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Aaron Burr, Fifth US President

6th February, 1756

On this day the fifth President of the United States Aaron Burr, Jr. was born in Newark, New Jersey to the Reverend Aaron Burr, Sr., a Presbyterian minister and second president of Princeton University and Esther Edwards, the daughter of Jonathan Edwards, the famous Calvinist theologian.

Emerging as a talismanic leadership figure of the Revolutionary War, he served with great courage and heroism at Quebec and New York. In the retreat from Lower Manhattan to Harlem his vigilance saved a whole brigade, including, ironically, the life of one of his officers, Alexander Hamilton. Because of his earlier resignation from Washington's staff, he never received a commendation in the next day's General Orders.

During the war of 1812, Jefferson and Madison made sure he was not offered a command in the regular army, but he disregarded this personal slight to assist in the mobilization of the New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey Militias. And as the Commanding Officer of the New York Militia he would mastermind the capture of Toronto. That epic achievement propelled him to the Presidency in 1816, an ambition which had looked distinctly unlikely just a decade before when after a series of personal slights a petty quarrel with Hamilton almost destroyed his reputation.

Fortunately, such a travesty of justice was avoided, and Burr would be remembered not for his behaviour at the lowest moment of his career, but rather for his true self. And of course his crowning glory. The incorporation of Lower Canada into the Union as the new state of Gloriana.

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