A Word From Our Founders; Alexander Hamilton

Alexander Hamilton is the only one of the founders who did not survive to an old age.
Jefferson, Adams, Washington, Madison all lived into their 60s and beyond. They were
able to reflect on their history and their accomplishments. We have a record of those
reflections in the correspondence and treatises that these men shared once removed
from political power. Not so with Hamilton. There is a vacuum. He died at the very nadir
of his life. Removed from power with the election of Thomas Jefferson that he made
possible. He endured public scandal based on an extramarital affair and an attempted
blackmail. His oldest son was killed in a duel protecting his father’s honor. A year later
Hamilton foolishly consented to a duel with Aaron Burr that ended his life. His writings
contain an urgency of a man in the middle of the fight because most of the time he was.
He was unique in another way. Born illegitimately on the island of Nevis, he was a first-
generation immigrant. All the other founders had strong regional alliances. Hamilton’s
allegiance was first to a national charter. His contribution to the Federalist Papers is the
most vivid and detailed expression of a national federated vision of governance in
history. The following are just a few excerpts from a man who wrote volumes in the little
time he had in the midst of our national endeavor.

“In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men. The great
difficulty lies in this, you must first enable the government to control the governed and in
the next place, oblige to control itself.”

“There are seasons in every country when noise and impudence pass current for worth;
and in popular commotions especially the clamors of interested and factious men are
often mistaken for patriotism.”

“When occasions present themselves in which the interests of the people are at
variance with their inclinations, it is the duty of the persons whom they have appointed
to be the guardians of those interests to withstand the temporary delusion in order to
give them time and opportunity for more cool and sedate reflections. Instances might be
cited in which a conduct of this kind has saved the people from very fatal consequences
of their own mistakes and has procured lasting monuments of their gratitude to those
who had courage and magnanimity to serve them at the peril of their displeasure.”