#HamAlong Part Three: In which Hamilton is in a New York State of Mind

6:00:00 PM

Can you believe we're already on week three of this read along? I must admit, this was when the going got tough. After zipping through the first 10 chapters, I stalled a bit at the introduction of some pretty dense political and financial ideas. I fell asleep. More than once. BUT I POWERED THROUGH and lived to tell the tale.

It's in this chunk of chapters that Hamilton and Burr simultaneously begin their careers and their professional rivalry. Their lives parallel each other in so many ways that it's easy to see how the two became so competitive. Still, their differences are pretty apparent from the beginning.

Hamilton declared his stance and stood by it in the face of everyone hating him (seriously, the man did not give a @*$& - surprising, considering how sensitive he is to personal slights) literally defending the people he spent the last several years fighting against. Maybe Chernow's endless Hamilove is rubbing off on me, but I was impressed - Hamilton's actions thus far have been pretty admirable.

Hamilton shares his thoughts and opinions unabashedly. He writes and publishes his writing constantly. Meanwhile, Burr is a political chameleon who hedges his bets and writes in code, when he writes at all. Chernow seems surprised that Burr is held up as a founding father when he arguably does the least in terms of contributing intellectually to the building of the nation, and I can't help but agree. When others were contributing their thoughts and ideas, what was Burr doing? I can't help but wonder if we will find out more about his role later on. I guess we'll just have to WAIT FOR IT. But enough about those two - let's get into my thoughts about the rest of the reading. I finally caved and started taking notes as I read, so most of these are bullets from those notes:
  • Hamilton dared Morris to go up to Washington and give him the "bro" shoulder clap thing, since Washington is so distant and untouchable. AND MORRIS DID. These two and their shenanigans. 
  • Crying over Chernow's un-ironic use of the word hobgoblins.
  • That six hour speech Lin-Manuel Miranda mentioned in the musical? That wasn't an exaggeration. At one of the meetings of the Continental Congress, Hamilton talked to a group of hot, stuffy, air-conditioning-less politicians for SIX HOURS. Without a lunch break. I'm surprised someone didn't shoot him right then. It's like the worst work meeting in the history of all work meetings.
  • Hamilton anticipated the need for a president, house, senate, national bank AND supreme court. DID HE JUST PLAN THE WHOLE GOVERNMENT? I think he did.
  • More mention of duels. I feel like there have been a disproportionate amount of duels thus far. I didn't really think that was a thing. Just me? Did everyone go around resolving conflicts by shooting one another?
  • 100% a fan of the phrase "literary assassination." Chernow, you da best.
  • Hamilton is all Everything we fought for depends upon having a leader who won't screw it up. The literal, actual fate of our nation is in your hands. But like, no pressure or anything. And Washington is all -_- *sighs* FINE. In the words of the fabulous Angelica Schuyler, "What are kings and queens to an American who has seen a Washington!"
  • It seems so believable that Washington never realized the extent of Hamilton's talents and aspirations. He was shocked to find out (through Robert Morris) that Hamilton was quite the financial guru, and ended up choosing him for the role of treasury secretary.
  • Was anyone else hearing Billy Joel crooning in the background as they read? Just me?

Standout Quotes:

"[Burr] once described himself in the third person: 'He is a grave, silent, strange sort of animal, inasmuch that we know not what to make of him.'" We should all begin describing ourselves enigmatically and in the third person.

"A staggering eleven thousand patriots had perished aboard these [British prison] ships from filth, disease, malnutrition, and savage mistreatment. For many years, the bones of the dead washed up on shore." Bones. Washed up. For years. Whoaaaa

"John Jay once wrote of the randy Morris, 'Gouverneur's leg has been a tax on my heart. I am almost tempted to wish he had lost something else.' Morris's peg leg did not seem to detract from his sexual appeal and may even have enhanced it."John Jay, get your mind out of the gutter. You too, Chernow.

"Adams suggested that Washington be addressed as 'His Highness, the President of the United States of America and Protector of their Liberties.' Adams provided fodder for contemporary wags and was promptly dubbed 'His Rotundity' or the 'Duke of Braintree.' In their defense, he was totally asking for it.

"Playwright Brinsley Sheridan once refused to satisfy his creditors on the grounds that 'paying only encourages them.'" SUCH SNARK.

"The Clintons had power, The Livingstons had numbers, and The Schuylers had Hamilton." A resounding endorsement of Hamilton's political prowess if ever I've heard one.

I probably can't sum up Chapters 10-14 better than Mr. Chernow when he said," Whether through luck, premeditation, or a knack for making things happen, Hamilton continued to demonstrate his unique flair for materializing at every major turning point in the early history of the republic." How does he DO that?

See you guys next week :)

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4 comments

  1. I looooove that Washington doesn't know how many things Hamilton gets up to in his spare time. Washington seems like a sedate sort of fellow, and I can't help thinking he must have found Hamilton sort of baffling -- like, he obviously respects the hell out of him, and at the same time, it doesn't necessarily seem like he GETS him. (Which probably went both ways -- these dudes are SO DIFFERENT.)

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    1. You've summed up so well what I think made those two "work." They are SO different but use their differences to their advantage while promoting each other's strengths. It's difficult to picture someone like Washington being baffled by much, but I think Hamilton is one of the few people who would continue to surprise him, even after all the time they've known each other. :)

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  2. "BUT I POWERED THROUGH and lived to tell the tale." That pretty much sums up this week!

    I forgot about Hamilton daring Morris to bro slap Washington. What a glorious moment!

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    1. It is admittedly one of my favorite moments haha

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