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Great essay shot dead

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POSTED: July 1, 2010 1:18 p.m.

In this time of free market bailouts, in this time when “drill baby drill” is mocked because of British Petroleum’s oil spill, politicians and pundits often quote from these passages written in the fall of 1778, by Alexander Hamilton.  
“While every method is taken to bring to justice those men whose principles and practices have been hostile to the present revolution, it is to be lamented that the conduct of another class, equally criminal, and if possible more mischievous, has hitherto passed with impunity, and almost without notice. I mean that tribe who, taking advantage of times, have carried the spirit of monopoly and extortion to an excess, which scarcely admits of a parallel. Emboldened by the success of progressive impositions, it has extended to all necessaries of life. The exorbitant price of every article, and the depreciation upon every currency, are evils derived from essentially from this source. When avarice takes the lead in a state, it is commonly the forerunner of its fall. How shocking is it to discover among ourselves, even at this early period, the strongest symptoms of this fatal disease....
“But when a man, appointed to be the guardian of a state, and the depository of the happiness and morals of the people, forgetful of the solemn relation in which he stands, descends into the dishonest artifices of the mercantile protector, and sacrifices his conscience and the trust to pecuniary motives, there is no strain of abhorrence of which the human mind is capable, no punishment the vengeance of the people can conflict, which may not be applied to him with justice.”
Many American’s may carry this sentiment. We see our nest eggs swallowed whole by those who give snakes a bad name. We see our livelihoods smothered in the slimy coating of reckless overconfidence. It would seem uncontroversial to use Hamilton. After all, he signed the Constitution. He may have been cheered for his essay. By this article, it would be hard to understand how Hamilton could have a political enemy of both Aaron Burr and Thomas Jefferson.
Well, we know what happened. Aaron Burr, a man who did not sign the Declaration of Independence nor the Constitution, Vice-President to Thomas Jefferson, shot Hamilton in a duel. Hamilton died from the wound inflicted by Burr. Later, in a somewhat unrelated incident, Burr was charged then, acquitted of treason.
All this drama, yet America forged on to pass a highly divisive peace and favored trade treaty with Britain. The treaty’s major proponent was killed in a duel. A major detractor was arrested for murder, acquitted. Arrested for treason and, again, acquitted.
So, what is our excuse for not getting any legislation done?

Alford Hardy is retired military. This is the fourth in a series of columns by the Richmond Hill resident.

 

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