American patriot. Lawyer. Politician. Third Vice President of the United States. Killer of Alexander Hamilton. Traitor. There are many labels to which Aaron Burr has been called throughout history. Despite these many labels, there have been relatively few books on Burr’s life which have been comprehensively written and attempted to solve the mysteries surrounding him, until now. Controversial American forefather Aaron Burr’s life is wonderfully dissected by highly acclaimed author David O. Stewart in his new book American Emperor: Aaron Burr’s Challenge to Jefferson’s America. Finally, historians and readers alike can get a better understanding on the polarizing Burr, his life, and his tragic fall from political stardom, wealth, sterling reputation.
Broken into 28 highly illuminating and capturing chapters further examining Burr’s puzzling life, and each written in masterful and easily readable prose, American Emperor is a must read for anyone who is curious about Burr, American history, biographies, or anyone else who is interested in reading about a controversial and conflicted life.
Stewart provides the readers with a great introduction to the main figures involved in the comprehensive, well-researched, and captivating story divided into two parts. American Emperor begins in during the 1800 Presidential election against Thomas Jefferson and the growing disdain between Burr and Hamilton that ultimately ended in the infamous duel that ultimately took Hamilton’s life. Burr dreamt of taking control of Spanish territory and leading an insurrection in the lands culminating in the creation of a new government in a new nation. Stewart brings forth the tragic tale of Burr’s betrayal by his closest ally General James Wilkinson which led to his imprisonment and prosecution for treason.
In Part II of American Emperor, Stewart brilliantly portrays Aaron Burr’s trials, his unrelenting dream, his lengthy European travels where he sought support for a military expedition to liberate American colonies from Spanish rule, and finally, his tragic final years on Earth avoiding creditors and his last failed marriage to Eliza Jumel. In the appendices, Stewart provides the readers with the infamous cipher letter, the indictment in the United States v. Aaron Burr case, and Treason Clause in the United States Constitution.
Published by Simon & Schuster, David O. Stewart’s American Emperor would be a great addition to anyone’s bookshelf. Highly captivating, Stewart does an excellent job portraying Aaron Burr’s controversial life, his trial, his unrelenting dream and ambition to free Spanish-controlled American colonies, and his tragic final years on Earth.
This new masterpiece by Stewart, author of other great historical works such as Impeached: The Trial of President Andrew Johnson and the Fight for Lincoln’s Legacy and The Summer of 1787: The Men Who Invented the Constitution, is available for purchase online through most websites including amazon.com, and is available through most bookstores.
American Emperor: Aaron Burr’s Challenge to Jefferson’s America
David O. Stewart
New York: Simon & Schuster, 2011
410 pages, photographs, appendices, end notes, index.
Hardback, dust jacket.
About the reviewer: Dr. Thomas M. Mingus teaches at Central Pennsylvania College near Harrisburg and on-line classes for Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. The co-author of Human Interest Stories of the Civil War, Mingus is a direct descendant of a soldier in the 1st New York Regiment of infantry during the American Revolution.