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"close to you as far as you inquire and no farther. He has im"bibed a reverence for your character, and may be embarrassed in "your presence; put him at ease; and he will satisfy you. 29th "July.'
Here then, are the precious confessions of the arch-conspirator himself, in relation to every point, the knowledge of which was necessary to guide the opinions or the conduct of General Wilkinson. "The Eastern detachments," says Burr, "will rendezvous on the Ohio, on the 1st of November: and my plan of operations is to move down rapidly from the falls, on the 15th of that month, with the first 500 or 1,000 men, in light boats, now constructing for that purpose, to be at Natchez between the 5th and 15th of Decemberthere to meet you; there to determine, whether it will be expedient to seize or pass by Baton Rouge." Surely, with this light, the road to be taken by honest and intelligent men was not difficult to find; the evil was but germinating, and might be crushed in the bud.
a of this famous letter there have been three versions; one by Wilkinson, acknowledged to be imperfect; another by his counsel, admitted to be false; and a third by the Grand Jury at Richmond, believed to be authentic; we have copied the last.
It rarely happens that a single letter is fated to make two men immortal; yet such is the destiny of this. As a kind of episode, we offer the following notice of its history and metamorphoses while in the hands of the General.
1st. His Natchitoches version, (from cipher and hieroglyphics to plain EngFish,) went on, as he tells us, very slowly, and was never brought to perfection. He was satisfied with knowing its contents himself, and did not think a confidant, in so near a degree, either useful or safe; yet he swears, on the honour of a soldier and the purity of the gospel, that the moment he had deciphered it, he put it in the hands of Col. Cushing! Unfortunately, Cushing's deposition to "the whole truth" omits this circumstance altogether.
2d. Invited by Swartwout to reply to this letter, the General recollects well the invitation, and swears (that like a good citizen and soldier) he declined the correspondence; yet, on Burr's trial, the secret is told by Swartwout, and the General is compelled to contradict this oath by another! "Did you write [to "Burr]? I did. What did you do with the letter? Destroyed it. Did it go out of your hands? It did. It was sent to Natchez, whither I followed, recovered "and destroyed it." (Burr's trial, page 209.)
3d. When he deported Swartwout, Alexander, &c. from New-Orleans, an affidavit on the part of the General was sent with them, which included a copy of Burr's letter;-but an authentic, or true copy of that letter, not being adapted to the times, Mr. Duncan, the General's counsel, accommodated it to this state of things;—which, after some show of repugnance and through hurry and affliction, our immaculate hero twice signed with his hand and sanctioned with his oath!
4th. The same, or similar reasons, induced the General, when called before the legislature of the territory, (to make an exposition of the rise and progress of the conspiracy,) to employ his pen-knife in erasing from Burr's letter, the first sentence altogether, viz.: Yours post-marked 13th May has been received ;'but having got through that examination, without submitting the letter at all, he afterwards restored the words which had been thus erased.
These facts put beyond all doubt the religious turn of the General, and his habitual sense of moral obligation.
The stragglers picked up, the boats destroyed, and Burr seizedthe plan expired of itself; and to do either or all these, required not the force of a single light company of militia. Our honest and vigilant centinel, who had stooped even to indirect means— to means he abhorred,' to get at the secrets of the traitor, could not now hesitate to pursue the course best calculated to defeat him, and above all, to apprize the constituted authorities of the neighbouring states of the growing mischief, and to invite them to a co-operation in putting it down promptly and fully? Such, no doubt, was the course prescribed by a decent respect for these authorities, and by General Wilkinson's own opinions of the devotion of the west to Jefferson and democracy. Not so, Reader :our politico-military doctor thought it safest to let the fever go on to its maximum, before he administered either lancet or cathartic;-and why? Because he doubted the reality, against the conviction of his senses;'a and was besides busily employed in pumping Swartwout; an operation which, of itself, required his whole time. By admiring the plan, and by promising not to interrupt it ;' by writing privately to Burr;d by hinting at the resources to be found in the vaults of the Bank of New-Orleans;e by suggesting the facility of affronting the Spaniard, and thus making business for himself on the Sabine; by actually marching westward, and turning his back on the scene of Col. Burr's enterprises altogether; by omitting to give any alarm to the constituted authorities of Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee and the Mississippi and Indiana Territories; thus virtually concealing the preparations and objects of Burr;-he was enabled, in nine days, to draw from this unpractised young man, all he knew; though,' says the General' it was a work which I abhorred, from the indirection [the hypocrisy] it imposed upon me.'h
It was now the 22d of October; a fortnight had elapsed since the receipt of Burr's letter, and no advice of this new and menacing state of things had yet been sent to the President of the United
b Vol. II. p. 322.
book. This is one of those The secret was extracted
a See Appendix to Vol. II. No. 95. e See Wilkinson's affidavit, page 160 of Clark's pamphlet. d The General says not one syllable of this in his things he did not choose to hand down to posterity. from him on Burr's trial. (See that trial, page 209.) e See page 175. Burr's trial.
f The council divided, on the policy of marching to the Sabine, and Wilkinson admits that the Spanish troops had returned within their own limits, before he began this march of gasconade, or connivance.
g On this subject, the General is silent as the grave, nor are we honoured with a single reason for keeping his friend's secret so snugly, excepting that concealment was necessary, to impose upon Swartwout. See Vol. II. p. 322. h Idem.
States. This duty could no longer be deferred, and Lieut. (now General) Smith was despatched with two letters (of the 20th and 21st) pretty well calculated to balance each other. In the former of these, the General states, that he had received information ' through several channels, so direct and confidential, that he cannot doubt the facts;' that an association, extending from NewYork, &c. to the Mississippi, has been formed, with the design to 'levy and rendezvous 8 or 10,000 men in New-Orleans, at a very near period; and from thence, with the co-operation of a naval ar'mament, to carry an expedition against Vera Cruz.' If this was calculated to rouse and alarm the Government, and quicken it into measures of activity and prevention, that of the following day, tended to moderate these feelings; for then, his 'belief' begins to 'stagger;' he has doubts of the reality' of the danger, and is not only uninformed of the prime mover and ultimate objects of this daring enterprise, but ignorant of the foundation on which it rests, of the means by which it is to be supported, and whether any 'immediate or collateral protection, internal or external, is expect'ed.' It will be readily perceived, that after such a declaration, the General could not hazard the transmission of Burr's letter, nor even mention his name; and, that his messenger might not be less prudent or delicate on this head, than himself, an oath of secrecy was cautiously administered!
His next despatch was of the 12th of November, and committed to an elderly gentleman, who was nearly two months on the road. The reason for selecting such a courier, was certainly alarming; for he was the only person' in the country, 'to whom ' he could venture to confide the important commission.' The other contents of this epistle, were such as might be expected from this exordium. My doubts have ceased.'dIt is indeed a deep, 'dark, and wide spread conspiracy; embracing the young and the old, the democrat and the federalist, the native and the foreigner, the patriot of '76 and the exotic of yesterday, the opu
a Burr's letter was received on the 9th. It was the 22d, in the evening, before Mr. Smith set out for Washington.
b This declaration is made after he received Burr's letter, and after the whole operation of pumping young Swartwout is finished. Read again, that letter and Swartwout's verbal supplement, and suppress, if you can, your astonishment at the intrepidity of our General.
c See Wilkinson's letter to Mr. Jefferson, 12th Nov. 1806. Vol. II. Appendix, No. 100.
d No doubt they had. He had now been at Natchez, to recover the letter he had written to Burr from Natchitoches, and had satisfied himself, that, though a great man, this crusader was a bad calculator. The after game (to himself) became the more interesting. This lay in putting "the puddle in a storm,” in quelling an insurrection of forty singing and dancing masters, and in purging New-Orleans of malecontents and factionists.
lent and the needy, the ins and the outs, and I fear it will re'ceive a strong support in New-Orleans, from a quarter little suspected.' In this deplorable state of things; in the midst of this general defection, it must have been very consoling to the President to hear, that though the means were greatly deficient-yet * nothing should be omitted, which could be accomplished by indefatigable industry, incessant vigilance, and hardy courage;' and as to the General himself, that, in such a cause, he would glory in giv'ing his life to the service of his country.' But the General adds, 'to insure the triumph of Government over its enemies, I am obliged to resort to political finesse and military stratagem. I 'must hold out false colours, conceal my designs, and cheat my ad' versaries into a state of security, so that when I do strike, it may 'be with more force and effect. But,' (this but' is a great qualifier of indiscreet engagements,) independently of considerations of policy, my personal safety will require the most profound reserve, 'till the last moment of indecision." It was, perhaps, a branch of this policy, to keep back the ciphered letter of Col. Burr; for he does not even now trust the President with a sight of it. But the pantomime was soon to have an end. Burr had failed to collect a force, formidable either from numbers or character; his Eastern detachments had arrived, but did not exceed forty men. His choice spirits were assembled, but were found to consist of 'danc'ing masters, singing masters, schoolmasters, and doctors.'b On the 12th of December, they were routed from Blenherhasset's Island, by the approach of a sheriff and his posse of constables, and embarking in five boats, and in some hurry, floated down the current, without notice or obstruction, till the 17th of January, when, on the invitation of Secretary Mead, they surrendered themselves and their chief to a few militia men, posted near Bayou Pierre, d without pulling a trigger, or charging a bayonet. Such was the catastrophe of this mountain in labour! It was not what the General desired or expected; it was brought on at a wrong time, and in a wrong place, and cut short the wonderful demonstrations of political finesse and military stratagem, which he had so long and so profoundly meditated for the occasion. What was possible, however, in this untoward state of things, he did; he threw off his 'equivocal exterior,'-affected, by turns, to dread an insurrection of citizens and of slaves-endeavoured to alarm and agitate the country-denounced many innocent men-deported Swartwout and
a This was what he called the Gallo-American party. See his letter of 12th November, 1806.
b See Burr's trial, Poindexter's testimony-in which he states, that this expedition had supplied the Mississippi territory "with dancing masters, singing masters, schoolmasters and doctors in abundance." p. 279.
c Idem, p. 66,
d Idem, Poindexter's testimony.
Ogden for safe keeping and trial-advertised his late great, honourable, and persecuted friend, as a conspirator and outlaw,—and declared himself, the saviour of the Republic!a
Whatever attitude we give to the General, under the evidence of the facts now detailed, he is seen to great disadvantage. Has he been honest to his public engagements? then has he deluded, ensnared and betrayed his friend. Was he secretly connected with Burr, and did he neither give up his name nor his project, till both had irretrievably fallen? then is he a traitor to his country. Whether, therefore, he was guilty or innocent of the charge brought against him, he is unworthy, alike, of public trust and private confidence.
[The other parts of this subject will be pursued in the next No.]
A SKETCH OF THE LIFE AND PUBLIC SERVICES OF THE LATE HON. ALFRED MOORE; ONE OF THE ASSOCIATE JUDGES OF THE SU
PREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES.- -From the pen of a high judicial character of the State of North Carolina.
AMONG the eminent men, whose great qualities have been developed and brought into action by the revolution, few have a stronger claim to the admiration and gratitude of posterity, than ALFRED MOORE-the subject of this memoir.
Descent from a line of illustrious ancestors, is creditable only to a man who has found in their merits an incentive to an honourable course of life, and has thence felt himself pledged to the scrupulous discharge of every duty, and the anxious cultivation of every virtue. But to him who has passed through life, in the neglect of the high obligations which he owes to his country and fellow citizens, a distinguished lineage is an added opprobrium; the virtues of his ancestors, throw his own vices into stronger relief, and we all deplore the contamination of a name, long revered amongst men for the benefits it had conferred on the human race.-With a full conviction that the life of Mr. Justice Moore will bear a comparison with that of any of his ancestors, we may mention that he was descended from an ancient Irish family, of which the Marquis of Drogheda is the present head; his great grand-father, the first of the family who came to America, was appointed Governor of Carolina in 1705, and discharged that trust, in periods of great civil contention, with singular prudence and reputation; his grandfather was a general officer in the British service; and his father was one of the king's judges for the province of North Carolina,
a See Memoirs, Vol. II. p. 339.