Deleted Scene: A Republic If You Can Keep It
We deleted scenes from America’s First Daughter for a variety of reasons – sometimes they didn’t move the story along, sometimes they were repetitive of other scenes, sometimes they were too tangential to Patsy’s personal experiences, and sometimes the goal of the scene could be accomplished in a better way. Deleted scenes posted on this website have not gone through the detailed fact-checking conducted on the material in the final book.
A REPUBLIC IF YOU CAN KEEP IT
I walked with my father down the road to the cemetery where we put flowers on my mother’s grave to mark the anniversary of her passing. Expecting solemnity, I was surprised to hear my father still harping on his squabbles with Mr. Hamilton. “I had the Secretary of Treasury to dinner one night in Philadelphia,” he recounted. “He asked after my portraits of Bacon, Locke and Newton. I told him they were my trinity; the greatest men who ever lived and he replied, ‘The greatest man who ever lived was Julius Caesar.’”
So Mr. Hamilton admired Caesar. The dictator. The man who had undone the Roman Republic because there was no one strong enough to resist him.
People will say—and were already saying then—that the hostility between my father and Mr. Hamilton arose out of differences of opinion on policies such as the assumption of national debts, or the constitutionality of a federal bank, or the strength of a central government at the expense of the states.
But this is to misunderstand the core of it.
Papa wasn’t an ideologue. He’d pragmatically advised the French to compromise with their king. He himself never hesitated to find a middle ground when he met resistance. It wasn’t competing visions for our new Republic that brought my father’s cold rage to a boil. It was that my father believed Mr. Hamilton to be a counter-revolutionary. “In 1787,” he said, “Ben Franklin had scarcely taken a step outside Independence Hall when a goodwife of Philadelphia called to him, ‘Well, Doctor, what have we got, a Republic or a Monarchy?’ And Doctor Franklin replied, ‘A Republic, if you can keep it.’”
Papa insisted he wanted to retire from public life, and I do believe he meant it, even now. But ambitions aren’t always born not of what one wants, but of what one is driven by. And as my father stood over my mother’s grave, ten years after her passing, he stooped over her headstone and whispered, “I did not put her in this ground so that her children would live under the rule of a king.”