This is a weird Friday here in the good old United States of the USA, because between now and Monday we’re getting ready to rock a Friday the 13th, Valentine’s Day, and President’s Day all one right after another like some kind of dissonant mental institution conga line led by a hockey-masked Cupid in an Abe Lincoln hat packing a red white and blue machete. With a party-heavy three day weekend ahead of us, surely it would be cool to write something this week that would tie in to one of those events… but what if there was a way to combine them all together? To find a guy who combines the patriotic fervor of a NASCAR tailgate with the smoothness of rose-petal chocolate fondue and the unrelenting violent determination of a hardcore slasher movie villain?
Well, how about a badass founding father presidential candidate war hero, born in early February, who was notorious for being hella pimp, pissing off four different U.S. Presidents, charging into battle alongside George Washington, defending his honor with bullets rather than flowery speeches, then stone-cold busting caps in a dude who currently appears on U.S. currency before bolting to Europe to have legendary boning sessions with hundreds of hot Euro babes?
I’ve done a handful of American Presidents on this website, but it’s high time we talk about the most badass Vice President in American history – Aaron Burr. A grim-faced, hard-fighting warrior so hardcore that THIS is what the statue of him that currently stands in the damn Museum of American Finance on Wall Street in New York City, just blocks from the New York Stock Exchange:
The third Vice President of the United States of America, Aaron Burr was an old-school tea-chucking Founding Father motherfucker, but whenever those dudes got together Burr was like the one who wore a leather jacket, smoked a cigarette , casually leaned on his Ford Fairlane giving James Madison the finger while all those other guys were off signing the Declaration of Independence like a bunch of nerds. A raging ultra-brilliant egomaniac who feared no man on Earth, Burr was a Colonel in the American Revolution, a war hero, an elite businessman, and the only sitting Vice President of the United States to ever openly kill a man while he was still in office. Sure, he’s divisive and hot-headed, and a lot of people think he’s a super mega asshole, but haters gonna hate and nobody that reads this website can (I assume) look me in the eye and tell me they wouldn’t have respect for a titanium-nutsacked world leader who looks vaguely like Gaston from Beauty and the Beast and doesn’t mind blowing away the Secretary of the Treasury for no better reason than to defend his personal honor.
Aaron Burr was born February 6, 1756, in Newark, New Jersey. He was the son of a Presbyterian minister, but both his parents were dead before he was two and Burr grew up an orphan. At thirteen – THIRTEEN – this self-taught ultra-genius applied and was admitted into Princeton University as a sophomore. By sixteen he had a Law Degree, summa cum laude, from a goddamn Ivy League institution and was already on his way to becoming a successful New York City Doogie Howser attorney. Just three years into his career, however, shit went down in Colonial America, and the tensions between the colonists and the English King ended up ripping out into a shooting war. The second he received word that shots had been fired at the Battles of Lexington and Concord, nineteen year old Aaron Burr quit his lawyer gig, walked straight down the street to the recruiting office, and volunteered to fight for his country’s freedom against the British Empire.
Thanks to his unstoppable single-minded determination and utter fearlessness in the face of enemy bayonets, Burr rose quickly through the ranks, becoming one of the youngest Colonels in the Continental Army. He fought alongside Benedict Arnold back when Arnold was still on our side, and then later on he cemented his place as a Real American Hero when he participated in a massive expedition to invade Quebec in the dead of winter and beat up a bunch of Canadians. He commanded a company in the American assault on the heavily-fortified city of Quebec on New Year’s Eve 1775, and even though the Canadians kicked our ass (it wouldn’t be the first time), Burr was cited for bravery for a heroic action where he cut his way through a swarm of enemy forces to rescue his badly wounded commanding officer. Slashing and firing around him with a sword and pistols, Burr stormed into knee-deep, blood-stained snow, hoisted General Richard Montgomery on his shoulders, and fireman-carried his mortally wounded friend and comrade back to relative safety to be treated. The expedition was a disaster, but Burr was tough as shit and was one of just 500 American soldiers to trudge out of the frozen Canadian wilderness with his life.
“He had served in the army, and came out of it with the
character of a knight without fear and an able officer.”
-John Adams, Second President of the United States
After the Canada invasion, Burr was transferred to George Washington’s command, leading a regiment alongside Fat Henry Knox at the Battle of Monmouth, and then later fought off a British amphibious invasion of Manhattan (!) when the redcoats stormed ashore right in the heart of downtown New York City. Burr and Washington didn’t get along too well, however, and after pissing off the Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army, Aaron Burr found himself transferred to garrison duty in southeast New York. Even this didn’t slow down his unremitting pace of non-stop asskickings. Leading rag-tag militia troops, Burr fought loyalist guerillas outside NYC, stormed British fortifications on Long Island, and once ran into Yale and recruited a company of Ivy League students to help him and 1,000 other hastily-assembled volunteer citizen-soldiers drive back a massed attack by over two thousand well-drilled veteran British infantrymen outside New Haven, Connecticut. Which is fucking awesome as hell.
“He never penned a declaration of independence, but he has done much more —
he has engraved that declaration in capitals with the point of his sword.”
After four years of war finally secured America’s independence, Burr went back home, re-opened his law firm, got into politics, and, awesomely enough, married the widow of a British officer killed during the fighting. His wife was ten years older than him, but Burr was super attracted to her wit and her intelligence, and was basically nuts for this girl and ultra-devoted to her for the rest of her life (she died of illness after fifteen years of marriage). They had a daughter together, and Burr demonstrated his forward-thinking awesomeness by putting his girl into good, typically-male-only schools, teaching her to speak four languages, training her to accurately shoot a rifle from horseback, and generally just making sure his girl received a level of education that women weren’t really supposed to have access to in 1776.
Burr applied this sort of attitude to his political life as well. As the New York Attorney General, he worked to promoted racial and gender equality, gave speeches advocating equal voting rights for women and ex-slaves, and was a big part of the (ultimately successful) movement to completely abolish slavery in New York State. He eventually grew so popular for his awesomeness that his fellow asshole New Yorkers elected him to one of the state’s U.S. Senate seats in 1791.
This election, however, really pissed off another dude who was a pretty big-time political figure of early America – the country’s first Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton. Now, Hamilton is actually pretty fucking awesome. Coming from virtually nothing, the man on the ten dollar bill was a career soldier who once led an army into the field while still a sitting member of the Cabinet, basically invented the American banking system, and once called Thomas Jefferson “womanly” because he thought it was super lame that Jefferson liked French people so much. But Hamilton was a Federalist (meaning he supported big, centralized American government) and Burr was a Democratic-Republican (meaning he didn’t), and, more personally, Burr’s senate seat had come at the expense of Hamilton’s father-in-law. The political defeat pissed Hamilton’s family off so hard that Hamilton’s brother-in-law challenged Burr to a duel – pistols at dawn – a manly challenge to which Burr of course didn’t even fucking flinch. Burr got a button shot off his shirt in the ensuing gunfight, but both men emerged from the showdown unharmed and with their honor still firmly intact.
The rivalry continued throughout the years, with each guy continually trying to troll the other harder and harder. Now, Alexander Hamilton was a powerful banker who owned the Bank of New York, the oldest bank in the United States, but since the assholes at that bank were really only lending money to rich people and Federalists, Burr countered him by creating his own bank as an awesome corporate “fuck you” to his hated foe. That became, uh Chase Motherfucking Manhattan, which you’ve probably heard of before, seeing as how it currently operates in 85 goddamn countries throughout the world and is currently the second largest in the United States of America. It should say something about Aaron Burr that founding one of the planet’s biggest financial institutions is so far down his list of awesome accomplishments that it barely warrants two sentences in his biography.
Burr eventually got tapped to run in the Presidential Election of 1800 as Thomas Jefferson’s Vice President candidate, but shit got pretty weird with that pretty quickly. Apparently, the Electoral College worked a lot differently than it does today, because even though the political ticket was for Burr to be VP and Jefferson the President, some weird shifty shit went down and the Electoral College ended up splitting their votes so that when everything was counted up Burr and Jefferson were tied for President. Jefferson was all like, “dude, just be cool and let me have it,” but Burr told him to fuck off and took the debate to the House of Representatives to serve as a tiebreaker. This, of course, pissed Thomas Jefferson right the hell off, and then professional Burr-troll Alexander Hamilton came out onto the House floor and started dropping sick burns on Aaron Burr until all of his Federalist homies were like, “Yeah, good point, Jefferson should totally be President.” This of course left Aaron Burr to be the Vice President to a dude who pretty much hated his guts now. The whole thing was such a nightmare that the government passed the 12th Amendment to make sure nothing like that happened again, thus proving that Aaron Burr was such an awesome over-the-top pain in the ass that it he incited constitutional motherfucking amendments that fundamentally altered the way the United States elects it’s presidents. God damn Burr owns so hard.
The Vice Presidency was boring and shitty because Jefferson was all butthurt about almost losing the election, and when it was pretty stinkin’ obvious Burr wasn’t going to be on the ballot in 1804 he decided to run for Governor of New York instead. He did, and guess who was fucking there one goddamn more time to torpedo Aaron Burr’s fucking shit. Hamilton. Always Hamilton. This time the former Secretary of the Treasury came out in the newspapers talking smack and writing columns about Aaron Burr being an incompetent asshat or whatever, and that was fucking it. Burr wrote Hamilton a letter telling him to shut his dumb face before Burr shuts it for him. Hamilton wrote some equally-toxic hate mail back. The correspondence quickly started reading like a YouTube comment flame war until finally Burr challenged Hamilton to take it outside, meet on a field in New Jersey, and settle this like two drunk bros pummeling each other senseless in an alley behind a strip club at two in the morning.
Burr and Hamilton met on July 11, 1804. Hamilton provided the dueling pistols. The two men stood back to back, walked ten paces, stopped, turned, took aim, and fired.
Alexander Hamilton’s bullet sailed so far wide that it struck a tree twelve feet away from Burr.
Burr’s shot didn’t miss.
Niggas be shootin' the gif like they for real
But when it jumps, they ain't got no murder skills.
Did I mention that dueling was illegal in the United States at the time all this went down? Because it totally super was. Warrants were immediately issued in New York and New Jersey for the arrest of Aaron Burr on charges of premeditated first-degree murder.
Not only did Aaron Burr NOT turn himself in, he fled the state, took a train to Washington, D.C., and went right back to being the motherfucking pimp-ass Vice President of the United States of America. Just a few months after shooting a Founding Father to death, Burr was sitting in the House presiding over a high-profile case where Jefferson was trying to impeach the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Samuel Chase, on the bullshit grounds that Jefferson didn’t like Chase’s political leanings. Burr knew this was a steaming load of crap, called Jefferson on it, threw out the impeachment charges, and basically set a vitally-important precedent limiting a President’s ability to cherry-pick Supreme Court justices for political reasons.
Burr was out of a Vice President job in 1804, and since, you know, straight-up capping a political rival to death in a field was kind of frowned upon in society at the time, he didn’t really have an easy time continuing on with his career. So, ruined politically, Burr did something so completely awesome it probably isn’t even true – he moved out west and conspired with the U.S. Army chief-of-staff to break the Louisiana Purchase off from the rest of the United States, turn it into an independent Empire led by Aaron Burr, and then fucking launch a full-scale invasion of Mexico. When his letters to England, Germany, and France requesting troops and money weren’t super successful, Burr tried to recruit a mercenary army to help him become the ultimate 18th-century James Bond villain, but eventually someone got wind of it and Burr was brought back to D.C. and tried for Treason. He was acquitted because literally nobody testified against him and there was basically no evidence suggesting he’d done anything even a little bit treasonous, which leads a lot of people to wonder whether the whole thing was made up by Thomas Jefferson just to screw with Burr. Fans of Aaron Burr like to say it’s all bullshit, but the fact that this convicted-murdering war hero ex-VP might have tried to become the iron-fisted military Emperor of Texas actually makes me like him even more.
After getting off on treason charges, Burr went to Europe, where he spent the next twenty years banging TONS of chicks. Like, so many crazy sex orgies and freakshow RedTube shit that there were seedy Fifty Shades fanfic romance novels written about it in the 1800s where he’s depicted on the cover surrounded by tons of naked babes (try searching Barnes & Noble’s website for “Amorous Intrigues and Adventures of Aaron Burr” some time when you’re not at work). Later in life he moved back to the United States, became a lawyer in New York again, married a chick half his age who also happened to be the richest widow in America, divorced her less than a year later, and died in 1836.
He never faced charges for the murder of Hamilton.
Genovese, Michael A. Encyclopedia of the American Presidency. Facts on File, 2009.
Isenberg, Nancy. Fallen Founder: The Life of Aaron Burr. Penguin, 2007.
Lynch, Timothy J. The Oxford Encyclopedia of American Military and Diplomatic History. Oxford University Press, 2013.