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Sabin, Mr. P. F. Madigan, Mr. J. H. Manning, Professor I. J. Cox, and the late Mr. G. D. Smith for access to their collections of letters, journals and documents; to Dr. Stewart Paton for his most helpful guidance; to Mr. Thomas E. Rush, the late Mr. Roger Foster, Dr. G. E. Weaver, the late Col. A. B. Gardiner, the late Mr. Thomas F. Smith, the late Dr. W. J. O'Sullivan, the late Mr. J. F. Tucker, the late Mr. C. F. Pidgin, the late Mr. C. B. Todd, Mr. W. C. Ford, Mr. J. E. Eastmond, Mr. Ledyard Cogswell, Jr., Mr. H. H. Kohn, Captain F. L. Pleadwell, U. S. N., Mr. Robert Ewing, Miss Mary Demoville, Mr. Warren Wood, Mr. Henry Collins Brown, Mrs. G. W. Smith, Dr. J. A. Cutter, Mr. F. R. Hart, Mr. Benjamin Franklin, Mr. E. A. Hill, Mr. Abraham Wakeman, Mr. C. W. Bowen, Miss Lucile J. Perry, Miss Grace J. Perry, Mr. F. C. Case, Mr. W. E. Beard, Mr. E. K. Morse, Mrs. W. W. Williams, Miss M. E. Park, Professor Edwards A. Park, Professor Chalfant Robinson, Mrs. Gertrude Atherton, Miss Judith Stuyvesant, Mr. George Vivian, Mr. W. H. Shelton, Captain J. H. Bonneville, Mr. C. H. Towne, Mr. Willis Holly, Mr. Alexander Gilchrist, Jr., Mr. Walter Jennings, Miss Annie Burr Jennings, Mrs. H. R. Watkins, Mr. William H. Edwards, Mr. F. L. Briarly, Mr. James F. Egan, and Mr. Robert Adamson, for their gracious response to a variety of requests, and for many favors; to the authorities of the New York County Lawyers Association, the Library of Congress, the Brooklyn Public Library, the Boston Athenæum Library, the New York Public Library, the Princeton University Library, the Yale University Library, the Society
Library of New York, the Library of the New York Academy of Medicine, the Washington Association of New Jersey, the New York Historical Society, the New Jersey Historical Society, the Tennessee Historical Society, the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, Columbia University, Haverford College, the Andover Theological Seminary, the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Society of the Sons of the Revolution, the Tammany Society, the New York County Clerk's Office, the New York County Surrogate's Court, the Anderson Galleries, and the Robert Fridenberg Galleries.
And while due acknowledgment thereof has been made elsewhere, the authors feel compelled to emphasize their great obligation to three gentlemen, without the fruit of whose previous labors any attempt to discuss Aaron Burr and his times would present unlimited difficulties, and encounter the most disheartening obstacles. To Mr. Henry Adams and his History of the United States, for the wealth of material contained within its pages gathered by him from the French, Spanish and British archives; to Mr. W. F. McCaleb, whose volume entitled The Aaron Burr Conspiracy must ever remain the standard guide to any examination of that gigantic enterprise; and to Mr. A. J. Beveridge for the richly furnished account of the trial of Aaron Burr, at Richmond, provided by him in Volume III of The Life of John Marshall. Without these books constantly before them, and continually consulted, the authors of the present biography could not have presumed to approach the episodes which they describe.
Mention has been made in the Bibliography of a considerable number of documents consulted, which, to the best knowledge of the authors, have never before been published. Aside from the letters of Aaron Burr, of his parents, of his wife, and of Alexander Hamilton, the most interesting, perhaps, are the manuscript journal kept by Matthias Ogden during Colonel Arnold's march to Quebec in 1775, published through the courtesy of the Washington Association of New Jersey; and the manuscript diary of Esther Edwards Burr, the mother of Aaron Burr, quotations from which are made possible through the courtesy of the Yale University Library and the Yale University Press. It is interesting to note that this is the original manuscript, seen some twenty years ago by the Rev. J. E. Rankin, and paraphrased so felicitously by him in the little publication which he called Esther Burr's Journal.
And this foreword would not be complete without a grateful reference to a very patient lady, Mrs. Samuel H. Wandell.
S. H. W.
June 1, 1925.
THERE is in American history but one Aaron Burr. He was at once man-of-the-world, student, madman, schemer, diplomat, leader! What with the conflicting elements in his character, the political and personal embroglios into which he was precipitated, it is little surprising that he should up to this day have found, on the one hand, only apologists, and on the other but vilifiers. We have waited long for the publication of a dispassionate study of the man in relationship to his times.
The writer takes it as a compliment to have been invited to contribute the Introduction to this biography. Mr. Wandell, for a score of years, dedicated himself to the work of drawing from nook and cranny every scrap of evidence bearing on the life of Burr; and is deserving of high praise for his devotion to the subject. And just at the stroke of twelve, Mr. Minnigerode, as though by High Command, appeared as collaborator.
Biographers are historians, if they are anything. Most of them are negligible, because they are either innocent or innocuous. As for the rest, they are to be ignored for the most part, since they have little to say and say less than they might. A few there are that
really count, as for example Beveridge in his Life of John Marshall, where the man is made to live in his day and generation. Another sort there is too that counts, but for evil, such as Davis in his Memoirs of Aaron Burr. Here is a perfidious biographer par excellence. What could be more diabolical than deliberately to lie about a dead friend to please the public?
It is out of the better sort of biography that history will come to be written, for biography is the principal element of history. A composite study of the lives of men in any given period, if written in the verities, would give us true history. But we shall have no true history ever-at least not until the millenniumsince we cannot divorce ourselves from the human frailty of praising friends who should be damned and of damning enemies who should be praised. And what is of far greater moment, we scan the lives of a few and try to read through them the composite record and failure can but be the result. That unhappy sign is on all the histories from Herodotus to Turner. Our history, too, has been cursed from the first with provincialism. The composite picture which would give us a correct reflection of the whole, has nowhere been constructed. So far as our own history is concerned, perhaps this is partially explained by the fact that most of the workmen engaged in history-building have followed a particular school which, in the last analysis, means that from colonial days down through the daguerreotype age into the present day of photogravure, they have insisted on fixing in their galleries only such faces as they found to fit into their scheme of things. Obvi