Joseph Ellis Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation
The disagreement sparked as a result of Hamilton’s constant humiliation and attacks against Burr (verbally) throughout his entire political career. As a result, the two exchanged heavy frustration through letters and impersonal confrontation, ultimately deciding that a duel would be most effective to solve their dislike for one another. Ellis explains how they both had very different reasons for wanting to duel, “If Burr went to Weehawken out of frustration, Hamilton went out of a combination of ambition and insecurity” (38). It’s clear that Hamilton cared about his image more than anything – he wanted to be remembered as a man of his word, one who wouldn’t back down to challenges, and a prominent figure in American history. This is how every individual strived to be – their highest concern was their personal image and how important it was to have a positive impact on history and leave their personal mark. In the second chapter, The Dinner, a meeting is held between Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. It was held in an attempt to come to an agreement on how to solve national debt and where the state capitol should be located. However, the same theme of self-image comes into play as the three had held previous meetings in secret and had come to a pre-existing agreement on most of the terms.
“More specifically, Jefferson’s account of the dinner-table conversation distorts the truth by conveniently eliminating the preliminary negotiations, thereby giving the story a more romantic gloss by implying that three prominent leaders could solve an apparently intractable national problem by establishing the proper atmospherics” (Ellis