Monday, October 16, 2006


Good luck with your celebration of the Bicentennial of the Burr Arrest. You may want to check out The Reminiscences of George Strother Gaines which I edited for the U/A Press in 1998. GSG reflects on his encounter with AB while recovering from his illness at Fort Stoddert.
BTW, my email address has changed

I left Northeastern State University (OK) in August 2005 to accept my
current position as Dean of the University of Mississippi-Tupelo campus.
Also, we met some time back when you came to my lecture on
Fort Confederation at the University of West Alabama.
Thanks for sharing your AB Bicentennial notice.

Best wishes,
Jim Pate

Sunday, October 15, 2006

ASHLEY & THE COLONEL in front of the Hillel House (recently sold for $400,000)
photo courtesy of ASHLEY

Hey y'all:


If any of y'all know any young people who need to write a history paper, I got one for them. You know you hear all this talk about discrimination down here but have you ever heard that in the early 20s Harvard and other Northeastern universities began to put quotas on the number of Jews they'd let in?

Well, because of this discrimination there was a migration of excellent Jewish students to southern universities. For example, in 1935, Bama had three Jewish fraternities [Zeta Beta Tau, Sigma Alpha Mu & Kappa Nu]

That same year there were two Jewish sororities [Delta Phi Epsilon and Theta Kappa]

In 1935 Bama even had an Italian fraternity, Alpha Phi Delta!

By 1960 there were four Jewish fraternities. [Zeta Beta Tau (a.k.a. Zillions Billions Trillions), Sigma Alpha Mu, Kappa Nu & Alpha Epsilon Pi]

& there were three Jewish sororities:
Alpha Epsilon Phi, Sigma Delta Tau & Delta Phi Epsilon (a.k.a. Dah Phi Yeps)

Somebody oughta study this because it makes us look good and THE DAMN YANKEES look bad.
& while you're at it
please suggest to any budding historian that they should also study how Walter Cronkite took away the job of
Dothan's WAGF & BAMA's Douglas Edwards!!!!

an old engraving of the 1807 arrest of Aaron Burr

Our little
Bicentennial Commemoration and Reenactment of Aaron Burr's Arrest in Alabama
is starting to pick up steam so I decided to start posting Burr stuff here as well at

A rilly kewl email from My Guardian Angel at The Alabama Department of Archives and History
Rickie Brunner:


Thanks for the e-mails concerning Aaron Burr and the bicentennial of his arrest in Alabama. I've talked to Ginger Jones, who portrays a Creek Indian and educates all of us in Indian Life in the 18th and early 19th century. Ginger suggested that you might want to contact Leh Lehmann. Leh's time period is the Jackson era in Alabama and he does re-enactments for the pre-1820 period. Leh's e-mail address is http:

Keep me informed. I forwarded a copy of your e-mail to Dr. Bridges.

Rickie Brunner
Ala. Dept. of Archives & History
Research Room, Public Services Division



A cat named Holmes Alexander wrote this about Burr's Arrest in his book published in 1937 called Aaron Burr: the Proud Pretender



Persons who read the appended description were unlikely to recognize its original as he rode through the sodden jungle lands of Louisiana in " an old blanket coat begirt with a leathern strap."...."an old white hat flapped over his face." Leaving behind his five score of bewildered companions and two posters {TWO BAIL BONDSMEN,ed.} of a five thousand dollar bail, the phantom Emporer fled into the night, "a fugitive," as the Governor of Mississippi sent word after him, "from the laws of your country."

Not without compunction did the Colonel enact this sneakaway, so much at odds with the code of an officer and a gentleman. Arrested at Bayou Pierre he had once more coaxed his way past a grand jury, but was thereupon denied release and held for his military trial. He understood the meaning of this maneuver by the territorial officials. Civil injunctions he had repeatedly laughed to scorn. No jury had yet withstood the noble air of injured innocence, and no prosecutor had been able to lift the burden of proof necessary for conviction. His boats, insisted Mr. Burr, were merely "vehicles of migration," and who could gainsay him? If he ever had arms on board, they had been dumped (according to Sergeant Dunbaugh's debatable eyesight) into the river. If he had treasonable intentions, no one could produce more than heresay evidence.

But a court-martial trial, the Colonel realized, was a different matter.
All unavailing would be his finely turned eloquence, his baffling sophistries, his easeful quibbling over disputed legality. For a quarter-century he had prospered on the theory that law "is whatever is boldly asserted and plausibly maintained." A panel of hard-bitten army officers might be less vulnerable than the judges and juries he was wont to confound. Besides, James Wilkinson, having stooped to betrayal, would not balk the conclusive step. A dead man would tell no tales to embarrass the General's patriotism. Fall into Wilkinson's power, Mr. Burr well knew, and there would be a rendevous with the firing squad some fine morning.

So he fled.
His habitual freedom with other men's money needed little urging from the two friends who put up the bail.
At first there had been some talk on the boats of resisting capture, but arrival of the militia ended the heartless debate.
"What property there was," Burr said, "the men might sell...go to the Washita lands...and go to work." For himself he headed for the coast, hoping to pick up a British cruiser said to be lying off Pensacola.

"Burr's destination was France beyond all doubt," thought Wilkinson, and if so, he counted on pleasant company for the voyage. His three weeks in Bayou Pierre had been long enough to captivate the attentions of Miss Madeline Price, the "Maid of Half-Way Hill" who figures in the legendary history of Mississippi. Too fragrant with romance to be ignored is the tale which has him at her window on the eve of flight, begging her to join their fates. But the maiden was shy and the swain was aged fifty-two for all his dashing ways. With him into the wilderness rode only a guide.

For thirteen days he was lost to the sight of man, the crownless monarch of an unseen kingdom fleeing for his life. He crossed into Spanish lands, unaware that the Dons, too, had a posse out to snatch him. Yrujo had joined Jefferson in the attempt to run down their common deceiver. But pursuers had no stomach for the task. A season of rains and floods set in to swamp the forests and swell the streams beyond recognition. Once before on the march to Quebec, nature had played this trick on Aaron Burr. Then , as now, the changed topography of the landscape made maps worthless. He turned back toward American soil and emerged from obscurity at the hamlet of Wakefield. Two frontier lawyers were playing backgammon at the village tavern when a disheveled figure rode up to the door and inquired his whereabouts. One of the players, Nicholas Perkins, noted two incongruities in his appearance. Beneath the ragged trousers legs were the pointed toes of fashionable boots. Under the flapping brim of the hat gleamed a pair of eyes the belonged to no wayfaring woodsman.

"That is Aaron Burr," said Perkins when the Colonel had ridden on. "I have read a description of him in the proclamation. I can not be mistaken."

Next morning, having found and taken the road to Pensacola, Mr. Burr encountered a file of calvary, headed by young Lieutenant Gaines and the informer, Perkins.

"I presume, sir, that I have the honor of addressing Colonel Burr."

"I... do not recognize your right to ask such a question."

"I arrest you at the instance of the Federal government."

So at long last Aaron Burr was captive of the power he had consistently flouted with impunity. With enemies foreign and domestic he had intrigued against his country, while she, slow to anger and loath to strike, had excused his vicious pranks like the indulgent guardian of a headstrong, pampered child. Twenty or thirty years before it is doubtful if Aaron Burr would have tamely surrendered. He might have clapped spurs to his horse and risked a mad rush for freedom, preferring a soldier's death to that of a felon. But in mature manhood Aaron Burr more and more had recourse to the art of wheedling his way past authority, at which he was a master. It marks a weakening of his fiber that he progressively became less a man of action and more of an actor. Instead of riding off in a lusty race for freedom, he submitted to the Lieutenant, first with veiled threats, and then to appeals for sympathy.

"You are a young man and may not know the responsibilities which result from arresting travelers."

"I know my duty," replied Gaines, and listened unmoved to the torrent of protests by which the Colonel averred himself a victim of unearned persecution.

Gaines was adament: "My mind is made up. You must accompany me to Fort Stoddard."

During the two weeks spent under guard at the Fort there was no letup in the prisoner's efforts to edge himself into favoritism. He nursed Gaines' sick brother, played chess with his wife and treated the entire garrison to such flattering attentions that Gaines wrote Wilkinson:
" A week longer the consequences would have been of a most serious nature."
Perkins insisted on claiming the reward, and early in March was given a detachment of troops with which to deliver the captive into presidential custody. Moist eyes and waving handkerchiefs attended the Emporer's melancholy departure for the East, and one lady subsequently felt herself obligated to christen a son after him.

"When a lady does me the honor to name me the father of her child," the Colonel mused, " I trust I shall always by too gallant to show myself ungrateful for the favor."

Hey y'all:

If you like this stuff, take a few moments to pass it along to somebody else who likes this stuff too.