Monthly Archives: August 2012

Alexander Hamilton memorial events: July 13–The Museum of the City of New York.

On July 11, 1804, Hamilton had his famous duel with Aaron Burr. On July 12, Hamilton died. His funeral was on the 14th. Nothing occurred on July 13, so The Alexander Hamilton Awareness Society had no official events on July 13, 2012. Nevertheless, like Hamilton’s belief in a “steady and vigorous exertion,” we did not let the day go to waste.  Rand Scholet, President of The Alexander Hamilton Awareness Society,  and Mariana Oller, New England Chapter President, arranged a couple of private events for the Hamilton experts who traveled to New York for the week.

On the morning of July 13, we went to the Museum of the City of New York, where they had a temporary exhibit (it runs until October 21) about how New York City was and still is the Capital of Capital.

Credit: Capital of Capital: New York’s Banks and the Creation of a Global Economy at the Museum of the City of New York, 1220 Fifth Avenue at 104th Street, closing October 21st.

The exhibit was extremely well done. The exhibit was chronological and demonstrated the growth of the financial industry in New York and how it helped spark the economic development of the United States and the world.

Before heading to some photos of the exhibition, I would like to thank our fantastic tour guide, Daniel London, whose knowledge and enthusiasm for New York history added tremendously to the great exhibition.

Now, some photos of the exhibition.

One unique piece of history included in this exhibition is a “Savings Bank Machine” from 1922. This could be considered one of the earliest Automated Teller Machines (ATM) in history.

You can’t talk of the financial or economic history of New York City and the United States without also talking about Alexander Hamilton. As The Alexander Hamilton Awareness Society, that’s why we went in the first place. To our great surprise and delight, the Museum of the City of New York has perhaps the greatest portrait of Alexander Hamilton ever painted. This John Trumbull 1804 portrait is so bright and colorful that it looks like it was painted yesterday. I hope my photos do it justice.

Credit: 71.31.3 Alexander Hamilton, ca. 1804-1808, oil on canvas, by John Trumbull (1750-1831)

Additionally, there is a statue of Hamilton out in front of the museum.

Thanks again to The Alexander Hamilton Awareness Society and the Museum of the City of New York for providing us with a great experience.

Alexander Hamilton memorial events: July 12–Downtown NYC.

On July 12, 2012, the 208th anniversary of Hamilton’s death, the Alexander Hamilton Awareness Society organized a series of events in downtown New York City. Much of Hamilton’s work and life was spent in downtown Manhattan. He lived downtown for a number of years and had offices there as well. Even more, downtown New York became the financial capital of the United States (some would say the world, but that would take another century) thanks largely to the various projects of Alexander Hamilton. There could be no more appropriate place to celebrate Hamilton’s life and mourn his death than in the heart of capitalism and wealth.

We started with a tour of downtown, led by Arthur Piccolo, Chairman of the Bowling Green Association. Mr. Piccolo took us the sites where Hamilton trained his troops during the War for Independence, where he lived, where he worked, and where he socialized. In addition, Mr. Piccolo raised the flag of St. Kitts-Nevis, Hamilton’s place of birth, and read a letter from the Prime Minister of that nation.

After a short break, we met again at Federal Hall where Alexander Hamilton, as portrayed by William G. Chrystal, author of Hamilton by the Slice: Falling in Love with Our Most Influential Founding Father, greeted us, said a few words, and posed for photographs with some of his fans:

We then proceeded to the cemetery of Trinity Church, where a memorial service was held for Alexander Hamilton. As a kohein, I am forbidden to enter cemeteries, but I took pictures from the outside looking in:

After the memorial service, Rand Scholet, President of the Alexander Hamilton Awareness Society,  spoke briefly and Alexander Hamilton, as portrayed by William G. Chrystal, author of Hamilton by the Slice: Falling in Love with Our Most Influential Founding Father,  answered questions about his life and achievements:

Trinity Church then invited us into their archives to see some of their documents related to Alexander Hamilton. Most impressive was the baptimsal book that listed Hamilton’s children. Equally impressive were the names of the sponsors for Hamilton’s children: Schuyler, Church, Van Rensselear, and the Baron von Steuben:

That evening, we gathered together at the Museum of American Finance where Rand Scholet, President of the Alexander Hamilton Awareness Society,  presented “The Essence of Alexander Hamilton’s Greatness”:

Before Mr. Scholet’s presentation, I was honored to be invited by the Mr. Scholet and David J. Cowen, President and CEO of the museum, to see a pair of the official copies (only 100 were produced) of the Hamilton-Burr dueling pistols:

Alexander Hamilton memorial events: July 11–Weehawken.

Last month, the Alexander Hamilton Awareness Society organized a series of event to commemorate the anniversary of the famous duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr on July 11, 1804, Hamilton’s death on July 12, and his funeral on July 14. As you already know, I am currently writing a book about Alexander Hamilton. I figured that these events would be a great way to learn even more about Hamilton and to meet other Hamilton experts. I was not disappointed on either account.

In a series of blog posts, I’ll share with you some of my experiences at these events.

As you’ve probably figured out from some of my recent posts, I also enjoy photography. I took hundreds of photos as these Hamilton events. Don’t worry, I’ll only share a few of the best photos.

On July 11, we gathered in Weehawken, New Jersey, the location of the famous duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. Aaron Burr was the sitting Vice President at the time and Alexander Hamilton was possibly the country’s greatest lawyer after serving his country so admirably for a quarter of a century as a soldier in the army during the revolution, as a representative in New York’s Assembly, as a delegate to the federal Congress, as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention, as the nation’s first Secretary of the Treasury, and as Washington’s second in command during the Quasi-War. America had seen many duels before, but no duel before or since saw such two illustrious men face each other.

I got to Weehawken early–very early–due to the uncertainty of taking the subway and then a bus to a location I had never been to before. This enabled me to wander around Weehawken for a short period. Weehawken is a beautiful small town just across the river from New York City. Here’s a picture I took while wandering around Weehawken:

This is Hamilton Park, near the site where the duel took place:

And a view from the park to the Big Apple:

Here are some photos of the Alexander Hamilton Memorial at the park:

Rand Scholet, President of the Alexander Hamilton Awareness Society, spoke briefly about  Hamilton and the duel:

Some of the attendees took a ferry to New York City and back to Weehawken to experience the boat trips that Hamilton (and Burr) took to and from New York to fight their duel:

That evening, William G. Chrystal, author of Hamilton by the Slice: Falling in Love with Our Most Influential Founding Father, spoke about Hamilton’s greatness at the Weehawken Public Library:

Before leaving Weehawken, we returned to Hamilton Park and the Hamilton Memorial, where we were greeted with the most beautiful view of New York City:

Well, that was day one (July 11, 2012) of the Alexander Hamilton events organized by the Alexander Hamilton Awareness Society. A lot more to come…

Photos from the house of Rufus King

My grandparents have lived in Queens for about 60 years. I have been coming to visit them for over thirty years now. Little did I know that just 3.6 miles away (according to Google Maps) is the house of Rufus King–delegate to the Constitutional Convention, first senator from New York, Minister to Britain, co-author of the Camillus essays (with Alexander Hamilton) supporting the Jay Treaty, and Federalist nominee for Vice President in 1804 and 1808 and for President in 1816. And his house is just a few minutes away from my grandparents! I had to go.

The tour was more about the house than it was about the man, which disappointed someone like me. But what the tour lacked, the beautiful home more than made up for.

The dining rooms was obviously set up to host large parties and meetings:

Rufus King reading in his study:

A few blocks away is a church and graveyard where many of the King family are buried. Here is the tombstone of Rufus King’s son John Alsop, who served as the twentieth governor of New York:

Another misleading fact in David Barton’s The Jefferson Lies

Now that David Barton’s book, The Jefferson Lies: Exposing the Myths You’ve Always Believed About Thomas Jefferson, has been pulled from the shelf, I’m obviously a little late to the party. I guess I was too timid to disagree with this acclaimed author. Additionally, I had not read the book, so didn’t feel qualified to publicly point out errors. I actually heard David Barton discussing this on Glenn Beck and immediately disagreed with him.

Furthermore, I have not read the book refuting many of Barton’s claims, so I might be repeating what others have already said.

In The Jefferson Lies, David Barton writes (page 135) that “Other presidential actions of Jefferson include:”

Signing federal acts setting aside government lands so that missionaries might be assisted in “propagating the Gospel” among the Indians (1802, and again in 1803 and 1804)

Directing the secretary of war to give federal funds to a religious school established for Cherokees in Tennessee (1803)

Negotiating and signing a treaty with Kaskaskia Indians that directly funded Christian missionaries and provided federal funding to help erect a church building in which they might worship (1803)

Assuring a Christian school in the newly purchased Louisiana Territory that it would enjoy “the patronage of the government” (1804)

I have not checked the accuracy of all these claims, but I assume them to be true. However, Barton’s writing makes it seem like Jefferson did these things in support of spreading Christianity to the Indians. However, Thomas Fleming writes in The Louisiana Purchase (pages 147-148) about the treaty selling Louisiana to the United States:

One provision of the treaty required that the United States continue to observe Spain’s compacts with the Indians. This meant that a Roman Catholic priest would soon be on the federal payroll.

As a result, some of Jefferson’s support of Christianity among the Indians–a clear violation of his belief in the separation of church and state–may have been forced upon him by Spain’s treaties with the Indians that the United States inherited when it took over Louisiana.

David Barton’s assertion that Jefferson promoted Christianity among the Indians from a personal religious belief appears to be unfounded.

NOTE: I have not researched this topic extensively (which is why I was hesitant to question a “leading scholar” in this field). I merely ran across this information during my research on entirely different topics.

– Michael E. Newton is the author of the highly acclaimed The Path to Tyranny: A History of Free Society’s Descent into Tyranny and Angry Mobs and Founding Fathers: The Fight for Control of the American Revolution. He is currently writing a book about Alexander Hamilton.

Photos from the house of John Jay

While in New York this summer, I am trying to visit some of the sites of historical significance. Two recent trips took me to the houses of two leading Founding Fathers. These houses, much like these two Founders, are not as well known as some of the bigger names and not too frequently visited, as a result.

John Jay, one of the authors of the Federalist Papers and negotiator of the controversial Jay Treaty, lived up in Westchester after his retirement from politics. My friend and I were the only visitors there. We were told by the tour guide and curator (two different people working there) that they only have a few visitors each day.

Like so many other retired politicians, John Jay became a “gentlemen farmer” upon retirement from politics. I could not imagine a more beautiful place to grow crops:

Upon entering the house, to the right is the dining room:

To the left of the entrance way was a parlor for entertaining the family and guests:

The bedrooms are upstairs:

Returning downstairs, John Jay certainly spent a lot of time in his study:

The chairs seen in the above photo and below are not just any ordinary old chairs. These are three of the original twenty-six chairs from the original Senate chamber when the capital was in New York City. When the chairs were shipped to Washington, D.C., three of them were “accidentally” sent to John Jay. I could not figure out how these chairs were sent to the wrong place or why Jay kept them, but these are certainly pieces of history.

But to the Jay grandchildren, these were not important pieces of history. It’s hard to see in the picture, but these chairs have wheels and made perfect engines for racing down the hallway. It is amazing that the chairs are still in such great condition.

My visit to another home of a Founding Father will have to wait for another day…

Alexander Hamilton Supports Auditing the Federal Reserve

The Republican Party may add the call for an audit of the Fed to its party platform. Bloomberg.com reports:

Republicans are considering including a plank in their party platform calling for a full audit of the central bank.

Prodded by the failed primary bid of longtime Fed critic Ron Paul — and the grassroots enthusiasm the Texas congressman’s cause inspired among bail-out weary Tea Party activists and small government advocates — Republicans are entertaining a prospect that has long made them and some of their financial supporters cringe.

Paul, in an interview, warned that if Romney’s backers resist the effort, it could result in a politically distracting and messy fight in front of the national media. “It’s good economics and it’s good legislation, but it’s also good politics, because 80 percent of the American people agree with it,” Paul said. If Republican leaders “exclude it, I would think some of my supporters would be annoyed and feel strongly enough to take it to the floor under the rules.”

When Congress established the First Bank of the United States in 1791 at Alexander Hamilton’s recommendation, the Treasury Department was given the power to inspect the bank’s books at any time. Furthermore, while the Treasury oversaw the First Bank of the United States, the House of Representative repeatedly audited Hamilton and the Treasury Department, each time finding nothing wrong.

While it is important for the Federal Reserve to be independent, just as the First Bank of the United States was independent, this powerful government-created institution needs oversight. All publicly-traded corporations are audited by CPAs and federal government agencies are  audited  by the General Accounting Office. The Federal Reserve should be bound by rules similar to those established for government agencies and public corporation.

If we are to have a government-granted monopoly over money printing (something the Founders would have opposed), it should at least be subject to the principles of checks and balances that our Founding Fathers held so dear. A regular audit of the quasi-government agency known as the Federal Reserve is something the Founders would have supported to prevent the accumulation and misuse of power.

Alexander Hamilton’s Treasury Department had oversight over the First Bank of the United States. Today’s Treasury and Congress should have similar oversight over today’s central bank, which is much more powerful than the national bank of 200 years ago.