AUGUST   2020


Saturday, October 29, 2016


I draw your attention to the events of Friday, May 25, 2007, as a lesson in how we got into our present stagnant swamp in American politics. That exemplar day, the 84th day of the 81st session of the Texas House of Representatives, began with 150 part time politicians lulled by the minutia of governing - hours spent reviewing details of amendments made by the upper chamber to bills the House had previously passed. The yearly session was drawing to a close, and the energy of January had given way to the exhaustion of spring. Having pocketed their $7,500 salary and per Diem, the legislators were eager to get back to their real lives and their real jobs. And then, as the afternoon droned monotonously into evening, Republican Fred Hill stepped to the microphone and tried to spark a revolution. And for the next five and a half hours this room in the state capital, maybe the entire 269,000 square miles of the state of Texas, entered another dimension - a dimension not only of sight and sound but of the mind. Call it the dimension of the crafty Craddick's Catch 22.
“Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he were sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn't have to; but if he didn't want to he was sane and had to.”
Joseph Heller - “Catch 22” - 1961
Now, at any convenient time any member of the Texas House can be recognized for a motion of personal privilege. And once recognized, Fred's intention was to use his privilege to call for an immediate vote to remove the “auto-Craddick” Speaker of the House, his fellow Republican, Tomas Russell Craddick Sr.. The rebel alliance had 70 sure votes, a group of Republicans and Democrats known as the ABC's, “Anybody but Craddick”. They were eager to remove the diminutive dictatorial empire builder. But the empire also had 70 solid votes  to support their manager from Midland.
“The Texan turned out to be good-natured, generous and likeable. In three days no one could stand him”
Joseph Heller - “Catch 22” - 1961.
Terrible Tom had represented the east Texas oil town of Midland since he was 25 - since 1968 - since George and Barbara Bush had actually lived there. It was the town where the second Bush First Lady, Laura Lane Welch Bush, had grown up. And it was a deeply conservative place. The last Democrat Midland voted for was Harry Truman.
And in 2003, while Tom “The Hammer” Delay was presiding over a Republican majority in Washington, Tiny Tom the toxic traumatizer, was the first Republican Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives in 130 years. He immediately began redistricting Texas to favor Republicans, as it had once favored Democrats. A lobbyist described him as “ the most self-sufficient lone wolf I have ever seen as Speaker. He really does keep his own counsel.” To Republican Byron Cook, Terrible Tom's iron rule was “the convergence of money and power and influence.”
“There were many principles in which Clevinger believed passionately. He was crazy.”
Joseph Heller - “Catch 22” - 1961.
It was about about seven-thirty when Fred Hill asked to make his point of order. He expected to catch the calamitous Craddick off guard. But tricky Tom (above)  had been an Eagle Scout, and he was always prepared. When Fred said he wanted to introduce a vote to reconsider House Bill One - callous Craddick's January election as Speaker (by 121 to 27 votes)  twinkle toes Tom simply refused to recognize him for that purpose. Noted the Huston Chronicle, “Hill then asked if the House could vote on overriding Craddick's refusal to recognize him for that motion. Craddick said he would not recognize him for that motion either.  Hill moved to suspend the House rules, but Craddick said, "You're not recognized for that motion."  Further, Craddick said his ruling was "unappealable.”
"Doc Daneeka was Yossarian's friend and would do just about nothing in his power to help him."
Joseph Heller - “Catch 22” - 1961
The rebel alliance was so stunned by Craddick's simple denial of the rules, they failed to even move to print his motion in the record. As far as the diary of the House was concerned, Fred's rebellion never happened. Meanwhile, contemptible Craddick moved on to reconsider HB 3107, “An Act Relating to the Creation and Re-creation of Funds and Accounts in the State Treasury”, then HB 860, “An Act Relating to Management, Investment, and Expenditure of Institutional funds”, and CSHB 4053, “The Galveston Grand Beach Management District”. Finally an old lion, Democratic leader Jim Dunnam from Waco, regained his composure, stepped to the podium and asked to make his own point of privilege. ”
"That's some catch, that Catch-22," he observed.
Joseph Heller - “Catch 22” - 1961.
Representative Dunnam asked why it was necessary for the Speaker to “recognize” a member of the house, before they could make a motion of privilege. “Matters of privilege have never required recognition”, he pointed out. “That s why they re called matters of privilege.” But truculent Tom  (above) responded, “ It does present a question of privilege, but there are procedural ways in which you can take care of that matter...It is referred to committee”   Dunnam had been in the house for twenty years, and had “few peers and fewer superiors” in the legislative arts, and he now asked a simple question. He asked, “Isn't the chair suppose to leave the chair under any business concerning the chair?” To which Tom Riddle replied, “That is true, that is if you’re recognized.” In other words,.you can't make a motion to remove the Speaker unless you are recognized, and you can't be recognized for a motion to remove the Speaker - Tom's Catch 22.
"Then there was the educated Texan from Texas who looked like someone in Technicolor and felt, patriotically, that people of means – decent folk – should be given more votes than drifters, whores, criminals, degenerates, atheists and indecent folk – people without means."
Joseph Heller - “Catch 22” - 1961
At stake in this circular debate were the Timid Ten, Republicans and Democrats - whom Tiny Tom had intimidated. Their votes might decide the next Speaker, but tyrannical Tom boasted he had $14 million to crush them at the next primary, if they should vote to remove him. Now, the rebels were counting on the T.T.'s votes, once they shoved the first knife in, which is why Craddick the callous had insisted, “The Speaker's power of recognition on any matter cannot be appealed.” It ought to serve as triumphant Tom's motto, because without recognition the rebel knives were kept sheathed.
“Catch-22 says they have a right to do anything we can't stop them from doing.”
Joseph Heller - “Catch 22” - 1961
It was at about this point that Republican Todd Smith noticed an interchange between the House Parliamentarian Dense Davis (above, right), and the cado-demonic Craddick. Smith now made his own motion for personal privilege, asking, “ Mr. Speaker, is it true in rendering an opinion on Mr. Dunnam's question that you overruled your own parliamentarian...?” Treacherous Tom tried to avoid the question. “Not to my knowledge, Mr. Smith,.” he said “You don't know?” Smith pressed him. Top dog Tom tried to bluff his way out of the corner.“I don t remember overruling my parliamentarian, Mr. Smith.” But the bull dog from the suburbs north of Fort Worth would not let go of the bone he sensed he had hold of. He demanded, “So you re telling me that Ms. Davis...advised you that...your ruling was consistent with (her) advice to you?” Tom terrific began to stammer. “Mr. Smith, I used the rules in front of me and I asked the parliamentarian...I didn t, I didn’t, I looked over and asked her, and I don’t know if she agreed or didn t agree, Mr. Smith.” Then, for good measure Tom added, “Its a privileged conversation between the two of us..”
"Catch 22 required that each censored letter bear the censoring officer's name."
Joseph Heller - “Catch 22” - 1961
That drove Republican Jim Pitts to demand, “Who employs the parliamentarian?” Craddock (above) quickly responded, “The Speaker does.” But Pitts then asked, “Is she an officer of the House?” Craddick must have felt the great hall closing in upon him. “I was going to say he or she is a House officer”, he replied. Pitts pressed his advantage. “She would be an officer of the House?” Craddick was now forced to agree, and Pitts then asked, “And where does the privilege come in with an officer of the House, with the Speaker?” Obviously, for an officer employed by the entire House, the privilege was with the body, not any single representative, including the Speaker. Trapped, Tom now tried to stake out his final defensive position. “Its a special counsel, so there's attorney-client privilege as well.”  It was a lousy position, and Pitts mercilessly pointed that out. “She is your special counsel for the House, is that correct?” And rather than answer that simple question, at 7:51 p.m., Tom the tease, announced the House would “stand at ease” for ten minutes.
“All they ever told me was to uphold the ethics of my profession and never give testimony against another physician.”
Joseph Heller - “Catch 22” - 1961
It was closer to a forty minute break. And at 8:39, when they returned, Jim Pitts was waiting. He immediately tried to again bring up the issue of the Parliamentarian’s opinion of Craddick's Catch-22.
There was a lot of pushing and shoving around the hall, as other members, like Democrat Rick Norega, tried to get to a microphone. Democrats would later allege that “Mr. Noriega was physically blocked from access to the podium and members were told that the Sergeant at Arms had a list of members who were to be blocked from certain facilities.”  Just four minutes of this and troubled Tom called the House into recess again, this time until 11 P.M.  Station KEYE reported the House, “broke out in a cacophony of boos as lawmakers swept to the front of the chamber and Craddick, often called the most powerful man in state government, hustled back to his office suite.” The Chronicle reported Dense Davis, Parliamentarian for the last three years, “wouldn't comment as she bounded up the stairs behind the chamber to her office, nearly in tears. "I'm not going to talk about that," she repeatedly said, rushing into her office, crying. The door was locked behind her.”
“You know, that might be the answer - to act boastfully about something we ought to be ashamed of. That's a trick that never seems to fail.”
Joseph Heller - “Catch 22” - 1961
Outside the capital a crowd of aides and political junkies gathered in the warm Austin night to smoke and gossip. Rumor had it that Terrible Tom was going to try to break the quorum, by sending his own supporters home. That would shut down the session entirely. But those desperate Representatives who had shepherded bills this far were determined not to lose them to what they saw as a political hussy fit. There would be no quorum busting. Terrible Tom and been forced to go another way.
"That's the way things go when you elevate mediocre people to positions of authority."
Joseph Heller - “Catch 22” - 1961
The House was called back into session promptly at eleven, when crafty Craddick (center) announced a new Parliamentarian, Terry Keel (left), and his new Deputy, Ron Wilson (right). A Texas blogger observed, “the most enduring image of this strange and historic session will be that of Craddick at the podium....looking like nothing so much as a ventriloquist's dummy, as he repeated verbatim whatever Wilson or (more often) Keel said”.
Wrote another blogger that night, “12:42 a.m. Talton raises a point of order.  Craddick tells him to bring it up front. Talton asks if he can stop by his desk to get it. Craddick just stands there. Until Keel prompts him, “Tell him yes!” And Craddick says, “Yes.”  Eventually, Terrible Tom is forced to admit Denise Davis and her deputy had both resigned.  But by that time the chamber had descended into a snarling, argumentative ungovernable bee hive. The local CBS affiliate reported that Democrat Dunnam had asked, “Will you recognize any member of this chamber for a motion to elect an impartial parliamentarian?”. After Craddick replied that would be against the rules,  “Dunnam said, "We're gonna follow House rules? When?" to a burst of applause from a packed House gallery and lawmakers “
“The men were perfectly content to fly as many missions as we asked them as long as they thought they had no alternative. Now you've given them hope, and they're unhappy.”
Joseph Heller - “Catch 22” - 1961
The 2007 Texas House of Representatives did not end its session that May night, nor the next day. The bitter arguing continued for another forty-eight hours, while the people's business was delayed and ignored. In the midst of the bloody mess that Sunday, Republican Mike Krusee, “who had been one of the speaker's most loyal and implacable lieutenants in the bloody 2003 re-redistricting wars”, was driven to thunder, “"Since the days of Jefferson... questioning the leadership of the presiding officer has been the most fundamental right of the members who elected that leadership...The Republican Party is now engaged in trying to spin this as a partisan issue."
He then added, "What a perversion,...Absolute power to deny the right to question authority is not a principle of the Republican Party, or any party. Not in this country. Not in this country.” What a shame that by Sunday, most politicians in Austin were too exhausted to hear him.  And Tom Craddick had now earned a new nickname - "Chicken Craddick".
"Clevinger was dead. That was the basic flaw in his philosophy."
Joseph Heller - “Catch 22” - 1961
Cold, callous Tom Craddick was eventually removed as Speaker, but not until January of 2009. And even then Midland has continued returning the man who put the bully in the bully pulpit back to Austin every two years. In 2013 the 68 year old Tom Craddick became the first part time Texas legislator to qualify for the maximum lifetime pension. He will now received $125,000 a year for the rest of his life, his reward for all his good work.
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Thursday, October 27, 2016


I think the basic problem with democracy is that humans are too darn clever for it to ever work efficently. Consider the lesser genius of old John Q. Adams (above), son of a founding father, who, after one term in the White House, won a seat in the House of Repesentatives, which he occupied for another 17 years as “Old Man Eloquent”.  Congressman Adams first dragged slavery onto the House floor for open debate, and then engineered the first compromise which delayed the Civil War for forty years -  a pretty clever guy. But it was also J.Q. Adams who was clever enough to insist he should not be counted as “present” if he refused to respond when his vote was called for. It was a matter of principle to John Q, and a matter of temprament. He was just too old to stand up and walk out of the chamber every time someone asked him to vote on something he wanted to avoid voting on. How could he predict that two generations later, in the hands of hack politicians, this principle would be used to thwart democracy?
They called it a “Silent Quorum”. By October of 1893, when the Senate was trying to repeal price supports for silver, which were costing taxpayers millions of dollars every year, this procedure had become a monster whenever the majority was razor thin. Without a quorum present, (half the membership plus one) no vote was legal, so by remaining silent when their names were called, the minority could “fillibuster” any action they wanted to avoid losing on. It was a manuever which one particular House member described as a “...peculiar art of metaphysics which admits of corporeal presence and parliamentary absence”. That year, over two days, the U.S. Senate tried 39 times to remove price supports for silver. And every time the quorum evaporated. A decade later the obstructionists had so honed their craft that the same particular House member calculated that the House of Representatives spent “...a whole month...calling over our own names”. Usually the bills being  fillerbusted were either dropped, or the delay and deal making required to get them passed held the Congress up to public ridicule. Who ever heard of such a thing?
The 'particular' Congressman who finally broke the filibuster of silence was a fourteen year veteran who knew the lower house of Congress well enough to describe it as “A gelatinous existence, the scorn of all vertebrate animals”. He owned the biggest head in politics (in more ways than one) and the sharpest wit in the Washington, at the time. Fifty year old Thomas Brackett Reed (above) was, said a critic, as “ambitious as Lucifer”.  He was also a giant - 6'3” tall and 300 pounds – who inspired one who saw him strolling to say in awe, “How narrow he makes the sidewalk look.” Republican Thomas Reed once lamented in his measured Maine drawl, “We live in a world of sin and sorrow. Otherwise there would be no Democratic Party.”  When accused of mockery by a Democrat, Reed responded, “I will say to the gentleman that if I ever ‘made light’ of his remarks, it is no more than he ever made of them himself.”   Reed described two politicans who annoyed him, this way; “They never open their mouths without subtracting from the sum of human knowledge.” He was imperious and dictitorial even with friends - a small “d” democratic Robespierre.
Like all political revolutions, newly-elected Speaker Reed's, was inspired by necessity. Specifically, on 23 January 1890, he received the Committee on Elections report concerning the 4th district of West Virginia. The Democratic Governor had thrown out the results from two polling places and declared Democrat James Jackson the winner. The loser, Republican Charles Smith, had appealed to congress. The Congressional Committee's Republican majority had labeled the governor's actions so outrageous that it “seems like a farce to argue about it” and recommended giving the seat to Smith. As expected the Democrats wanted to argue about it. Technically Reed had three more than the 166 Republicans needed to push through Smith's election. But if three or more of his own party were out sick or away from the floor Reed's working majority would fall to the “tyranny of the minority”. Thomas Reed was determined to do something about that.
Before the session was to begin that noon, on Wednesday, 29 January, 1890, Speaker Reed called the two ranking Republican members of the election committee into the hallway behind the Speakers podium, known as the Speakers' Lobby. There Reed warned Joe Cannon from Illinois (above) and William McKinley from Ohio that even with two Republicans dragged from their sick beds, what with several still out sick, one dead and another home with a dying wife, the Democrats could be expected to use a 'Silent Quorum' to delay or even kill action on their report. But Reed had a plan. What he did not tell this allies was that he had recently secured a partnership in a private law firm, in case his plot blew up in his face and he was forced to resign from the Congress. Representative Cannon asked when the Speaker intended upon launching his plan. Reed responded simply, “Now”, and he strode into the chamber.
After the preliminaries for the opening of a session, Edward McPherson, the House clerk, called for a vote on the report of the election committee. The initial results were 162 yeas, 3 nays and 163 not voting. The Democrats immediately called for a “quorum call”. Again Mr. McPherson read out the roll call, pausing after each of the 332 names for a response. All 162 Republicans in the chamber answered “present”. Not a single Democrat in the room lifted his voice. The “Silent Quorum” had again triumphed - or so it seemed. But then Speaker Reed announced ponderously, “The Chair directs the Clerk to record the names of the following members as present and refusing to vote.” And slowly he began to read off the names he had marked down as being in the room.
According to the Associated Press reporter who was present, “Pandemonium broke loose...wild excitement, burning indignation, scathing denunciation...” When Reed called his name, the Democratic war horse William Breckinridge bellowed over the mob, “I deny the power of the Speaker and denounce it as revolutionary!” By now Democrats were spilling into the aisle and pressing toward the podium, “ if they intended to mob the Speaker.” But imperious, “utterly fearless”, and (said the New York Times) as “cool and determined as a highwayman,” Speaker Reed deigned not to acknowledge their outrage. He just kept reading the the names of the no longer silent minority.
When he called out, “Mr. McCreary”, the sexagenarian ex-Governor of Kentucky and ex-Confederate Colonel, James Bennett McCreary (above), shouted up at the podium, “I deny your right, Mr. Speaker, to count me as present!” Unexpectedly, Thomas Reed paused, and the entire bedlam paused as well, sucking in a breath of anticipation. Gazing down impassivily from atop the massive podium, the New England Buddha pronounced, “The Chair is making a statement of fact that the gentleman is present. Does he deny it?” Representive McCreay was nonplussed. And calmly Reed continued with his roll call of the principled “absent”. And when he had finished, over the din and angry shouts which again tore the air, he announced he would now give his reasons for the revolution he had just launched.
The Constitution, in Article One, section five, said Reed, dictates that each house of Congress could “...compel the attendance of absent members, in such manner, and under such penalties as each house may provide.”  Speaker Reed argued, “If members can be present and refuse to (be)....counted as a quorum, that provision would seem to be entirely negated. Inasmuch as the Constitution only provides for their attendance, that attendance is enough. If more was needed the Constitution would have provided for more.” His words were not going to sway the losing side, but then that was not whom Reed was speaking to.  Are elections a farce and is government by the people a juggle?” he asked. “Do we marshal our tens of millions at the polls for sport? If there be anything in popular government it means that whenever the people have elected one party to take control of the.House or the Senate, that party shall have both the power and the responsibility. If that is not the effect, what is the use of the election?”
Having said his peace, Mr. Reed intoned, “The Chair thereupon rules that there is a quorum present within the meaning of the Constitution.” Breckinridge demanded to make a point of order. Reed dismissed him, saying. “The Chair overrules the point of order”, without even hearing it. “I appeal the decision of the Chair,” shouted the old war horse. Interjected the Republican Lewis Payson from Ilinois' 9th district, “I move to lay the appeal on the table”. And with a Republican second, the Congress now debated the very idea of Reed's revolution.
It went on for three bitter, angry, frustrated days. And from atop the pyramid of the podium Thomas Reed sat impassive, “serene as a summer morning”, rendering Parlimentary decisions which kept the debate moving.  Speaker Reed used his gavel so often, he broke it (above).  Charles Landis, the Indiana Republican, insisted that Reed “...did not gag debate, he simply....thought that a man who had a private balloon to inflate should hire a field.”  If the Democrats “shouted until the acoustics bled,” wrote Landis, that was merely “prima facie evidence that they were in the vicinity”. In the beginning Republicans were not united, but the Democratic reaction had forced the doubters into the battle line. Even the one Texas Democrat who stayed seated while ominously wetting his bowie knife, helped to unite Reed's Republican troops.
Thomas Reed came out of this debate forever bearing the tag of “Czar Reed”. But he also won his point. On Monday, 3 February 1890, the Democrats admitted defeat and simply walked out of the chamber (above). This left the Republicans with just 165 votes - one short of a quorum. An hour later, Republican Joe Sweeny of Iowa, having raced from the train station, walked into the chamber and announced, “One more, Mr. Speaker”. And with that a quorum was achieved. And the reason for the drama (if anybody still remembered), Charles Smith, was officially elected to the 4th district House seat for West Virginia, by 166 votes to 0. Twenty-six days later the United States Supreme Court rejected the Democratic appeal, and the matter was settled for at least a generation.
"Reed's Rules" gave the Republicans the power to fully enact their programs. And the public fully rejected them. In the election of 1890 Democrats gained the clear and working majority both sides had wanted, and immediately discarded Reed's Rules.  Reed's observation on this was, “The House has more sense than anyone in it.”  Two years later, the Republicans re-gained ground and it was the Democrats who were facing a intransigent minority, lead by Thomas Reed. The Democrats were forced to now accept and use Reed's Rules for themselves. In response, Thomas Reed said only, “I congratulate the Fifty-third Congress.” And he meant it.
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Tuesday, October 25, 2016


I hate to break it to you, but America's founding fathers were the most argumentative bunch of back stabbing duplictious ego maniacs on the North American continent. Just look at what they thought of each other. Thomas Jefferson called President John Adams a senile fool and a hideous hermaphroditic. Adams called his fellow Federalist Alexander Hamilton, “That bastard brat of a Scottish peddler!”, accusing him of possessing  "a superabundance of secretions, which he couldn't find enough whores to absorb!” And Adams described Thomas Jefferson, leader and founder of opposition Democratic- Republicans, as a man whose “soul is poisoned with ambition.” Hamilton called Jefferson a “howling atheist”. And then there was New York's Aaron Burr. Nobody trusted Burr.
Politics is a great game for fun, honor, and profit.”
Aaron Burr
The always charming Aaron Burr (above) was urbane and witty, with a healthy disrespect for his own legal profession, asserting “Law is whatever is boldly asserted and plausibly maintained.” He loved politics so much he converted the Tammany Hall social club into the bulwark of New York State Democratic politics for the next 200 years, while still maintaining alliances with moderate Federalists. Aaron's only child, Theodosia, paid him probably the greatest compliment I have ever heard, when she said, “I had rather not live than not to be the daughter of such a man.” The only problem was Aaron Burr kept out smarting the smartest men in America.
As to Burr...he is a man of extreme and irregular ambition; that he is selfish to a degree which excludes all social affections, and that he is decidedly profligate. “
Alexander Hamilton
In early 1799 the Democrat Aaron Burr offered a plan to bring water into Manhattan, and convinced the impulsive and arrogant Federalist leader Alexander Hamilton (above)  to support the bill  But buried in the minutia was authorization to charter the Bank of Manhattan. And once the bill passed the water project was quickly dropped, and what would one day be Chase Manhattan Bank started moving money for Democratic politicians. Hamilton, “the little lion”, never forgave Burr for fooling him. But the belligerent Hamilton would never admit his grudge with Burr was anything but a matter of principle  Federalists like Hamilton favored an active government, and Thomas Jefferson's Democrats preferred a government small enough not to threaten slavery or the bankers.
It has been a source of great pain to me to have met with so many among [my] opponents who... transferred at once to the person, the hatred they bore to his political opinions.”
Thomas Jefferson
"Mad Tom" Thomas Jefferson didn't trust Burrr either. But he needed New York's electoral votes. Under the new constitution each “Presidental Elector” was required to vote for two candidates - at least one from outside his home state - with the second highest vote getter becoming Vice-President. Four years earlier, in 1796, Democrat Jefferson got 60 electoral votes and became Vice President. He then spent the next four years undermining the Federalist Adams administration from the inside. This time the two parties tried to coordinate their votes to ensure the “P” and the “VP” would both be from the same party. But as the secret ballots trickled in to Washington during December of 1800, it “leaked” that the Democrats in South Carolina – the last state in which electors were chosen - had screwed up. Both Jefferson and Burr ended up with 73 votes for President – both one vote short of the required 74 vote majority. It was presumed that most Democrats wanted Jefferson to take the top office. Jefferson certainly thought so.
Slander has slain more than the sword.”
Aaron Burr
As designed just 12 years earlier (Article II, Section 1, clause 3 of the Constitution), if two candidates were tied for Presidency, “then the House of Representatives shall immediately chose by ballot one of them for President...each state having one vote.” So, having trudged to the capital through heavy snow on Wednesday 11 February, 1801, the Electoral votes were officially counted. They confirmed the Democrat's worst nightmare. Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr were tied, with 73 votes each for the Presidency. The lame duck House of Representatives (56 Federalists to 49 Democrats), voting by state, could only choose between those two Democrats. And most all of the Federalists voted for the New Yorker, just to spit in Thomas Jefferson's eye.
Men of energy of character must have enemies”
Thomas Jefferson
Everybody knew "Mad Tom" Jefferson would have to swallow a deal.  Burr expected it. In December, Burr had written to a supporter in Philadelphia that he would not compete .with Jefferson. “Be assured that the Federal party can entertain no such wish...”  Hamilton had offered a deal to the sage of Monticello in January, saying that if Jefferson would promise to preserve Hamilton's First National Bank and to not to fire every Federalist working for the government, then a few Federalists would vote for Jefferson. The principled Jefferson refused. So the process would have to play itself out.
The rule of my life is to make business a pleasure and pleasure my business.”
Aaron Burr
It would only take nine votes to choose a President, with Congress meeting in the dome-less capital (above). But on the first ballot Thomas Jefferson received just eight votes, with the Federalists giving Burr six.  The Vermont and Maryland delegations were split and handed in blank ballots. Immediately the House began a second vote, with the same result. After 19 duplicate votes, at 3 a..m the next morning, Thursday 12 February, the exhausted House decided to adjourn until daylight. But nothing changed, not on Thursday, not on Friday the 13th and not on Saturday. Saturday night, Federalist James Asheton Bayard, the single congressman from Delaware, decided somebody had to do something. So he did it.
Never do today what you can do tomorrow. Something may occur to make you regret your premature action.”
Aaron Burr
Congressman Bayard (above) offered Jefferson the same deal Hamilton had offered a month earlier – keep the National Bank – forerunner of the Federal Reserve system – and don't replace the Federalist custom officials in Philadelphia and Wilmington.  If Jefferson would promise that, then Bayard (and Delaware) would abstain on the next vote. That would still leave Jefferson with just eight votes, but that would now be a majority "of those states voting".  On Sunday, 15 February, while the offer was transmitted to Jefferson in Monticello, Bayard broke the news of his offer to the Federalist caucus. According to Bayard, the resulting cries of “traitor” were loud and “prodigious, the reproaches vehement.” Bayard finally agreed to wait until Burr could respond to the same deal.
Great souls have little use for small morals.”
Aaron Burr
Jefferson's response arrived Monday morning, 16 February – a quite impressive less than 24 hour turn around, given that Monticello (above)  was ninety miles each way by terrible roads from the new “Federal District.” Jefferson would later claim to have turned down the deal   But once in the White House he kept the National bank, despite his campaign promises to dismantle it. And he kept most of the Federalists officials in Baltimore, Maryland and Wilmington, Delaware. And when Aaron Burr's response arrived later that same morning, the deal was sealed. Someone destroyed Burr's letter, but Congressman Bayard wrote later, “Burr has acted a miserable paltry part. The election was in his power.” Whatever Aaron Burr's sentiments, there is no evidence he had lifted a finger to challenge Jefferson for the Presidency. And for that, Thomas Jefferson never forgave him.
I fear Mr. Burr is unprincipled, both as a public and a private man. In fact, I take it he is for or against nothing but as it suits his interest and ambition.”
Alexander Hamilton

At noon on Monday, 17 February 1801, the House cast its 36th ballot. Delaware abstained, and Thomas Jefferson became the third President of the United States. Aaron Burr (above) became Vice President. Federalist leader Alexander Hamilton had been writing his allies for two months that they should be accept Jefferson, telling one, “Mr. Jefferson, though too yet a lover of liberty...Mr. Burr loves nothing but himself.” It seems that the Secretary of the Treasury hated Burr more than he loved his own politics.
A fondness for power is implanted, in most men, and it is natural to abuse it, when acquired.”
Alexander Hamilton
And where was “the most restless, impatient, artful...and unprincipled intriguer in the United  States” (according to Hamilton) during the week that he could have become the third President of the United States? During the first half of February, 1801, Aaron Burr was in Albany, New York, supervising and attending the wedding of his daughter, Theodosia Burr (above) , to Mr. Joseph Alston, a plantation owner from South Carolina. The newlyweds were the first couple known to have honeymooned at Niagara Falls. The proud father of the bride did not leave Albany until well after the election was settled. It seems that most of the intrigue and duplicity attributed to Aaron Burr, existed mostly in the imaginations of his political opponents..
Hamilton was indeed a singular character. Of acute understanding...honest, and honorable in all private transactions...yet so bewitched and to be... (convinced) that corruption was essential to the government of a nation.”
Thomas Jefferson
Distrusted by Jefferson, Aaron Burr served only one term as Vice President. Instead, in 1804 he ran for Governor of New York but fell victim to a nasty smear campaign directed by Alexander Hamilton. On Wednesday, 11 July, 1804,  the two old enemies met on the same field in Weehawken, New Jersey,  where Hamilton's son had been killed in a duel ten years earlier. (above)  Hamilton's shot missed. Burr's shot hit Hamilton in the abdomen and the Federalist leader died the next day. And that was the end of Aaron Burr's political life. He exiled himself to Europe for two years.
A morsel of genuine history is a thing so rare as to be always valuable.”
Thomas Jefferson
In 1807, on the direct orders of President Thomas Jefferson, Aaron Burr was arrested and charged with treason. With Theodosia at his side, and after a month long trial (above),  Aaron Burr was acquitted, after no wittiness could testify to any act of treason on his part. Burr then returned to New York City , where, in December of 1812, he was expecting Theodosia to arrive for a visit. Her ship, The Patriot, was assumed to have sunk in a hurricane off Cape Hatteras, with all hands lost. Burr continued to wait on piers in New York City, never fully recovering from her death. In 1834 Aaron Burr suffered a stroke and died two years later.
Remember democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.”
John Adams
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