A day late isn’t bad, all things considered and by all things I mean 724 pages. But it was great to have Alice leading and my fellow read-a-sloggers to share the joy and the pain with, and they were manifold. The book is highly readable although occasionally repetitive and Chernow draws some conclusions not a few of us found dubious at best, he does write in such a manner that we could come to our own conclusions. One of mine is, highly unoriginal, that Hamilton was an amazing man whose ideas on government were and are the continuing basis of this country and he should be a hell of a lot better known, left on the 10 dollar bill and more things should be named after him. No question he had his flaws, but Jefferson who we seem to idolize had them and a good deal more I hope after this I can recover some of the respect I used to feel for Jefferson. I admire the effort Chernow made to paint a picture of Eliza Hamilton. Not so easy considering she had 50 years to try to expunge herself through overzealous humility. Eliza, how are people supposed to follow your good example if no one knows what it is? Very glad to see it wasn’t all pain and suffering the rest of her long life.
This section, of course, has the duel. We’ve known about the duel probably since our school years, and yet whatever we knew was mostly forgotten since school did a pretty poor job of explaining Hamilton’s importance in the founding of the government. I was startled that this happened while Burr was vice-president! He did this even after Hamilton had helped him out with money the previous fall! The man was a waste of space. Who wouldn’t have been better off without him in their lives? I would enjoy his sense of humor if he’d had a scrap of decency, if he’d ever cared for anyone besides his daughter. And if I didn’t know how he wrote to her about all his amours. Creeeeeepy.
Thou hast shooted dead great Hamilton
I was glad he lived long enough to see his wife and family. And I totally understand he could not have shirked that particular duel. Burr would never have let him live it down, though Lord only knows what Burr thought he could get out of it. Just another huge mistake in a long line of them. You can’t keep turning on people and expect them to trust you later. Of course Jefferson wasn’t going to keep you on after you almost stole the Presidency. And no Federalist would have been on your side after shooting Hamilton. In politics you have to pretend to be friends with people. And unless you are amazingly popular, enough to start your own party, you have to leave at least one half of the population unoffended.
Okay, he had some bad ideas along the way, but it seems like we have him to thank in large part for the different branches of government checking and balancing each other and that is huge. For a country to go from nothing to excellent credit in what? 10-15 years? Amazing. And being an abolitionist — an actual, non-slave owning abolitionist at that time was pretty great, too. He shouldn’t have spent so much on his house. And if he couldn’t run away when he saw Maria Reynolds, he should at least for once in his life kept quiet. But this is a man who should be admired and remembered as a great American, a great human being and thanks to Chernow and Lin-Manuel Miranda, he has a much better chance of that. Thanks much to Alice for heading this readalong, who knows if I would have gotten around to this someday or not? And my fellow readers for your entertaining and insightful posts which kept me reading
along with right behind you.