We need to emulate men like Alexander Hamilton and stop making excuses for failure

Alexander Hamilton was an enigma, especially if you imagine him living in today’s world. He was effectively fatherless. His father was indebted and a drunkard who abandoned Alexander and his mother at an early age. Fortunately, he had family in the colonies and they set him up in an apprenticeship. Hamilton had all the excuses in the world to be a slacker and loser (just like his father), yet he used logic and reason to conclude that the surest path to success was hard work, study, and commitment to excellence.

Hamilton’s commitment to excellence led him to University where he excelled. When the Revolution hit America, Hamilton didn’t hesitate to fight for his country and served as General George Washington’s aid de camp. Washington saw Hamilton’s brilliance and relied on him throughout the war and during his presidency. Hamilton’s education and experience led him to believe in the merits of a strong central government and capitalism. He believed that hard work supported by a central government that protects the people’s rights were keys to America’s future.

Debating whether Hamilton’s federalist approach or Thomas Jefferson’s state’s rights/anti-federalist philosophy is best isn’t the point. The point is that Hamilton didn’t have government largess to fall back on. He had the grey matter between his ears, his hands and feet, and the clothes on his back. That’s all. The rest was up to him. He worked hard every chance he got, impressed everyone who knew him with his diligence, intelligence, and expertise, and took advantage of every opportunity by giving it his all. In the end he is known as one of America’s most influential founding fathers.

The other founding fathers were privileged. Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Madison, et al., were part of the landed gentry. Yet, they welcomed Hamilton into their circles because he made the most of his natural talents by working hard and putting them to the use God intended. They needed Hamilton to form this nation. In addition to helping write the founding documents, he was one of three authors of the Federalist Papers, which were published anonymously in the colonies’ newspapers to convince the states to ratify the Constitution.

What if the founding of our nation happened today, with today’s mindset that if you aren’t blessed with wealth or notoriety you have no chance to forge a successful path in life? Imagine if Hamilton took offense at everything his fellow founders said about lesser castes such as the one he came from. One, he would have likely left those circles early on. Two, they would have kicked him out the first time he accused them of stealing from the lesser classes and keeping them in subjugation.

The gap between haves and have nots was much greater in 1776 than now, yet a poor man like Hamilton still desired to live off the sweat of his brow, and did so to great success. He didn’t blame the wealthy for his lack of opportunities. Young people would be wise to read about Alexander Hamilton and strive to be more like him and less like their contemporary whiners who look for reasons to fail instead of succeed.

I recommend reading Ron Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton. It’s excellent.


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