On the one hand – I can’t believe we did it! And by that I mean I can’t believe I did it, because man this is a long-ass book. But on the other hand – it was a really good book, and I was reading it with the most awesome people, so thank Alice and everyone else so much. Now let’s wrap this up, shall we?
- This section starts off with Hamilton being pretty damn depressed – convinced that “this American world was not made for me” and still going on about how immigrants are going to ruin the county, and writing to Eliza about how the world is full of evil. Someone just give Hamilton a hug and make him stop being ridiculous, please.
- Hamilton was planning a big collaborative publishing effort to surpass The Federalist, and man it sounded good. I am kind of sad that that book 200+ years ago did not get written.
- Hamilton takes on the case People vs. Croswell, basically because he loved big constitutional battles that would allow him to give 6-hour long speeches. And he didn’t charge a fee, because this is his idea of fun.
- Aaron Burr “had been openly accused of every conceivable sin: deflowering virgins, breaking up marriages through adultery, forcing women into prostitution, accepting bribes, fornicating with slaves, looting the estates of legal client.”
- Sooooo… really, was Hamilton your biggest shit-talking problem? Come on now, buddy.
- Both Burr and Hamilton kept their upcoming duel from their loved ones, which is just kind of ridiculous. Like I get it, but man Eliza would’ve said this whole mess straight.
- And also, Hamilton did not handle their financial situation. He kind of talked himself into thinking that he was leaving his family better off than he actually was.
- Historians are kind of divided on whether or not Hamilton threw away his shot. Chernow seems to think so. And it’s Hamilton, so he probably did. Dude loved to make a dramatic point.
- Hamilton takes a while to die, and meanwhile everyone is just shocked and heartbroken and sad and I maybe teared up a bit.
- Burr never shows too much remorse for killing A. Ham, but does spend a lot of time avoiding the states where he’d be most likely to get arrested for it. He makes St. Simon’s Island a place to lie low, which is notable only because I was on that very island last summer when I went to Georgia for my little sister’s graduation and I had no idea.
- Jefferson starts to show a little more favor to Burr after the duel, because Jefferson is just determined to try to be the biggest ass.
- A. Ham’s kids grow up and Eliza continues on, like a boss, but she grieves big time. This just tore me apart – “I have remarked to you that I have had a double share of blessings and I must now look forward to grief … For such a husband, his spirit is in heaven and his form in the earth and I am nowhere any part of him is.”
I can’t believe it’s over! I’m excited to read things that are not Hamilton, but also kind of sad that it’s over. I guess now my only goal is to somehow someway go see the damn play. Oh and visit A. Ham’s tombstone, which may happen next weekend since there’s a like 60% chance I’m going to NYC to see my mom for her birthday.
Major thanks again to Alice for being a wonderful HamAlong hostess and for all of you that joined in. Best of women, indeed.
Am I the only one who misses Hercules Mulligan?
I know that’s not relevant to anything in this section, but man he hasn’t been around since the beginning and these last like couple sections have been so bogged down with Hamilton and Adams throwing caution to the wind and getting all up in each other’s faces that I miss the early sections that were full of Mulligan sharing insider exclusives on Hamilton’s brighter days.
- Anyways, so we start here on some crappy footing – the Alien and Sedition Acts. Hamilton decides that he’s not such a fan of immigration after all.
- And the act makes it a crime to speak or publish anything about the government that the government doesn’t like. Bad call, everyone involved.
- And then we hop over to the ridiculousness that is Burr’s creation of a water company to provide fresh water and to help combat yellow fever epidemics that turned out to not be that all, but the creation of a bank. Come on A. Ham, how did you let him get one over on you like this?
- Hamilton gets absorbed in the tiny details of cocked hats in the military in a perfect and ridiculous #1stworldproblems moment, considering his army is probably not going to really materialize much less go to war with France anytime soon.
- Washington dies 😦 and Hamilton has a lot of touching moments of sadness. “My imagination is gloomy, my heart sad.” Gave me a little feels.
- Chernow notes that Washington is the only President to free all his slaves in his will. Sorry Washington, but you don’t get a cookie for only freeing your slaves after you and your wife die and will no longer benefit from their oppression.
- VP Jefferson is a wang and doesn’t even go to Washington’s memorial service. Considering Washington handed you the Secretary of State seat on a silver platter, this seems pretty lousy.
- Blah blah blah, more of Adams and Hamilton fighting… seriously, thank you so much Lin-Manuel Miranda for condensing all this shit in basically one song. Although I will note that it’s hilarious that Hamilton was trying to goad Adams into a duel. OF COURSE he would be trying to duel with the President.
- And The Election of 1800! Burr is openly campaigning (honestly’s it’s kind of draining!) and I find it very interesting that he was like the first one to really create the idea of campaigning super hard in politics.
- Hamilton sides with Jefferson, as we know, and after much political back-and-forth Jefferson is made President. And the guy that Jefferson makes the new Secretary of Treasury ends up singing the praises of Hamilton’s financial system, so TAKE THAT.
- Hamilton builds a house for him and his giant family, Peggy dies (sad face), and Hamilton goes ahead and helps create the New York Post.
- *Sigh*… Phillip’s duel.
- I have to say… I am not a parent, nor do I have an interest in being one. But IF I was, and I found out my kid got himself in a duel because of some stupid shit over my own honor… I would’ve handled this differently. I at the very least would have taken my kid out back and made him practice drawing and shooting, encouraging him to shoot the other person as quickly as fucking possible because at the end of the day, I feel like your kid coming home alive is probably most important.
- That being sad, again many sad faces because clearly baby Ham’s death was traumatizing for the whole family.
So damn, this section was kind of a downer! And you know, this next section is the last so probably will still be hard on the emotions. Only 75 pages left you guys! We’re gonna make it!
We’re almost done! And I’m both happy and sad about that. Just two little sections left.
- Admittedly, this section seemed less exciting than previous ones. Lots of John Adams being pissed off about various things.
- Hamilton is b-r-o-k-e after being Secretary of Treasury, so he goes back to lawyering.
- The treaty that John Jay orchestrated has everyone’s undies in a twist and Hamilton jumps into the fray, because of course he does. Adorably, Washington is very nice about asking Hamilton for his assistance pretty please.
- Hamilton inserts himself into a heated political discussion and declares “that if the parties were to contend in a personal way, he was ready, that he would fight the whole party one by one.”
- Luckily, that one didn’t go down like that. Though I’m sure it would’ve been hilarious.
- Hamilton of course defends the Jay Treaty with his written words. And THIS IS MY FAVORITE THING:
“Hamilton was not content to write as Camillus alone. Two days after his second essay appeared, he began to publish, in the same paper, a parallel series as ‘Philo Camillus.’ For several weeks, Philo Camillus indulged in extravagant praise of Camillus and kept up a running attack on their Republican adversaries. The prolific Hamilton was now writing pseudonymous commentaries on his own pseudonymous essays.”
- Jefferson is slandering Washington. Dicks are being dicks. Like everyone said last week, politics has not changed a bit in the last couple hundred years.
- Baby Lafayette! chills with the Hamiltons for 6 months. Aww. And Chernow goes to great lengths to point out that Hamilton said the word “love” to Lafayette three times in one letter. Three, you guys, omg.
- Washington steps down. In his future correspondence with Hamilton, including them working on his final address, you can totally feel the admiration they have for each other and it gives me a little feels.
- Hamilton does what he can to avoid the risk of Jefferson becoming president, but that kind of pisses off Adams because it really looks like he was screwing him over. Hamilton is not great at learning his lesson. But Adams is a dick for always jumping right to Hamilton’s foreignness whenever he wants to talk shit about him.
- Hamilton tears into Jefferson for many reasons, but including his absolutely bullshit views on slavery and race. I very much enjoyed that part. GTFO, Jefferson.
- The Reynolds Pamphlet… I mean, what is there even to say.
Most of the last three chapters is just about how shitty Adams is. I have no idea if this is true, because I know as much about Adams as I did about Hamilton before the musical (nothing). Maybe one day I’ll get around to reading that McCullough biography… I think I have it. Maybe. I don’t feel like getting up to check. But my point is, I don’t know much about Adams but it does seem like kind of an ass. I’m aware that’s probably because Chernow is the least objective ever when it comes to anyone who disagreed with Hamilton, but still.
Alrighty. Back on schedule (mostly).
- Jefferson is as big of a worm as Burr. He wrangles a man into his employment and makes him write his Jeffersonian bullshit attacking A. Ham. Ugh. And also, he’s trying to turn Washington against Hamilton, but Washington is too smart for that shit.
- And despite Washington basically begging Hamilton and Jefferson to just chill, Hamilton JUST CANNOT help himself. It’s amazing and kind of hilarious to watch.
- Monroe, Muhlenberg, and Venable decide to let Hamilton know what they know, and were surprised and embarrassed to get an earful of his confessions of sexy-times with Maria Reynolds. Dude does not know how to keep his cool.
- A. Ham decides that he wants to retire sometime soon and basically demands more investigations into himself, to make sure everyone knows he hasn’t done a damn thing wrong (besides, you know, cheat on his wife).
- WTF is this Chernow? –> “…Maria Reynolds was now prepared to tell everything she knew about her former husband’s relations with Hamilton – as if the loose-tongued Maria had ever muzzled herself before.“
- The French Revolution starts really happening, and poor Lafayette 😦 Hamilton was wrong, he wasn’t fine. I mean, he lives obviously, but he’s not exactly thriving.
- Hamilton writes his Pacificus essays to talk about why we should remain neutral. I really wish that politicians still did shit like that, that they still wrote series of well-thought out essays defending their position on issues. Instead of just what we have now… generalized stances of things but constantly dodging answering direct complex questions.
- Jefferson wants Madison to write his own stuff to combat the Pacificus essays, and Madison is like “Yeah, I mean I would, but see I have all these people over and it’s really hot here, so maybe later.”
- Jefferson is basically attacking Washington in his sketchy newspaper, but for some fucking reason Washington talks him out of resigning.
- The Whiskey Rebellion happens…
- Hamilton resigns and Washington emotes a little bit about that, which is adorable.
- Chernow does a nice little summary of all the shit Hamilton managed to accomplish by the time he was 40, and it is just bananas.
I admit that I kind of flew through these chapters and actually did finish Thursday night, but I might have paid slightly less attention because I was hurrying. I don’t have a whole lot to say on this section, except I want to slap Chernow a bit, man Jefferson was a dickhole, and I’m kinda sad now about Hamilton coming off the $10. I want ladies and POC on the money, but maybe we can change the other bills instead? Please?
FINALLY. I don’t know how I got so behind… but here’s my post for CH. 15-19. It’s going to be on the short side so I can go right back to reading and maybe have a hope of posting on time for tomorrow.
- “The whole statistical basis of government took shape under his command.”
- I love that Hamilton basically looked at all of the things that Britain did and wanted to steal those methods for America. His point that when it came to needed guns/ammo/supplies to fight a war, we relied heavily on foreigner manufacturers was a VERY VALID POINT, SO SHUT UP JEFFERSON.
- Found the part about whether people would get money if they were issued IOU’s during wartime but sold them super interesting. And yeah, I agree with Hamilton’s decision there.
- Ham proposes the nation’s first real luxury taxes.
- Sad that it’s Madison vs. Hamilton time.
- Hamilton writes a report on basically every subject and I love this. I love that he takes an issue and just dissects the crap out of it.
- I wonder how our country would have turned out if Hamilton and others in the 1700’s hadn’t agreed to conveniently “shelve the slavery issue”. I’d love to see that alternate universe.
- Jefferson sounds like a wang with no sense of self-awareness. Good job, Lin-Manuel Miranda – spot on portrayal.
- Cabinet Battle #1 and The Room Where It Happens happen. Fun stuff.
- The part on paper money led to a very long, weird discussion between the honeyman and I about having a financial system that is/is not backed by precious metals (the gold standard).
- Getting really sick of Chernow’s shitty way that he talks about women. (check the #HamAlong on twitter)
- The section on Maria Reynolds wasn’t nearly as exciting as I was expecting it to be. Say No To This does a good job of that, I suppose. Since Chernow can’t seem to make up his mind and probably no one really knows, I’m going to think of her as a smooth con woman who was working with her husband to screw Hamilton over. I don’t think she saw Hamilton as “godlike”. (MAJOR SIDE-EYE, CHERNOW. MAJOR SIDE-EYE.)
- Aaaand then the rest of this seems to be how Hamilton has a knack for steadying the market and how he gets REALLY into manufacturing.
Okay, back to the book!
You guyyyys this book is bananas. As was Hamilton’s life. And Chernow totally has an abnormal fondness for Hamilton, and it’s kind of cute. He talks about how touching it is to think of Hamilton lugging books and journals around during war, and it’s just cute. This section mainly focuses on the war and him marrying Eliza. I feel like there was a lot to mention, so I’m going to jump to some bullet points.
- Sunstroke at the battle of Monmouth basically wrecked Burr for the rest of the war? Sunstroke? That happened in June 1778. The war didn’t end until 1983.
- I love that Hamilton and various other scholarly dudes basically had anonymous screen names with which to publish their opinions to the world. Publius would have definitely been his Twitter handle. Man, he would’ve loved the digital age.
- We get more evidence of Laurens’ abolitionism, not any of of Hamilton’s yet.
- “People would assume that Hamilton, as an ‘outsider’ or ‘foreigner,’ could not possibly be motivated by patriotic impulses.” People still think this of immigrants today. America, how do we still have this problem? How have you made it this far with this kind of attitude? (Because immigrants get the job done, I guess, even with assholes doubting them.)
- “Parts of his letter were sophomoric, with Hamilton making bawdy references to the size of his nose – jocular eighteenth-century shorthand for his penis – ” NICE, HAMILTON.
- On page 127, in his WifeList (as Alice so perfectly termed it) he states that no matter what politics a woman has it doesn’t matter because he’ll just convince to her to change her opinions to match his. See, this is where you should kind of point out Hamilton’s dickish moments, Chernow.
- Eliza! She’s pretty great. And Ben Franklin taught her backgammon.
- Burr & Theodosia ❤
- Hamilton gets a little jealous and emo over a guy being executed for treason. Bro. Your lust for glory and accomplishment was a bit much at times.
- Peggy has an awesome moment of bad-assery, lying through her teeth to intruders so she can save her baby sister. And she gets a tomahawk thrown at her head. I know that’s kind of just legend, but I’m going with it. Good job, Peggy.
- Page 164 – Hamilton tries to use a large fellow as a human shield. #HamiltonsDickishMoments
- Fuck Cornwallis, who decided to infect black people with smallpox and send them into Rebel camps.
- Hamilton hilariously talks about how his baby son’s legs are not as slim as his father’s. You guys and your legs.
- I kind of love that Hamilton defends Tories after the war. He seemed to have steered clear of that mob desire to just absolutely destroy anyone in opposition.
- Laurens 😦
- I’m confused, because it seems like Madison was kind of friends with Hamilton and was totally all for a centralized authority that could force states to pay their taxes? But in the musical (at least from the recording) it sounds like he hated Hamilton from day one. So now I’m really curious to see how their relationship develops.
- Yay for Washington for personally paying a visit to Hercules Mulligan, to erase any doubts of his awesomeness.
Alright, so now we’re at the point where Hamilton is 28. The same age I am now. He’s fought in a war, got married, had a baby, published some essays, become a lawyer, created a manual for future lawyers to use, and started pushing for the formation of the Constitutional Convention, a peacetime army, a national bank.
Despite the times in which he’s kind of a wang, he is turning out to be pretty awesome. I mean, everyone has their wang-ish moments.
I’m pretty sure Alice is the actual best for hosting this.
I’m going to start off my apologizing if I don’t get around to reading and commenting within the next few days – family is in town as you’re reading this because I’m becoming Mrs. Honeyman tomorrow and so yeah… stuff. Hopefully I’ll be able to do some blog hopping on my phone from our hotel over the weekend or something.
Alright, so HAMILTON! Major thanks to all of you tweeting about it over the past couple months until I finally decided to figure out what the hell was up with Alexander Hamilton all of the sudden. I’ve listened to nothing but the cast recording in weeks. And now we have the biography to further the obsession. As I’m reading, every time I get to a part where it introduces someone/something familiar (Lafayette, Burr) I end up writing corresponding lyrics in the margin, which is basically why I bought my copy of the bio instead of getting it from the library.
Rather than going through what happens in these 5 chapters, I’ll touch on a few points.
- I don’t like how Chernow talks about Alexander’s mother, Rachel. He actually makes a “well in his defense” statement for her first husband’s completely shitty treatment of her.
- Chernow makes a statement early on about how Hamilton would come to be notable for his fierce abolitionism. It’s not something I ever really heard before the musical, and from what I can find via some light Googling, it appears that this is a relatively recent opinion – the former being that he kinda sorta supported the abolition of slavery, but only when it didn’t conflict with some other goal of his and that it wasn’t something he actually made a priority. Is this a case of him just looking really good compared to others of his time? I’m really hoping that Chernow goes into this and gives some good evidence of his “fierce abolitionism” later in the book. I really want that to be true.
- On pg. 24, we find out that young Hamilton had access to 34 books – that is a very specific number.
- Hamilton was hella FLIRTY when he was young.
- Did Hercules write a lot about Hamilton after he died or something? I felt like I saw a lot of quotations from him during these five chapters, almost like Chernow was interviewing him. Is Hercules Mulligan a time traveler?
- Just listening to the cast recording, I had no idea Hamilton was this damn unhealthy all the time. People who’ve seen the play – is that touched on during a not-singing part?
- Chapter 5 ends with Conway being shot in the mouth and living, which Lin-Manuel Miranda confirmed on Twitter is where the “John should’ve shot him in the mouth” line comes from in “Meet Me Inside”. Yay.
And I guess that’s all for right now. I’m looking forward to getting to more of the meatier stuff. I’m also realizing that I probably don’t read many biographies because I don’t love all of the conjecture and guesswork involved. There’s a lot of “this line in this letter could have meant this” that I find frustrating. Maybe I’ll get used to it.
Onto the next section! Which hopefully I will have time to read sometime during the honeymoon so I’m not late with my next post. Very much excited to possibly get to the Schuyler sisters and possibly more ” And Hercules Mulligan said…”.
Hanna at Booking in Heels is being a doll and hosting this epic War & Peace readalong! It, gratefully enough, is spread over the course of about three months, which I’m pretty sure is the only way I would be able to ever read this. For some reason, War & Peace is one of those books that I just kind of figured I’d never read, because it is just so damn giant and intimidating. Honestly, if the honeyman wasn’t away until June I probably wouldn’t have joined in. But since he’s away and I have nothing but time, I figured why not!
I’m reading the Pevear translation, because I’ve heard good things about his translations before. And, you know – it’s pretty. I currently have a copy from the library, but I’m going to buy my own soon so I can make a ton of notes in the margins. And I downloaded some free or 99 cent version of W&P for reading on my Kindle – we’ll see how that goes. Otherwise, I’ll probably just read at home.
I’d like to say that I’m going to start this tonight, but probably not – other blogging and stuff to catch up on. So hopefully tomorrow. And I’ll try to tweet along with the #ReadingTolstoyTogether hashtag as I go. Let’s do this!