Thomas Hunt Flandrau Goes Into Business With Burr
Thomas Hunt Flandrau is difficult to classify as a Founder.
He was born just weeks before Thomas Jefferson took office as President and did not have as great an effect on American history as one of his sons did.
However, Flandrau did team up with a very important, though aging, Founder under peculiar circumstances.
I really enjoy writing articles like this because Flandrau is the type of person who usually would not be recognized in discussions of history.
Thomas Hunt Flandrau
Thomas Hunt Flandrau was born in New Rochelle, NY, just north of what is today the Bronx, in 1801.
As a young man, Flandrau travelled upstate to attend Hamilton College. This university was started as a boys school but had only recently become a place of higher education, and Thomas was among the first graduating classes.
He then moved on to Utica which was a very small town, though its population was about to boom as the Genesee Road had just been laid. This was the first paved road in Upstate New York and it ran from Albany to Buffalo.
It was here that Thomas studied law.
After passing the bar, Flandrau removed to New York City.
At this time, he became partners in a law firm with Aaron Burr.
Yes, that Aaron Burr.
This is a strange move for a young man trying to make a name for himself. It was the 1820’s and Burr was approaching 70 years old.
Additionally, Burr had already dueled with Alexander Hamilton, filibustered in New Spain, been tried for treason, exiled himself to Europe and returned to the United States under an assumed name in an attempt to dodge creditors.
Not exactly the most desirable of company.
Starting a Life
What Burr did have going for him was an extraordinary legal mind.
Back in the 1790’s Aaron was one of the most sought after lawyers in NYC, and Flandrau must have assumed there could be quite a bit to learn from this old man...despite his transgressions.
Additionally, as Thomas did not have great financial security, Burr was likely an affordable option for him to take up business with.
Flandrau spent two years in the company of Burr, during which time he married Elizabeth Macomb, a daughter of wealthy trader, speculator and banker Alexander Macomb.
The family then relocated back to the greater Utica area.
Flandrau continued his days as a country lawyer until his death at age 53 of a stroke.
He left behind several children, including Charles Eugene Flandrau who was an important player in the early development of Minnesota. Charles served on the State Supreme Court and served in the Union Army in the northwest.
Additionally, Thomas’ great-granddaughter, Isabella Selmes, was the first woman elected to Congress representing Arizona.
Not bad for a family who started their rise to the top in the company of a washed up Aaron Burr.
If you enjoyed this article, you might like these others which involve very obscure Founders:
Although Flandrau does not have a bio, I highly recommend one about Aaron Burr.
‘Fallen Founder’ is an amazing look at this often vilified American Patriot. Despite his historical bad reputation, there is good reason that Burr was the third Vice President of the United States.
If you’d like a copy you can get one through the Amazon affiliate link below (you’ll support this site, but don’t worry, Amazon pays me while your price stays the same).