My Presidential reading list took a detour with the inclusion of Alexander Hamilton. After several of the biographies (Adams and Washington especially), it became clear that Hamilton and Ben Franklin were incredible forces in their own right and deserved to be included with my reading list.
But the Hamilton Biography was so long. Ron Chernow wrote a 700-some-odd page book about a man whose never saw 50. It was good, quite good at times. But long. I started in April, I think, and just finished this weekend (there were, of course, plenty of other books in there as well).
After Adams biography, I was pretty convinced that Hamilton was bent on military rule. He just seemed so evil. But that had a lot to do with Adam’s paranoia (and Jefferson’s as well).
Perhaps because I spent so much time reading about the man, or perhaps because he was just so interesting, I really came to appreciate Hamilton (you’ll remember that great video of the rap about Hamilton I posted earlier). Here’s a guy who through the strength of his writing was able to escape the violence and poverty of the Caribbean and become one of our most influential founding fathers. From his service during the Revolution as Washington’s chief of staff (a position he served quite well) to his work securing New York during the Constitutional Convention and writing the bulk of the Federalist Papers, then being the first Treasury Secretary, Hamilton left his fingerprints all over the country. (He also has the distinction of being the first American sex scandal).
He had a million faults, of course. A windbag, for one. Touchy about his image and reputation to a fault (a fatal fault, as it happened) for another. But he was also generous, brilliant, and utterly committed to the Constitution and the Union.
I liked him a lot. Far more than I expected.