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The Burr Conspiracy: Uncovering the Story of an Early American Crisis Reprint Edition
Contributor(s): Lewis, James E., Jr.

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ISBN: 0691191557     ISBN-13: 9780691191553
Publisher: Princeton Univ Pr
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Binding Type: Paperback
Published: June 2019
Additional Information
BISAC Categories:
- History | United States | 19th Century
- History | Social History
Dewey: 973
Academic/Grade Level: General Adult
Book type: Non-Fiction
Physical Information: 9.00" H x 5.75" W x 2.00" (2.05 lbs) 715 pages
Descriptions, Reviews, Etc.

Reviewed by PW Annex Reviews (Publishers Weekly Annex Reviews)

Lewis (The Louisiana Purchase), associate professor of history at Kalamazoo College, makes a resounding case for the historical value of contradictory sources in this examination of the unresolved debates surrounding former Vice President Aaron Burr's 1807 treason trial. Drawing on primary sources including newspapers and personal letters, Lewis argues that conflicting understandings of Burr's alleged conspiracy to lead a Western separatist movement against President Jefferson reveal 19th-century anxieties regarding the fragility of union, government instability, and the uncertainty of nationalism. Early Americans struggled with what to believe concerning Burr, not for lack of information but rather due to a surplus of it: the rapid circulation of rumors, letters, and public print matter made ascertaining the truth difficult, even in the case of official government documents. As Lewis demonstrates, audiences more readily interpreted Burr's case through the lens of personal character or preexisting narratives such as popular separatism, regional special interests, and global history. Though lengthy, Lewis's work benefits from four short "interludes" in which he unpacks key events, such as Jefferson's 1806 cabinet crisis; these moments help orient readers and anchor broader analyses. Lucid prose and careful notes make this text one that will interest both scholars of early nationalism and readers simply interested in learning more about Burr beyond his famous duel with Alexander Hamilton. Illus. (Nov.)

Copyright 2017 Publishers Weekly Annex.
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