Craig Schifter: Do Hamilton’s words resonate? | SteamboatToday.com

Craig Schifter: Do Hamilton’s words resonate?







In the 2004 novel, "Alexander Hamilton" by Ron Chernow, is a passage on page 69 from a letter that Hamilton wrote to John Jay, where Hamilton expressed his objection to the Sons of Liberty and their terrorization of Tory sympathizers in 1775 New York City.

"In times of such commotion as the present, while the passions of men are worked up to an uncommon pitch, there is a great danger of fatal extremes. The same state of the passions, which fits the multitude, who have not a sufficient stock of reason and knowledge to guide them, for opposition to tyranny and oppression, very naturally leads them to a contempt and disregard of all authority. The due medium is hardly to be found among the more intelligent. It is almost impossible among the unthinking populace. When the minds of these are loosened from their attachment to ancient establishments and courses, they seem to grow giddy and are apt more or less to run into anarchy."

The following are observations from the author, Ron Chernow.

"Clearly, this ambivalent 22-year-old favored the Revolution but also worried about the long-term effects of habitual disorder, especially among the uneducated masses. Hamilton lacked the temperament of a true-blue revolutionary. He saw too that greater freedom could lead to greater disorder and, by a dangerous dialectic, back to a loss of freedom. Hamilton's lifelong task was to straddle this contradiction and to balance liberty and order."

Does the above make anybody think about today?

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Craig Schifter

Oak Creek