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May 4 1812: Burr Arrives in Boston

On May 4 1812,  Aaron Burr, aboard the Aurora, finally arrives in America. Land is spotted at 4 in the morning. The Aurora casts anchor off the wharf at Boston Harbour at 3 in the afternoon. Burr has been at sea since March 26, 1812 when he left London. All the other passengers are filled with "bustle and joy" at having made it safely across the Atlantic but Burr does not share their joy. He is fearful that his enemies, whether creditors, political foes or legal authorities, may soon come for him. He spends the day aboard the Aurora drinking a whole bottle of cider and reading the newspapers. Then, appropriately, Burr spends the first night back in the country of his birth aboard the Aurora while a fierce "storm rages with the utmost fury" around him. Burr writes the following entry for May 4:

Boston Harbor, May 4, 1812. At 4 this morning land was discovered. At 7, Cape Ann Lighthouse was shown to me. A pilot is in sight, and within two miles of us. All is bustle and joy except Gamp. Why should he rejoice  At 3 P.M. we cast anchor off the wharf at Boston. At 11 this forenoon a most violent N. E. storm, with rain and snow in abundance. The Captains, Potter and Nicholls, have gone off to Newburyport. Smith and family have gone on shore. Forsdyck, the mate, on shore. I chose to remain on board. Have just been dining with the pilot and the second mate, on salt beef and potatoes, with sea biscuit. Sent off a letter to you this morning, and another to S.S. It was by mistake we got in here. The Cape Ann lighthouse, which I told you I saw at 7 this morning, proved to be the Boston lighthouse. We had got too far to go back with this wind, and so came in of necessity. No custom-house officers have yet been on board. I am now quite alone in the cabin, smoking my pipe, and writing to mes enfans.

7 P. M. Forsdyck went on shore, and has brought with him his friend Palmer, formerly mate of this ship, and whose father keeps a boarding-house in this town; a very decent young man. He brought me newspapers, and has told me a deal of news. Forsdyck brought me bread, butter and cider, the only luxuries for which I sent, except milk, which could not be had, by reason of the weather. I never saw it snow faster in January; now, again, a mixture of rain and snow. I have been drinking a whole bottle of cider and reading the newspapers; but won't tell you what I have learned, as you know it already. My enemies, I see, are not at their ease. I think to remain on board till Potter returns, which will be sometime to-morrow, and then why, then, we will see. It is a most tremendous gale; how fortunate that we are in port! What an infernal racket there is above. Let us see what's the matter. Matter enough. The gale has driven us from our moorings about 300 yards, plump against a ship alongside the wharf, to the great hazard of both vessels. We are moored to the wharf, and if the rain should cease I

shall take the liberty of stepping on shore, to see if I can walk on terra firma. Noon. The storm rages with the utmost fury. The deck and the cabin doors are a glaze of ice. Not a soul on board the ship but myself. Now, if the wind should come round to N. W., and drive the ship from the dock out to sea, what a charming voyage I should have all alone!

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