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American politician, founding father & third Vice President of the United States, Aaron Burr (1756-1836), grew up in foster and kinship care. 

Aaron Burr was born into an eminent New Jersey family. His paternal grandfather was the theologian Jonathan Edwards who is credited with influencing the First Great Awakening, a series of religious revivals that moved through the UK and some North American colonies during the 1730s and 1740s.    

Aaron’s father, also Aaron Burr, was a preacher and teacher who became president of The College of New Jersey (now Princeton University), but who died in 1757. Aaron’s mother, Esther Edwards, died the following year.  

Aaron and his older sister, Sally, lived with family friends until 1759 when their uncle, Timothy Edwards of Stockbridge, Massachusetts, became their legal guardian. In 1760, Edwards, Sally, and Aaron moved to Elizabeth Town in New Jersey where Aaron was initially tutored at home. 

Aaron Burr went on to graduate from the College of New Jersey when he was sixteen, and three years later interrupted his legal studies to join the Continental army. After the American Revolution ( 1775-1783), he practiced law—having been admitted to the New York state bar in 1782—and became involved in politics. He was appointed Attorney General by Governor George Clinton in 1789.  

Aaron Burr became Vice President of the United states in 1800 after he and Thomas Jefferson tied for president and the House of Representatives chose Jefferson as president. 

Burr took office, but he was marginalized by Jefferson, who had come to believe that Burr had been engaged in secret dealings to secure the presidency for himself. That and other incidents left Burr deeply unpopular with party leaders and his renomination as vice president seemed doubtful (Britannica). 

Four years later, Burr duelled prominent statesman, Alexander Hamilton, killing him. Burr then went “into hiding”, until he was tried for treason in 1807.  

Once a rising star in the Democratic-Republican ranks, whose political career came to an ignominious end with the killing of Alexander Hamilton, the former vice-president was accused of leading a conspiracy of American and foreign agents for the purpose of, among other others, inciting a rebellion of territorial citizens against the American government, raising an army to “liberate” Mexico from Spanish control, even creating an independent nation in the Southwest (to be ruled by Aaron Burr) (Wells). 

Aaron Burr was acquitted of the charge of treason, but “remained under a cloud of suspicion and distrust.” He lived in Europe for four years, returned to New York in 1812 where he practiced law and married Elizabeth Brown Jumel in 1883. The couple were divorced on the day Burr died. 

Aaron Burr is featured in the 2013 Lin-Manuel Miranda musical Hamilton: An American Musical as one of the historical figures who influences Alexander Hamilton during his early years in New York and who later kills him in a duel.


“Aaron Burr, vice president of the United States.” Britannica. 

Fay, Carolyn. “Aaron Burr & Rose O’Neal Greenhow.” Dig Into History, vol. 19, no.5 (2017).  

Frantz, John B. “Burr, Aaron (1716-1757).” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2004. 

Wells, Colin. “Aristocracy, Aaron Burr, and the Poetry of Conspiracy.” Early American Literature, vol. 39, no.3 (2004): 553-576.  

Image available here.