble", the unique style of Kennedy. Read full review


Kasutaja arvustus  - Kirkus

In a study of three Founders, Kennedy, director emeritus of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History and a prolific author (Hidden Cities, 1994, etc.), demonstrates his devotion to ... Read full review


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Page 109 - Nothing is more certainly written in the book of fate, than that these people are to be free ; nor is it less certain that the two races, equally free, cannot live in the same government.
Page 14 - Burr to pause and to reflect. It is not, however, my intention to enter into any explanations on the ground. Apology, from principle, I hope, rather than pride, is out of the question. To those who, with me...
Page 62 - I am indebted to you, my dearest Theodosia, for a very great portion of the happiness which I have enjoyed in this life. You have completely satisfied all that my heart and affections had hoped or even wished.
Page 14 - The ability to be in future useful, whether in resisting mischief or effecting good, in those crises of our public affairs which seem likely to happen, would probably be inseparable from a conformity with public prejudice, in this particular.
Page 14 - He may have supposed himself under a necessity of acting as he has done. I hope the grounds of his proceeding have been such as ought to satisfy his own conscience. I trust, at the same time, that the world will do me the justice to believe that I have not censured him on light grounds, nor from unworthy inducements.
Page 139 - There is on the globe one single spot the possessor of which is our natural and habitual enemy. It is New Orleans...
Page 162 - The information of our militia, returned from the westward, is uniform, that though the people there let them pass quietly, they were objects of their laughter, not of their fear ; that one thousand men could have cut off their whole force in a thousand places of the Alleghany...
Page 344 - In this manner they proceeded, without incident, until they passed near a tavern, before which a considerable number of persons were standing, while music and dancing were heard from within. Here, Burr threw himself from his horse, and exclaimed in a loud voice, " I am Aaron Burr, under military arrest, and claim the protection of the civil authorities.
Page 13 - In proportion as these impressions Were entertained with sincerity, and uttered with motives and for purposes which might appear to me commendable, would be the difficulty (until they could be removed by evidence of their being erroneous,) of explanation or apology. The disavowal required of me by Col. Burr, in a general and indefinite form, was out of my power...
Page 314 - The grand jury of the Mississippi Territory, on a due investigation of the evidence brought before them, are of opinion that Aaron Burr has not been guilty of any crime or misdemeanor against the laws of the United States, or of this Territory: or given any just cause of alarm or inquietude to the good people of the same.

About the author (2000)

Roger G. Kennedy has served as Director of The National Park Service, as Director of The Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, and as Vice President, Finance, of the Ford Foundation. He has written nine books, has appeared in his own series on the Discovery Channel, and was a White House correspondent for NBC. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

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