Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Aaron Burr, 3 February 1799

From Aaron Burr

Albany 3. Feby. 99

Dear Sir,

Being last fall in Ontario County, I spent a day in examining the records to discover the Situation of R.M.’s property. I find that every acre of his land hath been conveyed between the Months of January & July 98 &, as far as I can learn, for good considerations.

An attachment, for the benefit of all the Creditors, issued in March 98 & if prosecuted must exclude any creditor from a partial benefit. In August last, I obtained a Judgt. agt. R.M. at the Suit of a Creditor in N. York for about 50,000 Dolls. which Judgment I have no doubt the Creditor would sell for 2/ in the pound. When I commenced the suit of Mr. Currie I did not suspect the Conveyances which I have since discovered.

The hope of any recovery now appears to me so very remote as not to be worth the expense of the attempt,—For the present therefore I have suspended the pursuit. The Controversy between the attachment & my Judt. will be decided on the 14 March: if in favor of the Judt., I shall sell by execution, the Conveyances notwithstanding, & if the product should exceed the demand, of which I have no hope, shall endeavor to seize the residue for the benefit of Messs. Currie & Burwell—You shall be advised of the result.

The Virginia and Kentucky resolutions have been laid before our legislature, but have not as yet been acted on, in either house. In our Senate they would be rejected about 32 to 8—& probably with marks of indignation: In the H. of assembly they would also be rejected by a Majority of 4 or 5—Under circumstances so inauspicious, I have not thought it discreet to urge a determination in either house. We have now under Consideration two or three laws which are very important even politically considered & are in a good Way; but all hope of success in these would Vanish on the revival of a party discussion—

Our Vehement federalists, many of them at least, begin to halt & to doubt & even to enquire—25 million of british debts—6 Million per ann. for a fleet & as much more for an Army, begin to exite examination to which the land tax gives impulse. Considerable changes will probably take place in this State within two Years—Some Symptoms are already obvious even to you at a distance—

Always respectfully & sincerely Your friend and Ob st

A Burr.

I thank you particularly for those parts of your letters which are not on business

RC (DLC); at foot of text: “Hon. Th Jefferson”; endorsed by TJ as received 9 Feb. and so recorded in SJL.

R.M.: Robert Morris.

On 12 Jan. 1799 Governor John Jay sent the Virginia and Kentucky resolutions to the New York Senate with a one-sentence message noting simply that the resolutions had been sent to him for transmittal to the legislature. That same day the senate referred the resolutions to a committee of the whole but took no further immediate action. The assembly, of which Burr was a member, did not receive Jay’s message and the resolves from the senate until 30 Jan. When the legislature did turn its attention to the resolutions in mid-February, Burr attempted to prevent any consideration of them. That effort and an attempt to delay consideration beyond the end of the legislative session both failed, and when Federalists condemned the Virginia and Kentucky measures Burr and others tried without success to include a statement affirming the right of citizens and their representatives to protest acts of the federal government (Kline, Burr description begins Mary-Jo Kline, ed., Political Correspondence and Public Papers of Aaron Burr, Princeton, 1983, 2 vols. description ends , 1:393–5; Journal of the Senate of the State of New-York; At their Twenty-Second Session, Second Meeting, Began and Held at the City of Albany, the Second Day of January, 1799 [Albany, 1799], 15).

The two or three laws that Burr hoped to see passed were probably a large measure for a uniform system of taxation, an abolition act, and a bill for relief of insolvent debtors (Kline, Burr description begins Mary-Jo Kline, ed., Political Correspondence and Public Papers of Aaron Burr, Princeton, 1983, 2 vols. description ends , 1:382–4).

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