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for knowledge and beauty. In the weakness of advanced age, upon the last steps of time, he was reading the bible and the Greek tragedies. His dying hours took him back fifty years through a period of revolution, awakening and progress to the day that was above all others with him. “This is the 4th of July” were the last words he uttered, and he died in the peace of a long and useful life.
An American statesman bewitched by the English system; a revolutionary soldier fighting against the British crown as the unwilling tories fought against James II; a monarchist consulting with republicans in the formation of a perfect union of sovereign states; a thinker whose eyes were clouded with the mist of dissolving feudalism; a politician unconsciously clinging to the doctrines of divine right and haunted by a fear of a tumultuary democracy—such a man gave a lasting impact to the constitution of the only republic of the world.
Alexander Hamilton at 30 years of age was a member of the constitutional convention. He conferred with Washington; he debated with Madison; he deferred to none. On the contrary, he conjured the frightful specters of a degraded continental confederacy and played upon the fears of the stoutest republicans. Among a body of men notable for intellectual energy, rich in experience and above all trained in the disquisitions of Locke and Montesquieu, Rousseau and the French encyclopedists, he launched the schemata of a monarchial system to be set up in America. Nor was he put down for doing this. He in a sense succeeded. He imbedded deep in the body of that constitution some of the germs of monarchy. He nourished them. He founded a school of political thought
which has cherished his memory and blinked at his principles when it was not safe to avow them openly. And thus his ghost has stalked throughout the history of the republic.
Hence this is a dramatic episode in political history. The commanding genius of Jefferson has scarcely been able to divide the control of Anerican polity with the inferior genius of Hamilton. A republic submitting to the incantations of a monarchial thinker is the paradoxical relation which has thriven between Hamilton's influence and the United States.
This complex and fascinating mystery dwarfs the significance of Hamilton's personal career. It is of subordinate consequence that he was indiscreet, vain and opinionated; that he envied Burr's superior success in affairs of the heart; that he published his own amours with a frankness not surpassed by Rousseau; that he boldly advocated a system of governmental corruption; that he was not scrupulous in achieving his ends and that he concocted a scheme to steal the election in the state of New York from Jefferson. To dwell upon these things and to neglect the supreme importance of his political influence would result in missing the main points of his career.
Hamilton's mother was a French woman and to her we trace his refinement, his spirit and his imagination. His father was a Scotchman and from his father he inherited resolution, pertinacity in conviction, great powers of analysis, and a predilection for metaphysics. Thus endowed he looked far into the future; he sounded deeply into the tides of destiny; he penetrated the secrets of the human heart and laid hold upon those
impulses which from their permanency and strength could be relied upon to carry forward his projects.
Yet his mental construction made him the prey of groundless fears. It led him to assert fallacious premises as the bases of the most elaborate political superstructures. It made him theoretical and impractical. It, in the belief of one great school of thought, veiled with a specious splendor a false and indefensible system of government. All his political reasonings were characterized by the fallacy of irrelevant conclusion. He seldom exhausted the contents of a proposition. And therefore his famous dictum that all power should be given neither to the many nor the few has no accurate meaning when analyzed. It fails to include the third term that the only true government is one of law and not of men at all. This is the definition of a republic, a word not understood by him or by many of his contemporaries.
Hamilton had an unreasoning fear of popular institutions. They suggested to him the hybrid experiment of Rome, in which a pure democracy was adulterated with the despotism of mobs and torn by the strife of warring factions. He dwelt upon the fate of the Amphictyonic council; he drew lessons from the history of the German confederacy and the compact of the Swiss cantons. And after traversing the entire field of history he could not escape the conclusion that the United States must be governed by a constitutional monarch. This was his hobby. He bestrode it until his friends were wearied. Even Gouverneur Morris, his most intimate friend and eulogist, wrote: “More a theoretic than a practical man, he was not sufficiently
convinced that a system may be good in itself and bad in relation to particular circumstances."
Hamilton could not see that monarchy had its place and its time in the political evolution of man, but that development logically led to popular institutions. In this sense the significance of the English revolution was lost upon him. He could look far into the future and plan for a contingency when his machinations upon human endeavor and sentiment might degenerate a once glorious people into monarchy. But he could not interpret his own age. He was wedded to the past. He worshiped power. He dreaded a free system of government because it might dissolve into anarchy. That a strong government might become despotic did not give him the least concern. Nor could he see that the English system which he affected to admire had not reached the end of its popularization; and that a liberty based upon scripture and a liberty based upon philosophy were co-operating toward a realization of human rights. He abhorred the French revolution as a tragedy of disorder, anarchy and blood. He could not see that it was a great democratic epic which had its place in the history of the world. And so measured by the test of insight, of mental power, of influence upon men and nations, Hamilton greatly beneath Jefferson. Hamilton believed that the love of gold in man was an energy which could be employed to operate an exclusive system of government. All his measures were fashioned upon the principle of welding the interests of money and government so indissolubly together that the spirit of monarchy would control the body of the republic. And he worked to