By Ron Chernow
The book Alexander Hamilton, by Ron Chernow is not for the faint of heart. At over 700 pages or 36 hours on audio, this book is a comprehensive documentation and assessment of Hamilton’s life. Hamilton was a brilliant man who emerged from a childhood of shame (he was born out of wedlock) and poverty. He attended Kings College (now Columbia University) and continued to be a voracious, life-long learner. His speeches were known to be long, but his grasp of the issues often left people in awe.
The book mentions that perhaps Hamilton did more for our country than any other founding father and this could possibly be true. Some of Hamilton’s accomplishments include: Delegate to the Constitutional Convention and author of the Federalist Papers. He served in the military with courage and as a confidante of General George Washington provided a great deal of sound advice. He pushed hard for formation of the Bank of the United States to the dismay of popular opinion and of the Democratic Republicans (as the party was known at the time). His successor from the opposing political party looked deep to find fault with Hamilton’s management of the Bank and could not find any.
As a lawyer, he often defended those who were sanctioned for their opposing political views or taken advantage of due to their lack of education or financial status. He also handle cases involving Constitutional issues in the courts. His life in public service was long and his government dealing were always under a spot light. In the end, he was shown to be extremely honest in his government affairs. With a Public Servant’s salary and the need to provide for a large extended family, Hamilton barely scraped by and was often saddled with debt. Hamilton was far from perfect as he had an extramarital affair and was often viewed as arrogant. But like most individuals, Hamilton was human and the positive and lasting impact he had on our country will be felt for a long time.
History helps us learn from our prior mistakes, understand how and why this country was shaped and to celebrate amazing victories and decisions that helped bring about and uphold our country’s freedoms. If you want to go deep on an important time and with an important figure in our nation’s history, then Alexander Hamilton is for you.
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