This inn, located in Chester, South Carolina, is made famous by Aaron Burr. The inn was built in 1750 on the historic Saluda Trail. It is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Aaron Burr, who killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel, pled for his life when he stayed here. To understand the inn, one must also understand the life of Aaron Burr and what led up to the inn's fame.
Backstory and Context
The Lewis Inn has a history shaped around Aaron Burr. Aaron Burr Jr. was born to Reverend Aaron Burr and Ester Edwards Burr in Newark, New Jersey on February 6, 1756. At two years old, Burr became an orphan along with his older sister, Sarah, where they moved from family to family growing up. When Burr was 13, he was accepted to Princeton University. He graduated with his Bachelor’s of Arts degree in 1772 when he was 16 years old but continued studying theology at Princeton afterwards. In 1775, Burr began studying law. His studies were soon put on hold as he enlisted in the Continental Army to fight the British in the Revolutionary War.
During the Revolutionary War, many generals were impressed with Aaron Burr’s spirit and leadership. In the spring of 1776, he was placed on George Washington’s staff but later returned by choice to the battle fields on June 16. This later led to estrangement between George Washington and Aaron Burr, as Washington did not recognize commend Burr for his actions. Aaron Burr was promoted in July 1777 to lieutenant colonel and commanded a small army during his service. After suffering a heat stroke during the Battle of Monmouth on June 28, 1778, Burr’s health gradually began to decline. This limited his ability to perform in the Continental Army. Burr resigned from the Continental Army in March 1779 where he resumed studying law. He graduated and married Theodosia Barlow Prevost in 1782 and began practicing in 1783.
Heavily involved in politics, Aaron Burr ran for president in 1796, but came in fourth. He continued his heavy influence of politics in New York. After a close race in the election of 1800 against Thomas Jefferson, Burr was appointed vice president for Jefferson. The election drove a wedge between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. While Burr was Jefferson’s vice president, the two did not fully trust each other. Because of this, Jefferson was to drop Burr from his ticket in the 1804 election. Burr ran for governor of New York but lost. Feeling as though many people were against him and Alexander Hamilton was the reason, they began exchanging heated letters. Aaron Burr challenged Alexander Hamilton to a duel. While duels were illegal in New York, the men decided to meet in Weehawken, New Jersey. Dueling was also illegal in New Jersey, but the punishment was less severe. On July 11, 1804, the men began their duel. They both fired shots and Hamilton was struck above the hip where he later died from his wounds. Aaron Burr fled to South Carolina where his daughter lived and later returned to complete his term as vice president.
After Burr's term ended in 1805, Burr traveled to live in New Orleans, Burr was charged with treason and arrested on February 19, 1807. On the way to Richmond, Virginia for trial, the guards passed through Chester, SC. When they reached Lewis Inn, Aaron Burr jumped on a rock and begged the townspeople to rescue him. While the townspeople did not answer his cries, he was locked up at the Lewis Inn for the night. While guards slept, Aaron Burr bribed a worker to leave a door unlocked for him to escape. Burr was recaptured and taken to Virginia to stand trial, nonetheless.
While he was aquitted for treason, his political career was over. From 1808 to 1812, he lived in Europe. Burr returned to the United States in 1812 and changed his last name to Edwards. On July 1, 1833, Burr married Eliza Jumel. Only four months after their marriage, Jumel contacted Alexander Hamilton Jr. to file for divorce against Burr, as she felt her fortune was dwindling due to his neglect. On September 14, 1836, the divorce was finalized. On this day, Aaron Burr also suffered a stroke which he later died from in 1836. He was buried in Princeton, New Jersey, alongside his father.
While the inn was made famous by Aaron Burr, it was built in 1750 on the Saluda Trail, a famous stagecoach route. In 1780 during the Revolutionary War, Colonel James Lyles died on the front steps of Lewis Inn trying to get home to see his newborn daughter. The inn is now a private residence. In the 1980s, Lewis Inn was rebrought and restored to it's original conditions. The Lewis Inn is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Lewis Inn. South Carolina Department of Archives and History. . Accessed December 05, 2018. http://www.nationalregister.sc.gov/chester/S10817712003/index.htm.
Aaron Burr. US History. . Accessed December 05, 2018. http://www.ushistory.org/valleyforge/served/burr.html.