Hamilton was urged by his party to accept the nomination for governor of New York. He refused the honor. He preferred to practice law. He soon bought a small estate on the north end of Manhattan Island, and built a hospitable house, which he called the Grange, after the mansion of his grandfather in Scotland.
Here he was the center of a large circle of admiring friends. On another part of Manhattan lived Aaron Burr, his rival in politics and at the bar. Whatever Alexander Hamilton wished was sure to be opposed by Aaron Burr.
But talent and industry kept Hamilton far in the front. By his practice in the courts, he grew more famous than ever. The rich and the poor brought their troubles to the great lawyer. It is said that Washington still sought his advice in national affairs; and then, as the President completed his second term of office, Hamilton helped him write the Farewell Address.
If you hear this famous Farewell Address read on Washington's birthday, perhaps you will think of Alexander Hamilton.
Now, when John Adams, of Massachusetts, became President, trouble was already brewing between the United States and France.
You remember how Louis XVI. sent a fleet to America to aid in the war against the British. It so happened that, very soon after, the king had a war with his own people. He was driven from his throne, and France became a republic.
"If one throne falls," said the other kings of Europe, "all thrones may fall; we must not let the French establish a republic as the Americans have done"; and so the kings united to fight France. Then the Directory, which was the name of five men who ruled the new French republic, called across the sea to the Americans: "We helped you," they said, "when you fought for liberty; come and help us."
This was a stirring appeal. Republican clubs were formed all over the United States; they sang French songs and dressed after the French fashion. But while Washington was President, he had hesitated to take up arms against England; he said the only two English-speaking nations on the globe should be friends.
It seemed unwise to take part in the quarrels of Europe. Besides, it was King Louis who sent help to America, and the French mobs had cut off the head of King Louis. Washington declared the United States would take no part in the wars of France.
When John Adams became President, he, too, said we should remain friends to all the nations of Europe. Then the French became very disagreeable; they began to shoot at the flags on our ships. President Adams sent agents to Paris to try to arrange the difficulties; but the French Directory insulted the agents, and ordered them out of the city. Of course, all the Americans were angry then. The Republican clubs took off their French badges, and quit singing French songs.
The President and Congress prepared for war. Washington was appointed lieutenant-general of the army, with Hamilton his first major-general. Ships were built; armies were collected and drilled. There was hurrying everywhere. Meantime, Napoleon had become the ruler in France; and when he saw that the Americans were so eager to defend their honor, he treated them with more respect. After a time, peace was made between France and the United States.
Before peace had been concluded, the death of Washington caused mourning throughout the land. Hamilton became commander of the American armies, but he went about his duties with a very sad heart.