Thursday, February 18, 2016

HamAlong Post VII: Hamilton found it hard to refrain from vendettas

I know there's been a lot of Hamilton around here lately and, well, I'd apologize for that, but that's just ridiculous. Anyway, here's another #HamAlong post!
This week we cover off on chapters 32-38, which covers tracks "The Adams Administration" (we get more Adams anger, as well as Hamilton's open letter), hopping back to a bit more of "Non-Stop", jumping over to "The Election of 1800" and then backing up to "Blow Us All Away". Lin-Manuel took a lot of liberties with the timeline in the second half of the play.

Thank you Alice for organizing this and your Adams' love. Now, let's dive right in.

We're still in the midst of Adams' Administration and things are possibly getting even more tense between the surly president and the volatile Hamilton. Chernow says "During this melancholy time, the founding fathers appeared as all-too-fallible mortals" except, dude, where have you BEEN these last 400 pages? It is clear that the founding fathers were actually small children throwing temper tantrums and the fact that we managed to get anything done is a miracle. These men may have been geniuses, but don't worry, it was QUITE clear how fallible these guys were.
What someone should have done to the FFs
Given that Adams and Hamilton are on the same team, you'd think things would get better but they really need a common enemy and the Republicans realize this and are happy to sit back and watch the party implode. Except they are going to go out in a spectacular fashion. And by that I mean the Federalists are going to enact some truly terrible acts, including the Alien and Sedition Acts.

In between terrible, paranoid acts and building an army (only to disband it) Hamilton and Adams fought and fought and fought.
Hamilton was congenitally incapable of compromise. Rather than make peace with John Adams, he was ready, if necessary, to blow up the Federalist party and let Jefferson become president.
Hamilton decided "The Reynolds Pamphlet" was only the beginning of him writing terrible things in public that are going to destroy him. Reynolds certainly couldn't have helped him personally and now it's time to destroy himself, career-wise. Or as Chernow says.
[Hamilton] would be devoured by dislike of someone, brood about it, then yield to the catharsis of discharging his venom in print.
So Hamilton let's loose an open letter to Adams about how terrible he is. There actually was a song originally written about this for the play but they decided to cut it. Which is ridiculous because I love it and may have spent my long weekend memorizing the lyrics because I have a problem. Would you like to watch? Of course.

Through this section and the last, Chernow keeps talking about how he can't believe Hamilton made all these horrible choices and, listen, at some point you're going to have to realize that as awesome as Hamilton was in some aspects, he was an idiot in others. Like, a lot of others. Like the whole vendetta thing. And refusing to compromise. And writing down like every damn thought and publishing it for everyone to see. ("For a man of Hamilton's incomparable intellect, the pamphlet was a crazily botched job, an extended tantrum in print.") I wonder if things would have been better or worse if Laurens had lived and was right there with Hamilton.

This brings us to the Election of 1800 which was quite different from from the song. Also I was watching Drunk History, which just so HAPPENED to also include a section about this election, though focused on Adams and Jefferson and I get why Chernow didn't go into this (since Hamilton isn't mentioned at all) but like, this sounds hilarious and I was hoping there was something about it. Especially all the weird lies they were telling about each other in the press. Oh, would you like to watch that video too? Yes, good idea.

Jefferson gets elected and Hamilton does tell the delegates they should make sure Burr does not get made president but no one was asking for Hamilton's opinion. Which makes sense cos think about, when has anyone ever needed to solicit Hamilton's opinion from him. You're getting it, whether you like it or not. There's no mention of Burr being especially peeved about this move (and no duel yet) but Jefferson sure doesn't like the guy and does everything he can to keep the guy out of the Room Where It Happens
Do not piss off Tommy J.

At this point Hamilton is completely out of power, cos of said rap/pamphlet above, so he decides to move uptown and build himself a little house and garden. He asks friends for advice on gardening and of course can't help but make a comment about Jefferson
In this new situation, for which I am as little fitted as Jefferson [is] to guide the help of the U[nited] States, I come to you as an adept in rural science for instruction.
Can't stop, can ya, buddy?

Of course the feeling was mutual. As president, Jefferson tasked his new secretary of treasury to see where he could dismantle Hamilton's financial system. The guy tried, and also hated Hamilton so really wanted to take this thing apart, but couldn't. When asked what sort of fraud he was able to uncover, Gallatin answered
I have found the most perfect system ever formed. Any change that should be made it in would injure it. Hamilton made no blunders, committed no frauds. He did nothing wrong. 
When Madison later did allow the bank's charter to expire he almost broke America and ended up setting up a Second Bank of the United States, which prompted critics to say that he "out-Hamiltons Alexander Hamilton".

The section ends with Philip Hamilton and lest you thought the comment about how hot he was ("God, you're a fox!") was an exaggeration, take a gander at this:
Yeah, that's what I thought.

But he was just as rash as he father and equally bad at dueling. The Hamilton's didn't just lose their oldest son (who they replaced with the newest child, as Eliza was pregnant when Philip was killed. They named the new kid Philip as well and that seems like you're just setting your kid up for a complex) but also their daughter Angelica. She was still around and lived to her 70s, but she was very close to Philip and when he was killed something in her broke. She had a complete mental breakdown and had to be cared for for the rest of her life, often imagining Philip was still alive.
So on THAT depressing note, we end here. The end is near, both for this book and for Hamilton,  so that's sad (kinda) on both fronts. Till next week.