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tv   Washington and Hamilton  CSPAN  April 17, 2017 12:01am-1:03am EDT

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with the place and having it means so much to you in your own experience of being alive, and i would just hope that they would have that joy that i get every day and that privilege that i feel of being able to live here in this little city i love. staff recentlyr traveled to charlottesville, virginia, to learn about its rich history. learn more about other stops are /cities tour. you're watching american history tv, all weekend, every weekend, on c-span3. >> next on american history tv, we hear a panel of historians on the relationship between alexander hamilton and george washington. they will talk about thomas jefferson's opposition to hamilton's federalist party platform and how hamilton's
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immigrant experience affected his political views. they also explain how hamilton have helped shift washington's opinion of slavery. the new york historical society hosted this hour-long event. [applause] >> tonight's program is a lecture in american history. we think carl for his wonderful support, and it was like to recognize a few other people in the auditorium cured the heart of our public programs, as i think you all know, is the bernard and irene schwartz distinguished speaker series. mr. swartz also helped start the classic film series, now in its fifth year. it is growing and growing. esther schwartz -- mr. swartz, thank you so much. let's give him a hand. [applause]
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>> i also want to recognize joel pickett, david, and the trustees and chairman's counsel for all the great work. let's give them a hand, as well. [applause] >> the program will last one hour. we will have a question and answer session. we are doing the questions on cards, it works better and everyone gets a chance to ask questions and we get a lot more questions covered. you should have received a pencil and card. if you have not, staff will go up and down the aisles with them and hand them to the moderator. there will be a formal book signing after the program, so please stay for the book signing. the books are for sale. we are so happy to welcome john
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steele gordon, the speaker closest to me. he specializes in business and financial history. he is contributing editor at philanthropy and wrote a column for american heritage from 1989 until 2007, or he also served as contributing editor. he has many books. his latest is "washington's monument." we are also thrilled to welcome back akhil reed amar, professor at yale university. he clerked for judge stephen breyer. he is the recipient of yale's highest award for teaching excellence. he is the author of several
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books, including his latest, "the constitution today." he is also an honorary scholar trustee here. our moderator is carol berkin. she is a professor of history in new york. and esteemed historian, she has appeared in numerous documentaries, including the pbs special "alexander hamilton." she is author and editor of several books, including "a brilliant solution," in her forthcoming book "the republican peril." i would like to ask everyone, if you have a cell phone, please turn it off and please enjoy this program. have a great night and we will see you again. thank you so much. [applause] carol: welcome.
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both george washington and alexander hamilton are enjoying a new and favorable press these days. although washington has always been lauded as the first in the hearts of his countrymen and father of our country, his intellect and political skills have often seem to be eclipsed by the brilliance of the men who surrounded him. yet recent scholarship has come to reassess the president and to see him as a skilled political leader and an active shipper of our political traditions. he is now lauded for what some might call his social intelligence, his ability to
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read a situation well and assess what response would be most beneficial and effective. hamilton, of course, is now the darling of broadway. [laughter] carol: where once he was dismissed and loathed on occasion, a man whose fiscal and economic policies somehow produced the corporate abuses of the gilded age and today, he has been redrawn as the exemplar of america's immigrant rags to riches story, as a young, bold patriotic genius, the very symbol of the virtues of the melting pot. we are fortunate tonight to have two scholars who are renowned experts on 18th-century america and who will help us peel away the myths and exaggerations of these two central characters in our past. i want to begin with two questions about the men themselves. how would you assess the character and temperament of washington and hamilton?
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what you think their strengths and weaknesses were as public figures, and even as private individuals? john: they were very different men. they came from different backgrounds. washington was very big for his age. hamilton was on the small side. washington was very steady, but he was not an intellectual. hamilton certainly was. he was one of the brightest people who ever walked the earth, i think. he was always in high gear. hamilton would have worn me out in 20 minutes. washington was more steady. perhaps that is why they made such a great combination. abbott to costello. carol: now you are dating herself. john: perhaps rogers and hammerstein is a better combination. hamilton came from a very poor background.
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john adams dismissed him as a battered bastard of a peddler. his father was not a peddler. he was left an orphan at seven or eight years old. he literally grew up in a countinghouse belonging to nicholas kruger, a merchant in the west indies. from the very beginning, he knew about getting and spending and accounts and how you had to buy low and sell dear if you wanted to get ahead. most of the other founding fathers, the major founding fathers, have been born into better economic circumstances. some were born into very good circumstances.
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thomas jefferson was one of the richest men in the colonies. benjamin franklin came from a lower middle class family with a great many children, but by the time of the revolution, franklin was old, venerable, world-famous and very rich. he was a very good businessman as well as a genius. the main difference between hamilton and washington was they made a great combination, they filled in the missing parts of the other. akhil: i think the metaphor of a combination is a nice one. washington was the greatest horse man of his age. we think of hamilton as the fastest horsemen state, but only washington could ride him. [laughter]
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akhil: that is a pretty extraordinary combination to behold. washington is a horse whisper it. he himself has a volcanic temperament but he learned early on to control himself. he learns self-mastery and he is a horse whisperer. he becomes -- very skittish, very fast alexander hamilton. when washington monitors him, give washington credit, he recognizes talent and surrounds himself with people who are smarter than he is on sat kind of grounds. you put it well, he has a social intelligence, and they all look up to him as their master.
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he manages to keep jefferson on his left and hamilton on his right in the cabinet, and try to get them to at least talk to him and report him so he can be the decider in chief. the relationship is even more interesting and complex in that washington has no children of his own. he has no son. hamilton really has no father. they find each other. washington does refer to him as "my boy" from time to time. there is an affectionate overlay. there actually is a quite interesting, ridiculous but interesting rumor that circulates. americans -- there have always been this paranoid strand of
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american history. the rumor is that hamilton is actually the illegitimate son of washington. [laughter] akhil: it is preposterous because one is 6'3" and the other is 5'7". but washington at a young age did take a cruise -- [laughter] akhil: i am reporting what people said at the time. they are living in a time when all the narratives are of secret birth. arthur being the secret son of uther pendragon. british history is littered with secret sons. and in fact, washington is there three years before hamilton's birth and he never really goes to st. croix, but i have not seen the birth certificate. [laughter]
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akhil: this amount of -- because even ridiculous paranoia captures certain truth. there is extraordinary chemistry between these two people, and one way of thinking about it is, to some extent, a father-son relationship. carol: that is what i want us to get to. their relationship is the subject of several books. people ponder -- >> we're going to come on and fix akhil's microphone. you can keep talking. i'm sorry to interrupt. carol: where was i?
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the relationship. i want to read you a quote from hamilton. people have often taken two quotes out of context. one is that hamilton says that washington was a great shield. immediately if you are a jeffersonian, you say, see, he used washington. he was only using him and did not care for him. at one point in hamilton's relationship with washington, washington says to him when he is an aid to camp, he says come see me immediately. him hamilton says yes, but he runs into the marquis lafayette and he stops to chat with this young and charming fellow. washington is furious. he says, you kept me waiting 10 minutes. hamilton says, i only kept you waiting two minutes, sir. they argue and washington is unrelenting in his disapproval
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and hamilton is furious. he writes to a man who would be his father-in-law, "i always disliked the office of an aide de camp. for the last month i have felt no friendship for him. our dispositions of the opposite of each other and the pride of my temperament would not allow me to profess what i do not feel." i have an 18-year-old son uses the same thing about me on a regular basis. [laughter] carol: there is a danger in taking these momentary statements and reading into them a relationship, a definition of
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a whole relationship. i was wondering if you could talk a little bit more about -- was this a mentoring relationship? did it change over time? was it purely a political alliance? do you have anything more to say about the character of this relationship between the two of them? akhil: we could contrast the relationship with jefferson's relationship with washington, which i think was more about this loyalty. jefferson backstabbed washington. he said things behind his back and then denied it when
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confronted. they are all forceful people, but hamilton is going to stab you in the chest, not the back. carol: and then write 58 pages defending himself. john: in one night. [laughter] carol: right. akhil: you are right, it is a relationship over time. washington trusts hamilton throughout the course of his life. at the end of his life, the twilight, he is being summoned back into possible national service one more time just when he thought he was finally going to be able to rest at home comfortably. john adams says, there is a quasi-war with france, will you ride yet again to the rescue of your country? washington says yes, but you have to let me pick my deputies.
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today, cabinet officers might say i will serve only if i can pick my staff. and he wants hamilton. he knows he can trust hamilton and he wants all of his talents. if he is going to take the blame for failure, he's going to want his guy helping him and hamilton is his guy. carol: john? john: i think hamilton was -- because of the circumstances of his birth, was fiercely ambitious. he wanted to rise. washington was born what was called the middling sort of landowners and then became quite rich when he married martha. washington, while he was certainly ambitious in one way, he was less ferocious about it. there was a story i have always loved, at the end of the revolutionary war for the treaty of peace was signed in 1783, king george the third was being painted by benjamin west, the artist born in this country but who made his career in england, and as often happens with portrait painters, they were
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talking. george the third said, what is george washington going to do upon the signing of the peace treaty? west says, he is going to retire from the army and return to mount vernon. george the third is absolutely astounded and says, if he does that, he will be the greatest man in the world. and of course that is exactly what he did. george washingtons come very few and far between. the only one i can think in the 20th century that begins to approach it is nelson mandela. carol: it is interesting, i always thought washington cared about his reputation and hamilton cared about being recognized. john: yes. carol: that was a different as explained in large part by their backgrounds. but hamilton's desire to be acknowledged was really unquenchable. akhil: hamilton's love of fame, it is the ruling passion of the
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noblest minds. john: hamilton when he got caught in an affair, was willing to make it public. it is inconceivable that washington would even be in an affair. akhil: it was just then stupidly doing what men stupidly do, but nothing of a publicly dishonorable nature. john: hamilton did this, this was not his only affair. martha washington named one of mount vernon's tomkat hamilton. [laughter] carol: women called hamilton little adonis, and men called him little mars. the difference is remarkable. i think one of the things that endears hamilton to many is that he was not ambitious for wealth
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or himself, he was ambitious to create a powerful nation. all of the framers or founding fathers, no one burned more with the desire to make america -- i am afraid to use this phrase. [laughter] carol: to make america great for the first time. early on in washington's first administration, he says to the british ambassador to america, he says, we are young, we are not there yet basically, but we will one day be everything you are and more. i think that was really what drove -- we talked about public service, i think his ambition was channeled almost entirely into this kind of public service, and he really wanted to be acknowledged for that.
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akhil: and not just public service, but especially for hamilton but also washington, national public service. as an immigrant, hamilton does not grow up as a virginian or new yorker with a primal attachment to one state or another. he is in a position to make a vast amounts of money come he has inside information as secretary of the treasury, and is never interested in cashing in that way. washington himself comes to associate his own ego and ambitions, in part, and he says actually, i can redo one thing he says in a first draft of his inaugural address. because he has no children of
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his own, his child is the nation, and uniquely -- jefferson and madison, they are virginians all the way to the end. washington comes to respect new york more in some ways than virginia. he comes to recognize some of the yankee virtues, the northern virtues. he has an army that is north and south. they are distinct, not just public service, but national. carol: hamilton has a great phrase. he said he wanted men who fought continental he, not provincially. akhil: here is the first draft of washington's first inaugural, which he gave in the city of new york. madison convinces him to take this out. "divine providence is not that my blood transmitted or my name perpetuated in the sometimes seducing channel of immediate offspring. i have no child for which i can make a provision, no family to
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build in greatness upon my countries rowing. no earthly consideration except to render service to our current country could have persuaded me to accept this appointment. you can trust me, i will not become a king." and in a great biography of washington, one of the chapters is called "children not his own." carol: let me move on to political roles. what do you think washington's vision for america was? what you think he considered his most important role in achieving it? and similarly for hamilton.
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what was his vision? i often feel hamilton was sometimes the sole visionary of this group of extraordinary men, even before independence was one he is mapping out how to make america a great power, to take its seat with the world's great power. what was his vision and how did he see his role in making it a reality? i spent a lot of time looking at hamilton's programs and i finally understood them because of his amazing discussion of them. [laughter] john: i think, when hamilton -- when he became secretary of the treasury when he was still in his early 30's, he faced a really very serious economic problem. we got the constitution because basically the country was unable to pay its bills. the articles of confederation were just too weak.
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he becomes secretary of the treasury. washington had first offered it to robert morris. he was a hero of the revolution. morris turned him down because he wanted to speculate instead. a bad decision. carol: he ended up in jail, right? john: yes. and morris said, hamilton is your boy. the government was deeply in debt but nobody knew how much because the american revolution had been financed with what were called continentals. they just printed them. as fiat money always does, it depreciated to near worthlessness and a lot of it ended in the hands of the speculators who would give one cents on the dollar.
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he said that a national debt, if it is not excessive, will be to us a national blessing, and it has turned out to be that exactly. it saved the union in the civil war, it saved the economy in the 1930's, it saved the world in the 1940's. why we have quintupled the debt in the last 40 years is another question. how to do that? he came up with a brilliant plan to refund the debt, refund the continentals, which would give all of the speculators profit. a lot of people thought that was wrong, they should not do that. madison said only the original holder of the debt should get the fair value and speculators
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should get no more than what he paid for it. hamilton pointed out that was hopelessly impractical. also he said, if you begin to decide how much money you owe to somebody, how much you are going to give him by what the paper says, people will charge more. it was very important for the government to live up to the full faith and credit of the united states as the constitution calls for. he got that through. the debt immediately became very popular. it was subscribed very quickly, as they say on wall street. by the mid-1790's, american credit, which had been nonexistent in 1789, was one of the best in the world. american bonds were selling at a premium in europe. a remarkable a compliment. hamilton had to set up things
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like the coast guard and collect the tariff, which was the main source of income in those days. after 9/11, it was the coast guard that cleaned of trinity. because hamilton was the founder of the coast guard. akhil: you might think of washington more as an isolationist. to achieve independence from the great european powers. hamilton saw even further into the future and was more of a meddler by nature. the wheels were always turning. more schemes and plans. more of an interventionist. one day, he wanted america to decide the fate of europe and the rest of the world, that america would hold the balance of the scale or throw its weight onto one pan or another.
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washington wanted to leave europe alone and the hope that europe would leave us alone. hamilton i think, in his larger vision -- again, both are proponents of national greatness. he was more than interventionist by nature. carol: this leads me to the next question, which is jefferson frequently claimed in his letters to his friends and followers, particularly madison and other anti-administration friends, against jefferson is busy organizing and anti-administration party, that hamilton and even washington were in his terms monocrats. members of an anglomancy, who were plotting and planning and eager to replace the republic
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that had been created in america with an imitation of the british political system. is there any weight to that argument or is jefferson just being his usual snide self? john: i think it was just part of jefferson's political -- i won't say paranoia, but jefferson was a very good hater. he was the least favorite of the founding fathers, as far as i'm concerned. he deserves displays on mount rushmore he was not a nice man. he had a very backward vision of the united states. he wanted it to be a republic of yeoman farmers.
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jefferson was divorced from the real world. he hated commerce and banking. when we had a panic in new york in 1793 with bank stocks that suddenly crash, jefferson was delighted. he calculated they had lost $25 million. he said that was about the value of if the whole city of new york had been burned down. hamilton had much clearer vision of where the world was going. i'm not sure jefferson ever read the wealth of nations, which hamilton certainly did. carol: but he certainly did borrow from, that is he read, of how britain had risen to power through the creation of a public debt.
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he was more than willing to borrow those ideas. i don't dig it was because he wanted to be prudent, but because he wanted to best britain. john: i think he looked at britain as the most successful model of all the european countries. britain was a far better governed place than say, prerevolutionary france. the people, their rights for much more protected in britain. liberty was born in britain. jefferson loved france loved paris. they always thought, what napoleon said of britain, a nation of shopkeepers. akhil: we think of the idea of monarchy is having at least two dimensions. one is the dynastic idea, and
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you see washington denounces it from the beginning. in i don't have anyone to give it to. and washington steps down after two terms. he was unanimously elected. he probably would have unanimously re-re-elected if you run a third time. jefferson tries to follow that tradition in the arises that my tenure will lead to a dynasty, so jefferson steps down and then madison and monroe. a two-term tradition begins. washington you see is not going to be dynastic. john adams does have a son, and his name is q, as in w. [laughter] akhil: remember, they are living in a world where power has
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dissented dynastic leak in all the other regimes of the world. monarchy is a great line for jefferson going up against adams, who does have sons who want to succeed their father. the second dimension of monarchy, one is the dynastic issue, which really does come to the fore in the context between jefferson and adams, but the other is how much power they should be. in that, jefferson and adams are more critical of washington when washington yields executive power, but when they in turn get to wield executive power, jefferson abandons the strict construction principles, and thank goodness he is a bit of a hypocrite because some of those
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principles are stupid. [laughter] akhil: he worked hard to repudiate them when he realized it was more complicated than we thought. [laughter] akhil: madison signs into law a renewal of a bank, the very bank that he and jefferson had initially opposed. why had they opposed that bank? you heard some idea. there were no commercial people. they do not understand thanks, commerce, cities must capitalism. hamilton growing up in a merchant house did. there is also this dimension that on the bank in particular, that they were -- 80% of the votes against the first bank in the congress come from virginia and maryland.
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it is a principle states rights argument and are too much power in the federal government and that will be the seat of monarchy or something like that. you would expect the votes to be more randomly distributed. they were not. here is what they were actually worried about. if you have this national bank, it will be located in philadelphia, and that may lead to a chain of events in which the national capital actually stays in philadelphia or new york and does not go down to the bank of the potomac. it is connected to the assumption of state debt and all sorts of things. but they are virginians first, you see, and when it becomes clear that virginia is going to control government and there will be a bank on the potomac, they make their peace with that bank. carol: jefferson thought a lot of things were ok as long as he was in charge of them. it wasn't even that implied powers really helped govern.
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it was more that they are safe now that i am -- they can trust me. there is a hubris and that that to me is always extremely irritating. when the constitution was proposed, jefferson was in france and he wrote a 20 page diatribe against ratification. he was absolutely opposed to it and his poor secretaries were copying this 20 page piece in he was sending it to everyone. patrick henry, whom he hated, even got hold of it. his major opposition to the constitution was the president should only serve one year. it should rotate. akhil: rotation and the absence of the bill of rights.
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what we would today call term limits. carol: as soon as jefferson gets in office, it is really ok. akhil: to his credit, he does step down after two terms, and so does madison and monroe, and good for them. carol: no, i agree. but there is the sense that these things -- this power, this executive power in the right hands can be wielded, because in his case he is wielding it the sake of the people. for the federalists, who knows what they're wielding it for. akhil: in terms of the optics, washington does mimic certain symbolic and ceremonial aspects of the british monarch just in how he presents himself. and jefferson does present himself as more of a man of the people. he dresses down, he wears slippers, he shakes hands and
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said of bows. it is beginning of the more populist idea, man of the people. washington's enactment of the presidency is more aloof and distant and regal in some respects. john: washington's personality was more aloof in some respects. he did not like people touching him, for instance. carol: thank you. john: a south carolinian. washington was not amused. carol: it was a bet. but of course morris would try anything. he was one of my favorites. akhil: hamilton bet morris that
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he would not have the audacity to -- carol: throw his arm around. akhil: hamilton paid up but he said, that was a stupid thing to do. washington looked at me with a withering glare that i was paid anything cannot happen. carol: we have questions from the audience and i think i can read the handwriting. washington frees his slaves in his will. hamilton was an activist in the new york society. good hamilton impact washington's changing view of slavery? an interesting question. akhil: i know of no specific conversation about slavery, but i do think that washington being president in this city and coming to spend much more time in the north in general did have an important effect on him. new york is a slave state, there are slaves, i think one out of
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eight new yorkers at the time is a slave, but he can see the handwriting on the wall that slavery is on its way out in various parts of the north. carol: and also in his own plantation economy, i admire washington but there is a practical reason for this, as well. he had moved from growing tobacco to growing wheat. tobacco is labor intensive. wheat, as far as i know, you just sort of plant it and watch it grow. maryland and virginians were quite busy selling slaves to the rice plantation states, north and south carolina and georgia. because the crops they were
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moving to did not require this kind of slave labor. so washington's freeing of his slaves may have had philanthropic and a moral element, but washington was also quite a good agricultural manager and he could see that he really did not need the number of slaves that he had. here is one. does our current financial regulatory framework, the fcc, the fdic, department of the treasury, trace its roots in any way to alexander hamilton and his thoughts and politics? john: i think alexander hamilton would be absolutely appalled at the federal regulatory -- how we regulate banking and the monetary system. the federal reserve is a central bank like the bank of the united
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states that hamilton founded, modeled on the bank of england. but the bank of the united states was a unitary bank and the reserve was spread around the country. jefferson hated banks and he passed that down to his heirs. jackson was a thorough jeffersonian when it came to finance. he hated banks and he killed the second bank of the united states that medicine had signed into law. we did not have a central bank for 70-odd years. the fed came into existence in 1913. in 1907, jpmorgan was essentially the single bank of the united states. they said, ok, he will not live forever and they set up the fed.
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the banking system has been a mess in this country. bank failure is as american as apple pie because of it. we have state banking, we have federal banking, we have the savings and loans, which were a disaster 25 or 30 years ago. you have never had one unitary, regulatory body looking over the whole banking system. we would do ourselves a favor if we could get toward that. carol: which contemporary u.s. or global leader is most like hamilton and which is most like washington? [laughter] carol: u.s. or global leader. john: as i said earlier, i think nelson mandela, who gave up power.
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he was the founder of his country in the modern sense. he spent 28 years in jail and you might have thought he would be a little angry about that. but he was one of the greatest men of the 20th century. the analogy for hamilton, the first person that came to mind was margaret thatcher. carol: i would've thought steve jobs or someone in technology. that is someone with the genius and vision and wants to build -- who is the fellow? elon musk? who wants to send people around the moon. i am not volunteering. i am not ralph kramden's wife. now i am getting myself. the person i wrote my first book about, a loyalist from massachusetts who went stark
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raving mad, readily said he would like to send his wife into space. i would think in the sense of innovative and competitive and ambitious and visionary, that maybe we could look to someone in the tech sphere. akhil: it's interesting, because i do think of mandela as the leader of a revolution against the establishment, and then the founding president who comes to be universally admired and holds himself with a certain sort of dignity is a very good analogy. that would be one -- that one came to mind. what is interesting is that steve jobs -- i was there, 80's to do venture capital before law school and i was at the initial public offering for apple and i talked to steve jobs that day,
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and i think that is a very good analogy. carol: good. we answer that question. [laughter] carol: what would washington have said if he were eulogizing hamilton? you know, morris gave the eulogy. morris was witty and funny and cosmopolitan and wrote beautifully, and he was robust in terms of the eulogy. what you think washington would've said? he was already dead, so he would not have said anything, really. [laughter] carol: it is important to
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remember that. what would he of said? john: he was a man of few words. his inaugural address was the second shortest in history. i think he would've been short and very effective, and a think he would've expressed his affection for hamilton. akhil: tom sawyer got to see his own funeral. i think washington, if he had foresight, as he often tapped people -- he was good at picking a system. i think he would have said, mr. hamilton, would you draft me up -- [laughter] akhil: and hamilton would've been happy to oblige and washington would then well advised eared washington was not a bad writer that hamilton was a great writer. i don't think he would have minded writing his own eulogy. carol: i think he would've loved it. why does hamilton the immigrant embrace the ideals of the american protest movement that led to revolution? quickly and completely -- led to revolution so quickly and cleanly after moving here?
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akhil: if alexander hamilton had stayed in st. croix, he never could have risen to the heights he did. this city in particular created opportunities for talented people to rise. he does, and james wilson does. he does see that only in america are people who are low born but have talent able to -- ben franklin sees this, too. when ben franklin goes to england, he is disrespected because he is low born. in the english system, if you are born in a certain strata, it is assumed that is your lot in life. you are not allowed to show your talent. much of the actual, the real main springs that drive many of
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the great men of the american, including washington, jefferson, adams, hamilton and franklin, all of those definitely, is the sense that in this british system, they are limited in what they could accomplish. they would be a low level functionary. and washington wants to be more than that. and adams and hamilton, too. nowhere are there more opportunities than in the great city of new york. it is cosmopolitan in a way that even boston is not. philadelphia is kind of quaker. this is where people from all
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the world come together. there is the exchange of goods and ideas and you can make it here. a new york city story in a very dramatic way. we call it, ridiculously, madison avenue, and it is hamilton avenue. [laughter] carol: it is also true that some of them believed that war is the moment in which you can prove yourself. your manliness and glory. even john adams, little portly john adams, writes that "i wish there were a war. we could ride to glory and be recognized." akhil: hamilton was the same way. carol: yes. akhil: henry lawrence. carol: yes. i think part of what compels hamilton to join quickly is opportunity to read not just the environment of new york but the
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sense that there is glory that you can get recognition in war. and in fact it is true. akhil: hamilton or napoleon can into on top. this is interesting. carol: who got the better part of the dinner party deal with hamilton on one side and jefferson on the other. you all know the story is that they got together for dinner and hamilton gave away the capital, said you can have the capitol on the potomac if i can assume the state debts? who got the better deal? john: i think hamilton got the better deal. what if new york had become the political capital of the united states as well as the commercial
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capital and artistic capital, on and on? it would then like pointless areas in argentina. there really is no other city in argentina. i think this country was very lucky that the political capital was put in this small down in the potomac. [laughter] carol: i am just thinking that someone also -- were they not also going to make money off of that land sale? the virginians -- akhil: george washington. carol: the virginians like to wax lyrical about producing food from the soil or producing the riches of the soil, but they were big plan to speculators. john: you bet. carol: i discovered that i did not know how to get into the new
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book and i wish i had. in the midst of the whiskey rebellion when the western counties of pennsylvania were rising against the federal government and were going to create their own country and excess tax be damped. washington said the note to the manager of his far-flung properties in says, sell my land in those counties quick. there is trouble coming. john: inside information. akhil: washington was a little more willing to engage in those sorts of sharp dealings. hamilton was more scrupulous. carol: right. akhil: given the norms of the time, there were things he could've cashed in on that he did not does what he wants most of all his fame and glory, not
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money. carol: here is a question that i have no answer for. will you touch on hamilton's attending hebrew school? i have to say, my mother believed that anyone who she respected and admired in history was secretly jewish. [laughter] carol: so hamilton was jewish, columbus was jewish. [laughter] carol: the pope she liked was jewish. there was absolutely no doubt in her mind. if my mother was sitting here at this moment she would say, of course he went to hebrew school. but i don't know if this is true or not or what it signified or what significance of had. there were rumors that his mother was jewish. john: i was not aware that he had -- i am slightly surprised that a tiny island would have a hebrew school.
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akhil: here is what really is significant for us all. uniquely among the american constitutions of the era, because remember 11 of the states have written constitutions in 1787, and in every single state there is a religious test for holding office except in virginia. in nine of the states, or 10, it is in the state constitution. new york did not have one but added one. only virginia has no religious test for office holding and in most states, sometimes they have to believe in the trinity, sometimes they have to be christian, sometimes it is a belief in god.
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for most of them, it is in the state constitution. there is nothing like that in the federal constitution. the federal constitution explicitly prohibits a religious test for office holding in article six. that is a new thing in the world. virginia, it is just a matter of a statute. let's give jefferson his due, because he and medicine push for that statue. you mentioned the enmity between henry and jefferson. it is the statute of religious freedom. having no religious test and having that prohibition in the federal constitution itself is a pretty significant, new thing in the world. carol: and i don't think it came out of hebrew school. [laughter] carol: if hamilton were here today -- oh. if hamilton wrote today a 52nd federalist paper -- that is all we would knew. it is heresy to say, but if i
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have insomnia, picking up the federalist papers helps me go to sleep. what would it say about trump? i am going to pass on that one, i think.
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