Hal Bidlack's Favorite

Hamilton Quotes

Remember: These are out of context! At various times in Hamilton's life he felt elation, despair, hope, and gloom.  His quotes presented here are mostly because they are the ones that struck Hal as amusing, enlightening, interesting, or odd.  For more information about the context of the quotes, please feel free to email Hal.  Many of these quotes are extracted from one or more of the key source readings Hal has done to prepare for the Hamilton role.  Please see the Hamilton Resources page to find a full listing of these fine texts.

On Aaron Burr

On Americans

On His Birth and Ancestry

On the Assumption of Debts, The Debt Itself

On the Congress

Hamilton lambasted Congress for its "folly, caprice [and] a want of foresight. For its ductility and inconstancy, for its feeble indecisive and improvident treatment of the Army."  During the Revolutionary War, the Continental Congress was woefully inefficient in providing for the troops. Hamilton used his own limited monies to pay for uniforms, food, blankets, and other supplies for the men in his own command.  His growing frustration with the Congress is noted here and in the following quotes.

On The Constitution

In the Case of Croswell v New York

Here Hamilton may have had his greatest moments in a courtroom.  He defended the Federalist publisher Croswell from a  libel suit.  Hamilton argued his case using two seldom used legal concepts (at least for 1804): First he proffered that truth should be a defense in a libel suit.  Simply put, he stated to the Court that if the published statement is true, it can't be libel.  Secondly, he told the jury that they represented the only real defense the common man had when attacked by a powerful government agency.  The second quote below tells the jurors their duty, and rather dramatically so.

In Hamilton's First Major Political Publication, The Farmer Refuted, Written at Age 18

On His Very Expensive Home ($30,000), The Grange

The Grange occupied some 32 acres of farmland in what is now Harlem in New York City.  It was a remarkable home for its time, and was a massive drain on Hamilton's meager funds.  He had hoped to raise some produce to help defray costs, but as you see below, it did not work out that way.


On Hamilton's Grave Marker in New York

On Government in General

Hamilton at age 12

The first existent written communications from Hamilton is to his friend Ned.  From the squalor of his impoverished Caribbean home, Hamilton was already looking for a way to leave behind the anonymous misery he felt his life to be. 

On Earning Money

At least twice Hamilton refused offers to speculate in lands and perhaps currency that would have made him a rich man, and would also have allowed him to leave his economic troubles behind. Both times he refused as a matter of personal and public honor.  He believed such deals would compromise his ability to serve honorably.

On His Mother

Rachel Faucette Lavien, Hamilton's mother, died when he was still a lad.  Her domestic situation was, shall we say, unusual, it that she was married to an abusive man, but lived for a while with another, James Hamilton.  Alexander wrote only briefly of his mother, saying she was of

On Mrs. Benedict Arnold

Hamilton was always somewhat easily taken in by the ladies.  This problem is demonstrated by his response to the spouse of that great traitor, Benedict Arnold.  Mrs. Arnold was certainly in on the plot with her husband, and her pathetic appearance before Hamilton was certainly an act.  Hamilton was, however swayed. He wrote a letter to his wife Elizabeth, noting Mrs. Arnold's situation.

On the Reynolds Affair

A very great deal could be said here about the Reynolds Affair.  Here Hamilton's judgment and fidelity were tested and found wanting.  Simply put, he allowed himself to be ensnared in a blackmail plot, not once but twice.  He was suddenly placed in the awkward position of having to defend both is public and private honor.  His accusers suggested Hamilton had engaged in currency speculation with James Reynolds, when in fact the real crime had been Hamilton's affair with Mrs. Reynolds.  Foolishly, Hamilton wrote a lengthy pamphlet that he hoped would clear his name. He entitled it Observations on Certain Documents Contained in No. V & VI of "The History of the United States for the Year 1796," In Which the Charge of Speculation Against Alexander Hamilton, Late Secretary of the Treasury, is Fully Refuted. Written by Himself."

On Sex

Hamilton was a man of great interest to ladies, and they to him.  These two quotes illustrate that point well.

On President Washington

Hamilton was Washington's favorite aide during the War, and called upon him twice more to serve. First as Secretary of the Treasury, and later as his second in command during the 1798 undeclared war with France.  Washington served as Hamilton's protector many times.  Upon Washington's death, Hamilton wrote to the late president's personal secretary, Tobias Lear.

On the Properties of a Good Wife

The next quote is a remarkable one, and absolutely one of my favorites.  Elizabeth Hamilton survived her husband by fifty full years, finally dying at the age of 97.  Years after the duel, Mr. Monroe came to call. By now he was a former president, but Betsy remembered his role in slandering Alexander during the Reynolds affair. Initially, she refused to see him but was prevailed upon by younger family members.  Mr. Monroe entered but was not offered a chair.  He gave a brief speech about forgiving and forgetting and Betsy answered with these words.


Jefferson on Hamilton:

Hamilton on Jefferson


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