Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow - 2004, 802 pages
An Autodidactic Corner Selection.
January 15, 1755 (or 1757, the records are unclear) - Charleston, Nevis, British Leeward Islands
July 12, 1804 - Greenwich Village, New York, killed in a duel with Aaron Burr, then Vice President to Thomas Jefferson.
October,1772 - moves to New York City
July 1775 - Joins The New York State Melitia in support of The American Revolution
Because of his brilliance and dedication he serves as George Washington’s Chief of Staff for four years.
December 14, 1780 - he marries Elizabeth Schuyler, from one of the wealthiest families in New York State. They have eight children. The marriage was of great help to Hamilton in personal, financial and political matters. They had eight children. Their oldest son was killed, age 19, in a duel. Chernow thoughout book brings to our minds that Hamilton will die in a duel. Dueling was an unforunate part of the code of honor.
He and his wife never got over the tragedy.
July, 1781 - at his request he is appointed field commander of three battalions. His troops play a significant part in the American victory at York Town which ended the war.
In 1797 he was first American politician to be involved in a sex scandal. Chernow spends a lot of time on this as the affair, with a marrired woman, seems very out of keeping for Hamilton. The woman’s husband begins to blackmail Hamilton, saying he will tell his wife and go to the press. It appears to have been a set up from the start. His wife does eventually discover the affair, it lasted about two years. Chernow lets us see the deep guilt of Hamilton and the impact of this on his marriage. Hamilton had many political enermies, chief among them Thomas Jefferson, who also learned of his affair and used it against him for the rest of his life.
From September 11, 1789 to January 31, 1795 he was Secretary of the Treasury. He essentially designed the financial system of the United States. Hamilton was an advocate of a strong central government. Much of the country’s tax revenue came from duties on imported goods. He founded The U. S. Coastal Service to aid in this. He also founded The U. S. Mint and was the primary author of The Federalist Papers, in defense of The U.S. Constitution
After leaving office Hamilton practices law in New York and is very involved still in state and National politics. He wanted a strong central government, a standing army,and a good relationship with England. Chernow helped me see the genesis of the American political parties in the conflicts between Hamilton and those lead by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison who wanted the states to be almost independent countries. Chernow has near contempt for the character of Jefferson. His enemies tried to suggest Hamilton took bribes from England and others but Chernow completely repudiates this idea.
Sugar was the main cash source in Charleston, on the Leeward Islands. Slavery was essential for the success of the plantations. Chernow explains how the terrible cruelty Hamilton witnessed before immigrating made him a life long opponent of slavery. He goes into a lot of very interesting detail about role fight over slavery
had during the formative years of America. From Chernow i learned why the infamous clause in the U. S. Constitution counting slaves as equal to 3/5ths of a person gave a big advantage to Southern states. Hamilton did not have confidence in the “common man” and wanted a government by the elite. This sentiment was part of the reason for the Electoral College system, now an absurdity. If Hamilton had his way, slavery would have been abolished in the Constitution.
His parents were not married and Chernow shows how this stigma impacted the psyche of Hamilton. Chernow says the notion that Hamilton was of racially mixed parentage is a myth based on old slurs of his enemies.
Chernow develops the characters as well as a master novelist. I knew from the start Hamilton would be killed in a dual but i did not know why. His death was senseless. Chernow made the duel painfully real.
Chernow greatly admires towering intellect,work ethic, and far sightedness of Hamilton. As potrayed, Hamilton was quick to take offense and held a grudge. He was an Autodidactic of the first order, a constant reader in a wide range of fields. He spoke French, could read Latin and Greek. His prose style was elegant. His published writings and letters come to sixty large volumes.
Hamilton’s wife lived on for fifty years after his death, doing all she could to honor her husband’s legacy.
Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow is a delight. Anyone into American history should read it.
Chernow remarks that America since the passing of the founding fsthers has never come close to such leaders. The comparison of 2019 to 1800 is near sickening.
Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow is a wonderful book. I loved it.
I have previously read his The Waburgs and shall
soon read his biography of George Washington, then his latest book, on President Grant.
From The author’s website
“Ron Chernow’s bestselling books include The House of Morgan, winner of the National Book Award; The Warburgs, which won the George S. Eccles Prize; The Death of the Banker; Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award; Washington: A Life, which received the Pulitzer Prize for Biography; and Alexander Hamilton, nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award and adapted into the award-winning Broadway musical Hamilton.
Chernow has served as president of PEN, has received eight honorary doctoral degrees, and was awarded the 2015 National Humanities Medal. He lives in Brooklyn, New York