Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Aaron Burr Lover Says What?

I had planned to have lunch the other day with some coworkers from my former department. I think about 7 guys had accepted the lunch appointment. Unfortunately, only 2 others showed up.

One of these fellows was a guy I had never met before. However, he had heard about me and the fact that I'm a political nut (in the nicest sense of the word) and a bit of a history buff.

In our discussion this new guy asks which of the Founding Fathers is my favorite. I love reading about all of them. To me, picking my favorite Founding Father is like picking my favorite bikini model. Seriously - how can you choose????

But I do find Alexander Hamilton the most intriguing. Washington was the quiet leader who got lucky in battle many times, but set the tone for what a President should be. John Adams was the neurotic legislator who threw temper tantrums when he didn't get his way. Thomas Jefferson was the writer of the Declaration of Independence, founder of the University of Virginia, Governor of Virginia, Secretary of State, Vice President, and President, and keeper of a slave concubine - Sally Hemmings. That's quite a resume'! James Madison was the brilliant short nerdy guy in the back of the room who didn't say much, but was a genius with the strokes of his pen.

There are others, but Alexander Hamilton fascinates me because he was the bastard orphan who grew up in St. Croix (not in America!), had nothing, but showed brilliance in running a business, was sent to America by a sponsor, went to what is now Princeton and crossed paths with Aaron Burr many times over his life. He created the Department of the Treasury. He pushed for a strong Federal government, which is basically how the government is now.

What's interesting is that Jefferson is considered the father of the modern Democratic Party, though he is more the founder of classical liberalism, which has been oportunistically bastardized over the years to gain favor with the voters. Jefferson prescribed smaller government and states' rights - did you hear that Jefferson Davis???

Jefferson and Hamilton butted heads (as did Jefferson and Adams, and Hamilton and Adams). Are you seeing a pattern here?

Anyway, as I mentioned, Burr's and Hamilton's paths in life crossed many times until that fateful date on the cliffs of New Jersey where Burr and Hamilton met for a duel, resulting in the Vice President of the United States shooting and killing the former Secretary of the Treasury. Burr was disgraced, and wasn't elected to serve as Vice President again under Jefferson (this honor went to Madison). He then lost his bid for the Governor of New York. Burr then went south and played politics with General Wilkinson (General of Army of New Orleans and later Governor of Louisiana Territory) with hopes of striking it rich by bilking the government in land-grabs.

Burr tried to conspire with Wilkinson to grab land from Texas, take over the Louisiana Territory, and possibly invade Mexico and declare himself king. Can you image if Joe Biden did something like that today? If you think those fake hair plugs and dentures are funny, this would have been political fodder for the Daily Show for years to come.

Nonetheless, Burr was arrested for being a traitor several times, but was eventually acquitted (by Supreme Court Justice John Marshall) and released. Burr subsequently fled to England to restart his schemes, but eventually died much to everyone's delight.

Now I give you all of this background for the simple comment said to me by this new guy at lunch. The conversation basically went like this:

Who was your favorite Founding Father?
Probably Alexander Hamilton.
Ah. Shot and killed by Aaron Burr, and deservedly so.

WHAT?????!!!!!! Is this guy nuts? It's funny how 2 people who share similar historical knowledge and political views can have vastly different opinions on the same matter.

God save the King!


Charm City Kim said...

Is it sad that I learned a lot about Hamilton from this post? I definitely didn't know much about him. I blame the public school system of Maryland.

Eludius said...

It is my intention to be educational, humorous, and entertaining.

Who links to my website?
Add to Technorati Favorites Add to Technorati Favorites Add to Technorati Favorites