Two days late, but you should be used to that by now. I’m even slower at non-fiction than fiction. It is already the 9th and I’ve finished zero books. Not a promising start. I have finished what my Kindle says is 11% of the Hamilton biography, but should be more if it’s really 818 pages. At any rate, the first five chapters. Quite an amazing guy, this Hamilton. How anyone goes from being a clerk in the West Indies to General Washington’s chief aide in — was it four years? — beats me. The man seems to have had astonishing energy, intelligence and an incredibly appealing personality and neither nature nor nurture appears to account for it. Some weird alignment of stars created this paragon. I’m already loathing Aaron Burr — perhaps I should read Vidal’s Burr. He must’ve had some worthwhile qualities. Then again, there are people who wanted General Gates over Washington which seems something like wanting Homer Simpson to run the Army.
One of the things that strikes me is that from the very beginning, the North is placating the South. Now, in choosing Washington that was just smart, but there was something else in there which I’ve now forgotten which seemed a lot like giving candy to a spoiled child. The other thing is that Congress has always been Congress and probably always will be. You want independence? Fund the damn Army. One quarter of them perished — from cold, famine and disease. Two of these three things can be prevented most of the time and fewer people succumb to the third if they are well fed and clothed. You do not have an infinite number of soldiers, in fact, you have a fairly small number, take care of them.
I’m also struck by the number of times the mass of mankind is referred to as rabble and other unflattering terms. It just seems so snooty. Just because people are uneducated doesn’t necessarily make them stupid. And of course, mobs can and do cause a great deal of harm, but it’s the rank and file who do most of the work. Of course, monarchy was what everyone was used to and it’s still surprisingly popular. Some otherwise intelligent people have told me how they think a king is really the way to go. (Naturally they never say queen.) All I can think is, read history. And not the history with the good kings. But that’s what we’re left with. Everyone hears about the great ones and knows little or nothing about the many lousy or mediocre ones. Thank you, Washington, for refusing to be king.