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May 1999

Alexander Hamilton: precocious and preeminent

by Lewis Lehrman

On Alexander Hamilton, American, by Richard Brookhiser

Richard Brookhiser, the author of Rediscovering George Washington (1996), has intruded again upon the specious present, holding up for praise the character and achievements of Alexander Hamilton. “He is a great man,” Brookhiser writes, “a great American,” not simply because he was a political prodigy who became, at thirty-two, America’s first Secretary of the Treasury, or because of his preeminence among the other cabinet officers, the de facto first minister of the founding administration. The key to Hamilton’s greatness, according to Brookhiser, was magnanimity. As the architect of comprehensive programs of economic growth and national institution building, Hamilton designed “ways to bring light to the talents of other men as well as himself.” His pathbreaking policies, though not populist, “would enable his countrymen to become conscious of their resources” and thereby enric ...

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Lewis Lehrman isLewis E. Lehrman is the co-chairman of the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.

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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 17 May 1999, on page 31

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