Monday, June 25, 2007

Contemporary Testimony

In addition to Hamilton's own writings, there is evidence of his Christian faith from those who knew him closely -- his friends, political allies, and family members. Observe their statements.

"Chancellor [James] Kent relates: 'In his opening speech, Mr. H[amilton] preliminarily observed, that is was of the utmost importanct that the Convention should be stongly impressed with a conviction of the necessity of the Union of the States. If, they could be entirely satisfied of that great truth, their ninds would then be prepared to admit the necessity of a government of similar organization and powers with the scheme of the same before them, to uphold and preserve that Union. It was like the case of the doctrine of the IMMORTALITY of THE SOUL, and doubts on that subject were one great cause, he said, of modern infidelity; for, if men could be thoroughly convinced, that they had within them imaterial and immortal spirits, their minds would be prepared for the ready reception of the CHRISTIAN RELIGION.' "
~ History of the Republic of the United States, by John Church Hamilton; vol.3 p. 486

"Chancellor Kent, one of his dearest friends, wrote at one time: ... 'I have been insensibly struck, in a thousand instances, with his habitual reverence for truth, his candor, his ardent attachment to civil liberty, his indignation at oppression of every kind, his abhorrence of every semblance of fraud, his reverence for justice, and his sound, legal principles drawn by a clear and logical deduction from the purest Christian ethics, and from the very foundations of all rational and practical jurisprudence."
~ The Intimate Life of Alexander Hamilton, by Allan McLane Hamilton, p. 198

"His religious feelings grew with his growing intimacy with the marvellous works of nature, all pointing in their processes and their results to a great pervading, ever active Cause. Thus his mind rose from the visible to the invisible; and he found the intensest pleasure in studies higher and deeper than all speculation. His Bible exhibits on its margin the care with which he perused it. Among his autographs is an abstract of the Apocalypse -- and notes in his hand were seen on the margin of 'Paley's Evidences.' With these readings he now united in the habit of daily prayer, in which the exercise of faith and love, the Lord's prayer was always a part. The renewing influences of early pious instruction and habit appear to have returned in all their force on his truest sensibilites, quickened by the infidelity shown in the action of the political world, and in the opinions and theories he had opposed, as subversive of social order. 'War,' he remarked, 'by the influence of the humane principles of Christianity had been striped of half its horrors. The French renounce Christianity, and they relapse into barbarism. War resumes the same hideous form which it wore in the ages of Gothic and Roman violence.' It was the tendency of infidelity he saw so rife that led him often to declare in the social circle his estimate of Christian truth. 'I have examined carefully,' he said to a friend from his boyhood, 'the evidence of the Christian religion; and, if I was sitting as juror upon its authenticity, I should unhestitatingly give my verdict in its favor' (Reminiscences of Gen. Morton). To another person, he observed, 'I have studied it, and I can prove its truth as clearly as any proposition ever submitted to the mind of man.' "
~ History of the Republic, by Hamilton, vol. 7, p. 790

"The excellent family of the Boudinots relate that he [Hamilton] occasionally made a family prayer in their presence." -- footnote on the bottom of p. 48 of J. C. Hamilton's "Hist. of the Republic,"
~ History of the Republic of the United States, by John Church Hamilton, vol. 1, p. 48

"With a heart swelling with gratitude to the Author of his being, he observed to his wife, 'I may yet live twenty years, please God, and I will one day build a for them [Hamilton's neighbors?] a chapel in this grove.' "
~ History of the Republic, by J. C. Hamilton, vol 7: 789

" 'At this time,' Troup relates, 'the "General" was attentive to public worship, and in the habit of praying on his knees night and morning. I lived in the same room with him for some time, and I have often been powerfully affected by the fervor and eloquence of his prayers. He had read many of the polemical writers on religious subjects, and he was a zealous believer in the fundamental doctrines of Christianity. I confess that the arguments with which he was accostomed to justify his belief, have tended in no small degree to confirm my own faith in revealed religion.' A hymn of some merit written at this time, entitled 'The soul entering into bliss,' is preserved."
~ History of the Republic, J. C. Hamilton, vol. 1, pp. 47-48

"Genl. Hamilton has of late years expressed his conviction in the truths of the Christian Religion, and has desired to receive the Sacrament -- but no one of the Clergy who has yet been consulted will administer it."
~ Oliver Wolcott to his wife
SOURCE: The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, edited by Harold Syrett and Jacob Cooke, volume XXVI, page 317

"He [Hamilton] labored intensely, and, withdrawn for a time from politics, sought and found relief from the painful reflections which growing delusion of the country forced upon him, in the duties of religion, in the circle of domestic joys, and in the embellishment of his rural retreat [the Grange]."
~History of the Republic of the United States, by J. C. Hamilton, vol. 7, p. 499

Much earnest conversation passed in undertone between his [Philip Hamilton's] father and himself on religious topics, from which the dying sufferer seemed to derive much consolation, while a radiance spread over Hamilton's face at the assured conviction of his son's resignation and his faith.
~ History of the Republic of the United States, by J. C. Hamilton, volume 7, p. 502

"I also have experienced vicissitudes in life. I have labored with my head more than nay man I know of. I have had my elevations and depressions of spirits. But I have never been happy, but when I was in the pursuit of Religion and Virtue."
~Alexander Hamilton in conversation with an Irish friend "Blake," which was recounted by Hamilton's son John C. Hamilton
SOURCE: History of the Republic of the United States, by John C. Hamilton, vol. 7, p. 741

"As it may add to the consolation of your respected mother, I think it well to say, that is has been and is my full belief, formed as I think on strong reasons, that if your father's life had been spared, no great portion of time would have elapsed before the Christian religion would have found in him a public professor and a most able advocate and defender."
~ General W. North to James A. Hamilton June 3, 1824
SOURCE: Reminiscences of Men and Events, by James Alexander Hamilton, p. 34

I saw him again this morning [of July 12, 1804], when, with his last faltering words, he expressed a strong confidence in the mercy of God through the intercession of the Redeemer. I remained with him until 2 o'clock this afternoon, when death closed the awful scene – he expired without a struggle, and almost without a groan.
By reflecting on this melancholy event, let the humble believer be encouraged ever to hold fast that precious faith which is the only source of true consolation in the last extremity of nature. Let the Infidel be persuaded to abandon his opposition to that gospel which the strong, inquisitive and comprehensive mind of a HAMILTON embraced, in his last moments, as the truth from heaven.
~ The Reverend Benjamin Moore to William Coleman (of the New York Evening Post), July 12, 1804
SOURCE: The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, volume XXVI, pp.

After pointing out the radical defects of the Confederation, and vindicating the popular basis of the new Constitution, he declared his convictions that the latter was genuine specimen of a representative and republican government; and he hoped and trusted that we had found a cure for our evils, and that the new government would prove, in an eminent degree, a blessing to the nation. He concluded his first great speech with the Patriot's Prayer, “Oh, save my county, Heaven!” in allusion to the brave Cobham, who fell, “his ruling passion strong in death.”

James Kent, Memoirs (by James Kent, 1898), p. 307



Thanks for Reading!