the derp twins strike again
the election of 1800: an interpretation
Hamilton: Burr will certainly attempt to reform the government a la Bonaparte. He is as unprincipled and dangerous a man as any country can boast — as true a Catiline as ever met in midnight conclave.
Hamilton: [Burr], in my judgment, has no principle, public or private; could be bound by no agreement; will listen to no monitor but his ambition, and for this purpose will use the worst part of the community as a ladder to climb to permanent power, and an instrument to crush the better part. He is bankrupt beyond redemption, except by the resources that grow out of war and disorder, or by a sale to a foreign power, or by great peculation. War with Great Britain would be the immediate instrument.
Hamilton: He is sanguine enough to hope everything, daring enough to attempt every thing, wicked enough to scruple nothing. From the elevation of such a man may heaven preserve the country.
Hamilton: This opinion is dictated by a long and close attention to the character of B., with the best opportunities of knowing it— an advantage of judging which, few of our friends possess, and which ought to give credence to my opinion. Be assured, my dear sir, that this man has no principle, public nor private. As a politician, his sole spring of action is an inordinate ambition; as an individual, he is believed by friends as well as foes to be without probity; and a voluptuary by system — with habits of expense that can be satisfied by no fair expedients.
Hamilton: As to his talents, great management and cunning are the predominant features; he is yet to give proofs of those solid abilities which characterize the statesman. Daring and energy must be allowed him; but these qualities, under the direction of the worst passions, are certainly strong objections, not recommendations.
Hamilton: He is of a temper to undertake the most hazardous enterprises, because he is sanguine enough to think nothing impracticable ; and of an ambition that will be content with nothing less than permanent power in his own hands.
Hamilton: To a man of this description, possessing the requisite talents, the acquisition of permanent power is not a chimera. I know that Mr. Burr does not view it as such, and I am sure there are no means too atrocious to be employed by him. In debt, vastly beyond his means of payment, with all the habits of excessive expense, he cannot be satisfied with the regular emoluments of any office of our government. Corrupt expedients will be to him a necessary resource. Will any prudent man offer such a President to the temptations of foreign gold? No engagement that can be made with him can be depended upon ; while making it, he will laugh in his sleeve at the credulity of those with whom he makes it ; —and the first moment it suits his views to break it, he will do so.
Hamilton: Let me add, that I could scarcely name a discreet man of either party in our State, who does not think Mr. Burr the most unfit man in the United States for the office of President. Disgrace abroad, ruin at home, are the probable fruits of his elevation. To contribute to the disappointment and mortification of Mr. J., would be, on my part, only to retaliate for unequivocal proofs of enmity; but in a case like this, it would be base to listen to personal considerations.
Hamilton: In alluding to the situation, I mean only to illustrate how strong must be the motives which induced me to promote [Jefferson’s] elevation in exclusion of another. For heaven’s sake, my dear sir, exert yourself to the utmost to save our country from so great a calamity. Let us not be responsible for the evils, which in all probability will follow the preference. All calculations that may lead to it must prove fallacious.
Hamilton: The truth is, that Burr is a man of a very subtle imagination, and a mind of this make is rarely free from ingenious whimsies. Yet I admit that he has no fixed theory, and that his peculiar notions will easily give way to his interest. But is it a recommendation to have no theory? Can that man be a systematic or able statesman who has none? I believe not. No general principles will hardly work much better than erroneous ones.
Burr: Our election commences to-morrow, and will be open for three days….Hamilton works day and night with the most intemperate and outrageous zeal, but I think wholly without effect.