After George Washington, Thomas Jefferson seems to have won the hearts of much of modern America. But, it was Alexander Hamilton, the first Secretary of the Treasury, whose vision for America was far more prescient than the Arcadian vision of Mr. Jefferson. What is little noticed, however, is that President Washington’s vision and that of Mr. Hamilton were one and the same. The narrative that Washington loved and respected both men and was somehow aloof to whose views would win the day could not be farther from the truth. In reality Washington and Hamilton, two disparate personalities, shared a common understanding of how to build a new nation and make it an economic powerhouse for centuries to come. There is perhaps no partnership more important to the founding of our nation than that of these two great founders. Washington, for all good and just reasons, is held above the others, but, Hamilton has rarely been given his due. That is until the work of Tony Williams and Stephen Knott; “Washington and Hamilton; the Alliance that Forged America.”
In this work both figures are explored from their earliest years up until their lucrative partnership. But, it is the often tumultuous nature of their relationship that makes this story so intriguing. Washington was imperial, closed off to only a select few. He was martial in his appearance and elicited awe amongst many of his contemporaries. But, Washington was a keen judge of character and abilities. He saw in Hamilton someone whose exceptional intellect and industry could be harnessed for the good of a nation. Their relationship has many ebbs and flows. At one time the two did not speak for years. Hamilton felt that Washington, while Hamilton was serving on Washington’s staff during the Revolution, had committed an affront to Hamilton’s honor. Washington sought to reconcile, even offering and apology (something rarely witnessed coming from Washington). But, Hamilton refused to accept it and demanded a commission in the field. Hamilton got what he asked for and history remembers his heroic actions in assaulting redoubt #10. But, the two would reconcile as the new nation was forming and it was the combined vision of Washington and Hamilton that won out over Jefferson’s ideal that favored the more agrarian sentiments of the south. Washington and Hamilton favored the Federalist position of conquering the staggering debt incurred during the Revolution and sought to establish an aggressive economic and industrial model for how to secure America’s fortunes. Washington and Hamilton also shared a more Federalist leaning sentiment towards Great Britain against Jefferson’s Republicanism that sought to tie the American Revolution with that of the French. Washington and Hamilton viewed the French Revolution as a mob action that bore no resemblance to that of the American conflict with England. Perhaps it was the alliance formed on the field of battle that made these two critical figures in our history so like-minded on how to establish a great nation. Jefferson, on the other hand, left Washington’s administration as Secretary of State in 1793 and the two never spoke again.
As Stephen Knott remarked in a recent article in Time Magazine; “Jefferson could hardly restrain his glee over the news of Washington’s passing, noting that it would allow for a reemergence of the “republican spirit.” Martha Washington would later note that the two worst days of her life were December 14, 1799, the day her husband died, and a day in January, 1801, when soon-to-be president Thomas Jefferson, whom she detested, paid her a courtesy call at Mount Vernon.” 1
Tony Williams will speak on February 20 at 1:00 p.m. at Historic St. Luke’s Church on this acclaimed work with Co-authored by Stephen Knott; Washington and Hamilton the Alliance that Forged America. Tony is a good friend to St. Luke’s and has spoken previously on the Established Church of England during the Colonial Era and the move towards Independence. Tickets are $15. After the presentation and Q&A there will be a time for book purchasing and signings. We hope you’ll join us for this fascinating look at these two extraordinary figures in the founding of America.
- “The Real Relationship between Washington and Hamilton” Time Magazine, January 26, 2016. Originally published by Historic News Network.