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Alexander hamilton’s exaggerated abolitionist stance

The US Treasury Department previously announced that the portrait of alexander hamilton on the 10-dollar bill would be replaced by someone else, which triggered a small-scale movement aimed at saving the position of the first treasury secretary in the history of American currency. The recurring theme in the “Save Hamilton” movement is to emphasize Hamilton’s position of abolishing slavery, and some critics who have gone further even regard it as the pioneer of a generation of abolitionists after the founding of the People’s Republic of China. The new york Daily News called him a “staunch abolitionist”, while the Huffington Post praised him for his “resolute” opposition to slavery, which was the main reason for keeping his portrait on the 10-dollar bill. This formulation goes far beyond the scope of amateur explanation. A considerable number of biographers who worship Hamilton will add abolitionists and resolutely oppose slavery to their writing themes.

“Few of the Founding Fathers can compare with Hamilton in the consistency of stance and firmness of abolitionist action,” Ron Chernow wrote in his widely acclaimed review of Federalist Papers. Richard Brookhiser and even the historian Forrest McDonald, who is famous for his rigorous textual research, praised his efforts against slavery in his biography. However, there is a big problem with this narrative: Hamilton’s evidence of “abolitionism” is greatly exaggerated, if not nonsense.

The fragments of the previous letter have shown that Hamilton’s relationship with slavery is far from innocent. Two of his female relatives, Margaret skyler Skyler van Lunsiral and Angelica skyler Church, are both suspected of owning slaves in their family business, and the slaves they want to recall are also under the control of a sales contract involving another political acquaintance. There are many examples in Hamilton’s letters that show that he was in charge of finance in the process of selling, signing contracts or buying slaves, and the parties concerned were his immediate family members.

The details of these transactions are scattered, but there are some questionable records. On the customer note of a 1784 ledger, there is “to Peggy, a black girl who sold it to him”; Another account book records “250 dollars in cash, bought me two black N Lou”, dated in 1796, which may be related to another transaction to buy slaves for relatives of the church family. In a text that modern and contemporary Hamilton biographers usually avoid talking about, Hamilton’s grandson described the above record like this: “It is generally believed that Hamilton never owned a black slave, but this is not true. We found in his book that there are some records showing that he bought slaves for himself and others. ” In 1797, a record involving his relatives wrote, “John B. mr. church bought $225 from black women and children. Another related record has the words “same as above, a black woman was bought for $90”.

Most of these transactions involved Hamilton’s married relatives-he married the daughter of a wealthy and powerful skyler family in new york, which owned some slaves, mainly domestic servants. Although this practice was common among wealthy families in the late 18th century, it also showed that Hamilton had many experiences of directly using slaves or buying and selling slaves for his family. From his marriage in 1780 to his death in 1804, he was generally a beneficiary of slavery (new york promulgated a law in 1799 to change slaves into apprentices for a certain period and gradually abolish slavery).

This does not mean that slave owners or beneficiaries of slavery cannot have the idea of abolishing slavery. Hamilton is probably like this. In 1785, Hamilton joined the new york Manufacturing Association, which included many political elites in new york, such as john jay, Melancton Smith and Aaron Burr. Although the organization opposes slavery, its position is still moderate and progressive. His political efforts mainly focused on ending the slave trade, gradually dissolving slavery by means of batch liberation measures and setting a contract time limit, rather than abolishing it immediately. During his military career, Hamilton also supported the revolutionary war hero John Lawrence to encourage slaves to join the army and fight for America in exchange for freedom. But these measures-Hamilton’s reputation as an abolitionist is almost entirely based on this-are not very positive for the abolition of slavery, even by the standards of 1780.

Don’t forget that Hamilton was a prolific news critic. He published hundreds of opinions on almost all political issues at that time under his pen name. Hamilton’s works have a remarkable feature, that is, he basically does not clearly express the view of “abolitionism”, although many biographers call him that. From this point of view, he is in sharp contrast with the outstanding abolitionists of his time, who often wrote thousands of words. Think about john adams. Although he compromised with the southern states on the issue of slavery in order to save the new republic, he publicly expressed his opposition to slavery. Or compare Hamilton’s silence with Benjamin Franklin’s silence. Franklin also kept slaves in his early years, but later he gradually devoted himself to the cause of abolishing slavery and became an outspoken opponent of slavery on his deathbed. We can even compare Thomas Jefferson, who owned a huge plantation in Virginia, but wrote many books attacking the immorality of slavery, fearing that it would be bad for the future of the United States. In contrast, Hamilton’s works hardly say anything about slavery, only some abstract expressions, which simply can’t reach the kind of concreteness endowed by theorists who are committed to this topic today.

A series of evidences mentioned above cannot rule out the possibility of Hamilton’s ideological opposition to slavery, and his participation in the activities of the Slave Liberation Association is enough to illustrate some problems. However, the evidence does reveal a point that contemporary biographers are unwilling to admit: Hamilton’s anti-slavery tendency has been overwhelmed by family or other political considerations many times, and his formal political opinions can be described as overwhelming, but as far as the topics he talks about are concerned, he is a dwarf in action. It may be accurate to call him a “beneficiary of slavery who is uneasy about the system”, but it is quite absurd to call alexander hamilton an abolitionist-not to mention boasting that he is a pioneer among contemporary abolitionists.


What made the Third Reich rise eventually brought it down: What can the rise and fall of the Third Reich tell us?

“In the short first half of the Third Reich, I lived and worked there. I witnessed with my own eyes how Adolf Hitler consolidated his power as a dictator of this great and chaotic country and how he led the country to war and conquest.”

During the twelve years from 1933 to 1945, Nazi Germany, known as the “Third Reich”, rose rapidly and declined rapidly, and almost all confidential files were released to the world at the end of World War II. William shirer, an American journalist who once reported in Nazi Germany, combined his personal experience with a large number of secret documents, personal diaries, confessions and testimonies, and created more than ten historical works, such as The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany, The Diary of Berlin and The Collapse of the Third Republic.

In the book “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich”, William Scheler tells his hatred of fascist dictatorship with personal experience-“The result of this war will be no conqueror or conquered, only charred bones piled up on an uninhabited planet.”

War correspondent and American writer William Scheler (middle) (source: Wikipedia)
On the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the victory of the world anti-fascist war and the 55th anniversary of the publication of the Chinese version of The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, Yilin Publishing House launched an updated version. During the Shanghai Book Fair, Zhang Mingyang, a historical columnist, and Wei Zhou, a book critic, started a dialogue and discussion about the rise and fall of Nazi Germany around this history book.

An intuitive racist
“For most Germans, Hitler has or will soon have the temperament of a real natural leader. In the next twelve years, they will follow him blindly, as if he had a wise trial from heaven. “

The rise and fall of the Third Reich began with the birth of Adolf Hitler. Zhang Mingyang and Wei Zhou agreed that as the head of Nazi Germany and the initiator of World War II, Hitler had strong intuition and inspiration-oriented judgment thinking.

“The private staff around Hitler confirmed that his work habits were very special. Sometimes he doesn’t work for days, and sometimes he suddenly goes out to play in the middle of the night. As can be seen from various histories, his thinking characteristics are biased towards pursuing absolute rather than relative. ” Wei Zhou believes that this trait is also reflected in his war thoughts. “Hitler was very fond of novel and adventurous plans, such as manstein’s sickle plan. Everyone thought it was too radical and risky, but Hitler chose to support it. “

The rise and fall of the Third Reich
William Scheler and Leshan Dong, etc.
Yilin Press 2020-05
Starting from the concept of “reality distortion field”, Zhang Mingyang further interprets the “magic” in Hitler: “Hitler said that the will is above everything else, which is actually a compensation for reality. Every time he gambled, he had a complete psychological expectation: it took only six weeks to break through Macedonia’s defense line, win the battles in France and Moscow, and ask the Germans to hold their positions. After winning seemingly impossible results again and again, Hitler’s gambling chips are getting bigger and bigger. ” In the military history, the situation that the sand table deduction could not be pushed forward was realized one by one in Hitler’s gambling, and he began to have a halo and “divinity”. With the supplement of the clearing mechanism, almost all the opposition forces gradually disappeared.

Regarding Hitler’s extreme racist identity, Weizhou shared his experience of visiting Dachau concentration camp (one of the three central concentration camps in Nazi Germany) in Munich, Germany. “After going to the field, I will deeply feel how the human situation has reached such a point. So anti-Semitism is indeed considered an unforgivable crime. “

Zhang Mingyang believes that Hitler’s atrocities against Jews in the Holocaust are like a reinforced proof. “On the one hand, it is to prove his theory that the German nation is the greatest nation in the world; On the other hand, this idea also reflects the result of his death-once he is defeated and his ideology is shattered, then his life is meaningless. “

Xing: A gamble that keeps pace with the times.
“On the eve of the birth of the Third Reich, a morbid tension hung over Berlin. Almost everyone can clearly see that the Weimar Republic is about to perish. It has been collapsing rapidly for more than a year. “

The birth of the Third Reich thus recorded the decisive historical moment of the birth of the Third Reich. Wei Zhou believed that Weimar Republic was an “era of chaos, division and pain”. “The people are very eager to end this split. Although the Nazi Party was a small party, it showed a firm attitude and was willing to compromise with different classes. Judging from the results, the Germans did see profound changes in a short time, such as mass tourism, mass promotion and realization. Although these resolute means now seem to have paid a huge price, they are affordable for people at that time. “

In 1918, World War I ended in Germany’s defeat, and Germany surrendered and signed the Treaty of Versailles. Zhang Mingyang pointed out that since the defeat, Germany has been shrouded in an atmosphere of extreme depression. “Hitler’s series of particularly firm and even rude resolutions have become a compliance with mainstream public opinion. The birth of the Third Reich can be seen as a rebound of the people under the original pressure. “

Wei Zhou mentioned a metaphor that impressed him deeply in his book: “Hitler came to power as if Germany was an old car that couldn’t be driven at that time. Now there’s a new driver. After the driver comes up, you can not only pull the car, but also sit on it comfortably. You feel good, but you gradually find that the car is driving faster than before, and it is getting faster and faster, and you can’t stop. “

Hitler (Source: Wikipedia)
Death: the pursuit of infinite self-destruction
“In his speech to Nazi local leaders in August 1944, Hitler said:’ If the German nation is defeated in this struggle, it must be too weak: it has failed to prove its heroism in the face of history and is doomed to be destroyed.’ “

The historical express train ran at the speed of life and death on the only road, with no brakes and nothing to stop it, and finally hit the bottom and died. The Third Reich, once boasted by Hitler as the “Millennium Empire”, existed for twelve years and four months in history. Both Zhang Mingyang and Wei Zhou said that the factor that made the Third Reich rise earlier was the injection that led to its final collapse.

As the turning point of the Soviet-German battlefield in World War II, the Battle of Stalingrad was the decisive factor for the rapid decline of Nazi Germany. “Even if Germany had not attacked the Soviet Union, it would have been destroyed.” Wei Zhou believed that the collapse of the Third Reich was not a military issue. “The resources of a country or a nation are limited, just as a person’s ability is limited. When you are pursuing an infinite goal and don’t know when to stop, this is actually a self-destructive process. “

Zhang Mingyang responded that after the success of “gambling” again and again, Hitler began to constantly expand himself: “In essence, Hitler thought that the state was only a tool to achieve racial goals. If the overall goal cannot be achieved, there is no need for the country to exist. “

“Hitler eliminated all voices against him step by step, and finally those crazy, violent and rude behaviors became more and more unconstrained. In the absence of any binding force in the country, the demise of the Third Reich is an inevitable result. ” Zhang Mingyang