Thursday, May 11, 2006

Pic #5 from Our Recent NYC Trip

A fat middle-aged blogger from Ohio whose identity is not being released at this time stands at the grave site of Alexander Hamilton.

Hamilton was only forty-seven years old when he died (some say he was forty-nine), killed in a duel by Aaron Burr, then Vice President of the United States. (Wait! The Vice President shot somebody? It's hard to imagine, isn't it?)

Hamilton is, as I've asserted rhapsodically on this site before, an extraordinary person. If the term genius can be applied to anybody, it most certainly can be to him.

I was a bit disappointed in the relatively poor condition of the monument. This is one of the heroes of American history, a creator of the free enterprise system, an ardent apologist for the passage of the US Constitution, and an insightful theorist and practitioner of democracy. He is certainly more deserving of our attention and accolades than his nemesis, Thomas Jefferson, an able propagandist and a slimy practitioner of the worst political arts.

The tomb sets in the churchyard of Trinity Church. The gravesite next to that of Hamilton and his wife is Robert Fulton's.

By the way, Hamilton's wife was seven years his senior and survived him by fifty years!

[For more on Hamilton, read here and here.]


Julana said...

Nice to meet you. :-)

Charlie said...

What do you suppose explains Hamilton's lack of prestige in American history? Perhaps his early death? Are there any books you'd recommend to people wanting to learn more about Hamilton's life and contributions to the republic?

Mark Daniels said...

Julana: Thanks again for dropping by!

His early death may in fact account for some of why Hamilton is not given the props he deserves.

Related to this is that people like Jefferson, who is grossly overrated generally, and Madison, whose presidency was a disaster, worked hard to cultivate their reputations after their political careers were finished. (Madison is known to have expunged documents that cast a negative light on him. Jefferson always played things extremely close to the vest.) Because they became ardent enemies of Hamilton, their efforts often affected his reputation.

In the past, many historians have erroneously concluded that Hamilton and Adams were crypto-royalists. This reflects the allegations Jefferson and Madison made against the two during their lifetimes, usually through surrogates. Jefferson even used his mouthpieces to either lodge this same charge against Washington or to imply that he was the dumb, unsuspecting tool of Machiavellians who wanted to make Washington a king. These allegations had zero truth to them and Washington never trusted or respected Jefferson after it became clear that J. had been behind them.

Hamilton, in spite of his ardent disagreements with Jefferson, nonetheless played a role in seeing to it that Jefferson was elected President in 1800. He didn't like or trust Aaron Burr, their longstanding political enmity being one of the factors that led them to their famous duel. Hamilton actively worked behind the scenes to get Jefferson elected. As the second place finisher in the Electoral College, according to the practice of the times, Burr became Vice President.

As to good books on Hamilton, I would recommend two. For a full-blown look at his life, check out Ron Chernow's. For a shorter, thorough, and excellently-written biography, I would recommend Richard Brookhiser's book.


HamiltonRand said...

Mark, I enjoyed reading your blog relative to Alexander Hamilton. We have some good news for you. Hamilton's grave monument was restored less than a year ago! It looks so beautiful now. See:

Rand Scholet,, The Alexander Hamilton Awareness Society (AHA!)

HamiltonRand said... shows you the video of the restored Hamilton monument in January 2014.

Rand Scholet,, The Alexander Hamilton Awareness Society (AHA!)