“The philosophes cultivated their connections with power, and their fraternizing with the enemy cost them heavily. It distorted their tactics, long circumscribed their freedom of action, sometimes seduced them into intellectual dishonesty, and blurred their radicalism, not only for others but for themselves as well. . . . Most of the philosophes found much to cherish in the existing order. Seeking to distinguish themselves, the philosophes had little desire to level all distinctions; seeking to be respected, they had no desire to destroy respectability. Their gingerly treatment of the masses, which became less patronizing as the century went on, reveals their attachment to the old order and their fear of too drastic an upheaval.” — Peter Gay, The Enlightenment: An Interpretation, Vol. 1 (1966)

“The stress placed upon the Adams-Hamilton feud pointed up a deeper problem in the Federalist party, one that may explain its ultimate failure to survive: the elitist nature of its politics. James McHenry complained to Oliver Wolcott, Jr., of their adherents, ‘They write private letters to each other, but do nothing to give a proper direction to the public mind.’ The Federalists issued appeals to the electorate but did not try to mobilize a broad-based popular movement. Hamilton wanted to lead the electorate and provide expert opinion instead of consulting popular opinion. He took tough, uncompromising stands and gloried in abstruse ideas in a political culture that pined for greater simplicity. Alexander Hamilton triumphed as a doer and thinker, not as a leader of the average voter. He was simply too unashamedly brainy to appeal to the masses. Fisher Ames observed of Hamilton that the common people don’t want leaders ‘whom they see elevated by nature and education so far above their heads.'” — Ron Chernow, Alexander Hamilton (2004)

Jean Huber. Untitled. Un dîner de philosophes.

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