How Alexander Hamilton Showed Intellect

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How Alexander Hamilton Showed Intellect



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Hardcore Facts About Alexander Hamilton

Key planks included support for a moderately protective tariff, opposition to class-based or sectional appeals harmful to national unity, and firm support for the British connection, accompanied by full Canadian autonomy. By this time, several prominent Liberal Unionists had retired from the cabinet, but the government continued to rely on the voting support of 25 to 30 Liberal Unionist backbenchers. Such traditional Tories as Robert Rogers openly advocated a return to pre-war party lines, but Meighen refused to drop his new allies. Accordingly, a national organizer William John Black was appointed in August and a publicity bureau was established. Meighen launched a countrywide speaking tour that summer and fall, accompanied through the western provinces by Calder, the ranking Liberal Unionist.

The crowds were large and seemingly receptive. Less encouraging were his efforts to rejuvenate his party in Quebec. Its organization was weak and divided, and he himself was reviled as the architect of conscription. In the commons Meighen faced not one but two new leaders. In addition to King, there was Thomas Crerar, the former Unionist minister of agriculture, who now headed a recently coalesced grouping of agrarian mp s calling themselves the Progressive Party.

This situation made for a highly competitive atmosphere during the session, though the government was able to sustain its position in key votes by margins of 20 to With an eye to the upcoming election, he made moderate but consistent tariff protection his constant theme. Significant legislation included bills to ratify a trade treaty with France and to complete the takeover of the Grand Trunk Railway. The severity of the post-war recession increased public discontent, while paradoxically convincing the government of the need for budgetary retrenchment. At the close of the session in June , Meighen travelled with his wife to attend the Imperial Conference in London.

Although defence and constitutional adjustments were discussed, the chief topic proved to be the Anglo-Japanese alliance. For almost 20 years a pact of understanding and assistance had linked the two empires. Westminster, strongly supported by Australia and New Zealand, favoured the retention of the treaty. Meighen feared its renewal would alienate the United States. At the ensuing Washington Conference on disarmament, the alliance was replaced by a multilateral agreement. Despite this success, in August Meighen returned to a deteriorating political situation in Canada.

The economy languished in recession. The accumulated resentments of four divisive wartime years had not abated. Voters with a grudge against the intrusive Union government awaited the next general election. A different leader might have evaded responsibility for the Borden record, but Arthur Meighen was not that kind of man. He was proud of the Conservative and Unionist achievements, to many of which he had personally contributed. If the ship of the National Liberal and Conservative Party were to go down, it would be with all guns blazing. Meighen renewed his call for the protectionist National Policy of Macdonald and Borden, and prepared to wage war against his Liberal and Progressive adversaries.

To face the electorate, Meighen needed first to reconstruct his cabinet. The government was especially vulnerable in Quebec and the prairies, precisely the areas of the country where promising ministerial recruits were scarce. The resounding western majorities of had melted away. Meighen did bring in his old backbench sparring partner, R. Bennett of Calgary, to be minister of justice, but Saskatchewan was left unrepresented.

Prairie weakness in cabinet was mirrored at the constituency level; in many cases there was no organization at all for the government party. If anything, the situation was bleaker in Quebec, where traditional Bleus had had to share the spotlight with the nationalists in , and had vanished in the disastrous conscription election of Meighen appointed four French Canadians in the reorganization of September but not one carried any weight with the public.

His sincere attempts to recruit E. By the time Meighen had formally launched his campaign for re-election, with a major speech in London, Ont. The National Liberal and Conservative Party was doomed to ignominious defeat in the contest set for December. Quebec was solidly Liberal and the Progressives were set to sweep the prairies. Ontario promised a three-way fight, with the Progressives benefiting from the friendly United Farmers government elected in Even the coastal regions seemed unpromising. Still, Meighen conceded nothing. For three months he stumped the country, travelling by rail, automobile, and boat to deliver some speeches. He preached tariff protection in the west, defended conscription in Quebec, and championed public ownership of railways in the heart of Montreal, where the press, the Canadian Pacific Railway, and the Bank of Montreal were all bitterly hostile towards him.

Although he lacked female candidates — few women ran altogether and only one, Agnes Campbell Macphail , a Progressive, was elected — Meighen appealed to the million-plus female voters, reminding them it was the Union government that had legislated votes for all women. Hecklers he handled with ease, and everywhere the crowds cheered. Meighen and nine cabinet colleagues were defeated in their own ridings. The Liberals, with mp s, would form the new government, though they fell just short of a parliamentary majority. The Progressives, with 65 members, earned official opposition status but declined the role. Some of them hoped to ally themselves with a reformed Liberal Party; others rejected party government on principle. While King deliberated over cabinet selections, Meighen arranged for his return in January in Grenville, a safe seat in eastern Ontario.

When parliament convened in March, he was seated across from King, ready to do battle. Knowing that some in his party would blame him for the defeat, he had called a meeting of mp s, senators, and defeated candidates just prior to the session. Meighen still favoured protection; he simply wished to place Liberal hypocrisy on the record. The major issue of the year blew up in September, long after parliament had recessed. The conflict was a leftover from the post-war peace settlement between the Allies and Ottoman Turkey.

A new revolutionary government in Turkey had repudiated it and now threatened British troops. King, annoyed at the lack of consultation and alarmed at the potential for national and party disunity, played for time. Parliament would decide, but parliament was not in session. Meighen represents, in person and temperament, in his attitudes and his past declarations, the utmost that Anglo-Saxon jingoism has to offer that is most brutal, most exclusive, most anti-Canadian.

The party could not even win a by-election fought on the tariff issue in September in the once Tory riding of St Antoine, in the heart of protectionist Montreal. The Liberals retained the seat and many, including the influential Montreal Daily Star and Gazette , blamed Meighen for the debacle. Undaunted, in parliament and on the public platform the Conservative leader continued to stress tariff protection, which he coupled with the promise of freight rate adjustments to make the package more attractive to Maritime and prairie voters.

King, encouraged by a decisive Liberal win in Saskatchewan in under Charles Avery Dunning , announced a federal election for 29 Oct. The prime minister asked for a mandate to deal with four issues: the railway deficit, immigration, the tariff question, and Senate reform. Meighen immediately placed King on the defensive by demanding what solutions the Liberals proposed and by reminding voters the government had done little in four years in office.

Aided by four newly elected provincial premiers, Meighen struck a solid chord all across English Canada. In Quebec he secretly delegated control of the Conservative effort to a former colleague from pre-conscription days, E. Patenaude, who campaigned at the head of a slate of Quebec Conservatives loyal to the Macdonald-Cartier tradition, but independently of the controversial Meighen. The result was a stunning victory for the Conservatives, just seven seats short of a majority. In Ontario, the Maritimes, and British Columbia, they made a near sweep. Even on the prairies, where Meighen was returned in Portage la Prairie, they picked up ridings in Manitoba and urban Alberta.

When King determined to carry on with Progressive support, despite losing his own seat, Meighen decided on a bold move to win back needed Quebec support. The death of the Liberal mp for Bagot opened a by-election there in December. To boost his candidacy, Meighen announced a dramatic shift in policy. In the event of a future war, his government would seek electoral endorsement before sending troops overseas. The venue for his speech was not Bagot, but Hamilton, Ont. Meighen nonetheless approached the parliamentary session of aggressively.

The decisive round with his Liberal nemesis was about to begin. King sought to win the support of the Progressive and Labour mp s with policy concessions, but Meighen intended to hold firm to the principles of Conservatism, confident that the Liberal government would stumble. He was ready to assume office immediately, and bent all his efforts to winning a no-confidence vote in the commons. If a new election was required, he did not doubt the outcome. Interestingly, both he and King faced whispers of insurrection, with R. Dunning waiting in the wings. In the first few divisions of the session, the Liberals secured sufficient third-party support to establish their right to retain office.

Promises to ease rural credit, investigate Maritime rights, and reform the tariff were secured respectively by legislation, a royal commission, and a tariff advisory board. To avoid censure, King decided that parliament should be dissolved and an election called. A surprised King abruptly resigned, leaving the country without a government. When Byng offered Meighen the chance to form a ministry, he accepted, though not without misgivings.

By the rules of the day, mp s who accepted cabinet appointment had to resign their seats and seek re-election. In a session where divisions were routinely decided by a handful of votes, the resignation of a dozen frontbenchers would be self-defeating. As a temporary measure, Meighen decided upon the legal, though unusual, ploy of appointing acting ministers. To become prime minister, however, he could not avoid resigning his own seat. Leadership of the Conservative forces in the commons fell to less skilled hands.

The new government survived three key votes, but a motion in July by J. Citing dubious constitutional precedents, and alleging British interference, King persuaded a handful of Progressives, who only days earlier had voted to censure his government, to switch their allegiance. The Robb motion carried by a single vote, the decisive margin provided by a Progressive who broke his pairing agreement.

Meighen had no choice but to request a dissolution, and an election was set for 14 Sept. After one indecisive victory each, the rubber match between King and Meighen was finally under way. Both entered the campaign brimming with confidence. King felt sure the country would rally behind his clarion call to assert Canadian autonomy in the face of obvious collusion between a British-appointed governor general and the Tory party. This time he would have a respected Quebec lieutenant at his side. His Hamilton speech may have ruffled imperialist feathers in Ontario, but it persuaded E. Patenaude to campaign openly as a Meighen Conservative. Meanwhile the Progressives, sensing their ebb, scrambled to save their seats by arranging saw-offs with the Liberals.

Boivin, appointed to clean up the mess left by Bureau, had come under fire by the opposition. When the votes were counted, it was King who emerged victorious. Quebec stood firm, and the Liberal-Progressive alliance produced victories in two dozen Ontario and Manitoba seats. Meighen lost his own riding. And there it was. In the decisive battle, Arthur Meighen had come second best. He immediately tendered his resignation to the governor general, agreeing to stay on as prime minister until King had constructed a cabinet. Without a seat for the second time in five years, he decided to relinquish the party leadership as well. He summoned a special meeting in Ottawa of Conservative mp s, senators, and defeated candidates on 11 October.

At the same meeting a committee was struck to organize a leadership convention; for the venue it settled on Winnipeg in October Press speculation centred on Meighen and Ontario premier Howard Ferguson as the prime contenders, though each firmly denied any aspiration. When Meighen, from the convention platform, launched into an eloquent defence of his controversial Hamilton speech of , Ferguson offered a spirited rebuttal. Most delegates cheered for Meighen and hooted at Ferguson, but the net result was the elimination of both from consideration. Bennett carried the convention on the second ballot. Now in his early fifties, Meighen launched himself into a new career in the business world. It was not an entirely novel departure: years ago, in Portage la Prairie, he had branched out from law into land speculation and directorships in local companies.

The business world intrigued him. Of the many offers that had come his way, he had accepted an invitation in to become a vice-president and general counsel for Canadian General Securities Limited, a Winnipeg investment brokerage firm that was looking to expand into Toronto. In November he moved with his wife and daughter to the Ontario capital — their two sons were then at university. The next September they purchased a home at 57 Castle Frank Crescent in the affluent Rosedale neighbourhood. For three years Canadian General Securities prospered, but the stock-market crash of nearly bankrupted it. Meighen suffered great anxiety, in particular because many modest investors had entrusted their funds to the company out of regard for him.

Long hours and prudent management paid off and within two years the worst was over. He began to accept non-political speaking engagements in Toronto and as far away as Washington. He even took on a few legal cases. Life in Toronto for the Meighens differed considerably from their years in Ottawa. He was a loving but reserved father, given to delivering admonitions, to his sons in particular, on the virtues of thrift, perseverance, and hard work. He had never sought the social or ceremonial frills of public life, so he did not miss them when he left politics. His wife enjoyed social gatherings more than he did, but neither of them was in the least bit pretentious. In Toronto, he insisted on walking to work, a distance of some three miles from Rosedale to his Bay Street office.

One advantage of his career change was that he found more time to indulge his lifelong interest in reading, as well as games of bridge and golf with close friends. And once the financial crisis of was overcome, he began to accumulate a substantial fortune from various astute investments. In the meantime, he was avoiding involvement in partisan politics.

That part of his life, it seemed, was over. Since the convention of , R. Bennett had completely ignored him. Meighen was not asked to help in the slightest way during the victorious Conservative campaign of The obvious snub wounded a proud man. Meighen accepted, effective 3 Feb. Though technically a member of cabinet as a minister without portfolio, he did not attend meetings on a regular basis.

One of his first responsibilities was to press the Conservative case in the consideration of three Liberal senators implicated in the Beauharnois Scandal. He was more at home in expediting the refinement of complex pieces of legislation. The newly elected government of Mitchell Frederick Hepburn established an inquiry in to investigate the charges, but its report was inconclusive and the issue died down. Typically, the Senate would make a series of amendments to each bill, numbering 51 in the case of the Employment and Social Insurance Act.

At the end of the session Meighen was satisfied with the result. He still remembered the snub of As the two Tory titans watched their common foe, King, comfortably take back power, they finally discarded their old animosities. When Bennett decided in March that his health would not permit him to carry on, he hoped Meighen would be his successor. Meighen tested the waters for Sidney Earle Smith , president of the University of Manitoba, but there was little interest, even in Winnipeg. When Bennett asked Meighen to give the keynote address to the national party convention in July and suggested Commonwealth defence as a topic, he readily agreed.

With war threatening to break out in Europe, and Canada ill-prepared, it was a subject near to his heart. He delivered another barnburner reminiscent of his Winnipeg address of , except this time Bennett and Ferguson applauded while the Quebec delegates sat on their hands, bitterly opposed to his call for Canadian-British solidarity. On the leadership vote, Manion won on the second ballot, but neither Meighen nor Bennett was present to congratulate him. On the question of railway deficits, Meighen reversed his long-standing opposition to the amalgamation of the Canadian National Railways and the CPR, and supported a Senate motion that advocated unified management.

This volte-face angered Manion, who was publicly opposed to such a step. When the election campaign began, Meighen stayed out of the fray, as he had in He was not surprised at the drubbing administered to his party by the Liberals, though he regarded the King ministry with barely concealed contempt. When some Conservatives urged him to leave the Senate and reassume the leadership, however, he declined. The stiffest opposition criticism still came from Meighen, whose public and Senate speeches deplored government hypocrisy and inaction on preparations for war.

Though flattered, Bracken remained on the sidelines as the pressure on Meighen mounted. He despised King and despaired of ever seeing the Liberals mobilize a full war effort, but he still resisted the call, feeling himself too old at 68 to accept the challenge. King certainly did not want him back in the commons. Subsequently, the delegates voted by a margin of 37 — 13 to offer the vacant party leadership to Meighen. Citing the lack of unanimity and noting that the meeting was called for other purposes, he declined the honour.

The delegates persisted and, in a subsequent motion, they unanimously requested that he accept. Hamilton soon returned to Washington's orbit, his ego soothed by the elder's entreaties to mend relations. Later that year, the general gave in and appointed Hamilton a field commander for the decisive Battle of Yorktown. A depiction of the first meeting of George Washington and Alexander Hamilton. Washington and Hamilton went their separate ways after the Revolution until the factions pulling the nascent country in different directions pushed both back into the political fray.

After Washington was unanimously elected the first U. Washington soon realized he had his hands full with the clashing viewpoints of Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson , the secretary of state. To Jefferson's chagrin, the president sided with Hamilton's proposals for a national bank and the federal assumption of state debts. Washington also seemingly trusted the Treasury secretary more on matters of foreign relations, such as the call for neutrality as tensions rose between the British and French, leading to Jefferson's resignation at the end of Hamilton further endeared himself to Washington with his support of mobilizing troops against the insurgents of the Whiskey Rebellion in , his presence a stark contrast to that of the missing secretary of war, Henry Knox, who was tending to business interests in Maine.

Even after Hamilton left the cabinet in early , Washington continued to seek his counsel with an explanation of the finer details of the Jay Treaty with Great Britain. And when Washington reached the end of his line with partisan politics, he had Hamilton compose his farewell address in , his longtime aide smoothing over the exhausted president's petty gripes to deliver the resolute words the public had come to expect from their hero. His trusted advisor still on his mind, Washington reached out after news of Hamilton's extra-marital affair became public in , sending a wine cooler and a thoughtful note that expressed his support without mentioning the infraction.

The following year, with the country teetering on the brink of war with France, Washington accepted President John Adams' appointment as senior commander of the U. Army on the grounds that Hamilton becomes his deputy. Their fruitful partnership came to an end with Washington's death on December 14, Shortly afterward, Hamilton wrote , "I have been much indebted to the kindness of the General, and he was an Aegis very essential to me. Indeed, Hamilton's life began to unravel without Washington around to provide political protection and rein in his impulses. Hamilton supported his old enemy, Jefferson, over Aaron Burr in the presidential election, damaging his standing at the head of the Federalist Party.

And when Hamilton continued to badmouth Burr during the New York gubernatorial election, Burr silenced him for good with a bullet in their fateful duel that July. As Chernow and other historians have pointed out, Washington and Hamilton never became great friends despite all the time spent working in close proximity — their built-in differences too strong to entirely surmount the personal buffers. Still, it was clear that the two brought about the best in one other when it came time for action, their partnership providing so much of the foundation for the republic that endured from its tenuous beginnings. The pair's contentious relationship began in the early days of American politics and ended in a duel that took Hamilton's life.

Physical strength and courage made him a battlefield hero, but the Founding Father also impressed with his moral convictions and political instincts.

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