Aaron Burr led a highly controversial political career that culminated in one term as the third vice president of the United States. Born in Newark, New Jersey, Burr fought in the Revolutionary War and practiced law before turning to politics. He served as a U.S. senator from New York from 1791 to 1797, and received the vice presidential nomination from the Republican Party in 1800. Burr tied with Thomas Jefferson, and the election was thrown to the U.S. House of Representatives for a decision. After holding 36 votes, the House finally chose Jefferson as president and Burr vice president by a one-vote margin. This resulted in the passage of the 12th Amendment to the Constitution, which requires the electoral college to use separate ballots for president and vice president.
In July 1804 Burr mortally wounded his political opponent, New Yorker Alexander Hamilton, in a duel in Weehawken, New Jersey. Indicted in New York and New Jersey, Burr fled to the South. When Congress reconvened in November of that year, Burr returned to Washington, D.C., to complete his duties as president of the Senate. He was never tried for Hamilton's death.
Increasingly isolated from his party, Burr failed to be renominated as vice president and also lost a bid for governor of New York State. With his political career in decline–-and heavily in debt–-Burr promoted a scheme to form a republic in the Southwest. For this conspiracy, Burr was arrested in 1807 and tried for treason; however, he was acquitted of the charges. He left the United States and spent the next four years in Europe, avoiding creditors and promoting various personal projects. Burr returned home in 1812 and resumed his New York law practice. Although he avoided the political arena, he maintained an interest in the western and southern territories and in the future of Mexico. The former vice president died in 1836 at Port Richmond, Staten Island.