A canny and charismatic politician who rose to become third vice president of the new United States, Aaron Burr seemed to throw it all away in 1805 and 1806 in an extraordinary attempt to lead a secession of the American West. American Emperor by acclaimed author David O. Stewart traces Burr from the threshold of the presidency in the contested election of 1800, through his duel with Alexander Hamilton, and then across the American West as he schemed with foreign ambassadors, the traitorous general-in-chief of the army, and future presidents, including Andrew Jackson. His immense ambition was matched by his undisguised contempt for Thomas Jefferson, a president he thought ineffective and unwise. The indecisive Jefferson finally had Burr arrested and charged with treason. Burr led his own legal defense in an historic treason trial in Richmond before Chief Justice John Marshall, winning an acquittal and freedom. Mr. Stewart is an attorney who practices law in Washington, D.C. (vahistoricalsociety)
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