Thomas Jefferson: An Intimate History

By Fawn M. Brodie | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XIX

The Satellite Sons

Hamilton and myself were daily pitted in the Cabinet like two cocks.

Jefferson to Dr. Walter Jones, March 5, 1810 1

Adams, Jefferson, Hamilton, and Madison all rotated like satellites around Washington. Jefferson, isolated for five years in Paris and only peripherally involved in the making of the new constitution, moved into close proximity in March 1790. But it was too late for him to become the favorite. That place had been gained by Hamilton, who had replaced Madison as Washington's confidant and writing aide, though neither of these younger men ever held the special place of Lafayette. As Flexner writes, Washington "had wept unashamedly at his dinner table when describing his affection for Lafayette. One cannot imagine him doing the same in relation to Jefferson or Hamilton or even Madison." 2

By virtue of his election as vice-president Adams revolved as the obvious successor, and frankly described his role as "the first prince of the country, and the heir apparent to the sovereign authority." 3 But he never had Washington's intimate friendship, and Hamilton was eager to supersede him politically as well as personally. Both Adams and Hamilton believed that Jefferson also had fantasies of succeeding Washington, which in view of his later political actions seems likely, though he kept evidence of his ambition deeply buried. Madison, who had played a stellar role in writing the Constitution, had become more radical and had moved into Jefferson's orbit, continuing not only as his confidential adviser, a role he was already playing in 1791, but

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