Monday, July 12, 2004

USVI: Alexander Hamilton - The Abolitionist Founding Father


Don Buchanan of The St. Croix Source has been pretty darn good about reporting on this past week's local activities honoring Alexander Hamilton.

Hamilton's time on St. Croix had a profound impact on the formation of his character. Indeed, it was his well-written account of the destruction left in the aftermath of a hurricane that struck this island, which in 1772 catapulted him onward into the colonial education that eventually led to him playing his essential part in the very success of the American revolutionary effort. As one of the founding architects of the United States of America, it's about time we got down to the business of truly recognizing Hamilton's central role in securing the beginning, the survival, and the continuity of the newly minted United States of America.

This weekend was a long overdue start toward furthering our local recognition of Hamilton as something more than a two-dimentional face on a ten-$pot..

July 9, 2004 - The celebration of Alexander Hamilton's years on St. Croix fittingly comes on the heels of the island's celebration of Emancipation Day.

Hamilton was a staunch abolitionist. Speakers at the symposium that began Friday morning at Government House in Christiansted emphasized that point.

After welcoming remarks by Myron Jackson, director of the Historic Preservation Office; Joel Tuetin, superintendent of the St. Croix National Park Group; and Lt. Gov. Vargrave Richards, it was the scholars' turn.

William Cissel, historian with the National Park Service, started off with the topic "Alexander Hamilton: The West Indian Founding Father."

He said the first U.S. Secretary of Treasury had a unique experience among the Founding Fathers. He said Hamilton saw first hand how cruel the practice of slavery in the West Indies was.

During the American Revolutionary War, Hamilton championed an idea to make a battalion of slaves and then reward them with their freedom. According to Cissel, those who had "vested interests" vetoed the idea.

BTW: "Vested Interests" is apparently some sort of newspeak for Thomas Jefferson...

Anyway, I wish I could've made it to Government House to hear what these gathered scholars had to say...Alas capitalist priorities prevented my attendance beyond the first day but I did however manage to score a handshake and an autographed copy of Richard Brookhiser's new book on Hamilton at the sushi-fest that kicked off this weekend's activities.

Gotta love the timelines of globalization...Eating sushi whilst sipping inexpensive merlot at a book signing on a US Island with a French name (St. Croix - a former colony which had changed hands seven times), featuring American authors talking about how these formerly Danish West Indies and British colonial Nevis shaped one of the founding fathers of the United States of America.

I love the fact that our nearly monoculturally donk-saddled territory had the low-key honor of hosting Mr. Brookhiser (Senior editor of The National Review).

Heheheheheh... (vast right-wing conspiratorial chuckle of hippie death)

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