Exhibit | May 7, 2012

Aaron Burr Returns to New York at the Grolier Club

The Grolier Club is pleased to present a major exhibition that explores the legacy of Aaron Burr.  Opening to the public on May 16, Aaron Burr Returns to New York: An Exhibition on Burr and His Contemporaries marks the 200th anniversary of Burr's return to New York, ending a self-imposed exile to Europe following his trial for treason and tragic duel with Alexander Hamilton.  This exhibit of rare items of “Burriana” ranks as the first such comprehensive portrayal and illuminates not only his political disputes, but also his less publicized career as a daring soldier of the Revolution and of his brilliant rise as a lawyer and politician of the Early Republic.  
Included in the exhibition are rare books, pamphlets, newspapers, manuscripts, documents, autograph letters, art and relics related to Burr and his contemporaries including Benedict Arnold, George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, and many more.  On display will be previously unpublished autograph Burr letters concerning George Washington’s revolutionary war intelligence; the 1800 report of the first recorded murder trial in the United States; an 1804 share in the trust fund established for Hamilton following the most famous duel in U.S. history; an 1807 subpoena from Burr’s trial for treason and Burr’s watch with the only known portrait of his first wife and the earliest known portrait of his daughter Theodosia. 

Aaron Burr, Jr., (1756-1836), soldier, lawyer, statesman and the third Vice President of the United States under President Thomas Jefferson, was an enormously influential public figure whose impact on our legislative life continues to the present. Burr achieved early success as a Manhattan lawyer and politician and, although he traveled widely through the territories of the early Republic, his career in New York was significant. Twice elected to the New York State Assembly, Burr was appointed New York State Attorney General, and was chosen as a United States Senator from the state of New York, before reaching the apex of his career as Vice President of the United States (1801-1805). 

Despite this record of achievement and a legacy of progressive, even radical, political advocacy, Burr’s popular image largely devolved from the negative accounts of his political opponents and enemies, augmented by sensationalized versions of his infamous duel with Alexander Hamilton. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Burr made little effort to author a written account of his life. This autobiographical lack has left Aaron Burr as one of the most maligned figures of the founding era--- accused of attempting to steal the Presidential election of 1800 from Thomas Jefferson, of murdering Alexander Hamilton in 1804 and of treason in 1807.  Yet a careful examination of contemporary documents reveals a far more complex persona, one whose support for women's rights, the arts and the nascent anti-slavery movement were among the most progressive of his time. 
At the dawn of the 21st century, whether Aaron Burr continues among the most misunderstood individuals in American history or assumes the more celebrated stature that he once enjoyed will remain for visitors to this exhibition to decide.
LOCATION AND TIME: Aaron Burr Returns to New York will be on view at the Grolier Club, 47 East 60th Street, New York, from May 16 - July 28, 2012. The exhibition will be open to the public free of charge, Monday - Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Additional information and directions are available at www.grolierclub.org
CATALOGUE: A fully-illustrated catalog of Aaron Burr Returns to New York will be available at the Grolier Club.


Sept. 11 -Nov. 17, 2012.In Pursuit of a Vision: Two Centuries of Collecting Americana at the American Antiquarian Society.

Dec. 4, 2012 - Feb. 2, 2013. From Wunderkammer to Museum, 1599 - 1850

Visit the Grolier Club website: www.grolierclub.org