ellie morris

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The 2015 NAACP Image Awards Red Carpet

Madison possessed a meticulous mind that liked to digest and assimilate evidence and experience in the deliberative style of a scholar or, once he made up his mind, like a lawyer defending his client. In 1782 he was still making up his mind, evolving toward his eventual role as, next to Washington, Virginia’s preeminent nationalist.


One man whose mind was already made up, who at twenty-seven was the youngest delegate in the Congress as well as [Robert] Morris’s most ardent supporter, was Alexander Hamilton. Soon after Morris’s appointment as superintendent of finance was announced, Hamilton had written him a lengthy, unsolicited letter. It was, as it turned out, a typical Hamiltonian document, sweepingly self-confident in both message and style, brimming over with facts and figures describing the deplorable conditions of the American economy, with a comprehensive outline of the proper fiscal policy to fix it. The solution required a national bank capitalized at $3 million, mandatory tax requisitions on the states that yielded $20 million annually, and a tariff on imports, all of which should prove sufficient to supply the army and retire the national debt within thirty years.


Morris had never before encountered such overflowing financial wisdom from anyone so young, all the more remarkable because – this was why Morris regarded it as wisdom – Hamilton’s fiscal vision coincided perfectly with his own. Old enough to be Hamilton’s father, Morris immediately recognized a precocious presence and took him under his wing, a pattern that fit perfectly into what had already become the dominant theme of Hamilton’s young life.

—  Joseph J. Ellis, The Quartet: Orchestrating The Second American Revolution, 1783-1789