The Thought for the Day/John C Miller on Alexander Hamilton

It is undeniable, however, that despite the suddenness of his advent, he had been long preparing for this emergence.
John C Miller
Alexander Hamilton: Profile in Paradox


John Chester Miller (1907-1991) was an American historian and writer, focusing mainly on the key figures of the American Revolution. This book was published in the 1950’s and was written in the formal yet urbane and entertaining style that was common to the era. It was richly researched with perhaps a bit more detail than the casual student of history will require, but overall it is well worth the effort required to finish it. Alexander Hamilton, of course, was the first secretary of the treasury for the United States and took a nation without money or credit and deeply in debt and made it prosperous and creditworthy. Killed in a duel with Aaron Burr, Hamilton remains the only person shot to death by a sitting vice president of the United States.

The advent referred to was Hamilton’s writing of a series of pamphlets in 1774 supporting independence when he was a 19-year-old student at King’s College, now Columbia University, in New York City. These were in answer to a series of Loyalists pamphlets and served as Hamilton’s entree to the nationals stage. Hamilton then fought with the New York militia and, with opportunism to match his talent, Hamilton eventually found himself as an aide-de-camp to General Washington.

Hamilton had been born to unmarried parents in the West Indies and was determined to rise to an exalted station, both socially and professionally. His early life was spent, as much as possible, reading and, later, writing and a letter he wrote detailing a hurricane so impressed local officials that money was raised to send him to New York to further his education.

Hamilton, much like Benjamin Franklin, remains an outstanding example of someone of modest birth who saw the life he wanted to live and went out and lived that life.

…he had been long preparing for this emergence.

We must prepare for our emergence, too. Like Hamilton, we must use our time and efforts to maximize the resources we were born with and we must put nature and circumstance to work for us, too. Now, Hamilton had an opportunistic bent that some more modest probably lack, but no matter. We all have talents we can get the most out of and we all have the same 24-hours every day to do it. Our emergence might be visible to the world, to our community or, perhaps, only to ourselves, but when it comes, it will be the result of the foundation we have laid and will lead to the path that will take us where we are meant to go.

Quotes are from Gaylon’s personal quote book, begun in 1988 in a hotel room in Berkeley, California.

 

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