General William Eaton (8/17)
2. Commodore Truxton (8/17)
3. Peter Taylor (8/17)
4. General John Morgan (8/19)
5. Colonel Morgan (8/19)
6. Thomas Morgan (8/19)
7. Jacob Allbright (8/19)
8. William Love (8/19)
9. Dudley Woodbridge (8/19)
10. Simeon Poole (8/20)
11. Maurice Belknap (8/20)
12. Edmund Dana (8/20)
13. Isreal Miller (8/21)
14. Pearley Howe (8/21)
Mr. Hay proceeded to the examination of the evidence on the part of the United States General William Eaton was sworn....General William Eaton was then called to give his evidence. He inquired whether he might be permitted to have a recurrence to his notes....THE COURT decided that they were not admissible.
Mr Eaton May I ask one further indulgence from the court? I have been long before the public. Much stricture and some severity have passed upon me May I, in stating my evidence, be permitted to make some explanation about the motives of my own conduct?
The CHIEF JUSTICE -- Perhaps it would be more correct for the court to decide upon the propriety of the explanation when the particular case occurs. Some cases may require it; and if any objection be made to your explanation, then the court will decide upon it.
Mr Eaton Concerning an overt act which goes to prove Aaron Burr guilty of treason, I know nothing
Mr Hay -- I wish you to state to the court and jury the different conversations you have had with the prisoner.
Mr Eaton Concerning certain transactions which are said to have happened at Blennerhassett's Island, or any agency which Aaron Burr may be supposed to have had in them, I know nothing. But concerning Colonel Burr's expressions of treasonable intentions I know much, and it is to these that my evidence relates.
Mr Martin -- I know not how far the court's opinion extends
The CHIEF JUSTICE -- It is this: that any proof of intention formed before the act itself, if relevant to the act, may be admitted One witness may prove the intention at one time, and another may prove it at another, so as to prove the continuance of the intention throughout the whole transaction, and therefore the proof of very remote intentions may be relevant to this particular act.
Mr Martin -- I trust that when he speaks of a treasonable intention not applicable to this act the court will stop him.
Mr Wickham -- If I understand the opinion of the court correctly, it relates to treason charged to be committed in Virginia, and evidence of acts out of it is inadmissible.
The CHIEF JUSTICE -- The intention to commit this crime, to erect an empire in the West, and seize New Orleans, may be shown by subsequent events to have been continued; and facts out of the district may be proved, after the overt act, as corroborative testimony.
Mr Eaton-- During the winter of 1805-6, (I cannot be positive as to the distinct point of time, yet during that winter,) at the city of Washington, Aaron Burr signified to me that he was organizing a military expedition to be moved against the Spanish provinces on the southwestern frontiers of the United States; I understood under the authority of the general government. From our existing controversies with Spain, and from the tenor of the president's communications to both houses of congress, a conclusion was naturally drawn that war with that power was inevitable. I had just then returned from the coast of Africa, and having been for many years employed on your frontier, or a coast more barbarous and obscure, I was ignorant of the estimation in which Colonel Burr was held by his country. The distinguished rank he held in society, and the strong marks of confidence which he had received from his fellow citizens, did not permit me to doubt of his patriotism. As a military character, I had been made acquainted with none within the United States under whose direction a soldier might with greater security confide his honor than Colonel Burr. In case of my country's being involved in a war, I should have thought it my duty to obey so honorable a call as was proposed to me. Under impressions like these I did engage to embark myself in the enterprise, and pledged myself to Colonel Burr's confidence. At several interviews in appeared to be his intention to convince me, by maps and other documents, of the feasibility of penetrating to Mexico. At length, from certain indistinct expressions and innuendoes, I admitted a suspicion that Colonel Burr had other projects. He used strong expressions of reproach against the administration of the government; accused them of want of character, want of energy, and want of gratitude. He seemed desirous of irritating my resentment by dilating on certain injurious strictures I had received on the floor of congress on account of certain transactions on the coast of Tripoli, and also on the delays in adjusting my accounts for advances of money on account of the United States, and talked of pointing out to me modes of honorable indemnity. I will not conceal here that Colonel Burr had good reasons for supposing me disaffected towards the government; I had indeed suffered much from delays in adjusting my accounts for cash advanced to the government whilst I was consul at Tunis, and for the expense of supporting the war with Tripoli. I had but a short time before been compelled ingloriously to strike the flag of my country on the ramparts of a defeated enemy, where it had flown for forty-five days. I had been compelled to abandon my comrades in war on the fields, where they had fought our battles. I had seen cash offered to the half-vanquished chief of Tripoli, (as he had himself acknowledged,) as the consideration of pacification.
Mr Wickham -- By whom?
Eaton-- By our negotiator, when as yet no exertion had been made by our naval squadron to coerce that enemy. I had seen the conduct of the author of these blemishes on our then proud national character, if not commended -- not censured; whilst my own inadequate efforts to support that character were attempted to be thrown into shade. To feelings naturally arising out of circumstances like these, I did give strong expression. Here I beg leave to observe, in justice to myself, that however strong those expressions, however harsh the language I employed, they would not justify the inference that I was preparing to dip my sabre in the blood of my countrymen, much less of their children, which I believe would have been the case had this conspiracy been carried into effect.
Mr Martin objected to this language
Eaton--I listened to
Colonel Burr's mode of indemnity; and as I had by this
time begun to suspect that the military expedition he
had on foot was unlawful, I permitted him to believe
myself resigned to his influence that I might
understand the extent and motive of his
arrangements. Colonel Burr now laid open his
project of revolutionizing the territory west of the
Allegany, establishing an independent empire there;
New Orleans to be the capital, and he himself to be
the chief; organizing a military force on the waters
of the Mississippi, and carrying conquest to
Mexico. After much conversation which I do not
particularly recollect respecting the feasibility of
the project, as was natural, I stated impediments to
his operations; such as the republican habits of the
citizens of that country, their attachment to the
present administration of the government, the want of
funds, the opposition he would experience from the
regular army of the United States stationed on that
frontier, and the resistance to be expected from
Miranda, in case he should succeed in republicanizing
the Mexicans. Colonel Burr appeared to have no
difficulty in removing these obstacles. He
stated to me that he had in person, (I think the
preceding season,) made a tour through that country,
that he had secured to his interests and attached to
his person, (I do not recollect the exact expression,
but the meaning, and I believe the words were,) the
most distinguished citizens of Tennessee, Kentucky,
and the territory of Orleans; that he had
inexhaustible resources and funds; that the army of
the United States would act with him; that it would be
reinforced by ten or twelve thousand men from the
above mentioned states and territory; that he had
powerful agents in the Spanish territory, and "as for
Miranda," said Mr Burr, facetiously, "we must hang
Miranda." In the course of several conversations on
this subject, he proposed to give me a distinguished
command in his army; I understood him to say the
second command. I asked him who would command in
chief. He said, General Wilkinson.
Mr Hay -- You allude to a revolution for overthrowing the government at Washington, and of revolutionizing the Eastern states.
Eaton-- I was passing over that, to come down to the period when I supposed he had relinquished that design, and adhered to the project of revolutionizing the West.
Mr Wickham -- What project do you mean?
Eaton-- A central general revolution I was thoroughly convinced myself that such a project was already so far organized as to be dangerous, and that it would require an effort to suppress it. For in addition to positive assurances that Colonel Burr had of assistance and co-operation, he said that the vast extent of territory of the United States west of the Allegany Mountains, which offered to adventurers, with a view on the mines of Mexico, would bring volunteers to his standard from all quarters of the Union. The situation which these communications, and the impressions they made upon me, placed me in, was peculiarly delicate. I had no overt act to produce against Colonel Burr. He had given me nothing upon paper; nor did I know of any person in the vicinity who had received similar communications, and whose testimony might support mine. He had mentioned to me no person as principally and decidedly engaged with him but General Wilkinson; a Mr Alston, who, I afterwards learned, was his son-in-law; and a Mr Ephraim Kibby, who, I learnt, was late a captain of rangers in Wayne's army. Of General Wilkinson, Burr said much, as I have stated; of Mr Alston, very little, but enough to satisfy me that he was engaged in the project; and of Kibby, he said that he was brigade-major in the vicinity of Cincinnati, (whether Cincinnati in Ohio or in Kentucky I know not,) who had much influence with the militia, and had already engaged the majority of the brigade to which he belonged, who were ready to march at Mr Burr's signal. Mr Burr talked of this revolution as a matter of right, inherent in the people, and constitutional; a revolution which would rather be advantageous than detrimental to the Atlantic states; a revolution which must eventually take place, and for the operation of which the present crisis was peculiarly favorable. He said there was no energy to be dreaded in the general government, and his conversations denoted a confidence that his arrangements were so well made that he should meet with no opposition at New Orleans, for the army and chief citizens of that place were now ready to receive him. On the solitary ground upon which I stood, I was at a loss how to conduct myself, though at no loss as respected my duty. I durst not place my lonely testimony in the balance against the weight of Colonel Burr's character, for by turning the tables upon me, which I thought any man, capable of such a project, was very capable of doing, I should sink under the weight. I resolved therefore with myself to obtain the removal of Mr Burr from this country, in a way honorable to him; and on this I did consult him, without his knowing my motive. Accordingly I waited on the president of the United States, and after a desultory conversation in which I aimed to draw his view to the westward, I took the liberty of suggesting to the president that I thought Colonel Burr ought to be removed from the country because I considered him dangerous in it. The president asked where we should send him? Other places might have been mentioned, but I believe that Paris, London and Madrid were the places which were particularly named. The president, without positive expression, (in such a matter of delicacy,) signified that the trust was too important, and expressed something like a doubt about the integrity of Mr Burr. I frankly told the president that perhaps no person had stronger grounds to suspect that integrity than I had; but that I believed his pride of ambition had so predominated over his other passions, that when placed on an eminence, and put on his honor, a respect to himself would secure his fidelity. I perceived that the subject was disagreeable to the president, and to bring him to my point in the shortest mode, and at the same time point to the danger, I said to him that I expected that we should in eighteen months have an insurrection, if not a revolution, on the waters of he Mississippi. The president said he had too much confidence in the information, the integrity, and attachment to the Union of the citizens of that country, to admit any apprehensions of that kind. The circumstance of no interrogatories being made to me I thought imposed silence upon me at that time and place. Here, sir, I beg indulgence to declare my motive for recommending that gentleman to a foreign mission at that time; and in the solemnity with which I stand here, I declare that Colonel Burr was neutral in my feelings; that it was through no attachment to him that I made that suggestion, but to avert a great national calamity which I saw approaching; to arrest a tempest which seemed lowering in the West, and to divert into a channel of usefulness those consummate talents which were to mount "the whirlwind and direct the storm." These, and these only, were my reasons for making that recommendation. About the time of my having waited on the president, or a little before, (I cannot, however, be positive whether before or after,) I determined at all events to have some evidence of the integrity of my intentions, and to fortify myself by the advice of two gentlemen, members of the house of representatives, whose friendship and confidence I had the honor long to retain, and in whose wisdom and integrity I had the utmost faith and reliance. I am at liberty to give their names if required. I do not distinctly recollect, but I believe that I had a conversation with a senator on the subject. I developed to them all Mr Burr's plans. They did not seem much alarmed.
Mr Martin objected to
the witness stating any of the observations of other
persons to himself.
Mr Eaton -- I did ask indulgence of the court to make such explanations, because perversions of my conduct were before the public. But I waive this indulgence, contented with meeting these perversions at some other time and place
The CHIEF JUSTICE -- You have used that indulgence
Mr Eaton -- Little more passed between Colonel Burr and myself relevant to this inquiry while I remained at Washington. Though I could perceive symptoms of distrust in him towards me, he was solicitous to engage me in his western plans. I returned to Massachusetts, to my own concerns, and thought no more of Colonel Burr, or his projects, or revolutions, until in October last a letter was put into my hands at Brumfield, from Mr Belknap, of Marietta, to T E Danielson, of Brumfield, stating that Mr Burr had contracted for boats, which were building on the Ohio.
Mr Burr -- Have you that letter?
Mr Eaton -- No.
Mr Burr -- It is improper, then, to state it.
Mr Eaton -- As to letters, I have had no correspondence with Colonel Burr. I was about to state that I had made a communication, through Mr Granger, to the president of the United States, stating the views of Colonel Burr, and a copy of the letter from Belknap was transmitted to the department of state.
Mr Wirt -- Was there any conversation between you and the prisoner in which you spoke of the odium attached to the name of usurper?
Mr Eaton -- That conversation was excluded by the opinion of the court, as relating to the central project.
Mr Hay -- Did you mean to state that the honorable indemnity proposed to you by the prisoner was to be included in this plan?
Mr Eaton -- I understood it to be included in the perpetual rank and emolument to be assigned me. In his conversations he declared that he should erect a permanent government, of which he was to be the chief, and he repeated it so often that I could not have misunderstood him.
Mr Martin -- Do you recollect when you arrived in Washington?
Mr Eaton -- I said that I did not recollect particularly. But the principal part of these conversations must have been between the middle of February and the latter end of March, 1806. I arrived here in the latter end on November, 1805, at Philadelphia, and in December went to New England, and afterwards returned. These conversations happened after my return.
Mr. Martin-- Do you
recollect any particular conduct of yours calculated
to put an end to
Eaton-- Yes. At some of our last interviews I laid on his table a paper containing the toast which I had given to the public, with an intention that he should see it, but I do not know that he did see it, but I believe it "The United States: Palsy to the brain that should plot to dismember and leprosy to the hand that will not draw to defend our Union."
Mr. Martin--Where was that toast drunk?
Eaton-- I cannot say. This question was made to me from authority. It was sent, with other toasts I had corrected, to a paper at Springfield. I laid this paper on Colonel Burr's table.
Mr Burr -- Do you recollect when you left Washington?
Eaton--About the 5th or 6th of April....
Mr Burr-- You spoke of accounts with the government. Did you or the government demand money?
Eaton-- They had no demand on me. I demanded money of them.
Mr Burr-- Did they state in account a balance against you?
Eaton-- I expended money for the service of the United States when employed as consul at Tunis, an account of which being presented to the accounting officers of the treasury, they, I was told, had no legal discretion to settle it. As there was no law to authorize this adjustment, I did refer to the congress of 1803-4. A committee had reported on my claims, favorably, as I supposed. Then my accounts were left. When I went, however, to the coast of Barbary, and when I returned, after eighteen months, I renewed my claim to the congress. I found that new difficulties had occurred to prevent an adjustment. Leaving out the sums I had advanced, the government had a considerable balance against me....
Mr Martin -- Did not Colonel Burr confine his plans to attack the Spanish provinces, for the most considerable part of the time, to the event of a war with Spain?
Eaton-- Not for the most considerable part of the time, but for some time....
Mr Martin -- What balance did you receive?
Eaton-- That is my concern, sir.
Mr Burr -- What was the balance against you?
Mr Eaton (to the court) -- Is that a proper question?
Mr Burr -- My object is manifest; I wish to show the bias which has existed on the mind of the witness.
The CHIEF JUSTICE saw no objections to the question.
Mr Eaton-- I cannot say to a cent or a dollar, but I have received about 10,000 dollars.
Mr Burr -- When was the money received?
Eaton-- About March last.
Mr Burr-- You mentioned Miranda. Where did you understand he was gone to?
Eaton-- On the benevolent project of revolutionizing the Spanish provinces.
Mr Burr-- What part of them?
Eaton-- Caracas. I had some reason, too, to know something of that project, because I too was invited to join in that. He, too, was to have been an emperor; he might have been troublesome to us; and of course when I asked you what was to be done with him, you observed, "hang him."
Mr Burr-- Did you
understand that I was to do all at once, to execute
the central project
Eaton-- I have no objection to answering that, but it will be nothing in your favor. When Colonel Burr was speaking of a central revolution, not much was said about his revolution in the West. Had the other been effected I doubt much whether you would have been willing to have separated that part.
Mr Burr-- You spoke of a command?
Eaton-- You stated what I have already mentioned, that you were assured, from the arrangements which you had made, that an army would be ready to appear when you went to the waters of the western country. I recollect particularly the name of Ephraim Kibby, who had been a ranger in General Wayne's army. You asked me about his spirit. You gave me to understand that his brigade was ready to join you, and that the people also in that country were ready to engage with you in the enterprise. You spoke of your riflemen, your infantry, your cavalry. It was with the same view you mentioned to me that that man (pointing to General Wilkinson, just behind him) was to have been the first to aid you, and from the same views you have perhaps mentioned me.
Mr Martin objected to the witness interposing his own opinions in this manner.
Mr Hay -- Some allowance is to be made for the feelings of a man of honor.
Mr Eaton, bowing, apologized to the court for the warmth of his manner.
Mr Burr -- You spoke of my revolutionizing the western states. How did you understand that the Union was to be separated?
Eaton--Your principal line was to be drawn by the Alleghany mountains. You were persuaded that you had secured to you the most considerable citizens of Kentucky and Tennessee, but expressed some doubts about Ohio; I well recollect that on account of the reason which you gave: that they were too much of a plodding, industrious people to engage in your enterprise.
Mr Burr-- How was the business to be effected?
Eaton-- I understood that your agents were in the western country; that the army and the commander-in-chief were ready to act at your signal; and that these, with the adventurers that would join you, would compel the states to agree to a separation. Indeed, you seemed to consider New Orleans as already yours, and that from this point you would send expeditions into the other provinces, make conquests, and consolidate your empire.
Mr Burr--Was it after all this that you recommended me to the president for an embassy?
Eaton--Yes; to remove you, as you were a dangerous man, because I thought it the only way to avert a civil war.
Mr Burr-- Did you communicate this to me, and what did I say?
Eaton-- Yes; you seemed to assent to the propositions.
Mr Burr-- What had become of your command?
Eaton-- That I had disposed of myself.
Mr Burr-- Did you understand that you had given me a definite answer?
Eaton--No; after you had developed yourself, I determined to use you until I got everything out of you; and on the principle that, "when innocence is in danger, to break faith with a bad man is not fraud, but virtue."
Mr Burr--Did you think that your proposition, as to a foreign embassy, which was so incompatible with my own plans, would be received by me with indifference had I abandoned the project?
Eaton-- You seemed to me to want some distinguished place; as to the mode, you were indifferent; and you seemed to acquiesce in the plan of a foreign embassy.
Mr Hay -- You said that you received about $10,000 from the government in consequence of a law passed for the purpose. The act of congress did not give you a definitive sum?
Eaton--The act of congress gave the accounting officers the power of settling with me on equitable principles under the inspection of the secretary of state; under whose department I had served, and the settlement was accordingly made.
Commodore Truxton was then sworn
Mr. Hay--Have you not had several conversations with the accused concerning the Mexican expedition?
Commodore Truxton--About the beginning of the winter 1805-6, Colonel Burr returned from the western country to Philadelphia. He frequently, in conversation with me, mentioned the subject of speculations in western lands, opening a canal and building a bridge. Those things were not interesting to me in the least, and I did not pay much attention to them. Colonel Burr mentioned to me that the government was weak, and he wished me to get the navy of the United States out of my head; that it would dwindle to nothing; and that he had something to propose to me that was both honorable and profitable, but I considered this as nothing more than an interest in his land speculations. His conversations were repeated frequently. Some time in July, 1806, he told me that he wished to see me unwedded from the navy of the United States, and not to think more of those men at Washington; that he wished to see or make me (I do not recollect which of those two terms he used) an admiral; that he contemplated an expedition to Mexico, in the event of a war with Spain, which he thought inevitable. He asked me if the Havana could be easily taken in the event of a war? I told him that it would require the co-operation of a naval force. Mr Burr observed to me that that might be obtained. He asked me if I had any personal knowledge of Carthagena and La Vera Cruz, and what would be the best mode of attacking them by sea and land. I gave him my opinion very freely. Mr Burr then asked me if I would take the command of a naval expedition. I asked him if the executive of the United States was privy to or concerned in the project. He answered emphatically that he was not. I asked that question, because the executive had been charged with a knowledge of Miranda's expedition; I told Mr Burr that I would have nothing to do with it; that Miranda's project had been intimated to me, but I declined to have anything to do with such affairs. He observed to me that in the event of a war he intended to establish an independent government in Mexico; that Wilkinson, the army, and many officers of the navy would join. I told Mr Burr that I could not see how any officer of the United States could join. He said that General Wilkinson had projected the expedition, and he had matured it; that many greater men than Wilkinson would join, and that thousands to the westward would join.
Mr Hay -- Do you recollect having asked him whether General Wilkinson had previously engaged in it?
Truxton--He said yes, and many greater men than Wilkinson.
Mr Hay -- I will ask you whether at that time you were in the service of the United States?
Truxton-- I am declared not to be.
Mr Hay -- I do not wish to hurt your feelings, but merely to show to the jury the state you were in.
Truxton-- Colonel Burr again wished me to take a part, and asked me to write a letter to General Wilkinson; that he was about to dispatch two couriers to him. I told him that I had no subject to write about, and declined writing Mr Burr said that several officers would be pleased at being put under my command. He spoke highly of Lieutenant Jones, and asked me if he had sailed with me. I told him that he had not, and that I could give him no account of Mr Jones, having never seen him to my knowledge. He observed that the expedition could not fail; that the Mexicans were ripe for revolt; that he was incapable of anything chimerical, or that would lead his friends into a dilemma. He showed me the draught of a periauger or kind of boat that plies between Paulus-Hook and New York, and asked my opinion of those boats, and whether they were calculated for the river Mississippi and the waters thereof; and I gave him my opinion that they were. He asked me whether I could get a naval constructor to make several copies of the draught. I told him I would I spoke to a naval constructor and delivered it to him, but as he could not finish them as soon as Colonel Burr wished, the draught was returned to him. Mr Burr told me that he intended those boats for the conveyance of agricultural products to market at New Orleans, and, in the event of a war, for transports. I knew and informed him that they were not calculated for transports by sea, nor for the carrying of guns; but having determined to have nothing to do with the Mexican expedition, I said very little more to him about those boats; but I very well recollect what I said to him in our last conversation towards the end of July I told him that there would be no war. He was sanguine there would be war. He said, however, that if he was disappointed as to the event of war, he was about to complete a contract for a large quantity of land on the Washita; that he intended to invite his friends to settle it; that in one year he would have a thousand families of respectable and fashionable people, and some of them of considerable property; that it was a fine country, and that they would have a charming society, and in two years he would have double the number of settlers; and being on the frontier, he would be ready to move whenever a war took place. I have thus endeavored to relate the substance of the conversation which passed between us, as well as I can recollect; though it is very possible that I have not stated them after such a lapse of time verbatim.
Mr MacRae -- Was it in your first conversation that he told you that you should think no more of those men at Washington?
Truxton-- It was in several.
Mr McRae-- Was it not in July that he told you that he wished to see you unwedded from the navy of the United States, and to make you an admiral?
Truxton-- That conversation happened in July He wished to see or make me an admiral; I cannot recollect which.
Mr Hay -- Did those conversations take place after it was declared that you were nolonger in the service of the United States?
Truxton-- They did.
Mr Martin -- Was it not to the event of a war with Spain that these conversations related?
Truxton-- All his conversations respecting military and naval subjects, and the Mexican expedition, were in the event of a war with Spain. I told him my opinion was there would be no war, and he seemed to be confident that there would be war.
Mr MacRae -- Did he mention General Eaton in any of those conversations?
Truxton-- He mentioned no person but General Wilkinson and Lieutenant Jones.
Mr Hay -- Had you not expressed your dissatisfaction at the declaration of your not being in the service of the United States?
Truxton-- I had. The misunderstanding between the secretary of the navy of the United States and myself took place in March, 1802.
Mr Burr -- Do you not
recollect my telling you the propriety of private
Truxton-- You said that Wilkinson, the army, and many officers of the navy would join, and you spoke highly of Lieutenant Jones.
Mr Burr -- Had I not frequently told you, and for years, that the government had no serious intention of employing you, and that you were duped by the Smiths? And do you not think that I was perfectly correct in that opinion?
Truxton--Answer Yes; I know very well I was.
Mr Burr -- Were we not on terms of intimacy? Was there any reserve on my part in our frequent conversations; and did you ever hear me express any intention or sentiment respecting a division of the Union?
Truxton-- We were very intimate. There seemed to be no reserve on your part I never heard you speak of a division of the Union.
Mr. Burr -- Did I not state to you that the Mexican expedition would be very beneficial to this country?
Truxton-- You did.
Burr -- Had you any serious doubt as to my intentions to settle those lands?
Truxton-- So far from that, I was astonished at the intelligence of your having different views, contained in newspapers received from the western country after you went thither.
Burr-- Would you not have joined in the expedition if sanctioned by the government?
Truxton--Answer I would most readily get out of my bed at twelve o'clock at night to go in defence of my country at her call, against England, France, Spain, or any other country.
Mr Hay -- Did the prisoner speak of commercial speculations?
Truxton-- He said they might be carried on to advantage.
Mr Hay-- Did he in his conversations speak of commercial establishments, in which he or his friends were to have an interest?
Truxton-- He spoke of settling that country, and sending produce there from to different parts of the world, New Orleans particularly.
Mr Wirt -- Did he speak of an independent empire in Mexico, having an advantageous connection with this country?
Truxton-- I understood him so.
Mr MacRae -- Did he wish to fill your mind with resentment against the government?
Truxton-- I was pretty full of it myself, and he joined me in opinion.
Mr Wirt -- On what subject did Burr wish you to write to General Wilkinson?
Truxton-- General Wilkinson and myself were on good terms, and he wished me to correspond with him; but I had no subject for a letter to him, and therefore did not write to him.
Mr Hay -- Suppose we were to have a war with Spain, would not New Orleans be a proper place from whence to send an expedition against the Spanish provinces? Is it not more proper for that purpose than any other place in the western parts of the country?
Truxton-- Certainly it is; but large ships cannot come up to New Orleans; small craft or vessels must take the expedition down the river.
Question by Mr Parker, one of the jury-- Did you understand for what purpose the couriers spoken of were to be sent by Mr Burr to General Wilkinson?
Truxton--I understood from him that there was an understanding between himself and General Wilkinson about the Mexican expedition.
Mr Parker -- Was this expedition only to be in the event of a war with Spain?
Truxton-- Yes; in all his conversations with me, he said that this expedition was to take place only in the event of a war with Spain.
Mr Parker -- Was there no proposition made to you for such an expedition, whether there was war or not?
Truxton-- There was not....
Mr Hay -- From what quarter of the world was the expedition by sea to go?
Truxton-- I do not know I did not ask him where it was to go from.
Mr Hay-- Did you not understand that you were to command the expedition by sea?
Truxton--Answer I declined the offer, and asked no questions particularly on the subject.
Mr Botts -- Can ships be built secretly in a corner?
Mr Hay -- This witness will directly prove the connection of Burr with Blennerhassett, and with the assemblage on the island
Peter Taylor -- The first information I had upon this subject was from Mrs Blennerhassett, when Mr Blennerhassett and Mr Alston were gone down the river. The people got much alarmed concerning this business, and Mrs Blennerhassett sent me to Lexington after Mr Blennerhassett, with a letter to prevent Colonel Burr from coming back with him to the island. I went to Chillicothe, but I did not find Mr Blennerhassett there, and I then went on to Cincinnati. I was directed to call at Cincinnati, at Mr John Smith's, where I would find Mr Blennerhassett. I called at Mr Smith's store, where I saw his son. I asked if Mr Smith was at home. He said yes. I said I wanted to speak to him. His son went and told him a man wanted to see him. When Mr Smith came out I inquired for Colonel Burr and Blennerhassett, to see whether he could give any account of them. He allowed he knew nothing of either of them. He allowed I was much mistaken in the place. I said no, this was the right place, "Mr John Smith, Storekeeper, Cincinnati." Says I, "Don't you recollect a young man who came here some time ago for Colonel Burr's topcoat?" I said, "Sir, I have lived with Mr. Blennerhassett for three years." When Mr Smith heard me talk so, he knew me, and took me up stairs to take with me. He wanted to know the news up our way. I told him the people had got alarmed. I told him that everything was in agitation; that they talked about new settlements of lands, as they told me. He seemed surprised. He asked what was said about General Wilkinson? I said I knew nothing about it. He asked me if I would carry a letter from him to Blennerhassett. I told him I would carry anything, so as it was not too burthensome; so he sat down and wrote a letter. He asked whether I wished to drink, for he charged me not to go to any tavern, lest they should be asking me questions. He gave me liquor, and I drank; and then he showed me a stable, and told me to go and get my horse fed by the ostler, but not to go into the tavern. I asked him where I should find Colonel Burr and Blennerhassett. He said he expected they were at Lexington. I told him I supposed at Mr Jourdan's. He said that was the very house. When I got to Lexington it was Saturday, about 1 o'clock. Mr Jourdan happened to be in the street, and knew me. He said, "Peter, your old master, as you call him, is not in town." But he said, before I asked him, he expected him either that night or tomorrow early. He asked me, what news in our parts, and I told him. I asked him what I was to do with my horse. He said that he was to be put at the livery stable. He then went up stairs, and he opened a door and made a motion with his hand. I suppose to Colonel Burr I went in, and there was Colonel Burr. Colonel Burr wanted to know the news in our parts. I began to tell him that my business was to prevent Colonel Burr from going back to the island.
Mr. Hay--Did you know Colonel Burr at that time?
Taylor--I did not. He had been on the island three times, but I did not see him. When I told Colonel Burr that, says he, "I am the very man involved in this piece of business, and you ought to tell me all you know. " I said, "If you come up our way the people will shoot you." I told him it was my sincere opinion that it was not safe for him to come up our way. I told him that I had heard several declare that they had rather shoot him than let it alone, if they had a good chance. He seemed surprised that they should have such a thing in their heads. I told him I could not tell why, and then I told him about the land settlement, but the people said all that was a fib, and that he had something else in view. Then Colonel Burr asked me what letters I had. I said two; one was from Mrs Blennerhassett and the other from John Smith, of Cincinnati. He asked me if he might open the letter from John Smith to Blennerhassett, for he expected it was for him. I told him I supposed it made no difference between him and Blennerhassett, and he might. He broke the seal open, and showed me there was a letter inclosed for himself. He asked me about my wife I asked him whether I might not go about the town. He said I might, and then I went down stairs and left the opened letter with him. I then went to Mr Jourdan and asked him whether I was to stay at his house or go to a tavern. He said I was to go to a tavern, and he would pay for me. Mr Jourdan wished me to go next day to Millersburg, after the saddle-bags left there by Mr Blennerhassett. I told him I would, and I did go. I left Mrs Blennerhassett's letter with Mr Jourdan, expecting Blennerhassett to get there before me. I got back on Monday, by 1 o'clock, and then Mr Blennerhassett was come and preparing to go home. We started, and came ten miles that night. We stopped at a tavern. I went to see after the horses, and he went into the house. There were people in the house who wanted to know his name. He told them his name was Tom Jones. He came out and told me the people in the house had asked, and he had told them his name was Tom Jones, and I must mind and not make no mistake, but call him Tom Jones too. So he passed by that name till we got to the Mudlicks. He then told me he was known there, and I must call him by his own name.
Mr Hay--When did these things happen?
Taylor --All this was in October, 1806, I believe. He then began to inquire for young men that had rifles -- good, orderly men, that would be conformable to order and discipline. He allowed that Colonel Burr and he and a few of his friends had bought eight hundred thousand acres of land, and they wanted young men to settle it. He said he would give any young man who would go down the river one hundred acres of land, plenty of grog and victuals while going down the river, and three months' provisions after they had got to the end. Every young man must have his rifle and blanket I agreed to go myself, if I could carry my wife and family, but he said he must have further consultation upon that. When I got home I began to think, and asked him what kind of seeds we should carry with us. He said we did not want any; the people had seeds where we were going.
Mr Wirt -- Of what occupation were you on the island?
Taylor -- A gardener.
Mr Wirt -- I put this question that the jury might understand his last observation.
Taylor --I urged that
subject to him several times. At last he made a
sudden pause, and said, "I will tell you what, Peter,
we are going to take Mexico, one of the finest
and richest places in the whole world." He said that
Colonel Burr would be the king of Mexico, and Mrs
Alston, daughter of Colonel Burr, was to be the queen
of Mexico whenever Colonel Burr died. He said
that Colonel Burr had made fortunes for many in his
time, but none for himself; but now he was going to
make something for himself. He said that he had
a great many friends in the Spanish territory.
No less than two thousand Roman Catholic priests were
engaged, and that all their friends, too, would join,
if once he could get to them; that the Spaniards, like
the French, had got dissatisfied with their
government, and wanted to swap it. He told me
that the British, also, were friends in this piece of
business, and that he should go to England on this
piece of business, for Colonel Burr. He asked me
if I would not like to go to England I said I
should certainly like to see my friends there, but
would wish to go for nothing else. I then asked
him what was to become of the men who were going to
settle the lands he talked about. Were they to
stop at the Red river, or to go on? He said, "Oh, by
God, I tell you, Peter, every man that will not
conform to order and discipline I will stab; you'll
see how I'll fix them;" that when he got them far
enough down the river, if they did not conform to
order and discipline, he swore by God he'd stab
them. I was astonished I told him I was no
soldier, and could not fight. He said it made no
odds; he did not want me to fight; he wanted me to go
and live with Mrs Blennerhassett and the children,
either at Natchez or some other place, while he went
on the expedition. I talked to him again, and
told him the people had got it into their heads that
he wanted to divide the Union. He said Colonel
Burr and he could not do it themselves; all they could
do was to tell the people the consequence of it.
He said the people
there paid the government upwards of four hundred
thousand dollars a year, and
Mr Hay -- Were you not on the island when the people were there?
Mr Hay -When did the boats leave the island?
Taylor -- It was contemplated to sail on the 6th of December, but the boats were not ready; they did not come till the 10th (Sunday) Mr Knox and several other men were with him, and they sailed on the Wednesday night following.
Mr Hay - How many boats were there?
Taylor -- Four.
Mr Hay - How many men from the boats came ashore?
Taylor -- About thirty.
Mr Hay - What did the men do who did not belong to the boats?
Taylor -- Some were packing meat, and some were packing other things.
Mr MacRae -- Who went off on Wednesday night?
Taylor -- Mr Blennerhassett and Mr Tyler, and the whole of the party.
Mr MacRae- At what time in the night?
Taylor -- About one o'clock.
Mr MacRae-- Did all that came down to the island go away?
Taylor -- All but one, who was sick.
Mr Hay -- Had they any guns?
Taylor -- Some of them had; some of the people went a shooting But I do not know how many there were.
Mr J M Sheppard (a juryman) -- What kind of guns, rifles or muskets?
Taylor --I can't tell whether rifles or muskets I saw no pistols but what belonged to Blennerhassett himself.
Mr J M Sheppard-- Was there any powder or lead?
Taylor --They had powder, and they had lead both; I saw some powder in a long small barrel like a churn, but I was so employed I could not notice particularly. Some of the men were engaged in running bullets, but I do not know how many.
Mr MacRae -- What induced them to leave the island at that hour of the night?
Taylor -- Because they were informed that the Kenawah militia were coming down there.
Mr MacRae-- Did you carry some boxes to the boats?
Taylor --I carried half a bushel of candles and some brandy; several boxes were carried, but I knew not what they contained, and a great many things besides, of which I knew nothing.
Mr Hay -- Were you on the island when they went off?
Taylor --Yes. They held a council at the foot of the pier, to determine which was the best way to go. Mr Blennerhassett said that they had better go together; if he went in a canoe he would be an easy prey. I said to them, "best stick together;" and so they determined to stick together. They went off in great haste.
Mr Hay -- Why did they go in a body?
Taylor -- I suppose for security.
Mr Wickham -- You saw General Tupper and Mr Woodbridge that night?
Mr Wickham-- Was Colonel Burr there?
Taylor -- No. I did not see him.
Mr Wickham-- Did you understand whether he was in that part of the country at that time?
Taylor --I understood not; never saw him on the island.