Skip to main content

Full text of "The life of Harman Blennerhassett. Comprising an authentic narrative of the Burr expedition: and containing many additional facts not heretofore published"

See other formats


This is a digital copy of a book that was preserved for generations on library shelves before it was carefully scanned by Google as part of a project 
to make the world's books discoverable online. 

It has survived long enough for the copyright to expire and the book to enter the public domain. A public domain book is one that was never subject 
to copyright or whose legal copyright term has expired. Whether a book is in the public domain may vary country to country. Public domain books 
are our gateways to the past, representing a wealth of history, culture and knowledge that's often difficult to discover. 

Marks, notations and other marginalia present in the original volume will appear in this file - a reminder of this book's long journey from the 
publisher to a library and finally to you. 

Usage guidelines 

Google is proud to partner with libraries to digitize public domain materials and make them widely accessible. Public domain books belong to the 
public and we are merely their custodians. Nevertheless, this work is expensive, so in order to keep providing this resource, we have taken steps to 
prevent abuse by commercial parties, including placing technical restrictions on automated querying. 

We also ask that you: 

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Google Book Search for use by individuals, and we request that you use these files for 
personal, non-commercial purposes. 

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort to Google's system: If you are conducting research on machine 
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the 
use of public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help. 

+ Maintain attribution The Google "watermark" you see on each file is essential for informing people about this project and helping them find 
additional materials through Google Book Search. Please do not remove it. 

+ Keep it legal Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just 
because we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States, that the work is also in the public domain for users in other 
countries. Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of 
any specific book is allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Google Book Search means it can be used in any manner 
anywhere in the world. Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe. 

About Google Book Search 

Google's mission is to organize the world's information and to make it universally accessible and useful. Google Book Search helps readers 
discover the world's books while helping authors and publishers reach new audiences. You can search through the full text of this book on the web 



at |http : //books . google . com/ 




•--' 'i y , 




\ 




It 



r^M 



1 
% 






■. I: 



^y^ 



THE 



LIFE 



OF 



HARMAl^ BLENNERHASSETT. 



ooHPBxsxira 
AN AUTHENTIC NABBATIYK OV THE 

%uu (BxftMm : 

AHB OOHTAXHXHa 

MANY ADDITIONAL FACTS NOT HERETOFORE PUBLISHED. 

BY 

WILLIAM H. SAFFORD. 



GHILLIGOTHE, O. 

ELY, ALLEN & LOOKER. 

1850. 



E53-f 



\««A/N/W\^«yWWW^V^<A^^NAAA/^^^^M^^^rf^^^^MM^^A^^rf^KAAAM«^«AA 



Snteired aooordiiig to act of OongnM^ in tho year 1860^ Ij 

WILUAIC H. SATfOBP, 

in tlw Qnk'i Oliloe of the District Oourt fat the District of Ohio. 



KKBIOTTFID BT L. J0HN80N AUS CN>. 






PEEFACE. 



While collecting materials for the present biogra- 
phy, I have met with unexpected difficulties in pro- 
curing authentic information from the contemporaries 
of Blennerhassett. This is to be accounted for in the 
plain simplicity of most of his neighbours, who took 
but little interest in his scientific pursuits — of which 
they could neither understand the philosophy, nor com- 
prehend the meaning. The consequence was, they 
associated but little with the man, and their acquaint- 
ance was derived more from what they saw, than from 
what they heard. 

It gives me pleasure to acknowledge the courtesy of 
Dr. S. P. HiLDBETH, of Marietta, in permitting me 
the use of the various historical incidents which his 
assiduity and love of the curious have rescued from 
oblivion. From the Blennerhassett Papers, published 
by William Wallace, Esq., I have made liberal quo- 
tations. To Maj. HoEACE Nte, of Putnaih, and Col. 



1* 



M124506 



:6: 



*PBBPACE. 



Joseph Babeer, of Newport, I am alike indebted for 
much valuable matter — ^rendered more interesting from 
the fact that they were eye-witnesses of some of the 
scenes I have attempted to describe. Others have 
furnished me with materials ; but the multiplicity of 
their names must excuse their non-appearance. 

I have been careful to introduce nothing, as fact, 
but what has been fuDy corroborated by living wit- 
nesses. Nor have I attempted to screen from the 
public eye the infirmities or faults of the subjects of 
these pages; while, at th^ same time, I can tlruly sayi 
their virtues have not been eicaggerated. 

The work is now submitted to a charitable public, 
with a knowledge of its many imperfections. More 
skilful hands might have avoided many faults With 
which I im justly chargeable, and rendered it far more 
palatable to the reading critic. 

The Author. 



CONTENTS. 



CHAPTEB I. 

Eablt life of Blexmerhassett— Lineage— Education— The Irish 
bar — ^Blennerhassett commences the study of law — Called to 
the bar — Certificate— Makes a Tisit upon the Continent — 
France — ^Witnesses the adoption of her new Constitution — 
Betums to Ireland — Spirit of discontent in Ireland — Oppressed 
by England — Effect of the American Rerolution on Ireland — 
On the whole of Europe — Repeal of the statute of sixth George 
FiMt— Blennerhassett prefers the quiet pursuits of literature 
to the political arena — ^Is dissatisfied with Ireland, and deter- 
mines to leare— Disposes of his lands — ^Proceeds to England — 
Addresses Bliss Agnew— Marries — ^Reflections 19 



CHAPTER n. 

Bleunerfaassett supplies himself with a library and philosophical 
a^Mratns — Ships for New York — ^Westem country described 
— ^Blennerhassett sets out for the West— Pittsburgh— Mode 
of irayelling — Marietta— Is desirous of building— Backus's 
Island— Blennerhassett concludes a purchase-commences 
improY«mentft— Island with its improYMiients— Reflections.... 80 

7 



y 



CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER m. 

Blennerhassett described — Studies — ^Amusements — Anecdotes of 
— ^Appointed justice of the peace — Mrs. Blennerhassett de- 
scribed #. 40 



CHAPTEE IV. 

Earij settlers of Western Virginia — Occupations — ^Amusements 
— Patriotism — First settlers of Ohio— Industry — ^Economy 
— ^Morality — Conclusion 49 



CHAPTEE V. 

Domestic situation of Blennerhassett in 1805 — ^Burr's first visit 
to the island — Object of Burr's tour — ^Finds Blennerhassett 
absent from home — ^Proceeds down the Ohio— Yimte Willrin- 
son — Conference — ^Blennerhassett visits New York — Thomas 
Addis Emmett — Burr's first communication to Blennerhassett 
— ^Effect of, upon Blennerhassett — ^Blennerhassett's answer — 
Burr's reply — ^Burr's second visit to the island — ^Wirt's descrip- 
tion of the island as it was at that time — ^Burr commences 
recruiting men for the expedition — ^Arguments made use of to 
induce individuals to j oin— Effect of his arguments 68 



CHAPTEE V5. 

Preparations for the expedition commenced — ^Burr's visit to Chil- 
licothe — Cincinnati — Kentucky — ^Alston arrives at the island — 
Alston with his wife and Blennerhassett visits Lexington, Ey. 
— ^Blennerhassett is introduced to Charles Fenton Mercer — 
Suspicious aspect of the expedition — Situation of affairs in the 
United States— Apprehensions of the people — Eumours— Ora- 



Faai 
ham appointed a secret agent of the goyemment — ^Instractions 

— lya tmctionfl to Qim WilTriT n isaga.— ^gJl^jggftn denuug^^s forces of 
the GbTomor of BiissisBippi Territory — ^Is refused — ^Despatches 
Bnrling to Mexico— Holds a conference with Goyemor CM- 
borne at New Orleans — ^Merchants of New Orleans conyoked 
—Preparations at New Orleans — ^Blennerhassett sets out from 
Kentuchy for home— Meets with Mr. Mercer — Conyersatilon— - 
Burr's designs explained— Blennerhassett is joined by Bnrr at 
the islandr— Burr leayes the supervision of the boats to Blen- 
nerhassett and returns to Kentucky — ^Is arrested — Graham ar- 
rives at Marietta — Interview with Blennerhassett — ^Visits the 
Governor of Ohio at Chillicothe — Act of the Ohio Legislature- 
Militia of the State called out — ^Anecdotes — ^Mercer's visit to 
the island — ^Arrival of Comfort Tyler and his men — ^Find Blen- 
nerhassett disheartened as to the feasibility of the enterprise. 74 



CHAPTEE Vn. 

Burr despatches JSwartwout to "^nfeinson- Letter— Wilki n son 
oommunicates its substance to the President — ^Proclamation of 
the President — ^Virginia militia called out under command of 
CoL Hugh Phelps — Blennerhassett escapes with Tyler and his 
forces down the Ohio — ^Phelps proceeds to the island— Finds it 
deserted — ^Ineffectual attempt to arrest Blennerhassett at Point 
Pleasant — ^Effect of the President's Proclamation trusted to for 
Bome time in the State of Tennessee — But similar instructions 
Bent to that State also— Graham leayes Frankfort for Nashville 
— ^The novements of Burr — Kenjiucky militia ordered out — 
Burr's flotilla— Burr leaves the Cumberland— Lands at Fort 
Massao— Is visited by tiie oommander, Captain Bissel— Sup* 
plies Burr wiih a messenger to convey a letter to the Lead 
Ifines in Missouri — "Bin wifb presents Burr with provisiotuS— 
Burr ahd his part^ proceed to Chickasaw Bluffs— Has an Sh- 
terview with the commander, lieutenant Jacob Jackson — Faili 
in his designs — Communication of tbfl ^esident toJ EMagc^ 
— BtllT isttppHes himself with lead, tomahawks, &e., and pre- 
ceedfl to Palmyf'a^ attd thenoe to Bayeu Pi«re 95 



10 CONTENTS. 

CHAPTER Vm. 

Paoi 
Morgan Neville, and William Bobinson, Junior — ^Embark from 

Pittsburgh in a flat-boat — ^Espied by the Wood county militia 
and arrested—- Escorted to the island to await the return of 
Col. Phelps — ^Difficulties with the militia — Trial of the young 
men — Conduct of the militia on the island — ^Mrs. Blennerhas- 
sett's return from Marietta — Her fortitude on the occasion — 
Embarrassed situation — Accepts the offer of the young men to 
oon\ey her to her husband — Col. Phelps's return to the island 
— ^Young men embarrassed at the announcement of his arrival 
— Character and description of Col. Phelps — Rebukes the mi- 
litia for their riotous conduct — His politeness to the young 
men — ^Proffers his services in accelerating Mrs. Blennerhas- 
sett's arrangement to go to her husband — ^Apologizes for the 
misbehaviour of his men — ^Mrs. Blennerhassett prepares to 
depart — ^Leaves the island in company with the young men — 
Passes the mouth of the Cumberland — ^Disappointed in not 
finding her husband — ^Arrives at Bayou Pierre, and is restored 
to Blennerhassett — ^Painful situation of Burr and Blennerhas- 
sett — ^Burr sinks the arms, for the expedition, in the Missis- 
sippi 110 



CHAPTER IX. 

Proclamation of Cowles Mead acting as Governor of the Missis- 
sippi Territory — Burr's reply — The boats are visited by 
George. Poindexter, Attorney-General for the Territory — Ob- 
ject of the visit — ^A letter from the acting Governor — ^Burr's 
avowals — ^Poindexter requests his peaceable surrender — ^Burr 
declares his willingness — ^An interview with the acting Go- 
vernor the next day is agreed upon — Terms of the agreement 
— ^Burr accordingly surrenders himself— Terms of his final sur- 
render — ^He is conveyed to the town of Washington — ^Examina- 
tion before Judge Kodney — ^Poindexter called on for his 
opinion — ^It is given — Judge Rodney dissents — ^A grand jury 
ia reqtured to be summoned to an acyoumed session of the 



CONTENTS. 11 

Paob 
Supreme Court of the Mississippi Territory— Grand jury as- 
sembled — ^Motion to discharge— Oyerruled — ^Presentments by 
the grand jury — ^Acquitting Burr — ^Present the calling out of 
the militia of the Territory as a grieYance— Also late military 
arrests — ^Astonishment of the Attorney-General — ^Leayes the 
court room — Judge Kodney displeased — ^Burr asks to be dis- 
charged from his recognisance — ^Is refused — Disguises him- 
self and escapes — Reward offered — Suspicious circumstance 
— ^Burr's men are placed under guard — Arrests at Fort Adams 
and New Orleans — Co nduct of Wilkins on — Treatment of Gen. 
Adair — ^Attempt to suspend the writ of '< Habeas Corpus" — 
Wilkinson's contempt of the writs of Habeas Corpus — Judge 
Workman's recommendation to the Governor — ^Workman be- 
comes dissatisfied with the Governor — ^Resigns his office- 
Return of Burling from Mexico — Object of his visit — ^Recep- 
tion of Burling by the Viceroy of Mexico — ^Leaves Mexico in 
haste — ^lieutenant Swan returns from Jamaica with letter 
from Admiral Drake — Conveyance of prisoners to Washington 
and Baltimore — Their discharge 119 



CHAPTER X. 

Burr's arrival in the village of Wakefield, Alabama— Inquires 
for Colonel Hinson's — His conduct excites suspicion — He is 
pursued by Nicholas Perkins and Brightwell, the Sheriff— Is 
found at Hinson's — His agreeableness — Suspicions of the 
Sheriff— Mrs. Hinson's inquisitiveness — ^His departure from 
Hinson's — Delinquency of Brightwell — ^Perkins sets out for 
Fort Stoddard to procure assistance of Lieutenant Edmund 
P. Gaines — They start in pursuit — ^Burr is arrested — His im- 
prisonment at the Fort — Kindness to George S. Gaines — 
Amusements at the Fort — ^Burr's travelling companion, Major 
Ashley, arrested, and escapes — Difficulties in procuring a 
guard to convey Burr to Richmond — Burr leaves the Fort 
under guard — Sympathy of the ladies — Guard— Perkins fears 
the influence of Burr — Particulars of the journey — ^Burr at- 
tempts to escape at Chester — Is unsuccessful — ^Arrives at 
Richmond, Virginia 185 



12 COHTBNTS. 

CHAPTER XI. 

Paoi 
BlexmerhaBsett sets ont from Natdi«z to visit IdB island- 
Tarries at Lexington, Kentaokj— Arrested bj the antkorities 
— ^Mrs. Blennerhassett's letter— Defended by tiie Hon. Henry 
Clay — ^Is tinsuccessfiil in procuring his discharge— Is con- 
ducted to Bichmond — ^Postponement of the trials of Burr and 
his accused confederates — Trial of Burr commenced — Court 
and bar — ^Verdict of acquittal by the jury — ^Burr's arraign- 
ment on an indictment for a misdemeanor — ^Acquittal — ^Ex- 
tracts from Blennerhassett's journal k^t during ihe trial — 
Extracts from the private memoranda — Chief Justice ManAall 
—Luther Martin— William Wirt— Aaron Burr 158 

CHAPTER Xn. 

Ong^i oft he Burr expediti on — Miranda's visit in l797-8^ 
His obj ect—proposition s favour^ l^receiYed — ^Visits EnglanI 
— ^Receives encouragement from the British ministry — Mode 
of arranging forces for the subjugation of the South Ame- 
rican colonies — His plans are defeated by the elder Adams^ 
Burr conceives the plan of the subjugation of Mexico — ^Aus- 
picious circumstances — J^ncourag^a^tjreceived from distin- 
guished charactfflSB— Wil Mnson*s aid proffe red-^^Hii counsel 
-Daniel Clark — General Jackson — ^Effect "of tiie aoyustment 
of the Spanish difficulties upon those who at first favoured 
the expedition — ^Burr's indomitable perseverance— Trea<A»*- 
ous conduct of Wilkins on — ^Effect of Burr's acquittal upon tiie 
public mind— Character of Bun^-Belief that Jefferson tacifly 
assented to the expedition — Curcumstances which Jnduoe that 

jbjdief ^^^^^:::::;:::z::^Z^ 174 

CHAPTER xm. 

Blennerhassett returns to Natchez after the trial— ^His pecu- 
niary embarrassments — Sacrifice and abuse of his property — 
His complacency— Demands indemnity for his Ipsses from 



CONTENTS. * 13 

Paos 
Gov. Alston — Purchases a farm in Mississippi, and commences 

the cnltore of cotton — Mrs. Blennerhassett's assistance — ^Flat- 
tering prospects — ^Effects of the embargo— Beceiyes the intel- 
ligence of the burning of his mansion 187 



CHAPTER XIV. 

Blennerhassett's prospects declining — Is offered a judgeship by 
the Goyemor of Canada — Sells his estates — ^Bemoves to Mon- 
treal—Mrs. Blennerhassett's poetry, " The Deserted Isle" — 
Blennerhassett again disappointed — Determines to prosecute 
a claim subsisting in Ireland — Sails for Ireland — ^Reflections 
— ^Applies to Lord Anglesey for ofSice — ^Letter of Mr. Gossett — 
Is again disappointed — Bemoyes to the island of Guernsey 
—Death 196 



CHAPTER XV. 

Bemarks on the life of Blennerhassett — ^Mrs. Blennerhassett's 
destitute situation — Besolyes to yisit the United States to 
procure indemnity for spoiliations — The reasonableness of 
such a demand — Visits New York — Presents her petition to 
Congress — ^Petition — Bobert Emmett's aid — ^Letter to Mr. 
Clay — Mr. Clay presents the petition — ^Beport of the Hon. 
William Woodbridge — Death of Mrs. Blennerhassett— Is buried 
by Irish females 203 



APPENDIX. 



L Mb8. !I^hsa3>08U Bubb Alston. « 211 



II. SSOSBT GOBBESFOHDBNOE «.. 214 



in. The Battlb oi MusKivaiTU, os DsrxAT or thi Busriies.. 218 



lY. Buor or BuaRiiAHABSiTT.. 



14 



IJSTTRODTJCTION. 



Nbably fifty years smee, the inhabitants of the 
Talley of the Ohio -were gratified by the intelligence 
that an indiyidual of rank and fortune had renounced 
aUegiance to his father-land, to iake np his abode 
among them. In those primitive daySj^ every addition 
to the little band of early pioneers was deemed of some 
importance; but the accession of one whose manners 
and customs difiered so widely from their own — who 
could build and adorn a palace in the western wilds — 
was considered an event of wonderful magnitude. 

With satisfaction they beheld the first germs of 
civilization springing from beneath the plastic hand of 
taste, and bursting into full maturity through the 
genial influence of wealth. This western Eden, while 
it captivated their eyes with its beauty, amazed their 
minds with the resources of its possessor. They wit- 
nessed the accomplishment of his ends in the subjuga- 
tion of nature to his will; saw ^Hhe desert bloom and 

16 



16 INTKODUCTION. 

blossom as the rose;" stood as anxious spectators when 
the whirlwind of popular prejudice and passion pros- 
trated the hopes and blasted the happiness of his 
household; and wept for the desolation which suc- 
ceeded. 

Since the celebrated expedition of Aaron Burr, the 
earlier fortunes of Blennerhassett have been the sub- 
ject of singular curiosity. Many have been the sur- 
mises as to the causes which led the descendant of 
European nobility, to renounce the hereditary honours 
consequent upon family, for the secluded life of an 
unpretending republican. Some attribute it to an 
early alliance with a lady whose fortune and rank were 
unequal to those of his own ; others to a want of success 
as a member of the Irish bar ; while the uncharitable 
are anxious to throw around the subject conjectures of 
the darkest character. 

The mystery which surrounds him and his "island 
home" has served, for more than forty years, to enter- 
tain the passing traveller, as, upon the bosom of the 
Ohio, the latter glides by the spot where once stood 
the American Alhambra. The marvellous stories of 
Spain — of Moslem enchantment and Moorish gold — 
lire scarce less credible than the tales at such times 
repeated to the attentive ear of the listener. 

Memory reverts with fond delight to the earlier days 
of our youthful pastimes^ when^ strolling through the 



INTRODUCTION. 17 

embowered coppices of the isle, seated beneath the 
vine-clad cotton-tree, or gathering pebbles on the 
beach, the stem realities of life were forgotten; and, 
in the wild exuberance of our youthful fancy, we 
breathed to the image of our heart's first love the lan- 
guage of impassioned adoration. Around the name of 
Blennerhassett, and every thing connected with it, was 
waved the enchanting wand of romance; and tales of 
beauty, of splendour, and of crime, while they fascinated 
us with their witchery, startled us with his deep and 
dark designs. 

Who Blennerhasset truly was, and what his origin 
and destiny, it is our object to disclose. We hope to 
strip the subject of that mysteriousness which igno- 
rance, wilful prejudice, or a love of the marvellous 
has thrown around it, and reveal to the inquiring 
reader the acts and character of the man. 



2* 



LIFE OF BLENNERHASSETT. 



CHAPTER I. 

Early life of Blennerhassett — ^Lineage — ^Education — The Irish bar — 
Blennerhassett commenoes the stu^j of law — Called to the bar — 
Certificate— Makes a visit upon the Continent — ^France — ^Wit- 
nesses the adoption of her new Constitution — ^Returns to Ireland 
— Spirit of discontent in Ireland — Oppressed by England — ^Effect 
of the American Revolution on Ireland — ^On the whole of Europe 
— Eepeal of the statute of sixth George First — ^Blennerhassett 
prefers the quiet pursuits of literature to the political arena — ^Is 
dissatisfied with Ireland, and determines to leave— Disposes of his 
lands — ^Proceeds to England^Addresses Miss Agnew—Marries — 
Beflections. 

Of the early life of Blennerhassett we know, 
and therefore shall say, but little. That he was 
the son of an Irish gentleman, and was born in 
Hampshire, England, while the family were on 
a temporary visit to some friend or relative, in 
the year 1767, we are authentically informed. 
He might have boasted a lineage, which, although 
not m^kp was, nevertheless, among the most 

10 



20 lilFE OF BLENNERHASSETT. 

illustrious of the Irish gentry.* Whether the 
boy ever exhibited any thing above the capacity 
of boys of his age, — or whether, on the" contrary, 
he was considered a silent, dull, and uninterest- 
ing youth, — we know not; but that he enjoyed 
most excellent literary advantages, is clearly 
established by the fact that, at early age, he was 
placed by his father in the celebrated school of 
Westminster; that, after he had struggled, in 
honourable emulation, with the many worthies 
who have since so brilliantly adorned both the 
English and Irish nations, he was entered at 
Trinity College, Dublin, where he graduated, 
with honour to himself and credit to his pro- 
fessors. 

At that time the Irish bar — a body formi- 
dable to the then existing government, by their 



* Dr. S. P. Hildreth, in a Sketch of the Life of Blennerhassett, 
published in the " American Beview," in 1848, states that Blenner- 
hassett was of <' noble descent/' William Wallace, Esq., on the con- 
trary, who had access to a portion of his papers, and who also 
published a sketch of the same individual, in the same periodical, in 
the year 1845, describes his parentage as among the most distin- 
guished of the ffentry of Ireland, who could trace their lineage as far 
back as the English King John. << The family consisted of branches 
located in the counties of Cork and Kerry. Many of the ancient 
heads were the chiefs of Balaceady Castle, and held numerous im- 
portant offices. The subject of this sketch belonged to the Bala- 
ceady branch.'' I have chosen to adopt Mr. Wallace as, perhaps, the 
best informed author on this point, he having had access to some of 
BlennerhassetVs papers, through the ooortesy of a son of the latter. 



CALLED TO THE BAR. 21 

character and capacity — comprised many sons 
of the resident noblemen and conunoners of 
Ireland. The legal science was not then a mere 
tradey but a profeBsmiy requiring both learning 
and time to master its abstruse truths. Elo- 
quence was looked upon as a qualification for 
the higher duties of the senate, and almost 
every peer and commoner had a relative en- 
rolled among the number. 

That Blennerhassett should remain an excep- 
tion to the general custom, was hardly to be 
expected; and, accordingly, we find him snugly 
ensconced in the King's Inns as an entered ap- 
prentice in the study of the law. How success- 
fully he waded through the musty tomes of 
black letter, which crowd that ancient library, 
is evidenced by the significant appendage of 
LL.D., which occasionally accompanied his 
name. 

At Michaelmas term, in 1790, he was called 
to the bar, as is shown by the following certifi- 
cate :* — 

"King's Inns. These are to certify, that 
Harman Blennerhassett, Esq., was, in Michael- 
mas term, in the year of our Lord, one thousand 
seven huncjred and ninety, generally admitted 

* Wallace. 



22 LIFE OF BLENNERHASSETT. 

into the Honourable Society of the King's Inns, 
and called to the degree of Barrister therein. 
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto affixed 
the seal of said Society this eighteenth day of 
November, in the year of our Lord one thou- 
sand seven hundred and ninety-five. 

^^ Wm. Caldbeck, Treas. [l.s.] 
"Witness, John CooJc^ Sub-Treas" 

Blennerhassett declined entering upon the 
duties of his profession until he had made a 
tour upon the continent. 

France then presented, both to the philoso- 
pher and politician, superior attractions over 
any of her sister kingdoms. At the period of 
Blennerhassett's visit she had been rocked by 
the whirlwind of revolution; and the established 
despotism of her military monarchs had been 
crumbled into atoms. The massive structure 
of the Bastile, which had stood four hundred 
years, every stone of which was wet with the 
tears and echoed the groans of four centuries 
of oppression, had been torn from its summit to 
its foundation, by the infuriated advocates of 
popular freedom. On the anniversary of its 
destruction, Louis Sixteenth, with thirty thou- 
sand delegates from the confederated National 
Guards of the kingdom, in the presence of five 



FBAItCE-^IBELAND. 23 

hundred thousand of their countrymen^ had 
taken the oath of fidelity to the nation, to the 
Constitution, and, all save the monarch himself, 
to ihe king. But France was still trembling 
from the convulsions of her people. Her recu- 
perating energies were starting afresh, on a new 
system of government, which had not yet gained 
either the confidence or afiection of her subjects. 
Having witnessed the adoption of these new 
measures, with doubts of their ultimate success, 
Blennerhassett returned to his own country, in 
time to escape the storm which prostrated the 
hopes of the friends of the new constitution, 
and destroyed the life of the unfortunate Louis. 
The same spirit of discontent which prevailed 
in France had extended to Ireland. For centu- 
ries had she groaned under the oppression of 
successive English monarchs. Her submission 
to the sceptres of Henry and of Richard had 
been construed into the right of conquest ; and 
they sought to crush the native spirit of her 
people, by fomenting discord and exercising 
tyranny. Ireland had been blessed with a 
genial soil. Nature had lavished her brightest 
gifts upon her. The native character of her 
population was not inferior to that of other na- 
tions. But^ of what avail were fertile fields, 
or gigantic intellects and towering talent^ when 



24 LIFE OF BLENNERHASSETT. 

national disorganization and political faction 
perverted the gifts of Providence to selfish pur- /• 
poses, or destroyed their usefulness, in the gene- 
ral wreck of distracted governments and divided 
subjects ? Her manufacturing interest and 
commercial enterprise struggled long against 
the monopoly of England; but the superior 
power of her ruler enabled her to check their 
prosperity, by the heavy hand of arbitrary 
restraint. A deplorable want of union of senti- 
ment and firmness of purpose, at all times pre- 
vented a successful separation firom her powerful 
oppressor ; and every attempt to claim her in- 
dependence proved vain and abortive. 

Thus, for ages, has Ireland, as the captive in 
his gloomy cell, awaked at times as from a 
troubled dream, to behold, with longing eyes, 
the dawn of the day of her emancipation ; but, 
finding the darkness still prevailing, gave her- 
self again to slumber, that she might the more 
readily forget her situation. 

England, fearful of her growing strength, 
sought to subdue her spirit, by onerous exao^ 
tions, and denying her the privilege of a free 
legislature. Not only against Ireland had she 
exercised her arbitrary will, but also against 
the colonies of her planting in North America. 
Vain in the conceit of her imperial power, she 



STATE OF IRELAND. 25 

dared to exact obedience from peoples separated 
.by the wide Atlantic^ and command the same 
submission with which the oppressed subjects 
of Ireland had yielded. While her experimental 
philosophy had taught her that to retain her 
authority she must exercise tyranny, she had 
not reflected that there was a point in the 
system of her oppression, where submission to 
tiie will of an unyielding despot ceased to be a 
virtue. 

The spirit of independence was hovering over 
the bloody altar of the American Revolution, 
when Ireland again awoke to a sense of her own 
condition. She gazed with animated delight at 
the increasing success of American arms. Every 
new victory found a sympathetic influence, re- 
sponding with joy, in the secret recesses of her 
own bosom. The feeble colonies of America, 
spread over a vast extent of territory, with but 
few facilities for conducting a war; with a hos- 
tile Indian enemy in their rear, and the boasted 
chivalry of England at their front; undis- 
mayed by difficulty or the fear of defeat, after 
seven years of war, were finally victorious. The 
arrogance of England bowed its proud head to 
the shrine of liberty; and Lord Comwallis, her 
favourite general, led back the relics of her con- 
quered army, to commemorate, in the mother 



26 LIFE OF BLENNERHASSETT. 

country, the importance of her power, and the 
emancipation of her colonies. 

Before they had well considered the reason 
of their solicitude, the same spirit of independ- 
ence had animated the Irish bosom; and, in 
every corner of her territory, the fire of liberty 
burst forth, in a blaze that threatened equal 
destruction to British usurpation and kingly 
government. The nation became aroused. Eng- 
lish influence and English interests secured 
partisans in church and state ; and opposing 
factions, from their intolerance and party ani- 
mosity, had already commenced the Irish revo- 
lution. 

The success of the cause of liberty in the 
American colonies, affected, most sensibly, the 
whole of Europe. It appeared, indeed, as 
though the fiat had gone forth, that monarchies 
and despotisms were for ever to cease from 
among men. " Strange and unforeseen events 
were crowding the annals of the world ; — the 
established axioms of general polity began to 
lose their weight among nations ; — and govern- 
ments, widely wandering fi'om the fundamental 
principles of their own constitutions, appeared 
carelessly travelling the road to ruin." 

Such was the state of Europe ; presenting an 
aspect not unlike that upon which we, of later 



LITERARY INCLINATIONS. 27 

days^ have gazed, (and to which we still look, 
with feelings of solicitude and hope,) when 
Blennerhassett left the unhappy shores of 
Prance, for those, not less miserable, of his na- 
tive courrtry. 

Ireland, it is true, from the helpless situation 
of England, at a time when her foreign wars 
and hapless defeats had exhausted the re- 
sources of that powerful nation, had successfully 
demanded the repeal of the statute of sixth 
George First, entitled "An Act for the better 
securing the dependency of the kingdom of Ire- 
land upon the crown of Great Britain;" but 
her situation was not less distracted than before. 

Although it was difficult to keep aloof from 
the entangling snares of party strife, Blenner- 
hassett chose rather to pursue the more flowery 
paths of literature than the sterner and more 
rugged way of political preferment. To a mind 
which sought within itself for sources of enjoy- 
ment, the bustle and hurricane which reigned 
around served to distract his meditations, and 
interrupt the pleasure which, in seclusion, he 
had hoped to find. 

Being the possessor of an estate, with consi- 
derable additional fortune inherited at the death 
of his £Either, he determined no longer to remain 
in Ireland, subjected to the inconvenience and 



S6 I'IFE OF BLENKERHASSETT. 

danger which usually attend the feuds of Mo- 
tion ; but^ in some more remote and peaceful 
region^ where the noise of the infuriated mob 
and war's dread clamour were never heard^ he 
hoped to spend a life of repose. 

He accordingly disposed of his lands to his 
relative, Baron Ventry,* and made immediate 
preparation for departing. Having closed his 
business, he started for England, where his two 
married sisters — one the consort of Lord King- 
sale, the other of Admiral De Courcy — ^at that 
time resided.f 

While here he frequently met with, and 
finally became affianced to, a Miss Agnew^ 
daughter of the Lieutenant-governor of the Isle 
of Man, and grand-daughter of the celebrated 
general of that name, who fell at the battle of 
Germantown. She was young, intelligent, and 
beautiful. Possessed of an uncommon degree 
of energy, linked to a temperament of romantic 
ardour, she listened, with captivated delight, to 
the fairy stories he repeated, of the far-off land 
in the Western World. It is not, therefore, a 



* Those who hare spoken of this gentleman before, in connection 
with Blennerhassett, erroneously style him Lwd Ventry. 

f In this statement I follow the lead of Dr. Hildreth and lir. 
Wallaee ; but as Lord Eingsale was also Admiral Pe Conrcy, I am 
of opinion there WM but one <<n0ter" implioated. 



BEFLECTIONS. 39 

matter of surprise that she consented to join her 
destinies with his, in the relation of husband 
and wife ; and, as the partner of his joys, and 
the solace of his cares, to say, as Ruth to Naomi : 
"Whither thou goest I will go; and where thou 
lodgest I will lodge; thy people shall be my 
people, and thy God my God. Where thou 
diest will I die, and there will I be buried." 

Upon the precarious sea of life, almost with- 
out compass or chart, Blennerhassett had now 
launched his adventurous barque. The sudden 
truth flashed across his mind, that he, too, was 
an adventurer; not, however, for the gold of 
Peru, for discoveries in the material world, or 
the subjugation of a foreign power. Gold, and 
honour, and station, were already his : but 
these, compared to the revelation of truth in 
the great volume of nature, to the inquiring 
mind, which sought to unfold her hidden mys- 
teries, were but as " sounding brass and tinkling 
cymbal." 

To him, that sea appeared serene and safe, 
with no adverse winds to interrupt his onward 
course; while, in the dim distance of imagina- 
tion, ^he descried that shore of sweet repose, 
where the deceit and treachery of man should 
never disturb the quietude of a mind at peace. 

3* 



30 LI£^ Of BLENNEBEASSEII. 



CHAPTER II. 

Blexmerhassett supplies himself with a library and philosophical 
apparatus — Ships for New York — Vestem country described--* 
Blennerhassett sets out for the West — Pittsburgh — Mode of travel* 
ling — Marietta — Is desirous of building — ^Backus's Island — Blen- 
nerhassett concludes a purchase— Commences improyements — 
Island with its improvements — ^Reflections. 

Having supplied himself, in London, with an 
extensive library and a philosophical apparatus, 
together with other materials deemed necessary 
for future use, Blennerhassett shipped for New 
York, in 1797, where he remained, for several 
months, to study the topography of the country, 
and the character of its inhabitants. 

At that time, the territory west of the AUe- 
ghanies — particularly the valley of the Ohio 
and Mississippi — was comparatively a wilder- 
ness. The enterprise of the pioneer had driven, 
to more distant regions, the aborigines of the 
West. The occasional hamlet, with its few 
acres of cultivated ground, interrupted, at inter- 
vals, the " boundless contiguity of shade," and 



THE WESTERN COUNTRY. 31 

marked the abode of civilized and ' associated 
man. Villages, with rude habitations, here and 
there, broke the eternal silence of the forest, 
and presented, to the adventurous traveller, as 
cheering a prospect as an oasis in the desert. 
Through this vast solitude, the silvery current 
of the Ohio wended its way to the ^^ father of 
waters." The innovating steamer had never 
yet ruffled its bosom, nor startled its inhabit- 
ants with the sound of its machinery. The 
deer browsed among the thick undergrowth of 
its bottoms ; the fox sought shelter in its caves ; 
and the blood-scented wolf howled his wail of 
hunger, from the adjacent hills. Lands of 
almost inexhaustible fertility skirted its margin, 
and isles of peculiar beauty decked its surface. 

Captivated with various descriptions of the 
country, in company with his wife, Blenner- 
hassett set out to seek this delightful land. 
Crossing the rugged barriers of the AUeghanies, 
then a tedious and difficult undertaking, they 
arrived at Pittsburgh, in the fall of 1797, where 
their eyes first rested on that river, which after- 
wards proved the theatre of their happiness, 
their deception, and their ruin. Here they ob- 
tained passage on a keel-boat, in those days the 
most comfortable mode of travelling on the 
western waters ; and shortly arrived at Marietta, 



32 LIFB OF BLBNNEBHASSETT. 

a town of greater importance than any other in 
the State of Ohio. 

The population of this pleasantly-aituated 
village was unusually intelligent and moral. 
The puritanical character of its earlier inhabi- 
tants gave a tone to society, which identifies the 
present generation with their fathers who repose 
in their beautiful cemetery. 

Blennerhassett's time was pleasantly occupied 
during the winter in visiting the various fami- 
lies, and making occasional excursions through 
the neighbourhood, to select a site for a resi- 
dence. Above the village, and within a conve- 
nient distance, is an eminence of considerable 
height, commanding an extensive view of the 
river and surrounding country. With this situa^ 
tion he was much pleased, and had almost de- 
termined to erect on its summit, a castle, after 
the manner of many in his native country, but 
the ascent being difficult, and the declivities too 
precipitous, he abandoned the idea, and sought 
a situation more easy of access. 

The following spring, he concluded to pur- 
chase an island in the Ohio river, about twa 
miles below Parkersburg, or the mouth of the 
Little Kanawha, which, to his peculiar mind, 
possessed superior advantages to the adjacent 
farm. To one of romantic temperament, its 



BACKUS'S ISLAND. gg 

locality was truly delightful. Upon its gently- 
sloping bonks waved the drooping branches of the 
willow, and laved their graceful foliage in the 
passing stream. The majestic forest trees, un- 
touched by the hand of civilization, reared their 
tall trunks, as monarchs of the land ; while the 
wild-brier and woodbine, blending in promiscu- 
ous profusion, entwined their tendrils around the 
shrubbery of the wild-wood. Flowers of rare 
beauty burst spontaneously from the soil, and 
mingled their fragrance with the passing breeze. 
The happy songsters of the woods warbled forth 
their lively notes in the secluded groves, until 
each bush and branch appeared vocal with the 
songs of nature's music. 

Gould the mind, in pursuit of seclusion and 
repose, picture to its imagination a situation 
more desirable ? Here might his cultivated 
taste adorn, to every extent, the ruder touches 
of nature, and mellow into softer shades the 
harsher outlines of her pencil ; here might the 
mind, unfettered from worldly cares, drink 
deeper draughts fix)m Truth's ever-flowing foun- 
tain; here^ 

<< At the shadowy close of day, 
When the hashed grore has sung its parting lay ; 
When pensiTO Twilight, in her dnsky car. 
Comes slowly on, to meet the OTening star, 



84 LIFE OF BLENNERHASSETT. 

Aboye; below, aerial murmurs swell. 
From hanging wood, brown heath, and bushy dell ; 
A thousand nameless rills that shun the light ; 
Stealing soft music on the ear of night ; 
So oft the finer moyements of the soul, 
!rhat shun the sphere of pleasure's gay control. 
In the still shades of calm seclusion rise, 
'And breathe their sweet, seraphic harmonies/'^ 

When fatigued with the severer studies of 
science, he could amuse himself with the tradi- 
tions and stories of several intelligent revolu- 
tionary soldiers who resided on the Belpr6 shore; 
or, as game abounded, might engage in the 
delightful sports of hunting and fishing. 

That portion of the island purchased by Blen- 
nerhassett, was known by the familiar cognomen 
of "Backus's Island," and contained about one 
hundred and seventy acres. General Washing- 
ton, it is said, embraced this little gem of nature, 
in the many valuable tracts of land entered by 
him on the bottoms of the Ohio. His far-seeing 
eye proved as successful, in judging of the future 
advantages of his various locations, as of the 
material of men and soldiers. 

In 1798, Blennerhassett, having purchased 
the upper portion of the island, at a cost of four 
thousand five hundred dollars, moved into a 
block-house situated near the head. This, to 

* Rogers. 



HIS RESIDENCE. 35 

those who had enjoyed the splendour of palaces, 
with the many conveniences which the arts of 
civilization afford, was a sorrowful exchange, 
which few could desire, and fewer still would 
have made. He energetically commenced clear- 
ing the grounds of the thick growth of timber 
and underwood, for a site upon which to erect a 
dwelling. Many hands were requisite, in addi- 
tion to the slaves he had recently purchased, for 
the laborious task. The forest trees were up- 
rooted, and their boughs and trunks conveyed 
away. The small inequalities, not suiting his 
fastidious taste, were smoothed and regulated as 
fancy dictated. 

Vainly ambitious to excel any private resi- 
dence west of the mountains, and to fashion it 
after those of his own country, economy and 
simplicity were not consulted in its construction. 
The sum of sixty thousand dollars, it is said, 
was expended by Blennerhassett, in fully esta- 
blishing himself in his new abode. To the mind 
of the voyager descending the river, as the edi- 
fice rose majestically in the distance, spreading 
its wings to either shore, the effect was magical; 
and emotions were produced, not unlike those 
experienced in gazing on the Moorish palaces of 
Andalusia. There was a spell of enchantment 
around it, which would fain induce the credulous 



86 I'IFB OF BLSNKERHASSETT. 

to believe that it had been created by mitgic^ 
and consecrated to the gods. On a nearer ap- 
proach was observed the beautifully graded 
lawn^ decked with tasteful shrubbery, and inter- 
spersed with showy flowers; while, a little in 
the distance, the elm threw its dark branches 
over a carpet of most beautiful green sward. 
Beyond these, the forest trees were intermingled 
with copse-wood, so closely as to exclude the' 
noon-day sun ; and, in other places, they formed 
those long sweeping vistas, in the intricacies of 
which the eye delights to lose itself; while the 
imagination conceives them as the paths of 
wilder scenes of sylvan solitude. 

The space immediately in the rear of the 
dwelling was assigned to fruits and flowers ; of 
which the varieties were rare, excellent and 
beautiful; and the manner in which they were 
disposed over the surface, unique, elegant and 
tasteful. Espaliers of peach, apricot, quince and 
pear trees, extended along the exterior, conflned 
to a picket fence; while, in the middle space, 
wound labyrinthine walks, skirted with flower- 
ing shrubs, and the eglantine and honey-suckle 
flung their melliferous blossoms over bowers of 
various forms. 

On the south was the vegetable garden ; and, 
adjoining this, a thrifty young orchard, embracing 



HIS RESn>ENOB. fff 

many varietied of fruit — promisiDg abundant 
supplies for future use. Not entirely neglecting 
the useful for the ornamental^ Blennerhassett 
had cleared a hundred acres below, and culti- 
vated, in great perfection, the various crops 
adapted to the soil. 

**The hall was a spacious room, its walls 
painted a sombre colour, with a beautiful cornice 
of plaster, bordered with gilded moulding, run- 
ning round the lofty ceiling; while its furniture 
was rich, heavy and grand. The furniture in 
the drawing-room was, in strong contrast with 
that of the hall, light, airy and elegant; with 
splendid mirrors, gay-colouted carpets, classic 
pictures, rich curtains, and ornaments to corres- 
pond, arranged, by Mrs. Blennerhassett, with 
nicest taste and harmonious effect. A large 
quantity of silver-plate ornamented the side- 
boards and decorated the tables. The whole 
establishment was chastened by the purest taste, 
and without that glare of tiusel finery, too com- 
mon among the wealthy." 

Such was the residence of Blennerhassett^ 
after he had expended much labour and money 
to render it the reality of what before was but 
ideal^ an image of which had long haunted his 
dreams of youthful fancy, as the picture of sylvan 



38 LIFE OF BLENlOiBHASSETT. 

beauty, of peacefol solitude, and of calm reposes 
How marked the mutations of a few short years! 
Ireland, but as yesterday, claimed him as a re- 
presentative of one of her great families and of 
her constitution. The deference, due alike to 
rank and birth, in a monarchical government, 
was his by inheritance; and the favour of courts 
and of coronets was obtained without an eflfort, 
and resigned without control. Around him, a 
restless and distracted population were daily 
enacting scenes of outrage and oppression ; and 
the hand of civilization, while it gave energy to 
intellect and advanced the arts and sciences, 
proved a powerful auxiliary in aggravating the 
causes and perpetuating the scenes of the revo- 
lution. To-day, we view him as the retired 
citizen of a republic, in the bosom of the forest 
of the Western World, with no tie of kindred, 
save the faithful companion of his bosom, and 
the two little sons who had been added to hia 
household. Quietly retired fix>m the busy 
haunts of man, his hours of study were only in- 
truded upon by the friendly visits of his neigh- 
bours, to whose natures, dissimulation and 
flattery were alike unknown, and whose society 
and attachment he cherished by reciprocal atten- 
tions. 



REFLECTIONS. . 89 

Amidst this peaceful solitude^ how fully could 
he adopt the sentiment of the rural poet : — 

<< Welcome, piore thoughts I welcome, ye edlent groTes! 
These gaests, these cbnrts, my soul most dearly lores ; 
How tiie wing'd people of the sky shall sing, 
My cheerful anthem to the gladsome spring. 
Here dwell no hateftil looks — ^no palace cares,— 
No l>roken tows dwell here, no pale-faced fears.'* 



40 I<IFE OF BLEMNESHASSSTT. 



CHAPTER ni. 

Blennerhassett deeoribed— Studies — ^AmuBements— Anecdotes of— 
Appointed justice of the peace — Mrs. Blennerhassett described. 

Blennerhassett was about six feet in 
stature, of slender proportions, and slightly 
stooping. He was entirely devoid of that suaviter 
in modo, which is so attractive to the gentler 
sex, and not unfrequently captivates the minds 
of firmer mould, in society at large. His fore- 
head, the index usually resorted to by which to 
judge of men's minds and measure the depth of 
intellect, was prominent, and claimed for its 
possessor, by the general rule, an intelligence 
above the ordinary capacity of mankiud. His 
nose was the distinguishing feature of a face 
which wore an aspect of seriousness and thought, 
almost amounting to cold reserve. Like many 
of the nobility, he was extremely near-sighted ; 
and, unlike many of the present age, who ape 
this defect of nature as characteristic of the 
aristocracy or the literati^ he found it a matter 



AMUflEBISNTS. 41 

of serious inconyeiuence. In gunning^ particu- 
larly^ (an amusement of which he was passion- 
ately fond,) he had usually to be accompanied 
by his wife, or some one of his servants, who 
levelled his fowling-piece and brought it to bear 
on the game. Peter, a domestic who sometimes 
attended him on such occasions, was in the habit 
of taking his station at a short distance, and 
giving directions after the following manner : — 

^' Now, level, Mr. Blennerhassett. A little to 
the left ! — Now to the right ! — ^there ! — steady ! — 
fireT — ^Off would go the gun, and, not unfre- 
quently, the game, likewise. 

His usual dress was of the ^^ old English style, 
with scarlet, or buff-coloured, small-clothes and 
silk stockings ; shoes, with silver buckles ; and 
a coat generally of blue broad-cloth. When at 
home, his dress was rather careless; often, in 
warm weather, in his shirt sleeves, without coat 
or waistcoat; and, in winter, he wore a thick 
woollen roundabout or jacket."* 

Betibdng in disposition, his life was sedentary 
and studious; books and phibsophical experi- 
ments possessing greater attractions than the 
gay and fashionable assemblies of the ball-room. 
Always entertaining, he never indulged in 



» Hildreth.—" American Reriew," 184S. 
4* 



42 LIFE OF BLENNEBHASSETT. 

trivial conversation, but interested his audience 
in something calculated more to instruct than 
amuse their idle fancy. 

His scientific studies, which were much facili- 
tated by means of his various apparatus, included 
chemistry, electricity, galvanism, and astro- 
nomy. By the aid of a telescope and solar 
microscope, ii, was with much satisfaction that 
he could demonstrate the truth of his theories 
by practical observation, and acquaint himself 
more fuUy with the motions and positions of the 
various planets, as well as the minuter bodies of 
the earth. While experimenting in chemistry, 
he had conceived the idea that animal substance 
might be so adipocerated as to subserve the use 
of spermaceti for light. He accordingly placed 
pieces of meat in a small inlet from the river, to 
undergo a chemical change. When the proper 
time had elapsed, as he supposed, to test the 
truth of his theory, on visiting the cove he found 
the finny tribes of the water had anticipated his 
experiment by converting the meat into food. 
The act was not repeated, and his theory re- 
mained undemonstrated. 

He was a connoisseur in music, and performed 
admirably upon the violin and violoncello. 
Many of his hours of recreation were whiled 
away with this delightful amusement; and, 



AKECBOTES. 4j 

being an adept, pieces of his own composition 
were played with animating effect. 

Of an unsuspecting disposition, he was easily 
imposed upon by the misrepresentations of 
others. Not unfrequently had he to pay enor- 
mously for his practical knowledge of life and 
human nature. It is reported of him that, on 
one occaBion, having employed an individual to 
collect muscle shells from the beach, on which 
they were scattered in great profusion, when 
the labourer came to receive his pay, Blenner- 
hassett inquired the reason of his high charge. 

" The diving's so deep, and the shells are so 
scarce."* 

"But," replied Blennerhassett> "you do not 
dive, do you ?" 

"Ay, indeed ! In fifteen feet water." 

Believing there was no occasion for misrepre- 
senting a fact, which could be readily ascer- 
tained by a short walk to the river, Blennerhas- 
sett paid the man his money — a sum equal to 
five times the real value of the shells. 

Of a nervous temperament, he not unfre- 
quently imagined objects which had no exist- 
ence in nature, and apprehended evils that were 
never to be realized. Earthquakes and thunder- 
storms, to him, were intensely alarming; and 
such was his timidity on the approach of a 



44 LIFE OF BLENNBItHASSETl!. 

threatening cloud, that it was his usual custom 
to close the doors and windows of his house, 
and place himself in the centre of a bed, to 
avoid the accidental effects of the electric 
fluid. 

Of his forensic talents, or legal ability, he 
never, in this country, gave evidence. He was 
not deficient, however, in either. The county 
court of Wood county recommended him to tha 
Governor of Virginia for the magistra<5y ; and 
by His Excellency he was duly commissioned : 
but presuming it a condescension for which he 
should be poorly paid, and still less respected, 
he modestly declined to " qualify," and remained 
a private citizen. 

Let us turn, for a time, from the man, to con-« 
template and gaze upon the person and charac- 
ter of his companion. History affords but few 
instances where so much feminine beauty, phy- 
sical endurance, and many social virtues, were 
combined with so brilliant a mind, in the person 
of a female. 

Her stature was above the ordinary height of 
her sex; her form well-proportioned and beauti- 
fully symmetrical; her manners of the most 
captivating gracefulness, with suflScient dignity 
to repel familiarity and command respect. Her 
dark-blue eyes, beaming with love and affection. 



MRS. BLENNERHASSETT. 45 

and "sparkling with life and intelligence' 
looked forth from beneath the long brown 
lashes, which hung as curtains to conceal their 
charms. Features of Grecian mould, embel- 
lished by a complexion whose carnation hue, 
health, and the hand of nature alone, had 
painted. Her hair, which was of a dark-brown 
colour, was usually concealed beneath a head- 
dress of rich coloured silk, worn after the man- 
ner of the Turkish turban. 

Her mind was not less polished than her 
manners; and the fluency with which she 
wrote and spoke the French and Italian lan- 
guages indicated a high degree of cultivation, 
which few, even in this golden age of science 
and letters, have ever attained to. Her taste 
for dramatic composition led her to adopt, as a 
favourite pastime, the rehearsal of Shakspeare's 
plays. These were usually executed with an 
eflfect which would have done honour to more 
professed connoisseurs, and exhibited a talent 
which needed only cultivation to have won 
laurels of lasting freshness in the theatrical 
world. Her familiarity with various French 
and English authors rendered her an agree- 
able companion for the man of letters, and 
proved a valuable assistant to her husband 
in recalling to mind some opinion or expres- 



46 I«IFS OF BLENNERHASSETT. 

6ion of an author which had escaped his 
memory. 

She cultivated, to some extent, a taste for 
poetry, and produced several pieces which are 
still in existence. As we are enabled to oflfer a 
specimen of her powers in this flowery depart- 
ment of literature, we forbear an expression of 
opinion, but leave the lines to represent their 
authoress.* 

But it is only in the every-day aflfairs of life 
that we can gain a perfect knowledge of the 
true character of individuals. It was in this 
peculiar sphere that Mrs. Blennerhassett ex- 
hibited an uncommon degree of excellence, and 
won the aflfection of all within her influence. 
She adapted her customs to the society around 
her, and joined in their amusements and fes- 
tivities with all the spirit of one accustomed to 
frontier life from earliest infancy. Riding on 
horseback was a delightful and healthy exer- 
cise, in which she frequently participated. At 
such times, she was usually habited in a fine 
cloth riding-dress, of scarlet colour, richly be- 
spangled with gold lace and glittering buttons. 
From her downy hat waved "the graceful 
plume of the ostrich," and the rich folds of her 

* See Chap. XITT. 



MRS. BLENNEKHABSETT; 47^ 

drapeiy fell gaily over the flanks of her noble 
steed. Over hill and through dale^ with the 
fleetness of the deer^ she took her course^ and 
seldom did her attendant get a glimpse of his 
sprightly charge until she checked her speed 
to await his coming. 

That she was capable of extraordinary phy- 
sical endurance^ was frequently demonstrated 
by the long and speedy walks she performed, 
whether on business or visiting some favourite 
friend. She has been known to accomplish a 
pedestrian tour, of from ten to twenty miles, 
with as much ease as other ladies would make 
their usual calls among city or village acquaint- 
ances. Fences or fallen timber were no impedi- 
ments. Bounding over them with astonishing 
agility, she carelessly pursued her way, as 
though tracing the more familiar paths of the 
wild woods. 

Although she participated in the various 
amusements through the country, and was the 
ruling spirit of every assembly, she never neg- 
lected the ordinary duties of her household; 
every apartment received her personal atten- 
tion, from the kitchen to the chambers, and was 
duly cleansed and arranged according to her 
direction. By her were the daily tasks of the 
servants assigned^ while she performed with 



LIFE OF BUSmnESHASSSTT. 



cheerfulness the daties devolviiig on herad£ 
In shorty like Shakspeare's Portia^ 

^* She was^ indeed, a lichnBonled creatuie, in 
whom the first germs of womanhood had 
blossomed forth, without a weed to check, or a 
chill to blight their growth/' 



EABLT SETT&EBS OF WESTERS VntGINU. 



CHAPTER IV. 

Early settlers of Western Virginia — OccupationB — ^Amnsements — 
Patriotism — ^First settlers of Ohio — ^Industry— Economy— Morality 
— Conclusion. 

The character, manners, and habits of life 
of the early settlers of Western Virginia, are 
topics which have engaged the labours of but 
few pens ; but they are not the less interesting 
on that account. 

Many of the inhabitants of this new, and 
hitherto uncultivated portion of the State, were 
intelligent sons of families of distinction in the 
"Old Dominion." The great abundance of 
game of nearly every variety; the free and 
exciting sports of a life in the western wilds, 
devoid of care, and free from those conventional 
restraints which more polished society im- 
poses on individuals, and by which, to a con- 
siderable extent, their actions are controlled; 
the exhilarating, health-invigorating, glorious 
fun of chasing 

><The stag to the slippery crag, 

And folloiring the boiinding roe ;*'— 
6 



so LIFE OF BLEfTN^HASfilSTT. 

combined to allure the ardent and pleasure- 
loving youths from %he tamer scenes of their 
childhood to those boundless fields of new and 
ever-changing excitement. Others, enjoying 
smaller patrimonies, hearing of the rich allu- 
vial bottoms of the Ohio and its tributaries, 
and the low price at which land could be pro^ 
cured, deserted their less-inviting homesteads 
to seek new sources of wealth beyond those 
blue peaks which many regarded as the western 
limit of civilization. Penury, and the ex- 
hausted lands of other portions of the State^ 
drove no inconsiderable number in search of 
genial soil, where the hand of man might 
realize rich returns from the toil bestowed upon 
it; or the abounding game should furnish sup- 
plies of food without that effort which nature 
requires of those who seek her bounties. 

Populated by these various classes, enticed 
thither through considerations as different 
as the dispositions and circumstances of the 
individuals themselves, that love of society 
which is seldom lost in man served to banish 
distinctions of rank, and render an absolute 
equality essentially necessary to their social 
existence. Around the blazing fire, the son of 
the wide-famed statesman tripped merrily in 
the misty maze^ of the dance with ihe daugh- 



EAfitLT fisnufts Of vmamvL si 

ter 6f tixe imknown: peasant The Bcholar^ 
orator^ and divine strove in eager emulation to 
pl^mt theit rifle-balls as near the centre of the 
target as that of the uncultivated woodsman. 

Remote from friends^ from society, and the 
pleasing associations of earlier years, they de- 
vised amusements in every thing, and made 
frolic of labour itself. A house-raising, or log« 
rolling, was as cheerfully attended as the wed^ 
ding of a favourite friend ; and a corn-husking 
collected the inhabitants from several miles 
around. The almost daily interchange of 
civilities, and constant association of the vari-> 
ous classes, as well for the purpose of joint pro- 
tection against the deadly rifle of the savage, 
as the innate love of company, served to mould 
the general character x)f the population into a 
distinct type, peculiar to themselves, and 
stamped their virtues with an originality which 
the mutations of time have failed to change. 

The Virginian, thus re-moulded, (if we may 
be allowed the expression,) from his active 
habits of life, was capable of extraordinary 
feats of strength and astonishing agility of Umb. 
For a wrestle, or a foot-race, he was always 
ready, and never refused a challenge to take a 
trial at either. While, to gratify his revenge, 
he woulel have gtappled with Apollo for . th^ 



62 LIFE OF BLENNERHAJ9SET!F. 

tripod of the temple; yet the overflowmg 
fountains of his heart gushed forth, m swelling 
streams of sympathy, for the misfortunes of his 
feUow-men. Chivalrous, brave, and independ- 
ent, " he would not have cpurted Neptune for 
his trident, nor Jove for his power to thunder." 
With a generosity bordering on extravagance, 
his house, his horse, his gun — yea, every thing 
but the sacredness of virtue were at the dis- 
posal of his friends. Clad in the buck-skin 
moccasin, with a hunting-shirt of linsey-woolsey, 
his rifle on his shoulder, and a butcher-knife 
at his side, he never changed his apparel to 
suit the circumstances under which he was 
placed; and, whether pursuing the fleeting 
game, visiting a neighbour, or attending the 
services of the church,, the same attire was 
suitable both to the day and the occasion. 

The deer hunt, the horse race, and ever- 
glorious fox-chase, were the usual sources of 
amusement among the men ; while the women 
found enjoyment at the various wool-pickings 
and quiltings throughout the neighbourhood. 
The circumstance of their spending so much 
time, in the enjojnnent of lawful amusements, 
is to be accounted for in the fact, that, at that 
early period, they had but few desires to be satis- 
fied, and fewer wants to be supplied. There 



EABLT SETTLERS OF VIBGINU. 53 

being then but little, if any, demand for agricul- 
tural produce, it was unnecessary to raise more 
than the consumption of the immediate vicinity 
required. Remotely situated fix)m the extrava- 
gance and luxury of more cultivated society, 
there was no need of mahogany sideboards, 
groaning with champaign, nor of Brussels or 
Turkey carpets to decorate their floors- 

Their ntifljg^^liiTig pn.f.rint,f^Tn ^as repeatedly 
tested in the Bevolution, and various engagements 
with the Indians. At the first call of their 
country's voice, the animated response was 
heard in every hamlet- When they had neither 
the soldier's uniform, nor equipages, nor arms, 
they seized their trusty rifles ; and, from their 
smiling fields of toil, &om the pleasant scenes 
of their sportive pastimes, they flew to win a 
soldier^s name or a soldier's grave. The results 
of their efforts shall glow beneath the pencil and 
the pen — shall live in national song, and sur- 
vive in the spirit-stirring anthem, till none ate 
worthy to repeat the strain, or to paint the 
scenes of their country's glory! When the 
question of the purchase of Louisiana was first 
mooted in our national councils, and it was then 
urged that the inhabitants of that territory 
would prevent a free and easy navigation of the 

Mississippi river; — "Give me/' said Washing- 
s' 



54 LIFE OF BLBNKBRHAS8ETT. 

ton, ^Hhree hundred picked men, well-tried aind 
true, of old West Augusta,* and I will carve my 
way to the Gulf/* What higher compliment 
could have been paid to the patriotism and 
bravery of the original settlers of the trans** 
Alleghany country — a remnant of whom a few 
still remain, as land-marks by which to trace 
the characters of the departed I 

While this type of character occupied the 
Eastern shore of the Ohio, that of the West con- 
tained another, as marked and distinct as that 
of the Cavalier from the Roundhead. Many 
revolutionary officers and soldiers of the Northern 
States, who had exhausted their resources in 
fighting the battles of their country, and who, 
&om the depleted state of the national finances 
had to remain for a time without indemnity, 
either for their services or losses, sought this 
new land, where they could recuperate their 
shattered fortunes by economy and industry. 
Others, too, of the sons of New England, at- 
tracted also by the fi'uitful valleys of this beau- 
tiful and majestic river, bade farewell to the 
rocky and ungrateful soil of their birth, and, 
with a plough and a bed, a Bible and a wife, 

* This was the term applied to all the territory west of the 
Alleghanies, known as the North-West Territory. Angosta County 
then comprising the whole. 



EJffiLt SEMLBM OF ViMnflA. IS 

Bet out for the tTest. Here, hundreds of inileisf 
fix)m father Aminidab and mother Patience^ 
they set themselves industriously to work, clear- 
ing up farms from which to realize fortunes, as 
soon as the circumstances of the country would 
permit. That their most sanguine expectations 
have been fully realized, is happily demonstrated 
by the fields waving with grain, valleys filled 
with herds, and hills covered with flocks, which 
meet the eye of the traveller as he passes along 
the stream. While the meed of praise has been 
awarded them for their indefatigable industry^ 
they have not been regarded as possessing that 
generous hospitality which is characteristic of 
their neighbours of Virginia. Educated to be- 
lieve there was no product without labour — ^no 
wealth without economy — they indulged but 
little in amusements, and were careful against 
expense. In their moral and religious ob- 
servances, they were rigidly austere. Like the 
Puritans of Plymouth Rock, from whom they 
were descended, the Bible formed the chief rule 
of their conduct. Their family government was 
based upon its precepts, and its holy teachings 
were listened to each Sabbath, in the " forest 
sanctuary.*' True, some there were who occa- 
sionally broke over the more austere lessons 
which had been taught them by their parents. 



5& LIFE OF BLENNEBHASSETT. 

but the exceptions, " like angels' visits, were few 
and far between/' K their liberality at any 
time exhibited itself, it was usually towards 
objects of charity, or to spread the teachings of 
that gospel which they had been taught ever to 
revere. For bravery and devotion to the wel- 
fare of their country, they were justly regarded 
the equals of their neighbours; and acts of 
Indian cruelty were jointly revenged by the 
two. Having enjoyed early advantages in the 
best schools and academies of their native States, 
they were fully informed upon the subjects 
usually taught at such institutions, and . many 
possessed talents of superior brilliancy. 

Such were the men with whom Blennerhas- 
sett had cast his fortunes. The variety of 
characters, perhaps, was as great, if the number 
of persons was far less, as that of the society he 
had recently abandoned. There was the hos- 
pitable Virginian, who, though he neither 
claimed nor desired the titulary dignity of a 
nobleman, exhibited a generosity equal to that 
of its proudest possessor,— a generosity which 
knew no bounds, and awaited no emergency for 
its exercise. With a reckless profligacy, he 
scattered his bounties broad-cast; threw open 
the doors of hospitality; lavishing, with an 
unsparing hand, the gifts which fortune had be- 



EARLY SETTLEBS OF VIBGINU. 57 

stowed upon him. There was the high-toned 
chivalry of the Crusades, which stooped to no 
baseness; cringed to no superior; nor was in- 
timidated by menace; performing kindnesses, 
without ostentation ; acts of daring, without 
boasting, and relieving the wants of the dis- 
tressed, without the hope of reward. There 
was the zealous Puritan, acknowledging no su- 
perior but God ; no law binding on the moral 
man, but the Bible; no religion but that of 
Calvin; rejecting the unmeaning forms of Po- 
pery ; combathig the doctrine of apostolic suc- 
cession ; and discarding, in his worship, the use 
of the gown, the surplice, and the prayer-book. 
There, the meek and pious Christian, dispensing 
charities without parsimony; visiting the sick 
and the afflicted ; and mingling the comforts 
of religion with the sad and agonizing scenes of 
death. And there, too, alas! — ^the crafty and 
wily miscreant, making promises never to be 
fulfilled ; taking advantages in trade : regarding 
neither the teachings of Holy Writ, nor the 
precepts of morality; but ever faithless, ever 
insincere, prostrating virtue without compunc- 
tion, and indulging in every lawless vice. 



68 LIFE or BI^NIIBBHASSBTT. 



CHAPTER V. 

Domestto situation of Blennerhassett in 1805 — ^Burr's first Tisit to 
the island— Object of Burr's tour^Finds Blennerhassett absent 
from home — ^Proceeds down the Ohio — ^Visits Wilkinson — Confer- 
ence — ^Blennerhassett visits Neir Tork— Thomas Addis Emmett-^ 
Burr's first communication to Blennerhassett — ^Effeot of^ upon 
Blennerhassett — ^Blennerhassett's answer — ^Burr's reply — ^Burr'8 
second visit to the island — ^Wirt's description of the island as it 
was at that time — ^Burr commences recruiting men for the expedi- 
tion — ^Arguments made use of to induce indiyidualfl to join- 
Effect of his arguments. 

Eight years had already elapsed since Blen« 
nerhassett had made the island his residence^ 
The flowers and shrubbery planted by his hands 
had now sprung up in luxuriant perfection^ and 
regaled the senses with their grateful fragrance. 
The products of his husbandry secured at least 
a comfortable supply of all the necessaries of 
life^ and more than this he wished not. The 
independence of his situation enabled him to 
procure any or all of the delicacies which a 
more Epicurean taste might have desired; but 
these had been resigned^ with the pomp and 



AASm BURB. 69 

glitter of his former station. Around him^ he 
viewed a contented family, rejoicing in the 
buoyancy of health, and with the sprightliness 
of youthful vivadty. The returning Beasons 
brought with them returning pleasures. New 
scenes of interest, new engagements, and wider 
fields of usefulness, daily presented themselves 
to his awakening impulses ; but, in the midst 
of all this peace and cheerfulness — this "con- 
stant sunshine of the soul" — a dark and porten- 
tous cloud gathered in the horizon of his efful- 
gent future, destined soon to burst with sad 
&tality upon the unsuspecting circle of that 
household. 

In the spring of 1805, Aaron Burr, late Vice 
Presiiient of the United States, after the closing 
of the session of Congress, set out on a journey 
through the Western States. The object of this 
tour, although never definitively declared, was, 
doubtless, three-fold: — 

First, To ascertain the sentiments of the 
people of the West upon the subject of a se- 
paration firom the Atlantic States. 

Secondly. To enlist recruits, and make ar- 
rangements for a private expedition against 
Mexico and the Spanish provinces, in the event 
of a war between the United States and Spain, 
which at that time seemed inevitable. 



60 LI^ OF BLENNERHASSETT. 

Thirdly. In the event of a failure of both of 
these measures, to purchase a tract of land of 
Baron Bastrop, lying in the territory of Loui- 
siana, on the Washita river. Upon this, he 
contemplated the establishment of a colony of 
intelligent and wealthy individuals, where he 
might rear around hijn a society remarkable for 
its refinement in civil and social life. That each 
of these stupendous enterprises was determined 
^ on, is clearly inferable from the evidence after- 
ward adduced against him. 

With a mind, tortured by remorse for the un- 
fortunate duel with Hamilton ; sickened by dis- 
appointment in political preferment; disgusted 
with the more pacific measures of Jefferson, he 
could only direct his thoughts in scenes of out- 
ward conflict, and bury the disquietudes which 
were tearing his soul, by plunging into deeds of 
wonderful magnitude. 

Knowing full well the advantages which 
wealth and influence would add to either under- 
taking, he sought first to secure the co-operation 
of the most conspicuous characters at that time 
occupying the West. Blennerhassett was a 
shining treasure, too valuable to remain unno- 
ticed : — a gentleman of opulence and ease, pos- 
sessing a mind of superior scientific acquire- 
ments J and who, fkom the discontents of his 



BURR'S FIRST VISIT. - 61 

own country, it would readily be presumed, was 
well acquainted with military tactics; such a 
personage would indeed prove a powerful auxi- 
liary in any measure he had proposed to him- 
self. Burr, accordingly, landed at the island; 
and, in company with a Mrs. Shaw, strolled over 
this far-famed paradise. Mr. Blennerhassett 
was absent from home. His wife's attention 
having been attracted by the strangers who 
were then surveying the premises, she de- 
spatched a messenger to them, tendering the 
hospitalities of the mansion. To increase her 
surprise, Burr returned his card by the servant, 
stating that as curiosity alone had prompted the 
visit, they must decline the invitation. Honoured 
by the attention of so distinguished an indi- 
vidual as the Ex-Vice-President of the United 
States, Mrs. Blennerhassett was unusually im- 
portunate; and Burr, with an assumption of 
hesitation, finally yielded. 

Having participated in the general topics of 
conversation, until about eleven o'clock at night, 
Burr re-embarked on board of his boat, and pro- 
ceeded down the river, to view the country and 
hold conferences with the inhabitants at the 
various points. 

General Wilkinson, who commanded the 
western forces, was, at that time, temporarily at 



62 LIFE OF BLENNERHASSETT. 

Fort Massac^ near the mouth of the Ohio. As 
a previous correspondence had been held be- 
tween them, which had brought them into 
intimate relations, Burr wished to ascertain, 
with what confidence he could rely on the aid 
of that officer and his men, in the event of an 
expedition to Mexico. The result of that in- 
terview has never been definitely ascertained ; 
but it was strongly suspected, however, that 
Wilkinson assured him of his support. Here, 
the Ex- Vice-President was furnished by the 
general, with an elegant barge, sails, colours 
and ten oars, with a sergeant and ten able hands 
to prosecute his journey. 

About this time, Blennerhassett, having re- 
ceived intelligence of the arrival, in New York, 
of his classmate and friend, the celebrated 
Thomas Addis Emmett, who had been com- 
pelled to flee his country, by reason of serious 
political difficulties, fastened to meet him. The 
feelings of the exiles, as they again clasped 
hands on the western borders of the Atlantic, 
can only be fully appreciated by those who have 
experienced the emotions. Here he found one 
with whom he could freely sympathize, and 
who, in return, could as freely sympathize with 
him. Often, in early life, had they sported 
together over the same green meadows, and 



LETTER FROM BURR. 68 

participated in the same amusements. And 
-when, at a more advanced age, they had been 
honourable competitors for academic honours, 
no selfish ambition had served to unloose the 
bonds which early childhood welded, although 
the contest was never so spirited, or the prize 
was never so dazzling. Still later in life, 
they had deplored together the fate of their 
country; had witnessed her deep degradation, 
and sighed over the hopeless prospects which 
were shadowed in the distant future. After 
several weeks spent with his friend, during 
which time he renewed his former acquaintance 
in the city, he returned to his family on the 
island. 

In the beginning of December, 1805, Burr 
addressed a communication to Blennerhassett, 
regretting that the absence of the latter had 
deprived the former of the pleasure of improving 
his personal acquaintance, when visiting his 
island residence. In an insinuating but guarded 
manner, he alluded to the talents of Blenner- 
hassett, as deserving of a higher sphere than that 
in which they were employed. He was sur- 
rounded, to be sure, with all the comforts of life, 
but those very comforts only served to effeminate 
the mind, for want of active engagements. His 
pleasures were merely passive, and were better 



64 I'IFB OF BLENNERHASSSTT. 

suited to the negative enjoyment of the rude 
and unconscious herd^ than to those delightful 
sensations experienced by the intelligent mind 
wh^n in the active exercise of all its ennobling 
powers. There were other considerations, too, 
which should induce him to feel that physical 
effort was necessary. He was surrounded by a 
growing family, who demanded of him superior 
advantages over those to be obtained in his new 
and unpolished neighbourhood. His fortune 
was gradually diminishing, while no effort was 
made to add to his present estate. The inevi- 
table consequence therefore must be the im- 
poverishment of his children by his listless 
attention to all financial affairs. Suggesting 
several plans by which Blennerhassett might 
enhance his fortune, and render himself a more 
important individual in society, he left him to 
meditate on the truthAilhess of the picture so 
dexterously set before him. 

Such apparently disinterested counsel, from 
one whose judgment and experience he respect- 
ed, caused Blennerhassett to turn his attention, 
more particularly than he had hitherto done, 
towards himself and his own affairs. The result 
was all that Burr could have desired. An 
answer waa returned, in which the writer de- 
sired to be admitted into a participation of any 



BURR'S SECOND LETTER; 66 

speculation which might present itself to Burr's \ 
judgment as worthy to engage his talents. "In | 
making this advance," says Blennerhassett, "I ; 
contemplated not only a commercial enterprise 
or land purchase, but a military adventure was 
distinctly mentioned in which I would engage." 
He said, he conceived the country on the eve 
of a Spanish war, when it would be necessary 
to call all the talents of the country into action, 
among which, the brightest was Burr's, and 
under such considerations he was willing to 
engage in any enterprise for the subjugation of 
the Spanish dominion.* 

To this communication the following reply 
was returned : — 

<< Washinqton Gitt, April 15th, 1806. 

"Dear Sir : — ^Your very interesting letter, of 
the 21st December, arrived here just after I had 
passed through this city on my way to South 
Carolina, and was not received until about two 
months after its date. The subject of it" [se- 
curing land in the South-West,] "has been 
daily in my mind. Independently of considera- 
tions personal to myself, I learn, with the utmost 
pleasure, that you are to be restored to the 
social and the active world. Your talents and 



* See BlennerhassetVs Brief: Appendix, No. 4. 
6* 



66 I'l^ OF BLENKERHASSETT. 

acquirements seemed to have destined you for 
something more than vegetable life ; and, since 
the first hour of our acquaintance, I have con^ 
sidered your seclusion as a fraud on society. 
The confidence you have seen fit to place in me 
is extremely flattering, and it would seem that 
there has been, without explanation, a sort of 
consent between our minds. In a matter of so 
much moment, and on which I am so imper- 
fectly informed, it would be hazarding too much 
to offer advice, yet it is due to the frankness of 
your letter, to acknowledge that I had projected, 
and still meditate, [partly obliterated] a specula- 
tion precisely of the character you have de- 
scribed. It would have been submitted to your 
consideration, in October last, if I had then had 
the good fortune to find you at home. The busi- 
ness, however, in some degree depends on con- 
tingencies not within my control, and will not 
be commenced before December, if ever. From 
this circumstance, and as the matter in its pre- 
sent state cannot be satisfactorily explained by 
letter, the communication will be deferred till a 
personal interview can be had. With this view, 
I pray to be informed of your intended move- 
ments the ensuing season, and in case you should 
visit Orleans, at what time and what port you 
may be expected on the Atlantic coast. But I 



VISIT OF BTOB. 67 

must insist that these intimations be hot per- 
mitted to interrupt the prosecution of any plana 
which you have formed for yourself. No occu- 
pation which will not take you oflf the continent 
can interfere with that which I may propose.'^ 
[The letter then gives an account of the society 
of Orleans, and concludes :] " We shall have 
no war" [with Spain], "uhless we should be 
actually invaded. Some estimate of the views 
and temper of our government may be formed 
from the proceedings of the House of Repre- 
sentatives with closed doors. A copy of that 
part of their journal I sent for your amusement, 
^^ Accept, dear sir, assurances of the great con- 
sideration and respect, with which 

" I am, your obedient servant, 
A. Burr."* 
"JJ. BUnnerhassettyEsq'' 

In the month of August, 1806, Burr, accom- 
panied by his accomplished daughter, Mrs. 
Theodosia Alston, wife of Gov. Joseph Alston 
of South Carolina,f visited the island. As this 
interview has been eloquently alluded to by the 
distinguished William Wirt, it is introduced as 

« <<Bl6nnerha8sett;'' By Wm. Wallace: <<Amenoan Beyiew,". 
1845. 
f See Appendix Ko. 1. 



68 LIFE OF BLENNEBHABSETT. 

descriptive of the domestic situation of the Blen« 
nerhassett family, at this particular period. He 
remarks : — 

** A shrubbery, which Shenstone might havef 
envied, blooms around him; music that might 
have charmed Calypso and her nymphs, is his; 
an extensive library spreads its treasures before 
him ; a philosophical apparatus offers to him all 
the mysteries and secrets of nature; peace, 
tranquillity and innocence shed their mingled 
delights around him ; and, to crown the enchant- 
ment of the scene, a wife who is said to be lovely 
even beyond her sex, and graced with every 
accomplishment that can render it irresistible, 
has blessed him with her love, and made him 
the father of her children. The evidence would 
convince you, that this is only a faint picture 
of real life. In the midst of all this peace, this 
innocence, this tranquillity, this feast of mind^ 
this pure banquet of the heart, the destroyer 
comes : — ^he comes to turn his paradise into a 
hell; — ^yet the flowers do not wither at his ap- 
proach, and no monitory shuddering, through 
the bosom of their unfortunate possessor, warns 
him of the ruin that is coming upon him. A 
stranger presents himself. Introduced to their 
civilities by the high rank he had lately held in 
his country, he soon finds way to their hearts 



wntrs SPSECH. ^ 

by the dignity and elegance of his demeanor^ 
the light and beauty of his conversation^ and 
the seductive and fascinating power of his 
address. The conquest was not a difficult one. 
Innocence is ever simple and credulous; con* 
scions of no designs itself^ it expects none in 
others ; every door and portal of the heart are 
thrown open, and all who choose it, enter. Such 
was the state of Eden when the serpent entered 
its bowers. The prisoner," (Burr) "in a more 
engaging form, winding himself into the open 
and unpractised heart of Blennerhassett, found 
but little difficulty in changing the native cha- 
racter of that heart, and the objects of its affeo* 
tions. By degrees, he infuses into it the poison 
of his own ambition; he breathes into it the 
fire of his own courage ; a daring and desperate 
thirst for glory; an ardour panting for all the 
storms and bustle and hurricane of life. In a 
short time, the whole man is changed; and 
every object of his former delights relinquished; 
No more he enjoys the tranquil scene; it has 
become flat and insipid to his taste. His books 
«re abandoned ; his retort and crucible thrown 
aside; his shrubbery blooms and breathes its 
fragrance upon the air in vain — he likes it not; 
his ear no longer drinks the melody of music — 
it longs for the trumpet's clangour and the can- 



70 LIFE OF BLENNEBHASSETT. 

non's roar. Even the prattle of his babes^ once 
BO sweet, no longer afifects him, and the angel 
smile of his wife, who hitherto touched his 
bosom with ecstasy so unspeakable, is now un« 
felt for and unseen. Greater objects have taken 
possession of his soul ; his imagination has been 
dazzled by visions of diadems, and stars, and 
garters, and titles of nobility; — ^he has been 
taught to bum, with restless emulation, at the 
names of Cromwell, Caesar, and Bonaparte," &c. 

Leaving his daughter with Mrs. Blennerhas* 
sett. Burr proceeded immediately to recruiting 
men for the ^pedition. His mind was now 
fully determined on the enterprise. Every thing 
appeared favourable, and what was to prevent 
the realization of his dreams ? 

"Far away to the south-west, a thousand 
miles beyond the Mississippi, lay a vast and 
wealthy empire, governed by tyrants whom the 
people hated, and defended by troops whom 
soldiers should despise. For years, the riches 
of that kingdom were the theme of travellers. 
Her mines were inexhaustible and had flooded 
Europe with gold. Her nobles enjoyed the 
revenues of emperors; her capitol was said to 
be blazoned with jewels. It was known to look 
down on the lake, into whose waters the un« 
happy Guatemozin had cast the treasures of that 



BURR'S PROJECT. 71 

long line of native princes, of which he was the 
last. Men dreamed of that magnificent city as 
Alladm dreamed of his palaces, or Columbus of 
Cathay. Costly statues; vessels of gold and 
silver; jewels of untold value; troops of the 
fairest Indian girls for slaves ; all that the eye 
delighted in, or the heart of man could desire, it 
was currently declared, would form the plunder 
of Mexico. A bold adventurer, commanding an 
army of Anglo-Saxon soldiers, could possess 
himself of the empire. The times were favour- 
able to the enterprise. The priesthood through- 
out Mexico was disaffected, and would gladly 
lend its aid to any conqueror who secured its 
privileges; and the priesthood then, as now, 
exercised a paramount influence over the weak 
and superstitious Mexicans. America, too, was 
thought to be on the eve of a Spanish war, when 
the contemplated expedition niight easily be 
fitted out at New Orleans. Burr saw the glit- 
tering prize, and resolved to seize it. He would 
conquer this gorgeous realm, and realize, in this 
new world, as Napoleon did in the old, a dream 
of romance. 

" He would surround his throne with dukes 
and marshals, and princes of the empire. The 
pomp of chjvalry, the splendours of the east, 
should be revived in this court. Realms equally 



72 LIFE Of BLEKNERHAdSETT. 

rich, and even more easy of spoil, opened to the 
south, to whose conquest his successors, if not 
himself, might aspire. Perhaps nothing would 
check his victorious banner until he had tra- 
versed the continent, and stood on that bold 
and stormy promontory, where the contending 
waters of the Atlantic and Pacific lash around 
Cape Horn."* 

With that eloquence of expression and power 
of imagination which was peculiarly his, he in- 
fused into the minds of his auditors a thirst, like 
his own, for the brilliant scenes of Mexico. At 
Marietta he had an opportunity of meeting with 
the miUtia, who were assembled for the purpose 
of an annual training. Being called upon for 
that purpose, he exercised the regiment in a few 
evolutions, by which he demonstrated to the 
doubting his superior knowledge of military 
tactics, and cajKibility for commanding. A ball 
succeeded the training, in the evening. The 
congregated beauty of the surrounding neigh- 
bourhood greeted him with their smiles; while 
the men of rougher mould gave encouragement 
to his enterprise. Ofiers, of distinction and 
rank, and the dazzling dreams of wealth, were 
arguments irresistible to the young and adven- 

* Anonymous. 



CHARACTER OF BURR'S REtiRUITS. fi 

turous J and Burr soon found himself surrounded 
by men impatient for the expedition. 

Let it not be presumed that the honest and 
patriotic spirits of the West for a moment con- 
templated treachery to their country^ or medi- 
tated a wilful violation of her laws. They who 
had breasted the storms of adversity, in every 
conceivable shape ; who had scaled the barriers 
of the Alleghanies, amid the dangers of Indian 
warfare ; who, for many years, had stood upon 
the frontier of civilization, and grappled, in 
deadly conflict, with the enemies of their country 
and their race; who had pursued the savage to 
his wigwam and startled him from his moun- 
tain fastness ; these were the men whom impar- 
tial history must pronounce incapable of a crime 
so base, so revolting to the mind of every patriot. . 
But they were deceived, in their over-credulous- 
ness, in the statement of Burr, and joined the 
expedition, under the well-grounded belief that 
Jefiferson favoured it; and that, in the event of , 
war, it would be neither illegal nor contrary to ; 
the wishes of the government. 



74 LIFE OF BLENNEBHASSETT. 



CHAPTER VI. 

Prepftrations for the expedition commenced — ^Burr's Tisit to Chil- 
licothe — Cincinnati — Kentucky — ^Alston arriyes at the island — 
Alston with his wife and Blennerhassett visits Lexington, Hy. — 
Blennerhassett is introduced to Charles Fenton Mercer — Suspi- 
cions aspect of the expedition — Situation of affair^ in the United 
States — ^Apprehensions of the people — Rumours — Graham ap- 
pointed a secret agent of the goyemment — ^Instructions — ^Instruc- 
tions to Gen. Wilkinson — ^Wilkinson demands forces of the Go- 
yemor of Mississippi Territory — Is refused — ^Despatches Burling 
to Mexico— -Holds a conference with Goyemor Claiborne at New 
Orleans — ^Merchants of New Orleans conyoked — ^Preparations at 
New Orleans — ^Blennerhassett sets out from Kentucky for home— 
Meets with Mr. Mercer — Conyersation — ^Burr's designs explained 
— ^Blennerhassett is joined by Burr at the island — ^Burr leayes the 
Buperyision of the boats to Blennerhassett and returns to Ken- 
tucky — ^Is arrested — Graham arriyes at Marietta — ^Interyiew with 
Blennerhassett — ^Visits the Goyemor of Ohio at Chillicothe— Act 
of the Ohio Legislature— Militia of the State called out— Anec- 
dotes — Mercer's yisit to the island — ^Arriyal of Comfort Tyler and 
his men — Find Blennerhassett disheartened as to the feasibility 
of the enterprise. 

In the month of September, 1806, Burr com- 
menced active preparations for the contemplated 
expedition. Contracts for fifteen large bateaux, 
sufficient to convey five hundred men, and a 
large keel-boat for the transportation of provi-- 



BUBR'S VISIT TO CHILLICOTHE. 75 

sion^ orms^ ammunition^ &c., also^ for flour, 
whisky, corn-meal, and other eatables, were 
entered into; for the most of which Blenner- 
hassett became responsible. Much of the com, 
from which the meal was made, was raised and 
kilnrdried on the island. 

While these operations were being carried 
forward. Burr visited Chillicothe, then the seat 
of government of Ohio, and continued his trip 
to Cincinnati, and thence to Kentucky. The 
object of this tour was to extend his acquaint- 
ance, and add new recruits to his enterprise. 
Each private was to supply himself with proper 
arms and clothing, and to receive, as a compen- 
sation for his services, one hundred acres of land 
on the Washita : officers were to receive accord- 
ing to their grade. 

In the month of October, Mrs. Alston, then at 
the island with the family of Blennerhassett, 
was joined by her husband, who had fallen in 
with Burr's plans, and,' in all probability, was to 
accompany him on his tour. They, in company 
with Blennerhassett, proceeded to Lexington, 
Kentucky; leaving the island and its affairs 
under the supervision of Mrs. Blennerhassett. 

On their passage down, they met with the 
distinguished Charles Fenton Mercer, who was 
on old college-mate of Mr. Alston, at the New 



76 • LIFE OF BIiBNNEMASSETT. 

Jersey College. Having been introduced to the 
acquaintance of Blennerhassett, Mr. Mercer re- 
marks, that the reputation which he had ac- 
quired for talents, learning and taste, and an 
eccentric and somewhat romantic mode of life, 
rendered this interview with Blennerhassett one 
of the most interesting events which occurred to 
him during his residence on the Ohio. He, 
therefore, accepted with much pleasure an in- 
vitation to visit the beautiful and much cele- 
brated island. 

It was true, that, at that period, and for seve- 
ral weeks previous, reports were in circulation, 
that Blennerhassett was engaged with Burr in 
some conmion enterprise, to which lo^any had 
imputed a highly criminal design. But those 
reports, and especially the injurious suspicions 
often connected with them, seemed to have 
arisen from pre-existing prejudices against Burr, 
which it was not difficult to trace to an origin 
very remote from the designs now ascribed to 
him. As the reports were believed and propa- 
gated, by those who spake of them, with a con- 
viction and zeal proportioned to their ignorance 
or malignity j and as they were, in themselves, 
most improbable, absurd and ridiculous, Mr. 
Mercer considered them entitled to no considera- 
tion. 



POLITICAL ASPECTS. 77 

The ex:pedition, in the eyes of many, began 
now to assume a serious aspect; and, through 
the medium of the press, attracted the attention 
of those more remote from the scene of prepara- 
tions. Apprehension and alarm seized on the 
public mind, and spread dismay throughout the 
country. Spain had refused us compensation 
for her spoliations during a former war. Our 
commerce passing on the Mobile river continued 
to be obstructed by arbitrary duties and vexa- 
tious searches. The boundaries of Louisiana 
remained in dispute, producing much uneasiness 
and discontent in the south-west. The govern- 
ment had been deterred from a declaration of 
war, by Napoleon, from the effects of whose arms 
Europe was then trembling, and who had inti- 
mated that France would take part with Spain 
in any contest she might have against the United 
States. Added to this, the impressment of 
American seamen by British vessels ; and our 
nation was at once reduced to a situation of 
painful humiliation. 

Feeble, indeed, would be that aid which a 
disunited people could render, in time of perils 
such as these. Never before, in the history of 
the nation, had rebellion and disunion so openly 
avowed itself. How far this disaffection ex- 
tended, was, to many, a matter of mysterious 

7* 



78 MFB OF BLENNEEHASSETT. 

and anxious conjecture. Burr had^ but a few 
years previous, closed a close and popular can- 
vass for the Executive chair. It was known 
that, not only his partisans, but his personal 
friends, were numerous ; many of whom were 
men of wealth and influence, who could rally to 
their standard a formidable number to support 
the cause of faction. Party malevolence and 
personal animosity added fuel to the flame, and 
ultimate ruin hung, as a withering pall, over 
the destinies of the country. 

A rumour was gaining ground that a nume- 
rous and powerful association, extending, from 
New York, through the Western States, to the 
Gulf of Mexico, had been formed ; that eight or 
ten thousand men were to rendezvous in New 
Orleans, at no distant period ; and, from thence, 
with the cooperation of a naval force, follow 
Burr to Vera Cruz; that agents from Mexico 
had come to Philadelphia during the summer, 
and had given assurances that the landing of 
the expedition would be followed by such an 
immediate and general insurrection as would 
insure the submission of the existing govern- 
ment, and silence all opposition in a very few 
weeks; that a part of the association would 
descend the Alleghany river, and the first gene- 
ral rendezvous would be at the rapidd of the 



BUMOims OF Tm: sxpidition. 79 

Ohio, towards the twentieth of October, and, 
from thence, the aggregate force was to proceed 
in light^boats, with the utmost velocity, to New 
Orleans, under an expectation of being joined 
on the rout by men raised in the State of Ten- 
nessee and other quarters. 

It was said that the maritime cooperation 
relied on was from a British squadron in the 
West Indies; that active and influential cha- 
racters had been engaged in making preparations 
for six or eight months past, which were in such 
a state of readiness -that it was expected the 
van would reach New Orleans in December, 
where the necessary organization and equip- 
ment would be completed, with such prompti- 
tude that the expedition would leave the Mis- 
sissippi towards the first of February. It was 
added, that the revolt of the slaves, along the 
river, was relied on, as an auxiliary measure; 
and that the seizure of the banks of New Or- 
leans was contemplated, to supply the funds 
necessary to carry on the enterprise.* 

Mr. Jefferson, then President of the United 
States, through considerations of caution, and 
to quell the apprehension of danger, adopted the 
precautionary measure of appointing Graham, 

* Marti&'s Hifltoty of Louiaiana. 



go LIFE OF BLENNEBHASSETT. 

• 

the Secretary of the territory of Orleans, a secret 
agent of the government, with instructions to spy 
out and investigate any plot hostile to the na- 
tional interest; empowering him to enter into 
conferences with the civil and military authori- 
ties in the West, and, with their aid, to caU on 
the spot whatever should become necessary to 
discover the designs of the supposed conspirators ; 
and also to bring the offenders to punishment, 
when he should have fully ascertained their in- 
tentions. 

It being known, at this time, that many boats 
were in preparation, stores and provisions col- 
lected, and an unusual number of suspicious cha- 
racters in motion, on the Ohio and its tributaries, 
orders were given to the Governor of the Missis- 
sippi and Orleans Territories, and to the com- 
manders of the land and naval forces, to be on 
their guard against surprise, and in constant 
readiness to resist any enterprise that might be 
attempted. 

On the eighth of November, instructions had 
been sent to General Wilkinson, to hasten on 
accommodations with the Spanish commander 
on the Sabine, and fall back with his principal 
force on the hither bank of the Mississippi.* 



* Jefferson's Message of 22d January, 1807. 



PROCEIlBINaS OF OENERAL WILKINSON. 81 

This order, however, had been anticipated by 
Wilkinson, who, on the fifth of the same month, 
three days previous to the despatch of the in- 
structions, haying received intelligence that the 
Spanish camp on the Sabine would be broken up 
on that day, began his march towards Natchi- 
toches. Lnmediately on his arrival there, he 
had directed Porter to proceed with the utmost 
expedition, and to repair, mount, and equip for 
service, every piece of ordnance in the city; to 
employ all hands in preparing shells, grape, can- 
ister and musket cartridges, with buck-shot ; to 
have every fieldpiece ready, with horse, har- 
ness and drag-rope, and to mount six or eight 
battering cannons on fort St. Charles and fort 
St. Louis — ^below and above the city — ^and along 
its firont, flanks and rear. 

Porter left Natchitoches with all the artifiices, 
and company of one hundred men, and had been 
followed by Cushing with the rest of the forces, 
leaving only one company behind. Wilkinson, 
on his way to New Orleans, stopped at Natchez, 
and made application to the Executive of the 
Mississippi Territory for a detachment of five 
hundred men of its militia to proceed with him ; 
but, declining to communicate his motives, in 
making the requisition, the governor refused a 
compliance with so mysterious a demand. 



82 LIFG OF BLENN£RHASSETT. 

From this place, Wilkinson, on the fifteenth 
of November, despatched Burling, one of his 
aids, to Mexico, for the ostensible purpose of ap- 
prising the Viceroy of the danger with which his 
sovereign's dominions were menaced ; but, in 
reality, (as the general mentions in his memoirs,) 
on grounds of public policy and professional en- 
terprise, to attempt to penetrate the veil which 
concealed the topographical rout to the city of 
Mexico, and the military defences which inter- 
vened — ^feeling that the equivocal relation of the 
two countries justified the ruse?^ 

As soon as Wilkinson arrived in New Orleans, 
he held an interview with Governor Claiborne ; 
at which time it was deemed expedient to con- 
voke the merchants of the city, to adopt precau- 
tionary measures for their security. The latter, 
in an animated address, exhorted them to assist 
him in his eflForts for the defence of the city, and 
solemnly swore, in the enthusiastic style pecu- 
liar to him, that, if it were taken by the vessels, 
he would perish in the endeavour to repel the 
assault. The meeting adopted, unanimously, 
some spirited and patriotic resolutions. A con- 
siderable sum was subscribed to be distributed as 
bounty among such sailors as might engage to 

* Martm's HiBtory of Louisiaim. 



BLENNERHASSETT RETURNS HOME. 83 

serve on board the ships. Many of the guns of 
the city were placed upon the merchantmen in 
the river ; and a respectable fleet was suddenly 
formed, to oppose that of the British, which was 
expected firom the West Indies. 

In the meanwhile, Blennerhassett, having re- 
ceived information from his wife, (who despatched 
to him a special messenger for that purpose,) that 
his affairs were in danger, and required his im- 
mediate attention, left Kentucky, about the first 
of October, for home. Near Point Pleasant, he 
again met with Mr. Mercer, at the house of Col. 
Andrew Lewis, a veteran in the revolutionary 
and various Indian wars. 

In conversation, he adverted, with much sen- 
sibility, to the reports in circulation, relevant to 
Aaron Burr and himself which were daily be- 
coming more exaggerated, all of which he de- 
clared were utterly false. He was the last man 
in the world, he said, who would disturb the 
peace and impair the prosperity of the United 
States. Weary of political situations, in his na- 
tive country, he had sought and foimd an asylum 
in America, the tranquillity of which he could 
never violate. He had, indeed, he admitted, 
united with Col. Burr, (whom public rumouf 
had injured as much as himself,) in the plan of 
colonizing and improving a large tract of country. 



84 I'IFB OF BLENNEBHASSETT. 

on the Red river, originally granted by the Kinj 
of Spain, to Baron Bastrop, and lately pnrchasec 
by Burr, of a gentleman in Kentucky. Thi 
tract contained eight hundred thousand acres 
and the consideration which Col. Burr and him 
self were to pay for it, was forty thousand dol 
lars ; but, by distributing a part of it in hundred 
acre farms, among a number of emigrants, the^ 
had no doubt, on tha most moderate estimate, ol 
being able to raise the value of the remainder U 
more than one million of dollars. 

Shortly after his arrival at the island, Blen 
nerhassett was joined by Burr, who had als( 
returned from Kentucky and his journey througl 
Ohio. He did not remain long, however, at th< 
scene of preparations on the Muskingum 
Having completed his arrangements, he lef 
Blennerhassett to superintend the constructioi 
of the boats ; to make the necessary preparation 
and to follow him, as soon as practicable, to th< 
mouth of the Cumberland, with the men, provi 
sions and boats. 

Burr proceeded down the Ohio to Kentucky 
where he had hardly landed, before he was ai 
rested, and carried before the United States 
Court, on a charge of ^^ treasonable practices, an< 
a design to attack the Spanish domains, an< 
thereby endanger the peace of the United States. 



BLENNERHASSETT'S CONFERENCE WITH GRAHAM. 85 

The arrest was premature^ and Burr wa^ dis^ 
charged for want of evidence. 

Near the middle of November, Graham, the 
government's confidential agent, proceeded to 
Marietta, where extensive preparations were 
going on. Here he met, and held an interview 
with Blennerhassett. After discoursing upon 
the subject of the expedition, with a frankness 
which was only warranted by a well-founded 
belief (from what Burr had previously inti- 
mated,) that Graham was considered as one of 
the recruits, Blennerhassett read to him some 
communications he had just received, by the 
hand of Capt. Elliot, and also one from Burr, in 
relation to his arrest and trial at Frankfort, upon 
which Blennerhassett animadverted with great 
severity. Graham, finding Blennerhassett was 
labouring under a delusion, in regard to the part 
that he was to perform in the transaction, in- 
formed him that Burr's representations, as to 
him (Graham) being with or favouring the ex- 
pedition, were groundless. With no little siuv 
prise, he asked Graham whether he had not 
heard of an association, in New Orleans, for the 
invafiion of Mexico. Upon Graham venturing 
to assure him that there was no such an associa- 
tion there, Blennerhassett stated that, he had 
been informed, by Bradford, the printer of the 



86 tA¥K OF BLEKNERHASSETT. 

*^ Gazette d'Orleans," that about three hund 
men had already joined the expedition. 

Considering Blennerhassett most cruelly 
ceived, Graham endeavoured to draw him 
from ihe undertaking, in which he was engag 
and conceiving it the policy of the govemm* 
to prevent, rather than to punish such eni 
prises, he informed Blennerhassett that, so 
from being concerned in the plan, he was 
government's authorized agent to inquire i 
tiie facts relative to the enterprise, in the west 
country, and to take such steps as might be 
cessary for repressing it. He then stated to - 
Blennerhassett, from reasons drawn from Bu 
visit to New Orleans, during the preceding si 
mer — from the information which the gove 
ment had received — and from the nature of 
preparations which Blenuerhassett himself 1 
then making, wh^/ he believed the object of B 
was either to attack the territories of Spair 
those of the United States; — ^and added, t 
any collection of armed men on the Ohio ri^ 
would, under the circumstances, ]>e considere 
violation of the laws, and repressed according 

The object and extent of the preparations 
Marietta having been Mly ascertained, by G 
ham, according to instructions, he visited 
Governor of Ohio, at Chillicothe, to procure 



OHIQ UILITIA. 0BDSB6P OUT. §7 

aid of the State authorities^ la suppiiessmg the 
suspected fonni^ble measures. Governor Tiffin 
communicated the matter to the Legislature — 
then in session, whereupon an act was immedi- 
ately passed, entitled "An Act to prevent cer- 
tain acts hostile to the peace and tranquillity of 
the United States, within the jurisdiction of the 
State of Ohio."* 

Under this act, Governor Tiffin ordered out 
the militia of the adjacent neighbourhood, under 
command of Major-general Buell, of Marietta^ 
with instructions, to that officer, to take forcible 
possession of the boats and stores, not only upon 
the Muskingum, but also of aU others of a su&- 
j^cious character descending the Ohio. 

A warlike array of undisciplined militia, with 
cannon, necessary equipage and arms, stationed 
themselves along the banks of the river, to cut 
off the forces expected from above. Many amu- 
sing jokes were played off at the expense of the 
raw recruits during this campaign ; — such as set- 
ting an empty tar-barrel on fire, and placing it 
in an old boat or raft of logs, to float by in the 
darkness of the night. The sentries, after duly 
hailing, and receiving no answer, would fire a 
shot to enforce their command j but still " dread 

« OhaM's Statutes of Ohio, vol. i. p. 568. 



88 I^B OF BIiENNEBHASSETT. 

silence reigned/' and calmly the phantom vess 
with her stolid crew, floated onward and do^ 
ward, in utter recklessness — as if the crowing 
a farm-house cock only had disturbed the nigh 
calm silence. Irritated at such manifest c( 
tempt of their high authority, they plunged ii 
the stream to seize the boat and capture 
luckless navigators; when, "confiision uttei 
confounded !" naught appeared but the remai 
of a log and a barrel, which some laughter-lovi 
wag had freighted for their mischance and ] 
amusement. 

On another occasion, they had learned tl 
Tyler* and his men had passed down the ri\ 
as far as Blennerhassett's island, from whence 
was expected to return, to recapture the boj 
and provisions. To cut off all possible comn 
nication with Marietta, where the boats w( 
tied, particular instructions were given, in t 
evening, to bring away all the water-crafts frc 
the lower side of the Muskingum. Several sailo 
who boarded on the opposite shore, consider 
the opportunity for sport too favourable to pj 
unimproved. The plan first proposed, for t 
accomplishment of this end, was to raise 
armed party, with blank cartridges, and fire 

* Comfort Tyler was one of Burr's priiuwpal oaptaias. 



AISIECDOTES. 89 

the sentinels. Upon strict search, however, they 
found that all the muskets, blunderbusses, rifles, 
and shot-guns, had been previously appropriated 
by the militia. The cannon was then thought 
of, when this, also, it was ascertained, had been 
called to the aid of the State authorities. Deter- 
mined not to be defeated, in the laugh they had 
promised themselves, they resorted to the expe- 
dien.t of emptying a half-keg of powder into a 
canvas sack, wrapping it closely with twine. 
This they deposited under ground, care being 
taken to leave a communication with the con- 
tents by means of a priming-hole and slow-match. 
At midnight, when all, save the faithful and 
lonely sentinels, were enjoying that repose so 
necessaiy to the refreshment of the weaxied sol- 
dier, afiter a destructive attack 

" On whisky and peach-brandy,"* 

A confiised and foreboding sound, from the oppo- 
site shore, grated unmusically on the ear of the 
guards. Although appearances were somewhat 
ominous, yet they concluded not to disturb the 
slumbers of their brothers in arms until a more sa- 
tisfactory demonstration had been made. For this 
opportunity they were not kept long in suspense. 
Suddenly the earth began to heave and throe. 



* See Appendix, No. 8. 
8* 



9Q LIFE OF BLEKNEBHASSETT. 

aa if drunk -with the heel-taps of the soldie: 
glasses^ ond^ following in quick succesBion, 
report, that many mistook for the summoni] 
trump of the end of time. The scene whi< 
succeeded is more easily imagined than describe 
Those less conftised, did, indeed, take time 
adjust their ouinside garments, but much tl 
greater number started with nothing but the 
nether vestments, without regard to uniform < 
military parade. Here stood one, vainly stru 
gling to thrust his feet through the arm-hol 
and sleeves of his linsey warmvs, while, at h 
side, a companion had drawn his pants over h 
shoulders, illustrating, most ludicrously, but Ut 
rally, the lines of doggerel : — 

<< Pat on his shirt ontside his coat, 
And tied his breeches round his throat." 

Shivering, in the chiU winds of Decembe 
they " hurried in hot haste" to the tanta-ran- 
of the trumpeter, and the rub-a-dub-dub of tl 
" drum-major-general." Whether any had take 
the precaution to ^4oad" or "prime" is a que 
tion which time and reflection have never settle 
The major, who was a tailor, is said to hai 
charged the cannon with his goose; — ^the Sta 
having made no provision for ammunition. Tl 
deputy, as he mounted his horse, was heard 



MERGER'S VISIT. 91 

say, that, "as great men were scarce, he thought 
it best to flee fix)iii danger." Had Tyler pnd his 
men been the real cause of their alarm, he would 
doubtless have met with a stem resistance, but, 
fortunately for him, he was imconsciously asleep 
at the island."^ 

On Saturday evening, the 6th of December, 
Mr. Mercer, in the course of his journey east of 
the mountains, stepped at the island, with the 
view of purchasing this "most elegant seat in 
Virginia.'' Finding, however, that Blennerhas- 
sett estimated it at fifty thousand dollars, which 
(he remarked) was ten thousand less than it 
had cost him, Mr. Mercer abandoned the idea of 
purchasing ; and the rest of his time, during the 
visit, was spent in conversation with Blennerhas- 
sett and his accomplished lady. It turned upon 
his removal to the " Washita" — ^the name of his 
new purchase. With great earnestness, he pressed 
Mr. Mercer to become a participant ; — suggesting 
how much it would augment his fortune, and 
enforcing the inducement by an assurance that 
the society he invited him to join would soon 
become the most agreeable and select in America. 
He spoke of Burr as the moral head of it ; and 
when Mr. Mercer expressed a doubt of the per- 

* See the desoription, by General Tapper, in the Appendix, Ko. 8. 



92 LIFS OF BLENNEBHASSETT. 

manency and happiness of a union formed und 
such auspices, and dwelt upon such traits ( 
Burr's general character as he deemed exceptio: 
able, Blennerhassett vindicated him, with tl 
enthusiasm of an ardent admirer. 

Blennerhassett, having intended to visit M 
rietta on Sunday evening, Mr. Mercer propose 
accompanying him, as that was directly on h 
route. As a tribute of merited gratitude, 1 
remarks, that he left the mansion in perfect go( 
will to all its inhabitants; regretting that tl 
engagements of its proprietor and his own dreai 
journey, but just begun in the commencement < 
winter, forbade him to prolong a visit whicl 
although so transient, had afforded him so muc 
pleasure. AU that he had seen or heard corre 
ponded so little with the criminal designs in 
puted to Blennerhassett, that, if he could ha^ 
visited him with unfavourable sentiments, the 
would have vanished before the light of a specie 
of evidence which, if not reducible to the strictei 
rules of legal testimony, had, nevertheless, 
potent influence over all sensitive hearts; an 
which, though it do not possess the formal san 
tion of an oath, hath often in it a great de: 
more truth than statements thus verified. 

" What !" remarks Mr. Mercer, ^' will a ma 
who, weary of the agitations of the world— of i 



HEBGEB'S VISIT. 98 

noise and vanity^ has unambitiously retired to a 
solitary island in the heart of a desert, a^d cre- 
ated a terrestrial paradise^ the very flowers^ and 
shrubs, and vines of which he had planted and 
nurtured with his own hands; a man whose soul 
is accustomed to toU in the depths of literature ; 
whose ear is framed to the harmony of sound, 
and whose touch and breath daily awaken it 
from a variety of melodious instruments; will 
such a man start up, in the decline of life, from 
the pleasing dream of seven years' slumber, to 
carry fire and sword to the peaceful habitations 
of men who have never done him wrong ? Are 
his musical instruments and his library to become 
the equipage of a camp ? Will he expose a lovely 
and accomplished woman, and two littie children, 
to whom he seems so tenderly attached, to the 
guilt of treason, and to the horrors of war; — ^a 
treason so desperate ? — ^a war so unequal ? Were 
not all his preparations better adapted to the 
innocent and useful purpose which he avowed, 
rather than to the criminal and hazardous enter- 
prise which was imputed to him ? Whence arose 
those imputations? From his union with CoL 
Burr. But, it is evident he has been led to this 
union from his admiration of the genius, and 
confidence in the virtue and honour of the per- 
son with whom it has connected him. That 



94 LIFE OF BIBNNEBHAflSETT. 

whicli^ with a haxsh-judging worlds is the fou 
dation of a belief of his guilty when thorough 
and candidly examined^ carries on its face^ thei 
fore, the stamp of his innocence." 

On the same day of the arrival of Mr. Merc 
at the island, also landed Comfort Tyler, of Ne 
York, and a small party of men under his coi 
mand. He found Blennerhassett much disheai 
ened as to the enterprise, and nearly resolved 
abandon it altogether. Through the pursuasi 
eloquence of Mrs. Blennerhassett, however, Wi 
had now enlisted in the undertaking with h 
whole soul, and the arrival of Tyler's men, " t 
lord of the isle," as if some demon of evil haunt 
his footsteps, and urged him on to an unknot 
destiny, yielding rather to the wishes of othc 
than to the sounder dictates of his own betl 
judgment — again embarked his fortune and fai 
in the enterprise of Burr. 

On the eighth of December, 1806, favoured 
the darkness of the night, a company of you 
men from Belpr6 attempted, secretly, to bri 
away the boats and stores ready for embarl 
tion. They had nearly succeeded^ when tb 
movements were observed by the nailitia, and 
of the boats but one were captured. This, wi 
its party, successfully reacted the island, notwil 
standing the efforts of the guards to prevent it 



LETTEB TO OEN. WILKNSON. 95 



CHAPTER TH. 

Burr despatehes Swartwont to Wilkinson — ^Jietter — ^WiUdnBon com- 
mnnicateB its substance to the President — ^Proclamation of the 
President — ^Virginia militia called out under command of Col. 
Hugh Phelps — Blennerhassett escapes with Tyler and his forces 
down the Ohio — Phelps proceeds to the island — Finds it deserted 
— Ineffectual attempt to arrest Blennerhassett at Point Pleasant — 
Effect of the President's Proclamation trusted to for some time in 
the State of Tennessee — But similar instructions sent to that State 
also— Oraham leaves Frankfort for Nash-nlle— The movements of 
Burr — Kentucky militia ordered out — Burr's Flotilla — Burr leaves 
the Cumberland — ^Lands at Fort Massac — Is visited by the com- 
mander, Captain Bissell— Supplies Burr with a messenger to con- 
vey a letter to the Lead Mines in Missouri — ^His wife presents Burr 
with provisions — ^Burr and his party proceed to Chickasaw Bluffs 
•^Has an interview with the commander, Lieutenant Jacob Jack- 
son — ^Fails in his designs — Communicati(m of the President to 
Wilkinson — ^Burr supplies himself with lead, tomahawks, &c., and 
proceeds to Palmyra, and tiience to Bayou Pierre. 

On the twenty-ninth of July, 1806, Burr had 
despatched, by the hands of Swartwout, to Gen, 
Wilkinson, the folloMdng communication, in cy- 
jjrfier, fix)m Philadelphia. 

"I have obtained funds and have actually 
C(»nmenced the enterprise .... detachments from 
difierent pcmits, and under different pretences, 



96 I<IFE •* BLKNNEBHASS£TT. 

will rendezvous on the Ohio, 1st Nov. Ever 
thing, internal and external favours views. Pr< 

tection of England is secured. T is going i 

Jamaica to arrange with the admiral on th( 
station : it will meet on the Mississippi. Enj 
land .... navy of the United States are ready i 
join, and final orders are given to my fiienc 
and followers .... it will be a host of choice spirit 
.... Wilkinson shall be second to Burr only.- 
Wilkinson shall dictate the rank and promotion 
of his officers. — Burr will proceed westward, li 
August .... never to return .... with him go hi 

daughter the husband wiU follow, in Octobei 

with a corps of worthies, and send forth. . . . wit 

an intelligent and confidential friend, with whoi 
Burr may confer. He shall return immediately 
with fiirther interesting details — ^this is essentia 
to concert and harmony of movement. Send 
list of all persons known to Wilkinson west of th 
mountains, who may be useful, with a note del 
neating their character. By your messengei 
send me four or five of the commissions of you 
officers, which you can borrow under any pre 
tence you please. — They shall be returned faitl 
fully. Already are orders given to the coi 
tractor to forward six months' provision to point 
Wilkinson may name; this shall not be use< 
until the last moment^ and then under prope 



LETTER TO OEN. WILKINSON. M 

iajuDCtions ; the project is brought to a point eo 
long desired. Burr guarantees the r^snilt with 
his life and honour — ^with the lives, and honour, 
and the fortunes of hundreds, the best blood of 
our country. Burr's plan of operation is to move 
down rapidly, from the falls, on the 15th of No- 
vember, with the first five hundred or one thou- 
sand men, in light boats now constructing for 
that purpose, to be at Natchez between the 5th 
and 15th of December — ^there to meet TVilkinson 
— ^there to .determine whether it will be expe- 
dient, in the first instance, to seize on, or pass 
by. Baton Rouge .... on receipt of this, send Burr 
an answer, .... draw on Burr for all expenses, &c. 
The peqple of the country to which we are going 
are prepared to receive us ; their agents, now 
with Burr, say that if we will protect their reli- 
^on, and will not subject them to a foreign 
power, that, in three weeks, all will be settled. 
The gods invite to glory and fortune — ^it remains 
to be seen whether we deserve the boon. The 
bearer of this goes express to you ; he will hand 
a formal letter of introduction to you, j&om Burr, 
he is a man of inviolable honour and perfect dis- 
cretion, formed to execute rather than project — 
eapaUe of relating facts with fidelity, and in- 
capable of relating them otherwise. He is 
thoroughly informed of the plans and intentions 



98 I'IFB OF BLBNNERHASSETT. 

of and will disclose to you, as far as yoi 

inquire and no farther; he has imbibed a revei 
ence for your character, and may be embarrassei 
in your presence ; put him at ease, and he wil 
satisfy you." 

Wilkinson, having received this despatch som 
time in November, communicated its substanc 
to the President, who, on the twenty-seventh oj 
the same month issued the following 

Proclamation. 

Whereas, information has been received, tha 
sundry persons, citizens of the United States o 
residents within the same, are conspiring ani 
confederating together, to begin and set on fool 
provide and prepare, the means for a military 
expedition, or enterprise, against the dominion 
of Spain ; that, for this purpose, they are fittinj 
out and arming vessels, in the Western water 
of the United States ; collecting provisions, arms 
military stores and other means ; are deceivinj 
and seducing honest and well-meaning citizens 
under various pretences, to engage in their crimi 
nal enterprises ; are organizing officers, and arm 
ing themselves, for the same^ contrary to th 
laws in such case made and provided : — ^I hav< 
thought fit, therefore, to issue this myproclama 
turn, learning and enjoining all faithfiil citizens 



PBOGLABfATION OF THE PRESIDENT. 99 

who have been led, without due knowledge or^ 
Conmderation, to participate in the said unlawful 
enterprises, to withdraw from the same without 
delay : and commanding all persons whatsoever, 
engaged or concerned in the same,, to cease all 
fiirther proceedings therein, as they will answe;p 
the contrary at their peril, and incur prosecution 
with all the rigours of the law. And I hereby 
enjoin and require all ofl&cers, civil and military, 
of the United States or of any of the States or 
territories, and especially all governors and other 
executive authorities j all judges, justices and 
other officers of the peace ; all military officers 
of the army and navy of the United States, and 
officers of the militia; to be vigilant, each within 
his respective department, and according to his 
functions, in searching out and bringing to con- 
dign punishment, aU persons engaged or con- 
cerned in such enterprise, in seizing and retaining, 
subject to the disposition of the law, all vessels, 
arms, military stores or other means, provided or 
providing for the same, and, in general, in pre- 
venting the carrying on such expedition or enter- 
prise, by all the lawful means within their 
power; and I require all good and faithM citi- 
zens, and others, within the United States, to be 
aiding and assisting herein, and especially in the 
discovery, apprehension and bringing to justice 



^ lilFB OF B1JSNKERHA8SETT. 

of all such offenders^ in preventing the execution 
of their unlawful designs^ and in givii^ informa 
tion against th^B to tho proper authorities. 
In testimony, &c. 

Thohas Jeffebson. 
By the President : 

Jambs Maihiso^, 
Secretary of SMs. 

Under the authority, and by virtue of this pro 
clamation, the Virginia militia, of Wood county 
were called out, by command of Col. Hugh Phelps 
of Parkersburg,* as soon as he had recdved in 
telligence of the same, which was not imtil th< 
eighth or ninth of December. 

On the tenth of the month, Blennerhassett 
having received information of the preparations 
making by Col. Phelps, (who, it was expected 
would march to the island on the following day,) 
to take possession of his person, boats, and stores 
departed, under cov^r of night, with Tyler anc 
his forces, leaving Mrs. Blennerhassett, with th( 
two little boys, to follow. 

In thus abandoning the tender partner of hL 
bosom, and those lesser lights of his affectionate 
regard, Blennerhassett had not mistaken ih< 

* k town ia Vii|^nit» iiro nilei •boYt BUiuuihiMMetVt i^Hi4. 



COL. PHELPS TAKES POSSESSION OF THE ISLAND. 101 

cbaracter of the individual who, he rightly pre- 
sumed, was soon to take charge of his mansion. 
From intimate association with the man, he 
knew that innocence and feebleness would ever 
be sacredly regarded by Col. Phelps ; that, while 
duty to the calls of his country compelled h\m to 
exercise the fimctions of his office, and that, too, 
in defeating the plans of his most intimate friend 
and associate, that power would be exerted with 
the strictest adherence to the laws of* humanity 
and the highest sentiments of honour ; that while 
no menaces would deter him from the disagree- 
able duty imposed, no act of wanton violence 
should stain the honour of the friend. 

On the succeeding morning, Col. Phelps, with 
a small body of men, proceeded to the island. 
They found it deserted by its proprietor. In- 
quiries were made, among the servants, who 
informed them of the circumstances of the pre- 
ceding evening; adding, that Mrs. Blennerhas- 
sett was then on her way to Marietta, to secure, 
if possible, the boat originally constructed for the 
conveyance of Blennerhassett and his family to 
the Washita. 

Leaving the greater portion of his men in pos- 
session of the premises. Col. Phelps started across 
the country to intercept the descending boats, at 
the mouth of the Great Kanawha. None having 

9* 



IM 'UFi &F BUMlTSILHAfiSETT. 

paased^ dttring the previous day, answering 
the description of those of which he was in pv 
suit, (ki. Phelps in&rmed the citizens of h 
designs, and procured a party to watch the riv 
that night. Accordingly, a large fire was buj 
upon the bank of the river, around which tl 
watch attempted to keep their midnight vigil 
Following that ancient custom of '^keeping tl 
spirits up by pouring spirits down" — like tl 
model "officer," who was enamoured of tl 
"landlady of France" — ^their revels propitiate 
the sleepy god, and a sweet forgetfulness < 
earthly cares and earthly duties soon gave ei 
dence of quiet consciences. Taking advantaj 
of the darkness of the nighty Blennerhasse 
glided silently by, without disturbing the slui 
bers of the guard, and, before the early daw 
was many miles beyond his discomfited pu 
suers. At the mouth of the Cumberland, 1 
joined the flotilla of Burr, which was th( 
awaiting accessions both ftom that and the Oh 
river. 

Not apprized, till late, that boats were beii 
constructed on the Cumberland, the eflFect of tl 
President's proclamation had been trusted to, fl 
some time, in the State of Tennessee ; but, c 
the 19th of December, similar conomunicatio] 
and instructions with those of the neighbourii 



States^ were despatched, by express^ to tibe go* 
vemor, and a general officer of the western divi* 
aiozi of the State ; and, on: the 28d9 Grabata, the 
agent, left Frankfort for NaBhyille, to put into 
actLvity the means of that State also. Burr, 
however, had been too prompt, in his move- 
ments, for the agents of the government. On 
Ihe 22d of the same month, he had descended 
tiie Gmnberland, with two boats, laden with pro- 
vision and a few additional forces. 

The Governor of Kentucky, after the arrest 
and discharge of Burr, hearing of his arrival at 
the mouth of the Cumberland, with a flotilla of 
numerous vessels; and that he was there con- 
gregating his forces, ordered out the militia for 
his arrest, but Burr, anticipating the movement, 
slipped his moorings, and proceeded further down 
the river. ♦ 

The flotilla now consisted of four boats under 
command of Tyler, two under Burr, two under 
Floyd, one under Ellis, one under Blennerhafih 
sett, and a commissary boat, under Dean. 

On the evening of the twenty-ninth, Burr 
stopped a short distance below Fort Massac, then 
under the command of Gapt. Bissell. The fol«- 
lowing morning, he was visited, at his boats, by 
tiiat officer, who gave him a polite invitation to 
Vint the fini and partake of its hospitalitias. ft 



104 ' UFB OF BLENN£RHASBETT. 

is due to Capt. BisseU tostate^ (although the evi 
dence on this point is conflicting,) that he was 
at that time, without any instructions from th< 
government. He remarks, that he had learned 
unofficially, of Burr's arrest and acquittal in Ken 
tucky; hence, he concluded, that his missioi 
was one of peace, and for the purpose, ostensibly 
held out, " of colonizing the Bastrop lands." H( 
furnished Burr with a messenger, to convey i 
communication to the lead mines in Missouri, ai 
well as one or two men for his enterprise, and i 
small quantity of provision ; the latter, however 
BisseU asserts, was sent by his wife, who was ai 
early acquaintance of Burr, and who returned it 
in compliment for a barrel of apples, which Bur] 
had forwarded to her. 

On the evening of the third of January, 1807 
Burr, with one boat, landed at Chickasaw BhiSs 
a military station at that time commanded b^ 
Lieut. Jacob Jackson. He immediately despatch 
ed a messenger to the commander of the fort, t 
inquire if quarters could be furnished him durinj 
the night, who shortly returned with an affirma 
tive answer. The following morning, he had &\ 
interview with Jackson, on the subject of th 
expedition, in which he stated that he was goin: 
on a project of which many wished to know, bul 
from their inquisitiveness, he was not dispose^ 



to gratify them, but aesured him that it was aa 
enterprise which would be hcHiouraUe to him^ 
(Jackson^) aad would be the making of those 
who should follow him, provided they survived 
ihe undertaking. Every argument wbsb resorted 
to, to shake the fidelity of that young officer to 
his country, and prevail on him to join the ex- 
pedition, with the whole of the forces under his 
command. To the ardent and enthusiastic mind 
of youth, panting for scenes of glory and distinc-^ 
tion, his offers of fame and emolument were 
truly tempting; particularly as they were en* 
Ibroed by the sophistical reasomng of that astute 
and experienced diplomatist. But, to his honour, 
and to the honour of American youths — ^parti- 
cularly to American officers — ^he foiled the 
attempts of the seducer, and came off moral 
victor in the attach. While in the service of his 
country, no offe? of wealth, or place, or power, 
could decoy hivi from the path of rectitude. 
The government had confided the command of 
that fort to his youthful hands, and so long as 
he retained that trust, his best energies should be 
exerted to preserve it with fidelity and honour. 

On the third of January, 1807, the President 
deapatched the following communication to Gen. 
Wilkinson: — ^^^I had yesterday intended to re- 
oomm^id, to Gea. Dearborn, the writing to you, 



106 lilFE OF BLENNERHASSETT. " 

weekly, by post, to convey information of ov 
affairs, in the west, as long as they are interes 
ing ; because it is possible, though not probabl 
you might sometimes get the information quicke 
this way, than down the river ; but the generi 
received, yesterday, information of the death c 
his son, in the East Indies, and, of course, cann( 
now attend to business. I therefore, write yo 
a hasty line, for the present week, and send i 
in duplicate, by the Athens and Nashville route 
" The information, in the enclosed paper, as i 
proceedings in the State of Ohio, is correc 
Blennerhassett's flotilla, of fifteen boats and t^ 
hundred barrels of provisions, is seized, and thei 
can be no doubt that Tyler's flotilla is ah 
taken; because, on the 17th December, we kno 
there was a sufficient force assembled at CincL 
nati, to intercept it there, and another party wi 
in pursuit of it on the river above. We aj 
assured that these two flotillas composed tl 
whole of the boats provided. Blennerhasse 
and Tyler had fled down the river. I do in 
believe that the munber of persons engaged fi 
Burr has ever amounted to five hundred ; thoug 
some have carried them to one thousand or f 
teen hundred. A part of these were engaged i 
settlers of Bastrop's land, but the greater pa 
were engaged un3er the express assurance thi 



JEFFEBSOITS LETTER TO GEN. WILKINSON. 107 

tiie projected enterprise was against Mexico^ and 
secretly authorized by this government. Many 
expressly enlisted in the name of the United 
States. The proclamation, which reached Pittsr 
burgh, December second, and other parts of the 
river successively, undeceived both these classes; 
and, of course, drew them off; and I have never 
seen any proof of their having assembled more 
than forty men, in two boats, fix)m Beaver, fifty 
in Tyler^s flotilla, and the boatmen of Blenner- 
ha^tsett. I believe, therefore, that the enterprise 
may be considered as crushed; but we are not to 
relax, in our attentions, until we hear what has 
passed at Louisville. If every thing, from that 
place upwards, be successfully arrested, there is 
nothing from below that [is] to be feared. Be 
assured that Tennessee, and, particularly. Gene- 
ral Jackson, are faithful. The orders lodged at 
Massac and the Chickasaw Blu£& will probably 
secure the interception of such fugitives fix)m 
justice as may escape at Louisville; so that I 
think you will never see one of them. Still, I 
would not wish, till we hear from Louisville, 
that this information should relax your prepara- 
tions in the least, except as far as to dispense 
with the militia of Mississippi and Orleans, leav- 
ing their homes, under our orders of November 
twenty-fifth. Only let them consider themselves 



101 Xms OF BLiamSftHASSSIT. 

imder requisition ; and be in a state of xeadmes« 
should any force, too great for your regulars 
escape down the river. You will have been eei 
eible that those orders were given while we su| 
posed you were on the Sabine, and the suppose 
crisis did not admit the formality of their bein 
passed by you. We considered Fort Adams ^ 
the place to make a stand, because it covere 
the mouth of Bed Biver. You have preferre 
New OrleMis, on the apprehension pf a fleet fro3 
the West Indies. iBe assuried, there is not an 
foundatiim for such an expectation; but tl 
lying exaggerations of these traitors to impoi 
on others aiid swell their pretended means. Tl 
very man whom they reported to you as havii 
gone to Jamaica and to bring the fleet, has nev 
i)een from home, and has regularly commui 
eated to me every thing whiiA had pas» 
between Burr and him. France or Spain wou 
not send a fleet to take Yera Cruz; and, thou| 
one of the expeditions, now near arriving frc 
England, is probably for Vera Ouz, and perha 
already there, yet the state of things between 
renders it impossible they should countenan 
an enterprise unauthorized by us. Still, I repei 
-that these grounds of security nmst not stop o 
proceedings or preparations until they are fi 
ther conflrxned. Go on, therefore, with yc 



FBOORESS OF BUfiB>8 FLOTILLA. 109 

works for iiie defence of New Orleans, because 
they will always be useful, only looking to what 
should be permanent rather than means merely 
temporary. You may expect further informa- 
tion as we receive it; and, though I expect it 
will be such as will place us at our ease, yet we 
must not place ourselves so, until we be certain, 
but act on the possibility that the resources of 
our enemy may be greater and deeper than we 
are yet informed. 

^' Your two confidential messengers delivered 
their charges safely. One arrived yesterday, 
only, with your letter of November 12th. The 
oral communications he made me are truly im- 
portant. I beseech you, take the most special 
care of the two letters which he mentioned to 
me— the one in cipher, the other from another 
conspirator of high standing — and send them to 
me by the first conveyance you can trust. It is 
necessary that all important testimony should be 
brought to one centre, in order that the guilty 
may be convicted and the innocent left un- 
troubled." 

On the fifilii of January, having supplied him- 
8elf with thirty pounds of lead and three dozen 
tomahawks, together with other artides. Burr 
proceeded down to Palmyra^ and thence to 
Bayou Pierre. 

10 



119 UKB or BCENmBRHASSETT. 



CHAPTER Vm. 

Morgia Nerflle, and WiHiam Rolnmnn, Junior— Embark from Pit 
burgh in a flat-boat — ^Espied by the Wood oounty militia s 
arrested— Escorted to the island to await the return of CoL Phe 
— Biffienltiee with the militia— Trial of the yonng men — Cond 
of the militia on the island — ^Bfrs. Blennerhassett's return fr 
Marietta — ^Her fortitude on the occasion — ^Embarrassed situat 

* — Accepts the offer of the young men to conyey her to her h 
band — CoL Phelps's return to the island— Toung men emh 
rassed at the announcement of his arriyal — Character and desci 
tion of CoL Phelps — ^Rebukes the militia for their riotous cond 
— ^His politeness to the young men — Proffers his senrices in 
celerating Mrs. Blennerhassett's arrangement to go to her husbt 
— ^Apologixes for the misbehayiour of his men — ^Mrs. Blennerl 
sett prepares to depart — ^Leayes the island in company with 
young men — ^Passes the mouth of the Cumberland — ^Disappointe 
not finding her husband — ^Arriyes at Bayou Pierre, and is resto 
to Blennerhassett — ^Painful situation of Burr and Blennerhas 
—Burr sinks the arms, for the expedition, in the Mississippi. 

Morgan Neville and William Bobinson, ju 
with a party of fouirteen young men, early 
December, embarked, from Pittsburgli, in a fl 
boat. Most of these were sons of gentlemen 
affluence and eaae, who knew but little of 
realities of life, further than was learned wit] 
the walls of an academy. 



CAPTURE OF NEVILLE'S PARTY. lH 

They had proceeded down the river, as far as 
Parkersburg, when their boat having been driven 
on the shore, by the ice, during the night, they 
were espied by the Wood county militia, and 
the whole party arrested as accomplices of Burr. 

With "savage magnificence," they were es- 
corted to the island, to await the return of Col. 
Phelps, who was then absent, at Point Pleasant, 
in an ineffectual attempt to arrest Blennerhas- 
sett. Somewhat chagrined at their luckless 
adventure, so far, the young men endeavoured 
to pass their time* as pleasantly as possible, by 
ridiculing the militia, and threatening them with 
the strong arm of the law. 

But the intrepid captors were not to be de- 
terred from duty. They parried the sarcasm of 
their adversaries, and occasionally retorted with 
considerable effect. The impertinence of the 
captives, at length, becoming insupportable, three 
justices of the peace were sent for, to institute' 
an examination into the facts — ^to commit, for 
further trial, or acquit, the young men, as the 
evidence might warrant. 

They were accordingly arraigned, and, after a 
full investigation of the facts, mostiy upoti the 
evidence of the young men themselves, the court 
acquitted them of all hostile designs against the 
United States. 



112 LIFE OF BLEHKIRHA8SETT. 

\ 

^^ During the trial, the mob spirit of the militi 
began to run riot, and, by the time it was end© 
all was confusion. The well-stored cellars of tl 
mansion began to poiur forth their riches ; drun: 
enness ensued; fences were torn down, to pi 
upon the blazing fire of the sentinels j the shru 
bery was trfimpled under foot." 

Li the midst of this scene of confusion, "Mi 
Blennerhassett returned, from her unsuccessf 
visit to Marietta, to which she had gone to pi 
cure the family boat of Blennerhassett. A see] 
gf such desolation, and ruin of all that was fa 
and beautiful, and aroimd which her young i 
fections had clung with fond associations, w 
calculated to crush a heart whose native cl 
racter was remarkable for its strong attachmei 
to the objects of its love; but she had lo: 
since resigned her beautiful abode, for the mc 
tempting lands, which her imagination h 
dressed in fanc/s brightest colours, where serer 
skies and gayer flowers "shed theiir mingl 
delights" over the perennial green of natur 
bosom. The successfiil issue of the expediti 
was, to her, a matter of weightier moment th 
all other considerations ; and, thus it was, s 
remained unmoved amid the general wreck 
her feir possessions, by the ruthless mob. 

Her situation, however, was one of pain 



COL. PHELPS. 118 

embarrassment. Blemierhassett^ having departed 
in haste, without making arrangements for her 
voyage, and the refusal of the authorities, at 
Marietta, to deliver her the boat, constructed for 
that especial purpose, left her, for a time, in 
almost hopeless despair of joining her husband, 
at the appointed place. The weather had been 
intensely cold, and Hie fast accumulating ice, in 
the Ohio, appeared to forbid a reunion with 
Blennerhassett until the following spring, when, 
in all probability, she could only find him in the 
Spanish dominions. It was, therefore, with 
feelings of mingled gratitude and pleasure, that 
she accepted the proffer of a room, in the boat 
of the young men, who promised to make the 
accommodations as comfortable, to herself and 
children, as the circiunstances of her situation 
would permit. 

During the course of the evening, Coi. Phelps 
returned from his tour across the coimtry. In 
this unexpected arrival, the young men had 
new cause of anxiety and alarm. They had 
congratulated themselves upon their successful 
defeat of the functionaries of the law, which they 
attributed mainly to their superior tact in mys- 
tifying their judges, and intimidating their ac- 
cusers; but here was one who could not be 
duped by sophistical reasoning, or swerved from. 



114 LIFE OF BLENNEftlUSSETT. 

Mb duty by the fear of consequences. Although 
dressed in the usual style of the backwoodsmen 
of that day, the careless manner in which he 
wore his garb added gracefulness to a form both 
attracting and commanding. They rec(^nised 
in him, an individual of physical as well aa 
intellectual superiority, and, therefore, wisely 
concluded to assume a diflferent bearing fiom. 
that they before had observed towards their 
captors and judges.* 

In a thoughtful and classic attitude, he sur- 
veyed the destruction of the premises, and the 
evident marks of bacchanalian reveby with 
which the party under his command had dis- 
graced themselves ; then, turning upon them a 
look of withering rebuke, he spoke in such terms 
of indignation as caused them to shrink with 

* The following anecdote of him, related bj General Cass, in hiB 
work styled ** France, its King, Court and Goyemment," is perfectly 
characteristic. He says :— - 

** I recollect a similar incident, which took place in a small vil- 
lage npon the banks of the Ohio. The Court was in session, and the 

presiding officer was a Colonel P , a man of great resolution, 

and of herculean frame. A person entered the Court cabin, and, by 
his noise, put a stop to the proceedings. He was ordered out, and 
the sheriff attempted to remoye him ; but he put himself upon his 
reserved righUy and made such a vigorous resistance that the officer 
retired from the contest Colonel P , thereupon, descended 

from the bench, coolly took off his coat, gave the brawler a severe 
beating, and, after putting him out of the house, resumed his gar* 
ment and his seat, and continued his judicial ftmctioiia." 



HBS. BI£NKERHAfiSS!rT LEAVES TBE ISLAND. US 

fear and trepidation. ^' Shame! men/' he ex* 
claimed, ^^ shame on such conduct! You have 
disgraced- your district, and the cause in whidi 
you are concerned !" 

To the party of strangers, however, he was 
courteous and attentive. They soon ascertained 
that they had no cause to apprehend the frustrar 
tion of their plans, by Colonel Phelps ; indeed, 
so far from that^ he willingly acceded to their 
wishes, in permitting the departure of Mrs. Blen- 
nerhassett, and proffered his services, in accele- 
rating her arrangements to go to her husband, 
who, he said, he knew could never return to her. 
To Mrs. Blennerhassett, he expressed his deep 
sense of mortification, for the riotous acts of his 
misguided men, and assured her, of what she 
was already aware, had he been present the 
shameful act would not have occurred. 

" Early next morning, Mrs. Blennerhassett 
commenced her preparations for a final farewell 
of the island Eden, where, for eight years, she 
had been the presiding genius. Her energy and 
zeal were such, that, in a few hours, she took 
possession of the humble chamber prepared for 
her in the boat, and, by the assistance of CSolonel 
Phelps, who rivalled the young men in courtesy, 
the necessary stores and furniture were em- 
barked. On the seventeenth day of December^ 



US LIFE OF BLENNBKHASSETT. 

the boat swung from the shore, lashed to another 
of the same class, belonging to A. W. Putnam, 
ofBelpr^." 

In the latter part of December, they passed 
the mouth of the Cumberland, where, it was ex- 
pected she would join her husband; but, as we 
before have shown, he had passed out of the 
Ohio, into the waters of the rapid Mississippi, 
and moored at the entrance of Bayou Pierre^ 
Early in January, she was restored, with her 
children, to Blennerhassett, who received them 
with that deep-felt affection which a parent and 
husband can only appreciate. 

The situation of Burr and Blennerhassett had 
now become one of painful anxiety. It was 
evident, from surrounding circumstances, that 
the strong hands of the general and State go- 
vernments had became too powerful for tide 
email forces under their command. Burr saw 
that he was the " victim of bad faith." Those 
who had favoured the enterprise, at first, and 
gave him to understand that their aid could 
be relied on, abandoned their designs, upon the 
issuing of the President's proclamation. The 
authorities of the States arid Territories border- 
ing on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers had 
ordered out the militia, for the apprehension of 
the parties; and, from Pittsburgh to the Gulf, 



ASMS CAST OTE&BQABD. 117 

the most rigid measures had been adopted^ to 
give an effectual check to the further progress 
of the expedition. 

As for Blennerhassett^ his situation was cheer-^ 
less in the extreme. For Burr^ had he aban* 
doned his home with all its endearments — ^his 
books — ^his studies, his property, and, withal, was 
deeply involved, for debts contracted for the en- 
terprise. As if the furies were not yet satiated, 
in their revenge, he was hunted and pursued, as 
a malefactor, and momentarily expected the 
chilling touch of the officer of the law, to sum- 
mon him to justice. 

On a dark and dreary night, in the month of 
January, as the flotilla pushed slowly from the 
landing at Petit Gulf, might have been observed 
the master-spirit of the expedition, seated on a 
rough stool, in the inclement cabin of a flat-boat, 
lighted only by the cheerless rays of a solitary 
candle, and the decaying embers of a rudely-con- 
structed fire-place. With his face buried in his 
hands, while his elbows rested on a table of un- 
planed boards, he who had heretofore braved the 
disappointments which had attended his under- 
taking, with a fortitude that astonished, while it 
gave confidence to his followers, now sat gloomy 
and dejected. Upon what he mused is beyond 
the ken of human prescienge ; but, starting sud-< 



118 LIFE OF BLENNEEHASSETT. 

denly fix>m his leveiy^ he caught up an axe^ and 
directed his attendant to make an opening in. 
the side of the boat. Through this^ in the 
silence of the nighty when he supposed there 
was none to witness, the chests of arms for the 
expedition were silently sunk beneath the waters 
of the Mississippi. 



PKOCIAMAIION OF GOV. MEAD. 110 



CHAPTER IX. 

Proolamation of Cowles Mead acting as GoyernoT of the Mississippi 
Territory — ^Burr's reply — The boats are Tisited by George Poin- 
dexter, Attorney-General for the Territory — Object of the visit— 
A letter firom the acting Goyemor — ^Burr's ayowals — ^Poindexter 
requests his peaceable surrender — Burr declares his willingness 
— ^An interview with, the acting Goyemor the next day is agreed 
upon — ^Terms of the agreement — ^Bnrr accordingly surrenders 
himself— Terms of his final surrender— He is conveyed to the 
town of Washington — ^Examination before Judge Rodney— Poin- 
dexter called on for his opinion — ^It is given— Judge Bodney dis- 
sents — ^A grand jury is required to be summoned to an acyoumed 
session of the Supreme Court of the Mississippi Territory — Grand 
jury assembled — Motion to discharge — Overruled — ^Presentments 
1^ the grand jury— Acquitting Burr — ^Present the oalling out of 
the militia of the Territory as a grievance — ^Also late military 
arrests — ^Astonishment of the Attorney-General — ^Leaves the court 
room— ^udge Bodney displeased— Burr asks to be discharged 
from his recognisance — ^Is refused — ^Disguises himself and escapes 
— ^Reward offered — Suspicious circumstance — ^Burr's men Ure 
placed under guard — Arrests at Fort Adams and New Orleans — 
Conduct of Wilkinson — ^Treatment of General Adair— Attempt to 
suspend the writ of << Habeas Corpus''— Wilkinson's contempt of 
the writs of Habeas Corpus — Judge Workman's recommendation 
to the Governor— Workman becomes dissatisfied with the Governor 
— ^Resigns his office — ^Return of Burling from Mexico — Object of 
his visit— Reception of Burling by the Viceroy of Mexico — ^Leaves 
Mexico in haste — ^Lieutenant Swan returns from Jamaica with 
letter from Admiral Drake-— Conveyance of prisoners to Wash- 
ington and Baltimore— Their discharge. 

CowLES MKAOy Secretary of the Mississippi 
Territory, performing the duties of governor, 



120 UFE OF BLENNEBHASSBTT. 

had, on the third day of December, 1806, issued 
his proclamation for the arrest of " the Burr con- 
spirators f and, at the same time, calling on the 
officers of the government to take the oath of 
fidelity to the United States. To this proclama- 
tion, BiuT, on the twelfth of January, 1807, 
replied in a letter of some length, in which he 
disavowed any designs hostile to the tranquillity 
of the country, stating that.his only object was a 
peaceable settlement of the lands of his new 
purchase. "If the alarm which has been ex- 
cited," he remarks, " should not be appeased by 
this declaration, I invite my fellow-citizens to 
visit me at this place, (Bayou Pierre,) and to 
receive from me, in person, such further explana- 
tions as may be necessary to their satisfaction, 
presuming that when my views are understood, 
they will- receive the countenance of all good 
men." This letter, he requested, might be read 
to the militia, who, he understood, were assem- 
bled for his arrest. 

Having moved his boats to the western margin 
of the Mississippi river, a short distance below 
Bayou Pierre, he was visited by George Poiu- 
dexter, Esq., the Attorney-general of the Ter- 
ritory, who had been appointed by Mead as an 
honorary aid-de-camp for the arrest of the parties. 
The object of this visit was to ^ain correct 



BUBR'S AVOWALS. 121 

infonnation as to the situation of Burr; to 
ascertaiii his views, so far as they might be com- 
municated; and to procure his peaceful surrender 
to the civil authorities. 

Major Shields, who accompanied Poindexter, 
delivered to Burr a letter fix)m the acting go- 
vernor. In it was a sentence relating to the 
restoration of tranquillity in the territory, which 
sentence Burr repeated with a sneer; adding 
that he had no intention to injure the citizens 
of the United States. "As to any projects or 
plans," he continued, "which may have been 
formed between General Wilkinson and myself, 
heretofore, they are now completely firustrated 
by the perfidious conduct of Wilkinson ; and the 
world must pronoimce him a perfidious villain. 
If I am sacrificed, my portfolio will prove him 
to be such." He stated fiirther, that, so far from 
having any designs hostile to the citizens of the 
United States, he intended to have met Mr. 
Mead, at Port Gibson, on the day of the general 
muster, which happened at that place about the 
time of his arrival at Bayou Pierre; but was 
deterred firom so doing, by the belief that he 
would be assassinated, if seen passing through 
the territory. 

Mr. Poindexter then requested him to sur- 
render himself, peaceably, to the civil authorities; 

u 



122 LIFS OF BLENNEBHASSETT. 

stating that^ unless he did^ the govembr would 
certainly arrest him by force. Burr declared hia 
willingness^ at all times^ to submit^ and proposed 
that an interview should take place, betwe^i 
himself and the actiag governor, nt some conve- 
nient place, on the next day ; claiming protection 
from personal violence in the mean time. 

Stipulations were entered into, by which it 
was agreed that Burr should be returned to his 
boats, if Mead should not accept of his surrender; 
that his flotilla should remain in the position it 
then occupied, until after the proposed interview 
should have taken place ; and that, in the mean- 
while, his men should commit no breach of the 
peace, or violate any law of the United States or 
Mississippi territory. The place designated tor 
the conference was the house of Thomas Calvert, 
a respectable citizen of the Territory who resided 
near the mouth of Coles Creek, where the de- 
tachment of militia which descended the river 
was stationed. 

Burr, accordinjgly, on the seventeenth day of 
January, dropped down the river as far aa Tho- 
mas Calvert's, accompanied by Col. Fitzpatrick, 
who directed him to be taken in charge by Cap- 
tain Davidson's company of dragoons. Here he 
was joined, according to appointment, by Mead ; 
when further stipulations were required as to the 



BURRBNBEB OF BUBB. ^ 

terms of Ids surrender. These were, firsts that 
iha agreement entered into, for the purpose of 
procuring that interview, should be declared 
void. SeoomUff, that Burr should give himself 
up, unconditionally, to the civil authority. And, 
thirdly J that his boats should be searched, and 
all military stores and apparatus found on board, 
be disposed of, as the Executive should think fit. 

To these terms, the acting governor required 
Burros unequivocal reply, in fifteen minviea; and, 
if not agreed to, he was to be instantly returned 
to his boats, and the militia ordered to seize the 
whole party, by force. 

As there was no chance of escape, the condi- 
tions were accepted of and carried into effect. 
Burr declared his unwillingness to fall into the 
hands of Wilkinson, and requested, if any at- 
tempt should be made to arrest him by a military 
force from New Orleans, that it might be opposed. 
He was conducted to the town of Washington, 
where he was delivered over to the custody of 
the law, and the examination of the witnesses 
inunediately commenced before Judge Bodney. 

Mr. Poindexter was called on, in his official 
capacity, as attorney-general, to give his written 
opinion as to the course which ought to be pur- 
raed. He, accordingly, furnished an able argu- 
ment agaanst aAy attempt to ti^ the aAc^sed in 



124 LIFE OF BLENNERHASSETT. 

the courts of the territory. He stated that they 
had no evidence to convict him of any offence 
committed in Mississippi; that the Supreme 
Court of the territory, to which a jury was about 
to be summoned, had no original jurisdiction of 
any prosecution, and could only take cognisance 
of law reserved at the trial in the Circuit Court. 
It was his opinion, therefore, that Burr should 
be sent to the city of Washington, where the 
Supreme Court of the United States would be in 
session; and the judges, attending from every 
part of the Union, could direct him to be tried in 
the District, where, from the evidence, it might 
appear that an overt act of treason had been 
committed. 

But Judge Eodney thought differently ; and a 
venire facAois was issued, i:equiring the attendance 
of seventy-six jurors, at an adjourned session 
of the Supreme Court of the Mississippi Terri- 
tory, to be held in February. From the number 
attending, at the appointed time, a grand jury of 
twenty-three persons was selected, who received 
a charge from the jtidge and were adjourned 
until the next day. 

The following morning, a motion was made, 
by the attorney-general^ to discharge the grand 
jury :— ;/Jr«<, because the court did not possess 
original jurisdiction in any case. SeocmMy^ be- 



PBESlTimiBKT OF THE ORAHD JUBT. 126 

cause the depositions, submitted to his inspeo 
tion, did not furnish sufficient evidence, to con* 
Vict Burr of the offences with which he waa 
charged, so as to bring them within the Mis* 
sissippi territory; and, thirdly ^ that a warrant 
might issue, transmitting the accused to a court 
having competent jurisdiction, to try and punish 
him, if guilty of the crime alleged against him. 
The court being divided on this motion, it was, 
in consequence, overruled, and the grand jury 
retired. The attorney-general, thereupon, deter- 
mined to pref<lt no indictment^ and left the court- 
room. 

In the afternoon the jury returned with the 
following presentments : — 

" The grand jury of the Mississippi Territory, 
on a due investigation of the evidence brought 
before them, are of opinion that Aaron Burr has 
not been guilty of any crime or misdemeanor 
against the laws of the United States, or of this 
Territory : or given any just cause of alarm or 
inquietude to the good people of the same. 

"The grand jurors present, as a grievance, 
Ihe late military expedition, unnecestorily, as 
they conceive, fitted out against the person and 
property of the said Aaron Burr, when no 
resistance had been made to the civil authorities. 

"The grand jurors also preset, aa a griev« 



126 I<IFB OF BLENNEBHASSETT. 

ance^ destructive of personal liberty, the late 
military arrests,* made without warrant, and, 
as they conceive, without other lawM authority ; 
end they do sincerely regret that so much cause 
has been given to the enemies of our glorious 
Constitution, to^ rejoice at such measures being 
adopted, in a neighbouring territory, as, if sanc- 
tioned by the Executive of our country, must 
sap the vitals of our political existence, and 
crumble this glorious fabric in the dust." 

The attorney-general declared his astonish- 
ment at such imwarrantable piipentments by 
the grand jury, and, informing the Court that he 
should take no notice of them, retired. Judge 
Rodney strongly reprobated such conduct on the 
part of the jury, and, after rating them in no 
very mild terms, dismissed them without day. 

In the evening of the day on which the court 
sat, Burr visited the house of Colonel Osborne. 
He had asked to be discharged from his recogni- 
sance; as he had fully complied with its terms j 
but, learning that it was the intention of Gov. 
Williams to seize on his person the moment 
he was discharged by judicial authority, he re- 
quested John Dana, one of his force from Belpr^, 
with two others, to convey him, in a boat, to a 

* The arrests of BoUman, Swartwout, Ogden and others, at New 
Orleans, on suspicion of being engaged in the expedition. 



BT7RB ATTEMPTS TO SSCAPE. 127 

point about twenty miles fix)in Bayou Pierre, 
whence he could escape across the country. 

Procuring a boatman's dress, in which to dis- 
guise himself, he proceeded on his tour. Upon 
hearing of his escape, Williams issued a procla- 
mation, offering two thousand dollars for his 
apprehension and safe delivery to the proper 
authorities. A few days afterwards, a negro boy 
was discovered near the mouth of Cole's Creek, 
opposite which the boats were stationed, riding 
on a horse which belonged to Burr, and having 
on his surtout coat. These circumstances created 
a suspicion ; the boy was searched, and, sewed 
up in the cape of his coat, was found a note to 
the following effect : — 

" If you are yet together, keep so, and I will 
join you to-morrow night. In the meanwhile, 
put all your arms in perfect order. Ask no 
questions of the bearer, but tell him aU you may 
think I wish to know. He does not know that 
this is from me, nor where I am." 

To C. T. and D. F.* 

In consequence of this discovery, Burros men 
were arrested and placed under guard, where 
they were detained until the alarm was over. 

* Comfort Tyler and DaTis Floyd. 



128 UR OF MiENNBEHABan. 

Many, if not all of them were permitted, occa- 
sionally, to walk about, free of restraint, on their 
parole of honour. 

In the meanwhile, several arrests of the sup- 
posed accomplices of Burr had been made at 
Fort Adams and New Orleans^ Among the 
number were Bollman, Ogden, Swartwout, Adair, 
Dayton, Smith and Alexander, agamst whom 
the most rigid and unjustifiable authority had 
been exercised, by General WUkinson; in many 
cases upon bare suspicion, and without resistance, 
at any time, to civil auth6rity. General Adair, 
who had arrived at New Orleans on the tenth 
of January, was besieged by one himdred and 
twenty men, under command of Lieutenant^olo- 
nel Kingsbury, accompanied by one of Wilkin- 
son's tods. They seized upon him while at 
dinner, in a public house, dragged him from the 
table, and conducted him to head-quarters, where 
he was placed in confinement, and secreted, until 
an opportimity offered to convey him away.* It 

* An IriBh gentleman of wit and humour, happened to be oonfined 
in prison for debt, when it was announced to him, by one of the 
officials, that Gen. Adair was in the aoQoining room. He immedi- 
ately struck up, in a full, musical Toice, to the tune of Bobin Adair : 

<< Te are welcome to Orleans, 

Johnny Adair,^ 
Te sre welcome to Orleans, 

Johnny Adair 1 



ABBITRABT CONDUCT OF WILKINSON. 129 

was even attempted, in the legislature of Loui- 
siana, at the suggestion of the governor, to sus- 
pend the writ of habeas corpvs — ^that inestimable 
guarantee to the liberties of every American 
citizen, more effectually to aid the harsher ap- 
plication of military law and military dictation. 

Towards the writs of habeda corpus^ issued by 
the courts, to bring the accused parties before 
them, Wilkinson observed the most profoimd 
contempt. So ineffectual was the process of the 
courts, in bringing either the prisoners or Wil-\ 
kinson before them, that Judge Workman recom- \ 
mended to the governor, that Wilkinson should \ 
be opposed by force of arms. He stated that the 
violent measures of that officer had produced / 
great discontent, alarm and agitation, in the / 
public mind ; and unless such proceedings were j 
effectually opposed, aU confidence in government \ 
would be at an end. He urged the governor to \ 
revoke the order, by which he had placed the 
Orleans volimteers under Wilkinson's command, 
and to call out and arm the rest of the militia as 
soon as possible. He stated it as his opinion, 
that an army would not oppose the civil power, 

How does little Aarpn do T— 
And Lrish Blanny, too ? — 
Why did'nt they come irith yov, 
JolumyAdMrr" 



180 LIFE OF BIiEKNEBHASSETT. 

when constitutionally brought forth^ or that if 
ihey did, the governor might soon have men 
enough to render the opposition inejQTectual.'^ 

No satisfactory answer having been made to 
Workman, by the governor, he again addressed 
him on the subject. It was notorious, he re- 
marked, that the commander-in-chief of the 
military forces had, by his own authority, ar- 
rested several citizens for civil oflfences, and 
avowed on record, that he had adopted means to 
send them out of the Territory, openly declaring 
his determination to usurp the functions of the 
judiciary, by making himself the only judge of 
the guilt of the persons he siispected, and assert- 
ing, in the same manner, and without contradic- 
tion, that his measures were taken after several 
consultations with the governor. 

Although a conmion case would not require 
the step he was taking, yet, he deemed it his 
duty, before any decisive measure was pursued 
against him, who had all the regular force, and^ 
in pursuance of the governor's public orders, a 
great part of the Territory at his disposal, to ask 
whether the Executive had the ability to enforce 
the decrees of the court of the county; and if he 
had, whether he would deem it expedient to do 

* Martin's Huitory of Louisiana. 



JUDQB WOBKMAN'S LBTTBB. 181 

it in the present instance ; or whether the allegar 
tions^ by which Wilkinson supported the violent 
meadures^ were well founded. 

**Not only the conduct and power of Wilkin- 
0on/* he continued, " but various other circum- 
stances peculiar to 'our present situation ; the 
alarm excited in the public mind; the descrip- 
tion and character of a large part of the popular 
tion of the country, might render it dangerous, 
iu the highest degree, to adopt the measure, 
usual in ordiuary cases, of calling to the aid of 
the sheriff the jposse comitcUvSy unless it was done 
with the assurance of being supported by the 
governor in an efficient manner." 

The letter concluded, by requesting a precise 
and speedy answer to the preceding inquiries; 
and an assurance that if certain of the governor's 
support, the judge would forthwith punish, as 
the law directed, the contempt offered to the 
court. On the other hand, should the governor 
think it impracticable to afford the required aid, 
the court and its officers would no longer 
remain exposed to the contempt or insults of 
a man whom they were xmable to punish or 
resist. 

The same silence and indifference having been 
observed by the governor towards the last, as 
towards his former communication, Workman 



182 « I'IFE OF BLENNEBHASSETT. 

resigned his office as he had before indi« 
cated.* 

Burling, who had been sent to Mexico, re- 
turned, without having accomplished the object 
of his mission. It appears that, instead of his 
being sent "to penetrate the veil which con- 
cealed the topographical route to the city of 
Mexico, and the military defences which inter- 
vened," as alleged by Wilkinson, he was, on the 
contrary, commissioned to display to the viceroy 
ffie great pecumary sacrifices made by that gene- 
ral, to frustrate the plan of invasion meditated 
by the Ex-Vice-President against the kingdom 
of Mexico, and to solicit, in consideration of such 
important services, a pretty round sum of at 
least two hwndred thpusand doUa/rs.f 

Don Joseph de Yturrigaray received this com- 
mimication with due contempt and indignation, 
bidding his interpreter to tell Mr. Burling that 
General Wilkinson, in counteracting any trea- 
sonable plan of Mr. Burr, did no more than com- 
ply with his duty; that he (the viceroy) would 
take good care to defend the kingdom of Mexico 
against any attack or invasion ; and that he did 



* Martin's History of Louisiana. 

t Correspondence of Maria Ines Janregni de Ttnrrigaray) Vice- 
4aeen. DaTis's Xiife of Burr, voL ii. p. 401. 



WILEINSaErS UETTBB TO ADMDUL ^BAEE. 13a 

not think himself authoiized to give one farthing 
to Gen. Wilkinson, in comperusation for his pre- 
tended services. He, thereupon, ordered Burling 
to leave the city of Mexico, and had hirn safely 
escorted to the port of Vera Cruz, where he em- 
barked for New Orleans. 

On the seventh of December, previous, Wil- 
kinson had despatched Lieutenant Swann, of the 
army, to Jamaica, with a letter to the officer 
commanding the naval force on that station, in- 
forming him of Burr's plans, and that a report 
was afloat that the aid of a British naval arma- 
ment had been either promised or applied for. 
He therefore warned him, and all other British 
military and naval officers, that their inter- 
ference, or any co-operation on their part, would ^ 
be considered as highly injurious to the United 
States, and affecting the then present amicable 
relations between the two nations. The com- 
munication concluded with a hope, that the 
British government would refrain from auy in- 
terference, and prevent individuals from affording 
aid to the enterprise; assuring him that the 
writer would, with all the force under his com- 
mand, resist any effort of a foreign power to 
fevour Burr's projects. 

To this Admiral Drake replied, that, from the 
style and manner in which the conununication 

12 



184 LIFE OF BLENNERHASSETT. 

was written, he was at a loss how to answer it; 
but begged him, (Wilkinson,) to be assured, that 
British ships of war would never be employed in 
any improper service, and that he should ever 
be ready most cheerfully to obey the orders of 
his sovereign. Sir Eyre Coote trusted, and sin- 
cerely believed, the representations made to 
Wilkinson were totally groundless, as his letter 
contained the only intelligence received on the 
subject.* 

Bollman and Swartwout were conducted to 
the city of Washington for trial. After having 
been imprisoned, for some time, on the charge 
of treason, as joinj^conspirators with Burr, they 
were discharged from confinement, by order of 
the Supreme Court, as the evidence was not suf- 
ficient to retain them longer in custody. 

Ogden and Alexander were transported to 
Baltimore, as accomplices in the same crime. 
The former of these was taken before a magis- 
trate, in the city, and set at liberty for want of 
sufficient proof. The latter was shortly after 
released, in Washington, whither he had been 
Tecently conducted, because of the impropw 
averment of the offence. 

* Martin's History of Louisiana. 



BtORK m AIABAMA. 185 



CHAPTER X. 

Burr's arriyal in the Tillage of Wakefield, Alabama— Inquires for 
Colonel Hinson's — His condact excites saspicion — He is pursued 
hj Nicholas Perkins and Brightwell, the Sheriff— Is found at 
Hinson's — ^His agreeableness — Suspicions of the Sheriff— Mrs. Hin- 
Bon's inquisitiyeness — ^His departure from Hinson's — ^Delinquency 
of Brightwell — Perkins sets out for Fort Stoddard to procure as- 
sistance of Lieutenant Edmund P. Gaines — They start in pursuit 
— Burr is arrested — His imprisonment at the Fort — ^Kindness to 
George S. Gaines — ^Amusements at the Fort — ^Burr's trayelling 
eompanion, Major Ashley, arrested, and escapes — ^Difficulties in 
procuring a guard to convey Burr to Richmond — Burr leaves the 
Fort under guard — Sympathy of the ladies — Guard — ^Perkins 
fears the influence of Burr — ^Particulars of the journey — ^Burr at- 
tempts to escape at Chester — ^Is unsuccessfiil— Arriyes at Bich- 
mond, Virginia. 

Late at night, about the last of Febraary, 
Burr, with a companion, arrived at a small log 
tavern, in what is now the village of Wakefield, 
in Wasl\ington county, Alabama. Without 
alighting, he called at the door, and inquired of 
the inmates if Colonel TTinson resided in the 
neighbourhood, Eeceiving for answer that he 
did, they fiirther informed him that the house 
was seven miles distant; the road to be trar 



138 LIFE OF KiENKBBEABSETT. 

veiled^ obscure and difiGicult; and a deep and 
turbid creek lay in the route. Nothing daunted, 
he eagerly sought information as to the forks, 
and directions as- to crossing the stream. This 
having been communicated, he put spurs to his 
horse, leaving the observers involved in astonish- 
ment. 

Near midnight, the glimmering of a light, 
through the distant trees, directed the travellers 
to the rude but comfortable quarters of Colonel 
Hinson. Having hailed and received no answer, 
they dismounted, and entered the kitchen, where 
the remaining embers in the fire-place were soon 
kindled into a comfortable blaze. Seating him- 
self before it. Burr left his companion to take 
charge of the horses, and had but just begun to 
feel ccanfortable, when he was interrupted by a 
stranger, who, he concluded, had ridden till late 
to reach desirable lodgings. But in this he was 
mistaken. The real cause of his appearance, at 
this unseasonable hour, originated in Burr's mys- 
terious departure from the inn. As it afterwards 
appeared. Colonel Nicholas Perkins observed, by 
the light of the fire, as Burr sat up(m his horse, 
that, although he was coarsely dressed, yet be 
possessed a countenance of unusual intelligence i 
an eye of sparkling brilliancy; and a demeanoc 
wholly unsuited to the garb he wore* The tidjy 



BtTBB PUBSUED. 187 

boot, in particular, which his vanity could not 
surrender, with his other articles of finer clothing, 
attracted Perkins's attention, and led him to con* 
elude that the gentleman before him was none 
other than the famous Colonel Burr, described in 
the proclamation of the governor. 

Perkins immediately started after Theodore 
Brightwell, the sheriff, who occupied an adjacent 
cabin ; and, awakening him from his slumbers, 
hurriedly communicated the circumstances of 
the traveller's appearance, conversation and de- 
parture, and requested him to join him in the 
pursuit of the parties. Brightwell consented; 
and the two, moimting their horses, took the 
road to Hinson's. The night was cold and windy, 
and the moanings of the loffcy pines, along the 
solitary road, rendered their journey gloomy and 
impropitious. Still they pressed on; for the 
object of their pursuit was of ^o small import- 
ance, at that particular time, to the minions of 
the -government. As they arrived in sight of 
the illuminated dwelling, Perkins, recollecting 
that the travellers had seen him at the tavern, 
declined entering, but sent Brightwell, whom he 
requested to return to him, at a certain place in 
the woods, after he had ascertained whether or 
not the suspicious individual was Aaron Burr. 

As Brightwell called at the door, his voice 

12* 



^a LIFE OF BiaNKERHASSETT. 

was recognised by Mrs. Einsojiy who was hk 
relatiye^ and who until now had remained silent 
in anoth^ room^ through fear of the strangers^ 
in the aJ^sence of her husband. She soon pre- 
pared scHnetiiing to eat for her unknown guests* 
As Burr seated himself at the table^ he thanked 
her, in the most courteous terms, for her kind- 
ness, and apologized for the trouUe he had im- 
posed upon her. His conversation was sprightly 
and agreeable, so much so, indeed, that Mrs* 
Hinson soon discoyered that the gentleman and 
his attire did not correspond. His attention waa 
often directed to Brightwell, who stood before 
the fire, and at whom he cast the keenest 
glances, evidently endeavouring to read his 
thoughts. A momentary separation having 
taken place, during the night, between Burr ^md 
his companion, at the suggestion of Brightwell^ 
the latter waa asked by Mrs. Hinson if she had 
the honour of entertaining, as hex guest, the 
celebrated Col. Burr. Fearing to make the dis- 
closure, the man remained silent^ and shortly 
after left the room. 

Early in the morning. Burr privately com- 
municated to Mrs. Hinson his real name, and 
regretted the absence of her husband, whom he 
had seen at Natchez, and with whom he had 
promised himself to remain a week; but that^ as 



BELiNUUJSKCV OJ BBIOHTWILL. 2U 

he was now diBCovered, he should profsecirte hia 
journey. 

After inquiring the loute to PensacdLa^ and 
Mrs. Carson's ferry on the Tombigbee, he called 
for writing materials^ and indited several letters* 
His eompanion^ who had been despatched on the 
back route, for some purpose, returned about 
nine o'clock, and the two again set out for the 
**cut ofl^" not very far distant. 

For some unaccountable reason, which has 
never yet been explained, Brightwell neglected 
to return to Perkins, whom he left highly ex- 
cited and shivering in the cold. Having remained 
at his post until his patience was exhausted, and 
supposing that Brightwell, probably on account 
of the fascinations of Burr, or the pity which had 
seized him, in his behalf, had betrayed their 
plans, Perkins mounted his horse, and rode 
rapidly to the house of Joseph Bates, at Nan- 
nanhubby Bluff, to avoid the creek, which inter- 
vened on the main route to Fort Stoddart. Here 
he was ftimished with a canoe, and a negro to 
navigate it; and, descending the Tombigbee, ar- 
rived at the military station early in the morning. 
The late General Edmund P. Gaines was then 
the lieutenant in command. Perkins briefly ac- 
quainted him with the particulars of the preceding 
night's adventure, and of his suspicions; which, 



140 TIFB OF BLENNEBHASSETT. 

, although of slight foundation^ had nevertheless 
impressed him with solid convictions of truth. 
Placing himself at the head of a file of mounted 
soldiers, the lieutenant started in pursuit, accom- 
panied by Perkins. They shortly encountered 
the object of their search, with his travelling 
companion, and the sheriff, Brightwell. The 
parties having met. Lieutenant Gaines accosted 
one of the strangers, remarking, that he presumed 
he had the honour of addressing Colonel Burr, 

"I am a traveller,^' answered Burr, "and in a 
strange land, and do not recognise your right to 
ask such a question." 

"I arrest you, at the instance of the United 
States," replied Gaines. 

"By what authority do you arrest me, a 
stranger, on the highway, on my own private 
business?" 

The lieutenant then informed Burr that he 
was an officer of the United States army, and 
held in his hand the proclamation of the Pre- 
sident, as well as that of the Governor of the 
Mississippi Territory, directing his arrest. 

Burr asked him if he was aware of the respon- 
sibility of arresting a traveller ; to which Gaines 
answered, that he was perfectly aware of his 
duties, in the premises, and should endeavour to 
perform them^ 



BUBR 15 ABSISBTEXX ^ J4I 

Burr then ^aiered into a brief aigumeht to 
0how that these proclamations should never have 
been issued, and that in following their dictates, 
the lieutenant would be snbjectmg himself to 
much damage and blame. His mamier was firm; 
his air majestic; and his language impressive; 
but the resolute young officer told him his mind 
was made up; — ^the prisoner must accompany 
him to his quarters, where he would be treated 
wilh all the respect due the Ex-Vice-President 
of the United States, so long as he made no 
attempt to escape. He was then conducted 
towards Fort Stoddart^ where the parties arrived 
in the evening, and an apartment being assigned 
the prisoner, he took his dinner alone. 

Late at night, a groaning was heard, in an 
adjoining room. Burr arose, opened the door/ 
and ascertained that George S. Gaines was suf- 
fering fixxm severe indisposition. He approached 
the sufferer's bed and kindly offered his services, 
as he had travelled much, and had some know*^ 
ledge <rf medicine. They soon entered into a 
sprightly conversation in regard to the state of 
the country, and particularly on the subject of 
the Choctaw Indians, among whom Gaines lived, 
as United States factor. The next day, being 
introduced to the wife of the commandant, who 
was a daughter of the late Judge Toulma% Bunr 



142 I<m OF BUBNNEBHASSETT. 

dined vnih the family, and enlivened the com- 
pany with his wit and elegant discourse. In the 
evening, he played chess with Mrs. Gaines, with 
whom he was often a frequent competitor in that 
interesting game. Of nights, he sought the com- 
pany of the invalid, who became exceedingly 
attached to his society. During their midnight 
conversations, how often would the good heart 
of his auditor grieve over the misfortunes of Burr. 
But it was a remarkable fact, that, as often and 
long as they were together, this unfortunate man 
never once alluded to his arrest^ his troubles, or 
his future plans. From his early youth, it had 
been his custom to conceal things in relation to 
himself, and he always endeavoured to throw an 
air of mystery over his acts. 

After Burr had been secured, as a prisoner at 
Fort Stoddart, Perkins departed for Wakefield, 
and caused the arrest of his travelling companion, 
who proved to be Major Ashley. He was placed 
under a guard, from whom he escaped and made 
his way to Tennessee, where he afterwards made 
himself serviceable to his friend, in collecting 
evidence in his behalf for the trial at Bichmond. 

Three weeks had passed away since the arrest 
of the distinguished prisoner, and still the lieu- 
tenant had been unable to convey him to the 
seat of the general government for trial* The 



BUSK LEAVES THE FORT. 148 

difficulties were great, and, for a time, the un- 
dertaking appeared impracticable. In those 
days, there were comparatively no roads, no 
ferries, and few men could be found, in that 
sparsely settled country, who would undertake 
a journey so long and perilous, over savage 
lands. The inclemency of the weather, at that 
season of the year, added much to the unplear 
santness of the tour, and, with many, formed an 
insuperable objection, as they must, necessarily, 
for want of houses of accommodation, be exposed, 
both night and day, to the vicissitudes of the 
month of March. At last. Burr left the fort, 
under guard, and proceeded, in a government 
boat, up the Alabama river, into the Tensaw 
lake, accompanied by Lieutenant Gaines, and 
stopped at the house of John Mills. The ladies 
of the house, seeing the strait to which Burr was 
reduced, wept, through sympathy for his mis- 
fortunes. One of the number, it is said, a Mrs. 
Johnson, named her son in honour of this dis- 
tinguished individual. He is still alive, and is 
not the only boy bearing the name of "Aaron 
Burr" in the State of Mississippi. The ladies 
everywhere espoused his cause, in the south- 
western New World. It is a prominent and 
noble trait, in female character, to admire a man 



I4i Lira OF mwt^mBmmEa. 

of daring and generous impulses; and to pit j and 
defend him in his adversities. 

At the boat-yard, in ihe presaat county of 
Baldwin, in the State of Alabama, the erew di£k 
embarked, where William and John Pierce, (who 
iutroduced the first cotton gins into Alabama,) 
had a trading establishment. Gaines gave the 
command of the guard to Perkius, and directed 
him to convey the prisoner to Washington city. 
His guard consisted of Thomas Malone, of Ala- 
bama, Henry B. Slade of North Carolina, two 
McCormacks of Kentucky, and two United 
States' soldiers. They were all men whom Per- 
kins selected, and upon whom he could rely 
under every circumstance. He took them aside, 
and obtained the most solemn pledges, that, 
upon the whole route to Washington, they would 
hold no interviews with Burr, nor suffer hJTn to 
escape alive. Perkins knew the fascinations of 
Burr, and he feared his familiarity with his men, 
indeed, he feared the same influences upon him- 
self. His character, for making strong impres- 
sions upon the human nmid, and attaching men 
to him by association, was well known to ihe 
world. 

. When Burr fled firom the authorities in the 
Mississippi Territory, he had disguised himself 
in a boatman's dress. His pantaloons were of 



PARTICULARS OF THE JOURNEY. 146 

coarse, copperas-dyed cloth, with a roundabout 
of inferior drab. His hat, a flapping, wide-brim 
beaver, had, in times long past, been white, but 
now gave evidence of having encountered much 
rough weather. Placed upon his fine horse, he 
bestrode him most elegantly, and flashed his 
large, dark eyes, as though he were at the head 
of his New York regiment. Each man carried 
provisions for himself, and some for the prisoner. 
They were all well mounted, with no arms ex- 
cept pistols in holsters, and two muskets borne 
by the soldiers. On the last of February, they 
set out upon their long and perilous journey. 
Within a quarter of a mile from the point of 
departure, the dreadful massacre at Fort Mimms 
occurred, six years after. Pursuing the Indian 
path, which led from the ^* 'Bigby settlement,'^ to 
Fort ^Wilkinson, on the Oconee, they reached a 
point thirty miles distant the first day. At 
night, the only tent in the company was pitched 
for the prisoner, who reposed himself upon his 
blankets. The country abounded in immense 
piae forests. Here the Ex-Vice-President lay 
the first night, before the blazing fire, which 
threw a glare over the dismal woods. 

To what an extremity had he now been re- 
duced ! In the boundless wilds of Alabama, — 
under a small and comfortless tent; amid the 

18 



}4| Um OF BLSNNSRHABSfiXT. 

perils of Indiau barbarities^ with the cry of the 
panther, answered by the howl of the hungry 
wolf ringing in his ears j while the moaning of 
the winds through the tops of the lofty trees 
added dreariness to the solitude of Hie night. 
With none with whom to hold converse; sur- 
rounded by a guard to whom he dared not 
speak ; a prisoner of the United States for whose 
liberties he had fought, and whose goyemment 
he had helped to form; exiled from the State of 
his adoption, whose statutes and institutions 
bore the impress of his mind ; deprived by death 
of his devoted wife; his only child then on a 
distant coast of Carolina; his professional pur- 
suits Abandoned, and his fortune swept awayj 
the magnificent scheme of the conquest of Mexico 
uprooted, and the fragments dispersed; slan- 
dered and hunted down, from one end of the 
Union to the other; these were considerationa 
sufficient to weigh down an ordinary individual, 
and sink him to an imtimely grave. But hia 
was no common mind; and the characteristic 
fortitude and determination which had ever 
marked his course, still sustained him in the 
darkest hour. In the morning, he arose cheer- 
fully, and pursued his course. Although guarded 
with vigilance, his few wants were gratified, bb 
fer aa they could be, and he was treated with 



VAXnCCLLBB OF THB JOUBKET. 14T 

respect and kindness. The trail being narrofr 
and obscure. Burr rode in the middle, having a 
part of the guard in front, while the rest followed 
behind, in single file. The route lay about eight 
miles south of the present city of Montgomery, 
then an Indian town called Eaconcharte— mean- 
ing Bed Qrawnd, 

In. the year 1811, General Wade Hampton cut 
out the "Federal Road" along this trail, which 
Was well known to early settlers as the only 
highway in South Alabama. The guard passed 
by the site of the present Mount Meigs, and 
stopped at the house of "Old Milly,'* the former 
wife of a British soldier, who, with her husband, 
in 1770, left the barracks in Savannah and came 
to the Creek nation. She had long been a resi- 
dent of these wild woods, now lying in the county 
of Mcmtgomery. Her husbaml, at this time a 
coloured man, named Evans, was employed by 
Perkins to pilot the party across the dangerous 
creeks. Lime, Dubahatchee and Calabee, all of 
which they had to swim. It was a perilous and 
fatiguing march ; and, for days, the rain descended 
in chilling torrents on these unsheltered horse- 
men, collecting in rivulets and swimming them 
at every point. Hundreds q& Indians tlmmged 
the trail, and the party could have been ^ot 
down; but the fearless Perkins boi:e osa his dis- 



14B £IFE OF BCENNERHAS8SIT. 

• 

tinguiBhed prisoner^ amid angry elements and 
human foes. In their journey through Alabama, 
they always slept in the woods, near swamps of 
reeds, upon which the belled and hobbled horses 
fed during the night. After a hastily-prepared 
breakfast, it was their custom again to remount, 
and march on, in gloomy silence, which waa 
but occasionally broken by a remark about the 
weather, the creeks, or the horses. Burr was a 
splendid rider, sitting firmly in the saddle, and 
ever on the alert. He was always a hardy tra- 
TeUer, and although wet for hours, with cold and 
drizzling rains, riding forty miles a day, and at 
night stretched upon the bare ground, on a thin 
pallet, yet, in the whole distance to Bichmond^ 
he was never heard to say that he was sick, or 
even fatigued. At the Ghattahoochie, was a 
crossing-place, owned by an Indian named Mar- 
shall. The effects of the expedition were carried 
over in canoes, while the horses swam alongside. 
In this manner, they passed the Flint and Oo- 
mulgee. At Fort Wilkinson, on the Oconee, they 
entered the first ferry-boat they had seen on the 
whole route. A few miles further on, they were 
sheltered by ihe first civilized roof — a house of 
entertainment, kept by one Bevin. While break- 
fast was preparing, and the guard were seated 
around a laige fire, the host^ like all publicans oa 



VAATKSmJMB OT TIE JOHTRKET. ja 

the higliwaj, inquu^d from idienc® fhey casne* 
As they were from the " 'BSgby eetflementB," he 
immediately fell oia the fruitfrd theme of the 
trcdtoTy Aarcm Burr, He asked if he had beea 
taken? "Was he not a very bad man?" "Wasn't 
everybody afraid of him?'' Perkins and his 
party were v®ry much annoyed, and embar- 
rassed^ aod made no reply. Burr was sitting: 
in a comer, by the fire, with his head downj 
and, after hstenang to the inquisitiveneBS of Be vin 
until he amid endure it no longer^ he raised him-* 
self up, and, planting his fiery eyes upon him, 
said: 

"I am Aaron Burr; what is it you want with 
me?" 

Bevin, struck with his appearance, — ^the keen- 
ness of his look^ and the solemnity and dignity 
of his manner, stood aghast, and trembled Mke a 
leaf. He uttered not another word, while the 
guard remained at his house. 

When Perkins rescind the confines of South 
Carolina, he watdied Burr more closely than 
ever; fw, in this State lived the son4n4aw of 
Burr, C!oL Alston^ a gentleman of talents, wealth 
and influence ; and afterwards governor of the 
State. Upon reaching the fix)ntiers of Georgia^ 
he endeavoured to convey ;the priscmer in by- 
roads, to avoid the towns^ lest ha should be 

18» 



ISO' Xm OF'33IJSNNEEHA8SETT. 

lescued. The plan was attended with diffictdty ; 
they were lost often; the march impeded; and 
the highway was again resumed. Before enter* 
ing the town of Chester^ in South Carolina^ the 
party halted. Two men were placed before 
Burr; two on either side^ and two behind; and^ 
in this manner, they passed near a tavern on the 
street, where many persons were standing ; while 
music and dancing were heard in the house. 
Burr conceived it a favourable opportunity for 
escape, and, suddenly dismountii^, exclaimed, 

^^I am Aaron Burr, under military arrest, and 
claim protection of the civil authorities!'' 

Perkins leaped from his horse, with several of 
his men, and ordered him to remount. 

^'IwSH notr replied Burr. 

Not wishing to shoot him, Perkins threw down 
his pistols, and, being a man of prodigious 
strength, and the prisoner a small man, seized 
him around the waist and placed him in his 
saddle, as though he was a child. Thomas 
Malone caught the reins of the bridle, slipped 
them over the horse's head, and led him rapidly 
on. The astoniished citizens had seen a party 
enter their village, with a prisoner; had heard 
him appeal to them for protection; had wit- 
nessed the feat o( Perkins; and the party 
vanished, before they had time to recover from 



BUBB ATI3SMPTS TO ESGAPB. 151 

their confusion; for^ when Burr dinmounted, the 
guards cocked their pistols^ and the people ran 
within the piazza to escape from danger. 

Burr was stilly to some extent, popular in 
South Carolina; and any wavering or timidity, 
on the part of Perkins, would have lost him his 
prisoner; but the celerity of his movements gave 
no time for the people to reflect, before he was 
far in the outskirts of the village. Here, the 
guard halted. Burr was highly excited; he was 
in tears ! The kind-hearted Malone also wept^ 
at seeing the uncontrollable despondency of him 
who hitherto had proven almost iron-hearted. 
It was the first time any one had ever seen 
Aaron Burr unmanned. , 

The guard became very much alarmed, on the 
subject of Burr's rescue, Malone and Henry ad- 
vised the purchase of a carriage. The former 
took charge of the guard, while Perkins returned 
and purchased a gig. The next day. Burr was 
placed in a vehicle, and driven, without ftirther 
incident, to Fredericksburg, Virginia. Here Per- 
kins received despatches from the President, 
requiring him to convey the prisoner to Rich- 
mond. The guard took the stage, and soon 
reached that place. The ladies of the city vied 
with each other in contributing to the comfort 
of Burr. Some sent him fruit ; some clothes ; 



152 UFE OF KJiamsBEABimr. 

8ome wine; some one thing; myme another. 
Perkins and his men went to Washington ; were 
paid for &eir services, and letomed to Alabama, 
by way of Tennessee.''' 

* The whole of the incidents related in the fbregoing ohapter av»> 
taken from Pickett's History of Alabama. With bat few exceptions, 
I haTe followed nearly the exaet language of that author. 



KSHHSBHASSKra AT LEXISQTON. 153 



CHAPTER XL 

BlennerhaoEiett sets oat from Natchez to Tisit his island — ^Tarries at 
Lexington, Kentucky — ^Arrested by the authorities — Mrs. Blen- 
nerhassett's letter — ^Defended by the Hon. Henry Clay — ^Is unsuo* 
cessM in procuring his discharge— Is conducted to Richmond-^ 
Postponement of the trials of Burr and his accused confederates— 
Trial of Burr commenced — Court and bar — ^Verdict of acquittal by 
the jury — ^Burr's arraignment on an indictment for a misdemeanor 
—Acquittal — ^Extracts from Blennerhassett's journal kept during 
the trial — ^Extracts from the private memoranda — Chief Justice 
Marshall — ^Luther Martin— William Wirt — ^Aaron Burr. 

BiiBNNERHASSETT having been arrested and dis- 
charged in the Mississippi territory, imagined no 
further annoyance from the government Feeling 
desirous to ascertain the situation of his property 
at the island, which he had learned from his wife 
and others was much injured by the proceedings 
of the Wood county militia, he left Natchez in 
June, with the intention of visiting it. 

On the route, he stopped at Lexington, Ken- 
tucky, where he had many acquaintances and 
friends, to rest himself, for a time, from the 
weariness of his journey, and to partake of the 
hospitalities of its citizens. In the meanwhile, 
on the twenty-fifth of June, indictments had been 



164 LIFE OF BLESWBXBASSSn. 

preferred^ at Bichmond, both agadnst Burr and 
himself; informatioii of which having been re- 
ceived in the village, he was arrested by the 
authorities, and confined in prison. 

If any thing was calculated to wound a heart 
of the most refined feeling and acutest sensibility, 
it certainly was this last act of the unrelenting 
government. In the presence of those from whom 
he had heretofore received the most courteous 
attention, and by whom he had been regarded 
with unusual respect, dragged to the gloomy 
walls of a prison, and treated as a felon, was 
humiliating in the most painful degree. 

Mrs. Blennerhassett, hearing of his mortifying 
situation, and feeling the necessity of suisrtaining 
him, by her consoling counsel^ under the iih 
creased weight of his misfortunes, addressed him 
the following communication : — 

Natchez, Aogost 8d, 1807.* 

My Dearest Love. — ^Afler having experienced 
the greatest disappointment in not hearing from 
you for two m^Euls, I, at length, heard of your 
arrest, which afficts me because it vxxs an arrest* 
I think that had you, of your own accord, gone 
to Bichmond and solicited a trial, it would have 
accorded better with your pride, and you would 

* Wffliaii WaUftoe. '*Ameri€wiftmew/'lS46* 



LETTER OF MBS. BLENNEBHASSETT. |69 

have escaped the unhappiness of missing my leir 
ters which I wrote every week to Marietta. God 
knows what you may feel or suffer, on our ac- 
count before this reaches you, to inform you of 
our health and welfare in every particular; and, 
knowing this, I trust and feel your mind wiU 
rise superior to every inconvenience that your 
present situation may subject you to. Let no 
solicitude whatever, for us, damp your spirits. 
We have many Mends here, who do the utmost 
in their power to counteract any disagreeable 
sensation occasioned by your absence. I shaU 
live in the hope of hearing fix)m you, by the 
next mail ; and entreat you, by aU that is dear 
to us, not to let any disagreeable feelings, on ac- 
count of our separation, enervate your mind at 
this time. Bemember, that aU here will read, 
with great interest, any thing concerning you j 
but still, do not trust too much to yourself: con- 
sider your want of practice at the bar, and spare 
not the fee of a lawyer. Apprize Colonel Burr 
of my warmest acknowledgments, for his own 
and Mrs. Alston's kind rememlHrance ; and tell 
him to assure her she has inspired me with a 
warmth of attachment which never can diminish. 
I wish him to urge her to write to me. 

God bless you ! — prays your 

M. BLENNEBHASSETT. 



156 LIFE OF BLENNBRHASSETT. 

Having procured the eminent services of the 
Hon. Henry Clay, to aid his release irom the 
process of tiie court, Mr. Blennerhassett relied on 
his former acquittal; but, notwithstanding the 
superior forensic abilities of his counsel, the court 
revised his application, and he found himself 
constrained to proceed under guard to Richmond^ 
to be tried for the offence of treason. 

For various reasons, which it is not necessary 
here to enumerate, the trials of Burr, Blenner* 
hassett, Dayton, John Smith of Ohio, Comfort 
Tyler, Israel Smith of New York, and Davis 
Floyd, were postponed, from time to time, until 
the third of August. From the fifth until the 
seventeenth of the month, the court was engaged 
in obtaining a jury for the trial of Burr, and dis-* 
cussing points of law. 

Never before, in the history of the country, 
was witnessed so grand a display of legal acumen 
and forensic talent. Upon the bench sat the 
venerated Marshall — spotless in puriiy ; and, for 
soundness of judgment, without an equal. Calm, 
dignified and attentive, he analyzed the argu- 
ments of counsel, and noted their relevancy with 
the nicety of a critic. At the bar, was Wirt, 
whose fervid and soul-thrilling eloquence, even 
on this very trial, placed him at once among the 
first of American orators. With a brilliancy of 



TRIAL OF BUER. 16T 

imagination which astonished his auditors, he 
swayed the minds of the jury with wonderful 
effect. There, too, was Martin, who had been 
previously distinguished, in the trial of Judge 
Chase, before the United States Senate. Every 
word that he uttered, like a two-edged sword, 
pierced the arguments of his opponents at every 
point. There was Hay; always ready to take 
advantage of suspicious circumstances, and wield 
them, with tenfold force, against the prisoner. 
There was Randolph ; slow, calculating and care- 
ftd ; building up the vulnerable points of his case 
against the attacks of his adversaries. There 
was Botts; facetious and playful; sometimes 
descending to the ludicrous, but often rising, 
with convincing argument, to the grand. There 
was Wickham ; dignified and commanding, 
taking up his subject with a master hand, and 
holding it to view, in every conceivable light. 
And there, too, was the prisoner; proudly pre- 
eminent, in point of intelligence, to his brethren 
of the bar. He had been the Vice-President of 
the United States. He was accused of the highest 
and darkest crime in the criminal code. He 
stood before the supreme tribunal of his country, 
with the eyes of the nation gazing upon him. In 
the opinion of many, he was already a condemned 
criminal. He had the talent and tact, and the 

14 



158 LIFE OF BLBNNSRHASSETT. 

lesouroes of the government^ to coBftesd agiiBsrt 
Every faculty of his mind was exerted in his 
own defence. The magnitude of the charge; 
Hie number of persons involved ; ihe former high, 
standing and extraordinary fortunes of the ac- 
cused ; had excited an interest in the community^ 
such as never be&re had been known. The witr 
nesses against him were mostly officers of the 
government, with whom, at one time or aaotiieri. 
he had been in some way coimected. 

For twenty-six days, the court was arduously 
engaged in the investigation of the offence. The 
evidence of sixty witnesses had to be examined 
and noted. - Meanwhile, there being no suitable 
quarters in the city. Burr was confined in the 
Penitentiary, in the suburbs of Richmond. Every 
day he was marched into court, on foot, escorted 
by a body-guard of two hundred men, which, 
would have done honour to an eastern prince. 
On the first of September, the jury returned a 
verdict; — ^^ihsA Aaron Burr is not proved to be 
guilty, under the indictment, by any evidence 
submitted to us; we, therefore, fibud him not 
ffaiUy.'^ Burr objected to the verdict, aa being 
incorrect in point of form, and asked that the 
same might be given in the usual way— -dimply, 
" Not Guilty " Mr. Hay answered, that, in fiawt^ 



BUBB ACQXJTiTED. U^ 

it was a verdict of acqmttal j and that it should 
be entered in the juiy^s own words. 

^^ There was no precise form ci words by which 
the juiy Bhould be governed.*' 

^* They have no right to return ft written ver- 
dict at all/' replied Burr; "they have no right 
to depart fix)m the usual form." He then called 
for the recital of the common directions given 
the jury by the clerk. They were read, and end 
as follows : — 

" ff you find him guilty, you are to say so : if 
not guilty; you are to say so, and no more/* 

** The jury camiot be indulged,** said Burr. — 
** They have defaced a paper belcHiging to ihe 
court, by writing upon it words which they have 
no right to write. They ought to be sent back.** 
After a short consultation, it was agreed that the 
simple verdict of " Not Guilt/' might be entered 
on the records of the court. 

On the ninth of September, Burr was again 
arraigned, upon an iudictment for a misdemeanor, 
which ctmsisted of seven counts? the substance 
of which were, that Aaron Burr did set on foot a 
military enterprise, to be carried on against the 
territory of a foreign prince, viz., the province 
of Mexico, which was within the temtory of the 
King of Spain, with whom the United States 
were at peace. 



160 I^£ OF BLENNEBHASSETT. 

After the prosecution had examined some of 
their witnesses^ and the court had decided that 
the testimony of others was not relevant, the 
District-attorney made a motion to discharge 
the jury. To this motion Burr objected; insist- 
ing upon a verdict. This was on the fifteenth 
of the month. The court, being of opinion that 
the jury could not, in this stage of the case, be 
discharged, without the consent of the accused, 
and that they must give a verdict, they accord- 
ingly retired, and very soon returned with a ver- 
dict of "Not QuUiyr 

Blennerhassett's journal, kept during these 
trials, as given by the biographer of Burr,* shows 
his great admiration of the talents of his asso- 
ciate, and Burr's unyielding attachment to his 
project. 

Exira/dts from the Journal of Blennerhiaaett. 
" The vivacity of Burr's wits, and the exercise 
of his proper talents, now [at Bichmond] con- 
stantly solicited here, in private and public ex- 
hibition, while they display his powers and 
address, at the levee and the bar, must engross 
more of his time than he can "spare from the de- 
mands of other gratifications j while they display 

* Maihew L. Da^is. 



COLONSL DITANS'S VISIT. 161 

bim^ to the eager eyes of the multitude, like a 
&yoimte gladiator, measuring over the arena of 
his fame, with firm step and manly grace, the 
pledges of easy victory. 

« August 17tti, 1807- This led me to praise 
a pamphlet, Agrestisj which Alston yesterday 
brought me, being two letters <m Wilkinson's 
proceedings at New CWeans, which, for its ar- 
rangement and strength, as well as imagery of 
language, I observed would not be unworthy of 
a Ourran ; at the same time, inquiring who was 
the author. Alston said he was not known. I 
then repeated the question to Col. McKee, who 
said it was a friend of ours ; at least Mr. Alston 
was fiuspected. I mention tibis trifling occur- 
rence, for the sake <rf observing, that Alston was 
now ^ent, thereby appropriating to himself the 
merit of the book, which his mfe^ I have no 
doubt, might produce. To suppose Alston the 
author would be preposterous. 

"August 28d, 1807. My reverie was soon 
broken m upon, by the appearance (rf Mr. Dou- 
glas with a stranger. I should rather have 
said, by two apparitions ; for it was now near 
nightfall, and Douglas no sooner appeared than 
he turned on his heel, Baying, * Colonel Duane, 
sir,* and ran down stairs. The surprise of this 
intemq)ti<m9 the stronger, whom I had never 

14« 



162 I'IFE OF BLENIIEBHASSETT. 

before seen, did not suffer to endure long enough 
to allow me to invoke the ' angels and nnnister^ 
of grace' for my protection. I was already with- 
in the grasp of this Gabriel of the government. 
He seized my hand^ and bade me dismiss my 
surprise, however natural it might be, on his ap- 
pearance before me. I handed him a chair, and 
said, ' I had lived long enough in this country to 
be surprised at nothing it could produce or ex- 
hibit, but yet desired to learn from what cause I 
had the favour of his visit/ ^ Having heard Mr. 
Douglas observe,' said he, ^that you would be 
pleased to see me :' — ^Sir, Mr. Douglas has made 
a mistake ; he must have meant somebody else.' 
^ No matter,' continued he : ' having known and 
seen your present situation, I could not, as a man, 
as an Irishman,' (here he digressed, to show me 
how he both was, and was not, an Irishman,) ^I 
could not leave this town (Richmond) without 
warning you of the sacrifice now preparing, to 
appease the government, by your friends, of 
which you are destined to be the victim. You 
cannot desire any other key to my meaning than 
the course the defence has this week taken. But, 
if you think the government will not cease to 
pursue that justice they possess the means of 
ensuring, and suspect, as you ought^ the designs 
of those you have too long thought your friends. 



COLOinSL BUANE'S VISIT. 163 

it might yet appear no better, on my part, than 
a nominal service to give you these cautions. I 
have, therefore, sought you, not to tender you 
words, but deeds. The only return, on your 
part, will be that care of yourself which will find 
a shield in my hmwm^ (here he very awkwardly 
struck his breast, and grinned a ghastly smile) 
^ and that confidence I can command in the go- 
vernment, whose good faith is not misplaced in 
the zeal I have testified to serve it.' 

^' To this harangue, he added violent protesta- 
tions of his wishes to serve me ; saying, that^ for 
that purpose, he would put oflf his journey back 
to Philadelphia, which otherwise was irrevocably 
fixed for Wednesday, and would, now or at any 
time hereafter, go to Washington for me, where 
rwihing he should ash would he refused hvm. In 
thanking him for the frankness and zeal with 
which he cautioned me against my Mends, and 
a negligence of my safety, I assured him I was 
not afraid to meet the prosecution, as I expected 
I should, before my arrival here, without counsel 
or friends J but^ from present appearances, I was 
more curious than interested to learn what were 
those means the said government possessed of 
insuring justice. Finding, by his answer, that 
he was now disposed to allure me into a confes- 
oon, of having written certain papers then in the 



164 LIFE OF BLENKEBaSUUaSBn. 

hands of tbe prosecutors, I tdd hixn, tiie warmth 
of his offers to serve me could Skot make me foiv 
get either his Bituation, or my own, wilii relation 
to the goyerom^it; that I cared not what writ^ 
ings ahoidd he chatted upon me; that I e^uld 
admit ncoie till fairly proved, whidi, if any such 
should ever appear, I would justify, if necessary, 
on the scafibld. He now ^ummed up the objects 
of his mission, (whatever produced it,) with 
abuse of Burr, Tyler and &nitii, (icknowledginff 
that he had been served grcUia, hy Bmr^ in ^ most 
hcwdsome mamver ; that the others were more 
concerned against the government than I was ; 
but jswearing that he believed, if I did not fdlow 
his advice, they would make a scape-goat sacii'* 
fice of me for their deliverance. 

"August 25, 1807. I asked Alstcm, ^ Would 
you wish to see my notes df what passed betwe^i 
Duane and me ?' ^ Yes,' said he, ^ very much.' I 
then read to him the minutes I had taken on 
Sunday evening, with which he seemed highly 
pleased, and said they ought to be 'publiriied. 

To this, I told him, I could not accede I 

informed him that Duane had intimated that 
government had got possession of one of his let*- 
ters to me. ^Qne of my letters!' cried he. ^I 
never wrote to you but two upon private busi- 
ness; and, by G--d! any other letter they can 



VISIT TO BURR. 166 

have of mine must be a forgery/ * To be sure/ 
said I; ^ or, at all events, fix)m the favourable 
course things are now likely to take, such a let- 
ter could do no harm ! But, what did the rascal,' 
continued he, ^ state to be the purport of the let- 
ter?' ^Nothing more,' said I, Hhan that you 
and myself were all equally involved in all Colo- 
nel Burr's projects.' He then abused Duane, 
and repeated his wish that my notes were pub- 
lished. 

^^ September 13th, 1807, I visited Burr this 
morning. He is gay as usual, and as busy in 
speculations on re-organizing his projects for 
action, as if he had never suffered the least 
interruption. He observed to Major Smith and 
me, that, in six months, our schemes could be 
all remounted; that we could now new-model 
them, in a better mould than formerly, having a 
better view of the ground, and a more perfect 
knowledge of our men. We were silent. It 
should yet be granted, that, if Burr possessed 
sensibility of the right sort, with one hundredth 
part of the energies for which, with many, he 
has obtained such ill-grounded credit, his first 
and last determination, with the morning and 
the night, should be the destruction of those 
enemies who have, so long and so cruelly, 
wreaked their malicious vengeance upon him. 



16S LIFE 07 BI^ENNiaifiAflSETT. 

^*Septeml)er 16tli, 1807, I wm glad to fiad 
Buir had, at leasts thought of askiiig im to dine 
with him, bb I was rather euriouii to see him 
shine in a partie qwjmrie, consisting of new cha^ 
ract^rs. We, therefcwfe, walked with him, &om 
court. Luiher Martin, who lives with him, ac- 
companying us The dinner was neat, and 

followed hy three or four sorts o£ wine. Splendid 
poverty ! During the chitchat, after the cloth 
was removed, a letter was handed to Burr, next 
to whom I sat. I immediately smelt muisk. 
Burr broke the seal, put the cover to his nose^ 
and then handed it to me, saying, ^ This amounts 
to a disclosure.' I smelt the paper, and said, ^ I 
think so.' The whole physiognomy of the man 
now assumed an alteration, and vivacity that, to 
a stranger, who had never seen him before, 
would have sunk full fifty years of his age. 
* This,' said he, ' reminds me of a detection once 
very neatly practised upon me at New York. 
One day, a lady stepped into my libraay, while I 
was reading, came softly behind my chair, and^ 
giving me a slap cm the cheek, said, ^Come, tell 
me directly what little French giri, pray, have 
you had here ?' The abruptness of the question 
and surprise left me Utile room to doubt the dis- 
covery had been completely made. So, I thought 
best to etm&m 1k^ mhe^h f%et; upon jrkk^ the 



BLXBHSEHASSBTrS JWWAh^ lOlt 

inquiflitreBS burst out inta a loud laugh, <m the 
success of her artifice^ which she was led to play 
off upon me, from the mere circumstance of hav- 
ing smelt musk in the room.' I have given thiQ 
anecdote a place here, only to convey an idea of 
that temperament and address which enables 
this character to uphold his ascendency over the 
sex. After some time, Martin and Provost with- 
drew, and we passed to the topics of our adven- 
tures on the Mississippi, in which Burr said 
little, but declared he did not know of any rea- 
son to blame General Jackson, of Tennessee, for 
any thing he had done or omitted. But, he de- 
clares, he will not lose a day, after the favourable 
issue at the Capitol; (his acquittal,) of which he 
has no doubt, to direct his entire attention to 
setting up his projects, (which have only been 
suspended,) on a better model, ^ in which work,' he 
says, ^he has even here made some progress.' 

"September 20th, 1807. I found Buix, just 
after a consultation with his counsel, secretly 
writhing under much irritation at the conduct 
of Judge Marshall, but affecting an air of con- 
tempt for his alleged inconsistencies, as Burr 
asserted he (the judge) did not, for the last two 
days, imderstand either the questions or himself; 
that he had wavered in his opinions, before yes- 
terday's adjournment, and should^ in future, be 



168 I<IFE OF BLENNERHASSETT. 

fut right hy Strong la/ngvage. I am a&aid to say 
dbvse, though I think I could swear he used that 
word. I learned from Major Smith, to-day, a 
confirmation of what Colonel de Pestere had also 
mentioned to me : — ^that Burr sets oflf immedi- 
ately for England, after his liberation, to coUect 
money for reorganizing his projects. 

" September 22d, 1807. I have seen a com- 
plete file of all the depositions, made before the 
grand jury, in Burr's possession. It must be 
confessed, that few other men, in his circum- 
stances, could have procured these documents, 
out of the custody of oflBces filled by his invete- 
rate enemies. Burr asserted, to-day, in court, 
that he expected documents that would dis- 
qualify Eaton as a witness. 

"September 26th, 1807. Wilkinson, in his 
examination, confessed, that he had altered the 
cipher letter, and sworn that there were no 
alterations. 

" Of Dudley Woodbridge,* it must not be con- 
cealed from those who may have access to these 
Twtesy that although he is reported to have given 
a fair, candid, and, to us, an advantageous testi- 
mony, he has not yet told the whole truth^ having 

* Former mercantile partner of Blennerhassett, and oontractor 
for buili^ng Burr's boats on the Muskingnm. The respectabilitj of 
Mr. Woodbridge is undoubted by all who know him.^-AuiHOB. 



BL£NN£RHASS£TT S JOURNAL. 169 

mppreeaed my (xmimunioaiion to him^ of cv/r cfo- 
signs being vmequivocally against Mexioo; which, 
I suppose, he kept back because he embraced 
and embarked in the plan, on the first mention 
of it to him, though he afterwards receded from. 
it, upon his own reflection, or counsel of others. 
Such is the address, with which ingratitude and 
dishonesty are made to pass in the garb of in- 
tegrity, like tow-cloth under fine muslin. 

" October 8th, 1807, I called on- Burr this 
morning, when he, at la£t„ mentioned to me, 
during a short tSte-^irtSte, that he was preparing 
to go to England; that the time was now auspi- 
cious for him ; and he wished to know whether 
I coidd give him letters. I answered that I 
supposed, when he mentioned England, he meant 
London, as his business woidd probably be with 
people in office ; that I knew none of the present 
ministry, nor did I believe I had a single ac- 
quaintance in London. He replied, that he 
meant to visit every part of the country, and 
would be glad to get letters to any one. I said 
I woidd think of it, that I might discover whe- 
ther I had any fiiends there, whom it would be 
an object worth his attention to know, and took 
leave. We can only conjecture his designs. For 
my part, I am disposed to suspect he has no se- 
rious intent of reviving any of his speculations 

16 



170 WFE OF BLENNERHASSETT. 

in America^ or even of returning from Europe if 
he can get there." 

Tladra/dB from {he ^^Privaie Memoraridoi!^ of Bleor 
nerhaaaettj kept whUe confmed ai RicJimond.* 

Chief Jostioe MarshalL 

" From whence Burr did not infer that Chief 
J., will on the present occasion shrink from his 
duty, as an able judge or a virtuous patriot, to 
avert the revenge of an unprincipled govern- 
ment, or avoid other trials menaced and prepar- 
ing for himself, by its wretched partisans. ... I 
am certain, whatever insects may have sought 
the judge's robes, whilst off his back, none will 
venture to appear upon the ermine which be- 
decks his person." 

Luther Martin. 

"As we were chatting, after dinner, in stag- 
gered the whole rear-guard of Burr's forensic 
army — ^I mean, the celebrated Luther Martin, 
who yesterday concluded his fourteen hours' 
speech. His visit was to Major Smith, but he 
took me by the hand, saying, there was no need 
of an introduction. I was too much interested, 
by the little I had seen^ and the great things I 

* Wm. WaUace. << American Beyiew," 1845. 



LUTHER BIARTIN. 171 

had heaxd^ of this man's powers and passions^ 
not to improve the present opportunity, to sur- 
vey him, in every Kght the length of his visit 
would permit. I accordingly reconmiended our 
brandy as superior, placing a pint-tumbler before 
him. No ceremonies retarded the libation — ^no 
inquiries solicited him upon any subject, till ap- 
prehensions of his withdrawing suggested some 
topic to quiet him on his seat. Were I now to 
mention only the subjects of law, politics, news, 
et cetera, on which he descanted, I should not 
be believed, when I said his visit did not exceed 
thirty-five minutes. Imagine a man capable, in 
that space of time, to deliver some account of an 
entire week's proceedings in the trial, with ex- 
tracts fix)m memory of several speeches on both 
sides, including long ones fix)m his own : — ^to re- 
cite half columns verhaiim of a series of papers, 
of which he said he is the author; — ^to caricature 
Jefferson ; — ^to give a history of his acquaintance 
with Burr; — expatiate on his virtues and suffer- 
ings, maintain his credit, embellish his fame, 
and intersperse the whole with sententious repro- 
bations and praises of several other characters ; 
some estimate, with these preparations, may be 
formed of this man's powers, which are yet 
shackled by a preternatural secretion or excre- 
tion of saliva which embarrasses his delivery. 



172 I'IFB OF BLENHEEHASSETl!. 

In tliia^ his manner is rude^ and his language 
ungrammatical ; which is cruelly aggravated 
upon his hearers, by the verbosity and repetition 
of his style. With the wannest passions, that 
hurry him, like a torrent, over those characters 
or topics that lie most in the way of their course, 
he has, by practice, acquired the faculty of curb- 
ing his feelingSy which he never suffers to charge 
the enemy till broken, by the superior numbers 
of his arguments and authorities, by which he 
always out^flanks him, when he lets loose the 
reserve upon the centre, with redoubled impetu- 
osity. Yet fancy has been denied to his nodnd, 
or grace to his person oj habits. These are gross, 
and incapable of restraint, even upon the most 
solemn public occasions. This is, at aU times, 
awkward and disgusting. Hence, his invectives 
are rather coarse than pointed; his eulogiums 
more fulsome than pathetic. In diort, every trait 
of his portrait may be given in one word : — ^he i^r 
^<Ac TJiermtea of the km: " 

'Vniliam Wirt 

"Wirt spoke very much to engage the fancy 
of his hearers, to-day, without affecting their uur 
derstanding. For he cannot reason upon the 
facts before him, and can no more conduct a law 
argument than I could raise a temple; as Jtmiua 



AARON BITBR. l^g 

says of the king : ' The feather that adorns him 
supports his flight; strip him of his plumage, 
and you fix him to earth !' " 

Aaron Burr. 

"Becurring, with Mr. Smith, to some inci- 
dents that happened soon after our first arrival 
at Natchez, and speaking of Cowles Mead, I was 
much surprised to learn, what I had never heard 
before, that Mead had seriously taken up the 
idea of Col. Burr's being then deranged — ^alleging 
that he could not be mistaken, as he (Mead) had 
veiy long known him. Be this as it may. Burr, 
yesterday, looked fifty per cent, better than I 
have ever seen him ; and displayed a command 
of tone and firmness of manner he did not ap- 
pear to possess before the verdict of Tuesday." 

Burr, having been discharged on both indict- \ ' 
ments, those against Blennerhassett and the \ 
others were never prosecuted. Burr and Blen- 
nerhassett were required to enter into a recogni- 
sance in the sum c^ three thousand doUars each, 
for their appearance at CMUicothe, Ohio, to 
answer to a charge of misdemeanor; **for, that 
whereas, they prepared an armed force whose 
destination was the Spanish Territory." Of this, 
however, no notice was ever taken ; thus ended 
the conspiracy of Burr! 

16* 



174 I'lI'E OF BLENNEBHASSETT. 



CHAPTER Xn. 

Oiigpin of the Bnrr expedition— Miranda's visit in 1797-^ — ^His object 
— ^Propositions favourably received — Visits England — ^Receives 
encouragement from the British Ministry — ^Mode of arranging 
forces for the subjugation of the South American colonies — ^His 
plans are defeated by the elder Adams — ^Burr conceives the plan 
of the subjugation of Mezico — ^Auspicious circumstances — ^Encou- 
ragement received from distinguished characters — Wilkinson's aid 
proffered — His counsel — ^Daniel Clark — General Jackson — ^Effect 
of the adjustment of the Spanish difficulties upon those who at 
^st favoured the expedition — ^Burr's indomitable perseverance 
— Treacherous conduct of Wilkinson — ^Effect of Burr's acquittal 
upon the public mind — Character of Bjirr — ^Belief that Jefferson 
tacitly assented to the expedition — Circumstances which induce 
that belief. 

Most, if not all, of the characters involved in the 
enterprise of. Burr, have passed firom the theatre 
of life ! Their acts are left to the anxious scru- 
tiny of an impartial posterity. Far be it fix)ni 
us to approach the sanctity of the sepulchre, 
wilfully to offer an indignity to their remains. 
But an account of the origin, and an explanation 
of the circumstances attending that noted event, 
may not be imacceptable to the readers of the 



MIRANDA'S PROPOSITIONS. 175 

present, while it will doubtless prove a theme of 
historical interest to those who shall follow us. 

The provinces of South America had long felt 
a deare to resist the authority of Spain. Miranda, 
a bold and energetic leader, with other of his 
fellow-patriots, had conceived the design of over- 
throwing the Spanish dynasty, and establishing, 
on its ruins, an independent republic. He hoped 
to procure, as allies, in this herculean undertak- 
ing, both the United States and Great Britain. 
With that view, he visited this country, in 1797 
-'8, and sought the acquaintance of the most 
distinguished Americans. Knox and Hamilton, 
who stood high in influence and ofl&cial station, 
favoured his project. He afterwards proceeded 
to England, and presented himself to the British 
ministry. They entered into his views. The 
proposition was that the United States should 
furnish ten thousand troops, and, in that events 
the British government agreed to supply the 
necessary funds and ships to carry on the expe- 
dition. From several communications addressed 
by Miranda to General Hamilton, it appears that 
the auxiliary land forces were to be exclusively 
American, and that of the navy, English. The 
enterprise would, doubtless, have proceeded, had 
not the elder Adams, who was at that time Pre- 
sident, declined entering into the arrangement. 



176 I«m OF BIiENlfEIlHABSSn. 

Burr's attention having been dratm ta the 
subject^ he determined to raise an army for the 
Subjugation of Mexico. Ete had frequent con- 
versations with Jay^ who assured him that the 
boldness of the enterprise would contribute to its 
success. " From this period," remarks his biogra- 
pher, ^' until 1805, Burr's mind seemed constantly 
engaged in reflecting on the feasibiliiy of the 
measure, and the proper time for carrying it into 
effect." 

At the period of the commencement of the 
expedition, various favourable circumstances ren- 
dered the undertaking apparently auspicious^ 
The difficulties with Spain, mentioned in a 
former chapter; the restlessness and disaffection 
of many of the officers and soldiers of the regular 
army in the west, who had become tired of a life 
of inactivity and ease, where there were no 
amusements to while away their vacant hours^ 
nor fields of battle from whence to pluck the 
never-fading laurels of conquest; a lack of har- 
mony, not only between the civil and military 
authorities, but in the ranks of the military 
themselves ; all these considerations might well 
have flattered Burr that the fates were favour- 
able to the adventurer. " Indeed, I fear treachery 
has become the order of the day," writes G^ieral 
Jackson to Claiborne. "There is something 



CO-OraBAT]0ir OF GIN. WnKmSON. 177 

totten in the state of Denmark." The facetiouflr 
McKee^ in a communication to Wilkinson, re* 
marks: — ^^Tour letter found me fex gone in the 
blue devils, doubting whether I had better expa^ 
triate myself, and try my fortunes amidst the 
storm now gathering in Europe; however, ml 
diaperamhimy Teucro dvce auspice Teuoro. Til 
remain here till X'mas." 

An extensive correspondence with various 
distinguished characters of the country, assured 
Burr of their countenance and cooperation, in 
the event of a war with Spain. Wilkinson, the 
commander-in-chief of the forces in the West, 
writes him, under date of October, 1805 : — " I 
fear Miranda has taken the bread out of your 
mouth." Wilkinson's regular force consisted only 
of about six hundred men, around which the 
followers of Burr were to form. These, in fact, 
were the only disciplined corps relied on. It is 
said the commander had pledged himself to strike 
the blow, whenever it^ should be deemed expe- 
dient. All that was wanting, with him, was a 
pretext for the commencement of hostilities 
against Spain. He detailed to Burr all the in- 
formation he possessed, respecting Mexico, and 
pointed out the facilities which would probably 
be offered by the inhabitants in ejecting a revo- 
lution : ^^ On his su^estion, Daniel Clark twice 



178 HFE OF BLENNERHA8SETT. 

visited the country. He held conferences, and 
effected arrangements, with many of the principal 
military officers, who engaged to favour the 
revolution. The Catholic Bishop, resident at 
New Orleans, was also consulted; and prepared 
to promote the enterprise. He designated the 
priests of the order of Jesuits as suitable agents, 
and they were, accordingly, employed. The 
bishop was an intelligent and social man. He 
had been in Mexico, and spoke with great free- 
dom of the disaffection of the clergy in South 
America. The religious establishments of the 
country were not to be molested. Madam Xavier 
Tarjcon, superior of the Ursuline nuns at New 
Orleans, was in the secret. Some of the sister- 
hood wiere also employed in Mexico. So far as 
any decision had been formed, the landing was 
to have been effected at Tampico."* 

Daniel Clark engaged to advance, for the pur* 
poses of the expedition, fifty thousand dollars ; 
but, being disappointed, was unable to furnish it. 
Murray, the British Plenipotentiary resident in 
the United States, was consulted on the subject* 
He communicated to his government the project 
of Burr. Col. Williamson, the brother of Lord 
Balgray, was despatched to England, on the 

* Davis's Memoirs of Burr, toL Si. p. 882. 



BUEE'S PLANS. 179 

buainess. From the manner of his reception, 
and the encouragement he received, it was ex- 
pected that a British naval- squadron would have 
been furnished for the enterprise. General Jack- 
son had also been consulted, and funds for defiray- 
ing the expenses of his division were placed in ^ 
his hands by Burr. The disaffection of the in- 
habitants of the South and West was thought 
favourable to a separation of the trans-Alleghany 
territory, and this, it is said, was among the 
earlier schemes of Burr, although but seldom 
revealed, except to those whom he supposed 
would favour it. 

Such were the preparations: — ^a plan well- 
matured, and auguring success, in the event of a 
war with Spain : — ^for upon this event alone, let [ 
it be remembered, had his principal force con- ; 
sented to join the expedition. As soon, however, 
as intelligence had been received, that such satis- 
faction had been rendered, on the part of the 
Spanish government, as to obviate the necessity 
of a resort to arms, many of the warmest advo- 
cates of the plan abandoned their former designs, 
and turned their attention to scenes less dazzling 
but more productive of substantial enjoyment. 
" I had written a great deal," says McKee, "about 
recruiting in Tennessee— ^about cutting and slash- 
ing and packing dollars, and enjoying otivm cum 



180 LIFS OF BLENNEBfiASSETT. 

dignitaie, but ^aU our differences being settled with 
Spai/ri knocks all my Utopia to the devil !** 

Burr had dreamed too long of the wealth and 
aplendour of the halls of the Montezumas, to 
xesign their captivating pleasures for the tamer 
scenes of a government in which he was becom- 
ing daily more unpopular ; and which, he now 
conceived, viewed his actions with ungrateful 
suspicions. For years, had he cherished the hope 
of investing himself with the regal power of that 
ancient kingdom, and transmitting its crown to 
his latest posterity. For the realization of this, 
had he sacrificed the comforts of home; traversed 
the States to the extremes of Florida; often tra- 
velling through pathless wildernesses, sometimes 
without shelter, and occasionally without food, 
alluring to his standard men of every grade, 
prompted by every motive of action. 

Confident of the aid of Wilkinson, and the 
forces under his command, he continued his ex- 
ertions, after every prospect of a war with Spain 
had ceased. Whatever motive may have influ- 
enced the subsequent conduct of that officer, there 
is but little doubt that he had given Burr the 
most indubitable assurance of his firm adhesion 
to the imdertaking. In the vaguenesB of conjec- 
ture, charity would, iudeed, suggest such reasons 
for the change, m usually actuates the soldier 



TBEACHEBY OF VmSI^BOS. 181 

and the patriot; but, unfortunately opposed to 
this conclusion, is his demand ^f the Spanish 
viceroy, of the sum of two hundred thousand 
dollars, "for great pecuniary sacrifices, in defeat- 
ing Burr's plans, and, Leonidas-like, throwing 
himself in the pass of Thermopylaa." 

Notwithstanding the suspicions with which 
his movements were observed by the govern- 
ment, the acts of the Ohio legislature, and his 
arrest in Kentucky, Burr still persisted in his 
measures ; giving confidence to his followers by 
his unflinching determination. Even the pro- 
clamation of the President, and of the several 
Grovemors within the respective States and Ter- 
ritories along his route, could not deter him. 
But, when he was informed that the measures 
adopted by the government for his arrest were 
through the advice and at the instance of WH* 
kinson ; that he had not only proved treacherous 
by exposing the scheme and magnifying its ob- 
ject, but was the. chosen instrument for his 
arrest; that courage, which had before charac- 
terized his actions, completely abandoned him ; 
then, and not till then, did he sink under the 
accumulated difficulties which beset his path. 

He was arrested, tried and acquitted, ^^but his 
country refused to believe him innocent. Though. 
0tout old Truxtpn had testified in Ids favour;. 

16 



though Jackson had men nothing vnxxng in 
Burros project, •but agreed to favour it; the 
popular voice continued to regard him as a trai<^ 
tor^ whom accident alone had prevented firom 
digmembering the Union^ That a man of sense 
and ability should entertain such a notion ; rely- 
ing for aid on associates whom he knew would 
countenance no treason^ is a preposterous and 
insane supposition. As he said, on his death* 
bed, he might as well have attempted to seize 
the moon and parcel it out amosig his followers. 
** The real secret of the popular belief is to be 
found in the character of Burr. In him, the 
elements which make great and good men were 
strangely mixed up with those which we may 
suppose the spirits of evU to pride themselves. 
He was brave, afiable, munificent, of indomitable 
energy, of signal perseverance. In his own per- 
son, he combined two opposite natures. . He was 
studious, but insinuating; dignified, yet seduc* 
tive. Success did not intoxicate, nor reverse dis- 
may him. Tumiug to the other aspect of his 
character, these great qualities sunk to insignifi* 
cance, beside his evil ones. He was prc^gate 
in morals, public and private ; selfish and artful; 
a master in dissimulation, treacherous, cold- 
hearted. Subtle, intriguing, full of promise; he 
shot upwards in popularity, with astonishing 



COMSIVAlfaB OF JBFfSjBfiON. IBf 

trelociiy; bat a okeplic in honesty, a scomer of 
all things noble and good, he failed to secure the 
public confidBnce, and fell headlong from his 
dizzy eminence. Here lies the secret of his ruin* 
There wm nothing in his character to which the 
great heart of the people could attach itself in 
love ; but they shrank &om him, in mistrust, as 
from a cold and glittering serpent. The public 
rarely errs in an estimate like this." 

It has been alleged of Mr. Jefferson, that he 
wafi privy to Burr'a arrangements; and that they 
were tacitly absented to by him. In viewing the 
various circumstances — ^particularly the conduct 
of the President himself— it would appear that 
such on allegation was not altogether groimdless. 
Burr had been a formidable rival, in hiB master- 
struggle, for the Presidency. It had req^^^^^^^^ 
thirty ballotings to decide the question between 
them, and Jefferson's final success was owing to 
a compromise of the members of the Senate, by 
which the votes of Vermont, Delawaare and Mary* 
land were withdrawn fix)m the opposition, through 
no particular preferences for the latter, but to 
conciliate parties and silence the exciting topic. 
If Burros political aspirati<ms could receive 
another direction, it is presumed that his ambi- 
tious opponent would offer no objections, provided 
mccem would {daoe him beyond the cir^ of his 



184 I'IFE OF BLBNKEEHASSETT. 

own operations. Indeed^ it had been suggeeried 
that he should be offered a foreign mission^ that 
his influence at home might not cripple the 
affairs of the administration. 

The subject of the conquest of Mexico waer 
daily conversed upon by the officers of the 
various Departments^ as is clearly established by 
the evidence on the trial. The Spanish war was 
a theme of universal interest^ and had that event 
happened, what cared the President whether 
the American forces paused on the banks of the 
Sabine, or carried their arms into the heart of 
Mexico. Already had arrangements been effected 
between the government and the Spanish officers 
of Louisiana and Florida, by which those officers 
were to favour the Americans, in case of a war^ 
and rally under the standard of the forces of the 
Union.* And, such would, doubtless, have been 

* « John Smith, a member of the United States Senate from Ohio, 
irho was arrested as an accomplice of Burr, in a conyersation irith 
his friends, stated that, before the moyements of Bur had attracted 
general notice, Mr. Jefferson requested a confidential interyiew with 
him, (Smith,) at which he ijiqiiired if he was not personally ac- 
quainted with the Spanish officers of Louisiana and Florida. Oa 
being answered in the affirmatiye, he went on to state, that a war 
with Spain seemed to be ineyitable ; and that it was Tery desirable 
to know the feelings of those men towards the United States, and 
whether reliance conld be placed on their friendship, if a war should 
take place between the two countries. At the same time, he re- 
quested him to Tisit the country, with reference to that object Mr. 
Smith stated that iie did Tint the country, m requMted; wd thftt» 



cfomnrAifCB oi mtwrnso^. 185 

&e ensOf had a ddclaration of war been pn> 
clauned; but azi intimatiaQ from the FieBch' 
ambaflBador, that the measure would call Napo^ ; 
ieon to the aid of Spain, induced the government . 
to abandon its designs, and arrest ttie operations j 
of Burr. 

And again; it was a notorious fact that the 
most of those who favoured the project before 
the President's proclamation, were Republicans 
— ^the friends of JeflFerson, who had but little 
syn^pathy with Burr. Party spirit ran high, 
and* measures inimical to the administration 
would have been instantly checked by its 
friends. Until the difficulties with Spain had 
been adjusted, in the opinion of Jefferson's more 
intelligent adherents, there was nothing fright- 
ftil in the preparations of Burr. Indeed, it has 

on his retam, he reported to Mr. Jefferson, that the goyemor, the 
inferior officers, and the inhabitants generallj, were not only friendly 
bnt were desirous of attaching themselyes to the United States. 
This was in the summer preceding the < war message* against Spain, 
which was sent to the two Houses of Congress, in December, 1805. 
iJthough the message was confidential, it soon became known to the 
diplomatic corps at Washington ; and the French Ambassador was 
ordered, by his master, (Napoleon,) to inform the American Go- 
Temment that France would take a part with Spain, in any contest 
she might haye with the United States. It is a matter of history, 
that, after that notice, the project against Spain, communicated in 
the confidential message and referred to in the conyersation with 
Bfr. Smith, was abandoned; and about the same time, measures 
were taken to stop the moyements of Bvar.^Bumef^s If^otes, p. 294. 
16* 



186 XIFS OF BLENKESHASSETT; 

been charged upon the President, that he ap* 
proved of the project of Miranda; if so, why not 
also that of Burr? as they both stood upon the 
same platform, and were equally criminal under 
the law of nations. 



BLENIiEBHASSETrS EBIBABRASSBfEKTS. l8T 



CHAPTER Xni. 

Blennerhassett returns to Natchez after the trial — His pecxiniarj 
embarrassments — Sacrifice and abuse of his property — His comr 
plaoency — ^Demands indemnity for his losses from Got. Alston — 
Purchases a farm in Mississippi, and commences the culture of 
cotton — ^Sfrs. Blennerhassett*s assistance — Flattering prospects — 
Effects of the embargo— Beceives the intelligence of the burning 
of his mansiifti. 

After the close of this memorable trial, which 
had occupied the public attention for several 
months, Blennerhassett returned to Natchez. 
The continued anxiety, attendant on a tedious 
investigation of the charge of treason in which 
character and life were involved ; the accumula- 
tion of debts ; the neglect of domestic interests, 
and the rapid decline of his resources, were dis- 
couragements, indeed, under which stouter hearts 
might well have smik without the charge of 
effeminacy. 

The creditors, who had advanced funds upon 
his obligations, finding his pecuniary affairs be- 
coming daily more embarrassed, were insolent 
and exacting. Liquidation was demanded; and, 
when they saw that he neither had the funds to* 



%%$ UFB OF NaSHNSRHABSSTT. 

meet them, nor the abiliiy to procure fiirther 
credit, they pursued him with the precepts of 
the law, with a rapacity, equalled only by their 
uncharitable invectives. A portion of his library 
and philosophical apparatus, which had been his 
amusement in prosperity, and the solace of his 
darker hours j the remaining fiuniture possessing 
value to him, wholly unappreciated by others; 
were attached and sold at a criminal sacrifice. 

His beautiful mansion, together with its sur- 
rounding shrubbery, had been regarded and used 
as public property. Its fair gardens had been 
destroyed, not less by the hands of the ruthless 
freebooter than the negligence of his tenants and 
the floods of the Ohio. Not satisfied with that 
which might be removed without injury to tha 
freehold, the window-casings were torn out, to 
procure the leaden wei^ts by which the sashes 
were raised. Ev^n the beautiful stone roller, 
used for levelling his grounds, was crushed to 
pieces, to obtain the iron asles <»i which it ran« 
The island itself was e;£tended, by a writ oi 
elegUy^ at the suit of Robert Miller of Kentucky, 
who commenced the culture of hemp, and the 
manufacturing of cordage. 

Such is but the every-day lesson of human 

. * A process by the Vir^nia statnte, which « extends" the lands 
^ the debtor natU the claim is made <mt of rente and prpHts. 



HIS COMPLACENCtr. 18t 

experience ! — Such is the sympathy of unfeeling 
man with the misfortune and distress of his fel- 
low man! To-day, he kneels at the shrine of 
friendship, as the beastial Caliban at the feet of 
Stephano, and calls the object of its worship, 
^* god ;" to-morrow shrinks cowardly from it, 
and returns his gratitude, in foul misdeeds and 
wanton injuries. 

In viewing the complacency with which Blen- 
nerhassett had heretofore regarded Burr's ac- 
tions towards himself, we are at a loss whether 
to attribute his silence to the mildness of his 
temper, or a lack of courage to vindicate his 
honour from the aspersions of his enemies. But, 
for his unfortunate alliance with Burr, he might 
still have reposed in the shady groves of the isle^ 
But for Burr, he might have continued to enjoy 
those peaceful pursuits for which he had aban- 
doned Castle Conway, to secure a home in the 
secluded forests of America; but for him, he 
might yet have enjoyed a competency beyond 
his wants, and luxuriated in the fields of litera- 
ture, without the fear of pecuniary distress. 

It was not, however, until driven to it by 
necessity, that Blennerhassett attempted to show 
how much he had really been injured by the 
man whom he had regarded and cherished as his 
friend; but who had now deserted him in the 



tM Lm Of S£fiN]$nB&HA8SETT. 

hour of mjBfortime, Almost baaikrupt in puise^ 
with a large family dependent upon him lor 3up- 
port> to whom could he look for indemnity, for 
the loBses sustained in the enterprise of Burr? 
He had contributed largely, if not entirely, to 
the procuring of boats, implements and provi* 
sions for the expedition, and, a^ yet, had received 
nothing in return. Both Burr and Alstpn had 
turned a deaf ear to his petitionB for relief; 
indeed. Burr, had it been his desire, could 
afford but poor satisfaction from the meagre 
remains of a once large fortune. Blennerhassett^ 
accOTdingly, addressed a letter to Gov. Alston, 
demanding of him the sum of thirty-five thour 
sand dollars, stating that, unless he advanced it^ 
the writer would publish a pamphlet^ disclosing 
the governor's connection with Burr. He con- 
cludes by adding, "My work is ready for the 
press. J£ you do not prevent its publication, you 
may rest assured I shall not, to save the teouble 
of smelting, abandon the ore, I have, with such 
expense of time and labour, extricated from the 
mines both dark and deep, not indeed ctf Mexico^ 
but of Burr, Jefferson, and Alstcoi. Having men- 
tioned Burr, I wish you to observe, that I have 
long since ceased to consider reference to his 
honour, resources, or good faith, in anj other 
light than a9 i^ ^Qwd9l to acgr mm offering it. 



BEOOMES A COTTON Fi.ANTBB. 191 

who is not Bimk so low as himself.^ The pain* 
phlet aQuded to did not make its appearance; 
and it was afterwards said, that the sum of ten 
thousand dollars was forwarded by Alston. 

Cotton, at that time, commanded an exorHtant 
price. Investments in lands adapted to its cul- 
ture, and slaves to work it, afforded rich returns 
for the amount of capital employed.' Many were 
turning their attention to it. Blennerhassett 
conceived it a favourable mode of retrieving hi& 
shattered fortune. He therefore concluded a 
purchase of a thousand acres of land, in Claiborne 
County, at St. Catherine's, near Gibsonport, Mis- 
sissippi, and placed upon it a small number of 
slaves. Here, again, after the varied incidents 
of two long years, in which he had been buffeted 
about, by the whirlwind of uncourted excite- 
ment, he found a home. 

Individuals who, from early life, have been 
accustomed to battle with the vicissitudes of for^ 
tune appear ^» struggle the greater when en- 
countered by opposing difficulties. Those, on 
the contrary, who have been cradled in the lap 
of ease, are but poorly prepared to meet adver- 
sity, unless endowed by nature with unusual 
perseverance. This latter quality, it was not 

* BvafB prlrate Journal, rol. L p. 167. 



192 lilFB OF BLENKESHASSETT. 

Blennerhassett's fortune to possess. Accustomed 
not only to the comforts but the elegancies of 
life, he was a stranger to want. His sleep had 
never been disturbed by visions of distress j nor 
his energies excited through cupidity or avarice. 
It may well be imagined therefore, that he was 
but slightly qualified to sustain himself, under 
his present embarrassments. For him, life had 
but few* attractions, save those that were found 
in the pursuits of science ; and to deprive him 
of these, was to deprive him of the happiness of 
existence. 

With a full appreciation of her husband's feel- 
ings, Mrs. Blennerhassett xmdertook to aid him 
in the management of his farm. At the early 
dawn, she mounted her horse, to convey to the 
overseer the instructions committed to her charge. 
In this, however, she never neglected the affairs 
of her household, or those affectionate attentions 
to her family, which render the felicities of home 
bright to the recollection of husband and child, 
when the memory of aU else has perished. 

The success of his new imdertaking animated 
Blennerhassett in the hope of reclaiming his 
losses in a very short time. Such, indeed, would 
have been the result, had not the war of 1812, 
and the embargo which followed, put a decided 
check to our commercial transactions* Produce, 



HIS BIANSION BUBNT. 193 

of every description^ immediately fell in price, 
until the commodity would scarce pay the ex- 
penses of marketmg. A bare subsistence, there^ 
fore, was all he could promise himself, until a 
termination of hostilities between the contending 
nations. 

But misfortunes seldom come singly. It was 
but a short time previous, that he had heard of 
the fate of his island residence, rented, by him, 
to one of his Belpr6 Mends, but who was, after- 
wards, dispossessed by the Kentucky, creditor. 
As the beauty of the grounds had been entirely 
destroyed, and the mansion itself much injured, 
through carelessness and neglect, it had lost its 
primitive attractions, and was now regarded as a 
mere convenience in farming. In the year 
eighteen hundred and eleven, the tenant raised 
an unusual quantity of hemp, which was stored 
in one of the wings of the building. On a very 
cold night, several of the slaves, who had been 
permitted to visit their Virginia friends, over- 
turned the boat in which they were returning, 
and one of their number was drowned. Suffering 
under intense cold, they proceeded to the cellar 
where the spirituous liquors were kept, to obtain 
the stimulus for counteracting the iU effects of 
their accident. Passing through the entrance of 
the hemp-room, to which the stairway led, by 

17 



accident they commuiiicated the flame of the 
candle to the hemp, and, in a few m<»nents, the 
destroying element was beyond their contrcd. 
Stupid with astonishment, at the awfulness of 
the spectacle, in the darkness of the night, they 
neglected to apprize the inmates, who would all 
doubtless have perished, had not some one of 
them fortunately awakened in time to give the 
alarm. Escaping, with nothing but their night- 
clothes, and a few articles of fiimiture, they be- 
held, with awe, this beautiful mansion, which, 
but a few years previous, had been the abode of 
peace and happiness — adorned with all that could 
embellish or beautify its appearance, rapidly re-> 
duced to a mass of ruins. 



BLENirEBHASSEirS PBOWSCTS VRCUmSQ. JfiQ 



CHAPTER XIV. 

BleonerluisBett'a prospects deolining — ^Is offered a judgeahit> by the 
GoTemor of Canada — Sells his estates — ^Bemoyes to Montreal — 
Mrs. Blennerhassett's poetry, << The Deserted Isle*' — Blennerhas- 
sett again disappointed — ^Determines to prosecute a claim subsist- 
ing IB Ireland — Saila for Ireland — Befieotions — ^Applies to Lord 
Anglesey for offioe— Letter of Mr. Gossett — Is again disappointed 
— ^Removes to the island of Guernsey — ^Death. 

Ten years had passed rapidly away, since the 
occurrences of the " Burr expedition." The pros- 
pect of regaining his fortune became daily less 
flattering to Blennerhassett. His numerous debts 
had not ceased to be pressed, at the imminent 
peril of a total sacrifice of his remaining property. 
While thus surrounded with insuperable diffi- 
culties, a ray of hope, for a moment, dissipated 
the clouds which obscured the future, and thrilled 
with joy the desponding bosoms of his household. 
The acting Governor of Canada, an old and inti- 
mate acquaintance, hearing of his critical situar 
tion, addressed him a communication tendering 
his assistance. Blennerhassett's legal attain- 
ments qualified him for the duties of ihe Bench; 



196 LIFE OP BLENNEEHASSETT. 

the (jovemor knew it, and offered him a seat in 
one of the provincial courts. With the view of 
accepting so desirable a post, he disposed of his 
fee in the island, as well as that of the Missis 
sippi estate, and removed to Montreal, in 1819. 

While here, with prospects of poverty and 
blighted hopes thickening aroxmd them, Mrs. 
Blennerhassett wrote the following lines, descrip- 
tive of the island — ^her once happy home. They 
are from the overflowing of a heart which had 
passed through much sorrow, and are an eloquent 
lament over the misfortunes and ruin of the 
family and fortune of Blennerhassett. 



"THE DESERTED ISLE/' 

Like moiirnfiil echo, from the silent tomb. 

That pines away upon the midnight air, 

Whilst the pale moon breaks out, with fitfiil gloom ; 

Fond memory tarns with sad, bnt welcome care, 

To scenes of desolation and despair, 

Once bright with all that beauty could bestow, 

That peace could shed, or youthful fancy know. 

To the fair isle, reverts the pleasing dream ; — 
Again thou risest, in thy green attire, 
Eresh, as at first, thy blooming graces seem ; — 
Thy grores, thy fields, their wonted sweets respire ; 
Again thou*rt all my heart could e'er desire. 
Oh! why, dear isle, art thou not still my own? 
Thy charms could then for all my griefs atone. 



<'THE DESEBTED ISLE." 1^7 

The Btra&ger that descends Ohio's stream, 
Gluurm'd with the beaateous prospects that arise, 
Marks the soft isles that, 'neath the glittering beam, 
Dance with the wave and mingle with the skies. 
Sees, also, one that now in rain lies. 
Which erst, like fairy qneen, tower*d o'er the rest. 
In every native charm, by culture, dress'd. 

There rose the seat, where once, in pride of life, 
My eye could mark the queenly river's flow. 
In summer's calmness, or in winter's strife, — 
Swollen with rains, or battling with the snow. 
Never, again, my heart such joy shall know. 
Havoc, and ruin, rampant war, have pass'd 
Over that isle, with their destroying blast. 

The black'ning fire has swept throughout her halls. 

The winds fly whistling o'er them, and the wave 

No more, in spring-floods, o'er the sand-beach crawls, 

But furious drowns in one o'erwhelming grave, 

Thy haUow'd haunts it water'd as a slave. 

Drive on, destructive flood I and ne'er again. 

On that devoted isle let man remain. 

Too many blissful moments there I've known ; 
Too many hopes have there met their decay ; 
Too many feelings now for ever gone. 
To wish that thou couldst e'er again display' 
The Joyful colouring of thy prime array : 
Buried itiih thee, let them remain a blot, 
With thee, their sweets, their bitterness forgot. 

And, oh I that I could wholly wipe away 
The memory of the ills that work'd thy fall ; 
The memory of that all-eventftil day. 
When I retnrn'd, and found my own fair hall 
Held by the infuriate populace in thrall, — 
My own fireside blockaded by a band 
That once found food and shelter of my hand. 
17* 



leg LIFE OF BLE]!nn5BHAS8£TT. 

My cliildren (oh I a mofher's pangs forbear ; 
Nor itrike again that arrow to my soul ;) 
Clasping the mfianB in suppliant prayer. 
To free their mother from nlgnst control, 
While with false crimes and impreeations fonl, 
The wretched, Tilest refiise of the earth, 
Mock jurisdiction held around my hearth. 

Sweet isle ! methinks I see thy bosom torn ; 
Again behold the ruthless rabble throng, 
That wrought destruction taste must ever mourn. 
Alas ! I see thee now — shall see thee long; 
But ne'er shall bitter feelings urge the wrong, 
That, to a mob, would give the censure, due" ' 
To those that arm*d the plunder-greedy crew. 

Thy shores are warm*d by bounteous suns in Tain, 

Columbia ! — ^if spite and enyy spring. 

To blot the beauty of mild nature's reign : 

The European stranger, who would fling. 

O'er tangled woods, refinement's polishing. 

May find, expended, every plan of taste. 

His work by ruffians render'd doubly waste. 

"Misfortune having marked him for her own/' 
Blennerhassett's anticipated promotion was never 
realized. The capriciousness of the British mi- 
nistry had removed from office the sjnnpathizing 
friend, and he foimd himself cast hopelessly upon 
the world, at an advanced age, without health, 
without energy, and almost destitute of the means 
of a comfortable subsistence. 

As a last resort, he determined to prosecute a 
reversionary claim, still existing in Ireland, re- 



fiStUBNS TO IBULAND. 199 

garded by him with indiiSerence in his more 
affluent days, but which, now, in his destitute 
situation, reconmiended itself strongly to his 
attention. Through the influence of friends, he 
hoped, also, to obtain an office imder the English 
government, by which he might the more readily 
gain the means for conducting the suit. 

Under these considerations, he left the Pro-' 
vince of Canada, and sailed for Ireland, in 1822. 
As the receding shores of the American continent 
were dimly shadowed in the distance, he cast a 
glance towards the fading scene. A recollection 
of the past was no pleasing retrospect. A quarter 
of a century had passed since he had hailed those 
shores, with buoyant hopes and joyful anticipa- 
tions of fiiture happiness. To him, it was then 
a land wherein was to be realized all that was 
lovely, all that was desirable of earth ; a land 
of freemen, with whom was the abode of peace. 
Then, he was in the noontide of manhood; 
blessed with health and a competency beyond 
his wants. The smile of friendship ; the marked 
and decorous respect with which he was met; 
the welcome greeting ; all gave evidence of last- 
ing enjoyment. But, how mysterious are the 
dispensations of Providence towards the children 
of men ! He had lived long enough to see every 
one of those bright hopes perish ; his fortune had 



200 ^^^™ OP BLENNEBHASSETT. 

been lost; his health most seriously impaired; 
and, to fill the measure of unhappiness, he was 
branded^ by public opinion, with a design of 
overthrowing the liberties of that government 
which had allured him across the Atlantic. 
These were reflections gloomy in the extreme, 
and still the future was not less cheerless. As 
the green fields of his native isle broke upon his 
view, how Uke the Prodigal Son, who had spent 
his substance in a foreign shore, did he return to 
his fatherland. But, for him, alas! there was 
no "plenty and to spare ;'* no fatted calf was 
killed ; no fond embrace of anxious friends. In 
the long space of twenty-five years, how many 
changes had served to break the ties which bound 
him to his childhood's home ! As again he trod 
.the fields of his former sports, memory turned, 
with melancholy tenderness, to those boon com* 
panions of his earlier years. Where, alas ! were 
they? Nought now remained to identify him 
witii the past; and he stood a stranger on his 
native land ! 

Lord Anglesey, one of the heroes of the battie 
of Waterloo, was then presiding over the office 
of Ordnance at London. He was the old school- 
mate and fiiend of Bleimerhassett. To him, 
therefore, the latter addressed himself, with the 
hope of obtaining a situation; and also with a 



REFUSED AN APPOINTMENT. 201 

view of procuring a patent, for an "invention" 
which he deemed of some importance. The re- 
sult of his applications will be shown frora the 
following correspondence : — * 

Omos OT Obdnaitcx, 9th of June, 1827. 

Sm : — ^I am directed, by the Marquis of Ang- 
lesey, to acknowledge the receipt of your letter 
of the 31st ultimo ; and to acquaint you that his 
lordship will be happy to receive the suggestions 
which you may have to offer, and will submit 
them to the consideration of the committee, 
whose province it is to examine and report upon 
the various projects brought before this depart- 
ment. With respect to your request, an appoint- 
ment. Lord Anglesey regrets extremely that the 
long list of pressing claims, received fix)m his 
predecessor, and the very limited means of at- 
tending to them, will not allow his lordship to 
hold out any expectation that it will be in his 
power to offer to your acceptance any appoint- 
ment. 

I have the honour to be, sir, 

your most obedient servant, 

Wm. Gossett. 
M. BlennerTiasaett, Esq. 

* Wm. Wallaoe. 



202 UFB OF BLENNEEHASSSTI. 

What the ** invention" was, his papers do not 
disclose; it is sufficient to state, however, that it | 
met with but little favour. 

Having resided a sufficient length of tune with 
a maiden sister in England, to find his plans for 
the future prostrated, he removed to the island 
of Guernsey. Here, in the year 1831, wearied 
with the turmoil of life, he sank to his eternal 
rest, in the sixty-third year of his age, with his 
head softly piUowed on that bosom which, for 
thirty-four years, had throbbed in perfect unison 
with his own. 



BEMA&EB. 203 



CHAPTER XV. 

Kemarks on the life of Blexmerhassett — Mrs. Bleimerhassett'a desti- 
tate sitaation — ^Resolres to yisit the United States to procure 
indemnity for spoliations — ^The reasonableness of such a demand 
— ^Visits New York — ^Presents her petition to Congress — ^Petition— 
Bobert EmmetVs aid-r-I<otter to Mr. Clay — ^Mr. Clay presents the 
petition — ^Report of the Hon. William Woodbridge— Death of Mrs. 
Blennerhassett — Is buried by Irish females. 

Thus has it been attempted to portray the life 
and character of Blennerhassett. From youth 
to age, and finally to the grave, we have followed 
his footsteps, with an interest excited more 
through our sympathy than our admiration of 
the man. In his life, there is reaUy nothing 
remarkable- His scientific acquirements never 
gave to mankind one single truth, nor devised a 
plan by which to ameliorate the condition of his 
race. His is not that fame which bedecks with 
laurels the brow of the hero; or springs from 
those actions that the world regards as great and 
glorious. Of these, indeed, he was never emulous. 
His native country afforded him the finest fields 
for military notoriety, and, as for political pre- 



204 I'IFB OF BLENNEBHASSETT. 

ferment^ the times in which he lived were propi- 
tious to the aspirant. The names of mgny of 
his compeers will descend to posterity in living 
colours^ as long as down-trodden Ireland shaU 
retain a place on the page of history. That 
celebrity which attended his name was not of 
his seeking. His was the peculiar temperament, 
fitted better for the enjoyments of private life, 
than the battle-field or the political arena. For 
triis, he resigned magnificence and ease, for ob- 
scurity in a western wilderness ; and it was here 
he enjoyed, for a time, that uninterrupted repose 
which had so long attracted his fancy. There, 
too, he would have doubtless remained but for 
the circumstances heretofore narrated. 

At the death of her husband, Mrs. Blenner- 
hassett was left with a family of dependent 
children, for whom her greatest exertions could 
hardly procure subsistence. Long and arduously 
she toiled, both mentally and physically, to avoid 
impending poverty. It was not only necessary 
that they should be fed and clothed, but it was 
also important that they should receive such an 
education, as would, at least, fit them for the 
business-transactions of life. She had now arrived 
at an age when elasticity, both of body and mind, 
were nearly destroyed j and this, of itself, was 
sufficient to prevent any expectation of future 



DESTITUTION OF MRS. BLEHNEHHASSETT. ^05 

iuCcess. Under such gloomy prospects, she re- 
solved to visit the United States, and petition 
the government for relief. 

In this, she is not to be regarded as a mendi- 
CBut asking for alma, but rather as an individual 
asserting her rights; — ^rights most wantonly vio- 
lated by the officers of a government pledged to 
the protection of its citizens. These quad agente 
of the President had not only detained the boats 
and stores prepared for the enterprise of Burr, 
but had actually destroyed the former, and con- 
sumed the latter. They had invaded the sanc- 
tify of her* household, had appropriated to them- 
selves and wasted her provisions, broken her 
furniture, laid waste the gardens, torn down the 
fences, and had done serious injury to the man- 
sion. They had put Blennerhassett to an enor- 
mous expense, in defending himself at Bichmond ; 
they, in fact, had reduced him from affluence to 
comparative poverty. Was this extraordinary 
sacrifice to be justified, and its victims to remain 
unsati^ed from the mere fiu^t that Blennerhas- 
sett was accmed of hostility towards the govern- 
ment ? Gould such an invasion of private rights 
^ave been legalized, if, indeed, he had been 
proved guiUy of the acts with which he was 
charged? The American citizen has cause to 
rejoice that he lives in a land where his rights 

18 



206 X'IFE OF BLENNERHASSETT. 

are protected by law, and when they are invaded^ 
, whether by government or individuals, satisfac- 
tion must be equally rendered. 

In the year 1842, Mrs. Blennerhassett, with 
an invalid son, visited New York, and, through 
the hands of her friends, preferred a petition to 
Congress. With a meekness of disposition which 
is remarkable, when we recollect her grievances, 
she says : — 

"Your memorialist does not desire to exag- 
gerate the conduct of the said armed men, or the 
injuries done by them j but she can truly say, 
that, before their visit, the residence of her 
family had been noted for its elegance and high . 
state of improvement; and that they left it in a 
comparative state of ruin and waste. And, as 
instances of the mischievous and destructive 
spirit which appeared to govern them, she would 
mention, that, while they occupied as a guard- 
room one of the best apartments in the house, 
(the building of which cost nearly forty thousand 
dollars,) a musket or rifle ball was deliberately 
fired into the ceiling, by which it was much 
defaced and injured; and that they wantonly 
destroyed many pieces of valuable furniture. 
She would also state that, being apparently 
under no restraint, they indulged in continual 
drunkenness and riot— offering many indignities 



MRS. BLENNEBHASSETrS MEMORIAL. 207 

to your memorialist and treating her domestics 
with violence. 

** These outrages were committed upon an in- 
offending and defenceless family^ in the absence 
of their natural protector, your memorialist's 
husband being then away from home; and that, 
in answer to such remonstrances as she ventured 
to make against the consumption, waste, and 
destruction of his property, she was told, by those 
who assumed to have the command, that they 
held the property for the United States, by order 
of the President, and were privileged to use it, 
and should use it as they pleased. It is with 
pain that your memorialist reverts to events, 
which, in their consequences, have reduced a 
once happy family, from affluence and comfort, 
to comparative want and wretchedness; which 
blighted the prospects of her children, and made 
herself, in the decline of life, a wanderer on the 
face of the earth.'* 

Bobert Emmett, the son of the celebrated 
Irish patriot, interested himself in her behalf. 
He had been the intimate friend of Blennerhas- 
sett, and sympathized deeply with his afflicted 
&mily. In forwarding her memorial to the Hon. 
Henry Clay of the United States Senate, he re- 
marks : — ^^ Mrs. Blennerhassett is now in this 
(New York) city, residing in very humble cir- 



^'$. tW& Of BLSKKSAHASSETT. 

^umstanced, bestowing her cares on a son, who, 
by long poverty and sickness, is reduced to utter 
imbecility, both of body and mind; unable to 
assist her, or provide for his own wants. Li 
her present destitute situation, the smallest 
amount of relief would be thankfully received 
by her. Her condition is one of absolute want^ 
and she has but a short time left to enjoy any 
better fortune in this world." 

Her statement, with regard to the destruction 
6f her property, and the acts of the officers of 
the government, were fully corroborated by Wil- 
liam Eobinson, jun., and Morgan Neville, both 
of whom were present at the island when the 
occurrences took place. Ah estimate of the pro- 
perty destroyed was made out by Dudley Wood* 
bridge, the former partner of Blennerhassett ki 
mercantile transactions, which also accompanied 
her petition. 

It would be presumed that, under such a state 
of circumstances, the American Congress would 
not long hesitate in granting her full indemnity 
for past iojuries. Mr. Clay presented the peti- 
tion, and eloquently advocated its justice. He 
had known Blennerhassett in the noon-tide of 
his prosperity, when not a cloud darkened the 
horizon of his effulgent future ; he had visited 
his rural palace, and regaled himself with thd 



DEATH OF MBS. BLENNERHASSETT. 20d 

luxuries it afforded. He had partaken of its 
hospitalities^ and been entertained by the sprightly 
conversation of its inmates. He had witnessed 
Blennerhassett's arrest, in Kentucky, and man- 
fully exerted himself in his defence. He had 
afterwards witnessed his declining fortunes ; and, 
when destruction had laid waste his possessions, 
had wandered over the ruins with feelings of 
unsuppressed sympathy. 

The memorial having been referred to the ap- 
propriate committee, of which the Hon. William 
Woodbridge was chairman, he retmmed a report, 
alike honourable to his intelligence and clear 
sense of justice. He advocated the claim as 
legal and proper, and one which ought to be 
allowed, notwithstanding it had been thirty-six 
years since the events transpired. " Not to do 
so would be unworthy a wise or just nation.'* 

The claim would doubtless have met with the 
favour of Congress, had not an event transpired, 
in the meanwhile, which rendered further action 
unnecessary. Death had visited the suffering 
applicant, and relieved her of earthly wants. In 
an humble 'abode, in the city of New York, her 
spirit had silently departed ! No soothing hand 
of a relative fanned her fevered temples, nor 
wiped from her brow the chilly dews of expiring 
nature. Within that lonely chamber, it was 

18* 



210 LIFE OF BLENNERHABSETT. 

leserred to strangers to witness the last sad 
scenes. She, who had been bom in affluence; — 
to whom the world appeared, in early life, as 
Paradise before the faU; who had been honoured 
by the attentions of the great, and the praised 
of the humble ; whose heart was ever open to 
the cries of distress, and whose hands were ever 
ready to relieve the wants of the needy, had, in 
her turn, to ask the charities of the world I 
Although the kindly ministrations of a society 
of Irish females served, in some measure, to as- 
suage the agcmies of her parting hours, stiU it 
was hard to die thus destitute and deserted; for 

<< On some fond breast the parting soul relies, 
Some pious drops the olosing eye requires." 

And now, as the sable hearse moved slowly 
along, followed only by those devoted "sisters 
of charity," it excited no interest in the passing 
crowd. No mock pageant indicated the life os 
station of the deceased. In one of the cemeteries 
of that city, remains all that is earthly of that 
once accomplished lady, separated from the tomb 
of her husband by the wide Atlantic. While 
on their graves we " drop the tribute of a tear,^ 
may we never forget the lesson that their lives 
have taught us. 



APPENDIX. 



MBS. TH1&AIK)SIA BUBB ALST(»f. 

OiOB indiyidaal alone clung to Bonr in bin hotnr of trial : 
need we say that it was a woman, the only daughter of the 
accused? 

If there is a redeeming feature in the character of Burr, it 
is to be found in his love for that child. From her earliest 
years he had educated her with a care to which we look in 
Tain for a parallel among his contemporaries. She grew up, 
in consequence; no ordinary woman. Beautiful beyond most 
of her sex; accomplished as few females of that day were ac- 
complished; she displayed to her &mily and friends a fervout 
of affection which not every woman is capable of; the cha- 
racter of Theadosia Burr baa long been regarded almost aa we 
would regard that of a heroine of romance. Her love for her 
fiither partook of the purity of a better world; holy; deep, 
nnchan^g; it reminds us of the affection which a celestial 
spirit might be supposed to entertain for a parent, cast down 
from heayen, for sharing in the sin of the '^ Son of the Morn- 
ing.'^ No sooner did she hear of the arrest of her &ther, than 
she fled to his side. There is nothing in human history more 
touchmg than the hurried letters, blotted with tears, in which 



212 APPENDIX. 

she annomioed her daily progress to Biohmond; for she was 
too weak to travel with the rapidity of the mail. Even the 
character of Burr borrows a momentary halo from henf, 
when we peruse his replieS| in which^ forgetting his peril and 
relaxing the stem front he assmned towards his enemies^ he 
" labonred only to qniet her fears, and inspire her with confi- 
dence in his acquittal. He even writes from his prison in a 
tone of gayety, jestingly regretting that his accommodations 
are not more elegant for her reception. Once, and once only, 
does he melt, and that is to tell her that in the event of the 
worst, he will die worthy of himself. 

After his trial, Burr went abroad, virtually a banished man. 
He was still fall of his schemes against Mexico and the Spa- 
nish provinces ; but in England he met with no encourage- 
ment, the nation being engaged in the Peninsular war. He 
afterwards visited France, where his petitions were equally dis- 
regarded, the Emperor being engrossed in the continental 
wars. Here his funds fiiiled. He had no friend to apply to, 
and was forced to borrow, on one occasion, a couple of sous 
from a cigar woman on the comer of the street. 

At last he returned to New York, but in how different a 
guise from the days of his glory ! No cannon thundered at 
his coming, no crowd thronged along the quay. Men gazed 
suspiciously upon him as he walked along, or crossed the 
street to avoid him, as one having the pestilence. But he 
was not, he thought, wholly destitute. His daughter still 
lived, his heart yearned to clasp her to his bosom. She lefb 
Charleston, South Carolina, accordingly, to meet him. But 
although more than thirty years have elapsed, no tidings of 
the pilot boat in which she sailed have ever been received. 
Weeks grew into months, and months glided into years. Yet 
her &ther and husband watched in vain for her coming. 
Whether the vessel perished by conflagration — ^whether it 



THEADOEOA BITSR ALSTON. SS; 

foundered in a gale^ or whether it was taken by pirates, and 
all on board murdered; will never be knowU; until the great 
day when the sea shall give up its dead. 

It is said that this blow broke the heart of Burr, and that 
though in public he maintained a proud equanimity^ in pri- 
vate; tears forced ^emselves down his farrdwed cheeks. He 
lived thirty years after this event; but in his own words 
^^felt severed from the human race.'' He had neither brother, 
nor sister, nor lineal descendant. No man called him by the 
endearing name^of friend. The weight of fourscore years 
was on his brow. He was racked by disease. At last death, 
so long desired, came, but it is said in a miserable lodging 
and alone. Was there ever such a retribution ? 

Anonymous. 



21< APPENDIX. 

n. 

SECRET COBBXSFONDENCE. 

General Wilkinson and Burr began iheir oorrespondenoe 
in cipher about the years 1800 and 1801; near the period at 
which the latter ascended the chair of the Yice-Presidencj. 
For this purpose they adopted three different ciphers. 

The first is called the hieroglyphic 

O President. 
O Vice-President. 
-£- Secretary of State. 
It was invented by General Wilkinson and Captain Camp- 
bell Smith as long ago as the year 1794, ^95, or '96, for the 
purpose of communicating confidentially with the general 
officers in the Western country. 

Another cipher, ai a somewhat similar construction, was 
diyised by Captain Smith in 1791, in which the hieroglyphics 
representing the President and Vice-President are the same 
with those used in the cipher of Col. Burr. 

The second is denominated the arbitrary aHphabet cipher; 
and was formed by Burr and Wilkinson in the year 1799 or 
1800. 



ABC 


D 


E 


F 


G 


H. 


- 1 y 


X 


A 


V 


I 


S. 


1 


2 


8 


4 




T 


L 


J 


D 







This cipher was nothing more than a substitution of cha- 
racters in the place of letters which aotoally compose the 
alphabet. It was also used in figures; from one to ten. 



8ECBET COBBESPONDENCE. 215 

The third is styled the dictionary cipher; and was adopted 
by them in the year 1800. The famous letters from Burr to 
Wilkinson^ of the 22d July, 1806, delivered by Swartwont at 
ITatcheKy and its duplicate of the 29th of the same month, eon- 
yeyed to Bollman, were written portly in each of these two 
dphers, and partly in English. The Wilmington edition of 
Entick's Pocket Dictionary of 1800 served as the key, by 
which such parts of the letters as were written in figures were 
to be interpreted. For example, if the figures 3 and 4 were 
used, the figure 3 pointed out the jTo^e in the book, and 4 the 
number of the vjord intended — counting from the top in the 
first or second column on the page, which latter circumstance 
was indicated by a slight mark above or below the 4. 

General Dayton's letters of the 16th and 24th July, which 
were forwarded in company with Burr's by Swartwout and 
Bollman, were written partly in hieroglyplucs and the arbi- 
trary alphabetical ciphers, above described, partly in English, 
but principally in Dayton's own cipher, of which the key-word 
is FBAKCE. 

It is composed in the following manner, the letters of the 
alphabet being numbered thus : 

1234567890 
abode fgh.ij 

In order to decipher a letter or passage written in cipher^ 
take the first letter of the key-word F, ^ on the letter in the 
series of the alphabet; count forward from that letter as 
many letters as are equal to the first figure in the ciphered 
letter; as 8, for example, which will give I, and I will be the 
first letter of the first word ; then take the second letter of the 
key word B, and in the same manner as in the first instance, 
count forward as many letters as are equal to the second 
figure; as 2, which will give the second letter T, completing 
the first word, R Continue the same way with the ensuing 



lettefs of tiio key-word^ till tlieytDe fiairiied^ uid tbeii begin 
agai&^-tiiiu going throagh ihie key word again and again until 
Hie lettw is completed. 

Li die eiph^ed letter tlie figure; or aggregate of igioes 
iiq[>re8enting words, axe granted by eomanafl. 

Th^re was another cipher in nse among 8<Mne of liie accom- 
plices in this enterprise, the kej-vrord of whieh was CUBA. 
The ose of this dpher may be understood from the following 
Bcheme and explanations :— ^ 



1 c 


U 


B 


A 


2 .. d 


.. V 


.. 


.. b 


8 .. « 


.> w 


.. d 


. . 


4 ,. f 


.. z 


.. e 


.. d 


5 .. g 

6 .. E 

7 .. i 


.• y 


.. f 


» . e 


. . a 


::! 


.. f 


8 .. j 


.. b 


.« i 


9 .. k 


.. c 


::i 


.. i 


10 .. 1 


.. d 


::i 


11 .. m 


. . e 


.. 1 


12 .. n 


.. f 


.. m 


.. 1 


13 .. 


•• g 


w . n 


.. m 


14 .. p 


.. E 


. . o 


. . n 


15 ,. q 


.. i 


• P 


. . 


16 .. r 


• J 


.. q 


.. p 


17 .. s 


.. k 


... r 


.. q 


18 .. t 


.. 1 


. . s 


. . r 


19 .. H 


. . m 


.. t 


.. s 


ao .. T 


.. n 


. . n 


.. t 


21 .. w 


.. 


.. V 


.. n 


22 .. I 


.. p 


.. w 


*. T 


23 ..,y 


• q 


«. X 


.. W 


24 .. z 


.. f 


•• y 


. . X 


26 .. a 


.. s 


.. e 


• • y 


26 .. b 


.. t 


... a 


.. z 



In order to compose a letter in this species of cipher, find 
in the column under the first letter in the key-word, the first 



SECRET COREESPONBENCE. 217 

letter of the word wHch you wish to write, and the figure oppo* 
cdte to this letter represents the first letter of that word. To 
find the fignre ezpressiye of the second letter, look for that 
letter in tibe second column, and the figure opposite to that 
letter represents the second letter in the word. Continue in 
the same way with respect to the other two columns, if it be 
a word of three or four letters. But if it contains more than 
four lettersf, you must return to the first column and proceed 
in the same manner ; that is, the fifth letter of the word is to 
be found in the first column under C ; the sizth letter in the 
second column, and so on. Thus, if Hope was the first word 
in the epistle, look for the letter H in the first column under 
G, which is opposite the t^a^ 6 as the representatiye of the 
first letter ; the letter O is to be sought for in the second 
column, and is represented by the number 21; and so on 
with the letters P and E. 

In the ciphered letters, the figures representing letters are 
separated by periods. 

The reader will immediately perceive that besides France 
and Gubay any other words might be used as key-words of 
these ciphers, according to the discretion of the writer and 
his correspondent. The difficulty of discovering the key to 
one of these ciphered letters would be still further augmented 
by the writer's shifting his key-word for different epistles^ 
according to. some rule previously agreed on. The difficulty 
would be incalculably increased, if the writer not only con« 
tinues to shift his key-word, but the cipher itself. 

Bichmond Ihiquirer of 1807. 



19 



S18 APPHKBIX. 



m. 

THB BATTUB OV IfUSKINGUM, OB BIBFEAT 07 THE BTTBBITSS. 

NovixBift 1806, BT GnriRAL E. W. Tvnu. 

It has been the provinoe of tiie bards in all ageS; to leoord 
the glorious aohievemenfa of their warriors. The heroes of 
the Nile, Marengo, and Austerlitz, have had their honours 
reooonted; and shall not those of Muskingum live, while 
thousands are forgotten ? Yes, ye virtuous few I Ye also 
shall Hve I and millions yet unborn, while passing, shall point 
to the shores of Muskingum and the plains of Marietta, and 
say, ^^ There fought the brave, and there the immortal fell! I'' 
The following imitation of the ** Battle of the Kegs'' is offered 
to the public, not without its many imperfections. The 
writer has, in several instances, chosen to sacrifice the harmony 
of his rhymes to the more essential article — truth. 

Te jorial throng, come jom the song 

I sing of glorious feats, sirs; 
Of bloodless wounds, of laurels, croims, 

Of charges, and retreats, sirs ; 

Of thundering guns, and honours won, 

B7 men of daring courage ; 
Of such as dine on beef and wine, 

And such as sup their porridge. 



THE BATX£E 07 MUSEIKGini Sift 

"When. Blanny's fleet, ao nag and neal^ 

Come floating dowa the tide, mn. 
Ahead was seen* one-eyed Clark Green** 

To work them, or to guide, bizs. 

Our General brare,! the order gaTe» 

<<To arms! To armal in season! 
Old Blanny's boats, most careless float, 

Brim-ML of death and treason T' 

A few young boys, their mother's joys. 

And fiye men there were found, sirs. 
Floating at ea8e~-eaoh little sees 

Or dreams of death and wound, sirs. 

<<Fly to the bank! on either fiankl 
We'll fire from OTery comer ; 
We'll stain with blood Muskingum's flood. 
And gain immortal honour. 

The cannon there shall rend the air, 

Loaded with broken spikes, boys. 
While our cold lead, hurled by each head. 

Shall giTe the knaTes the gripes, boys, 

Let not maids ngh, or children cry. 

Or mothers drop a tear, boys, 
I haye the Baron^ in my head, 

Therefore you'ye noi^t to fear, boys, 

Now to your posts, this numerous host, 

Be manly, firm, and steady. 
But do not fire, till I retire. 

And say when I am ready." 

* A bold man, well known in those days, 
f Migor-general BuelL 

t The only system of military tactics then in vie in thf WMt«m 
eountiy aaong the offioon^ wai that of Baron fliavben. 



220 APl^ENPIX. 

The Ddpnty,* oonrageonflly. 
Bode forth in power and pride, fiirfl ; 

Twitching his reins, the man of brainsf 
Was posted by his side, sirs. 

The men in ranks stand on the banks. 
While, distant from its border, 

The active aid scours the parade. 
And giyes the general order. 

« First, at command, bid them to stand ; 
Then, if one rascal gains out, 
Or lifts his poll ; — G — d d — ^n his soul. 
And blow the traitor's brains ouV* 

The night was dark, silent came Clark 
With twelve or fifteen more, sirs ; 

While Paddy Hill, with voice most shrill 
Hooped 1 as was said before, sirs, 

The trembling ranks, along the banks. 
Fly into Shipman's manger ; 

While old Clark Green, with voice serene. 
Cried, f* Soldiers, there's no danger. 

«Our guns, good sonls, are setting poles. 
Dead hogs Fm sure can't bite yon ;% 
Along each keel is Indian meal ; 
There's nothing here need fright you." 

Ont of the bam, still in alarm. 
Came fifty men, or more, sirs. 

And seized each boat and other float, 
And tied them to the shore, sirs. 



* Governor Meigs, 
fl^ame withheld. 
t The boats had in them hoga recently daoghtered, 



THE BATTLE OF BiUSEIKanM. S21 

This plunder rare, they sport and Bhare, 

And each a portion grapples. 
'Twas half a kneel* of Indian meal. 

And ten of Putnam's apple8.f 

The boats they drop to Allen's shop. 

Commanded bj O'Flannon, 
Where, lashed ashore, without an oar, 

Thej lay beneath the cannon.. 

This band so bold, the night being oold. 

And blacksmith's shop being handy; 
Around the forge they drink and gorge 

On whisky and peach-brandy. 

Two honest tars, who had some scars. 

Beheld their trepidation ; 
Cries Tom, «Gome, Jack, let's fire a crack; 

'Twill fright them like damnation. 

« Tyler they say, lies at Belpr^, 
Snug in old Blanny's quarters ; 
Yet this pale host, tremble like ghosts, 
For fear he'U walk en waters." 

No more was said, but off they sped. 

To fix what they'd begun on ; 
At one o'clock, firm as a rook, 

They fired the spun-yarn cannon. 

Trembling and wan stood eyery man ; 

Then bounced and shouted murder, 
While Seargant Morse, squealed like a horse, 

To get the folks to order. 



* A measure of two quarts. 

t There were a few apples in the boats belon^png to A. W. Fui- 
ofBelpr^. 

19* 



ZBL ABimmx. 

Ten men ^nt out, uid looked about ; 

A hard J set of feUovs ; 
Some hid in holee* behind the ooal8» 

And some behind the bellows. 

The Cor'ner* swore» the vesteni Bhoro» 

He saw with muskets bristle ; 
Some stamp'd the ground ;*^*twaB eannon souBd, 

Thej heard ther grape-shot whistle. 

The Deputy, mounted "Old Bay," 

When first he heard the rattle. 
Then changed his eonrse, << great men are soaree, 

rd better keep from battle." 

The Generalf flew, to meet the orew, 

His jacket flying loose, sirs, 
Listead of sword, he seized his board ;^ 

Instead of hat, his goose, sirs. 

« Tyler's" he cried, " on 'tother side, 
Yonr spikes wiU nerer do it. 
The cannon's bore will hold some more," 
Then thrust his goose into it. 

Sol raised his head, cold speetres fled ; 

Each man resumed his oourage ; 
Captain O'Flan dismissed each man 

To breakfast on cold porridge. 



* Joel Bowen. f BueU was a tailor by trade. 



BRIEF Of BUSNMIRHASSETT. SSft 



IV. 



BRIEF OF BIiENNlBRHASSSTT. 

Vxra^ Statss or Axxsica <| Bbiev ob behalf of Hannaii 

^'' fBlennerhassett^ ocmfined in ik% 

Habiuh Blmhiehasb^tt. J Penitentiary at Bichmond, Va,, 

nnder an indiotment for high troa* 
son. 

CASE. 
IfUroducHiM to Priaoner first became acquainted with Aaron 
£urr, g^jjj. jjy ^ voluntary and unsolicited visit made 

by A. B. to prisoner at his late residence on the Ohio^ in the 
spring of 1805. Col. Burr arrived about nightfall. He par« 
tidpated during the visit in the general conversation of the 
company} had no private interview or business with the pri<* 
aoner, and he took leave about eleven o'clock at night, with hia 
companion, Mrs. Shaw, to pursue his voyage down the river. 
2. Some time in the beginning of December following, pri- 
soner, on his return from Baltimore, received a letter from 
Col. Burr, couched in polite language, and expressing a regret 
at not having had an opportunity of improving personal ao« 
quaintance with prisoner, owing to the absence of the latter 
from home. 

At this time a wish on the part of the pri- 
Subitanee of . . , . . « • 

^/ soner to improve his pecuniary affairs, com- 



firttluuriQ bining with a natural desire to cultivate an 
^"^' acquaintance by which^ he justly thought^ he 



^ APPENDIX. 

might 00 uracil improve Im own talents and promote the in- 
terest of his children, led him, after some reflection, to write 
the first letter he ever addressed to the late Yioe-IVesident, 
ezpressiye of a desire to be honoured with a hope of being 
admitted into a participation of any speculation which might, 
during his tour through the country, have presented itself to 
Col. Burr's judgment as worthy to engage his talents. In 
making this advance, prisoner contemplated not only a com- 
mercial enterprise or land purchase, but a military adventurer 
was distinctly mentioned, in which prisoner would engage. 
A reference, however, to the original letter, or its copy in pri- 
soner's letter-book, will show that prisoner then considered 
this government alive to every sentiment of indignation and 
resentment that he fancied it cherished against the Spanish 
Oourt, for acts of aggression and injustice committed by its 
troops against American citizens and the territories of the 
United States, and conduct by its minister and immediate 
representative* at the seat of government, little short of di- 
rect insult upon our Executive. Under such impressions, 
prisoner conceived the inevitable necessity of a speedy war 
with Spain, and observed in his letter to Col. Burr, that in 
the event of a Spanish War, in which case the government 
and country would call upon the talents, &c., of Col. Burr, 
the prisoner would engage with him, in any enterprise, to be 
undertaken for the subjugation of any of the Spanish do- 
minions. 

Surr't teeohd vitit to 3. This overture, on the part of the 

the island. prisoner, procured him a visit from Col. 

Burr at prisoner's late residence, on the Ohio, some time in 

the month of August, 1806. Col. Burr spent but one night 

* Alluding to Onis, against whom a large portion of the people 
of the United States were deeply inoensed. 



BRIEF OF BLENNEBHASSETT. 225 

in prkonei^s house. Prisoner hiTing next day rode with bint 
to Marietta, within a mile of which place he, the prisoneri 
took leave of the colonel, (then on his way to Chillicothe,) 
and retorned home. Col. Bmr arrived on the island abont 
noon, in company with Col. De Pestre and Mr. Dudley Wood- 
bridge, jnn., with whom Col. Bnrr had a private interview in 
the library, which was terminated fiilly an honr and a half 
before dinner. Some time after dinner. Col. De Pestre and 
Mr. Woodbridge having left the table, the snbjects of con- 
versation which had been taken np in the library, and there 
at the ntmost dwelt upon for twenty-five minutes, were re- 
sumed, and further considered, during not more than half an 
hour; after which Col. Burr and the prisoner joined the com- 
pany in the hall, when the conversation became and contmued 
general till bed-time. 
Went with him to Ma- 4. Prisoner remained at Marietta about 

rietta, where there twenty-four houTS, from which, deducting 
ffftu no time for or^ / o 

ganizing treason or the part of time devoted to sleep, to the 
nUlUairy ex^ediiioM. occupation of Col. Burr in commission- 
ing or contracting with D. Woodbridge, to provide for him 
those boats and provisions that have been seized, under the 
orders of the government, receiving the visits of various per- 
sons that waited him at the Wem, &c., an estimate may be 
easily formed of how short a time the prisoner could have, 
availed himself, to digest the projects or to contrive the means 
with A. Burr of executing treason against the United States, 
or of founding empires in other countries. 
Nature of such con^ ^' ^^^ ^®^ opportunities, however, 
munieatione ae op-- b8 the prisoner derived during all the 
Sfy^^ Pri^te interviews affcoded him, at this 
A, B, aetuaOif to time, and the disclosures therein made to 
"*****• him with rapidiiy, but also with reserve, 

he was led to conclude, that the sentiments of a respectable 



SM 



APPSjnonL 



SmUmmU qfiMpeth minority of the people in {he Orleans an^ 
^J^^^lJ^ZJSl^ Mississippi Territories were disaifeeted 
riet. A.gUated and to the present goyemment^ to a degree 

IS^JSmZJm ^*> "^ -^^ ^^»^» QV^tm, would, at 
Met themteresutf no very distant period, produce a reTolt 

the Western eoun- ^hicfc ^ould probably call in the aid of 

try, and mtght m- *^ •' 

dueeanexammaHan some foreign suQCOur to Support it. 

hu the pwpU mto That, in such an event, the States and 

tht ffTowMS of their 

conneeUon mih the Territories west of the Mountains would 
Atlantic States, and \^ placed in a dilemma, out of which 
^^^atc^onT A. B. ^^1 should withdraw, as they might be 
had no concern fpUh goyemed by an Eastom or Western as- 
«« »V«' oendency of interests: that it was the 

eoloners opinion the discontents, particularly in the Territory 
of Orleans, would induce the Western country to examine the 
grounds and interests of its present connection with the At- 
lantic States, and probably induce a separation; that he, A. B., 
had no further concern with these things than in a specul&- 
tiye way; but that he thought, as well as the prisoner, that 
the people should be informed on the subject before they 
might be drawn unawares to a crisis for which they mig^t not 
be prepared. 
That a separation of the Western from the Eastern States 
waa an event spoken of and apprehendedj 

of, ^a$^mer ^^eetr *^* *^® ^^^ ^^ goyemment, by some of the 
sd than desired, by heads of Department, which the malad- 
^,Z:^gJ^ minisfaation of the country might bring 
<^Jfew Orleans dU- about much sooner than was desired or 
^a^' % iJ^e^ expected ; and finally, the people of New 
beginning of revolt^ Orleans were SO mudi disgusted with the 
a seizure of bank, oonduct of goyemment towards them- 
selves, and on Spanish affairs, that he 

should not be surprised to hear of their beginning a revolt by 

seizing the Bank and Custom-house there. 



BRIEF OF BLEI^NEIIHASSETT. 827 

MestkmSoehfywanud He spoke of a sodetj of young men of 
^e^'heaf' hi £- *^** ^^^* openly denominated the Mead- 
Omtd, can Society, seizing and shipping some 

French cannon lying there, for an expe- 
dition against Mexioo. When at Orleans they had solidted him 
to lead; but he had declined to be concerned in. 

6. Li the course of such private conyersation as opportonity 
offered the prisoner to haye with Aaron Burr, whilst on the 
Burr would not teU ^^^ <^^ ^^ Marietta in the said month 

BUnnerhaneU hi» of Aognst, 1806; prisoner naturally en- 
9xaetplam at alL ^eayonred to elicit from him a disclosure 
of some specific project; by referring to the letter of the pri- 
soner whereof the substance is set forth in the second para- 
graph. But from a reserye and conciseness obseryable on the 
part of Ool. Burr on such solicitation; and from entire confi- 
dence in the honour and judgment of the Ez-Yioe-I^resident, 
the prisoner forbore to urge particular inquiries; that seemed 
to be displeasing to him; from their tendency to a deyelop- 
ment of the details of his objects and his means of effecting 
them. 

7. Your client; howeyer; did not take leaye of Gol. Burr 
without matter of some satisfiiotion of his curiosity and in- 
terest; sufiicient to engage his serious reflections on the expe- 
diency of adopting ar ayoiding that concern; which now seemed 
to be proffered to the election of the prisoner in his interests. 
For; after haying made the prisoner the general remarks set 
forUi in the fifth article; with the contingency of which Col. 
Burr declared he had no concern; but which would not be 
adverse to his own particular views whether they should pre- 
cede or follow ihem; he then signified to your dient; <^that 
JSxptOiion 0/ Spa- ^^ expulsion of the Spaniards from the 

»<^<fe Aowi^ «»«^ American territoiy then violated by them, 
«a» «<rrftefy, «f ^^ ^^^ ^ invasion of Mexico, would be 



228 APPSNBCL 

epm uwation of very pleasiog to the admimstniiimi if 
A^!^to be pro^ either or both oonld be effected without a 
bahfy agreeable to war being declared against Spain^ which 
ST^^ ^^^^ be ayoided as long as possible, 
wUhnU dedaning from pannmonions motiyes on the one 
IZch'Ski^ hand, and dread of France on the other j 
France. although the then existing circumstances 

would, to a probable certainty, occasion its commencement 

before he should engage in any operation/' 

But euek a war tntut Thus led to believe the goyemment 

S? S^tu^'^of ^^ ^^* ^^^^ ^ ^^ dmgoB, whilst 
Me plant, they were kept secret till their execution 

should be legalized by a declaration of war, the prisoner 

tendered his services to Col. Burr generally. 

8. At this time, your client neither sought nor received from 
Col. Burr any information whatever of the use or destination 
intended for the boats and provisions mentioned to have been 
contracted for with Dudley Woodbridge, jun.. Art 4, with 
which the prisoner had no concern, frurther than as he was a 
constituted member of the hoose of Dudley Woodbridge & Co.| 
at Marietta, save that the prisoner informed Mr. Woodbridge, 
when the latter seemed doubtfrd of the sufficiency of Col. 
Burr's credit at New York, that the prisoner would indemniff 
the company for all disbursements made on account of the 
boats and provisions, in the event of the bills drawn for the 
same on New York being dishonoured. 

9. Some time in the month of August or September, 1806, 
your client, reflecting on the information and views disclosed 
to him, as aforesaid, by Col. Burr, conceived the design of 
Deeign of pubUehing publishing in the Ohio Gazette, a series 

the Queriet. of short essays, calling the attention of 

the people of the Western country to a subject that might 
engage their intereste. Three or four numbers of these papers 



BBESF OF BLENNEBHASSETT. S2» 

were published^ exhibiting sacdnctlj a general and relative 
TieW; in a political aspect^ of the Union and the Western 
country^ and setting forth motives of right and expediency 
which should induce the country west of the mountains to 
seek a separation from the Atlantic States in a peaceable and 
constitutional manner; if they should adopt the sentiments 
of the writer; who took the signature of Querist. The author. 
To pr^are the people in making this essay on the public mind 

tereeta, dizement for himself, or of a political 

establishment for Col. Burr in the Western countiy, who 

(Burr) assured him he neither desired nor would accept any 

thing within the United States. Your client was actuated to 

make the publication by two motives only, viz., to prepare 

the country by a proper direction of its interests and energies 

for a crisis sooner or later approaching them, not from the 

views or operations of Col. Burr, but from the state of things 

on the Mississippi ; at which their espousal of an eastern or 

western ascendency would determine their future prosperity, 

mtd to ffuuk detigna and to divert public attention from scru« 

^^* hxUt^'hmt ^y "^*^ contingent plans or operations 

Mteret^ would prohor- against Spain, which, whilst kept secret, 

% not he impeded government would not disapprove, but 

WM the eaee of when exposed, it would be obliged to 

Ogdm and SmUh. frustrate, as it had done at New York in 

the case of Ogden and Smith. 

10. With these views, the prisoner pledged his honour to 
FairUmb the printer, ^'airlamb, the printer of the Gazette, that 
guarantiid safe to he should publish nothing that would 
^ subject him to legal penalty, and the pri- 

soner would avow himself the author whenever it might 
become neoessaiy to exonerate the printer from any responsi- 
bility. In the same spirit and for the same purposes, prisoner 

20 



fiO AFPSJSfJXOL 

(loininimioated Ids design, and x^sd the mamiaoript of one of 
llie first mimbers; to John and Alexander Henderson, -who 
^lemnly {hedged their joint honours to the prifioner, under 
the sanotion of hospitality in the house of said Alexander, 
never to disclose the name of the author or the oommunioatioa 
he then made them, to the purport and int^t that are set 
forth in the fifth and ninth articles. 

11. Some time in the month of October, 1806, the prisoner 
made a visit to Lexington, Kentucky, with views of further 
certifying himself of the permissive progress of Aaron Burr's 
q^eculations, so fiir as regarded his own exertions or the ob- 
Fwf for further in- servation of government. Durii^ pri- 
sifffu mto Burros sonw's stay in that country, where he 
^^e*Buf^^!^^ remained a fortnight or three weeks, he 
quiritt£t muekpqpi^ observed Burr's popularity daily increas- 
Mrtty. i^g . i^Qg^^ q£ j^q jealousy or suspicions 

of his views or designs on the part of the government or its 
agents, nor from any other quarter, till a messenger had been 
sent to him eogoress from home, stating to him that the people 
of Wood county had entered into commimication with the 
President or Governor of Yixginia, by forwarding to those 
autiiorities memoriak or addresses expressive of alarm for the 
safety of the country and their lib^iies, which they probably 
represented were likely to be endangered by Col. Burr or the 
prisoner, of which documents the latter has never seen origi- 
nals or copies, or of any answers thoeto; that the inhabitants^ 
at the instance and under the influence of Hugh Phelps, and 
Alexander and John Henderson, had organized a volunteer 
battalion oi three companies, which the^ had armed with the 
arms of the militia, that t^y had a general muster during 
the prisoner's absence from home, and were expected, by the 
r^K»t of Peter Taylor md others, on the evening of the d«y 
of the muster, to fauad on the islaai wime the prisoner's 



BRIEF 01? BLEKKBRHASSETT. tSl 

&mily then dwelt, and bam- Mb house ; that in all probaUUty 
the prisoner and Gol. Bnrr woold be shot, if either returned 
to the island ; and that some kiln-dried c(»m then preparing 
at the island; would be seizecl by the said volunteers as soon 
as it was put up ; Dr. Joseph Spenoer, of said county; having 
in the meantime declaa*ed that he and others regretted that 
they had been obliged, through fear, to sign the resolution 
for organizing the said volunteer association; which some 
oilers had persisted to do. 

12. Agitated by this inteHigenoe, set out for home from 
Lexington; Kentucky; and reached tho island between one 
and two o'clock on the third of November; 1806. Befleoting 
on his way that he should be unprovided at home with any 
adequate means of defence to protect his family and property 
against the menaced outrages of a lawless multitude with 
JEums in their hands, he was led to call on Dr. Bennet to learn 
such further particulars as he might have been informed of, 
since the express left the island for Lexington ; and to provide 
him (the prisoner) with such aid as the Dr. could enable him 
to procure from his county; against any illegal and unwar- 
rantable attack from the people of Wood county. To effeet 
this latter object; the prisoner freely entered into a statement 
of the innocence and legality of every step the prisoner should 
takC; in virtue of his concern in the speculations of Aaron 
Bun*; observing; that the latter had completed a large land 
purchase of Gol. Lynch ; offered to the prisoner such partici- 
pation in the purchase as he might desire; and expected the 
prisoner, with such associates as might wish to purchase or 
procure donations, would leave home for the country where 
the lands lay, on the Washita or the Bed Kiver;- in the begin- 
ning of the ensuing month ; that, in a politioal sense; Gol. 
Bun*; as well as himself; abhorred and abjured all intentions 
their enemies were imputing to them, of undertaking enter- 



at AFFBRDCC 

ptiies illegd cv adnene to the United States; md dedanng 
tliat neither of them ever had, or would harey any ccmoem 
nith the means of effecting a division of the Uni<Hi, iban a 
leadiness to deliver their opinum in &voar of the lig^t of the 
people to effieet soeh a measure whenever the time might ar» 
live which should render it expedient. The prisoner, then 
ealling the doctor's attention to his alarms for his fiunily and 
jampeTfj on the ishund, from personal enmity home him by 
the people of Wood, solidted the doctor to hasten any penKxns 
he might know in his neighbourhood, who wonl^ wish to 
emigrate with the prisoner, to join him as soon as possible on 
the island, where he did not know how soon he might Heed 
their assistance to protect him firom snch oatrages as are 
stated to have been then apprehended in Article 11. To 
these observations, made chiefly' during a ride of five miles, 
which the doctor was induced to take, for the sake of accom- 
panying the prisoner as &r as the ferry, the doctor was 
pleased to reply, that if he could dispose of his place without 
too great a sacrifice, he should be willing to emigrate him- 
self ; that he had no doubt it would suit many persons in his 
neighbourhood, to whom he would speak at the muster which 
was to be held in a few days ; that he would address to me 
such as he should find disposed, in the manner prisoner had 
directed him, i. e., provided with rifles and blankets. 

13. The prisoner took leave of the doctor at the ferry, 
about two o'clock, p. m., on Sunday the second of November, 
and reached the island on the following day« On his arrival, 
as well as on the road between Dr. Bennet's and his own 
house, he found the apprehension of an attack on the island 
from the point of the Little Kanawha, the head-quarters of 
the volunteers, had by no means subsided; and was informed 
an attempt would be made on his person that evening. To 
meet this contingency; the prisoner prepared some hoose-jums 



BRIEF OF BI£NNIRHASSSTT. S8S 

he Iiad hj him dviiiig ten yean; uid inth a -view to prevent 
it, he condescended to conciliate Mr. PhelpSy the commander 
of ihe battafion, by addreani^ him a letter to thank him iat 
a meflBage he had sent to piiBonei^s wife some time dniing her 
husband's absence from home^ for the purpose of lulling her 
apprehensions from the yolunteen. Prisoner also solicited an 
interview with him, so that he might remoye whateyer mis- 
conception of the prisoner's conduct or intentions might haye 
been propagated among his neighbours. But aware of CoL 
Phelps's predilection for jobbing and speculation, which is no- 
torious to all who know him, and in order to procure an inter- 
yiew with a person who had not been in prisoner's house for 
nearly seyen years, by which the prisoner might induce the 
influence of said Phelps to moderate the passions and to allay 
the jealousies of the ignorant and mic^guided — the prisoner 
thought it necessary to hint to him obscurely a desire to pro- 
mote his interest, by some proposition which might engage 
his attention. 

14. The letter might, or might not haye had the first effect 
designed by it, yiz., that of putting off the assault apprehended 
that eyening on the island ; but it occasioned a yisit there, 
after a kpse of three or four days, from C!ol. Phelps, with: 
whom the prisoner had a private interview, which was opened 
by the prisoner with a tender of thanks for the colonel's mes- 
sage to Mrs. Blennerhassett, during her husband's absence. 
The prisoner then aflfected to ridicule the reports which he 
had heard of the mediteted injuries threatened his frmily and 
property from the Point;* suggested to the colonel that he 
auspected the other party in the countiy (under the influence 
of the Hendersons) was now becoming so strong that ita 
leaders would probably oyertum the colonel's interest, on 

* The present site of Parkersbnrg, Ya., used to be called «The 
Pomf'^W. H. S. 

20* 



JB4 APPENDIX. 

wlneh ftlo&e ibej had hitherto depended for ^ritiule?^ pc!pa« 
kritj they had aoqnired, and cautioned the colimel against 
any coalitton or eo-operaiaon they might seek Wilh hist, la 
exdting cbuaoiir or mupioion againBt the idewa or intentioiui 
of Aaron Bnir Gt his fcienda, which the paat conduct of thd 
Hendersons towards him should induce him to avoid. CkL 
PhelpS; in reply, complained much of the ill-treatment he had 
received from the said Hendersons. Prisoner stated his con- 
cern with Aaron Bnir in a land purchase; informing the 
oolonel that he, the prisoner, solicited or invited no person to 
join in the emigration, though many had voluntarily offered 
to do 60; but added that if the colonel wished a concern for 
himself or his friends, that he might look to the example of 
General Jackson, and other characters of distinction, who, the 
prisoner understood, were going to join in the settlement with 
many associates ; that aa to the rumours and suspicions thai 
had been circulated of Col. Burr, or his friends, which ao- 
cused them of engaging in any thing against the laws of the 
United States, such were wholly groundless : but it was not 
unlikely that the proximity of the purchase to that part of 
the country where an engagement had already taken place, ot 
might soon be expected, between General Wilkinson and the 
Spaniards, would engage Col. Burr and his friends in some 
ef the earliest adventures of the war. General Jackson being 
already prepared to march with 1000 or 1500 of his Ten- 
nessee militia, whenever he should think himself authoriied 
by the orders or toishes of the government to put that body 
in motion. Col. Rielps received this information with de- 
clining to embark himself, on account of his family and the 
unsettled state of his aSbirs; but said he had no doubt many 
young men from Wood county would be glad to go with the 
prisoner, to whom he (the colonel) would recommend the 
speculation, as he might have opportunities. The prisoner 



BBIEF OF BUSNKSftHASSETT. SB 

e(mT€Med irifli tih<s colonel on no other io|nO; teoept wtmn 
general pfopodtionfl for renting the ptiaoiBer's phoe by ths 
coloners son-ln-laW; 91iosa8 Oreel. 

16. The prisoner^ howet^^ still oontinning to TeceSre daily 
assurances that tiie people from die Point were determined to 
seize and destroy his com on the island; as well as the bests 
bnilding on the Mnskingnm river, which were to convey his 
fiimily and friends, vfith their provisions and necessaries to 
the Mississippi, thought it pradent to write to Br. Bennet^ 
requesting him to lend him ten oar twenty guns for protection* 
The object of the prisoner being to resist illegal violence 
offered to him and his friends in thdr legal pursuits, he con* 
ceiyed he might correctly borrow rifles, tiie private proper^ 
of individuals, ot even the arms of the militia, whilst they 
were not wanted between days of muster, to enable him to 
resist an apprehended outrage on the laws of the country, in 
the persons of the prisoner and his friends. The doctor replied^ 
that the arms of the militia were in the charge and under the 
control of the colonel, and he could procure no others. 

16. Prisoner vras occupied himself with preparations for his 
removal with his fiunily and friends from the island, which h« 
took every public opportunity to declare would take plaoe 
from the 8th to the 10th of the next month of December, 
1806, generally telling the applicants who were to go with 
him, to provide themselves with a rifle and blanket, but ac- 
cepting the offers of many as associates without either 5 soK* 
dting no man, nor offering wages or bounties to any ^ preparing 
and providing no military stores, or implements of war what- 
ever — ^unless corn-meal, flour, whisky, and pork be received 
as such — until the latter part of November, whoi he had an 
interview with Mr. Oraham at Marietta. 

17. Tour client, in virtue of a slight acquaintance he had 
fbrmed in Kentucky, in 1801, with Mr. O., and imder an im- 



286 APPENDIX 

preodon that he also was ooncemed in Bome of the Bpeoola-. 
tions of Aaron Burr, visited liim soon after his airiynl; and 
was received with much ceremony and coldness. Nx. G*. 
described the government as embarrassed by the variety and 
contradictory matter of statements which had been forwarded, 
from various parts of the western country; of the equipments 
then providing on the Ohio and Mnskingom^ some represent- 
ing them more^ others less extensive; but all conveying a sus- 
picion that they were destined for an attack on New Orleancfi 
an invasion of MezicO| or for transporting emigrantSi with 
their effects^ to CoL Burr's Washita purchase; that, howeveri 
their real destination was probably New Orleans or Mezicoi 
rather than the Washita. Mr. G. then observed^ as he said, 
in an ofGicial character^ that he had it in charge to collect such 
information as might enable the government to stop any mili- 
tary expedition; if such was intended; and in an official cha- 
racter he added; he would advise prisoner; if he was concerned 
in such designs; to withdraw from them. 

18. To these observations; Mr. G. was answered by the 
prisoner; that the latter could not suppose the government 
disposed to molest individuals not offending against any laW| 
and avowing a lawfrd object of their pursuits; that the pri- 
soner; although he had no objection to avow and declare to 
Mr. G.; as he had done to every other person; that he was 
concerned with Col. Burr in a land purchase; whither he 
should undertake a journey on the 8th or 10th of December, 
with such friendS; from the number of sixty to one hundred, 
as might be ready to accompany him; would not condescend 
to answer interrogatories tending to charge him with being 
concerned in any illegal enterprise ; that the commencement 
and progress of this journey should be innocent and peaceful; 
unless it were interrupted by illegal insult or violence; which 
should be repelled with those rifles with which he had gene» 



BRIEF OF 6LENNER&ASSETT. 287 

rally directed his fiiends to proTide themselves; and that he 
hoped the goyemment^ or its agentS; had no wish or design 
to commit a wanton trespass upon men peaceably pursuing 
speculations, which, becanse, forsooth, their details were not 
exposed to the world, (owing to the fear of jealousy and ma- 
lice of individuals who would not be permitted to participate 
in them,) had invoked the suspicion of government. 

19. Previous to making these observations to Mr. Ot.j your 
client showed him a letter, of which he offered him a copy, 
from Col. Burr, dated from Lexington or Frankfort in Ken- 
tucky, acquainting the prisoner with the institution of a cri* 
minal prosecution against him (Burr) by Mr. Davis, the 
United States Attorney for the Kentucky District, where Col. 
Burr observed the detention he should thereby suffer, would 
retard the establishment of the Washita settlement. Mr. O. 
dined in company with your client the same day. At table 
he was assured, on inquiry made by him, that your client 
would take his wife and family with him down the river. 
After dinner, your client invited Mr. G. to his room, where 
he observed, he had called him up again to offer him a copy 
of the aforesaid letter from Col. Burr, and to trouble him to 
state over again, in order to prevent any misunderstanding 
of the intentions of government, whatever official warnings he 
had to give, that prisoner might communicate them to OoL 
Burr and his friends, whose duty it would be to regulate their 
conduct thereby. Mr. G. then replied, that the prisoner 
might inform Col. Burr '^the constituted authorUies of the 
country would be expected on the part of the general govern* 
ment, to stop his boats, if they carried an. unusual number of 
men, armed in an unusual manner.'^ Your client then asked 
him whether more or less single men, or married men, accom- 
panying your client, to the number of from sixty to one hun- 
dred, in sixteen or seventeen boatcH-^nerally taking their 



APFBHDIX. . 

liies irith tbent) tmi not Hk&x fJEuauUea nJb such & seftson of 
tiie year, voold constitate Booh a partj^ ami armed, in aadi a 
manner^ as would expose them to the obstroction he threat* 
ened ? To this he answesed| ^^ He supposed not, though it ap- 
peared unuttal and sospicious for such numbers to go so fa^ 
to settle a new oountiy without their families/' 

20. The prisoner now thought he had taken leave of tiiis 
personage, perfectly understanding both himself and the 
gOYemment. On the contrary, your client^ 09 his retnm in 
a day or two to Marietta, learned with surprise &at this 
envoy-extraordinary of executive vigilance could not delay a 
moment to cool the zeal of his mission, by plun^g it red-hot 
into those intrigues which your client's letter to Phelps, &c» 
had lately somewhat stagnated in Wood county. Laved and 
refreshed in these pellucid waters, he follows their meanders 
in quest of that fountain from which they issue, which, like 
the source of Alcinous, is hid in mystery and darkness Ar- 
rived at the Temple erected to Honour and Hospitality^ in 
Beech Park,^ on the banks of the Little Eanawh% he is re- 
oeived in the vestibule by John and Alexander Henderscm^ 
the consecrated ministers of those divinities. A libation is 
now ordained to ancient friendship and the household gods. 
Another is next proposed to the tutelary deities of the place, 
^^HoldT' cries the envoy of suspicion, <Hhe rites of Honour 
and Hospitality may be administered by their votaries in 
these sequestered wilds. But I will never participate in such 
mummery before that altar on which you have sacrificed to 
treason and to Burr I" His brother priests are now dismayed 
and almost petrified. ^^ Yes V* continues the ambassador, ^^the 
safety of the State demands a greater sa(»:ifice to liberty. 

* Alluding to the lumee of Henderson, Ihe chief witness of the 
goTonunent at the trial of Burr. 



BBIEF OF BLENNEBHASSETT. 2S9 

Now pturge ye of the cliarge oommitted to your keeping/ of 
all the orimeB intended to be perpetrated against your country." 
In vain the distracted brothers declare^ ''No secrets of a 
dangerous nature were intrusted to their sanctom — ^they were 
innocent and submitted also by him who trusted them^ to 
sanction in the breast of an aged parent/' ''Say you parent^ 
innocent secrets^ and submitted for sanction to the breast of a 
parent? Why not then disclose them to the parent of the 
State. I am his minister and will take charge of them I'^ 

21. Your client hopes the last paragraph may not dis- 
pleasc; by its length or obscurity. The style he has there 
fidlen into was insensibly suggested and protracted by his re- 
flections on the intelligence he receiyed from Morgan NeyiUci 
Esquire^^ that it cost Mr. Secretary Graham no little labour 
to work the Hendersons up to break the seal of that Honour 
and Hospitality which the prisoner imagined they would pre- 
setve inviolate^ when he made confidential communications to 
ihem; and through them to their &ther; to the effect set forth 
in the 5th and 9th Articles.— WaUac^9 ^^ BUmerhaueU.'' 

* The elegant author of « BUke Fink, or the last of the Boatmen." 



THE END. 



RETURN CIRCULATION DEPARTMENT 

TO— » 202 Main Library 



LOAN PERIOD 1 
HOME USE 



ALL BOOKS MAY BE RECALLED AFTER 7 DAYS 

R*n*wal« and Racharg** moy b« mod* 4 day* prior to Iho duo 

Book* may bo Ronowod by colling M2-3405. 

DUE AS STAMPED BELOW 



m^ 



18» 



HWKt l dftX^'' 



esL 



o 



o 



s 









FORM NO. DD6, 



UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY 
BERKELEY, CA 94720 




YB 37750 







IVI124506 

THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA LIBRARY 



k 




"1^