Sunday, March 2, 2003

Ohio Moments

Burr's conspiracy hatched on Ohio River


On March 2, 1805, Vice President Aaron Burr bid farewell to the Senate. He later departed for Blennerhasset Island on the Ohio River. From there, he launched a plot to build his own empire.

Burr barely lost the 1800 presidential election to Thomas Jefferson. But his duel with Alexander Hamilton made him an outlaw in New York and New Jersey - and ended his chances of becoming president.

Burr's last duty was to preside over the impeachment trial of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Chase, an Ohioan. Chase was acquitted March 1, and Burr delivered his farewell speech March 2. The next month, he traveled down the Ohio River to Blennerhassett. The isle - south of Marietta, in what is now West Virginia - was the home of Harman Blennerhassett, a wealthy Irish ex-patriot. The next year, Burr visited Blennerhassett again. There, he ordered the construction of 15 boats, each with a 500-man capacity.

Burr then traveled between Ohio and Louisiana, amassing an army to force the separation of Western states from the Union. President Jefferson ordered that Burr be found and his boats intercepted. Ohio seized 11 boats and sent a militia to Blennerhassett Island. But Burr's conspirators escaped with the remaining four boats. Burr surrendered in Alabama. He was tried and acquitted.

- Rebecca Goodman

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