Friday, February 12, 2016

HamAlong Post VI: Hamilton would fight the whole party one by one

A day late but worth the wait (maybe, or not cos I'm pretty sure I'm still sleep deprived so who knows how this will actually turn out) here we are with post IV of our Hamalong covering chapters 27-31. On the tracks side, we're doubling back to cover "Washington On Your Side" through "The Adams Administration" and hopping over to "The Reynolds Pamphlet" (or maybe Burn*).
Thank you Alice for hosting this readalong, and all of your Adams' love. We need a counterpart to Chernow's HamFic.
After Alexander Hamilton left the Treasury Department, he lost the strong, restraining hand of George Washington and the invaluable sense of tact and proportion that went with it.
This section seems to be when Hamilton fights everyone. Everyone. 
Washington is all of Hamilton's impulse control.

Normally Hamilton focused his fighting spirit on Jefferson, but now he's hitting everyone over a trade treaty with England. First Hamilton tried to duel a guy Nicholson who claimed Hamilton tried to get out of an earlier duel. Then he declared "he would fight the whole party one by one" when debates started to get heated. Then he was going to do duel Maturin Livingston. Even Chernow can't believe this.
This was truly amazing behavior: Hamilton was prepared to descend into outright fisticuffs in the streets with his opponents, as if he were a common ruffian.
It cracks me up that young Hamilton did not seem to want to physically fight people nearly as often as getting-to-middle-aged Hamilton did. He didn't end up dueling Nicholson having getting him to sign an apology, and then he got Livingston to deny casting any "aspersions on his manhood or accuse him of cowardice." So Hamilton is basically Marty McFly.
Sit down, Marty
When he's not busy fighting people in the street, he's fighting John Adams, who is a member of the same party so you'd think there would at least be some common ground. Everything Hamilton did seemed to piss off Adams. He tried to make sure Jefferson wouldn't get elected and Adams saw this as taking votes away from him. Adams kept most of Washington's cabinet, who Hamilton was chummy with and they would solicit advice from him. Hamilton also provided a lot of advice to Adams, on the assumption that everyone always wants to hear what he has to say.
They do not, especially if they are curmudgeons like Adams who does NOT appreciate being told what to do.

Most of my knowledge of Adams comes from Chernow and I understand this is tainted and I should probably read something about Adams cos man, he comes off as a real ass here, at least where it comes to Hamilton. He called him, among other things, conceited, with morals like Franklin, engaging in incest (a lot of people seemed to think he was sleeping with Angelica which, I mean, I'm not saying they WERE but I understand the rumors), said he fobbed work off on others, that he was constantly on drugs, and really focused on the fact that Hamilton was not born in the states and was a bastard (Creole bastard, specifically). All of that would be one thing but then he also said shit like "I never wrote a line of slander against my bitterest enemy...nor encouraged it in any other."
Own your dickish behavior, sir.

While he's fighting with everyone, his affair with Maria Reynolds comes to light again. There were rumors that the money paid was hush money for an affair but in general people believed it was for speculation.
Hamilton could not have been stupid enough to pay hush money for sex, Callender alleged, so the money paid to James Reynolds had to involve illicit speculation. In fairness to Callender, it is baffling that Hamilton submitted to blackmail for so long.
Do not underestimate how stupid Hamilton could be. At least his Reynolds Pamphlet made slightly more sense since there was word that someone was going to start publishing a bunch of stuff about Hamilton engaging in speculation and other stuff Hamilton could not abide.
Once Callender's chargers were published, Hamilton faced an agonizing predicament: should he ignore the accusations as beneath his dignity or openly rebut them?
Several of Hamilton's friends recommended he stay silent. Because that is obviously the right answer. Except I think Hamilton is physically incapable of remaining silent. So what does he do?
Deaf to such advice, Hamilton decided to respond at length.
Because of course.

After that there's a bunch about Adams botching things, the US almost going to war with France cos of a failed ambassador field trip, Washington agreeing to come back to command troops if (and only if) Hamilton could be his second, which Adams was NOT having, while Hamilton spent a lot of time concerned with the outfits the soldiers would wear. Politics is weird, you guys.

And there we have it. I'm afraid for the next chapters cos just all the sad stuff is coming up and NO I DON'T WANT IT. Seriously, everyone just stop dueling. It's so stupid.

Till next week!

*I'm not sure if "Burn" should be included here or not, considering the whole point of "Burn" is Eliza taking her out of the narrative, which makes it difficult for her to be in this narrative.