Commonplace Book #79

As he pondered an amorphous comeback–he never spelled it out–Hamilton struggled with the conundrum that while Republicans might be “wretched impostors” with “honeyed lips and guileful hearts,” they had won the public’s affection.  How could this be?  Hamilton thought that Republicans appealed to emotion, while Federalists relied too much on reason.  “Men are rather reasoning than reasonable animals, for the most part governed by their passion,” he told James Bayard , and his controversial solution was something called the Christian Constitutional Society.  The charge of atheism had been a leitmotif  of Hamilton’s critiques of Jefferson and the French Revolution.  Now he hoped that by publishing pamphlets, promoting charities, and establishing immigrant-aid societies and vocational schools, this new society would promote Christianity, the Constitution, and the Federalist party, though no necessarily in that order of preference .  By signing up  God against Thomas Jefferson, Hamilton hoped to make a more potent political appeal.  The society was an execrable idea that would have grossly breached the separation of church and state and mixed political power and organized religion.  Hamilton was not honoring religion but exploiting it for political ends.  Fortunately, other Federalists didn’t cotton to the idea.  As he drifted into more retrograde modes of thought, Hamilton seemed to rage along in the wilderness, and few people listened.

Ron Chernow, Alexander Hamilton, 658-659.

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