Still trailing along, now 8 days behind. I had been hoping to gain some this week. I was going to set aside all other books and really apply myself and while I thought I did this, I slipped another day. Oh, well. Moving on.
This was a full and, I thought, highly readable section, c. 20-26. Poor Hamilton — painful to read when his embarrassing affair comes out in excruciating detail, partly because Hamilton has to cover any topic he starts on completely. He was trying to exonerate himself from an investigation into whether he had misused government funds and speculated with unsavory persons. Two of the investigators felt so bad for him they just wanted him to shut up and wished they could unknow what they now knew, the third, Monroe, apparently thought no reason he couldn’t have an affair and misuse govt funds. It seems pretty clear that the reason so many of us have only a vague idea of Hamilton was because 3 of the first five presidents hated him and his policies and yet there’s a very real question what kind of government we would have had without him. The one idea the Jeffersonians seemed to have was that Hamilton was an evil, monarchical Brit-lover whom they fought continually, but they don’t seem to have had any positive ideas to put up in place of Hamilton’s. It was all we don’t like that, but no why don’t we try this? Very frustrating and I really feel I have to read a Jefferson bio to restore some respect for the man.
One of the things Jefferson did as Secretary of State was to hire a man named Freneau to write a newspaper bashing Hamilton! This is what he used government money for. And they’re investigating Hamilton? Hard to believe he was able to get away with this. Nominally he was hired as a translator, but he only knew French and so did Jefferson. No, that was just cover for him to write this ‘newspaper’ if you can call it that. Apparently most, if not all, newspapers were fair and balanced – meaning they ran almost nothing but opinion pieces and libel was the order of the day. Jefferson loved the French and as they did help with the Revolution against the British, one sees his point, but you can’t really trade successfully with a country that can’t supply what you need. America still needed a lot of everyday items and not so much of the sort of luxuries the French dealt in. Plus the whole Revolution over there really did get completely out of hand. And it was Louis XVI, Lafayette and other aristocrats who actually helped us in the war. It seems pretty cold thanks to celebrate their demise.
And then a whole lot more happened. Hamilton (and Eliza) got yellow fever, but fortunately escaped the care of Dr. Benjamin Rush. Jefferson refused to believe it. They almost lose a son. Eliza miscarries. Then the Whiskey Rebellion, which up until now was only a phrase I could have told you nothing about. And the aptly named Burr popping up at regular intervals to propose bad legislation or himself for governor. We end the section with Hamilton resigning his post and retiring to be with his family. As there are still hundreds of pages to go, I’m going to guess his retirement is either very short or not very retiring.