« AnteriorContinuar »
Soon after this publication, Colonel Burr was known to be in Lexington. The court of the United States held in Frankfort by Judge Innis, commenced on Monday, the 3d of November: On the 5th of the month, Joseph H. Daveiss, attorney for the United States, came into the bar of the court, and addressing the judge, said—
"That he had a motion to make, of great magnitude and importance, touching a transaction of a very extraordinary nature, as it related to the district, and to the whole union. That the unhappy state of his health, had prevented his making it until then; for which he felt himself barely able; but being determined to lose no time, he had prepared an affidavit, on which his application would be grounded"—and which was read as follows, to wit:
"J' H. Daveiss, attorney for the said United States, in and for said district, upon his corporal oath, doth depose and say, That the deponent is informed, and doth verily believe, that a certain Aaron Burr, Esq. late vice president of the said United States, for several months past, hath been, and is now engaged in preparing, and setting on foot, and in providing and preparing the means, for a military expedition and enterprise within this district, for the purpose of descending the Ohio and Mississippi therewith, and making war upon the subjects of the king of Spain, who are in a state of peace with the people of these United States—to wit: on the provinces of Mexico, on the wcstwardljr side of Louisiana, which appertain and belong to the king of Spain, an European prince with whom these United States are at peace.
"And said deponent further saith, that he is informed, and fully believes that the above charge, can be, and will be fully substantiated by evidence, provided this honourable court will grant compulsory process to bring in witnesses to testify thereto.
"And the deponent further saith, that he is informed, and verily believes, that the agents and emissaries of the said Burr, have purchased up, and are continuing to purchase, large stores of provisions, as if for an army; while the said Burr, seems to conceal in great mystery from the people at large, Vol. Ii. B**
i his purposes and.projects, and while the minds of the good
people of this district, seem agitated with the current rumour
that a military expedition against some neighbouring power,
is preparing by said Burr.
"Wherefore, said attorney, on behalf of the said U. States pray, that due process issue to compel the personal appearance of the said Aaron Burr, in this court; and also of such witnesses as may be necessary on behalf of the said United States; and that this honourable court, will duly recognise the said Aaron Burr, to answer such charges as may be preferred against him in the premises; and in the mean time, that he desist and refrain from all further preparation and proceeding in the same armament within the said United States, or the territories or dependencies thereof.
«J. H. DAVEISS, A. U. S."
Having" read this affidavit, the attorney proceeded in the following words:—
"The present subject has much engaged my mind. The case made out is only as to the expedition against Mexico; but I have information on which I can rely, that all the western territories are the next object of the scheme —and finally, all the region of the Ohio is calculated as falling into the vortex of the new proposed revolution."
The following section from the act of congress entitled "As act in addition to the act for the punishment of certain crimes against the United States," was read, as designating the crime intended to be prosecuted, viz:
"Sec. 5. That if any person shall within the territory or jurisdiction of the United States begin or set on foot, or provide or prepare the means for any military expedition or enterprise to be carried on from thence against the territory or dominions of any foreign prince or state with whom the United States are at peace, every such person so offending shall upon conviction be adjudged guilty of a high misdemeanor, and shall suffer fine and imprisonment at the discretion of the court in which the conviction shall be had so as that such fine shall not exceed three thousand dollars, nor the term of imprisonment be more than three years."
After hearing the motion, the judge took time until the Saturday following, to make up and deliver his opinion; which overruled the motion, and denied the process. In the mean time Colonel Burr, being in Lexington, is said to have received notice of the motion in less than four hours after it was made; and then apprised the judge by letter that he would be in court within a day or two, to confront his accuser, and to meet his inquiry. Arriving on Friday, after the court had adjourned, nothing was noticed on the subject. Saturday morning, the. colonel made his appearance in court: causing much sensation. in the language of the "Palladium"—a paper doubtless, much against the will of its editor, strongly affected towards "conspirators"—adding, "that to his enemies, it was evident chagrin; to the impartial, that is, nine-tenths in the house, it gave the utmost satisfaction."
That chagrin was depicted on the one side, and great com- plaisancy on the other, is not to be denied. There were two distinct kinds of people in the house: the chagrin belonged toone, the complaisancy to the other. The first might well proceed from the combined impression of the conduct of the judges and of the culprit: the second, if it extended to nine-tenths of those present, did not proceed from their impartiality; although it might from ignorance and prejudice in many of them. Nor is it strange, when a writer was hired to misinform, and a newspaper at their service.
The colonel himself, finding the attorney's motion overruled, addressed the judge with much confidence;—spoke of the recent procedure of the United States' attorney, as being very extraordinary;—insinuated that sometime since he had made it known that he was to leave the state, and that the attorney had reason to suppose him gone, on his private though urgent business, as he should have been but for an unexpected occurrence;—that fortunately he had heard of the motion and allegation against himself, and although it appeared that the judge had treated it as it deserved, yet, as something similar might be attempted in his absence, still necessary, he had deemed it proper to meet the gentleman-at the threshold and demand an investigation of his conduct, for which he was always ready. and therefore had attended. The attorney replied, that as Colonel Burr gave his voluntary attendance, he wanted nothing but the presence of the witnesses, to be ready. After consulting a short time with the marshal, the attorney said he could be ready by Wednesday next, should the witnesses attend) which bethought they might, by that time: that if Col. Burr could attend on that day, he might expect the investigation he desired. The colonel agreed to wait, and Wednesday was set for the trial. The subpoenas required by the attorney, were ordered; and so also was a grand jury. officers were despatched to different places, as Louisville, Ref Lexington, Danville, &c.
The grand jury was empannelled of.persons in court, sworn, and adjourned, to meet on Wednesday. The attorney, having conversed with the persons to be summoned, doubted not that the misdemeanor charged in his affidavit would be proved, felt gratified at the prospect. The colonel, it is probable, knewthose witnesses much better. Be that as it may, fame had now full hold of the subject; and seldom has she been more profuse in the use of her many tongues, or impelled her passengers, on more rapid wings. On the day of expected trial Frankfort was crowded, and the court house gorged with citizens and strangers.
The court being opened, all were filled with curiosity and expectation. The attorney had counted his witnesses, and ascertained that one of the most important did not attend. He had to announce the unpleasant fact, and to this purpose addressed the court. He said, the absence of Davis Floyd, an important witness, rendered it improper for him to proceed at that time. He was therefore compelled to ask for a postponement of the prosecution.
It appeared upon inquiry of the officer who had been at his house, that he was attending a session of the Indiana legisla* ture, of which he was a member; consequently there was no reason to expect his attendance. On hearing this, the judge at once discharged the jury. And a second disappointment, greater than the first, took place. Immediately succeeding the discharge of the jury, Colonel Burr, attended by Mr. H. Clay and Mr. J. Allin, as his attornies, came into court; and being informed that the grand jury was dismissed on account of Mr. Floyd's absence, the colonel rose, and very gravely expressed his regret that the jury had been discharged, and asked for the reason. To which the attorney for the United States replied, that it was on account of the absence of Mr. Davis Floyd: adding, that he considered it inexpedient to begin an investigation, which could only be partial without Mr. Floyd— that the attending witnesses could prove a number of detached facts, but the testimony of Floyd was necessary to connect them, and give the design of the whole. Colonel Burr, rising again, expressed his desire, that the cause of the postponement should be entered on record; and also the reason of the nonattendance of Mr. Floyd. To which the attorney assented. The colonel, once more at large, addressed himself in form to the judge, but in effect to the people; and said, that the good citizens of Kentucky might, and he hoped they would, dismiss their fears for the present; that in fact, there was no ground for them, whatever efforts had been made to excite them: that he had understood, some had been made to apprehend that he was pursuing schemes inimical to their peace—but they were misinformed, as they would find, if Mr. Attorney should ever get ready, and open his investigation: that in the mean time he could assure them they would be in no manner of danger, from him; that he had to act on the defensive only; that he should expect another attack, and should hold himself ready for it.
During these proceedings, the deportment of Colonel Burr was grave, polite, and dignified.
Those who had attended from motives of curiosity, or a desire for information, were disappointed; and even those well disposed, might have felt some twinge of vexation. There were, however, as already suggested, two parties: the principals of which, knew, or suspected each other; the one, a small number, thought the others favoured Burr's schemes: while