American Legal History

Aaron Burr and The Mythology of America


                    For my project, I began by reading "Burr" by Gore Vidal, which can be purchased on Amazon or through Google books. You can also find it at the Columbia University Library. I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in American History who is looking for an accessible and witty read that is told like a story, not like a history book.

                    From there, I skimmed "Aaron Burr, a biography" by Nathan Schachnerwhich you can find on Amazon or at the Columbia University Library. I also read through "Aaron Burr" by Milton Lomask, which is sold on Amazon in two parts as Aaron Burr: The Years from Princeton to Vice President, 1756-1805 and Aaron Burr: The Conspiracy and Years of Exile, 1805-1836.You can also find both parts in the Columbia University Library.


                    In editing the Wikipedia entry for Aaron Burr, I tried to add in some content regarding the relationships between the men of his time and some more personal anecdotes about his life. All of the details which I changed or added were reverted by the user "Fat and Happy" citing my edits as "rv unsourced POV pushing". Perhaps this is fair, but I had hoped to add a little flavor and change the hue of the conventional conversation about the American Patriarchs. Primarily, I had hoped to cast a little shadow on Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, by revealing some of their very human character traits, which included keen sense of politics. I'll have to continue working on finding an equilibrium between adding in what I think are appropriate missing details and keep the edits balanced enough to avoid other users reverting them.


                    What stuck out to me most in doing this project was how much more interesting and useful history becomes when you stop looking for idols and start thinking about the men (and women) and their events as men (and women) and as events. What I mean is, instead of just thinking about George Washington as a stoic war hero who could not tell a lie, it is more instructive to consider his relationships with his contemporaries, his personality, and his political machinations in order to both learn from him and to better understand our own legacy in terms of legal history. When one sees these men, as politically-minded individuals attempting to address the problems of their time while also attempting to advance their particular ambitions, we can cease clinging to a near-biblical mythology of these characters and the text which they have left and in stead, start looking at the issues of our own day with the eye to how to best fix them, not how to best adhere to the legacy of men who had no intention of trying to solve our problems.


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r2 - 23 Jun 2013 - 02:20:21 - ElviraKras
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