It’s been said before …
… there are great and intrinsic defects in his character, which unfit (him) for any high office.
• distempered jealousy
• extreme egotism
• ungovernable temper
• frequently behaved outrageously toward those who served him
• …have been humiliated by the effects of these gusts of passion
• prone to spurn the “prudent” advice of his cabinet and to act impetuously
• given to hasty and “premature” decisions, the result of “either instability of views, or want of sufficient consideration beforehand.
• has certain fixed points of character which tend naturally to the detriment of any cause of which he is the chief, of any Administration of which he is the head.
• His ill humors and jealousies had divided his party, assisted unfriendly foreign powers, alienated potential friends, and torn down much that ________________ had achieved, and they might have set in motion events that could bring the Union to the brink of doom.
Having been sidelined from the classroom since the beginning days of October, I have been able to devote myself to those activities one normally just “dreams” of accomplishing. In my case, I have been pondering the election and trying to figure out how to deal with a rather disturbing situation. I decided to look to the past to try to understand where we are headed now.
Since I have always been interested in early American history, and in particular Jefferson, Burr, and other Founders, I came upon a wonderful book entitled, Adams vs. Jefferson, The Tumultuous Election of 1800 by John Ferling (who knew there had been other tumultuous elections?). The above list of “character defects” was written by Alexander Hamilton (yes, that Alexander Hamilton) in “Letter from Alexander Hamilton, Concerning the Public Conduct and Character of John Adams (1800).” It is clear that Hamilton was not a fan of Adams. Talk about shenanigans! This book details the events leading up to the election of 1800 and includes political goings on throughout the 1790s. It is a fascinating read.
I came away from reading Adams vs. Jefferson with a bit of hope for our future. If the icons of our nation were the backstabbing, power grabbing individuals as portrayed here, and our Union survived, we shall survive the next four years. But it takes our vigilance and our making demands on those institutions which the Founders fought for and put in place: the free press, our representatives, and our rights to have our voices heard every day and night. I think it is because of the dissent, differences, and struggles that we have survived for 200 plus years and will continue to do so. We should take this opportunity to flex our collective political muscles and assure that we continue to be the best place on the earth to live and thrive.
Ferling, John. Adams vs. Jefferson, The Tumultuous Election of 1800. Oxford University Press, 2004.