1804.019: Examination of the Charges exhibited against Aaron Burr.

Published: 1804

Full Title: An examination of the various charges exhibited against Aaron Burr, Esq., vice president of the United States; and a development of the characters and views of his political opponents by Aristides.

Author: Van Ness, William Peter (1778-1826), as Aristides.

Place Issued: Richmond

Issuing Press: Augustine Davis, for John Wood

Description: 60 pgs.; 20 cm. (8vo).


Imprint masks title's origin, stating simply: "Virginia. Printed, and for sale by the booksellers in this state. 1804." Subsequent events revealed that this title was published by John Wood while an editor of the Virginia Gazette of Federalist Augustine Davis, so the attribution here. Wood was an English émigré who had been driven from New York City in the face of a libel prosecution by the government of Republican George Clinton; while still a supporter of Burr, he was in demand as a polemicist against the Clinton faction of the Republican Party, and so of Federalist newspapers as well; he arrived in Richmond in mid-1802 to assist an aging Davis in advance of the 1804 presidential election; he continued in that role until early 1805. Text was originally published in New York in early 1803 refuting charges made by Republican editor James Cheetham that Burr pursued personal interest rather than the public interest in his political career; the pseudonymous Aristides was later identified as Van Ness, a friend and supporter of Burr, as well as a figure who may have aided Wood's flight to Virginia. In this edition, Wood removed those parts of the original text that were "of a local nature" [i.e. New York] and added an appendix "proving, that Gen. Hamilton at the last presidential election, exerted all his influence to support Mr. Jefferson in opposition to Mr. Burr" [from half-title] in an apparent attempt to undermine the reputations of both Hamilton and Jefferson. Wood remained loyal to Burr until his duel with Alexander Hamilton in July 1804; after that fatal event, he pursued a series of ventures that eventually took him to Kentucky in late 1805.

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