6

Hamilton: Art Fails as Politics

 

The United States have already felt the evils of incorporating a large number of foreigners into their national mass; by promoting in different classes different predilections in favor of particular foreign nations, and antipathies against others, it has served very much to divide the community and to distract our councils. It has been often likely to compromise the interests of our own country in favor of another. The permanent effect of such a policy will be, that in times of great public danger there will be always a numerous body of men, of whom there may be just grounds of distrust; the suspicion alone will weaken the strength of the nation, but their force may be actually employed in assisting an invader.

Alexander Hamilton, “Examination of Jefferson’s Message to Congress of December 7, 1801” (1802)

 

 

 

 

I have rather liked the musical Hamilton, although I have understood that it bore only an accidental relationship to the history it purported to represent.  However, at Reason Nicholas Pell has a scathing review of Hamilton, and he makes some good points:

 

 

Some are irritated about the people who aren’t white playing white people, but I’m not. The whole production plays so fast and loose with the truth that it’s hard to pick any particular piece to criticize, there’s a reality correlation approximating that of the Weekly World News. At the top of the list, though, has to be casting Alexander Hamilton as some sort of proto-multicultural progressive. That’s either stupidity or mendacity, take your pick. Hamilton was, if anything, the most aristocratic of the Founding Fathers, the closest thing to a Colonial Tory. You know that electoral college you’ve been gnashing your teeth over for the last couple months? Guess whose idea that was? Continue Reading

5

Awful Foreshadowing

 

Events in history sometimes seem as if they were written by a novelist, or should I say Novelist.  Such was the sad case of Philip Hamilton.  Eldest son of Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Hamilton, Hamilton graduated at the age of 19 from Columbia, a brilliant student like his father.  It was at a Fourth of July celebration at Columbia that he heard George I. Eacker, a 27 year old lawyer and a political supporter of Aaron Burr, give a speech attacking his father.  Hamilton and his friend Richard Price called Eacker out in a Manhattan theater on November 21, 1801.  Eacker called them damned rascals and they responded by challenging Eacker to duels.  Eacker fought a duel the next day with Richard Price in which neither of the participants was injured, although shots were exchanged.

On November 22, 1801 in Weehawken, New Jersey, the same place where his father would receive his fatal wound from Aaron Burr, Hamilton and Eacker faced each other.  Apparently they faced each other about a minute without raising their pistols, and one wishes that reason had prevailed.  Eacker finally fired, hitting Hamilton in his right hip and left arm.  Hamilton also fired, but this may have been merely an involuntary reaction to the force of the shot that hit him.  Some sources say that Alexander Hamilton had counseled his son to fire in the air before his opponent fired, so that the matter could be settled honorably without blood shed. Continue Reading

4

What Comes Next?

 

Something for the weekend.  What Comes Next? from the musical Hamilton.  King George III, realizing that he is losing the American Revolution, predicts that the colonies would eventually come crawling back to the British. This was a fairly commonplace prediction, and, in the unrest and hard times that beset the new United States prior to the adoption of the Constitution, perhaps not as silly as it seems in retrospect.