"As he walks down the streets, Alex, now about eight years old, is recognized, by those who recognize him at all, as what the Danish courts called an 'obscene' child"
John Adams called Hamilton a "bastard brat"; Thomas Jefferson referred to him as "this foreign bastard."*
Despite their many resemblances, however, Hamilton and Burr were actually very different, and those differences were crucial. Having been born in the West Indies, Hamilton was sometimes regarded as a foreigner, and he had no pedigree whatever ("the bastard brat of a Scotch pedlar," sneered John Adams); he had to rely solely on his genius to get ahead. Burr, however, had a notable American lineage.... Unlike Hamilton and the other Revolutionary leaders, Burr was born fully and unquestionably into whatever nobility and gentility eighteenth-century America had. Unlike the other Revolutionary leaders, who were usually the first in their families to go to college, Burr had an aristocratic status that was ascribed and inherited, and he never felt he had to earn it.
Because he could take his aristocratic lineage for granted, Burr never had the same emotional need the other Revolutionary statesmen had to justify his gentlemanly status by continually expressing an abhorrence of corruption and a love of virtue. Certainly Burr made little pretense of being public-spirited in the fulsome way the other Revolutionaries did. Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Hamilton, and other Founding Fathers always made a great deal of their virtue and disinterestedness and devotion to the public good. It was said of Burr that the only virtue he ever had was not claiming any.
... He assumed that someone with his pedigree and his talent was due high political office as a matter of course, and in a traditional ancien régime manner he thought that public office was to be used to maintain his position and influence. Beyond what politics could do for his friends, his family, and him personally, it had little emotional significance for him. Politics, as he once put it, was "fun and honor & profit."
... Burr in the 1790s was regarded as a distinguished and promising figure. Yet no political leader of his prominence in the period ever spent so much time and energy so blatantly scheming for his own personal and political advantage. And no one of the other great Revolutionary statesmen was so immune to the ideology and values of the Revolution as Burr was. Burr's behavior seemed to threaten the great Revolutionary hope—indeed, the entire republican experiment—that some sort of disinterested politics, if only among the elite, could prevail in America. And because of this threat, Hamilton and Jefferson together eventually brought him down, Hamilton by condemning his character at every opportunity and supporting Jefferson for president in 1800 instead of him, and Jefferson by pushing him out of the Republican Party and charging him with treason in 1807.
As well because it is possible that I may have injured Colonel Burr, however convinced myself that my opinions and declarations have been well founded, as from my general principles and temper in relation to similar affairs, I have resolved if our interview is conducted in the usual manner, and it pleases God to give me the opportunity, to reserve and throw away my first fire, and I have thoughts even of reserving my second fire, and thus giving a double opportunity to Colonel Burr to pause and to reflect.
Soon after recovering his sight, he happened to cast his eye upon the case of pistols, and observing the one that he had had in his hand lying on the outside, he said, 'Take care of that pistol; it is undischarged, and still cocked; it may go off and do harm--Pendleton knows (attempting to turn his head towards him) that I did not intend to fire at him.'
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