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Old 06-12-2017, 04:25 PM
 
Location: USA
871 posts, read 949,913 times
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Most people would say that Hamilton and Jefferson were the brainiest of the Founding Fathers.

Do you agree? If so, which of the two would you say was more brilliant? Would you throw Ben Franklin into the mix?

It seems Jefferson was a polymath who wore more hats than any other Founding Father:

- architect
- writer of the Declaration of Independence
- linguist
- wine connoisseur
- botanist
- philosopher
- inventor
- statesman
- founder of the University of Virginia

Hamilton, on the other hand, was the brains behind our financial system. He also fought in the war, co-wrote the Federalist Papers, founded the Bank of New York, established the first Bank of the US, and favored manufacturing and trade (as opposed to Jefferson's idea of an agrarian society).

There's no question we're living in Hamilton's America, not Jefferson's.

Do you think it's fair to say Hamilton was the financial genius, while Jefferson was more well-rounded across different fields/disciplines? I do know both of them devoured books by Plutarch and other classics.

What's your opinion?
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Old 06-12-2017, 04:43 PM
 
Location: Exeter, NH
5,237 posts, read 4,262,719 times
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Jefferson basically understood everything that could go wrong with a nation, and how to set up systems to avoid or minimize the problem. His knowledge and ability to avoid the countless pitfalls that every nation seems to fall for was pure genius. He even tried to set up ways to prevent future politicians from dismantling the protective systems he set up (limiting federal revenue to tariffs and trade levies; staying out of foreign wars; not printing fiat currency and leaving the bills for future generations...).

But too much time has gone by; America has abandoned every good idea and adopted every bad one; and now only the name of Thomas Jefferson still exists--and that to just a few of us.
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Old 06-12-2017, 07:10 PM
 
Location: Pennsylvania
5,441 posts, read 9,658,338 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NHartphotog View Post
Jefferson basically understood everything that could go wrong with a nation, and how to set up systems to avoid or minimize the problem.
Except for the whole slavery thing.

OP, to answer this, one would have to have a measurable standard for intelligence. None exists, so the answer will depend on which man better aligns with one's world view.
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Old 06-12-2017, 08:23 PM
 
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Well I wouldn't want to choose one as brainier I would rather emphasize that all the different types involved at our nations founding were needed. It's much like in sports when one tries to pick one as the best baseball player of all time in some respects. A nation is a team in individuals who need to agree on certain basics: rule of law (within greater community, rules of commerce, rules of individual rights). So here's my 'lineup' for a winning team.


Franklin, Benjamin
Jefferson, Thomas
Hamilton, Alexander
Madison, James
Adams, John
Washington, George
Paine, Thomas
Mason, George
Marion, Francis


Oh, and 'pinch runner' - Israel Bissell
I like to point out the mass media impact on perceptions of roles in history in the Paul Revere - Israel Bissell example. One rode about 22 miles and the other 345 and is little known.
In American history, a midnight rider goes unsung - latimes

The confluence of these high quality men at one point in time in the conception of the U.S.A. is truly remarkable.

I highly recommend Jon Meacham's Thomas Jefferson the Art of Power as an excellent portrayal of Jefferson the man and the Ron Chernow biographies of Hamilton and Washington
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Old 06-12-2017, 09:31 PM
 
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Jefferson, Hamilton, and Franklin - you bet. Pick one? You can't. Jefferson's agrarian ideals were a good fit for the day. Hamilton's economic ideas preceded the industrial revolution (1), which had already started, although it had little impact and recognition at the time. However, the reason that Hamilton's ideas became preeminent WAS because of the industrial revolution, and the resulting changes to the fabric of society and government. All three men were brilliant, but in different ways. So, which is more beautiful, an iris, or a rose? You can not provide a definitive answer. Ditto the intelligence of these men.

However, it does seem that most of the other founding fathers were a bit behind these three on the IQ meter - but not by much. And, again, you really can't say much, as they each excelled in different ways.


(1)The industrial revolution depended on automation and machination of physical tasks. The scientific and engineering ground for the industrial revolution were in play when these men achieved prominence.
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Old 06-13-2017, 11:37 AM
 
Location: USA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ciceropolo View Post

I highly recommend Jon Meacham's Thomas Jefferson the Art of Power as an excellent portrayal of Jefferson the man and the Ron Chernow biographies of Hamilton and Washington
I read Chernow's bio of Hamilton earlier this year and found it to be a great read. It was well worth the 800 pages.

I have Meacham's book on my bookshelf as we speak -- still haven't gotten to it.

I think James Madison, being the father of the Constitution, deserves a place in the pantheon of great visionaries/intellectuals. Some might say that Adams should also be included.
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Old 06-13-2017, 11:39 AM
 
Location: USA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hiero2 View Post
Jefferson, Hamilton, and Franklin - you bet.
Add Madison and you have one heck of a quartet. That's a lot of intellectual firepower right there.
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Old 06-13-2017, 12:33 PM
 
Location: Somewhere in northern Alabama
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Hamilton allowed a dispute to get so out of hand that he engaged in a duel and died from his lack of negotiating skill.

Somehow, getting a Darwin award doesn't seem to add to his intellectual prowess.

Although deeply in debt, Jefferson died at age 83 of natural causes.

This one paragraph, so skillfully worded and so encapsulating the highest ideals of the deists and guidance for a country, is all that is needed for Jefferson to be declared extraordinary:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
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Old 06-16-2017, 10:44 AM
 
Location: USA
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In one letter he wrote years after Hamilton's death, Jefferson acknowledged that Hamilton's mind was "really powerful, but chained by native partialities to everything English."
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Old 06-16-2017, 10:57 AM
 
Location: New England
1,553 posts, read 677,735 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wordsmith12 View Post
Most people would say that Hamilton and Jefferson were the brainiest of the Founding Fathers.
Each had strengths and weaknesses. My guess is a case could be made for either person being the smartest. Elites today may prefer Hamilton, Jefferson would be considered living in a bucolic fantasy world by many modern elite historians.
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