Alexander Hamilton’s 250th Birthday

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Alexander_Hamilton_portrait_by_John_Trumbull_1806.jpg
Not only is today the 6th Anniversary of the start of the travesties at Guantanamo, it is the 250th birthday of the person I feel was the greatest and most historically neglected founding father, Alexander Hamilton.
For those who want to read one of the finest treatments ever of Hamilton’s life and contributions, read Ron Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton. I’m pleased to remind that the book won the George Washington Book Prize, the largest cash award for a book on America’s founding era from the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience at Washington College.
I also recommend my colleague Michael Lind’s Hamilton’s Republic: Readings in the American Democratic Nationalist Tradition.
One of the filters through which I think about modern politics is the missive: “Washington reigned, Hamilton ruled, and Jefferson complained. . .”
And come to think of it, Alexander Hamilton would have been one hell of a blogger had he lived today.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

9 comments on “Alexander Hamilton’s 250th Birthday

  1. Jeff H says:

    Steve,
    Aren’t you a decendent of Hamilton’s?! I swear you told me that 10ish years ago.

    Reply

  2. Ben Bartlett says:

    Hamilton has always been one of my favorites as well, helped in no small part by the Chernow book.

    Reply

  3. Jim says:

    I enjoy Hamilton’s impressively lucid contributions to the Federalist Papers as much as the next guy, but aren’t we forgetting that he was one of the behind-the-scenes leaders of the attempt to stage a military coup against Congress that was only avoided because George Washington nobly declined to let the officers make him dictator? And that he schemed throughout his career to make America a genuine plutocracy? He talked a good game for democracy, but when the rubber hit the road he consistently favored personal gain over principle.
    Also, he probably died in that duel because he was attempting to cheat. The pistols used– selected by Hamilton and previously used by him in several other duels– were discovered during restoration efforts to have included a concealed switch that reduced the pull to a hair-trigger (if you knew the switch was there, of course.) The legendary story of Hamilton nobly firing off into the trees looks a lot more to me like Hamilton accidentally firing early because of the hair-trigger, something an experienced duellist like Burr would probably have instantly recognized for what it was.

    Reply

  4. Steve Clemons says:

    John Robert Behrman — you are absolutely on target.
    Steve Clemons

    Reply

  5. gregariousred says:

    Chernow’s book is very engaging. I’m reading it now and enjoy it very much. Not to go unsaid – the Federalist Papers are also a good source of material to get a feel for Hamilton and how he would react to our current government/President.

    Reply

  6. John Robert BEHRMAN says:

    Jefferson the whiner? Well, maybe, but not so much over sheer vanity. When it comes to a neglected Founding Father, here is my vote for Gouvernor Morris — a New York Democrat with a remarkable talent: Getting some of the best out of both his friends: Alexander HAMILTON and Thomas JEFFERSON.
    Today’s Hamilton cult — not LIND of course — is most remarkable for getting the anglophile and francophobe part of the Hamilton legacy correct but not the actual nationalism. On the contrary, the Federalist/Whig party today embraces neo-Confederate trade doctrine.
    Frankly, I think that both HAMILTON and JEFFERSON would be more comfortable with each other and the New America Foundation than with either of the big-name parties.

    Reply

  7. John Robert BEHRMAN says:

    Jefferson the whiner? Well, maybe, but not so much over sheer vanity. When it comes to a neglected Founding Father, here is my vote for Gouvernor Morris — a New York Democrat with a remarkable talent: Getting some of the best out of both his friends: Alexander HAMILTON and Thomas JEFFERSON.
    Today’s Hamilton cult — not LIND of course — is most remarkable for getting the anglophile and francophobe part of the Hamilton legacy correct but not the actual nationalism. On the contrary, the Federalist/Whig party today embraces neo-Confederate trade doctrine.
    Frankly, I think that both HAMILTON and JEFFERSON would be more comfortable with each other and the New America Foundation than with either of the big-name parties.

    Reply

  8. Dan says:

    Steve,
    That’s the next book on my purchase list. I’m currently reading Chernow’s wonderful biography of John Rockefeller, “Titan.” Chernow is an amazing writer.

    Reply

  9. Pernicious Pavlovian says:

    Hamilton was a bit of a hothead. Darn crappy shot with a dueling pistol as I recall. However and all the man’s shortcomings not withstanding, Hamilton was a rational, thinking, literate man. Besides, Hamilton’s assassination at the hands of Burr was more than likely a “vast right wing conspiracy!” We should go ask Hillary and get her thoughts on the matter. Well that and Hillary’s thoughts on war, torture, illegal detention, globalization, poverty, and the current state of relations between men and women. Maybe if the questions were put to her “diplomatically”, she wouldn’t break down in tears.

    Reply

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