If the Federalist Party had trouble with solidarity in Massachusetts, the problem was far worse in New York State. As Timothy Pickering and Roger Griswold looked to New Yorkers to support their scheme for disunion, they walked into a hornet’s nest of intrigue.
In 1803 Aaron Burr’s term as Vice President in Thomas Jefferson’s administration was ending. Jefferson did not trust Burr, and excluded him from involvement in his administration. Burr made plans to run for governor of New York State.
The Clintons, a prominent family in New York, used pamphlets and newspaper articles attacking Burr, discrediting him. Burr fought back. He counter-attacked the Clintons, and another prominent family, the Livingstons. Burr asked his friend William Peter Van Ness to challenge the charges the Clintons had made against him. Van Ness complied, using a pseudonym, Aristides. The work was published in December, 1803.
In January, 1804, Burr met with Jefferson asking him for public endorsement and an office in the administration. Jefferson refused.
The New England Federalists did not trust Burr, but Timothy Pickering approached him anyway in February 1804. Pickering’s hope for disunion hung on the results of Aaron Burr’s campaign for governor of New York.
Burr was slated to remain as Jefferson’s vice president until 1805. In the spring of 1804 New York State’s governor, Governor George Clinton announced his retirement. His nephew, DeWitt Clinton, tried to dissuade his uncle from retiring, out of deep distrust of Burr. DeWitt tried to enlist Jefferson’s aid. Jefferson did not trust the Clintons. Jefferson refused.
Burr persuaded his friends in New York’s legislature to nominate him for governor. Timothy Pickering had not yet received George Cabot’s reply suggesting that disunion was not practical. In February 1804, he was at work in New York State organizing a caucus of Federalists to support Burr’s campaign. If Pickering and Griswold backed Burr, he would be perceived as the leader of New York’s Federalists in New England. Alexander Hamilton, in Albany on business, attended the caucus. 
Next: How Alexander Hamilton Reacted
Look for it Monday, February 3
 Henry Adams, History of the United States of America during the Administrations of Thomas Jefferson (New York: Library of America, 1986) 416-7.
 Adams, History of the United States, 419.
 Adams, History of the United States, 418.
 Adams, History of the United States, 420.