Hamilton has arrived, Pt. I

[CATEGORIES: Literature, Lapham’s Quarterly, Reading, Book Review]
[Click HERE to see my previous posts referencing Lapham’s Quarterly.]
[Some of LQ’s contents are available free.]
[L.Q. cover and art from L.Q. Hamilton and Lewis Lapham’s Age of Folly]

Alexander Hamilton.

The Founding Father.

Not the current hip-hop play/musical that has Broadway agog and gaga, though said musical is mentioned in Lewis Lapham’s Preamble and the first extract.  (Is there no end to Celebrity?  Must the Constitution be set to rap music for anyone to take notice?)

The Hamilton that has arrived is the special issue from Lapham’s Quarterly about Alexander Hamilton.

Version 2

It is in an 8″ x 11″ format, about 1/4″ thick, and like Lapham’s Quarterly contains a Preamble and Among The Contributors section.  There is a single Voices In Time and a Further Remarks, all containing about 45 brief extracts or essays within less than one hundred pages.  This suits my attention span perfectly.


Lewis Lapham’s Preamble posits questions of where have we been and where are we going, as relevant now as ever.  Are we egalitarian Jeffersonians (was he really?) or aristocratic Hamiltonians “devout in their worship of money”.

The third extract alone is worth the price of admission.  Richard Hofstadter’s Calvin and Hobbes (the originals, not the comic strip) gives numerous examples that the prevailing founding sentiment echoed Jeremy Belknap: “Let it stand as a principle that government originates from the people; but let the people be taught… that they are not able to govern themselves.” (p. 17)

“Long ago Horace White observed that the Constitution of the United States “is based upon the philosophy of Hobbes and the religion of Calvin.  It assumes that the natural state of mankind is a state of war, and that the carnal mind is at enmity with God.”” (p. 15)

“Throughout the secret discussions at the Constitutional Convention it was clear that this distrust of man was first and foremost a distrust of the common man and democratic rule. As the revolution took away the restraining hand of the British government… …the possessing classes were frightened.” (p, 15)


This is going to be good.

To be continued…

7 thoughts on “Hamilton has arrived, Pt. I

  1. I recently read Ron Chernow’s 2005 biography of Hamilton. Having previously read several biographies of Jefferson, though both were flawed [as we all are] and I although I am not a scholar, I have come to the conclusion that Hamilton was the better man.


    1. I know little of Hamilton. Wikipedia at https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hamilton_(musical) notes that Chernow’s book inspired Lin-Manuel Miranda to create the musical. The first extract in this issue discusses Miranda’s championing of Puerto Rico’s debt struggle while idealizing Hamilton, who I think I’m soon to find is the father of national debt (U.S. at least). From the extract: “Ironically, Miranda achieved the celebrity he’s now using to advocate for the Puerto Rican people by glorifying and aggrandizing the most ruthless champion of creditors in American history.” “Miranda’s musical presents a liberal ideal of Hamilton that fits the propaganda needs of the present-day American empire. Ignored are social and economic forces that, since the founding of the United States, have kept the elite rich and the landless poor.” “There can be no greater symbol of the dispossession and social destruction in Puerto Rico than Alexander Hamilton and his feudal politics that stripped people of their livelihoods and turned them into commodities whose station in life was to produce wealth for others.” All this is the opinion of the writer Matthew Peppe. As Lewis Lapham notes in his Preamble “…history is not what happened 200 or 2,000 years ago; it is a story about what happened 200 or 2,000 years ago. The stories change with the sight lines available to the tellers of the tale, every generation rearranging the furniture of its past to suit the comfort and convenience of its present.” This IS going to be good.


  2. Due to your interesting post John, I have read up a little on the Founding Fathers of America and also on Mr Hamilton. Both interesting subjects and Hamilton’s upbringing and how he was afforded an education through others’ wealth. Thanks!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your interest. Did these men (and women, as Abigail Adams was quite the insightful letter writer to husband John) have the slightest notion we’d be parsing their words and thoughts 225 years later? I think not.

      Liked by 1 person

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