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The Traumatic ColonelThe Founding Fathers, Slavery, and the Phantasmatic Aaron Burr$
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Michael J. Drexler and Ed White

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781479871674

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479871674.001.0001

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Burr’s Formation, 1800–1804

Burr’s Formation, 1800–1804

(p.102) 4 Burr’s Formation, 1800–1804
The Traumatic Colonel

Michael J. Drexler

Ed White

NYU Press

This chapter looks at the figure of Aaron Burr, the “traumatic colonel” of the book's title, as the anomalous figure hovering at the margins of the Founders proper. The significance of Burr is precisely its resistance to incorporation in the semiotic system of the Founders. The chapter aims to make sense of the odd details in contemporary literature of the Founders: Burr's electoral tie with Thomas Jefferson in 1800, the accusations of seduction, the assault waged by the New York Republicans, the duel with Alexander Hamilton, and the Federalists' odd courting of their hated antagonist to lead a secession movement. One can read Burr in two ways: that he is the gull of the blacks' duplicity, or he is a sinister conspirator whose manliness cannot be questioned.

Keywords:   Aaron Burr, Founders, Thomas Jefferson, New York Republicans, Alexander Hamilton, secession movement, Federalists, Federalists

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