Monday, July 11, 2016

Thinking About Alexander Hamilton

Last evening on NPR's Weekend Edition, Michel Martin, in reporting that Lin-Manuel Miranda had the night before made his final performance in the hit musical Hamilton, reflected on "what Alexander Hamilton's story can teach us after a troubling week of news." Her thoughts are well worth listening to or reading, and both can be done here

This morning, a post on Facebook brought Alexander Hamilton to mind again. It was on this day, July 11, in 1804 that Aaron Burr shot Hamilton in a duel. Hamilton died the next day.


1 comment:

  1. Maybe it's apocryphal, but it's traditionally believed that Alexander Hamilton's fateful insult for Aaron Burr was aired at a dinner party in Albany.

    Hamilton was in Albany defending Hudson's own Harry Croswell, who was being prosecuted for libel.

    Croswell published a broadsheet called "The Wasp" from an attic next to where Vico stands today, near the corner of Warren and 2nd Streets. In his "Wasp," he attacked anti-Federalists such as then-President Thomas Jefferson, with whom Aaron Burr was merely aligned (uncomfortable fact: Burr is a founder of the Democratic Party).

    Hamilton had travelled to Albany to appeal the guilty verdict of the Columbia County Court against Croswell, a verdict based wholly on British libel laws. In the U.K., the truth of an alleged libel wasn't a factor in prosecuting whether or not someone had actually written it.

    Croswell never denied what he'd written, but maintained that the truth of his statements had to be considered in deciding whether or not they were libelous.

    Long story short, Hamilton's defense of Croswell ultimately established for American jurisprudence the premise that truthful statements aren't actionable as libel.

    Someday, when Hudson finally gets its act together, the City ought to plant a historical marker near the corner of Warren and 2nd to commemorate this extraordinary history.