4 Things You Didn’t Know About Alexander Hamilton

 

405px-Alexander_Hamilton_portrait_by_John_Trumbull_1806As you’ve likely heard — including on our own Member Feed — the Department of the Treasury is planning to replace the portrait of Alexander Hamilton on the $10 bill, very likely with Harriet Tubman’s. All due respect to Mrs. Tubman — who deserves it greatly — but this is an incredible travesty. For all his many faults, Hamilton is one of the most extraordinary members of one of the most extraordinary generations in world history — and a handsome devil at that.

It’s difficult to decide which is more amazing: that Hamilton accomplished so much during his 51 years of life, or that he managed to make it that long before getting himself killed. While many of the incidents of his life are extremely well known — his work as Washington’s aide and spymaster, his contributions to the Constitution, the Federalist Papers, his remarkable and controversial tenure at Treasury, his affair with Maria Reynolds, his battles with Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr — his life also has a lot of chapters that are more obscure. Here are four of them:

Opposition to Slavery

Of the Six Big Founders, only Hamilton was consistently opposed to slavery. Having grown up in the Caribbean, he’d seen its darkest side — sugar plantations that were about one step removed from death camps — and also had dealings with freed blacks and mulattoes. The experience appeared to have never left him. Throughout his career, he made various public compromises regarding slavery, but then redoubled his private efforts against the institution. Unlike Jefferson, who sometimes expressed a guilty conscience on the matter, Hamilton actually took action.

In 1779, he and his friend John Laurens petitioned George Washington for permission to form a regiment of emancipated slaves, which Washington turned down. In 1785, he cofounded the New York Manumission Society, a moderate abolitionist movement that held anti-slavery lectures and successfully lobbied for legislation making emancipation easier (they unsuccessfully pushed for a sunsetting of slavery within the state).

In his later years, Hamilton and his wife, Elizabeth, founded a trade school for freed blacks. It’s also likely that his efforts contributed to Washington’s nearly unprecedented decision to free his slaves upon his death (actually Martha’s, according to his will, but she freed most of them earlier) and set up an endowment for them.

Was Present at Benedict Arnold’s Betrayal (And Was Totally Duped by Mrs. Arnold)

Benedict Arnold’s plan had been to surrender West Point while Washington was staying there, giving the British not only a strategic fort, but also the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army. Unfortunately for Arnold, his British contact was captured (with the fort’s plans in his shoe) just before Washington arrived, and Arnold only learned of that fact while breakfasting with Washington’s aides, Hamilton and James McHenry. Believing he would soon be arrested, Arnold excused himself, went upstairs to see his wife — who had likely pushed her husband into being a turncoat — and slipped out the window.

It wasn’t until later that morning that Washington and Hamilton connected the dots and realized that Arnold was behind the whole thing. Running upstairs, they found a (seemingly) hysterical Peggy Arnold who put on a very convincing show for them that stalled them for time. As Hamilton wrote to Elizabeth, then his fiancee:

It was the most affecting scene I ever was witness to…The General went up to see her, and she upbraided him for being in a plot to murder her child. One moment she raved, another she melted into tears. Sometimes she pressed her infant to her bosom, and lamented its fate, occasioned by the imprudence of its father, in a manner that would have pierced insensibility itself. All the sweetness of beauty, all the tenderness of a wife, and all the fondness of a mother showed themselves in her appearance and conduct…

Could I forgive Arnold for sacrificing his honor, reputation, and duty I could not forgive him for acting a part that must have forfeited the esteem of so fine a woman. At present she almost forgets his crime in his misfortune, and her horror at the guilt of the traitor is lost in her love of the man. But a virtuous mind cannot long esteem a base one, and time will make her despise, if it cannot make her hate.

I’d wager that Elizabeth and her sisters saw through the charade before finishing Hamilton’s letter with much rolling of eyes.

Peggy subsequently had a good laugh over the matter with her friend, Theodosia Prevost, the wife of a loyalist officer and the future Mrs. Aaron Burr.

Nearly Got Into A Duel With James Monroe

In 1792, James Reynolds — husband and sometime pimp of Maria, the woman with whom Hamilton had an affair — was arrested on suspicion of pension fraud. While in jail, he made dramatic insinuations that he could “make disclosures injurious to the character of some head of a department” — i.e., Hamilton — which he implied he would be willing to share in exchange for his release. Reynolds’ accomplice, Jacob Clingman, was able to get the attention of House Speaker Frederick Muhlenberg (whom he once clerked for) after showing him letters between Hamilton and Reynolds.

Feeling it his duty to investigate, Muhlenberg gathered Rep. Abraham Venerable and Sen. James Monroe and went to speak with Hamilton. The secretary was initially rude to them, but his demeanor changed when they produced documents between him and Reynolds. Hamilton become quiet and agreed to meet them later that evening. After categorically denying the corruption, Hamilton amazed them by confessing his affair with Mrs. Reynolds, producing document after document proving both Maria’s infatuation with him and Reynolds’ subsequent blackmailing. An embarrassed Muhlenberg tried to stop the performance, saying the matter was a private issue and closed so far as he was concerned, but Hamilton continued and insisted that the speaker and the others take the letters and documents to review later.

Monroe took them and likely gave them to House clerk John Beckley, a fellow Jefferson partisan. Within 48 hours of Hamilton’s interview with the legislators in Philadelphia, Thomas Jefferson not only knew about the matter, but had recorded it in his journal.

A little over two years later, after the affair went public in James Callender’s History of the United States, Hamilton knew someone had betrayed the gentlemen’s confidence he had received from the legislators. Soon realizing that it must have been Monroe — the only of the three to decline to respond to Hamilton’s letters, despite boarding just down the street from Hamilton’s house — a furious Hamilton stormed over to see Monroe, who played it cool and calm but denied leaking the documents. Then this happened:

Hamilton: Your representation [of this matter] is totally false.

[Both jumped to their feet.]

Monroe: You say I represented falsely; you are a scoundrel.

Hamilton: I will meet you like a gentleman.

Monroe: I am ready. Get your pistols.

Fortunately, their friends pulled them apart before the two came to blows and each selected a second to represent him in the ensuing affair of honor. Fortunately — and as usually happened in these things — cooler heads prevailed, mostly due to the efforts of Monroe’s second: none other than Senator Aaron Burr, who even went so far as to refuse to deliver some of Monroe’s more incendiary letters. The business permanently ruined Burr’s estimation of Monroe, with whom he’d been very friendly before.

Got Along With Burr Pretty Well For Most of Their Lives

Burr and Hamilton likely met in 1774, shortly after Burr graduated from the College of New Jersey (now Princeton) and while Hamilton was studying at its preparatory academy. Amazingly, their connection goes back even further: Hamilton’s tutor on St. Croix had studied under Burr’s father — Rev. Aaron Burr, Sr. — and it’s likely that Hamilton was familiar with the name before he ever set foot on American soil. During the war, they likely encountered each other again during the Battle of New York, and briefly served together on Washington’s staff.

Over the next 20 years, they were often in court together– usually, though not always, on opposite sides — and active in various New York charities and civic organizations. Though hardly allies, neither would have considered the other his enemy. During the Quasi-War, Hamilton enthusiastically recommended Burr for a commission as a brigadier general, through Washington turned him down. In the spring of 1800, they served as co-counsel on a salacious murder trial — they won — while also running their respective parties’ campaigns for state legislature (the members of which would subsequently elect the state’s electoral college electors).

Generally, Hamilton liked Burr fine, so long as the latter knew his place (i.e., beneath Hamilton) and often recommended him for office and promotion. But whenever he felt that Burr might eclipse him, Hamilton began feeling qualms about Burr’s ethics and morals, many of them justified — but also rather opportunistic.

It was only after the election of 1800 that they became permanent foes.

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  1. Tommy De Seno Contributor
    Tommy De Seno
    @TommyDeSeno

    New Jersey’s most famous murder victim.

    While Hamilton was “more correct” than Jefferson about America heading toward more federal power and power being associated with the less agrarian parts of the nation, I’d say today that we’ve gone so far in those directions that he was “regrettably correct.”

    So now we play identity politics with our currency. Respect the nation’s founding mothers!

    After that we will need a Muslim, complete with revisionist history about how much that group was woven into the fabric of America.

    Dare I suggest we put Caitlyn on the $2 bill?

    • #1
  2. Knotwise the Poet Member
    Knotwise the Poet
    @KnotwisethePoet

    I thought the movement was to replace Andrew Jackson on the $20. But Hamilton!? Heck, no! He was one of the most important Founding Fathers and regardless of his flaws his life was an incredible rags to riches story. Heck, there’s even a hip hop musical about him:

    • #2
  3. J Flei Inactive
    J Flei
    @Solon

    Betcha if someone ‘discovered’ Hamilton was a tranny, they’d keep him on that $10 bill.

    • #3
  4. Knotwise the Poet Member
    Knotwise the Poet
    @KnotwisethePoet

    Solon JFlei:Betcha if someone ‘discovered’ Hamilton was a tranny, they’d keep him on that $10 bill.

    Be a pain for the all the textbook publishers and history authors to have to recall their books so they could fix those “he” pronouns.

    • #4
  5. Ricochet Moderator
    Ricochet
    @OmegaPaladin

    I’d toss Jackson long before Hamilton. Jackson was best described in non-CoC compliant terms, but Hamilton was a stand-up guy for the most part.

    • #5
  6. Julia PA Member
    Julia PA
    @JulesPA

    Tom Meyer, Ed.: Opposition to Slavery Of the Six Big Founders, only Hamilton was consistently opposed to slavery. Having grown up in the Caribbean, he’d seen its darkest side — sugar plantations that were about one step removed from death camps — and also had dealings with freed blacks and mulattoes. The experience appeared to have never left him. Throughout his career, he made various public compromises regarding slavery, but then redoubled his private efforts against the institution. Unlike Jefferson, who sometimes expressed a guilty conscience on the matter, Hamilton actually took action. In 1779, he and his friend John Laurens petitioned George Washington for permission to form a regiment of emancipated slaves, which Washington turned down. In 1785, he cofounded the New York Manumission Society, a moderate abolitionist movement that held anti-slavery lectures and successfully lobbied for legislation making emancipation easier (they unsuccessfully pushed for a sunsetting of slavery within the state). In his later years, Hamilton and his wife, Elizabeth, founded a trade school for freed blacks. It’s also likely that his efforts contributed to Washington’s nearly unprecedented decision to free his slaves upon his death (actually Martha’s, according to his will, but she freed most of them earlier) and set up an endowment for them.

    This chapter of his life alone suggests that maybe Harriet Tubman and Alexander Hamilton might better share the space on the $10 bill.

    • #6
  7. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    Tom Meyer, Ed.: As you’ve likely heard — including on our own Member Feed — the Department of the Treasury is planning to replace the portrait of Alexander Hamilton on the $10 bill, very likely with Harriet Tubman’s. All due respect to Mrs. Tubman — who deserves it greatly — but this is an incredible travesty.

    I’m still half-suspicious that this is deliberately intended to infuriate conservatives. We weren’t reacting strongly enough to the idea of replacing Jackson. Some of us even thought replacing him with Tubman was a good idea. Wasn’t fitting into the narrative. So let’s dump Hamilton — that will get the conservatives to oppose putting a woman on the currency. Score!

    The most strategic answer would be a good round of Jackson-bashing.

    • #7
  8. user_339092 Member
    user_339092
    @PaulDougherty

    I wager this is a ruse. The administration has no intention of changing the ten, rather they will change the twenty after feigned relenting to conservative hysteria. They are trolling us, I say.

    • #8
  9. user_339092 Member
    user_339092
    @PaulDougherty

    Leigh:

    Tom Meyer, Ed.: As you’ve likely heard — including on our own Member Feed — the Department of the Treasury is planning to replace the portrait of Alexander Hamilton on the $10 bill, very likely with Harriet Tubman’s. All due respect to Mrs. Tubman — who deserves it greatly — but this is an incredible travesty.

    I’m still half-suspicious that this is deliberately intended to infuriate conservatives. We weren’t reacting strongly enough to the idea of replacing Jackson. Some of us even thought replacing him with Tubman was a good idea. Wasn’t fitting into the narrative. So let’s dump Hamilton — that will get the conservatives to oppose putting a woman on the currency. Score!

    The most strategic answer would be a good round of Jackson-bashing.

    My apologies for not reading this before posting myself. I believe you are correct.

    • #9
  10. Crow's Nest Inactive
    Crow's Nest
    @CrowsNest

    Appears Remy will need to do a follow-up to this:

    • #10
  11. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @ArizonaPatriot

    Tommy De Seno:Dare I suggest we put Caitlyn on the $2 bill?

    No, on the $3 bill.

    • #11
  12. user_259843 Inactive
    user_259843
    @JefferyShepherd

    Hamilton is the most important founder of the constitutional era save the original W – i would keep him to allow the youth of america to wonder (and some might actually go find out) who he was and what he did. I would toss AJ or at least make him share his bill with a whole bunch of folks including Tub, MLK, chief joseph, Edison, Edward Teller, Souza and on and on – basically use it to celebrate the great peoples of american history.

    • #12
  13. EThompson Inactive
    EThompson
    @EThompson

    Knotwise the Poet:I thought the movement was to replace Andrew Jackson on the $20. But Hamilton!? Heck, no! He was one of the most important Founding Fathers and regardless of his flaws his life was an incredible rags to riches story. Heck, there’s even a hip hop musical about him:

    Yeah, I think I heard about A Rap Song I Could Grow to Like.

    • #13
  14. Jubal Member
    Jubal
    @

    I still think that Grant is the one who deserves replacement. He was a good General, but a poor President, and even among military leaders, Eisenhower, John Paul Jones, Nimitz, and MacArthur, among others, all are more deserving.

    #ChuckYeageronthe50 #Reaganonthedime

    • #14
  15. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Tom Meyer, Ed.: It was only after the election of 1800 that they became permanent foes.

    I feel like the first of the three times that Hamilton successfully worked to stop Burr from achieving office (kicking him out of the Senate in 1797, out of the White House in 1801, and out of the New York Governor’s mansion in 1804) was before 1800. A lot of people date it further back to when Burr took Hamilton’s Father in Law’s Senate seat in 1791, but I agree that the “permanent” part of the sentence covers that, and Hamilton’s opposition in the 1796 general election was clearly superfluous. After 1797, though, I think that they’re pretty generally opposed.

    • #15
  16. Tom Meyer Contributor
    Tom Meyer
    @tommeyer

    James Of England:

    I feel like the first of the three times that Hamilton successfully worked to stop Burr from achieving office (kicking him out of the Senate in 1797, out of the White House in 1801, and out of the New York Governor’s mansion in 1804) was before 1800. A lot of people date it further back to when Burr took Hamilton’s Father in Law’s Senate seat in 1791, but I agree that the “permanent” part of the sentence covers that, and Hamilton’s opposition in the 1796 general election was clearly superfluous. After 1797, though, I think that they’re pretty generally opposed.

    There’s a period of growing friction between them between 1797 and 1800, but it’s uneven. As late as 1798, Hamilton was enthusiastically recommending Burr for a brigadier’s commission (over Washington’s objection).

    • #16
  17. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:

    James Of England:

    There’s a period of growing friction between them between 1797 and 1800, but it’s uneven. As late as 1798, Hamilton was enthusiastically recommending Burr for a brigadier’s commission (over Washington’s objection).

    That seems to me more like an ability to work with his enemies (an ability Hamilton had in spades) than affection. I imagine there are a fair number of Lindsay Graham loathing Ricochetti who would support a Graham for Defense secretary, because his views on that aren’t obnoxious to them and his obnoxious views would be mostly irrelevant. If, like Hamilton, you want lots of military adventurism, Burr’s seniority is helpful (was there anyone else in America as Hamiltonian as Burr when it came to that topic?), and it would have been a favor that would have allowed Hamilton to have more influence in Democratic Republican politics, a form of influence that Hamilton regularly sought and that was hard to come by for an Alien and Sedition Act supporter and radical partisan to come by.

    • #17
  18. Tom Meyer Contributor
    Tom Meyer
    @tommeyer

    James Of England:

    That seems to me more like an ability to work with his enemies (an ability Hamilton had in spades) than affection…If, like Hamilton, you want lots of military adventurism, Burr’s seniority is helpful (was there anyone else in America as Hamiltonian as Burr when it came to that topic?)…

    I think that’s part of what was going on there and you’re entirely correct that this was a subject where they were most likely to get along. It’s also worth noting that Burr would be serving under Hamilton, which is where Hamilton felt most comfortable having Burr.

    That said, Hamilton does appear to have been personally enthusiastic about the idea and the Monroe business was only in the recent past. Moreover, this was one of those times that Burr was flirting with Federalism and Hamilton thought there was a chance of pulling Burr fully in; if Washington hadn’t deep-sixed the commission, it’s hard to see how Burr would have fallen in with Jefferson in 1800.

    • #18
  19. Scarlet Pimpernel Inactive
    Scarlet Pimpernel
    @ScarletPimpernel

    “Of the Six Big Founders, only Hamilton was consistently opposed to slavery.”

    What does this mean? From the early 1770s, Jefferson worked with George Wythe on anti-slavery cases. On the other hand, he saw the reaction to Wythe and learned not to speak up after that.

    The Adamses opposed slavery throughout their adult lives. John wrote the Massachusetts Constitution containing the provisions that ended slavery in the state. (The state bill of rights was deemed to be incompatible with slavery). And he denounced the practice boldly in the Defence of the Constitutions. He also supported the slave rebellion in Haiti.

    I am not sure about John Jay. Washington changed his mind about the institution sometime in the early 1770s probably, and Franklin in the 1760s. Meanwhile, Madison almost moved North after college to disentangle himself from slavery, but decided to stay in the South. Like Jefferson, he was bankrupt (due to family bills that were not his doing, as I recall) and, therefore, could not free his slaves in his will.

    • #19
  20. Tom Meyer Contributor
    Tom Meyer
    @tommeyer

    Scarlet Pimpernel:“Of the Six Big Founders, only Hamilton was consistently opposed to slavery.”

    What does this mean? From the early 1770s, Jefferson worked with George Wythe on anti-slavery cases. On the other hand, he saw the reaction to Wythe and learned not to speak up after that.

    The Adamses opposed slavery throughout their adult lives. John wrote the Massachusetts Constitution containing the provisions that ended slavery in the state. (The state bill of rights was deemed to be incompatible with slavery). And he denounced the practice boldly in the Defence of the Constitutions. He also supported the slave rebellion in Haiti.

    I am not sure about John Jay. Washington changed his mind about the institution sometime in the early 1770s probably, and Franklin in the 1760s. Meanwhile, Madison almost moved North after college to disentangle himself from slavery, but decided to stay in the South. Like Jefferson, he was bankrupt (due to family bills that were not his doing, as I recall) and, therefore, could not free his slaves in his will.

    I count the Big Six as Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Franklin, and Hamilton.

    • Jefferson deserves credit for his early efforts, though he seems to have lost interest in the subject as he got older.
    • In contrast, Washington improved over time, famously setting up the endowment.
    • Madison — to my knowledge at least — never did anything positive on the matter.
    • Franklin owned slaves in his youth but had a late change of heart.
    • I’ll concede I’m being unfair to Adams but the subject was certainly never a great passion of his. He was playing for the right team, but didn’t really move the ball forward.
    • Jay owned a few slaves, but was also active in the New York Manumission Society.
    • #20
  21. C. U. Douglas Thatcher
    C. U. Douglas
    @CUDouglas

    Tommy De Seno:New Jersey’s most famous murder victim.

    While Hamilton was “more correct” than Jefferson about America heading toward more federal power and power being associated with the less agrarian parts of the nation, I’d say today that we’ve gone so far in those directions that he was “regrettably correct.”

    So now we play identity politics with our currency. Respect the nation’s founding mothers!

    After that we will need a Muslim, complete with revisionist history about how much that group was woven into the fabric of America.

    Dare I suggest we put Caitlyn on the $2 bill?

    Why not put Caitlyn on the $3 bill …

    • #21
  22. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @ArizonaPatriot

    I like the idea of taking Jackson off the $20 and Grant off the $50, and replacing them with several alternatives as suggested by JS in #12 above. There could be a different portrait each year. We have no shortage of great Americans to honor.

    As a general rule, I’d keep it to people who died more than 100 years ago, to minimize the effect of modern politics. MLK and Reagan deserve to be exceptions to this rule. (There’s a good argument that FDR, Ike, and JFK also warrant exceptions, but they already have coins.)

    • #22
  23. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Arizona Patriot:I like the idea of taking Jackson off the $20 and Grant off the $50, and replacing them with several alternatives as suggested by JS in #12 above. There could be a different portrait each year. We have no shortage of great Americans to honor.

    As a general rule, I’d keep it to people who died more than 100 years ago, to minimize the effect of modern politics. MLK and Reagan deserve to be exceptions to this rule. (There’s a good argument that FDR, Ike, and JFK also warrant exceptions, but they already have coins.)

    Call me a radical conservative if you must, but I think there’s a real value to continuity in this. People struggle to conceptualize money, and physical cash is helpful in this. I believe that continuity in the bill design enhances that help. Unless we have some compelling reason to change it (and we do with counterfeiting, so some change is necessary), we should strive towards a Burkean wallet, with those alterations that are required being as minor as can be hoped for.

    • #23
  24. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Tom Meyer, Ed.: Moreover, this was one of those times that Burr was flirting with Federalism and Hamilton thought there was a chance of pulling Burr fully in; if Washington hadn’t deep-sixed the commission, it’s hard to see how Burr would have fallen in with Jefferson in 1800.

    That’s fair. I concede my quibble and endorse your great post wholeheartedly.

    • #24
  25. iWc Coolidge
    iWc
    @iWe

    Here is something you probably did not know:

    While Hamilton’s father James A. Hamilton was definitely Scottish and a non-Jew, sources like the Jewish Virtual Library claim that Hamilton’s mother, Rachel Faucette, was likely Jewish. Her exact background is hard to determine, though. She seems to have been at least part Hugenot, and perhaps of African descent as well. HERE

    What is certain is that Hamilton was a Jewish Day School boy. His mother never divorced her first husband (a probably Jewish man with the surname Lavien), so the Anglican Church saw Hamilton as illegitimate, banning him from its local school. Instead, he studied at a Jewish school (possibly being solo tutored by the headmistress) run out of a synagogue in Charlestown. It was there that he learned Hebrew, and he reportedly recalled to his son years later learning to recite the Ten Commandments.

    Hamilton may not have organized Kabbalat Shabbat at the Constitutional Convention, but he maintained great personal respect for the Jews. His advocacy of immigration included demanding tolerance for Jewish Americans.

    “Progress of the Jews,” he once wrote, “From their earliest history to the present time has been and is entirely out of the ordinary course of human affairs. Is it not then a fair conclusion that the cause also is an extraordinary one – in other words, that it is the effect of some great providential plan?’” And in a court case, he argued, “Why distrust the evidence of the Jews? Discredit them and you destroy the Christian religion.”

    • #25
  26. iWc Coolidge
    iWc
    @iWe

    And here is a site that claims it is not even ambiguous.

    Alexander Hamilton was born “Alexander Levien” in the city of Charlestown, Island of Nevis; the son of a Jewish father and mother named Johann/John Michel Levien (Dutch Ashkenazi) and Rachel Faucett/Fawcett Mendes (Sephardic). Levien and Mendez were married on the Island of St Croix. According to some accounts, Rachel fled Levien for Island of Nevis in search of sanctuary from a brutalizing husband. On Nevis, Rachel shacked up with James A. Hamilton. Rachel, still married to Levien was facing charges of bigamy as a result of her living with James Hamilton; with whom she had a son named ‘James’. James Hamilton abandoned Rachel and the boys (Alexander and James) rather than be embarrassed by a scandal involving a married woman. Rachel adopted the Hamilton name as her own. Alexander, because he was a bastard child, was not allowed into the Anglican Schools on Nevis. As a result, Alexander was educated in a Jewish school on Nevis where he became fluent in French and Hebrew, and his son later wrote that Alexander told him he could recite the 10 commandments in Hebrew when he was so small he was placed on a table to stand by the teacher at the school. Alexander Hamilton was a Sephardic jew who was educated and raised in a jewish day school on Island of Nevis.

    • #26
  27. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    iWe:And here is a site that claims it is not even ambiguous.

    As with Christ, though, Hamilton’s beliefs were not Jewish, even if his blood was. There’s an ambiguity in “Alexander Hamilton was a Sephardic jew” that could easily mislead the credulous reader.

    • #27
  28. iWc Coolidge
    iWc
    @iWe

    James Of England:

    iWe:And here is a site that claims it is not even ambiguous.

    As with Christ, though, Hamilton’s beliefs were not Jewish, even if his blood was.

    I am no expert on Christ, but I accept fully that Hamilton was not a practicing Jew. Which, arguably, makes him even more Jewish, since most born Jews don’t have Jewish beliefs.

    When I was a kid, my parents required me to memorize the long text of the Ten Commandments in Hebrew, and stand on a table to recite it. Because Hamilton did it when he was four.

    • #28
  29. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    iWe:

    James Of England:

    iWe:And here is a site that claims it is not even ambiguous.

    As with Christ, though, Hamilton’s beliefs were not Jewish, even if his blood was.

    I am no expert on Christ, but I accept fully that Hamilton was not a practicing Jew. Which, arguably, makes him even more Jewish, since most born Jews don’t have Jewish beliefs.

    When I was a kid, my parents required me to memorize the long text of the Ten Commandments in Hebrew, and stand on a table to recite it. Because Hamilton did it when he was four.

    My emphasis added. Really?

    I should have added “and upbringing” to both, incidentally, and I agree that it’s useful to note ethnicity and early influences.

    Not all of my Caribbean ancestors were gentiles, so I’m particularly grateful to discover that this was something I had in common with Hamilton. Thank you.

    • #29
  30. iWc Coolidge
    iWc
    @iWe

    James Of England:

    iWe: When I was a kid, my parents required me to memorize the long text of the Ten Commandments in Hebrew, and stand on a table to recite it. Because Hamilton did it when he was four.

    My emphasis added. Really?

    Oh, yes. My parents expected their kids to at least reach Hamilton’s level. Why settle?

    • #30

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