Federalists’ desire to restrict white settlers’ claims and rights resurfaced in 1796 during debates over the Indian Trade and Intercourse Act, the public land law, and Tennessee statehood. Apropos of a proposed clause in the Trade and Intercourse Act which mandated the forfeiture of whites’ land claims west of the Indian boundary, several Republican congressmen argued that Native Americans had no natural right to their land and that whites should not have to forfeit real estate they claimed on the Indian side of the line. Federalists replied that customary and statutory rights trumped those based on natural laws. James Hillhouse argued that “though the Indians were men in uncivilized life, and differed in their customs and habits from ourselves, yet they were justly entitled to the lands which they possessed,” an entitlement “expressly recognized by the United States in the treaties they had made with them.”
Theodore Sedgwick concurred, asserting that “wherever the natives of a country had possession, there they had a right, and not because they did not dress like us, were not equally religious, or did not understand the arts of civilized life, were they to be deprived of their possessions.” He suggested that those who opposed the Indians’ land titles were neither enlightened nor gentlemen, and urged his colleagues to defeat a doctrine “destructive of all security in property.” Ultimately, though, several Federalist congressmen joined with Republicans to defeat the forfeiture clause.
― David Nichols, "Red Gentlemen & White Savages": Indians, Federalists, and the Search for Order on the American Frontier
Nothing quite captures the American character more than the fact that we were so embarrassed that our national bird the bald eagles’ cry does not match its majestic look and sounds as silly as it does, that whenever you hear it on visual media, it’s actually the cry of a red-tailed hawk.
Thomas Jefferson’s campaign against Alexander Hamilton persisted long after Hamilton’s death. The memory of a dead Hamilton was seen as a threat to Jeffersonianism, perhaps even more of a threat than a living Hamilton, whose tactical political skills were somewhat wanting. Jefferson and his lieutenants succeeded in burying Hamilton and Federalism in what has to be considered one of the most effective and resilient campaigns in the history of American politics. Jefferson succeeded partly because both he and Madison outlived Hamilton by decades and were better able to influence the historical record. Jefferson attempted to gloss over and explain some of his more outlandish statements regarding the French Revolution, for instance, but Hamilton’s record was presented to the world without the influence of any sober second thoughts. His alleged comment, reported by Jefferson twenty years after the fact, that the greatest man in the history of the world was Julius Caesar is but one instance of Jefferson’s effort to spin history. Hamilton, of course, was long dead when Jefferson reported this tale. Even Jefferson’s and Madison’s deaths brought no respite to Hamilton. As the American constitutional Republic began to segue into a democracy, Jefferson’s ideological heirs, Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren, and James K. Polk, continued to question Hamilton’s Americanism. Although surely motivated partly by differences of principle, these men also understood well that Hamilton-bashing reaped handsome political rewards for the Democratic party.
― Stephen Knott, Alexander Hamilton & the Persistence of Myth
Anonymous: Do you think it is at all possible that Hamilton become jealous or envious of Washington and Lafayette's close relationship?
this has been in my inbox for three months and unfortunately i am still unable to give you a good answer my friend
I’d say yes and no.
He was probably jealous that Lafayette was given many more opportunities for glory than he was, even though he was younger; Hamilton felt the French were being given preferential treatment. He didn’t think Washington felt he was indispensable writer so much as Washington was squelching his ambitions in a way he wasn’t to the other aides. Washington never erupted at Lafayette the way he did him. Lafayette was never an acceptable target when Washington’s volcanic temper got the better of him, because Washington knew he could never afford to offend the French like that.
As for the father-son relationship, Hamilton made it pretty clear that didn’t want that sort of thing from Washington; unlike Lafayette, he still had a father, and especially more he hated feeling inferior to anyone, even Washington. He didn’t really warm up to Washington personally until, like, towards the end of Washington’s life.
The trick to effective print warfare lay in manipulating the authority of one’s name without implicating it. A skilled politician knew how to invest just enough of his reputation to have an impact, and no more. Thus the power of pseudonyms. Anonymous print attacks enabled politicians to malign their foes without owning their comments. Often the sting of such attacks lay not in their anonymity but in just the opposite: in the insular world of high politics, elite readers often had little difficulty guessing the authors of such pieces, giving them the authority of a reputation without the liability of blame. Anonymous attacks were not without risk - witness the many duels they provoked - but they provided deniability for both their authors and their victims. An unaccredited insult could be dismissed as low abuse fem a low source; given the option of ignoring an attack, many politicians chose not to notice.
Printers suffered the downside of this ambiguity. If they surrendered the name of an offending writer, they destroyed their reputation for confidentiality and lost work as a result. If they refused to reveal a writer’s name, they risked taking the blame for his offenses, and a caning or libel suit would be the likely consequence. In 1804, the printers of a pamphlet by Burrite William Van Ness were threatened with a libel suit unless they gave up the author, but if they did, the printers complained, “All hopes of succour from the Burrites would…have been at an End.” Although Burr and his friends had promised to defend the printers in case of legal action, the Burr-Hamilton duel had intervened and Van Ness and Burr had fled town, leaving the printers in the lurch.
Joanne Freeman, Affairs of Honor
Eighteen-century anon hate was Serious Business.
bearon von steuben
John Andre: Case Officer (from our own CIA’s website!)
Such was the judgment, but as Lafayette later wrote, “All the court … were filled with sentiments of admiration and compassion for him. He behaved with so much frankness, courage and delicacy that I could not help lamenting his unhappy fate. This was one of the most painful duties I ever had to perform.” Summing up what was undoubtedly the unofficial opinion of the board, Baron von Steuben growled, “It is not possible to save him. He put us to no proof, but in an open, manly manner, confessed everything but a premeditated desire to deceive. Would to God the wretch who drew him to death could have suffered in his place.”
Well it was more of a pun on von Steuben physique and inclinations toward the love that dare not speak its name.
But that works too.
Hamilton! Don’t do it!
A company of militia light horse ‘in this Parish,’ now reduced to a ‘smal number,’ has not ‘don any duty’ in six weeks. He wants to use these men ‘to ease our Light horse.’ The bearer, ‘Le Bresseur,’ wishes to have ‘the Linen and Clothg belong[ing] to [the] late L[ieutenant] Co[lonel] Laurence [John Laurens;] it is a Custom in Europe and he expect it as his due, but he may take more Liberty’ than ‘would [be] necessary.’ Kosciuszko thinks ‘some body ought to inspect when the [Laurens’s] Bagage Come to your Quarters’ and recommends that two ‘negroes’ belonging to Laurens receive some of the belongings. These men ‘are nacked[;] they want Shorts, jackets, Breeches and their Skin can bear as well as ours good things—The men propose to make a bargain with you to sale nine muskets, four Brander bousses [i.e., blunderbusses?], one Spy Glass and one Sword for Rum they Leave intirely to your Generosity, as the time is sickly it would be of great Service to them.’
Abstract of a letter from Thaddeus Kosciuszko to Nathanael Greene, dated September 2, 1782
The footnotes indicate that “‘Le Bresseur’ was probably one of Laurens’s servants” and that “One of the ‘negroes’ was presumably Laurens’s longtime servant Shrewsberry.”
Combined with his fist-clinched independence, Adams’s impulsive self-disclosure could not help but hurt his public image. Not only did he often say things that he later regretted, but he had few allies to champion his cause and redeem his name.
And yet his emotional outbursts were honest reactions to malicious abuse - particularly the outbursts during his presidency, the fodder for Hamilton’s “Letter.” So Adams explained in a public address on his birthday given two years after the publication of the pamphlet: “Under the Continual provocations breaking and pouring in upon me from unexpected as well as expected quarters, during the two last years of my Administration, he must have been more of a modern Epicurean Phylosopher, than I ever was or ever will be, to have born [sic] them all, without some incautious expressions at times of an unutterable Indignation.” Any man would have done the same, he suggested, and he had “no other Apology to make to Individuals or the Public.”
Adams did not, however, surrender total control of his emotions. Though he denounced Hamilton heartily in his Patriot essays, he still exercised some restraint, slight though it was. When Cunningham suggested that Adams’s attack on Hamilton was too harsh, Adams spilled his real feelings into a letter so filled with bile that he demanded the original back with no copy taken. He did the same when Cunningham defended Hamilton’s character by citing Hamilton’s final statement written the night before his duel. Surely a man who had spoken with such “moving tenderness of his ‘Wife and Children’” was not as depraved as Adams imagined, Cunningham wrote. Adams responded with a stream of venom intense enough to shock Cunningham and once again requested his letter back uncopied.
― Joanne Freeman, Affairs of Honor