When we make out the list of statesmen of the first rank, Alexander Hamilton would probably receive at least a plurality of votes for the highest place. In the minds of his countrymen, his memory has always been surrounded with a brilliant halo, has always had a prestige which may be regarded as in some respects surprising.
For when readers come down to the actual records of his career, they find that they have to hear chiefly of financial schemes, the management of the treasury, arrangements concerning the national debt, revenues, tariffs, and internal taxation—dry matters, for the most part, and not often enticing popular interest.
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None the less it is the case that our historical writers have found a singular fascination about Hamilton; the amount of literature and the consequent research concerning him have been very great. Such a condition cannot be accounted for by the tradition of his personal beauty of countenance and charm of manner, which made him a leader of the leaders in public life, neither by the interesting tale of his tragic death. The explanation and the truth lie far deeper.
Hamilton’s fame indicates the unformulated but full appreciation of the unquestionable historic fact that he was the real maker of the government of the United States. Washington created, or at least caused to be created, the national entity; Hamilton did actually create the political entity.
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