Alexander Hamilton Quotes

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Alexander Hamilton Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow
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“Perseverance in almost any plan is better than fickleness and fluctuation. (Alexander Hamilton, July 1792)”
Ron Chernow, Alexander Hamilton
“Hamilton, the human word machine,”
Ron Chernow, Alexander Hamilton
“The law is whatever is successfully argued and plausibly maintained,”
Ron Chernow, Alexander Hamilton
“If Washington expected relief from Hamilton badgering him for an appointment, he soon learned otherwise. Hamilton was fully prepared to become a pest.”
Ron Chernow, Alexander Hamilton
“This letter, my very dear Eliza, will not be delivered to you unless I shall first have terminated my earthly career to begin, as I humbly hope from redeeming grace and divine mercy, a happy immortality. If it had been possible for me to have avoided the interview, my love for you and my precious children would have been alone a decisive motive. But it was not possible without sacrifices which would have rendered me unworthy of your esteem. I need not tell you of the pangs I feel from the idea of quitting you and exposing you to the anguish which I know you would feel. Nor could I dwell on the topic lest it should unman me. The consolations of religion, my beloved, can alone support you and these you have a right to enjoy. Fly to the bosom of your God and be comforted. With my last idea, I shall cherish the sweet hope of meeting you in a better world. Adieu best of wives and best of women. Embrace all my darling children for me. Ever yours A H72”
Ron Chernow, Alexander Hamilton
“After the death of John Laurens, Hamilton shut off some compartment of his emotions and never reopened it.”
Ron Chernow, Alexander Hamilton
“If we must have an enemy at the head of government, let it be one whom we can oppose, and for whom we are not responsible.”
Alexander Hamilton, Alexander Hamilton
“In fact, no immigrant in American history has ever made a larger contribution than Alexander Hamilton”
Ron Chernow, Alexander Hamilton
“Hamilton’s besetting fear was that American democracy would be spoiled by demagogues who would mouth populist shibboleths to conceal their despotism.”
Ron Chernow, Alexander Hamilton
“Americans often wonder how this moment could have spawned such extraordinary men as Hamilton and Madison. Part of the answer is that the Revolution produced an insatiable need for thinkers who could generate ideas and wordsmiths who could lucidly expound them. The immediate utility of ideas was an incalculable tonic for the founding generation. The fate of the democratic experiment depended upon political intellectuals who might have been marginalized at other periods.”
Ron Chernow, Alexander Hamilton
“A prudent silence will frequently be taken for wisdom and a sentence or two cautiously thrown in will sometimes gain the palm of knowledge, while a man well informed but indiscreet and unreserved will not uncommonly talk himself out of all consideration and weight. (Alexander Hamilton's 'thesis on discretion' written to his son James shortly before his fatal duel with Burr.)”
Ron Chernow, Alexander Hamilton
“The first great skeptic of American exceptionalism, he refused to believe that the country was exempt from the sober lessons of history.”
Ron Chernow, Alexander Hamilton
“He had learned a lesson about propaganda in politics and mused wearily that “no character, however upright, is a match for constantly reiterated attacks, however false.” If a charge was made often enough, people assumed in the end “that a person so often accused cannot be entirely innocent.”34”
Ron Chernow, Alexander Hamilton
“Washington departed the planet as admirably as he had inhabited it. He had long hated slavery, even though he had profited from it. Now, in his will, he stipulated that his slaves should be emancipated after Martha’s death, and he set aside funds for slaves who would be either too young or too old to care for themselves. Of the nine American presidents who owned slaves—a list that includes his fellow Virginians Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe—only Washington set free all of his slaves. Washington”
Ron Chernow, Alexander Hamilton
“The American Revolution was to succeed because it was undertaken by skeptical men who knew that the same passions that toppled tyrannies could be applied to destructive ends.”
Ron Chernow, Alexander Hamilton
“Of all the founders, Hamilton probably had the gravest doubts about the wisdom of the masses and wanted elected leaders who would guide them. This was the great paradox of his career: his optimistic view of America’s potential coexisted with an essentially pessimistic view of human nature. His faith in Americans never quite matched his faith in America itself.”
Ron Chernow, Alexander Hamilton
“Washington had several surrogate sons during the Revolution, most notably the marquis de Lafayette, and he often referred to Hamilton as “my boy.”
Ron Chernow, Alexander Hamilton
“We have left behind the rosy agrarian rhetoric and slaveholding reality of Jeffersonian democracy and reside in the bustling world of trade, industry, stock markets, and banks that Hamilton envisioned. (Hamilton’s staunch abolitionism formed an integral feature of this economic vision.) He has also emerged as the uncontested visionary in anticipating the shape and powers of the federal government. At a time when Jefferson and Madison celebrated legislative power as the purest expression of the popular will, Hamilton argued for a dynamic executive branch and an independent judiciary, along with a professional military, a central bank, and an advanced financial system. Today, we are indisputably the heirs to Hamilton’s America, and to repudiate his legacy is, in many ways, to repudiate the modern world.”
Ron Chernow, Alexander Hamilton
“[Philip's death was] beyond comparison the most afflicting of my life.... He was truly a fine youth. But why should I repine? It was the will of heaven and he is now out of the reach of the seductions and calamities of a world full of folly, full of vice, full of danger, of least value in proportion as it is best known. I firmly trust also that he has safely reached the haven of eternal repose and felicity. (Alexander Hamilton letter to Benjamin Rush about the death of his 19-year old son from mortal wounds inflicted from a duel.)”
Ron Chernow, Alexander Hamilton
tags: grief
“If Jefferson provided the essential poetry of American political discourse, Hamilton established the prose of American statecraft.”
Ron Chernow, Alexander Hamilton
“Fisher Ames observed of Hamilton that the common people don’t want leaders “whom they see elevated by nature and education so far above their heads.”
Ron Chernow, Alexander Hamilton
“Jay was attacked with peculiar venom. Near his New York home, the walls of a building were defaced with the gigantic words, 'Damn John Jay. Damn everyone that won’t damn John Jay. Damn everyone that won’t put up lights in the windows and sit up all night damning John Jay.”
Ron Chernow, Alexander Hamilton
“It was, Eliza Hamilton Holly noted pointedly, the imperative duty that Eliza had bequeathed to all her children: Justice shall be done to the memory of my Hamilton.”
Ron Chernow, Alexander Hamilton
“Many of these slaveholding populists were celebrated by posterity as tribunes of the common people. Meanwhile, the self-made Hamilton, a fervent abolitionist and a staunch believer in meritocracy, was villainized in American history textbooks as an apologist of privilege and wealth.”
Ron Chernow, Alexander Hamilton
“As often is the case with addictions, the fanciful notion of a gradual discontinuance only provided a comforting pretext for more sustained indulgence.”
Ron Chernow, Alexander Hamilton
“You know the opinion I entertain of mankind and how much it is my desire to preserve myself free from particular attachments and to keep my happiness independent of the caprice of others. You s[hould] not have taken advantage of my sensibility to ste[al] into my affections without my consent.”
Ron Chernow, Alexander Hamilton
“Hamilton was not the master builder of the Constitution: the laurels surely go to James Madison. He was, however, its foremost interpreter, starting with The Federalist and continuing with his Treasury tenure, when he had to expound constitutional doctrines to accomplish his goals. He lived, in theory and practice, every syllable of the Constitution. For that reason, historian Clinton Rossiter insisted that Hamilton’s “works and words have been more consequential than those of any other American in shaping the Constitution under which we live.” 40”
Ron Chernow, Alexander Hamilton
“Washington must have seen that Hamilton, for all his brains and daring, sometimes lacked judgment and had to be supervised carefully.”
Ron Chernow, Alexander Hamilton
“Prejudice and private interest will be antagonists too powerful for public spirit and public good.”
Ron Chernow, Alexander Hamilton
“The decades that she devoted to conserving her husband’s legacy made Eliza only more militantly loyal to his memory, and there was one injury she could never forget: the exposure of the Maria Reynolds affair, for which she squarely blamed James Monroe. In the 1820s, after Monroe had completed two terms as president, he called upon Eliza in Washington, D.C., hoping to thaw the frost between them. Eliza was then about seventy and staying at her daughter’s home. She was sitting in the backyard with her fifteen-year-old nephew when a maid emerged and presented the ex-president’s card. Far from being flattered by this distinguished visitor, Eliza was taken aback. “She read the name and stood holding the card, much perturbed,” said her nephew. “Her voice sank and she spoke very low, as she always did when she was angry. ‘What has that man come to see me for?’” The nephew said that Monroe must have stopped by to pay his respects. She wavered. “I will see him,” she finally agreed.13 So the small woman with the upright carriage and the sturdy, determined step marched stiffly into the house. When she entered the parlor, Monroe rose to greet her. Eliza then did something out of character and socially unthinkable: she stood facing the ex-president but did not invite him to sit down. With a bow, Monroe began what sounded like a well-rehearsed speech, stating “that it was many years since they had met, that the lapse of time brought its softening influences, that they both were nearing the grave, when past differences could be forgiven and forgotten.”14 Eliza saw that Monroe was trying to draw a moral equation between them and apportion blame equally for the long rupture in their relationship. Even at this late date, thirty years after the fact, she was not in a forgiving mood. “Mr. Monroe,” she told him, “if you have come to tell me that you repent, that you are sorry, very sorry, for the misrepresentations and the slanders and the stories you circulated against my dear husband, if you have come to say this, I understand it. But otherwise, no lapse of time, no nearness to the grave, makes any difference.”15 Monroe took in this rebuke without comment. Stunned by the fiery words delivered by the elderly little woman in widow’s weeds, the ex-president picked up his hat, bid Eliza good day, and left the house, never to return.”
Ron Chernow, Alexander Hamilton

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