Thursday, August 16, 2007

Fallen Founder: The Life of Aaron Burr by Nancy Isenberg

Julia Keller of the Chicago Tribune posts a favorite paragraph from her reading each week on her Sunday book page. I am stealing her idea and posting this paragraph from page 5 of the revisionist biography Fallen Founder: The Life of Aaron Burr by Nancy Isenberg.

The Burr household would not continue to be so blessed. On September 4, 1757, Aaron Burr, Sr,, rode to Elizabethtown, New Jersey, to preach the governor's funeral sermon. When he returned the following day, he became seriously ill, and never summoned enough energy to leave his bed. He died on September 23. A few weeks later, Esther recorded that "my little son has been sick ...and has been brought to the brink of the grave." But little Aaron survived once more. After her husband's death, Esther's own father, the Reverend Jonathan Edwards, moved to Princeton to replace him as president of the college; yet he was next, struck down by smallpox in March 1758. Though Esther Burr and her children had all been inoculated, she barely outlasted her father, dying on April 7. If that was not enough tragedy for one family, Sarah Edwards, Esther's mother, came to Princeton to collect the family's belongings and to take charge of her grandchildren, when she, too, became ill with dysentery, and died on October 2. In a little over a year, Burr had lost his parents and grandparents. Aaron and his sister Sally were now orphans.

A lot about Burr's family, their position, and his childhood is packed into that one paragraph.

Isenberg contends in her book that Burr's reputation was no worse than any other early statesman during his life. He survived controversies and died a respected man. It is historians who have made him an evil figure. Most public libraries should have this new book.

Isenberg, Nancy. Fallen Founder: The Life of Aaron Burr. Viking, 2007. ISBN 9780670063529

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Rick,
I think your blog is great. I got here through Nancy Pearl's site, and I'd love to send you a book. I wonder if you'd email me, so I can ask properly and maybe get a mailing address.
Thanks a lot
happy blogging