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Waterbury Republican (Sept. 19, 1966)


LITCHFIELD -- Sixty people honoring a much-questioned man gathered Saturday at the Tapping Reeve Law School, the status of which has also been posing some questions lately.

The Aaron Burr Association held its 200th annual meeting here on the 130th anniversary of the death of the man about whom Woodrow Wilson said, "How misunderstood. . . how maligned.

Burr, third Vice-President of the United States, was a student at the Litchfield Law School conducted by his brother-in-law, Tapping Reeve.

According to the ABA, "Burr has been made a whipping boy in American history." The group "seeks to clear his reputation." Miss Dorothy V. Smith, one of the incorporators of Richmond Restoration, cited in an article in The Staten Island Advance this month that Burr's "vast plan of an empire to be won from Spain's New World possessions was branded as 'treason' in 1806. Those dreams carried into reality by Texan-Americans 30 years later were hailed as glorious patriotism."

In the Chronicle of the ABA, edited by its president- general and executive director, Dr. Samuel E. Burr, Jr., it is noted that "Col. Burr studied law at the Litchfield School and left from Litchfield to volunteer for service in the Army of the Revolution." Dr. Burr is professor of education at the American University in Washington, D.C. and director Emeritus, Institute of World Affairs.

The September Chronicle issue also went on record as re-protesting an article on Burr by John Dos Passos published in American Heritage in February.

Henry L. Shepherd, president of the Litchfield Historical Society, introduced Law School curator Herbert S. Jones, principal speaker, to the gathering. When Jones was asked later if there had been any further developments in the Tapping Reeve-William and Mary fracas, he said that the publicity is "very advantageous." He said that he had received one phone call from a Hartford resident whose great-great-grandfather went to that (Litchfield) school." The caller is donating a 1794 miniature of Asa Chapman and an 1818 oil painting of Charles Chapman, both graduates, to the Law School.

Asked if she felt that the ABA members considered Litchfield a successful choice of site for their meeting, Mrs. Edward Drever, resident curator of Tapping Reeve House and School, said that they remarked that "never in all the years of their organization" had they attended "such a successful meeting as here."


Legal Education, Law Schools, History