The Passing Parade: Cheap Shots from a Drive By Mind

"...difficile est saturam non scribere. Nam quis iniquae tam patiens urbis, tam ferreus, ut teneat se..." " is hard not to write Satire. For who is so tolerant of the unjust City, so steeled, that he can restrain himself... Juvenal, The Satires (1.30-32)

Monday, July 19, 2004

ALEXANDER HAMILTON: Richard Brookhiser has a fascinating article about Hamilton in this quarter's issue of City Journal and I highly recommend it. As always, Brookhiser compares Hamilton with Jefferson, since no article about Hamilton would be complete without comparing his standing in the reputation race vis-a-vis Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson doesnt come off second best; whatever his personal flaws Jefferson's contribution to the shaping of America is too profound for that, but Brookhiser does point out that Jefferson's reputation is looking a little worn these days. Two things about these men have always struck me; first, Hamilton helped found the first abolitionist society in New York, and second, you cannot see the slave cabins from Jefferson's home at Monticello. Jefferson did not want to see where the people whom he held in bondage lived, did not want to be reminded of their existence or the existence of the peculiar institution that made his life of ease possible. Hamilton came from the Virgin Islands, from a sugar island where slaves were routinely worked to death in order to produce massive profits for their colonial overlords. And Hamilton was not a planter; he was the bastard son of a woman who kept a shop and had to go to work as a clerk when he was nine years old. There was no way he could avert his eyes from the ugly reality and pretend that the institution did not exist. Hamilton knew what slavery was and knew it was wrong; Jefferson knew that slavery was wrong as well, but he could never break the mental and economic chains that bound him to the institution.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home