You might think, what with being snowed in and nothing to do except shovel and shovel and shovel that more reading would have taken place, but you’d be wrong. I finished Pt. 3 (end of C. 14) yesterday, though I could have finished it on Sunday if I’d known how close I was. But here I am finally, 5 days behind and no work to blame it on. I could blame it on Our Gang silents the first four of which I watched. They’re really cute. I could blame it on the return of the X-files, which I have mixed feelings about. But really it all boils down to not enough reading Hamilton. Always surprised how easily days off slide by. I’m not subject to cabin fever if I have power and food. But clearly I’m not disciplined enough to do my reading either.
So, Hamilton — the war’s over, but the states are all being jerks and not paying their debts and not getting along, like a bunch of unruly children. I was quite surprised to learn what a poor showing New York put up. Maybe I learned it in school, but that’s all too long ago. I’ve been long used to thinking of it as more a North vs. South problem, but New York was probably the most obstreperous of the lot. Virginia not much better although they were the home to most of the FFs. (And Patrick Henry, I’m very disappointed in you.) So, Hamilton puts pen to paper and actually shares some of the work with Madison and Jay. I read some of The Federalist in college though that too is, well, I can’t say a distant memory. A distant forgettery? Chernow helpfully sums up all the essays and then moves on to the election.
This section shows Hamilton not being so great several times. Although why they created a system where you couldn’t be sure who was being elected president and who vice president I’m not sure. That seems like an avoidable error. So the Ham goes and manipulates the election (bad Ham!), not that Washington needs your help, dude, and makes a lifelong enemy of Adams, who comes off as a bit of a clown in this section and I’m not sure that’s so good because we haven’t read much (anything?) about him except this and it gives an unfair impression, I think. Adams was important and not a doofus (at least not all the time) so I hope we see more of Adams’ good side.
And I think Hamilton was completely wrong about the Bill of Rights. Because really, where people are concerned, if you don’t make things perfectly clear, and even when you do, some of them will run roughshod wherever they can. And for someone with such a supposedly dark view of humanity, he should have known that.
So, Washington is elected, of course, and we get a bit of the first government, but I’m sure there’s much more to come. Didn’t know Washington nearly died his first year in office. So glad I live in the age of anesthesia. And it is astonishing how worried some of the landed gentry were worried about a monarchy and thought the government should not be like Britain’s at all even though parts of the British government were quite good. Very glad Hamilton and others had the emotional distance to sort out good from bad and not simply reject it wholesale because some parts weren’t so great.
Need a picture to lighten up all this text, so let’s have a look at Madison, shall we? Not that he lightens anything up much.
I’m reminded reading everyone else’s posts about the Manumission Society in which a ridiculously large number of them own slaves and can’t face freeing them. Well, theoretically we’re against slavery… we’d really like to be… but it’s just so convenient having work done for us for free that like St. Augustine praying for ‘chastity and continence but not yet.’ We want to be good, we’re just not actually capable of it.