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The 11th Amendment to the Constitution (not ratified)

Best Hamilton Tour of New York City

Best Hamilton Tour of New York City

The first 10 amendments to the Constitution are known as the Bill of Rights, but there were actually two amendments that were proposed at Federal Hall in New York City on September 25, 1789 that were not ratified.  The original first amendment had to do with establishing a ratio and limitation on how many people could be represented by each member of the House of Representatives.

Fortunately, it was not ratified, because if it was, there would be more than 6,000 representatives instead of the current 435.  The amendment proposed a limit of 50,000 people per representative.  Today, each member of the House represents about 700,000 people!

Here is the original wording of that amendment:

“After the first enumeration required by the first article of the Constitution, there shall be one Representative for every thirty thousand, until the number shall amount to one hundred, after which the proportion shall be so regulated by Congress, that there shall be not less than one hundred Representatives, nor less than one Representative for every forty thousand persons, until the number of Representatives shall amount to two hundred; after which the proportion shall be so regulated by Congress, that there shall not be less than two hundred Representatives, nor more than one Representative for every fifty thousand persons.”

Washington’s Farewell, Part 2

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Washington_Hamilton_Walking_Tour_NYC
George Washington , Alexander Hamilton Walking Tour New York City

In this excerpt from his George Washington’s Farewell Address of 1796 (co-written with the assistance of Alexander Hamilton), we can not take for granted that once again, after resigning his military commission after the American Revolution in 1783, after his second term as president, with the greatest of humility and grace, once again retires to civilian life allowing for a transfer of power.

He pays tribute to his fellow Americans for their constancy of support despite the often discouraging situations and prays for their continued “union and brotherly affection” to each other and hopes that the “sacred” Constitution, ultimately a product of the people, is sustained and preserved and looked upon as a shining example for every other nation.

The impressions with which I first undertook the arduous trust were explained on the proper occasion. In the discharge of this trust, I will only say that I have, with good intentions, contributed towards the organization and administration of the government the best exertions of which a very fallible judgment was capable. Not unconscious in the outset of the inferiority of my qualifications, experience in my own eyes, perhaps still more in the eyes of others, has strengthened the motives to diffidence of myself; and every day the increasing weight of years admonishes me more and more that the shade of retirement is as necessary to me as it will be welcome. Satisfied that if any circumstances have given peculiar value to my services, they were temporary, I have the consolation to believe that, while choice and prudence invite me to quit the political scene, patriotism does not forbid it.

In looking forward to the moment which is intended to terminate the career of my public life, my feelings do not permit me to suspend the deep acknowledgment of that debt of gratitude which I owe to my beloved country for the many honors it has conferred upon me; still more for the steadfast confidence with which it has supported me; and for the opportunities I have thence enjoyed of manifesting my inviolable attachment, by services faithful and persevering, though in usefulness unequal to my zeal. If benefits have resulted to our country from these services, let it always be remembered to your praise, and as an instructive example in our annals, that under circumstances in which the passions, agitated in every direction, were liable to mislead, amidst appearances sometimes dubious, vicissitudes of fortune often discouraging, in situations in which not unfrequently want of success has countenanced the spirit of criticism, the constancy of your support was the essential prop of the efforts, and a guarantee of the plans by which they were effected. Profoundly penetrated with this idea, I shall carry it with me to my grave, as a strong incitement to unceasing vows that heaven may continue to you the choicest tokens of its beneficence; that your union and brotherly affection may be perpetual; that the free Constitution, which is the work of your hands, may be sacredly maintained; that its administration in every department may be stamped with wisdom and virtue; that, in fine, the happiness of the people of these States, under the auspices of liberty, may be made complete by so careful a preservation and so prudent a use of this blessing as will acquire to them the glory of recommending it to the applause, the affection, and adoption of every nation which is yet a stranger to it.

The Mode of Electing the President-Federalist Paper 68 (Alexander Hamilton)

Hamilton & Washington Walking Tour New York City

The Federalist Papers is a series of 85 letters or essays written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay, under the pseudonym “Publius”, and published in newspapers in the 1780’s.  The goal was to get nine of the thirteen states to ratify the U.S. Constitution in order to replace the Articles of Confederation.  In 1788, the entire series was published as a book under the title “The Federalist”.

In 1788, in Federalist Paper 68, Alexander Hamilton put forth the process for electing the President.  Since the United States is a republic, the election for the President is not accomplished through a direct popular election but through “a  small number of persons (electors), selected by their fellow-citizens from the general mass” who “will be most likely to possess the information and discernment requisite to such complicated investigations (e.g. analyzing the qualities of the person most fit for the job) ” and to afford a “moral certainty” “that that the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualification” AND will fill the position with people “pre-eminent for ability and virtue.”

See the entire Federalist 68 below:
Fedealist-Papers-Essays

 

The Mode of Electing the President
From the New York Packet
Friday, March 14, 1788
Alexander Hamilton

To the People of the State of New York:

THE mode of appointment of the Chief Magistrate of the United States is almost the only part of the system, of any consequence, which has escaped without severe censure, or which has received the slightest mark of approbation from its opponents. The most plausible of these, who has appeared in print, has even deigned to admit that the election of the President is pretty well guarded.1 I venture somewhat further, and hesitate not to affirm, that if the manner of it be not perfect, it is at least excellent. It unites in an eminent degree all the advantages, the union of which was to be wished for.

It was desirable that the sense of the people should operate in the choice of the person to whom so important a trust was to be confided. This end will be answered by committing the right of making it, not to any preestablished body, but to men chosen by the people for the special purpose, and at the particular conjuncture.

It was equally desirable, that the immediate election should be made by men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station, and acting under circumstances favorable to deliberation, and to a judicious combination of all the reasons and inducements which were proper to govern their choice. A small number of persons, selected by their fellow-citizens from the general mass, will be most likely to possess the information and discernment requisite to such complicated investigations.

It was also peculiarly desirable to afford as little opportunity as possible to tumult and disorder. This evil was not least to be dreaded in the election of a magistrate, who was to have so important an agency in the administration of the government as the President of the United States. But the precautions which have been so happily concerted in the system under consideration, promise an effectual security against this mischief. The choice of SEVERAL, to form an intermediate body of electors, will be much less apt to convulse the community with any extraordinary or violent movements, than the choice of ONE who was himself to be the final object of the public wishes. And as the electors, chosen in each State, are to assemble and vote in the State in which they are chosen, this detached and divided situation will expose them much less to heats and ferments, which might be communicated from them to the people, than if they were all to be convened at one time, in one place.

Nothing was more to be desired than that every practicable obstacle should be opposed to cabal, intrigue, and corruption. These most deadly adversaries of republican government might naturally have been expected to make their approaches from more than one querter, but chiefly from the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils. How could they better gratify this, than by raising a creature of their own to the chief magistracy of the Union? But the convention have guarded against all danger of this sort, with the most provident and judicious attention. They have not made the appointment of the President to depend on any preexisting bodies of men, who might be tampered with beforehand to prostitute their votes; but they have referred it in the first instance to an immediate act of the people of America, to be exerted in the choice of persons for the temporary and sole purpose of making the appointment. And they have excluded from eligibility to this trust, all those who from situation might be suspected of too great devotion to the President in office. No senator, representative, or other person holding a place of trust or profit under the United States, can be of the numbers of the electors. Thus without corrupting the body of the people, the immediate agents in the election will at least enter upon the task free from any sinister bias. Their transient existence, and their detached situation, already taken notice of, afford a satisfactory prospect of their continuing so, to the conclusion of it. The business of corruption, when it is to embrace so considerable a number of men, requires time as well as means. Nor would it be found easy suddenly to embark them, dispersed as they would be over thirteen States, in any combinations founded upon motives, which though they could not properly be denominated corrupt, might yet be of a nature to mislead them from their duty.

Another and no less important desideratum was, that the Executive should be independent for his continuance in office on all but the people themselves. He might otherwise be tempted to sacrifice his duty to his complaisance for those whose favor was necessary to the duration of his official consequence. This advantage will also be secured, by making his re-election to depend on a special body of representatives, deputed by the society for the single purpose of making the important choice.

All these advantages will happily combine in the plan devised by the convention; which is, that the people of each State shall choose a number of persons as electors, equal to the number of senators and representatives of such State in the national government, who shall assemble within the State, and vote for some fit person as President. Their votes, thus given, are to be transmitted to the seat of the national government, and the person who may happen to have a majority of the whole number of votes will be the President. But as a majority of the votes might not always happen to centre in one man, and as it might be unsafe to permit less than a majority to be conclusive, it is provided that, in such a contingency, the House of Representatives shall select out of the candidates who shall have the five highest number of votes, the man who in their opinion may be best qualified for the office.

The process of election affords a moral certainty, that the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications. Talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity, may alone suffice to elevate a man to the first honors in a single State; but it will require other talents, and a different kind of merit, to establish him in the esteem and confidence of the whole Union, or of so considerable a portion of it as would be necessary to make him a successful candidate for the distinguished office of President of the United States. It will not be too strong to say, that there will be a constant probability of seeing the station filled by characters pre-eminent for ability and virtue. And this will be thought no inconsiderable recommendation of the Constitution, by those who are able to estimate the share which the executive in every government must necessarily have in its good or ill administration. Though we cannot acquiesce in the political heresy of the poet who says: “For forms of government let fools contest That which is best administered is best,” yet we may safely pronounce, that the true test of a good government is its aptitude and tendency to produce a good administration.

The Vice-President is to be chosen in the same manner with the President; with this difference, that the Senate is to do, in respect to the former, what is to be done by the House of Representatives, in respect to the latter.

The appointment of an extraordinary person, as Vice-President, has been objected to as superfluous, if not mischievous. It has been alleged, that it would have been preferable to have authorized the Senate to elect out of their own body an officer answering that description. But two considerations seem to justify the ideas of the convention in this respect. One is, that to secure at all times the possibility of a definite resolution of the body, it is necessary that the President should have only a casting vote. And to take the senator of any State from his seat as senator, to place him in that of President of the Senate, would be to exchange, in regard to the State from which he came, a constant for a contingent vote. The other consideration is, that as the Vice-President may occasionally become a substitute for the President, in the supreme executive magistracy, all the reasons which recommend the mode of election prescribed for the one, apply with great if not with equal force to the manner of appointing the other. It is remarkable that in this, as in most other instances, the objection which is made would lie against the constitution of this State. We have a Lieutenant-Governor, chosen by the people at large, who presides in the Senate, and is the constitutional substitute for the Governor, in casualties similar to those which would authorize the Vice-President to exercise the authorities and discharge the duties of the President.

PUBLIUS.

Alexander Hamilton Remembrance at Trinity Church

Hamilton & Washington Walking Tour New York City

A crowd of admirers attended an Alexander Hamilton remembrance at Trinity Church in New York City on the 212th anniversary of his death.   The events began with a ceremony by members of the United States Coast Guard (originally founded by Hamilton in the late 18th Century to catch smugglers), followed by speeches by Douglas Hamilton, 5th great grandson and Rand Scholet, founder and president of the Alexander Hamilton Awareness Society.

After the ceremony, inside Trinity Church, Richard Brookhiser, author of the highly recommended 1999 biography, Alexander Hamilton, American (as well as Founding Father: Rediscovering George Washington), was awarded the first ever Hamilton Legacy Award by Rand Scholet.  Brookhiser gave a powerful speech titled “Alexander Hamilton: The Man Who Made America Prosperous”.

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Due in large part to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s sensational, Hamilton the Musical, a large crowd assembled to honor Alexander Hamilton.  The first Secretary of the Treasury and Revolutionary War hero died 212 years ago and was buried in the cemetery along with his wife Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton.

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A ceremony by the US Coast Guard preceded speeches at the gravesite.

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The gravesite of Alexander Hamilton.  New York City was the key city in the Revolutionary War and the location of so many seminal sites and events in the founding of the United States.  Explore this history in the “The Revolutionary Tour: Washington and Hamilton in New York City”.

Commemoration of the Hamilton-Burr Duel in Weehawken, NJ

Hamilton & Washington Walking Tour New York City

History came alive July 11, 2016 at the annual gathering at the Alexander Hamilton Memorial and (nearby) Hamilton-Burr duel site in Weehawken, NJ in which we honored the Secretary of the Treasury, Lieutenant Colonel, and Founding Father whose life was lost to an “affair of honor” with Aaron Burr.   Although not the actual dueling site (which was nearby, closer to the Hudson River), the Alexander Hamilton Memorial and nearby Alexander Hamilton Park have stunning views of the New York City skyline, the city which Hamilton knew, loved and took an active role in shaping its future.  Speaking at the ceremony were Douglas Hamilton, 5th great-grandson of Alexander Hamilton, Rand Scholet, found of the Alexander Hamilton Awareness Society, the mayor of Weehawken, Richard Turner, (and later at the nearby Elks Lodge) Thomas Fleming, author of Duel: Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, And The Future Of America.  The gathering, besides honoring the memory of the great man, also celebrated the victory of all involved in keeping Hamilton’s portrait on the next version of the United States’ ten dollar bill.

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New York Waterways has ongoing scheduled service which makes it easy to take the beautiful ride to Weehawken from Manhattan.  I was thinking of waiting for the next ferry as the one I took was named after Hamilton’s political rival, Thomas Jefferson.  Maybe enough time has passed…

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How exciting to meet the eloquent Douglas Hamilton, 5th great-grandson of Alexander Hamilton.  There is more than a slight resemblance in facial features between (the bust of) Alexander Hamilton and Douglas Hamilton.

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Helping to keep the memory and legacy of Alexander Hamilton alive is the founder of the Alexander Hamilton Society (AHA), the charismatic Rand Scholet and sitting to his right is the fine author and historian Thomas Fleming who spoke later at the nearby Elks Lodge.

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Moved from its original location to this loftier one many years after the duel (because of the installation of train tracks along the original location of the duel), the stone where Hamilton reportedly laid his head after being shot by Aaron Burr, is imprinted with the following words: Upon this stone rested the head of the patriot, soldier, statesman, and jurist Alexander Hamilton after the duel with Aaron Burr.  Other duels took place in the same location including one with Hamilton’s young son Phillip,  who was killed in a duel in 1801 with the same pistols used in his father’s duel with Burr.

 

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Many “affairs of honor” took place on the original dueling grounds, which was, as the plaque reads, “somewhere below” the site of the current memorial.  The plaque was dedicated on July 11, 2004, on the 200th anniversary of the Hamilton-Burr duel.

 

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Perched upon a pedestal in front of spectacular views of New York City is the bust of Alexander Hamilton.

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Just a few steps from the memorial is Alexander Hamilton Park, a fine place to contemplate the life and accomplishments of the great statesman.

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