Fine Books & Manuscripts
Burr, Aaron (1756-1836) Letter Signed, 24 January 1807.
Single page. To Acting Governor of the Mississippi Territory Cowles Mead (1776-1844),asking for a passport to protect his boats. The letter written in a secretarial hand, with Burr's signature at the foot. Discoloration due to moisture in two distinct spots along the left margin, and one additional spot in the middle of the page, slight dampstain along the left edge, bottom right corner chipped with loss, the sheet toned, old folds, mounting hinges somewhat acidic and visible thorugh the sheet, ink address on verso also visible through the sheet, framed, 10 x 8 1/4 in.
At the time this letter was written, Burr was already deeply involved in the plot that would lead to his arrest on charges of treason. A warrant for his arrest had been issued by President Thomas Jefferson in January, and his main co-conspirator had abandoned Burr's cause. Burr found himself down in Louisiana with a meagerly outfitted flotilla of nine boats, plenty of attitude, and few options. He had been exchanging heated letters with Governor Mead for days. Mead and Burr met on 16 January 1807, but as the tone and content of this letter suggest, little was resolved at that time. Less than a month after the writing of this letter, on 19 February 1807, Burr surrendered himself to Mead, but on January 24th, he still held the hope of his own success. (See Elizabeth Brandon Stanton's Fata Morgana; and Buckner F. Melton's Aaron Burr: Conspiracy to Treason.
Miss. Terr. 24 Jan. 1807.
Sir, Colonel [Thomas] Fitzpatrick did not feel himself authorized to give a passport for the boats, nor to proscribe or interfere with their movements further than to say that they should not be interrupted by his guards. I beg therefore that you will send by Mr. [Alexander] Ralston a passport which may protect them against the military of this Territory. The tale of the twelve boats proves to be a fable destitute of the semblance of truth. I have the honor to be yours, A. Burr.
His Excy Cowles Meade."
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