His fascination with Burr, a misunderstood attorney and one-time presidential candidate, started right after law school when Hardison had more free time to spend on his hobby.
“I’ve been knee-deep in it since I passed the bar 20 years ago,” Hardison said.
His collection of letters, documents and memorabilia regarding Burr, a Revolutionary War-era historical figure, surpasses four digits. Burr was the country’s third vice president, under President Thomas Jefferson, but is also remembered as the man who killed Alexander Hamilton in an 1804 duel.
About 130 items from Hardison’s collection are on display at the Grolier Club in New York City until July.
The Grolier Club is a private club of bibliophiles in New York. Hardison said there are only about 20 members of the club from Georgia, and he is the first Georgian to have a public exhibit at the club.
In early May, the New York Times published an article about the exhibit, which Hardison claims is the most extensive Aaron Burr exhibit ever. It includes 10 cases of Hardison’s artifacts relating to Burr, including Hardison’s most prized possession: Burr’s pocket watch, which contains the only known photograph of Burr’s wife.
“The New York Times said I was trying to make a case for remembering Aaron Burr, and that’s very accurate,” Hardison said.
Fred Bentley Sr. is a member of the Grolier Club and said he helped get Hardison to join the club. The two have been friends for about a decade, Bentley said.
“He and I have a running concert – I’m a supporter of Thomas Jefferson, he’s a supporter of Aaron Burr,” Bentley said of his friend, Hardison. “I’m afraid he outdoes me because he is now the leading expert on Aaron Burr in the world.”
Hardison, a University of Georgia graduate, has practiced law for 20 years and been the city judge in Dallas for nine years. He collects other historical memorabilia as well and has signatures from John Hancock, Benjamin Franklin and John Adams. His family moved to Dallas from Powder Springs, where he practices law, seven years ago.