Aaron Burr, Sr.

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Aaron Burr, Sr.
AaronBurrSr.jpg
President of Princeton University
Term 1747 – 1757
Predecessor Jonathan Dickinson
Successor Jonathan Edwards
Born (1716-01-04)January 4, 1716
Fairfield, Connecticut Colony
Died September 24, 1757(1757-09-24) (aged 41)
Princeton, Province of New Jersey
Religion Christian (Calvinist)

The Reverend Aaron Burr, Sr. (January 4, 1716 – September 24, 1757) was a notable divine and educator in colonial America. He was a founder of the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) and the father of the third United States Vice President, Aaron Burr (1756–1836), who famously dueled with Alexander Hamilton.

Biography[edit]

A native of Connecticut, Burr was born in 1716 in present day Fairfield to Daniel Burr, a wealthy landowner. He was of English ancestry (his grandfather Jehu Burr had been born in Lavenham, Suffolk, England, in 1625, settled in the Connecticut Colony as a young man, and died there in 1692). Aaron Burr attended Yale College (now Yale University), where he obtained a B.A. in 1735. After graduation, he became a Presbyterian minister in Newark, New Jersey, also conducting a school in classical studies there. In 1752, he married Esther Edwards, daughter of the New England divine, Jonathan Edwards, and his wife Sarah, daughter of the Rev. James Pierpont. Jonathan Edwards was a leader of the First Great Awakening, a significant religious movement of the 1730s and 1740s.

In the 1740s, a controversy over religious doctrines led to a split in the faculty and student body at Yale. In opposition to Yale's first president, the Rev. Thomas Clap, Jonathan Edwards, Burr, and Jonathan Dickinson founded the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) at Elizabeth, New Jersey, in 1746. Dickinson was elected first president of the College, but died soon after in 1747. Burr then became the second president. During his tenure (1748–1757), the curriculum was settled, the student body increased significantly, and the College moved to its permanent home at Princeton, New Jersey. He supervised the construction of Nassau Hall, Princeton's best-known structure and the largest building in the colonies when it was completed in 1756.[1] Burr, elected at age 32, was also the youngest person ever to serve as president of Princeton.

Publication notice of a pamphlet by Burr (Boston: Edward E. Powars, 1791)

In 1755, Burr was relieved of his pastoral duties in order to concentrate full-time on his work at Princeton.[1] In the fall of 1757, Burr died in Princeton of fever, believed to have been brought on or aggravated by overwork. His remains were interred in the President's Lot at Princeton Cemetery. His widow died seven months later, orphaning their three-year-old daughter Sally and two-year-old son Aaron.[2]

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Academic offices
Preceded by
Jonathan Dickinson
President of the College of New Jersey
1747—1757
Succeeded by
Jonathan Edwards