Saturday, January 24, 2015

Alexander Hamilton and the Black Race

 
Alexander Hamilton
 

Perhaps no other founding father stands in the forefront of giving blacks the opportunity to serve in the military than Alexander Hamilton.  Hamilton defied the odds and insisted that blacks possessed "faculties...as good as ours."  He did not believe the traditional theory prevalent in 18th century America that blacks were "stupid."  Instead, he insisted that it was a want of "cultivation" that made their circumstances bleak.  Indeed, Hamilton felt that under the care of a "sensible officer," blacks would make "excellent soldiers."  
 
 
 

Hamilton considered the prejudice against blacks to be based on "neither reason nor experience."  If anything, he felt such arguments were based on "an unwillingness to part with property of so valuable a kind."  It should be noted, that Hamilton's vision for blacks reached further beyond the immediate need for America to have larger troops to fight against the British.  By insisting on the plan to enlist black soldiers in the Continental Army, Hamilton hoped to provide a way for their emancipation. 

 

 

 

“From Alexander Hamilton to John Jay, [14 March 1779],” Founders Online, National Archives (http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Hamilton/01-02-02-0051 [last update: 2014-12-01]). Retrieved January 24, 2015.  Source: The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, vol. 2, 1779–1781, ed. Harold C. Syrett. New York: Columbia University Press, 1961, pp. 17–19.



Sunday, January 11, 2015

John Hancock congratulates General George Washington



 
George Washington
 by Charles Wilson Peale
 
Perhaps no other individual embodies the spirit of America better than George Washington.  From his shaky military beginnings in the French and Indian War to his position as the first United States president, Washington's steely grit, resilience, personal sacrifice, and courage exemplify the true characteristics of American Exceptionalism.  In the following excerpt from a letter dated October 15, 1783, John Hancock recognizes Washington's patriotic contributions: 

 

"...when as a Public Man, warmly attach’d to the Interest of my Country, I consider the nature of those Services which you have rendered to that Country; when I recollect the Cares you have sustained, the Fatigues you have endured, & the Dangers you have confronted for the Public Safety; when I call to mind the many instances in which your Abilities, your Prudence, your Fortitude, & Patience have been superior to the severest Trials; & when I now see the great Object of all so completely obtained in the Establishment of the Independence & Peace of the United States; my Heart is too full to forbear to Congratulate Your Excellency in the most Respectful & Affectionate manner, upon an Issue so happy to them & so glorious to yourself.  To all your Services as Commander in Chief of an Army that has in a manner Astonishing to the whole World efficaciously supported the Freedom of America, you have constantly added, & particularly in your late Circular Letter to the States, the result of your uncommon Wisdom & Experience as a Statesman to Assist us in improving to the happiest purposes the Advantages gained by our Arms.  After such Services, which consecrate your Name to all Posterity, with what homefelt Satisfaction must your future Days be Blest? Heaven Crown them with every Favor! May you long Live, my dear General & long have the Joy to see the increasing Splendor & Prosperity of a rising Nation aided by your Councils & Defended by your Sworde."
 

 

 

 

Notes:

 

“To George Washington from John Hancock, 15 October 1783,” Founders Online, National Archives (http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/99-01-02-11939 [last update: 2014-12-01]).  Retrieved 1/11/15.  Source: this is an Early Access document from The Papers of George Washington. It is not an authoritative final version.