Hamil-Swag: Office Supplies for Your Favorite Hamiltonian

This morning, I got into the office, looked at my desk, and realized how many awesome Hamilton accessories I have in my office.I’m sharing reviews of my three favorite Hamilton accessories since the holidays are coming up!  [Note: I am not getting advertising revenue for these reviews and all pictures are from my personal collection.]

1) Hamilton History Cube– Nifty picture cube featuring nine images from the New York Historical Society.  Great to play with on your desk.  Comes in a gift box.  Warning- the pictures will wear out if you play with the cube constantly.  I’m currently on my second one and I bought both from the Trinity Church gift shop.  {Available online from the NY Historical Society and sold at the Trinity Church Gift Shop}

              

2) Hamilton Bobblehead– My bobblehead is by far the coolest thing in my office.   Royal Bobbles has done a brilliant job with the detail on Hamilton’s face and clothes.  At under $20, I thought this was a steal.   However, Hamilton’s walking stick slipped out of his hands after a few months and I had to superglue part of his wig back together.   {Available from the History Channel and Amazon}

3) Mini-Hamilton Bust– This 6-inch bust works as a great paperweight or just a guard for your desk.  The detail on the face is pretty neat.  When I bought it, I expected it to be bigger, and at almost $30 it is a bit expensive for the size.  {available from Amazon}

Hamilton, Croswell, and the Liberty of the Press

Gawker reported on Saturday that a journalism student at SUNY Oswego was suspended for asking questions as part of a class assignment to profile a public figure.  The student, Alex Myers, chose to profile hockey coach Ed Gosek.  As part of his research, he sent emails to rival coaches asking them for their perspective on Gosek.  Myers concluded his email by stating: “Be as forthcoming as you like, what you say about Mr Gosek does not have to be positive.”  The school charged him with dishonesty and with “disruptive behavior.”  Although Myers was spared a suspension, he was ordered to write letters of apology to Gosek and the coaches he contacted.  This instance is one of many in which citizens and journalists have been penalized for asking questions and trying to seek out the truth.  Prosecutors across the country have tried to charge people with wiretapping for videotaping police conduct.  While some courts and the Department of Justice have suggested that the First Amendment protects such conduct, prosecutions continue.

Mr. Myers’ story reminded me of Alexander Hamilton’s role in the 1803 case People v. Croswell, 3 Johns. Cas. 337 N.Y. 1804.  The defendant, Harry Croswell, was indicted for “being a malicious and seditious man, of a depraved mind and wicked and diabolical disposition, and also deceitfully, wickedly, and maliciously devising, contriving and intending, Thomas Jefferson, Esq., President of the United States of America, to detract from, scandalize, traduce, vilify” him.  Croswell was the editor of The Wasp, a Federalist publication, and accused Thomas Jefferson of paying people to make accusations against Washington, Adams, and other Federalists.  Croswell was convicted by the lower court and asked Hamilton to represent him on the appeal.  Hamilton threw himself into the case, culminating with a 6 hour oration to a standing room only.  In his argument, Hamilton stated that “the liberty of the press consists in the right to publish, with impunity, truth, with good motives, and for justifiable ends, whether it respects government, magistracy, or individuals.”  Despite Hamilton’s efforts, the court upheld the tradition, and Hamilton was bitterly disappointed.  He died the next year, before he got the chance to see the New York Legislature pass a law essentially codifying his argument and granting immunity for truthful speech. 

Throughout his life, Hamilton had an intimate and often complex relationship with liberty of the press.  In Federalist 84, Hamilton stated:

“On the subject of the liberty of the press, as much has been said, I cannot forbear adding a remark or two: In the first place, I observe that there is not a syllable concerning it in the constitution of this state, and in the next, I contend that whatever has been said about it in that of any other state, amounts to nothing. What signifies a declaration that “the liberty of the press shall be inviolably preserved?” What is the liberty of the press? Who can give it any definition which would not leave the utmost latitude for evasion? I hold it to be impracticable; and from this, I infer, that its security, whatever fine declarations may be inserted in any constitution respecting it, must altogether depend on public opinion, and on the general spirit of the people and of the government.”

Hamilton used newspapers as his primary means of public persuasion and published both the Federalist Papers and his arguments in support of the Revolution as newspaper pieces.  Hamilton also founded the New York Post in 1801 with a group of investors.  However, Hamilton was also the subject of brutally negative press coverage by Republican newspapers.  After his public confession of his affair with Maria Reynolds, Hamilton was the subject of persistent embarrassing coverage.  During the Adams administration, Hamilton also supported the Alien and Sedition Acts, and David Frothingham (printer for a Republican publication) was charged and convicted of criminal libel against Hamilton for making comments about his alleged corruption as Secretary of the Treasury.  Despite the complications of this relationship, the position Hamilton argued in Croswell was consistent throughout his life.  He believed that journalists should be free to find and publish truth.  Perhaps the journalism program at SUNY Oswego could learn from Hamilton’s example.

For a detailed overview of the Croswell case, see Morris Forkosch’s 1965 law review article “Freedom of the Press: Croswell’s Case.”

Trinity Church A Must-See Cemetery

Huffington Post Canada has included Trinity Church, the site of Alexander Hamilton’s gravesite, on its list of five must-see cemeteries around the world.

The article states: “Trinity Church and St. Paul’s Chapel, New York  A modest little green space in Lower Manhattan, this cemetery is best known for one tremendously significant resident: Alexander Hamilton, a founding father of the United States, the nation’s first secretary of state and a Revolutionary War hero. Hamilton isn’t buried in Arlington National Cemetery or on a palatial estate, however. He was shot and killed in a duel with Aaron Burr in 1804 and now rests across the street from a discount shoe store. Hamilton’s rise and fall is a significant part of early American history and you will learn more about it with a visit to this historic church. Trinity Church’s St. Paul’s Chapel, located five blocks north of Hamilton’s gravesite, played a significant role in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and is home to a memorial honouring the victims and emergency response crews. The chapel survived that catastrophic event and the 1776 fire that swept through the city.”

Other cemeteries included on the list include Novodevichy Cemetery in Moscow, La Recoleta in Buenos Aires, Père Lachaise in Paris, and St. Louis Cemetery in New Orleans.

Welcome!

Welcome to It’s Hamiltime! Watch this space for a variety of Alexander Hamilton-related content including news, interviews, pop culture analysis, and book reviews.

Hamilton Statue in Weehawken

Why Hamilton?
Alexander Hamilton died in 1804, over 200 years ago. Why should we care about him today?

Unpopular in his own time and often ignored by scholars in the modern narrative of the Revolution and Founding, Hamilton was the embodiment of the American Dream and a study in contradictions. Hamilton was a master political strategist who never understood the art of popularity; the architect of the modern American economy who died in debt; a man of both immense bouts of energy and unparalleled productivity and crippling physical frailty; and a proponent of self-interest who paved the way for a system of political idealism.

Hamilton’s many roles included:
1) Revolutionary orator
2) Washington’s long-time Military aide
3) Economic mastermind
4) Champion of the Constitution