It was on now in 1807 that former Vice chairman Aaron Burr to be acquitted the treason charges. The trial to be truly a “Trial of the Century” in the time and one that the very first tests of the Constitution’s Treason Clause.
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“Treason versus the united States, shall consist just in levy war versus them, or in adhering to your enemies, providing them aid and comfort. No person shall be judge of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses come the exact same overt act, or top top confession in open court. The congress shall have actually power to explain the punishment of treason, however no attainder the treason shall job-related corruption that blood, or forfeiture except during the life of the person attainted.”
The Treason i was closely worded to border the fee to the most serious that crimes. Component of this was due to the fact that of the application of treason charges, in a broader sense, in an excellent Britain.
The clause, together it was developed by James Wilson in ~ the 1787 convention in Philadelphia, borrowed part of its wording from the English state of Treason, and it limited the capacity of congress to define treason. It also put a high burden of proof in place by requiring “the testimony of 2 witnesses come the very same overt act.”
Since the Constitution went into effectin 1789, treason charges have actually been lugged fewer 보다 30 times. And Burr's landmark treason attempt was one of the earliest, featuring several of the same people who were at the constitutional Convention.
Working on Burr’s treason defense team in 1807 were Edmund Randolph and Luther martin (as thelead attorney), both former constitutional delegates. President cutting board Jefferson directed the prosecution native the White House, with George Hay, and future attorney basic William Wirt assisting Jefferson.
How Burr happened arrested in Alabama in 1807 to be a long story in itself, but the short version is the Burr was rejected by his own party, the Democratic-Republicans, because that opposing Jefferson in the 1800 presidential choice runoff in the House, and also then shunned through the Federalists and others because that killing Alexander Hamilton in a duel.
Burr relocated west come seek far better fortunes, which had an independent armed forces adventure to seize lands belonging come Spain in Louisiana and Mexico (specifically, Texas), through the possible incentive available to the western states joining in the “adventure.” His activities, to a lesser extent, had actually been public knowledge because 1805.
However, Burr’s longtime friend, general James Wilkinson, chose to abandon the adventure. Wilkinson sent a article to federal authorities and President Jefferson the Burr intended to attract the western says to leave the Union and join with him together he colonized new lands – with the assistance of England. Jefferson climate alerted Congress about Burr’s plan, and he bespeak his arrest.
“Jefferson himself never doubted the Burr to be a traitor. Indeed, on January 22, 1807, he had pronounced Burr guilty of treason to Congress and also the whole nation—without a cool jury indictment,” stated Kent Newmyer, in his current book, “The Treason psychological of Aaron Burr: Law, Politics and the Character wars of the new Nation.”
“In Jefferson’s ethically dichotomous calculus, Burr to be a danger to the republic; in Jefferson’s personalized watch of the presidency, it was his obligation to get rid of the danger, also if it expected breaking the law. Burr lugged out the worst in Jefferson, and Jefferson carried out the worst in Burr,” claimed Newmyer.
Chief Justice john Marshall, Jefferson’s long-time political adversary (and likewise his distant cousin), would certainly preside at Burr’s treason trial because he was likewise the federal judge because that the U.S. Circuit Court because that Virginia.
At the trial, Marshall made the unusual move of issuing a subpoena to chairman Jefferson to supply documents the Burr had actually requested come prepare his defense. Jefferson only supplied components of the letter to the court and never identified the subpoena. More damaging was testimony that showed that Burr to be 100 miles away from a scene on Blennerhassett's Island ~ above the Ohio River, the one location where the government asserted Burr to be planning one overt plot of treason.
Marshall called the jury that it had actually to confine its evaluation to testimony the an action of war versus the joined States had actually been conducted on Blennerhassett's Island. Marshall and also the can be fried Court had narrowed that meaning in an earlier instance related to Burr called Ex parte Bollman.
“No testimony relative to the command or declarations the the sinner elsewhere, and also subsequent come the transaction ~ above Blennerhassett's Island, can be admitted; since such testimony, gift in that nature merely corroborative and also incompetent come prove the overt plot in itself, is irrelevant until there be proof of the overt action by two witnesses,” Marshall said. “This opinion does not recognize the proof by two witnesses that the conference on Blennerhassett's Island to be procured by the prisoner.”
The jury quickly reached a verdict.
"We the the jury say the Aaron Burr is not proved to be guilty under this indictment by any kind of evidence it is registered to us. We because of this find him no guilty."
Jefferson apparently wanted the home to bring an impeachment charge against Marshall ~ the Burr trial. But he had actually failed in a similar attempt in 1805 as soon as the Senate tried another Supreme Court justice, Samuel chase after the House lugged charges in ~ Jefferson’s urging.
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Marshall testified in ~ Chase’s trial, which observed an acquittal for follow in proceedings conducted by the Vice president at the time: Aaron Burr.