Aaron Burr.

Trial of Aaron Burr for treason : printed from the report taken in short hand (Volume 1) online

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him to do so. The judge asked him if he would answer.
The witness refused until he had counsel ; but offered to
be placed in confinement until he could procure counsel.
He afterwards saw as his counsel, Mr. Carr, who informed
him that the judge had no right to demand such answers.
The judge still persisted in interrogating him, to some of
which interrogatories he answered, in order to save trouble.
The witness then related everything that had passed,
from Meadville until his arrival in New Orleans. Mr.
Fort was then sent for and interrogated. He made some
observations, and refused to answer (being, he said,
about Tom, Dick and Harry). After which the judge
gave the deputy marshal a note, who put Fort and the
witness into jail^among forty or fifty negroes and crim-
inals. Fort was bailed by his friends ; but they required
bail of the witness in five or six thousand dollars, and he
remained in jail until the vessel was ready in which he
embarked. He requested leave to get his clothes. Dun-
baugh then came with some men with belts and side-
arms. The witness asked if they were a guard ? He
was answered, no; but that they were some acquaint-
ances. That he has since been told by Dunbaugh, they
were a guard. They went with Dunbaugh and himself,
to the water-edge. The witness asked whether Lieuten-
ant Gaines were on board? They said no, but soon
would be. When Dunbaugh came to the jail, he had
an order which was handed to the jailer. While in jail,
the witness wrote to Lindsley and Doctor Mulhollon, to
come and see him ; and told them if they came to New
Orleans, what they might expect. He was informed by
the jailer that they would be confined. He did not
send the note. He did not see Gaines until the next day.
When Lieutenant Gaines came on board the vessel, he
said the witness was in a bad .humor; the witness told
him he was, and Gaines said that he had better be satis
fied, and bear his situation with patience. He asked
Gaines fo/* leave to go on shore for his clothes: he did
not care wha.t guard was sent with him. Gaines said,
that it was not in his power to grant it, but the powei
i/as in General Wilkinson. The witness was not permit


ted to get his clothes, and came without any except
what he had on at the time, and except that Lindsley
brought him one of his shirts which he had lent him.
Gaines, after having told him that he might put him in
irons, and bring him round in that manner, offered him
forty dollars. The witness said, that if he would let
him go on shore, he did not want it : otherwise must take
it. * It was paid and sent on shore; twenty dollars were
paid to his landlord, and the other twenty dollars re-
turned to him by Governor Claiborne, who came on
board and went with them six or eight miles on the
passage. And also, when they came to anchor in
Hampton Roads, Gaines asked him if he had any objec-
tion to coming to Richmond; he answered that he never
had any objection. Gaines said, that he was- sent by
the authority of Judge Hall. General Wilkinson spoke
to him next day, and asked him if he had any objection
to come to Richmond. He answered he had not, if
properly treated ; but he had been brought off without
clothes or money. General Wilkinson had not heard of
his not being permitted to bring his clothes, until that
morning. General Wilkinson agreed he was ill-treated.
Told him that he (witness) must understand, that he was
brought round by the direction of Judge Hall. General
Wilkinson proposed to let the witness go to Richmond
upon his parole of honor, which was refused. Wilkin-
son said, if the witness wanted twenty dollars, he should
have it ; afterwards he talked with Mr. Lindsley, and re-
turned to the witness and said, if he wanted fifty dollars
he might have it. Witness wanting money to purchase
clothes, took it. He observed, in the first conversation,
that he had twice asked favors of him and Gaines, and
would never ask a third favor of any person. He came
to Richmond with Moxley, in a pilot-boat. Moxley told
him that he had orders from General Wilkinson, to take
charge of the passengers on board the Revenge, and
bring them to Richmond, and there wait his (Wilkin-
son's) order.

Cross-examination by the counsel for the United
States. Have you any military commission? Answer:
None. Where were you born ? Answer: In Maryland ;
left it very young ; resided in Pennsylvania, and left it


some time in November last. Left Pennsylvania (Mead-
ville) for New Orleans, on the 24th or 2$th of Novem-
ber ; went down the Alleghany and Ohio to Beaver ; went
from thence, with about twenty or thirty, to Blanner-
hasset's island, where he did not recollect to have stayed
but two days or a day and a half; left that place some
time in December, Blannerhasset and another with them,
who were the only persons who joined them there.
Stopped at Shawnee Town ; went with about double the
number to Cumberland island, just opposite to the
mouth of Cumberland river; stayed a day and a half;
met with Mr. Burr and a few others, the whole number
about fifty or sixty, about seven or eight boats, five fire-
arms ; went thence to Fort Massac ; Sergeant Dunbaugh
met them there with a musket, and after meeting with
Mr. Burr, he considered himself under his direction.
Went to Natchez. Mr. Burr did not accompany
them. Went from Natchez to New Orleans. Some of
the boats were chartered and others sold. They arrived
at New Orleans on the I3th or i6th of March. The
first notice he had, after seeing General Wilkinson, of
the proceedings against him was, when he was carried
before Judge Hall. He was said to be carried under an
affidavit of General Wilkinson before Judge Hall. Cap-
tain Gaines requested him to. write to him on shore, and
he would get what he wanted. He was not permitted
to send the letter. Never mentioned this to General
Wilkinson till they arrived in Hampton Roads. That
he was treated as others while on his way ; that is, as
well as some ; not so well as some, and better than
others. Arrived at Richmond on Friday evening ; put
up at the Bell tavern. Three days elapsed before he saw
Mr. Burr. He mentioned the treatment he had received
to Mr. Burr, and intended mentioning it to the court, on
his first appearance; but was told it was unnecessary.
That General Wilkinson used no terror against him ; and
offered to relieve him if he wanted money. Whilst at
the mouth of Cumberland river, and when Mr. Burr
made his escape, he was one that took Mr. Burr in a-
wherry, and carried him some distance, and left him in
the woods ; did not hear him address any one. The note
written him by General Wilkinson, and sent by Dun-


baugh, was left at his house sealed ; the object was to
obtain some information about Dunbaugh. No letters.
Carried Mr. Burr's things to a parson Bruin's, as he was
told. They had but few guns, which were traded for as
they descended the river. The vessel sailed from New
Orleans in half an hour after General Wilkinson came on
board. The one hundred and fifty dollars offered him by
General Wilkinson, he was induced to believe, was to
bribe him to give evidence against Mr. Burr, or it might
be considered as a bribe. Said he could obtain from
Colonel Tyler a sufficiency to carry him home under his
agreement with that gentleman. This conversation took
place before the subpoena was served.

Lieutenant Gaines was then sworn. He stated that
he received a letter from the attorney-general of the
United States, enclosing subpoenas for witnesses against
Mr. Burr. That he went to New Orleans in consequence,
and arrived there on the /th of May. Called several
times at the house where James Knox stayed, with Mr.
Lindsley and Doctor Mulhollon, and could not find them.
He was told by the landlord, that those gentlemen walked
out whenever he approached ; they supposed he had
something against them. He told his business, and at
length saw them. They said, that the reason why they
endeavored to keep out erf his way was, that they had
belonged to Burr's party and did not wish to appear
against him. He told them that the commander-in-chief
offered them a passage in a United States' vessel with
him. He desired Knox and Lindsley to say whether
they would come or not ? Knox said he could not
come until he had made some money arrangements
(though Lindsley seemed disposed to come on). That
he then applied to Judge Hall ; the judge directed him
to obtain an affidavit of the refusal, and that he would
take the proper steps. He said the subpoena might be
served by the marshal or sheriff, and proposed that he
(Lieutenant Gaines) should be appointed by the marshal,
a deputy. He refused, unless he could afterwards be
released from any further service in that capacity. Next
day the judge told him, that the marshal had left a depu-
tation for him, and asked him if he would act ; he an-
swered that he would on the foregoing condition, and


that he should not attend to Knox at New Orleans.
Knox appeared always ill-natured, which induced him
to ask him if he could do anything for him ? He ob-
tained from the United States' agent at that place, forty
dollars, and offered it to Knox, which he after sc:ro
hesitation accepted. In reply to his inquiries whether
Knox wanted assistance, he hesitated and then said, that
he wished to go on shore himself, to get some, necessa-
ries out of his trunk. He told him that as the vessel was
going to sail so soon, he could not ; but offered him pen,
ink, and paper, and requested him to write to some friend
on shore, to do what he wanted done ; or he would act
for him himself. He was then in a very ill humor, and
was so when the witness returned on board. James Knox
was under no restaint, from the time the vessel sailed,
till they arrived at Hampton Roads. To a question put
by Mr. Burr's counsel, by whose authority he acted, Lieu-
tenant Gaines answered, that in every step relative to
Knox, he acted under the authority'of the marshal at
New Orleans, except that he was authorized by the
commander-in-chief, to offer him a passage in a public
vessel. In serving the subpoena, he acted under the au-
thority of the attorney-general. When at Hampton
Roads, he inquired of Knox whether he had any dispo-
sition to go to Richmond? He said that he wished to
come to Richmond, but wished also to leave that vessel.
He told him he should leave it, but had not determined
how he would be conveyed to Richmond. General
Wilkinson told him, all would come in a vessel except
those who would come in the stage. His getting off
gave him no concern ; because he supposed that Knox
could be caught again in some part of the country, if he
attempted to go away. Whilst the witness"was on shore,
General Wilkinson procured a vessel in which Knox and
others were sent to Richmond. He considered Knox
under his authority, not as a military officer, but as deputy
marshal. That he was committed to his charge, as such,
in virtue of a warrant of commitment issued by Judge Hall.
He did not know the reason why the judge made such *"
an order. That General Wilkinson never attempted to
exercise any authority over Knox, on his passage. That
the deputation was not of his own procuring. That he


had received an order from the department of war, to
leave the garrison at which he commanded, under the
direction of some other person, and to attend to the
orders of the attorney-general.

Question by Mr. Burr. Had you no previous conver-
sation with General Wilkinson about this deputation ?
Answer: I had none. I never heard nor had any con-
ception of such a deputation till it was mentioned by
Judge Hall. He gave to Sergeant Dunbaugh an order at
New Orleans to receive from prison and deliver to the
commanding officer on board the United States schooner
Revenge, the body of James Knox, and he was accord-
ingly conveyed on board.

Question by Mr. Baker. Was not Dunbaugh a sergeant
in the army, and did you not consider him acting as such
under you? Answer: I should not have considered any
citizen of New Orleans bound to obey my order ; I did not
consider Sergeant Dunbaugh further bound than in compli-
ance with his promise. He was called Sergeant Dunbaugh,
but I did not consider him under my authority as a military
officer. I took no oath of office ; I gave no bond to per-
form the duties of a deputy marshal ; I do not know that
I shall get any pay ; I have no promise of any. General
Wilkinson made his affidavit at his own quarters, before
Mr. Cenas. I do not recollect whom General Wilkinson
consulted ; an attorney had been with him. I delivered
to General Wilkinson the subpoenas received from the
attorney-general of the United States, and among them
one for myself, another for Mr. Graham. I always con-
sidered myself bound to obey the orders of General Wil-
kinson. I was bound before the deputation to obey him,
and I continued so. I considered General Wilkinson as
having the -power of controlling myself, and every per-
son belonging to the army and navy of the United States
on board the Revenge, if he chose to exercise that con-
trol ; but I do not consider that he did exercise such

The subpoenas which I delivered to General Wilkinson
came into my hands afterwards, but nothing passed be-
tween the general and myself on the subject, except that
I stated to him the orders I had received, and the power
I possessed. My impression was, that General Wilkinson


must have been privy to the whole, and perhaps recom-
mended that I should transact this business. I commu-
nicated to him what Judge Hall had said ; that an affi-
davit must be made of the materiality of Knox as a wit-
ness, before he could take any steps to compel his attend-
ance. General Wilkinson knew that Knox was put on
board the Revenge unwillingly.

On our way to Virginia we stopped at Havana for
fresh supplies of water and other necessaries. Some on
board were sick ; they prevailed on the officers to call.
While preparing to go on shore, a shot was fired from the
Moro castle, and orders given to come on shore. They
went on shore at the request of the sick persons on board
made to General Wilkinson and Captain Read. They
did not land until after four o'clock in the afternoon, and
a little after dark they set sail again. Had good provis-
ions, &c. on board. Heard Captain Read direct the cook
to Jet those people have their provisions regularly. To
a question put by Mr. Burr's counsel, he answered, that
General Wilkinson pointed out the witnesses on whom
the subpoenas must be served. He, on several occasions,
received advice and instructions from the counsel whom
he consulted how to act in executing the business in which
he was engaged.

Mr, Randolph. Upon what authority were the forty
dollars received from the military agent ? Answer: The
money received from the military agent was applied for,
after several applications from Knox; and General Wil-
kinson advised me to consult Judge Hall, whether it
were legal to demand money for him ? And was told by
the judge that it was regular to advance a reasonable sum ;
and was also told by the military agent, that General
Wilkinson had advised him to advance that sum. The
general advised me to consult the attorney-general there,
or Mr. Duncan, and the general's own idea corresponded
on the subject,

Mr. Graham being sworn gave the following testimony :
A short time after the arrival of Captain Gaines at New
Orleans, I was told that he had subpoenas for witnesses,
and one for myself; that there was a public vessel that
would carry us to Richmond. I then waited on General
Wilkinson to know whether J could be accommodated in


that vessel? My health was bad at that time; General
Wilkinson agreed that I should ; and then said that he un-
derstood that there were several witnesses in town, some
of whom were unwilling, others unable to come round ;
and asked me if I knew any legal means or process, by
which those who were unwilling could be compelled to
come? I told him I did not know, but I supposed the
federal judge could inform him. As there was a misun-
derstanding between the general and the judge, I offered
to ask the judge myself, whether there were such process ;
and I did so. At this, or some subsequent time, General
Wilkinson told me to ask the judge, whether there were
any impropriety in advancing money to the witnesses,
and to what amount? The judge said, that so far from
being improper, the witnesses had a right to demand it.
The judge said, in answer to the other question, that if
the witness refused to enter into recognizance, or to an-
swer such questions as would satisfy him of the material-
ity or relevancy from the law (which he showed me), he
would be authorized to send such witness round under
the care of the district marshal. He saw a few days after,
in an outer room at the judge's, Mr. Knox talking with
Mr. Keene, a lawyer; some short time after, when these
gentlemen came i^to the room, the judge asked Knox if
he were then willing to answer questions, or enter into rec-
ognizance ? He declined doing either. The judge had
that clause of the law before him. He pointed it out
to Mr. Keene, and a Mr. Fort, who was in the same sit-
uation with Knox, and advised them to do one of the
two ; or he should be obliged to act rigidly towards them ;
that he was very unwilling to act against them ; but it
was his duty, and he must do it. The same gentleman
had a curiosity to know what questions they intended
to put to him, and then the printed interrogatories were
shown to him. The judge asked Mr. Fort to answer
these interrogatories, which he refused to do. The judge
then sent for the marshal, and committed both of them.
In the afternoon Captain Fort gave security in $500
for his appearance at Richmond, and was released. He
understood Captain Fort was going in the ship Amity to
New York, in order to come to Richmond ; but as Fort
told the witness, he could not leave New Orleans


without injury to his business, it was his own opinion,
that he would not leave that place. Mr. Keene inti-
mated to the judge, that he did not appear as an attor-
ney ; but expressed some doubt of the correctness of the
proceedings, and of the power of the judge to send Knox
round. The ship's stores were good, and the persons
treated civilly and not restrained. They slept where
he did. They called in at Havana on account of bad
winds, and being chased close in by a British cruiser.
Captain Read, who commands the vessel, Mr. Gaines,
Mr. Smith and himself went on shore to procure fruit,
&c. Remained there about three hours. His impression
was, that if the gun had not been fired from the fort, they
should not have gone in. That part of the navy of the
United States, which is at New Orleans, and was formerly
under the control of the government, and the officers
about New Orleans, when the country was considered to
be in a state of danger, was put under the command of
General Wilkinson. He saw no guard on his way to
New Orleans. I went, said Mr. Graham, partly by land,
and partly by water. I went down the river with Cap-
tain Fort, who said, that he was one of a party, whose
object was to go against Mexico ; of which declaration
he made no secret. I do not know by what authority
Fort was brought, before the judge, but Judge Hall said
he felt himself bound to act under the law. I advised
Fort not to oppose the judge, who was a very deter-
mined man. Fort replied, that Mr. Alexander said, that
the judge had no right to send him. The judge
and Mr. Keene both requested him to request Mr.
Gaines to remove Knox out of the prison to the

Lieutenant Gaines, upon being called up again, said
he is an officer of the United States army: never con-
sulted General Wilkinson about accepting the appoint-
ment of deputy-marshal. He understood Fort was
-included in the same affidavit with Knox. He sailed
from New Orleans in the Revenge ; saw General Wilkin-
son exercise no kind of authority on the voyage.

Mr. Graham said, that General Wilkinson opposed
their stopping at Havana for two reasons ; first that it
would occasion delay, and secondly, that his enemies


might charge it against him as an improper act. The
gun was fired from the Moro castle.

1 understood that the judge had requested Mr. Gaines
to accept the deputation. Gaines did not wish to act.
He was urged by myself and others to accept it ; and he
did accept it, I believe from motives of patriotism.
General Wilkinson exercised no control over the persons
on board ; and no restraint was used, except what
has been mentioned with respect to the witness Mr.

After the testimony was closed, a dispute arose be-
tween the counsel, which side should begin the argument,
both parties claiming the right. After some observations
by gentlemen on both sides, it was determined, that the
correct distinction was, that he who obtained a rule to
show cause should close, and, of course begin the argu-

WEDNESDAY, June 24th, 1807.

Mr. Graham was called by Mr. Mac Rae, and ques-
tioned, relative to the state of the public mind at New
Orleans, and whether great alarms were not excited by
the conspiracy ? Ke answered, that he had not arrived
at that place till the month of March, and at that time the
public mind was much agitated.

To a question put by Mr. Burr, whether General
Wilkinson himself had not contributed to excite those
alarms by. his violent measures? Mr. Hay objected as
improper. Colonel Burr insisted on the propriety of his

The court was of opinion, that the witness was only
bound to answer such questions as directly applied to the
subject before them.

Mr. Graham said, tljat there was a considerable por-
tion of the people at New Orleans, who believed, that
there was another portion unfriendly to the government.
He did not know the measures pursued by the execu-
tive, at New Orleans. He was then interrogated as to
the post-offices being robbed of letters. He did not
recollect that General Wilkinson particularly informed
him how letters of information were received by him ;


only he observed, concerning a letter partly in cypher,
that he had received it from a house at New Orleans
[which Mr. Graham named : but it is not inserted, as he
was not distinctly heard] ; that the practice of opening
letters, if it existed at all, had ceased, when he arrived at
New Orleans ; that General Wilkinson showed him three
or four letters. He did not know how those letters were
taken from the post-office, but it was generally said at
New Orleans, that the post-master there had given him
those letters.

Mr. Burr asked him, whether a considerable number
of letters, directed to himself, or to others, had not been
taken from the post-office there ? He answered, that he
knew not ; but there was an impression on his mind, that
letters were improperly taken from the post-office ;
whether by General Wilkinson or not, he knew not. He
rather thought not.

Mr. Martin. Did you not understand that General
Wilkinson had placed guards on the river, and on the
roads, to stop travelers and passengers from passing?

Mr. Graham. I did understand that he had placed
guards at two points, near New Orleans, for the purpose
of arresting suspected characters. I had understood also,
that certain persons had been seized.

Mr. Martin. Did General Wilkinson never tell you
how he got those letters? Mr. Graham. He did not.

Captain Murray was then called and sworn.

Being interrogated by Mr. Burr, he stated that he was
stationed at Ville Grove, two miles above New Orleans.
His orders from Governor Claiborne were to stop boats
coming down the river, and examine them ; to examine
papers, but break no seal : but that, from his orders he
would have deemed it his duty to have transmitted letters
addressed to suspicious persons to the executive at New

Mr. Burr. Would you have obeyed the governor,
since, as an officer, you are strictly bound to obey Gene-
ral Wilkinson.

Captain Murray. Ye, I should. The orders from
Governor Claiborne originated with, and always came
through General Wilkinson.
, Mr. Edmund Randolph then addressed the court thus:


May it please your honors : The motion which we so
often attempted to bring forward, I hope, will now be
submitted and freely argued : the motion to attach Gene-

Online LibraryAaron BurrTrial of Aaron Burr for treason : printed from the report taken in short hand (Volume 1) → online text (page 28 of 64)