News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. July 12, 2019: I am going to do something very different this episode. Why?
Because today, Friday, July 12, 2019, is another anniversary of America’s greatest immigrant, Caribbean-born Alexander Hamilton’s death.
Because I believe he is the greatest American who ever lived, and I want to tell you why and make the claim that the reason he was destroyed and then murdered was to ensure Alexander Hamilton never became President.
And why was that? Because the Southern Planation Society, aka the slave owners, FEARED that if Hamilton became President of the United States, given that he was so brilliant and smarter than them, that he would have found a way to end slavery.
All I am going to do here is reprieve remarks I made 19 years ago at Alexander Hamilton’s grave in Trinity churchyard on July 12, 2000, and long before Lin Manuel Miranda dreamed of writing “Hamilton.”
If we truly lived in Hamilton’s America much more than in the way I spoke of him back in 2000, America would be far better than Trump’s America I began writing about in January 2017, or before him, Obama’s America beginning half way into his Presidency, I have wrote about week after week.
Here is how I began back on July 12, 2000 …
“Many Americans knowledge of Alexander Hamilton is nothing more than that he was killed in a duel a long time ago. Hamilton is a victim of a compromised educational system and a society with disappearing values. To argue that Alexander Hamilton is the greatest American to ever live and even more the most important figure of the last Millennium is astonishing to all but a very few. I proudly live in awe of Alexander Hamilton’s life & accomplishments even more amazing that he was murdered at only 47.”
“I did say murdered because that is exactly what happened. Anyone who has studied Hamilton’s life, understood his values, and the fact that his own son had been killed in a duel, together with eye witness accounts will have no doubt July 11, 1804, in Weehawken, New Jersey, that Hamilton clearly and with forethought fired his pistol in the air, and left himself at the mercy of a sense of fairness, logic and humanity which tragically his evil adversary Aaron Burr did not share, as he took direct aim at a defenseless Hamilton and fatally shot him in the chest – what should have been an unthinkable act for someone who was at that moment Vice President of the United States.”
“Beginning with the end of Hamilton’s life sets the stage for renewed appreciation of his life, as even his dying has been wrapped in lies and neglect. But why would I audaciously call Hamilton the greatest American.”
“Let me build the case. George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin, Roosevelt these three can claim singular stature as the greatest Americans because all three played a uniquely pivotal role in the survival of the United States of America. Washington by becoming first president, Lincoln by surmounting the Civil War and Roosevelt by rescuing an exhausted nation. Hamilton and Hamilton alone clearly merit this circle of greatness.”
“Had Hamilton not become the First Secretary of the Treasury in 1789, and not single handedly devised the unique financial plan that is the very bedrock of our nation, that accomplished the impossible task of keeping these 13 disparate colonies now states together, while paying off our national debts and in so doing making American debt the rival in value and integrity of the largest and most powerful nations on earth – had Hamilton not accomplished that there is no doubt that the United States of America would have collapsed in chaos just as had the states under the Articles of Confederation before it, broke and drained of any hope.”
“Now if that is ALL Hamilton did, he is the equal of the most revered figures in our history as his achievement as explained is as great as theirs and in a realm beyond any of the other famous and important Americans. But while for Lincoln and Roosevelt for all practical purposes it was their Presidency that defined their public lives for Washington there was also his service as head of the Revolutionary Army. Hamilton is fact played an important role in General Washington’s army, and a singular role in Washington’s Presidency. No one else can claim those distinctions together.”
“As Washington’s aide de camp for three years Hamilton was at Washington’s side constantly through all of the disasters which preceded success, and a strong argument can be made worth much further research that in fact Hamilton may well have authored many of the battle plan and strategic orders sent out to the commanders while Hamilton was at his side.”
“There is no doubt at all no more research is required of the fact that Hamilton virtually ran the Presidency for a mostly disengaged President Washington and that in fact in whispered tones Hamilton was often referred to as the prime minister during Washington’s first term. Clearly when all the facts come to light Hamilton’s stature rises and rises but there is more much more although time allows me to do little more than wink at it.”
“Hamilton’s birth also separates him from Washington, Roosevelt and even Lincoln whose childhood poverty has been overstated. Not so Hamilton’s. Born illegitimately to an impoverished abandoned mother on the desperately poor island of Nevis in 1757. Hamilton’s life might have been over before it began. Instead from the earliest age he became self-educated and barely in his teens now on the island of St. Croix he came to the attention of a local merchant who put Hamilton in charge of his dry goods store. From there it was but a few short years and indomitable ambition that brought Hamilton to New York where he was accepted at but quickly left Columbia University to take up arms against the British rising to the rank of captain in the New York militia while still in his teens”.
“Now allow me rhetorical license to quickly swing forward past the end of the Revolutionary War after Hamilton had been given a battle field command at the Battle Yorktown, and after the war returned to New York where he in short order qualified to become a lawyer, and then one of New York’s most distinguished attorney. Before turning his attention to the failing articles of Confederation Hamilton distinguished himself of as one of the founders of the Manumission Society whose purpose was to end slavery throughout the colonies. Hamilton in fact became the nation’s leading anti-slavery advocate following the end of the war.”
“Turning to the disintegrating articles of Confederation it was he and James Madison who devised the plan to reconvene the Congress under the Articles for the purposes of abandoning them and writing a new Constitution. An Hamilton was in fact at the heart of the drafting of the Constitution virtually every step of the way and most important of all led the Herculean task of getting the new document ratified by the states becoming the prime author of the Federalist Papers widely considered the finest political tract ever written anywhere at any time in history and then even more it was Hamilton’s leadership more than anyone at the New York State ratifying convention that led to the narrow but absolutely essential NY vote in favor.”
“For these reasons and more by the time of Washington’s inaugural in 1789, despite his even less than humble beginning Hamilton was far and wide considered the most brilliant of all America’s leaders. And did he stop there NO as a lawyer be began to write briefs that are quoted even to this day becoming the most outstanding attorney of his age, and more Hamilton became a true entrepreneur being the founder of the New York Post, the longest continuously published newspaper in America ,and he was one of the founders of what is today Chase Manhattan Bank, all the while remaining the leader of the Federalists. “
“But it was during his time as Secretary of the Treasury and afterwards up to and including as I began this essay the time of his death that diabolical forces conspired to do nothing less than destroy Hamilton, and there can be no doubt that it was Thomas Jefferson himself hiding behind equally unprincipled accomplices who mounted wave after wave of attack on Hamilton and his reputation and although not at all invisible to history the definitive all encompassing “The Jeffersonian Conspiracy Against Hamilton” remains to be written.”
“Which brings me to the one claim that I can make to adding to the Hamilton story that in fact can be seen as the defining element that both completes the view of Hamilton the greatest American while finally making understandable the “logic” for the unequaled savagery he was forced to endure of all American Founders when he should have been revered His incredible success, his unsurpassed brilliance was his undoing.”
“The most obscure least remembered clause in the Constitution is the inclusion of the provision that anyone who was citizen within the United states as of the date of the ratification of the Constitution could be elected President but that thereafter only naturally born Americans could be elected. Indeed, such a clause could have easily been left out it affected virtually no one that anyone might think of as reaching the Presidency and further as the prohibition against foreign born citizens becoming President was of such importance to the writers of the documents why include any exception. I argue there is only one reason and his name is Alexander Hamilton.”
“Although as prolific as Hamilton was and he was, there is not apparently a single reference from his own hand about the Presidency, everything about him and his view of Fame & Honor & Ambition which animated him would
have made the Presidency a natural goal for him – and I suggest that that understanding by Jefferson and others was Hamilton’s undoing.”
“Allow me to combine a few elements above into a complete picture. Hamilton as universally considered brilliant, during Washington’s administration he in many ways functioned as president, he was the leader of the Federalists, he had a well-developed world view of the nation and its future he wanted to see embraced, he was an unparalleled communicator, he understood his financial plan for the country required a strong long tern commitment from whoever was president to succeed, and from his early boyhood days he dreamed of Fame & Ambition which is 18th century terms were noble attributes which centered about service to one’s nation.”
“But why would the possibility of Hamilton as president be so debilitating to some that it would literally frighten them. To begin with the fact that Hamilton was not by any means part of the natural American aristocracy and some uneasy, on the other hand Hamilton certainly sought his own place within such company and was quite comfortable among the more elite citizens among his fellow Americans. “
“No there was something more much “darker” in the eyes of some that made Hamilton dangerous and to no one more than the undisputed leader of southern plantation society Thomas Jefferson himself. MY CONTENTION IS UNEXPLORED BY OTHERS SO FAR THAT HAMILTON AS PRESIDENT WOULD POSE THE ULTIMATE THREAT TO THE SLAVE OWNING SOUTH.”
“Hamilton with the power of the Presidency, and as the most important outspoken critic of slavery, whose own boyhood in the Caribbean developed
in him a lifelong revulsion against slavery – that anti-slavery President Alexander Hamilton the most brilliant mind in the nation would not have, could not have settled for his legacy as President to have not even used against the evils of slavery.”
“As an unabashed admirer of Hamilton I will go so far as to say that he if anyone would have found a way to have passed laws, amended the Constitution if need be., to have put the nation on an irreversible path to ending slavery anywhere in America, and having done so we would never have and to experience the horrors of the Civil War.”
“The South and its leader Thomas Jefferson would not allow that to happen and they would be willing to prevent it at any cost to protect their genteel way of life, their aristocracy unchallenged -as the South proved at a horrific price six decades later. Slavery was at the very heart of their “society” and they would protect it at any cost. There could be no doubt Hamilton must never be allowed to become President of the United States.”
“And even beyond slavery Hamilton as President an entrepreneur at heart, an enlightened thinker who championed every American succeeding on their own merit and industry would have set the nation on a path of true capitalism for every man and women that would have melted decades form the time it took the United States to truly realize its economic path. One can dream of how much more sophisticated and how much greater an impact American capitalism might have today if only Hamilton has actually become President Alexander Hamilton as he deserved more than any American who has ever lived in my view.”
“And finally, I do propose that even more that Hamilton is the most important individual of the entire last Millennium. His life of only 47 years is more meritorious and far reaching than any other figure of these last 1000 years and that combined with the fact that his work as Secretary of the Treasury for all practical purposes created democratic capitalism.”
“Hamilton invented the form of government in which private enterprise is the driving engine allowing a nation to be both strong and function as a democracy and in necessary tandem Hamilton invented the theory and the methodology by which government in funding its own needs by issuing bonds can do what up until Hamilton would have been considered magic to monetize debt and turn it into national wealth. Without Hamilton there would have been no America as we know it and no America to guide the world to democracy and free capital markets.”
“We truly do live in Hamilton’s America. It is only sad and will always remain tragic that Hamilton reputation first subject to assassination than his temporal being, we were not to ever experience the power of Hamilton’s leadership in its completion and fullness as President Alexander Hamilton.”
(This series dedicated in honor of the late Liu Xiaobo & Jamal Khashoggi)