Another update from the Jungle….
Alexander Hamilton is big news these days thanks to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway musical. Miranda’s musical is an excellent introduction to a key member of the dream team that created our country. As July 4th approaches, it’s a good time to reflect on the dream team and on Hamilton.
Hamilton epitomizes so much of what it means to be an American. He was an immigrant who spoke several languages. He arrived in New York with no money and no family or friends, but plenty of ambition. He worked odd jobs while obtaining a college degree from what is now Columbia University and eventually became a successful lawyer in New York City.
Hamilton is the only truly self-made man among the founders of the U.S. The other founders including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, James Madison, and John Jay were all from established families in the upper social tier of society.
These men (women were excluded) were the ultimate dream team, at least in hindsight. In real life, Hamilton was impetuous and impatient with people he thought mentally slower than himself. Adams was perpetually offended by anyone who disagreed with him. Jefferson rarely confronted anyone but egged on others to do the partisan sniping for him.
They held wildly different ideas about the type of government they wanted to create. They fought bitterly over state’s rights versus federal power and personal liberties versus state security. Rising above the often vicious disagreements was George Washington. He kept the team focused on their ultimate goal: to create a strong country that could take its place among other nations.
They were a dream team because after all the disagreements they compromised, creating checks and balances to distribute power between the federal and state governments and to protect the rights of citizens from governmental intrusion. Today we still fight bitterly over these same issues. But thanks to the original dream team, we have a political framework, the Constitution, which allows us to disagree without ripping our country apart.
As you celebrate July 4th salute the dream team that created the U.S.
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