Alexander Hamilton And The Perils Of Posterity

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On the evening of Sunday, September 18, AHI Charter fellow and beloved Hamilton College History professor, Douglas Ambrose, spoke on “Alexander Hamilton and the Perils of Posterity”. With incredible eloquence, wit and energy he delivered a generous assessment of the honorable luminosity that Alexander Hamilton demonstrated in his public life. It inspired me to write further on Hamilton’s legacy.

For Alexander Hamilton, to be seen as trustworthy in the eye of the common people was paramount. For thinkers like him, they gave no thought to this idea of Heaven or a beatific vision at the end of their lives where they would meet their Maker. They were selfless. As a result of the Enlightenment, their focus turned to earthy greatness. Not in the sense of personally acquiring wealth and power, but rather establishing a system or legacy that focused on human fulfillment and happiness. The most honorable of legacies is one where true happiness is achievable for the common people. Those with power had the responsibility to be like shepherds to their flock.
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From a young age, he was full of ambition and a desire to go beyond the cards Fate had dealt him. He believed Fate to be something that was overcome, not accepted. His station made such a transition difficult: born out of wedlock in the West Indies and then orphaned at a young age, his future seemed bleak. In a letter to his friend Ned, he wrote of his castle in the clouds, which drove him to attempt to transcend his current situation. He wished for a war; then he could prove himself on merit alone and his poor station couldn 't stop him. He would be named a hero. The most essential piece in this letter was not his showing of such intense ambition at a young age, but rather when he stated he would never sacrifice his public character for power. This Enlightenment ideal of achieving an honorable legacy was already present in him at a young

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