Alice, for leading the way.
Chapters 15-19 still cover a little more of "Non-Stop" but we finally make it out of that track and all the way over to "The Room Where It Happened".
But let's start with Hamilton's first day as Secretary of Treasury, where Hamilton "installed an elegant mahogany desk with caryatids - female figures - carved into its spindly legs. A.Ham, you rake, you.
Hamilton does what he does, meaning he writes a TON, gets into the nitty-gritty of his job, to the point that he wanted to know all the details of his port wardens' lighthouses and buoys and made sure customs collectors sent him ship manifests so he knew exactly how much was coming in. He didn't take on the role of Secretary Treasury alone. As a matter of fact, he started his position pissing off his fellow Cabinet members by amassing a HUGE workforce under him. I assume he needed some help getting through all of those ship manifests. Oh, and he also did the job of Secretary of State, since Jefferson was taking his time coming back to the States and accepting the position.
That doesn't mean it was a BAD plan. Daniel Webster later talked about the plan and said:
The fabled birth of Minerva from the brain of Jove was hardly more sudden or more perfect than the financial system of the United States as it burst forth from the conception of Alexander Hamilton.At the time people seemed split on if this was a work of GENIUS or if this was evidence that Hamilton was going to ruin the country and was probably the antichrist (or the "American Mephistopheles"). Because politics has literally always been like that, regardless of anyone talking about getting back to the Good Ol' Days.
Jefferson was especially not a fan of Hamilton's plan since Jefferson believed that they should be an agrarian society, like the simple life he and other Southern plantation owners lived, because Chernow gives us a Jefferson who completely lacks self-awareness.
Jefferson fancied himself a mere child of nature, simple, unaffected man, rather than what he really was: a grandee, gourmet, a hedonist, and a clever, ambitious politician.
Strangely enough for a large slaveholder, [Jefferson] thought that agriculture was egalitarian while manufacturing would produce a class-conscious society.
On thing I did not realize was Angelica's influence during the time. Jefferson and Angelica knew each other in Paris through Jefferson's 26-year old girlfriend Maria Cosway. Jefferson and Angelica flirted, with him even inviting her to Monticello or they could even take a trip to Niagara Falls. But given the animosity between Jefferson and Hamilton, Angelica had to chose and eventually she drifted away from Thomas.
Chernow starts to set the stage for Hamilton's later affair with Maria Reynolds. Or I guess continues to set the stage, since he had that comment about how he probably cheated cos Eliza was so busy RAISING THEIR FAMILY and I'm proud that we all called that out in the last post. Come on, Chernow.
Maria Reynolds comes off as sort of a crazy chick with wild mood swings and who had terrible grammar. She may have been afraid of her husband and looked to Hamilton for help. She may have played Hamilton from the beginning with the damsel in distress bit. Whatever the case, Hamilton paid the Reynolds to not tell anyone about the affair and tried to convince Eliza to extend her trip to Albany and ugh, Hamilton, I'm not a fan of yours right now.
I remember I wanted to talk about the Whiskey Rebellion but I can't find where in the chapters it is, but I kept thinking of Musical Jefferson's line
Look, when Britain taxed our tea, we got friskyImagine what gon’ happen when you try to tax our whiskeyOh Hamilton, why didn't you listen? This section doesn't go too into detail about what happened with the Whisky Rebellion but Stuff You Missed in History Class has got you covered.
Even though I was talking about how we're just over halfway done, I still can't imagine what we're going to get into in the next 300 pages. Till next week.
Title quote from page 324
Chernow, Ron. Alexander Hamilton. Penguin, 2004.