Blogs > Cliopatria > Ward Churchill and Alexander Hamilton

Feb 10, 2005 2:38 pm

Ward Churchill and Alexander Hamilton

While the Ward Churchill controversy was breaking I happened to be reading Ron Chernow's biography of Hamilton (which is very good, by the way).

He recounts that toward the end of June 1787 Hamilton, who had been uncharacteristically quiet during the preceeding 3 weeks of the convention, suddenly stood up and gave a six hour speech. He did not even break for lunch.

This was his famous speech at which he was supposedly squinting toward monarchy. He said he wanted a president who is elected for life as a counterbalance to the many, who would want to dominate the few, and the few who want to dominate the many.

The speech was a disaster. From then on it would be used against Hamilton by his enemies, who claimed that he really wanted to restore the British monarchy in America, even to the point of wanting an heir of the British crown to sit on the throne over here.

The lesson I draw from this is that at any time in our history there are perimeters to public debate that cannot be crossed without trepidation.

In 1787, 4 years after a war against monarchy, it was unpalatable to argue in favor of monarchy--even if it was to be elective.

Today, some 40 months plus after 9-11, it is unpalatable to employ in argument any Nazi comparison to the victims of 9-11.

Ward Churchill should hardly be surprised by that. Neither should the rest of us.


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Vernon Clayson - 2/15/2005

Alexander Hamilton spoke for six hours during the formative years of this republic, he was a man for his times and there does not appear to have been any pretense in his makeup. Ward Churchill is a white man who has gained notoriety and financial reward pretending to be a Native American. He is more false than the old-time movie actors, white men dressed as Indians and speaking profundities, e.g., "white man speaks with forked tongue", "I shall return when my warriors wounds have healed", "give this message to the great white father", etc. The author says he isn't comparing Alexander Hamilton and Ward Churchill but the two shouldn't even be mentioned in the same breath.