Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Alexander Hamilton and The Big Apple

Very interesting article (13 pp but worth it) on the symbiosis between His Excellency’s "my boy" and his adopted hometown of New York from City Journal:

The other Founders were Americans of a century’s standing, who fought the Revolution to defend liberties their families had claimed for generations. Washington and Jefferson, landed grandees, descended from seventeenth-century Virginians; Harvard-educated John Adams’s forebears settled in Massachusetts Bay in 1638. Such men were rooted Americans, living on land inherited from their fathers. Hamilton, by contrast, was a penniless immigrant from the West Indies; like so many New Yorkers, he had come here from elsewhere, seeking his fortune.

And he wasn’t just penniless. "My birth," as he delicately put it, "is the subject of the most humiliating criticism"—for he was, in John Adams’s acidulous taunt, "the bastard brat of a Scotch pedlar." Nevertheless, as a prime exemplar of that American opportunity and enterprise he so fervently promoted, he rose to be the country’s second most powerful man. As Ron Chernow puts it in his indispensable biography, he served in effect as George Washington’s prime minister and head of government, directing his administration’s policy and molding the enduring institutions it created.

No comments: