I am writing to encourage alumni to join me in the Committee for the Rehabilitation of Aaron Burr (CRAB). I believe that a great wrong has been committed against the reputation of this member of the Class of 1772, and that Princeton has not played as important a role in defense of our colleague’s reputation as it might have. As chairman of CRAB, I urge all alums to join me by 2017, the 245th anniversary of Burr’s graduation. I hope the president, the Board of Trustees, and the history department will assist in this overdue crusade.
I became skeptical of the treatment of Aaron Burr by historians while researching the medical problems of people in power in the U.S. government. It seemed to me that there was something peculiar about Burr’s life after 1800. He had become Jefferson’s vice president, having missed the presidency by a whisker in 1801; within a few years, his reputation was in tatters and he had descended to the level of “traitor” — not much better than Benedict Arnold.
I was spurred to action when I discovered that historian Joseph Wheelan had been over the same material that I had and had come to many of the same conclusions in his wonderfully documented text, Jefferson’s Vendetta. My research resulted in a play, Traitor! The Treason Trial of Aaron Burr — 1807.
I hope that this appeal will hit responsive chords and that we might be able to change the way that Burr has been relegated to the dustbin of history. I can be contacted by phone at 518-399-0038 and by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.