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A Portrait of Aaron Burr (1756-1836), Lantern Slide Created in 1911

Aaron Burr Portrait
New York State Archives, NYSA_A3045-78_10848
 
Document Description
A portrait of Aaron Burr (1756-1836), painted by John Vanderlyn from the collection of the New-York Historical Society, lantern slide created in 1911.
 
Questions
What government office did Aaron Burr hold at the time the Louisiana Purchase was made?
What is treason?
Why was Aaron Burr suspected of treason?
How might United States history be different if the United States had not bought the Louisiana Territory from France?
How might United States history be different if someone like Aaron Burr had made the Louisiana Territory its own nation?
 
Historical Challenges
Research Aaron Burr. How was he elected Vice-President in 1800? What event is he most famous for? Why was he tried for treason? Why was he found not guilty? Do you think he was guilty? What would have happened to him if he had been found guilty?
 
Interdisciplinary Connections
Math: About how many dollars per square mile did the United States pay for the Louisiana Territory? If there are 640 acres in one square mile, about how much per acre did the United States pay? Does your number match the amount given by other sources?
Science: Choose five plants or animals that Lewis and Clark discovered on their expedition across Louisiana Territory. Make a booklet including one page for each discovery. For each discovery, draw a picture of the plant or animal, write its common and Latin names, describe the location and climate where it is found, and include any interesting facts about the species.
English Language Arts: Many of Thomas Jefferson’s opponents said that the Louisiana Territory was a worthless purchase and that Jefferson did not have the authority to purchase it without the approval of Congress. Chose a side and write a speech arguing for or against the United States’ purchase of the Louisiana Territory.
 
Resources
Adler, David. Picture Book of Lewis and Clark. Holiday House, Inc., May 2003. ISBN: 0823417956
Randsom, Candice. Lewis and Clark (History Maker Bios Series). July 2002. ISBN: 0760733902
Myers, Laurie. Lewis and Clark and Me: A Dog's Tale. Henry Holt & Company, Incorporated, August 2002. ISBN: 0805063684
 

Historical Context
The Louisiana Purchase has been called the greatest real estate venture in history. On April 30, 1803, the United States acquired from France 828,000 square miles of land west of the Mississippi River. This land stretched north from the Gulf of Mexico to Canada and west from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains. This new land nearly doubled the size of the United States!

Many people believe that Aaron Burr, who was Vice-President of the United States from 1801-1805, plotted to take control of the newly-acquired Louisiana, invade Mexico, and set himself up as leader of a new nation.  Burr was arrested in 1807 and tried for treason but was found not guilty.

 
Essential Question
How do individuals influence national and global events?
 
Check for Understanding
Describe the individual in the portrait and explain the role of Aaron Burr in westward expansion.