the quartet orchestrating the second american revolution 1783 1789.pdf

On the evening of october 14 hamilton led a bayonet

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On the evening of October 14, Hamilton led a bayonet charge across a pockmarked landscape to seize a well-defended British redoubt. Among the first over the breastworks, Hamilton subdued a British officer, bayonet against sword. It was all over in ten minutes. He had finally gotten his piece of glory, and newspaper accounts embellished the story to make Hamilton the hero of Yorktown. The young immigrant had made himself one of the most famous men in America. In between his marriage to Betsy Schuyler and his dramatic, almost scripted act of heroism at Yorktown, Hamilton had somehow found the time to dash off six essays purporting to describe the proper course for postwar America, a typically Hamiltonian act of presumption, since the outcome of the war at that stage was undecided. He announced its central message in his title, The Continentalist . “When the war began,” Hamilton acknowledged, “we possessed ideas adapted to the narrow colonial sphere, in which we had been accustomed to move, not of that enlarged kind suited to the government of an INDEPENDENT NATION .” As he saw it, too many Americans had learned the wrong lesson from the
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American Revolution: namely, to avoid establishing any political institutions that even remotely resembled the British government against which they were rebelling. By overcorrecting out of fear of despotism, they had carried the country in the opposite direction, which now verged on anarchy. This fear of political power per se had reached epidemic proportions: “It is to this Source that we are to trace many of the fatal mistakes which have so deeply endangered the common cause.” Here Hamilton mentioned the failure to provide for the Continental Army, which “had prolonged the war by several years.” 36 These errors were clear for all to see, as were the political and economic problems they were producing. Unless corrected, Hamilton wrote, they would haunt the infant republic, leading to “a number of petty states with the appearance only of union, jarring, jealous and perverse, without any determined direction, fluctuating and unhappy at home, weak and insignificant by their dissensions in the eyes of the nation.” The core mistake was to vest sovereignty in the states rather than in a federal government empowered to oversee the economy, including collecting taxes and regulating commerce, and to manage the inevitable expansion of a continental empire. As Hamilton put it, “Americans needed to think continentally.” 37 That core mistake, currently embodied in the Articles, obviously had to be corrected, which should be the work of “those with the enlightened and liberal views necessary to make a great and flourishing people”—in other words, men like himself. But beyond the specific political reforms that would be necessary, there was also a grand illusion that had to be dispelled, which was another unfortunate by- product of the movement for independence: namely, the belief that political power itself was inherently
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  • Fall '16
  • Chemistry, pH, American Revolution, Second Continental Congress, American Revolution, Continental Army

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