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Secret Meeting and Its Aftermath

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  • Pages: 5
  • Word count: 1116
  • Category: Hamilton

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This chapter focuses on the causes and effects of the exchange between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton as well as its meaning. Aaron Burr was the grandson of Jonathan Edwards who was famous for his sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God and was well respected. Alexander Hamilton grew up poor and was an audacious person and a respected general.On Wednesday July 11, 1804 Burr and Hamilton were both rowed across the Hudson River on their own boats, Burr with William Van Ness, and Hamilton accompanied by Dr. David Hosack as well as Nathaniel Pendleton. They agreed to meet Weehawken NJ on a ledge 20 ft. above sea level for the duel/interview.

Each party used the language of deniability and code duello because duelling was illegal and in the case that they were caught, in court they can honestly deny things. What actually led up the duel was this: Hamilton kept speaking the raw truth about Burr which kep tainting Burr’s reputation and to keep his honor and respect among the elite Hamilton had to accept Burr’s invitations for a duel. Burr kept demanding a proper apology from Hamilton but he got an explanation for the libel and Hamilton insistently separated political character from personal, which ultimately made Burr invite him to duel. Usually these type of conflicts over honor do not end in a duel. The reason Hamilton kept running his mouth to the press was because on several elections Burr won and Hamilton’s candidate lost and Hamilton also found ways to block Burr from winning some as well. Their hatred has always been consistent. The reasons for attending the duel for Hamilton was keep his respect and to avoid humiliation and social suicide vs. the reasons for Burr was out of frustration.

What actually happened at the duel is this: Both intended not to harm one another, two separate shots rang out and seconds separated them. It is speculated that Hamilton shot first, purposely missing Burr but Burr unexpectedly shot Hamilton. Burr was full of regret and surprise and Hamilton died but Burr’s reputation died with him. He became despised in society. Most duels did not end in fatalities but this one did. This duel became the perfect example of what not to do. It became famous because Burr was the 2nd top official in the federal government and Hamilton the 2nd most important figure in the federalist party. Hamilton also believed that someone like Burr could manipulate the extremely young U.S. and destroy the republic and by him dueling he was defending it.

The Dinner: This chapter is about the secret meeting between Jefferson, Hamilton, and James Madison on Sunday, June 20, 1790 and the plans discussed in the meeting. Hamilton’s plan to get rid of the U.S.’s debt from the revolution had to do with assumption. This caused a stir in the states especially Virginia because they had paid off their debt and with assumption making the debt of each state national, they would have to pay even more. It would make states pay the debt of other states. Despite the fact that many people opposed assumption, the Assumption Bill was passed on July 26.

This also caused fear of disunion. Jefferson, but especially Madison was opposed to Hamilton’s financial plan because they were from Virginia and believed in letting debt being paid off over time, naturally. Something else that went down in the meeting was the Compromise of 1790 which was the decision of where the government would be stationed. Among the three, they decided to put it at Potomac. They decided to not put it in the Middle colonies so that the economic and political capitals of the young nation would not be so close together and seen as corrupt. Also, Potomac was nowhere near being developed so the rich elite would not try to move there and bribe politicians, or anything of that nature. They wanted the location to look genuine.

The Silence: This chapter is about the topic of slavery. Before Jefferson’s secret dinner, on February 11, 1790 Quakers presented petitions to the House to put an end to slavery. This was an awkward moment between politicians because slavery and ethics were taboo. Most people invalidated the Quakers’ position because they were pacifists and did not take part in the war against Britain which made them ineligible to take part in public affairs . Politicians named Jackson and Smith were referenced during the entire chapter as being pro slavery and presented points to support their arguments such as slavery being essential for the economic success of the south and it being a deeply rooted institution.

The states that were the most pro slavery were South Carolina and Georgia but even Virginia vouched for abolition laws. In the Constitution, it was written that the abolition and restriction of slavery would not be considered or acted up until 1808 but this was being brought up in 1790. An important petition was signed by Benjamin Franklin and since he was a sage and considered a grandfather among the fathers of America, he brought more attention to the topic of slavery. So much debate over slavery occurred but at the end instead of heading straightforward to emancipation, the topic was put off to the side for another time. It was such a controversial subject and politicians feared disunion.

The Farewell: This chapter focuses on Washington’s resignation from his presidency. George Washington was praised by colonists as the father of our country even before there was a country and no one came in comparison to him except Thomas Jefferson. But even he could not, not acknowledge Washington as a great leader and legend. This chapter compares George Washington the legend and Washington the man. The country had never known a time when Washington had not been its leader and no one knew who could live up to his standards which he set so high, and succeed him.

There were many who wanted him to remain in charge permanently, many who expected it, and many who feared it. But Washington demonstrated once again why he was such a great leader; he showed his respect for the Republic by sacrificing his power to it because that was what a good leader would do. His farewell address was a shock to many and news paper article would go crazy over printing it because it was breaking news. George Washington chose to retire because he did not want to die in office like a king and obviously did not want to in any way resemble a king because that was the whole point of a new government. He retired after 8 years in office which is what the government stuck to for terms.

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