Tag Archives: Alexander Hamilton

Withering Glare

Delegates at the Constitutional Convention privately questioned whether George Washington’s attendance would make a difference… his comrades from the Revolutionary War knew it would; that his renowned resolve would provide legitimacy to their undertaking in Philadelphia.  Some doubted Washington’s imposing presence could really move men.

Wanna bet?

Alexander Hamilton, Washington’s adjutant during much of the War… challenged a Pennsylvania delegate, the jovial Gouverneur Morris, to greet the General by grasping him by the shoulder.  The bet was a feast for 12.  Morris boasted to Hamilton that no man could intimidate him, even Washington.

 

At a formal dinner a few nights later… Morris approached Washington and greeted him with a firm grasp of the General’s shoulder,

Withered away

“My Dear General, I am very happy to see you look so well.”

Washington removed Morris’s hand and took a step back… fixing on Morris what was described as an “angry frown” and “steely glance”  that “withered” Morris and forced his retreat.  He later confessed to Hamilton,

“I have won the bet but paid dearly for it, and nothing could induce me to repeat it.”

 

 

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Defense of Citizenry

Fans of the musical “Hamilton” enjoy hearing the Framer rap… about issues dealing with our Constitution.  A novel approach that has undoubtedly peaked the interest of the notoriously cynical millennial generation.

 

Practically Historical encourages young audiences to read Hamilton… as his political writings are some of the most valuable in the American canon.

I do more than rap

I do more than rap

Americans have granted power to a most dangerous demagogue… and he appears willing to sacrifice almost anything for what he defines as “security.”   Hamilton cautioned his people in Federalist #8

 

“But in a country, where the perpetual menacings of danger oblige the government to be always prepared to repel it, her armies must be numerous enough for instant defence. The continual necessity for his services enhances the importance of the soldier, and proportionally degrades the condition of the citizen. The military state becomes elevated above the civil. The inhabitants of territories often the theatre of war, are unavoidably subjected to frequent infringements on their rights, which serve to weaken their sense of those rights; and by degrees, the people are brought to consider the soldiery not only as their protectors, but as their superiors.”

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On Tariffs

Globalism and free trade have been US policy since the Reagan administration… Donald Trump attempts to turn back the clock on trade policies- his critics are quick to attack any position he takes.  America has a long tradition of protective trade policies, but Trump’s critics are unwilling to acknowledge the historical context.

Listen to this rap

Before rapping about his life on Broadway… Alexander Hamilton was one of the earliest advocates for protectionist trade policies.  Hamilton considered tariffs an essential part of government investment in economic growth.  He did not want the United States to remain a tiny agricultural nation beholden to the European grain markets.  Protecting our young industry was an important first step.  Hamilton argued:

“Taxes are never welcome to a community, [but] an increase of duties shall tend to second and aid this spirit [of manufacturing], they will serve to promote essentially the industry, the wealth, the strength, the independence, and the substantial prosperity of the country.”  1791

Strangest bedfellows

Alexander Hamilton and Donald Trump sharing tariff policies?….  I’m not sure the crowds at Hamilton!  the musical will approve this political alliance.

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Defining Misdemeanors

Madison and Hamilton allowed the grounds for impeachment of the President… open to necessary judgments and deliberations in the House of Representatives.  Madison’s original draft suggested only the term “maladministration” of the duties of the office.  Later amended to “misdemeanors” it is clear that the Framers were not only discussing indictable crimes- public men of this order would be above petty larceny and the like-  abuse of the office and the neglect of official duty is what concerned them.

You doubt our words?

Hamilton explained the difference in Federalist #65:

“Those offences which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust. They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated POLITICAL, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself.”

Impeachment applies to political abuses of the office… not necessarily criminal acts.  Delegates at the ratifying conventions were concerned about the President interfering in the legislative or judicial processes.  Madison responded to the concerns by equating such Constitutional misconduct with criminality:

“Were the President to commit any thing so atrocious… he would be impeached and convicted, as a majority of the states would be affected by his misdemeanor.”

Failing to discharge the duties of his office

The President cannot abuse or misuse the powers of his office… without risking impeachment.  The term “misdemeanor” as applied by the Framers establishes a standard extending far beyond simple criminal acts.  Public men should be held to a greater standard.

 

 

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Great American Duels #1

Challenger:  Aaron Burr-  Vice President of the United States

Challenged:  Alexander Hamilton-  Former Secretary of the Treasury

The Offense:   Burr had been dropped from Thomas Jefferson’s ticket in 1804 and was seeking the Governorship in New York.  Alexander Hamilton’s opinion of Burr (“a most dangerous man not to be trusted with the reins of government”)  had been made public is several private letters that were published in Albany newspapers.  The concerted efforts of Hamilton and his allies cost Burr the election.   Burr protested, “political opposition can never absolve gentlemen from the necessity of a rigid adherence to the laws of honor and the rules of decorum.”  Hamilton accepted Burr’s challenge. 

A sketch of America’s most famous duel

Background:  The Burr-Hamilton feud can be traced to 1791, when Burr defeated Hamilton’s father-in-law in a New York Senate race.  In 1800, Hamilton used his influence in the House of Representatives to give the contested Presidential election to Thomas Jefferson over Burr.  Hamilton considered Burr an interloper whose ambition made him unfit for honorable public service.  Burr’s political career was clearly impeded by the efforts of Hamilton.  It seemed a duel was inevitable, yet historians debate the motivations of Hamilton and Burr.  Was Burr simply a murderer?  Did Hamilton have  a death wish?

The Burr-Hamilton pistols

 The Field of Honor:  July 11, 1804–  The duelists were rowed across the Hudson river to the heights of Weehawken, New Jersey.  Most historians now agree that Hamilton did not plan on firing at Burr.  Burr’s later statements indicate he had every intention of killing Hamilton.  The Seconds were instructed to turn away from the dueling ground, but the participants agree that Hamilton’s shot crashed into the tree branches above Burr’s head.  Burr took aim and struck Hamilton in the torso slashing his internal organs and lodging in his vertebrae.  Burr briefly showed concern, but his entourage rushed him back to Manhattan.  Hamilton died a day later.  Burr was never convicted of murder, though dueling was illegal in both New York and New Jersey. 

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Defense of Citizenry

Fans of the musical “Hamilton” enjoy hearing the Framer rap… about issues dealing with our Constitution.  A novel approach that has undoubtedly peaked the interest of the notoriously cynical millennial generation.

 

Practically Historical encourages young audiences to read Hamilton… as his political writings are some of the most valuable in the American canon.

I do more than rap

I do more than rap

Americans have granted power to a most dangerous demagogue… and he appears willing to sacrifice almost anything for what he defines as “security.”   Hamilton cautioned his people in Federalist #8

 

“But in a country, where the perpetual menacings of danger oblige the government to be always prepared to repel it, her armies must be numerous enough for instant defence. The continual necessity for his services enhances the importance of the soldier, and proportionally degrades the condition of the citizen. The military state becomes elevated above the civil. The inhabitants of territories often the theatre of war, are unavoidably subjected to frequent infringements on their rights, which serve to weaken their sense of those rights; and by degrees, the people are brought to consider the soldiery not only as their protectors, but as their superiors.”

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Historians and Hamilton: Founders Chic and the Cult of Personality

Ken Owen takes a critical look at “Hamilton” and historians’ reactions to it.

http://earlyamericanists.com/2016/04/21/historians-and-hamilton-founders-chic-and-the-cult-of-personality/

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