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Thomas Fleming on
the Continental Congress

Thomas Fleming Q: Talk about the Valley Forge experience.

A:When Hamilton was in his early twenties he was reading both the best philosophers in Europe, and economists, and he was thinking already like a statesman, but he was also seeing this horrible example of a government that didn't work. The Continental Congress was trying to do everything. It was the executive, it was the legislative and, practically, the judicial branch of the government all in one lump. And he saw this as a failure of State craft, but he also saw it as a failure of the American people. They didn't seem to care that there are guys who were devoting their lives to try to win this war, risking their lives on a battlefield, and they were letting them starve. But, he probably didn't stop to think that most of the people -- in an era where there were no real communications or anything like that -- weren't aware of how bad off the army was. It was a fairly well-kept secret, but nonetheless, the representatives of the people in Continental Congress knew, and they didn't seem to be able to do anything about it. So this convinced him that there had to be a form of government where responsible people had substantial amounts of power. He tended to think in terms of the best people ruling.

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