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in this body is well and justly expressed by Guizot, who says:–“There is not one element of order, strength, or durability in the Constitution which he did not powerfully contribute to introduce, and cause to be adopted.” After the adjournment of the Convention, and when the Constitution was before the legislatures of the several States for its adoption, he, in conjunction with Madison and Jay, wrote a series of papers explaining and defending the various provisions of that admirable instrument. These essays were afterwards collected and published in a volume under the name of The Federalist," and constitute one of the most profound and lucid treatises on politics that have ever been written. The introduction and conclusion are from the pen of Hamilton, who also assumed the main discussion of the important points in respect to taxation and revenue, the army and militia, the power of the Executive, and the Judiciary. Upon the organization of the Government, Washington showed his estimation of Hamilton by appointing him to fill what was then the most important post,overwhelmed as we were by debt, the office of Secretary of the Treasury. His various reports, while he filled this office, of plans for the restoration of public credit, on the protection and encouragement of manufactures, on the necessity and constitutionality of a national bank, and on the establishment of a mint, have given him the reputation of one of the first statesmen the world has ever seen.” While Hamilton was Secretary of the Treasury, the French Revolution being then at its height, numerous demagogues were active in their efforts to embroil us in a foreign war. But this pure and lofty statesman not only advised the proclamation of neutrality and the mission of John Jay to England to conclude a permanent treaty with that people, but also wrote for the public prints a series of admirable papers, signed “Pacificus” and “Camillus,” which had a controlling influence on the public mind, and which are still regarded as among the most profound commentaries which have appeared on the principles of international law and policy to which they had relation. When, during the Presidency of John Adams, Washington was invited, in the event of a war with France, to the command of the national forces, he accepted on the condition that Hamilton should be second in command. What higher compliment could have been paid him 2 We now come, with sadness, to the closing period of Hamilton's life. In June, 1804, that gifted but thoroughly unprincipled man, Aaron Burr, then Vice-President of the United States,” who saw that Hamilton stood in the way of his ambitious views, and who for some time had thirsted for his life, addressed to him a letter demanding his acknowledgment or denial of certain expressions derogatory
1 Of the eighty-five numbers of The Federalist, Nos. 2, 3, 4, 5, 54, were writtel. by John Jay; Nos. 10, 14, and 37 to 48 inclusive—fourteen in all—by James Madison; Nos. 18, 19, and 20 by Hamilton and Madison; and all the rest, sixtythree in number, by Hamilton.—Letter from John C. Hamilton, Oct. 22, 1858.
2. It was in allusion to these masterly state papers that Daniel Webster, at a public dinner in New York in 1831, said, “He smote the rock of the national resources, and abundant streams of revenue gushed forth ; he touched the dead corpse of the public credit, and it sprung upon its feet.”
9 Burr was subsequently tried for treason in attempting to form a new republic, but was acquitted for the want of sufficient legal evidence to convict. His ambition seemed to be that of Satan :-" Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven.”
to his character which he had heard that Hamilton had used. Compliance with this demand Hamilton and all his friends deemed inadmissible, and Burr sent him a challenge. Though opposed on principle to duelling, he felt that his position as a public man, and his high rank in the army of the United States, demanded its acceptance. His words, as found in a paper written the day before he went to the fatal field, are:—“The ability to be in future useful, whether in resisting mischief or effecting good in those crises in our public affairs which seem likely to happen, would probably be inseparable from a conformity with public prejudice in this particular.” On the 11th of July, the parties met at Hoboken, and Hamilton fell, mortally wounded. He was taken home, and died the next day; living long enough, however, to disavow all intention of taking the life of Burr, and to declare his abhorrence of the whole transaction. Almost his last words were, “I have a tender reliance on the mercy of the Almighty through the merits of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Next to Washington, no man in this country was ever so universally mourned. The pulpit, the bar, and the press teemed with discourses commemorative of his exalted talents and services and virtues, and every one felt that America had lost her greatest man. Said the great and pious Fisher Ames, “My soul stiffens with despair when I think what Hamilton would have been "*
THE NECESSITY OF A NATIONAL BANK."
I am aware of all the objections that have been made to public banks, and that they are not without enlightened and respectable opponents. But all that has been said against them only tends to prove that, like all other good things, they are subject to abuse,
* In a letter to a friend, soon after Hamilton's death, the Rev. Dr. Mason thus. wrote:–“The greatest statesman in the Western World—perhaps the greatest man of the age—has been cut off in the forty-eighth year of his life by the murderous arm of Vice-President Burr. The death of Hamilton has created a waste in the sphere of intellect and probity which a century will hardly fill up. He has left none like him, no second, no third, nobody to put us in mind of him. You can have no conception of such a man unless you knew him. One burst of grief and indignation assails the murderer from every corner of the continent. Political enemies vie with friends in heaping honors upon his memory.”
* Read Life and Works by his son, J. C. Hamilton, 7 vols.; Eulogy by Rev. John M. Mason, D.D.; Sketch of, by Fisher Ames; “North American Review,” liii. 70; “American Quarterly,” xv. 311. William Coleman, the editor of the “New York Evening Post,” published a memorial of the occasion in “A Collection of Facts and Documents relative to the Death of General Alexander Hamilton, with Orations, Sermons, and Eulogies.” A work of great interest and value has recently been published, entitled “History of the Republic of the United States of America, as traced in the Writings of Alexander Hamilton and his Contemporaries, by John C. Hamilton.”
* From a letter to Robert Morris, dated April 30, 1781, when the financial state of our country was in a most depressed condition. The letter is long, and one of consummate ability; going into details how the bank should be managed, and what checks and safeguards should be adopted to place it on an enduring founda. tion. This “splendid plan,” as it has been called, shows Hamilton's vast reach of mind united to great skill in practical details, as much, perhaps, as any single paper that ever came from his pen. 11+
and when abused become pernicious. The precious metals, by similar arguments, may be proved to be injurious. It is certain that the moneys of South America have had great influence in banishing industry from Spain, and sinking it in real wealth and importance. Great P. commerce, and riches—or, in other words, great national prosperity—may, in like manner, be denominated evils; for they lead to insolence, an inordinate ambition, a vicious luxury, licentiousness of morals, and all those vices which corrupt a government, enslave the state, and precipitate the ruin of a nation. But no wise statesman will reject the good from an apprehension of the ill. The truth is, in human affairs there is no good pure and unmixed. Every advantage has two sides; and wisdom consists in availing ourselves of the good, and guarding as much as possible against the bad. The tendency of a national bank is to increase public and private credit. The former gives power to the state for the protection of its rights and interests, and the latter facilitates and extends the operations of commerce among individuals. Industry is increased, commodities are multiplied, agriculture and manufactures flourish; and herein consists the true wealth and prosperity of a state. Most commercial nations have found it necessary to institute banks; and they have proved to be the happiest engines that ever were invented for advancing trade. Venice, Genoa, Hamburg, Holland, and England, are examples of their utility. They owe their riches, commerce, and the figure they have made at different periods, in a great degree to this source. Great Britain is indebted for the immense efforts she has been able to make in so many illustrious and successful wars, essentially to that vast fabric of credit raised on this foundation.
THE ExcellENCY OF OUR CONSTITUTION."
After all our doubts, our suspicions and speculations, Mr. Chairman, on the subject of government, we must return at last to this important truth, that when we have formed a constitution upon free principles, when we have given a proper balance to the different branches of administration, and fixed representation upon pure and equal principles, we may with safety furnish it with all the powers necessary to answer, in the most ample manner, the purposes of government. The great objects to be desired are a free representation and mutual checks. When these are obtained, all our apprehensions of the extent of powers are unjust and imaginary. What, then, is the structure of this constitution ? One
" From a speech delivered in the New York Convention, 1788.
branch of the legislature is to be elected by the people, by the same people who choose your State representatives. Its members are to hold their office two years, and then return to their constituents. Here, sir, the people govern; here they act by their immediate representatives. You §. also a senate, constituted by your State legislatures, by men in whom you place the highest confidence, and forming another representative branch. Then, again, you have an executive magistrate, the president, created by a form of election which merits universal admiration. In the form of this government, and in the mode of legislation, you find all the checks which the greatest politicians and the best writers have ever conceived. What more can reasonable men desire? Is there any one branch in which the whole legislative and executive powers are lodged 7 No. The legislative authority is lodged in three distinct branches, properly balanced; the executive authority is divided between two branches; and the judicial is still reserved for an independent body, who hold their offices during good behavior. This organization is so complex, so skilfully contrived, that it is next to impossible that an impolitic or wicked measure should pass the great scrutiny with success. Now, what do gentlemen mean by coming forward and declaiming against this government? . Why do they say we ought to limit its powers, to disable it, and to destroy its capacity of blessing the people? Has philosophy suggested, has experience taught, that such a government ought not to be trusted with every thing necessary for the good of society? Sir, when you have divided and nicely balanced the departments of government; when you have strongly connected the virtue of your rulers with their interest; when, in short, you have rendered your system as perfect as human forms can be, YoU MUST PLACE conFIDENCE, You MUST GIVE POWER.
CIIARACTER OF MAJOR ANDRE.
There was something singularly interesting in the character and fortunes of Andre. To an excellent understanding, well improved by education and travel, he united a peculiar elegance of mind and manners, and the advantage of a pleasing person. 'Tis said he possessed a pretty taste for the fine arts, and had himself attained some proficiency in poetry, music, and painting. His knowledge appeared without ostentation, and embellished by a diffidence that rarely accompanies so many talents and accomplishments, which left you to suppose more than appeared. His sentiments were elevated, and inspired esteem; they had a softness that conciliated affection. His elocution was handsome ; his address easy, polite, and insinuating. By his merit, he had acquired the unlimited confidence of his general, and was making a rapid progress in military rank and reputation. But in the height of his career, flushed with new hopes from the execution of a project the most beneficial to his party that could be devised, he was at once precipitated from the summit of prosperity, and saw all the expectations of his ambition blasted, and himself ruined.
The character I have given of him is drawn partly from what I saw of him myself, and partly from information. I am aware that a man of real merit is never seen in so favorable a light as through the medium of adversity; the clouds that surround him are shades that set off his good qualities. Misfortune cuts down the little vanities that, in prosperous times, serve as so many spots in his virtues, and gives a tone of humility that makes his worth more amiable. His spectators, who enjoy a happier lot, are less prone to detract from it through envy, and are more disposed, by compassion, to give him the credit he deserves, and perhaps even to magnify it.
I speak not of Andre's conduct in this affair as a philosopher, but as a man of the world. The authorized maxims and practices of war are the satires of human nature. They countenance almost every species of seduction as well as violence; and the general who can make most traitors in the army of his adversary is frequently most applauded. On this scale we acquit Andre, while we could not but condemn him if we were to examine his conduct by the sober rules of philosophy and moral rectitude. It is, however, a blemish on his fame that he once intended to prostitute a flag; about this, a man of nice honor ought to have had a scruple; but the temptation was great; let his misfortunes cast a veil over his error.
CHARACTER of GENERAL GREENE."
As a man, the virtues of Nathaniel Greene are admitted; as a patriot, he holds a place in the foremost rank; as a statesman, he is praised; as a soldier, he is admired. But in the two last characters, especially in the last but one, his reputation falls far below his desert. It required a longer life, and still greater opportunities, to have enabled him to exhibit, in full day, the vast—I had almost said the enormous—powers of his mind.
1 Nathaniel Greene, a major-general in the Revolutionary army, was born in Warwick, R.I., in 1742, and died in 1785. In the tenth volume of the second series of “Sparks's American Biography” will be found a well-written life, by his grandson, George Washington Greene, who is engaged in preparing a much fuller biography, to be completed in six volumes.