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Joanne Freeman on
Hamilton's lack of trust for Burr

Joanne Freeman Q: Why didn't Hamilton trust Burr?

A: I think that the core reason why Hamilton really didn't trust Burr -- it all boils down to one thing. When you step back and you look at almost all of the high level politicians of the period, you can see that they're all basically thinking the same way, along one line. And that is, they all are assuming that they're serving the public good. They're following certain principles, and equally important, they're thinking about they're fame. Which is a really certain kind of reputation. The way you achieve fame is to do great things for the public good. So that's the model everyone's following. And that's a restraint. That honor is a restraint. That means that if you're thinking about your reputation and your honor and fame, you're going to act at least to some degree in a proper manner. You're not going to just run off as an ambitious individual and do whatever you need to do. To get what you want. And he can't find much discussion in Burr about any higher principle. He's not really particularly interested in his fame. This is what really -- the core of it really makes Hamilton so crazed, so really frantically panicked at the idea of Burr in office. It's that Burr is as ambitious as Hamilton is, but there's no restraint.

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