Divorce was a novelty in the eighteenth century. To obtain one in the Crown colonies was an expensive, tortuous affair, and this deprived James and Rachel of any chance to legitimize their match. Putting the best face on the embarrassing situation, Alexander sometimes pretended that his parents had married. Of Rachel’s flight from St. Croix, he declared, “My mother afterwards went to St. Kitts, became acquainted with my father and a marriage between them ensued, followed by many years cohabitation and several children.” Since the relationship may have lasted fifteen years, it presumably took on the trappings of a marriage, enabling Alexander to maintain that his illegitimacy was a mere legal technicality and had nothing to do with negligent or profligate parents. Indeed, Hamilton’s parents, though a common-law couple, presented themselves as James and Rachel Hamilton.
― Ron Chernow, Alexander Hamilton
The amount of unresolved daddy issues between John Laurens, Alexander Hamilton, and the Marquis de Lafayette, and how each translated that in terms of their relationships with George Washington.
I cannot my Dear Son thank you enough for your declarations of affection & Duty__ Your Piety will be repaid with large Usury, at a proper time, & yield a luxury of happiness, of which you can now form but imperfect Ideas.__ in the mean time accept the acknowledgements of a Father whom you have made happy__ and be assured, he would rather Die or even hear of your Death, than, from tenderness or from any motive, command you basely to shun danger by refraining from your Duty. believe him, you are now in the course of Duty, to yourself, to your Father, to your family, to your Country__ Time, every days experience & reflection will confirm the wisdom & propriety of your determination__ No Man loves his Country more than I do, few have more liberally sacrificed to its service__ I would give up All, I think, I would give up my Children to save my Country, but an injudicious sacrifice of my Estate & them, as it could produce no good, would not be acceptable.__
Henry Laurens to John Laurens, in a letter dated April 29, 1776 (via john-laurens)
And then like two letters later Henry’s all, “John why are you throwing yourself in danger all the time?”
How can anyone not love John Laurens I mean he was born and raised in South Carolina where there was slavery abound but he was very much against it and knew that southerners continued to support the practice simply because it helped them stay rich and he felt that everybody was deserving of the “Blessing which equal Heaven bestow’d upon us all” and he wasn’t perfect but he tried and ugh he just really needed to survive the war
He was also for spreading the wealth, advocating for mass taxes on the rich to help dissolve the big gaps between the classes.
Now he went about his abolition campaign in a very White Savior-ish way (he wanted to lead a black regiment that would grant them their emancipation), and he sometimes had trouble checking his privilege (he didn’t understand why people expected pay for their military services, and he still expected gentlemen would be the rulers of the republic). But realistically, this was the best one can expect from an eighteenth-century white dude raised in this environment; and honestly, the reason he probably turned out as well as he did was because he got out of South Carolina at an impressionable age and was educated by Europeans.
And call me cynical, but I think the reason he’s not brought up in textbooks at all is because then we’d have a basis of comparison to measure up to men like Thomas Jefferson, and could see how badly they failed to put one’s money where their mouth was.
i couldn’t find a founding fathers otome game so i took matters into my own hands
In Fox News’s dreams
I will use the term “romantic friendship” to describe a close affectionate relationship between two men who were social equals. The term has been used extensively in scholarship focusing on the effusive writings of young male couples during the mid-nineteenth century, usually with the implied understanding that the relationship was not sexual (despite the steamy rhetoric of the surviving correspondence). I will use the term with the explicit contention that a romantic friendship might indeed have included a sexual component, since I have come to believe that eighteenth-century Americans did not draw borders around sexual behavior with quite the clarity and severity of their Victorian successors. A fluidity to male intimacy admitted a wide repertoire of physical expression, and those expressions ebbed and flowed with time and circumstance.
Romantic friendships usually arose between men of similar age and social class. The relationships were passionate but in most cases fleeting, not because the men were unable or unwilling to make a lasting commitment, but because they could not envision a future in which they could ever consider themselves to be a recognized couple. America included only one city that could begin to rival the size and social complexity of Berlin, Paris, or London. Only Philadelphia was large enough to provide men-loving men with the anonymity of numbers. In rural areas among the lower classes it might be possible for two men to live their lives together working the same farm or pursuing the same craft, but in more urban areas, especially among the socially prominent (whose stories are the ones most likely to be preserved in surviving documents), heterosexual marriage was the only acceptable goal. Men entered into romantic friendships with the understanding that one - and probably both - of the partners would eventually marry and establish a traditional family. Though many tried to maintain an emotional connection with their partner, the demands of their new roles as husband and father rarely allowed for continued intimacy. This arc from passionate devotion to wistful nostalgia is documented again and again whenever long runs of male-male letters have been preserved.
― William Benemann, Male-Male Intimacy in Early America
Our Friend Laurens behaved in a very Spirited manner during the Engagement and has established his Reputation for intrepidity. He received a wound by a muskett ball which went through the fleshy part of his right shoulder, but has not touched the bone; this he received in the beginning of the action, but it did not in the least abate his ardour. He received afterwards a blow on his side from a Spent ball as he was coming from Chew’s House, to the very Door of which he went up Sword in hand; the blow however only occasioned a Swelling in the part Struck—
― Anonymous writer to George Clinton, in a letter dated October 5, 1777 (via john-laurens)
Von Steuben next created a model company and drilled the soldiers himself. They could be used to supplement the written word by demonstrating the maneuvers to the rest of the men, and each would in turn instruct his own unit, with careful corrections given by the Baron. The method worked well - except whenever a complicated march-and-wheel maneuver collapsed into confusion and von Steuben’s meager store of English failed him. He would begin to shout in French and then German, and eventually fall back on the one English word he could always remember: “Goddam! Goddam! Goddam!”
It was during one of these fiascos that a handsome young officer stepped forward and, speaking to the Baron in flawless French, offered his services as an interpreter. “If I had seen an angel from Heaven I should not have more rejoiced,” the Baron later recalled. The angel was Captain Benjamin Walker. Walker was born in London in 1753 but had emigrated at an early age to New York City. He was twenty-five years old when he first met von Steuben, strikingly handsome, self-possessed, and intelligent. Within weeks of appearing as the Baron’s “angel” Walker was appointed as his aide-de-camp.
― William Benemann, Male-Male Intimacy in Early America
: Your blog gives me the best book suggestions, usually inadvertently, through the quote reblogs. Fun off-the-beaten-path reading for grad school summers! A+
I’m glad I can be of some help, thank you :)