Category Archives: Alexander Hamilton

Item of the Day: Hamilton’s Full Vindication… (1774)

Full Title: A Full Vindication of the Measures of the Congress, From the Calumnies of their Enemies; In Answer to a Letter, Under the Signature of A. W. Farmer.  Whereby his Sophistry is exposed, his Cavils confuted, his Artifices detected, and his Wit ridiculed; In a General Address to the Inhabitants of America, And a Particular Address to the Farmers of the Province of New-York.  [By Alexander Hamilton.]  New York: Printed by James Rivington, 1774.

Friends and Countrymen,

It was hardly to be expected that any man could be so presumptuous, as openly to controvert the equity, wisdom, and authority of the measures, adopted by the congress; an assembly truly respectable on every account!–Whether we consider the characters of the men, who composed it; the number, and dignity of their constituents, or the important ends for which they were appointed.  But, however improbable such a degree of presumption might have seemed, we find there are some, in whom it exists.  Attempts are daily making to diminish the influence of their decisions, and prevent the salutary effects, intended by them.–The impotence of such insidious efforts is evident from the general indignation they are treated with; so that no material ill-consequences can be dreaded from them.  But lest they should have a tendency to mislead, and prejudice the minds of a few; it cannot be deemed altogether useless to bestow some notice upon them.

And first, let me ask these restless spirits, whence arises that violent antipathy they seem to entertain, not only to the natural rights of mankind; but to common sense and common modesty.  That they are enemies to the natural rights of mankind is manifest, because they wish to see one part of their species enslaved by another.  That they have an invincible aversion to common sense is apparant in many respects: They endeavour to persuade us, that the absolute sovereignty of parliament does not imply our absolute slavery; that it is a Christian duty to submit to be plundered of all we have, merely because some of our fellow-subjects are wicked enough to require it of us, that slavery, so far from being a great evil, is a great blessing; and even, that our contest with Britain is founded entirely upon the petty duty of 3 pence per pound of East India tea; wheras the whole world knows, it is built upon this interesting question, whether the inhabitants of Great-Britain have a right to dispose of the lives and property of the inhabitants of America or not?  And lastly, that these men have discarded all pretension to common modesty, is clear from hence, first because they, in the plainest terms, call an august body of men, famed for their patriotism and abilities, fools or knaves, and of course the people whom they repsented cannot be exempt from the same opprobrious appellations: and secondly, because they set themselves up as standards of wisdom and probity, by contradicting and censuring the public voice in favour of those men…

 

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Filed under 1770's, Alexander Hamilton, American Revolution, Colonial America, Congress, Eighteenth century, Liberty, Political Pamphlets, Posted by Matthew Williams, Revolution, United States

Item of the Day: Observations on Certain Documents (1797)

Full Title: Observations on Certain Documents Contained in No. V. & VI. of “The History of the United States for the Year 1796,” in which the Charge of Speculation against Alexander Hamilton, Late Secretary of the Treasury, is fully refuted. Written by himself. Philadelphia: Printed for John Fenno, by John Bioren, 1797.

OBSERVATIONS, &c.

 

THE spirit of jocobinism, if not entirely a new spirit, has at least been cloathed [sic] with a more gigantic body and armed with more powerful weapons than it ever before possessed. It is perhaps not too much to say, that it threatens more extensive and complicated mischiefs to the world than have hitherto flowed from the three great scourges of mankind, WAR, PESTILENCE, and FAMINE. To what point it will ultimately lead society, it is impossible for human foresight to pronounce; but there is just ground to apprehend that its progress may be marked with calamities of which the dreadful incidents of the French revolution afford a very faint image. Incessantly busied in undermining all the props of public security and private happiness, it seems to threaten the political and moral world with a complete overthrow.

A principal engine, by which this spirit endeavours to accomplish its purposes is that of calumny. It is essential to its success that the influence of men of upright principle, disposed and able to resist its enterprizes, shall be at all events destroyed. Not content with traducing their best efforts for the public good, with misrepresenting their purest motives, with inferring criminality from actions innocent or laudable, the most direct falshoods [sic] are invented and propagated, with undaunted effrontery and unrelenting perseverance. Lies often detected and refuted are still revived and repeated, in the hope that the refuted are still revived and repeated, in the hope that the refutation may have been forgotten or that the frequency and boldness of accusation may supply the place of truth and proof. The most profligate men are encouraged, probably bribed, certainly with patronage if not with money, to become informers and accusers. And when tales, which their characters alone ought to discredit, are refuted by evidence and facts which oblige the patrons of them to abandon their support, they still continue in corroding whispers to wear away the reputations which they could not directly subvert. If, luckily for the conspirators against honest fame, any little foible or folly can be traced out in one, whom they desire to persecute, it becomes at once in their hands a two-edged sword, by which to wound the public character and stab the private felicity of the person. With such men, nothing is sacred. Even the peace of an unoffending and amiable wife is a welcome repast to their insatiate fury against the husband.

In the gratification of this baleful spirit, we not only hear the jacobin news-papers continually ring with odious insinuations and charges against many of our most virtuous citizens; but, not satisfied with this, a measure new in this country has been lately adopted to give the greater efficacy to the system of defamation — periodical pamphlets issue from the same presses, full freighted with misrepresentation and falshood [sic], artfully calculated to hold up the opponents of the FACTION to the jealousy and distrust of the present generation and the jealousy and distrust of the present generation and if possible, to transmit their names with dishonor to posterity. Even the great and multiplied services, the tried and rarely equalled [sic] virtues of a WASHINGTON, can secure no exemption.

How then can I, with pretensions every way inferior expect to escape? And if truly this be, as every appearance indicates, a conspiracy of vice against virtue, ought I not to be flattered, that I have been so long and so peculiarly an object of persecution? Ought I to regret, if there be any thing about me, so formidable to the Faction as to have made me worthy to be distinguished by the plenitude of its rancour and venom?

It is certain I have had a pretty copious experience of its malignity. For honor of human nature, it is to be hoped that the examples are not numerous of men so greatly calumniated and persecuted, as I have been, with so little cause.

I dare appeal to my immediate fellow citizens of whatever political party for the truth of the assertion, that no man ever carried into public life a more unblemished pecuniary reputation, than that which which I undertook, the office of Secretary of the Treasury; a character marked by an indifference to the acquisition of property rather than by an avidity for it.

With such a character, however natural it was to expect criticism and opposition, as to the political principles which I might manifest or be supposed to entertain, as the the wisdom or expediency of the plans, which I might propose, or as to the skill, care or diligence with which the business of my department might be executed, it was not natural to expect nor did I expect that my fidelity or integrity in a pecuniary sense would ever be called in quesiton.

But on this head a mortifying disappointment has been experienced. Without the slightest foundation, I have been repeatedly held up to the suspicions of the world as a man directed in his administration by the most sordid views; who did not scruple to sacrifice the public to his private interest, his duty and honor to the sinister accumulation of wealth. . . .

 

 

 

 

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Filed under 1790's, Alexander Hamilton, Early Republic, Political Pamphlets, Posted by Caroline Fuchs