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Thomas Fleming on
the role of character

Thomas Fleming Q: What role did character play?

A: The founding fathers thought that character would rise above politics. It would be above faction, it would be the crucial reason why a man was asked to hold a political office. And, unfortunately, as political parties developed, character took on another context. It became a reason to keep a man out of office, by finding flaws in his character.

So they accused Hamilton, for instance, of stealing money from the government. They accused him of being a would-be Caesar, or a monarchist -- that was the really smear word of the era -- that he was really working to try to bring some relative of George the Third over and set him up as King. So they used character, as I say, to keep people out of office.

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