Commonplace Book #113

Clearly, neither Jefferson nor Hamilton was only modern or premodern, right or wrong.  As tempting as it is to take sides in their battle–which frames most of Hamilton’s second act–they represented two sides of a broader conversation about American nationhood and national character that went far beyond these two men, and indeed, far beyond a handful of national politicians.  There was no single right answer to the period’s political problems, no one path to national power and prosperity.  Indeed, there was no guarantee that America’s political experiment would survive at all.  The American founding wasn’t the start of a straight path to the present.  It was a tense, trying, unstable, hopeful, fearful time of high ambitions, big risks, and even bigger stakes.  People of all kinds–not only elite leaders–were aware of the potential crises at hand, and were finding their way, one step at a time.

Joanne Freeman, “‘Can We Get Back to Politics Please?’: Hamilton’s Missing Politics in Hamilton” in Renee Romano and Claire Potter, Historians on Hamilton, 52.

2 thoughts on “Commonplace Book #113

  1. “Besides, what will posterity think we were? Demigods? We’re men, no more, no less, trying to get a nation started against greater odds than a more generous God would have allowed. First things first, John. Independence. America. If we don’t secure that, what difference will the rest make?”
    — Dr B.Franklin, 1776: the Musical


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