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Burr's cipher, sir: The 1807 treason case that featured in the Apple/FBI conflict

March 28, 2016 - Uncategorized

How does a cipher and code, used by a failed politician, dropped into the middle of a trial for treason in 1807, involving then-president Thomas Jefferson and Chief Justice John Marshall, lead to a citation and a counter-citation in a legal brief in 2016? It all leads back to Aaron Burr’s cipher, certainly. He did not throw away his key.

The trial is well known to students of American history. Burr, depicted accurately in the musical Hamilton as having few convictions except a desire to come out on top, had run in 1800 as Jefferson’s vice president on a ticket against incumbent John Adams. Constitutional peculiarities of the day led to Burr and Jefferson receiving equal electoral votes, in turn leading to 35 ballots in the House of Representatives until Jefferson prevailed with a majority of the states’ votes.

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Source: Mac World

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