The Burr Conspiracy: Uncovering the Story of an Early American Crisis

A panoramic look at the early American republic through the lens of the Burr Conspiracy


Jun 18, 2019
6.13 x 9.25 in.
13 b/w illus. 1 map.
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In 1805 and 1806, Aaron Burr traveled through the Trans-Appalachian West gathering support for a mysterious enterprise, for which he was arrested and tried for treason in 1807. This book explores the political and cultural forces that shaped how Americans made sense of the rumors and reports about Burr’s intentions and movements, and examines what the resulting crisis reveals about Americans’ anxieties concerning the new nation’s fragile union. The Burr Conspiracy was a cause célèbre of the early republic—with Burr cast as the chief villain of the Founding Fathers. He was said to have enticed some people with plans to liberate Spanish Mexico, others with promises of land in the Orleans Territory, still others with talk of building a new empire beyond the Appalachians. James E. Lewis Jr. looks at how differing understandings of the conspiracy were influenced by everything from biased newspapers to notions of honor and gentility, providing a multifaceted portrait of the republic at a time when it was far from clear how long it would last.

Awards and Recognition

  • Finalist for the 2018 George Washington Prize
  • 2017 Finalist in History, ForeWord Reviews’ INDIES Book of the Year Awards
  • Longlisted for the 2018 Cundill History Prize, McGill University