Hamilton Warned of Trump — In 1792

In 1792, George Washington wrote a letter to Alexander Hamilton. In that letter, Washington enumerated and summarized 21 grievances that he had heard in his travels — both from people friendly to the new national government (of which Washington was then the chief executive) and from people not so friendly to the new government.

Washington’s purpose in writing to Hamilton was to pick Hamilton’s brain; Washington wanted to know Hamilton’s thoughts on how to answer the objections he had been hearing about how the new government was conducting itself.

One of the objections — the 14th — was that the new government was just the first step toward a new monarchy — a new authoritarian tyranny.

Hamilton was having none of it, saying that at the time — 1792 — conditions were not ripe for any such deterioration back into the monarchical system. But he did not think it impossible that our system would ever fail. Here’s what he said:

If it could be done at all, which is utterly incredible, it would require a long series of time, certainly beyond the life of any individual to effect it. Who then would enter into such plot? For what purpose of interest or ambition?

 

To hope that the people may be cajoled into giving their sanctions to such institutions is still more chimerical. A people so enlightened and so diversified as the people of this Country can surely never be brought to it, but from convulsions and disorders, in consequence of the acts of popular demagogues.

 

The truth unquestionably is, that the only path to a subversion of the republican system of the Country is, by flattering the prejudices of the people, and exciting their jealousies and apprehensions, to throw affairs into confusion, and bring on civil commotion. Tired at length of anarchy, or want of government, they may take shelter in the arms of monarchy for repose and security.

 

Those then, who resist a confirmation of public order, are the true Artificers of monarchy—not that this is the intention of the generality of them. Yet it would not be difficult to lay the finger upon some of their party who may justly be suspected. When a man unprincipled in private life desperate in his fortune, bold in his temper, possessed of considerable talents, having the advantage of military habits—despotic in his ordinary demeanour—known to have scoffed in private at the principles of liberty—when such a man is seen to mount the hobby horse of popularity—to join in the cry of danger to liberty—to take every opportunity of embarrassing the General Government & bringing it under suspicion—to flatter and fall in with all the non sense of the zealots of the day—It may justly be suspected that his object is to throw things into confusion that he may “ride the storm and direct the whirlwind.”

Let that sink in.

-bb