He was one of America’s most influential early statesmen and the nation’s first Secretary of the Treasury. I’m talking about Alexander Hamilton. If you see him today, wish him happy birthday. He is 260 years old today.
Hamilton was quite a fellow. In 1787, as a New York delegate to the Constitutional Convention, he pushed for a strong central government, an idea to which he was committed throughout his life. As co-author of The Federalist Papers, along with James Madison and John Jay, Hamilton was the most staunch supporter of a republican form of government. The Federalist Papers ran in newspapers for over a year, when the states, still governed by the Articles of Confederation, were debating whether to ratify the proposed document.
On July 11, 1804, Hamilton was fatally wounded in a duel with former vice president Aaron Burr after a long and bitter feud. Three years earlier, Hamilton’s son Philip, had met the same fate on the very same hill in Weehawken, New Jersey.
Next week, we inaugurate our 45th president, arguably the most controversial man to ever fill this highest office. The 2016 election has brought a level of incivility like most of us have never seen. But as we look back, we can see we really have come a long way.
Whether you ascribe to the theory that America needs to be great again, or we already are, we can all agree we have come a long way. I can’t remember the last time a vice president killed a member of the president’s cabinet with a sword.