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The image above is a spiritual portrait, or Groja. It depicts the personality of Alexander Hamilton, one of America's Founding Fathers.
was born illegitimately on January 11 of either 1755 or 1757, in
Charlestown, the capital of the island of Nevis
in the Caribbean Sea.
He was the youngest of the seven
key Founding Fathers and the
only one of that group who was born outside of the Thirteen Colonies.
The vast amount of Green in Alexander Hamilton's spiritual portrait represents his strong preference for being rational and decisive. He demonstrated courage and conviction during the Revolutionary War, and his strong will and keen reasoning ability led him to pursue a career in law.
As a youth, Hamilton was unable to attend school at the Church of England because his parents were unmarried. However, he received some tutoring at a private school which he was able to supplement with reading his family's books.
Hamilton came to America in 1772 — while he was still a teenager — and after a year or so began studying at King's College, now Columbia University. While there he learned about and joined the patriots' revolutionary cause, and during the Revolutionary War he served as one of General George Washington's aides de camp for four years.
The Yellow in Alexander Hamilton's spiritual portrait represents his realism.
Hamilton's desire for a strong federal government backed by a standing army is an excellent example of his pragmatism. As Washington's aide during the Revolutionary War, Hamilton had seen first hand how the lack of essential supplies — food, weapons, uniforms, and even pay for the soldiers — dangerously hampered the war effort. America won the war in 1783, but wound up deeply in debt.
Years later, Shay's Rebellion threatened the lives of Americans in 1786 and 1787, but by that time the country's standing army was miniscule. There was not even a plan to repay the debt for the Revolutionary War, much less pay for new men and munitions, and Hamilton the realist saw it would be very difficult to find new recruits.
Let us recollect that peace or war will not always be left to our option; that however moderate or unambitious we may be, we cannot count upon the moderation, or hope to extinguish the ambition of others.
— Alexander Hamilton, as Publius in Federalist No. 34, The Same Subject Continued: Concerning the General Power of Taxation, January 4, 1788.
As a realist, Hamilton found himself at odds with the idealistic Thomas Jefferson, who believed America had no enemies and hence did not need an army.
The image of Alexander Hamilton's decisive, pragmatic personality stands in stark constrast to the image of Thomas Jefferson's open and idealistic persona. Although both had high hopes for their new nation, their backgrounds were as different as their personalities, and they disagreed about many things.
Some people claim that Hamilton and Jefferson
These spiritual portraits show that these two Founding Fathers
were better than that.
Hate is an emotion, and if Hamilton and Jefferson harbored contempt for each other, their portraits would have more Red.
Having won the Revolutionary War, the stoic George Washington was immensely popular. He was elected unanimously to two terms as the 1st President of the United States, and Washington remains the only president who was not a member of a political party.
In 1797, when Washington's second term came to an end and he refused to
serve for a third, the politicians in the new country gradually
began wanting to play a greater role in the new nation.
Political rivalry and a touch of ambition — which the
Founding Fathers were careful to keep under wraps,
because humilty was very
then — soon enhanced Hamilton's and Jefferson's
personal differences, bringing them to the fore.
In the Federalist Papers, Hamilton succinctly observes how differences in background and opinion can ultimately lead to a stubbornness that can preclude rational decisionmaking:
Men often oppose a thing, merely because they have had no agency in planning it, or because it may have been planned by those whom they dislike.
— Alexander Hamilton, as Publius in Federalist No. 70, The Executive Department Further Considered, March 18, 1788.
Some of the differences between Hamilton and Jefferson are visible only in the spiritual portraits of them here and on SeeOurMinds.com. Eventually these previously invisible differences combined with the more superficial, demographic differences of background, occupation, age, place of residence, etc. and led to the formation of America's first political parties.
Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, and other Founding Fathers may have been political rivals, but they were also predominantly logical people. Significantly, they may have disagreed over many things but they were all strongly united in their disdain for the sort of uncontrolled emotions that could fuel mob violence.
Having taken the time to analyze and draw their personalities,
I am convinced the idea that any of the Founding Fathers
is hyperbole — fake news meant to sell rather than inform.
In addition to the image of Thomas Jefferson on this site, SeeOurMinds.com has the original posting of Jefferson's image and spiritual portraits of the following other Founding Fathers in the American Presidents – 1789–1899 and the Founding Fathers galleries:
Liberty or Deathspeech
At some point I plan to post an article on this site about how the Founding Fathers formed a psychologically diverse team. The only way to learn when that article goes live is to subscribe to the Artsy Visions Intermittent Newsletter!
This portrait is based on the biography of Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow, 2004. There is also an American Experience video entitled Alexander Hamilton, but Chernow's book — which is over 720 pages long — is far more comprehensive.
If the length of the book is off-putting, definitely check out the video!
For a longer, more personal review of Chernow's biography of Hamilton and other contemporary books and videos about America's Founding Fathers see the article Hamilton and Jefferson Were Both Awesome on tomhartung.com.
Tom W. Hartung
1 A spiritual portrait or Groja — for Graphical Representation of Jungian Archetypes — is an image representing the personality of a person. These images are based on the work of painters such as Wassily Kandinsky and Piet Mondrian. Find essential information about these images on the About page at Groja.com.
2 A recent search for Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson hated each other yielded over 4,000,000 results.
4 This book inspired the musical, which is understandably highly successful.
Admirably, Chernow addresses common prejudices readers might bring to his subject by starting his book with this observation:
For many years after the duel, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and other political enemies had taken full advantage of their eloquence and longevity to spread defamatory anectdotes about Hamilton, who had been condemned to everlasting silence.
— From the Prologue to Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow, 2004, p. 2.
I am happy to report Ron Chernow's book amply rewared the minimal effort it took me to set aside the biases I had unconsciously inherited against Alexander Hamilton, and today I am a total fan of both Founding Fathers!