The Public Interest

On Hamilton and popular government

Walter Berns

Fall 1992

ALEXANDER HAMILTON has never been a popular hero among his fellow citizens. When visiting the capital city, they mount the tour buses that take them to the Capitol, the White House, and the great memorials and monuments bearing the names of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and the fifty-odd thousand who died in Vietnam; few of them visit, or probably have ever heard of, Hamilton’s statue in front of the Treasury building. The name of his great adversary, Thomas Jefferson, is attached not only to a Memorial but to a hotel, a “corner,” an Institute for Justice, a condominium, and a host of other institutions, as well as to a Street, a Place, and (adjoining and running parallel to the Mall) a Drive; but Hamilton rates only an insurance company and (perhaps significantly) an Income Tax Service, and one lonely street. It’s as if he were only a minor figure in this country’s early history, rather like Elbridge Gerry or Roger Sherman.

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