One delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1787--Alexander Hamilton
--is both revered and questioned among American scholars, depending on oneÆs viewpoint of the value of democracy. This research examines these opposing feelings toward Hamilton.
Alexander Hamilton voiced the indignation felt by many of his contemporaries of the weak national authority under the Articles: ôThere is something diminutive and contemptible in the prospect of a number of petty states, with the appearance only of union . . . without any determined direction, fluctuating and unhappy at home, weak and insignificant by their dissension in the eyes of other nationsö (Rossiter 45).
Hamilton understood the extent of dissatisfaction with the Articles and drafted a report, signed by 55 prestigious leaders from several states, outlining its defects and calling for a convention to recommend remedies to Congress. At least 40 of the 55 delegates were holders of public securities; 14 were known to be land speculators; 24 were money lenders and investors; 11 were in commerce and manufacturing; and 15 owned large plantations. Only eight of the signers of the Declaration of Independence attended the Constitutional Convention; and only four of these finally signed the U.S. Constitution.
These delegates met at Independence Hall in Philadelphia and closed their doors to the public and the press. They then went to work in drafting what was supposed to be little more than amendments to the Articles of Confederation, but which quickly turned into a runaway convention as the delegates embarked on a far bolder plan to revise the entire constitution. Delegate after delegate offered their own ideas as to a better, new form of American government. Some, like Hamilton, were not even committed to a democratic system of government. James Madison reported that Hamilton had no scruple in declaring that the British government was the best in the world, and that he do...