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Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 89

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This is the grave of Alexander Hamilton.

I see little reason to rehash Hamilton’s biography, which is well known. So let me just make a few points.

1) Hamilton was a visionary when it came to developing capitalism and was obviously much more influential than Jefferson in the creation of the American economy, even if Jefferson was more influential in developing its mythology.

2) Hamilton became a horrible authoritarian and was one of the scariest people in American history by the mid-1790s. His fear of the people is to be shunned and damned. Down this path lies very bad things.

3) The Hamilton play was very good in terms of the music and production. It is nowhere close to the truth of Hamilton. Moreover, it is part of a desire to reclaim the Founders from conservatives, but creates more myth instead of a clear-headed understanding of the past. Ron Chernow is very much responsible for this, for his book is deeply flawed and he is not a real historian.

4) Hamilton was not nearly as anti-slavery as the play suggests and married into a slaveholding family, showing little regret over that. He’s hardly John C. Calhoun of course, but the idea of Hamilton as some sort of antislavery icon simply is ridiculous. He never did a damn thing about slavery.

5) There is no Leftist Hamilton we should hang our hat on.

6) Hamilton died at the right time. His anti-democratic impulses were rejected more by the year. Had he lived another 30 years, he would be seen today as a right-wing crank.

7) If you are going into a duel, shoot to kill.

Alexander Hamilton is buried in Trinity Church Cemetery, Manhattan New York.

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