T.R. on Hamilton

President Theodore Roosevelt is an iconic figure in American history.  The 26th President of the United States was also a noted soldier, environmentalist, and historian.  Roosevelt wrote a history of New York entitled New York: A Sketch of the City’s Social, Political, and Commercial Progress from the First Dutch Settlement to Recent Times.

Roosevelt described New York’s emergence as the “Federalist City” and Hamilton’s role in this:

“It was during this period of the foundation of the Federal government, and during the immediately succeeding period of the supremacy of the Federalists in national affairs that New York City played its greatest and most honorable part in the government of the nation. Never before or since has it occupied so high a position politically, compared to the country at large; for during these years it was the seat of power of the brilliant Federalist party of New York State. Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and at the end of the time Gouverneur Morris, lived in the city, or so near it as to have practically the weight and influence of citizens; and it was the home likewise of their arch-foe Aaron Burr, the prototype of the skilful, unscrupulous ward-politician, so conspicuous in the later periods of the city’s development.

Hamilton, the most brilliant American statesman who ever lived, possessing the loftiest and keenest intellect of his time, was of course easily the foremost champion in the ranks of the New York Federalists; second to him came Jay, pure, strong and healthy in heart, body, and mind. Both of them watched with uneasy alarm the rapid drift toward anarchy; and both put forth all their efforts to stem the tide. They were of course too great men to fall in with the views of those whose antagonism to tyranny made them averse from order. They had little sympathy with the violent prejudices produced by the war. In particular they abhorred the vindictive laws directed against the persons and property of Tories; and they had the manliness to come forward as the defenders of the helpless and excessively unpopular Loyalists. They put a stop to the wrongs which were being inflicted on these men, and finally succeeded in having them restored to legal equality with other citizens, standing up with generous fearlessness against the clamor of the mob.”

Roosevelt also described how Hamilton and New York complemented each other:

 Hamilton and Jay were the heart of the Federalist party in the city and State. Both were typical New Yorkers of their time,—being of course the very highest examples of the type, for they were men of singularly noble and lofty character. Both were of mixed and non-English blood, Jay being of Huguenot and Hollander stock, and Hamilton of Scotch and French creole. Hamilton, born out of New York, was in some ways a more characteristic New Yorker than Jay; for New York, like the French Revolution, has always been pre-eminently a career open to talent. The distinguishing feature of the city has been its broad liberality; it throws the doors of every career wide open to all adopted citizens.

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